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!
With new maniototo yarn and the 48″ AVL loom all ready to go, it was a warp of firsts. First time using the new yarn, and the first warp on the moved and reconditioned AVL that belonged to Mum. I decided that the first warp that would go on Mum’s loom was some knee rugs. Using Maniototo yarn which I had hand dyed and a weave structure of blanket tweel. Being the first warp on the loom a narrow short warp would have been sensible, but I couldn’t help myself – I wanted to do knee rugs so commonsense went out the window.
Luckily I didn’t have too many problems. I had to hunt round for the right reed which was 47 1/2 inches not 48in as I had planned for which meant a few extra threads hanging off the back! The next problem was the rod which had the start of the weaving on, caught on the underneath rollers under the shafts. But once I had stepped away from the loom to try and solve why it wasn’t working properly I noticed that the rod had caught and it was easily fixed with no damage done to the weaving. When the warp was off the loom Tony attached two wooden rails across the rollers to prevent this happening again.
The plan was to do a sample but was happy with how it was weaving so just carried on. This meant that I had enough warp on to do two knee rugs and one children’s blanket.
I had miscalculated the amount of yarn that I needed to dye. Thankfully I had plenty to wind the warp. I then dyed some more blue for the weft – I thought this colour would be easier to match. It did turn out a lighter shade which I think adds to the overall look of the blanket.
With the hand dyed yarn there is a very slight (sometimes not so slight) colour variation and I think it adds character to the weaving.
The Maniototo yarn wove and dyed well. The loom after a few initial hiccups also went very well. Overall I am happy with the outcome.