Shifted Warp Fibonacci Shawl

Wrap warp in a circle on the board

Warp in a circle

There’s a way to make variegated yarn look like there is more going on just by making the sections of color line up and then by shifting them slightly.  Yarn wound on a warping board in the usual fashion makes the colors fall in random order. But if the same yarn is wound in a circle, you can manipulate those colors to fall together.

I like to use the Fibonacci number sequence whenever I set up stripes in a project. So these stripes are 2, 21 or 34 threads wide.colored yarn in Fibonacci stripes

In order to give a little more movement and interest to the piece, the multi-colored stripes are shifted by 5 inches.  The weft is two different yarns.  One is a rayon chenille and the other a 5/2 perle cotton of the same color. The yarns alternate in plain weave using two shuttles. These two yarns together give the shawl a “hand” that is soft and luxurious (the feel of rayon chenille) and still lets the colors of the warp show through.

Lots of color excitement on the loom.

Lots of color excitement on the loom.

Shawl with colors in stripesThe end result is a shawl with a lot of movement in the color.  Nothing boring here.

 

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Placemats Upon Request

On two different occasions I’ve been asked to weave placemats using beige, olive green and mauve as the main colors. Do you know how many shades of those three colors there are?!  Darn…as hard as I try, I can’t look inside someone’s head to see the colors they envision.  So, in both cases, I insisted on something tangible from the customer as a sample of what they meant by beige, olive green and mauve.

Fabric strips cut & ready to weave. Fabric in same colors as pillow.

Assembling the fabrics to match the sample pillow

Here’s what is involved in making the placemats: I start by gathering fabrics that contain the colors I am looking for. Then I cut the fabric into 1 ” strips on the bias.  Next, I look through my yarn stash to find yarns (5/2 Perle cotton) to coordinate with the fabrics I have chosen.

Placemats on loom with pillow as sample colors

Placemats on loom with pillow as sample colors

I like to use the Fibonacci numbers to set up the stripes in the warp (lengthwise threads on the loom).  Then, using what is commonly known as the “rag weaving technique”, I weave the fabric strips (the weft) into the warp.  The beginning and end of each mat is finished by hand with a hem stitch while still on the loom.  These “rag mats” are great for insulating your plate from the cold table, especially if you eat at a granite or quartz counter.

Finished mats with customer's pillow

Finished mats with customer’s pillow

Below are pictures of the more recent example of a consignment using beige, olive green and mauve (with the addition of navy blue) to make placemats.  See how different they turned out?

Finished mats

Finished mats

Placemat with fabric supplied by customer as color sample

Placemat with fabric supplied by customer as color sample

In both cases my customer was pleased with the results. If the customer is happy, I’m happy!

A Good Day to Dye

Dyeing warp chains in the garage requires several days, preferably with nice weather.  Trusting what the weather man was telling me, I recently began the process by mixing the dyes.  I buy my fiber reactive dyes in a powder form from Dharma Trading Company.  The dye powder is mixed with water, urea and table salt.  Here I’m adding the urea pellets. 

When I add the dye powder, I wear a mask because the dye powder particles are extremely fine and I don’t want to breathe them into my lungs.

 

Because most colors are a combination of red, yellow & blue, I like to know what the underlying color is when deciding which dye to use.  I find that paper coffee filters are a good way to let the color separate out into its different components.  This way I know if a green has a stronger underlying blue or yellow hue.  This works for many different color combinations.

Early in the morning on a bright sunny day, I began by setting out the dye bottles.

The cotton warp is soaked in a solution of water and soda ash to get the fiber ready to accept the dye.  Then the warp threads are carefully laid out on a strip of plastic wrap on the table.  Next comes the fun part: squirting the dye colors wherever the mood strikes me.  After each warp is dyed, it is rolled up in the plastic wrap and allowed to sit over night. 

The next day proved the weather man wrong. The day dawned cold and overcast. I decided to do the rinsing in the (unfinished) kitchen.  On the counter in the dish pan are the rolled up chains wrapped in plastic.  I’m removing the plastic from one of the chains.  After being rinsed several times, the warp goes into the bucket on the floor to the right which holds a solution of Synthopol and water.  After a few more rinses, the warp chain goes into the bucket to my left.

In the garage is another sink and a portable wringer. After a few more rinses, followed by several runs through the wringer, the last step is to put the warps gently into the washing machine on spin cycle.  By now,very little dye will come out of the fiber.  This is a warp of 8/2 unmercerized cotton for towels.  Weaving these towels one after the other is so much fun!  These colored warp threads will be set up in a stripe pattern along with white threads in a Fibonacci sequence. I use different solid color weft yarns and each towel is unique.  The fun part is watching what happens when the solid color crosses the hand dyed portion which changes as the warp progresses. Where the weft crosses the warp, a new color appears.

My favorite part is usually seeing the newly dyed warps drying in the sun. This day was too cold and overcast for that so the warps were hung in the new kitchen on a makeshift clothesline.  Still a pretty sight. In addition to the 8/2 unmercerized cotton for towels, this batch contains 5/2 perle for shawls and rayon chenille for scarves.  I can’t wait to start weaving!

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Preparations for November

Harvest of Handwovens was a great success! Now I have to replenish my stash for 3 events in November. I’m weaving more towels & Mug Rugs, setting up another shawl, some scarves and holiday table runners.  Tonight I’ll be making more soy candles. This Saturday is 1st Saturday in 3 Rivers. Our theme is “Leaves” and that’s great because the leaves on the South Fork are gorgeous!  I also have my “Oak Leaves & Acorns” note cards. I hope you will visit me. Check out my “Events” page to see what else is happening this month.

“Harvest” is September’s 1st Saturday

September 4 is the date for September’s 1st Saturday  art celebration.  “Harvest” is the theme for the day.  These hand dyed towels are the latest harvest from my loom–love those Fibonacci stripes.  Come and visit me in my studio where I will be weaving another batch of hand dyed towels–earth tones this time in answer to your requests.  I will also be weaving holiday table runners.  A new shawl as well as new scarves, Mug Rugs and soy candles will also be available.  I’ve been busy!  Click on the link to 1st Saturday in my blog to see what else is going on during 1st Saturday.  My studio will be open from 11:00 to 5:00.  I hope to see you here.