Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sampling on the Loom

Well, the warp is on the loom and I wove enough to cut off for a sample. To the left is a picture of the warp on the loom. The camera distorts the fabric a bit but you can see the weave structure here. Beating the weft in has been a bit of a challenge. That is, it is a challenge to keep the beat nice and even. The weight of the beater alone packs the weft in too much. I have to control the beater very carefully to "waft" it in. That said, it is a pleasure to weave.
I have mentioned Weavecast on my blog before. I was listening to Episode 26: Sew Your Weaving with Daryl Lancaster when I heard her describe how she processes her samples. It made sense to me so I did the same thing. She cuts the samples into three pieces and sets aside one as the unwashed sample straight off the loom. The second sample she lightly washes and the third sample she tosses in the washer and dryer. This gives a good look at both ends of the spectrum. I did exactly that as the following pictures show.
The above picture shows sample 1 on the left. This is straight off the loom. As the threads relax off the loom you can start to see the texture of the weave. The sample on the right has been gently patted in soapy lukewarm water, rinsed the same way, and then rolled in a towel and air dried.
The picture on the left shows sample 2, the lightly washed one next to sample 3 the heavily processed one. Sample three is extremely fulled but if you hold it up to the light, you can still see the wonderful weave structure.
Now, what do you do with all this info? I sampled to determine the correct sett for the final fabric. I originally wanted to weave a fabric for a light jacket. The 30 epi sett would be a little too wide so I would go down to 26 epi (and sample again) for a slightly denser fabric. However, one of the aspects of weaving that I love is the journey. I loved the look of the lightly washed sample. It is a light and warm fabric with a lovely drape and texture. So, I am going to keep the warp sett at 30 epi. I will full it just a bit more than sample 2 but not to the extreme of sample 3. I am not sure what I will do with the fabric but I will let it tell me what it wants to be used for.
So now I will just continue to weave at 30 epi. I will post about the finished fabric when it is off the loom and processed.
In the meantime, we continue to fine tune and maintain the house in between watching the Olympics. So far we have had no lookers for the house. Perhaps they are enjoying summer.
Tomorrow I will host the spinning group from the Skagit Weavers Guild at our house. It will be wonderful to catch up with friends.
Hope summer is going well for everyone out there! -Renee

Monday, August 11, 2008

FiberArts Magazine

I couldn't resist picking up the September/October issue of FiberArts magazine. My eye was caught by the banner on the front cover that read "Plush Art: toys for grown-ups. The article begins on page 40 and is titled Crammed Organisms. I found the article so much fun I checked out the websites listed and have posted a banner on the sidebar of the blog. Here is what it looks like:
Crammed Organisms - World's Largest Plush Show! Plush, Stuffed Animals, Plushies, Softies

I think it would be totally fun to create my own plush toys from handwoven scraps, in fact, I plan to! If anyone else decides to do so I would be happy to post a picture of it on the blog too. Check out the Crammed Organisms website!
In the meantime, I have a new project going on the loom.
The yarn is the 24/2 Zephyr in a color called "fern". It is a greyish green. I picked the cone up at one of those weaver's sales for a dollar or two. Zephyr is 50/50 wool and silk. As I have so much going on I decided to weave four yards using draft #47 out of A Weavers Book of 8 Shaft Patterns. I have used this draft before and liked the fabric I got with it.
In the future I will be getting back to creating my own drafts but with all that is going on I didn't want to have to fuss with it. If I end up with enough fabric I will make a light weight jacket out of it. We shall see what I end up with.
I am just about finished threading the warp which is sett at 30 e.p.i. and is threaded in a straight draw pattern. I do plan to sample this warp to see if I need to adjust the sett. So, how did I determine this one? Zephyr is one of those yarns that pop up on yarn sett charts and is well known. I used the sett listed on one of the charts.
For some reason the second comment on the previous post did not get published until this evening. My apologies for the technical glitch.
The comment mentioned that I could also just take half of the number of wraps that were crammed together. Well, yes and no! It is a good point but I must confess I just got lucky on the number of wraps that I had crammed together and I wasn't too precise on that one. In addition, if I were to use a different width of yarn for my weft, I would need to leave a space wide enough for that in my wrapping. The structure of the weave would also need to be accounted for. Those aren't addressed when the wrapping is all crammed together. Like I said, it is one of many methods and is a starting point. Sampling (yep, the dreaded 'S' word), as I will be doing for this current warp, is the best way to get the fabric you are trying to weave.
I deeply appreciate the supportive comments on the selling of our house. Thank you all so much.
Stay tuned for more...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Sett Method and Finished Towels

I know, it has been a while. I have been caught up in the sale of our house and getting ready to move... then, our buyers backed out of the sale so we are back to square one. I am not going to go into the gory details here since I want to focus on weaving but, I might just create a temporary blog as the story is both amusing and frustrating.
I promised a bit on sett* in the previous post so I am going to start out here. There are many ways to determine sett. One common way to to do a wrapping on a ruler. The instructions usually say to place the wraps of the yarn right next to one another as they are in the picture above.

Jane Stafford teaches a slightly different wrapping method that I find makes a lot of sense. Instead of placing the wraps right next to one another, you leave a space, the width of the weft yarn, between the wraps like in this picture above.
With the first method, I got about 20 to 30 ends per inch (epi) for my sett. I got 15 epi with Jane's method. It must be noted here that this only gives you a ballpark figure or starting point. Sampling the sett is the best way to go.
This wrap is for plain weave. If I were to weave a 2/2 twill I would wrap two yarns next to one another and leave a space two yarns wide. If you are an experienced weaver, think about it, it will probably make sense. I am not going to go into great detail on this blog but I will say I got a nice sett for my towels.
This was a quick project and I didn't sample but just wove the towels at 15 epi. It was a good sett as the towels have a lovely hand and drape yet are not sleazy.

Here is the first towel on the right. As I mentioned in the previous post, in my haste to get a picture of it on the loom, I forgot to border the horizontal stripe with the yellow. If you look in the square where the two stripe meet, you can see the color and weave pattern that I was after.

The second towel here has the horizontal stripe bordered by the yellow. I like that much better.

I thought I wouldn't have enough of the light blue to use for the weft for a full length of the towels but it turns out I did so I wove the third towel with alternating light and dark blue picks. I put two thin stripes of yellow one third and two thirds along the towel to give it some interest. The color and weave stripe runs the whole length of the towel and seems to "pop" or look almost three dimensional. Over all I am quite pleased with the project.

The final picture is a sample I wove with the little bit remaining at the end of the warp. I tried different combinations of light and dark weft to get different color-and-weave effects in the squares.

The final measurements for towels when washed and hemmed were 17 inches wide by 23 inches long. That was from a 20x30 inch warp on the loom.
So, what next? I dug into my dwindling stash and pulled out a cone of greyish-green Zepher yarn. It is half silk, half wool and is a 24/2 yarn. I am going to weave a fabric with it. I will have all the details of that project in the next post!
Good weaving to all, -Renee

* See glossary