The month of May has been a busy one with the cotton baby wrap completed, a black scarf in merino completed and pieces for the art expo started.
It began on a high note with the baby wrap completed. It was such a lovely project to do – the colours, the challenge of the double weave and finally getting the size right. I was delighted with the finished piece. It ended up being 71x486cm and weighing 1.8kg. What was quite good was the sample that I wove, was one repeat of the pattern, weighed 200g and the finished piece had 9 repeats so my prediction of final weight was spot on.
Black Scarf – Merino
I was asked to weave a black scarf which had to make me think how to weave it so that it had a bit of life to it. I choose NZ merino wool and used an 8 shaft pattern ‘Breaks and Recesses’. I have used this pattern with 4 different colours and it looked lovely but I realize now that you were only looking at the colours. When woven all in black the texture is more pronounced. This was such a quick project compared to the baby wrap.
The Nelson Art Expo is happening in August so I have to now start weaving. I have begun a list of ideas which usually morphs into more lists, revised lists, list of lists. But the first project on the said list is using some fine merino yarn that I purchased from DEA yarns in Levin. I haven’t used it before so I have woven a sample and it feels amazing. I am going to weave some scarves in twill (definitely within my comfort zone). I have some other ideas of what to do with it but I shall wait till these scarves are off the loom.
Queen’s Birthday Weekend the Ruby Coast Artists are having an art trail which Tony and I are a part of. With this in mind I quite like having both looms warped up so on one loom will be the twill merino scarves and on the other I will have some cotton tea towels. Usually we get more people through often it is weather dependent and everyone seems to enjoy themselves.
A drama that has been going on for a few months is my compu dobby box on my 24 shaft AVL decided to stop working right at the beginning of a long warp – it had that scary hot burning electrical smell. We have been going through the process of whether it is repairable and may I say shipping between NZ and USA is not cheap!! No, it is not repairable. The new box should be with us hopefully in June.
This last month has seen two projects happen. One (blanket) is completed and the other (baby wrap) still a work in progress. The completed project was three knee rugs woven in Maniototo yarn, which I hand dyed blue and pale gray. These were woven in a blanket tweel which gives more density and softness than simply plain weave or twill. I enjoyed the change from the fine yarns that I usually work with.
For the majority of the month, I worked on a 2 block double weave baby wrap. This is being made from 10/2 pearle cotton, a good practical yarn for the end use as well as having a lovely luster and good range of colours. This baby wrap project had specific requirements – a particular pattern, yarn and set of colours. This was a very enjoyable challenge to work out how it would all fit together. I was so looking forward to this project; a baby wrap is quite a substantial piece of fabric – so satisfying.
One layer is in plain black and the other layer is in seven shades of blue. These two layers interchange forming ascending and descending blocks of colour. It took a few hours on the computer figuring out the colour changes with the weaving pattern changes. Then there is the take-up and shrinkage to allow for. It required a few cups of tea to solve all these elements. I was happy with the end result but the computer can only go so far.
Warping the loom with approximately 1500 threads (in 2 layers) was somewhat of a challenge. It took some time to think how I might be able to do this process more efficiently for the next time.
I wove the sample which helped for three reasons. First, dealing with the technical issues ie tensioning of the warp and the two shuttles as well as working out the best way to get the selvedges done tidily and start to get the rhythm of the weaving. Another issue is you cannot see the bottom layer of your weaving therefore I need to take particular care when weaving this layer. Secondly, to work out the actual size after I had washed the sample to calculate the take-up and shrinkage. Thirdly and probably most importantly, that the sample meets the expectations of the customer which I am pleased to say it has done.
Here are some images from my most recent warp – cotton tea towels. I thought a traditional pattern of stripes with the main colour in the warp being creamy-white and the stripes in navy and brown. A few of the tea towels were woven to form checks. The rest were done using each colour in the warp as the weft colour for each individual tea towel.
They were woven in plain weave which was quite refreshing to simply use the colours as the point of interest not texture as well. I have tried waffle weave, m’s and o’s and other textured surfaces but I think I prefer the plain weave. My logic was having the texture would make for better tea towels – and I found that’s not the case. Also having less bulk in the fabric means hemming is much simpler and tidier.
The label that I sew on has changed position too. Instead of being held in by the hem I have separately sewn it on and am much happier – it looks more professional and practical.
Sometimes I think it is good to step back from your work and question is this the outcome I really wanted. How could this be improved? It is a concern that you get so engrossed in the weaving that things like, how the hems look, how the label sits, are left as an after thought. When really these wee finishing details can add so much to the end result.
These cotton tea towels are woven in 8/2 unmercerised cotton from Webs, at 20 epi (ends per inch). They are so satisfying to weave, as they are woven in one long length, each one differentiated by a colour and/or pattern change.
A visitor to the studio, after seeing them on the loom commented that you would need to design your kitchen around the tea towels – I thought it was a perfectly reasonable suggestion!