Weaving Beginnings

Still here. Still alive. Life and work just got in the way. In fact, I haven’t done much of any fiber-ing since end of June, so I really have nothing to report here. One of these days, when I have time to work through them, I’ll post pictures from Complex Weavers Seminars and the Complexity Exhibit.

My favorite aunt has been in town the past few weeks. Tonight, we were just sitting around and chatting when I asked her about one of her boyfriends from when I was growing up.

Why is this significant?

I told her that it was the visit to his family home that set me down the path as weaver. I remembered that he lived by the seaside and we went out for a weekend. It was before I started kindergarten so I must have been around 4 or so. I remember “swimming” amongst the fishing boats, with the boyfriend holding me up in the water as he swam. That was scary and fun.

But what I remembered most was the big giant loom in the living room. I remember sitting in their living room, completely in awe of this machine and knowing that one day, I want to do THAT. How big was the loom in realty? I have no idea. I was 4. What sort of loom? I have no idea. I just remembered thinking “YES! I WANT!” To this day, I can still picture the room, the loom, and that sense of awe. Vividly.

I’ve shared this story with weaving friends, my guild, but I never told anyone in my family about this, never mind the aunt that made this happen. I’m glad I had a chance to do so.

What’s your weaving story?

Scraps

While I had the sewing machine out, I decided to work on a scraps project I had on the back burner for a while now.

Below are some of my less than successful samples early in my weaving career. I have no idea why I kept them. Good reminders, I guess of when the sett is not quite right, or when you beat too hard. But I did keep them, just like I still have some of my early hand spun yarn.

WovenScraps

I had thoughts of turning them into pot holders after buying some pot holders in Italy. Yes, I bought pot holders while I was in Italy. Those were made from scraps of linen. I love them. They remind me of my visit to the weaving studio.

So, with these in hand, I cut up an old terry towel as “batting” and off I went.

PotHolders

These won’t win a beauty contest anytime soon, but I will enjoy using them.

What do you do with your hand woven scraps?

Zooming Along

During one of the many glasses of wine we consumed during SOAR, I watched Shelia weaving little squares with her Zoom Loom for a Chanel like jacket, using leftover sock/fingering weight yarn. I noticed that she would sometimes double up her yarn before weaving. When asked, she said the fabric was not firm enough when weaving with certain yarns singly.

A light bulb turned on for me. I had been planning a small lap blanket with leftover sock yarn, with squares woven on the Zoom Loom. I had been merrily weaving little square with the sock yarn singly.

After I returned home from SOAR, I pulled out my Zoom Loom and my (very) small pile of woven squares and took another look. Yes, some are really really sleazy. Why I didn’t notice that before is beyond me since I really do know better (see pictures at the bottom).

Next, I pulled out a large ball of leftover sock yarn and wove up 8 squares in 4 different variations. (One of many advantages of having small feet is that I only use less than 2/3 of a skein of sock yarn for a pair of socks.) Here are the squares, all laid out on a board.

Top Row: Straight off the loom (okay, it’s been a few months, but you get the idea)
Bottom Row: Soaked in warm water with Wool Wash, then pressed lightly with a warm iron between towels

ZoomSquaresAll
(click to enlarge)

Left to Right:

  1. Single strand for all 4 layers
  2. 2 strands for first 2 layers, single for the last 2
  3. 2 strands for the first 3 layers, single for the last 1 (the weaving layer)
  4. 2 strands for all 4 layers

Unfortunately, you can’t see the density of the fabric very well. I hung these up on my drying rack so you can see the density of the weave.

ZoomSquaresPre
Before Finishing (click to enlarge)

As you can see, the single strand is very loosely woven. So much so, the threads shifted as soon as the square was removed from the loom, and continued to do so with additional handling.

Using 2 strands for the first 2 layers, and 1 strand for the last 2 was much better, but you can still see a lot of daylight through it.

Using 2 strands throughout was miserable to weave in that last layer. The fabric is very very dense.

But how does it look after wet finishing?

ZoomSquaresPost
After Finishing (click to enlarge)

Here they are washed and pressed. As you can see, the single strand square is behaving much better.

Depending on what the final product will be, I would likely choose between #2 or #3. In the yarn I chose, I don’t see/feel enough difference between #3 and #4 to warrant the extra frustration of trying to weave in that last layer with 2 strands.

The downside of doubling up the yarn is that the colors are not as clear. This could be mitigated if I chose to pair it with a solid colored yarn as my second strand.

What this exercise tells me is that I should sample sample sample before I commit to a full project. I had been just happy to go along with using 1 strand through out. Now, having seen my options, it would not be the fabric I would choose for a blanket.

Tablet Woven Band

TabletBand

My first tablet woven band after the latest round of classes. It is also the longest single tablet woven band, and all done in the same mind numbing pattern, 4F/4B, all 40 odd inches of it.

I had measured 47″ (maybe, I forgot, but I think that’s what it is) on the loom, but off loom and relaxed, it was only about 42″. That is 10% take up! It’s one thing to be told to expect take up but to actually measure it out, it hits home. This mattered because I wanted finished ends, not just cut to length. Good thing I spaced out and wove extra on the extra that I already planned for.

What is it for? It will be a the band for a D-Ring belt. It’s a sample for a more complex pattern that I have in mind. This was made with #10 crochet cotton. The real thing might be tencel. I haven’t decided yet.

SOAR Workshop

SpunSilk
Spun Silk on Bobbins

SOAR was fabulous as usual. It’s always wonderful to spend time with people with the similar passions. The creative energy is so strong that it is almost tangible.

My 3 day workshop this year is with John Mullarkey on Tablet Weaving for Spinners. I’ve taken several tablet weaving workshops in the past, even one with John. I’ve taken silk spinning classes before. But this time, the workshop combined the two — spinning silk specifically for tablet weaving.

Tablet Loom
Tablet Loom

I have woven bands with my own hand spun silk in the past, but they were inkle bands. The threads had fuzzed up during the weaving process. With tablets, I expect even more abrasion. So I wanted to see how John spins the silk to withstand the abuse.

We spent a bit of time on the basics with some 10/2 cotton warp he had set up before we started spinning.

The orange and the purple threads in the above right photo were spun on the wheel. The green/yellow and turquoise were spun on my Golding drop spindle. I have found that I get better twist and ply consistency with my spindle spun than on the wheel. I’m not a treadle counter but more of a tactile spinner. With the drop spindle, I spend a bit more time touching the threads before winding on.

Spinning these threads on a drop spindle takes a bit longer but it is also more portable. Besides, tablet weaving requires very little yardage. (I found out that I’m really bad at estimating yardage. As in, I spun about 3x more than what I needed.)

Band on the Loom
Band on the Loom

My default silk spinning is pretty fine. I didn’t want to mess with it because I was in the midst of spinning silk for a different project. I was afraid that if I changed the grist for the class, I might have problems with the other project.

The band at right used 12 cards. My woven band was about 1/4″ wide. The other bands in the class ranged from 1/2″ to 1″. Yeah, I’m glutton for punishment.

The colors I chose didn’t have enough color and shade contrast to show up well with the fine threads. You have to look close under good light but it was enough to keep me going.

We all wove the same draft. It was amazing how different everyone’s bands looked based on color and thread size. More experiments!

Of course, I couldn’t just turn cards the same way the entire time. I played around a bit on the same warp: fish going in one direction, then the other with a pair of kissing fish where they met; crosses; ovals; and arrows.

SilkBand
Tablet Woven Silk Band