Sunday, November 22, 2009

Guild Challenge

This year, our guild's design challenge consisted of drawing three cards. Each one gave instructions with respect to weave structure, color, or fiber. We all had to weave something based on the cards we drew. I had to do plainweave, no more than two colors, and weft heavier than the warp. My first thought after I drew those cards was, "yuck, how boring!" I decided that to make it a little more interesting, I would bend the rules a little, and use several values of one color. Since I have very little experience dying, I consulted "Hands on Dying" and decided to follow the instructions for the first project in that book, which should yield four values of the same color, using Rit or Cushing dye. I thought it would be fun to do some clasped weft weaving with the light and dark colors of weft.

To meet the grist requirements for the warp and weft, I chose some natural 10/2 cotton as warp and some worsted weight cotton as weft. I figured with a heavier weft, I would make some placemats or a table runner. I bought Hobby Lobby brand worsted weight cotton, and I was pretty impressed with it. It is much softer (and I think nicer) than sugar 'n cream cotton, and on sale, it cost less for me to buy several skeins of the Hobby Lobby cotton than it would bave cost to buy a cone of the same weight of sugarn 'n cream. For the dye, I chose Rit in Apple Green.

Anyway, I took the heavy cotton, skeined it, and dyed it according to the instructions in the book. I left the warp cotton natural. A couple of things happened when I did the dying, and, please, keep in mind that I am a very inexperienced dyer. First, the difference in value of each skein was barely discernable. I suspect that this was because the dye I chose to use had a relatively light value to begin with. Since I needed to get moving on the project to meet the due date, I decided just to use what I had and weave something a little plainer without the clasped weft.

The other thing that happened during the dyeing was that when I skeined the yarn, I tied the choke ties too tight. This left some very light spots throughout the skein. Even though this was a mistake, it worked to my advantage. Since the idea of using light and dark yarns to do clasped weft was out, the light spots in the yarn added some interest.

Then I started weaving a placemat in plainweave. It was just OK. The worst part was the selvedges. I don't normally weave with such heavy yarns, and had a horrible time getting nice selvedges. I decided that one placemat of this was enough to fulfill the guild challenge requirements and that I would weave a runner in a different structure. At that point, I wished that I had threaded for rosepath instead of 1, 2, 3, 4. I really didn't want to rethread, so I consulted Davison's book to see what else I could do with that threading. I wove a couple of samples and settled on Joseph France's "Ribs Three & One" on page 7. This was like a plainweave, except three of the warp ends acted as one. I liked the way this looked a lot better, and for some reason, the selvedges looked a lot better with this structure. I'm sure I didn't do anything differently, so I'm not sure what made the difference.

The runner looked fine, but I don't see myself doing much more like that. I'm looking forward to getting back to weaving with some finer yarns. I do think, though, that something similar might be nice for some hand towels since it's nice and soft. I may have to try drying my hands on the runner to see if it's absorment enough. :)
Here are the four skeins after being dyed. You can see a little difference in value, but not much.

Here is the finished placemat, yucky selvedges, and all.

Here is the runner on the loom.

And here is the finished runner.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Slow Weaving

I keep hearing about how hot slow art is right now. I think that just about any handweaving and handspinning could be considered slow, but what I'm working on now is ultra-slow! I'm weaving summer and winter bookmarks with 20/2 cotton warp and tabby weft and 10/2 cotton pattern weft on a table loom. It is sett at 36 epi. I chose the table loom for a couple of reasons. First, it's a louet, so it has a raddle that's suited to very fine warp. Second, I like the texsolve heddles for fine warps. If I were to weave this on a floor loom, I would need to use a skeleton tie-up, which would slow down my weaving rhythm considerably, anyway.

This is my first experience with weaving summer and winter. I wanted to make some Christmas gifts, so I designed a draft with little pine trees. I'm thankful to a member of our guild, who put on a program last year about designing with blocks. I had read about this before and vaguely understood how to do it, but to see it explained in person made it much clearer to me. After I had settled on my final design, I was perusing WeaveZine and found a draft there with Christmas trees. I'm glad I found it after I made my own design. While it would have saved me time to use an existing draft, it was good to go through the exercise of designing my own. Besides, I like mine a little better :)

So far, I have one bookmark woven, shown below. It is in the "singles" treadling order, as described by Strickler in her 8-shaft pattern book. My plan is to weave at least one bookmark each in singles, x's, o's, and dukagang-fashion.