Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Project number three is also yardage, this one I've been sitting on for awhile. There is sort of a story behind it. I have a few favorites of all my palettes I created during the years I wrote the forecast column for Handwoven Magazine. One was the Leaves and Berries palette, from Jan/Feb 2005. It was challenging to dye the warps since I am an inexperienced dyer, sort of by the seat of my pants, and I had to mix four different greens from what I had on hand. I used MX Fiber Reactive dyes from Pro-Chem.
I am not a planner. I just happily see where something takes me, and this yardage is a prime example. I dyed three different white warps, unmercerized cotton, cotton tape (which I had to really scour first to get the dye to penetrate), and rayon. They were all different sizes of yarns, and I had no plan, so I just wound 8 yard warps with as many ends as I could fit on the mill, or until the yarn ran out. Painting the warps independently of each other, meant that the colors were all the same, but the placement was random and different on all three warps.
I liked the imagery of berries oozing on the vine, brambles, so lengthwise stripes with twill vine like columns fit what I was trying to accomplish. Once the loom was warped, I started sampling with all kinds of different wefts. I cut the fabric off the loom after about 12" and cut the piece into three different widths. The first I kept in my notebook, the second I gently swished in the bathroom sink with some shampoo. The third I finished securely around the edges and threw into the washer and dryer. So I had an idea of finishing and what each weft would do.
I liked the wool singles I tried, from Harrisville, and I liked one of the black wefts, so I went to the Harrisville site and was sad to learn that the cone I'd been sitting on for 15 years wasn't made anymore. Imagine that. I looked through all my sample books, and found a Mainline two-ply by JaggerSpun, wool, in black, that looked a lot like the Harrisville singles in size. So I ordered it. Weaving this fabric wasn't the easiest, the different size warps, and different structures had different take up, even though I used a second beam for the supplemental warp, I still had to rig up a third beam that was variable, so I could maintain even tension throughout the weaving. Two by Fours can be a wonderful thing!
When the fabric was off the loom, I threw it into the washer and then the dryer to simulate the same finishing as the sample. When the dryer was done, imagine my surprise when the fabric came out looking like the sample on top, and only a bit over 4 yards long. Shock wasn't the half of it. But it is important to not look at something the way you expected it to look and if it doesn't, then you failed, but rather to look at it with new eyes and see what you can do with this new version. The more I looked at it, the more I loved it.
So, now I need to make it into a smashing coat. I have a 31" width, so I'm hoping to squeeze a good size coat from this yardage. Stay tuned.

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