Friday, 22 July 2011

some samples finished off, and a curious case of variable shrinkage

so I made a warp up of 1/15 worsted. And I did it in plain weave and 4-shaft honeycomb in both 24 and 32epi. The plain weave was better in 24 (more balanced and less sticking, which reminds me I really should learn to make and apply warp sizing to stop that from happening, it makes weaving plain weave in wool a real pain in the backside) but the honeycomb was better in 32, cos it's more weft-faced, innit

anyway, here's a pic of the 2. Both quite nice, I'll have to give it a go in the cashmere next week sometime, see how that goes.

And this ugly duckling on the right is the cashmere, after going through the wash (big mistake). See, I've been hoping to be able to weave multiple scarves in a single width, but due to a lack of proper finishing equipment, this is proving somewhat unlikely. Also, for some reason, the blue weft yarn in this scarf is shrinking and felting more (much more) than the white. Which doesn't make a lot of sense because they're from the same mill and brand. I can only assume that the blue yarn is subjected to a greater degree of wet finishing than the white, but it doesn't seem right to me. I'll have to go back and check the labels. I guess it could be that at some point someone's wound a yarn onto a cone that isn't what it says it is. Now, I can tell that it's cashmere, and it appears identical in count and quality to the white stuff, but that's no saying anything.

You can't tell yourself from the photo, but in the bordering regions between the body of the scarf and the false selvedge, the weft yarns have felted up. Now, you can still extract some of the white yarns, but the blue yarns are felted completely. Also, the blue weft sections are a great deal (well, a little bit) thicker than the white sections, and more inflexible.

It's a curious thing. I have a great deal to learn about cloth finishing evidently before I can hope to weave multiple scarves in a width and finish them properly without resorting to using overlocking or rolled hems or any of that unpleasantness which seriously detracts from the drape and softness of the item, in my opinion.

One of these days I guess I'll have to build a fulling machine, when I also own the old millhouse and pigs fly to spain on a daily basis


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Creating Space, texture and soft handle

As you may be aware I am in the process of sampling for cashmere scarves.

It has been suggested to me that I should attempt to move away from the tight-heavy-beat steady flat fabric I tend to weave, twills, plain weave and all that. This in order to create a more sort of soft fluffy fabric which would be a more pleasing kind of scarf for someone to wear.

One possibility which was suggested to me was Honeycomb or, as our friends in the colonies call it, Waffle Weave. I'll be making a warp of this stuff later on today, after I get a lift over to the church (it's raining so I'm not walking and waiting around for a lift and using the time to do warp-planning and writing my blog and doing colour plans and arguing with people on facebook forums).

Anyway, this should create a sort of texturey feel, and add some thickness as well. I still haven't figured out how to finish the selvedges or the fringes. I think I'm just going to have to be old fashioned and walk the fabric in the bath. Do samples in the sink by hand, and all that. There isn't a finishing plant in this part of the country, and even if there was I couldn't afford it. Anyway, I have to felt the fringes just enough to keep the thing from unravelling. I don't want to mill it heavily. Does anyone have experience of hand-milling hair fibres like wool or cashmere, the only stuff I've really done myself had silk in it, which kept it from felting to itself.

Oh, I'm using a draft from Leigh's Fibre Journal

And secondly, the other thing I've been trying to do over the past week is to create a sort of spaced-out gauzy fabric with a really light beat. I tried doing this in plain weave, but it didn't really work out, because it wasn't dimensionally stable in any way at all, and you can't felt it just enough to hold it together without felting it so much that it shrinks so much that it isn't gauzy anymore. So that's no use. A bit of thought probably would've told me that would be the case. Here's it on the loom anyway, doesn't it look lovely?

Shame it shrinks so much when I wash it. Oh well, I've never tried finishing wool or cashmere before so now I know what not to do. Heyho.

Anyway, I'm not giving up, and someone had mentioned Leno to me, which I remember reading about some time ago. So I asked The Oracle about Four Shaft Leno, and The Oracle sent me to A Weavezine Article about Doup Leno. So yay! I can do it! Even though it's obviously a bit of a hassle, but I think it'll be worth it, if it does indeed turn out to be possible to create a dimensionally stable gauzy fabric.

So I'll be making those warps this evening, and after that I'll be going out on the hill with my dad and herringboning the peats. I can't believe this spellchecker recognises the word "herringboning" but not the word "spellchecker". That's brilliant


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Attempting to improve my photography

 Blue and brown scarf
 Chaos Cloth
Cloth samples (that I forgot to subit as part of my assessment, doh!)

Yeah, could do better, eh?

yeah, white background, natural lighting and a steady hand might help a little bit

Add another to the list of skills necessary to become a successful weaver: photography

Not there yet


Thursday, 7 July 2011

A little request for suggestions

So yeah, it has been suggested to me that what your average person (not me, but most people, apparently) likes in a scarf is a feeling of bulk and airiness (not airiness, but fluffiness, maybe?) which is obviously something you get a lot of in a knitted scarf, because of the inherently loose structure of a knitted fabric (it's full of air, that's why it's so warm, but it's full of air which is why it doesn't provide a great wind barrier, but that's what your coat's for)

So the lady (who is worth listening to, 'cos she knows what she's on about) suggests that i should use a nice loose weave, like hopsack or something like that.

But for some reason I'm really at a loss.

I'm only working on 4 shafts and 6 pedals you see, as opposed to the 24 shaft dobby loom to which I've become accustomed. And instinct tells me to make twills, because I really like twills, and I'm very visually orientated, so I tend to work with colour a lot more than texture. but it seems that a tight pattern like that could tend to deaden the natural bounce of the yarn (it's knitting yarn, so a bit more airy than yer worsted)

Aaagh! I've spent all day with checked paper here and i can't wrap my head round it! I have a lot of silly patterns, but they don't help me at all. Because they'll obviously end up being so small that you'll barely be able to see them.

But yeah, never mind all that pish. The only thing that matters is that I need a loose weave I can make on a 4 shaft loom. If I was using a dobby, I'd intersperse hopsack with lines of plain weave to stabilise it, but I don't think that's an option

Am I being thick?