Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weaving at Last

By Leigh
Leigh's 1st ikat & painted warp weaving.At last I have conquered this warp and am finally having fun!

2 bookmarks & spacer.The particulars:

Warp & weft: 20/2 mercerized cotton
Warp length: 3 yards
Sett: 105 epi
Reed: 15 dents/inch (7 ends/dent)
Total ends: 292
Width in reed: 2.75 inches
PPI: 24
Weave: Warp-faced plain weave
Stripes: painted & ikat
Woven length: 8.5 inches per bookmark

Since this is plain weave, weaving is super fast! The bookmarks will be fringed, and you can see in the photo on the left that I'm using card stock in between each bookmark to allow for that.

For the weft, I'm using the same black that I used at the edges. This way the weft thread isn't noticeable at the selvedges.

Also, I'm using a stick shuttle, which has come in very handy. Since the warp is packed so closely together, the threads tend to stick together when I treadle. I'm finding that this shuttle is a great way to open up the shed .....

Clearing the shed with a stick shuttle....... before throwing the next shot .

I did have one "duh" however. The horizontal stripes at the edges are created by threading the heddles with black and white alternately. But notice in the photo below ....

The one thing that needed correcting.....that on the left, the white warp is on the top, while on the right, it's the black. This doesn't effect the horizontal stripes any, but it would be distracting at the fringe. This happened because I didn't pay attention to thread the odd and even shafts with the same color on both sides! I ended up unweaving this bit and rethreading the black and white warp on the left side. Once all the blacks were on odd shafts and the white on even, the two sides looked the same.

I don't anticipate that finishing up this warp will take very long. I should be on to the next project after the weekend.

[UPDATE 12/02/08: To see the finished bookmarks, click here.]

Related Posts:
Experiments In Warp Painting
Good Ol' Plain Weave
Learning Ikat Technique
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Frustrating Warp

This warp wants to twist together in a Z fashion By Leigh

I had hoped to show you some weaving progress by now, but I can't. And this time I can't blame it on the cat! The problem is the warp itself, or rather, what the warp is doing.

I'm using UKI 20/2s mercerized cottons, which I ordered from WEBS. I've never used this as warp before, in fact I ordered it especially for this workshop.

The problem, which you can see in the photo on the left, is that the bouts want to twist back on themselves. This has created several frustrating problems, including creating a few twist jams at the lease sticks.....

Then the twist jams up at the least sticks.So I've been having to untwist in order to wind on ....

Having to continually untwist is slowing warping down..... and while threading the heddles.

*Sigh* At least I can blog about when I take a break. :)

Before wishing all of my American readers a Happy Thanksgiving, I would like to share something that I am thankful for. If you've been following Rascal's medical saga, you'll be interested as well. You can check out his news on his blog.

Posted 26 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Preparing to Warp (With Help)
Weaving At Last - project details
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done - how it turned out

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Preparing to Warp (With Help)

By Leigh

I've been a little slow with my Online Guild workshop project, but I do have some progress to report.

Leigh's painted & ikatted (is that a word?) warpsThe top is my black and white ikat warp, and the next three are the my painted warps. Actually, the 3rd and 4th ones are the same warp. The 4th sample shows how the colors ran together too much. On the bottom is a blue one that I dyed in a dyebath. For this project I'm going to use all the but red one.

The first step was to put them on the lease sticks and get them to the loom. However, since I had dyed these three yard warps unchained, I decided it would be better to chain the bouts, lest I end up with a tangled mess.

However, moving yarn on the floor never fails to attract attention at my house:

Rascal being attentiveRascal wasted no time in volunteering to "help." Any yarn movement was quickly pounced upon!

Figuring that he would get bored with this pretty quickly, I went off to do something else. When I came back....

Rascal being possessive.... he had patiently parked himself right on top of the unchained bouts.

By the way, the dowel rod running through the top of the warp chains is how I keep the bouts from unchaining themselves when I carry them to the loom. That part I do without "help." :)

Posted 23 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Experiments in Warp Painting
Learning Ikat Technique
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wound Neck Steek

By Leigh

Now that chilly weather has arrived, I have resumed knitting on my Shetland Sampler Cardigan.

Body of Leigh's Shetland Sampler Cardi
You may recall that I put it down for the summer after completing the Siamese Sleeves. Besides the sleeves, the body of the sweater was largely done. Since it is being knit in the round, it was just too hot to work with in my lap. Now it's pleasant to have such a project on my lap (with or without cat).

I first contemplated knitting this project with steeks when it was still in the planning stages. With the help of a little book called Essential Techniques For Serious Knitters by Peg Arnoldussen (click here for more info on that), I've been able to muddle my way through checkerboard steeks for the front and sleeve openings. Those were fairly easy to master but now that I'm to the neck, a different type of steek is in order; a wound one.

Here's a first look at my somewhat sloppy wound steek.......

1st attempt at a wound steek
At first I thought I'd have to wind yarn the length of the neck opening, but it occurred to me, no I don't. The wound yarn ends up as waste anyway, so only a couple of winds around the needle are actually required. Because of that it doesn't lie flat for a photo, but that's okay too.

Since I'm not following a written down pattern, I'm pretty much having to wing it with just a written description of such a steek. I bound off the top of the front checkerboard steek, and also for the front neck shaping.

Now that I've gotten over the mental effort that the figuring out of this took, it's coming along fairly quickly. Before I know it I'll be ready graft the shoulders. I decided to go ahead and graft them, in keeping with Fair Isle knitting tradition (which this project is technically not.) After that comes the dreaded cutting of the fabric! (Or should I cut first and then do the shoulders? More decisions!)

I believe that this is the fastest I've ever knit any sort of sweater. If all goes well with the cutting, sewing, and band knitting, I may actually be able to wear it this winter!

Related Posts:
Sewing & Cutting The Steeks
Steeking So Far
Shetland Sleeve Update - a look at checkerboard steeks
Siamese Sleeves Done!
Technically Not Fair Isle
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Experiments in Warp Painting

By Leigh

Warp painting was the next step in the Easy Ikat and Warp Painting Workshop, and this is what I was busy with over the weekend. Other participants had already reported surprise at some of the results they had gotten. So I shouldn't have been surprised that I was surprised with my results as well.

The procedure was basically the same as I used for painting roving (see this post for more on that), except that I this time I was painting cotton yarn instead of wool roving, which meant that I had to use fiber reactive instead of acid dyes.

In the workshop notes, Kaz recommended Hands On Dyeing for amounts of the ingredients needed for fiber reactive dyeing, so I'm going to pass on that recommendation to you. The yarns were presoaked in a warm water, salt, washing soda solution, according to the weight of the yarns. The dyestocks were made up of a 1% solution of dye powder (I used Procion MX) dissolved in water.

Warp being painted on cling wrapI painted them on with those little sponge dabber thingies.

Folding the warp up in the cling wrapExcess dye was mopped up and the yarn folded carefully in the plastic wrap it was lying on.

All rolled up and ready to batch.These were rolled up and allowed to sit for 24 hours. No steaming required. I did find a warm place to let them batch though. The next day, I thoroughly washed and rinsed them.

The surprise? Well,...

1st set of painted warps...... one thing that surprised me was the yellow. I used Procion Yellow MX-3RA, a warm yellow, which looks more orange to me than yellow. I do like these, but not to go with these ......

2nd set of painted warps It definitely has some zing, doesn't it? However I wish I'd used a cooler yellow, because this is not a green I like very well. Besides the color itself, I think that either my warp bouts were still too wet when I started painting, or I got too much dye on them. For example, there are some way too long sections of green in the second set of warps. I'd anticipated shorter sections of color, suitable for a short project like a bookmark.

This has been interesting but it leaves me with a dilemma. There is no way I'm going to use those two colorways together. So I have to decide which one to use. Then I'll try to match that with a second round of warp painting. Actually this has been a lot of fun, so I may just keep on painting until I finish off the cone!

Posted 17 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Learning Ikat Technique
A Day For Painting Roving - using acid dyes on wool
Weaving At Last - project details
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done - how it turned out

Friday, November 14, 2008

Learning Ikat Technique

By Leigh

Karen Madigan is teaching an "Easy Ikat and Warp Painting Workshop" for the Online Guild this month. Both of these techniques are new for me.

Ikat is the one technique that has puzzled me. "Warp painting" seems pretty self explanatory, but "ikat"? What in the world is that? So far I have learned that the word is Malaysian, for a type of tie-dye. Thanks to Karen's well explained lessons, I am getting a better idea of what that actually means.

For this workshop we are combing both techniques to make bookmarks. I decided to measure and dye my ikat bouts first.

First I measured three, 3 yard bouts, and learned how to tie them in the ikat resist technique.

Ikat with CatI cut up plastic shopping bags for the ties. Here is a close up....

Close-up of ikat tiesThe tying is actually quite simple. Not only was it well explained in the lesson notes, but Karen also demonstrates it in a YouTube video. Click here to view that. At first I thought the tying would be tedious, but it really went quite quickly once I got the hang of it.

Karen recommended dyeing the ikat bouts with a dark color, such as black or dark blue. I have heard that dyeing black is difficult, but I followed her recipe using Procion MX's Pro Black 602A (from Pro Chemical & Dye), and was pleased with the results.

Ikat warp dyed & dried.For 11 grams of yarn I used:

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. washing soda
  • 250 mls warmish water plus
  • 50 mls of 1% dyestock (from 1 tsp of dye powder in 100 mls water)
This is a lot of dyestock, but it did achieve black for me. The yarn sat in the dyebath for about an hour. I stirred almost constantly for the first 15 minutes, and occasionally during the last 45.

The next step will be to measure the warp bouts to be painted, and then do those. Maybe over the weekend?

Posted 14 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
1st Procion MX Dye Experiments
Experiments in Warp Painting
Weaving At Last - project details
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done - how it turned out

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

S&W Samples 2: Tabby Treadling Order

By Leigh

This has been an interesting experiment. The focus of summer & winter is usually on the four classic patterns which can be treadled (1-2-1-2, 1-2-2-1, 2-1-1-2, and 1-1-1-1). For this next set of samples however, I experimented with how each of these looked depending on which tabby treadle I started with. Let me show you what happened.

The first sample is the 1-2-1-2 pattern treadling order.

It didn't matter which which tabby treadle I started with, there was no noticeable difference in either the pattern or ground cloth. The result looked the same.

With the paired treadlings (1-2-2-1 and 2-1-1-2), there was a difference, depending on which tabby I started with. You can see it in the ground cloth.

This next sample was the effect of leading with the "a" tabby (shafts 1 & 2)......

If I started with the "b" tabby (remaining shafts), this is what it looks like.....

The effect is more striking if we step back a bit ...

Notice the ground cloth. I got a pink (tabby thread) diamond effect by starting with tabby a (top sample). I got a brown (pattern thread) diamond by starting with tabby b (bottom sample).

In her Summer & Winter: A Weave for All Seasons, Donna Sullivan explains why this happens.

The difference occurs because each tie is used twice in sequence. If the 1-2 tabby falls between the two members of a single pair, the pattern wefts in those sheds will "cuddle" together. If the 3-4 tabby occurs in this position, the pattern wefts will be pushed slightly farther apart, and slightly closer to the nearest weft floats in the adjoining pairs.1

You can see that happening in the close-up photos above. The effect, though subtle, is something I'll keep in mind.

The effect of tabby order with the last treadling, 1-1-1-1, was the same as with the 1-2-1-2 order I showed you first, i.e. no difference.....

However, when I tried the same exercise with the other pattern shed, 2-2-2-2, I discovered that it was the pattern itself which was effected. Notice the columns in the photo above: four fat, nicely defined, straight pattern columns are treadled, along with narrower, less well defined columns in the ground cloth.

Compare those with the columns in this 2-2-2-2 pattern treadling below....

Notice there are five pattern columns, with some variation in width. I don't know if you can see in the above photo, but the two outermost columns are formed with 2-thread weft floats, as opposed to the 3-thread floats which form the three center columns (the same as in the 1-1-1-1 sample) . It is the edges of the pattern blocks which are effected. This is why the 1-1-1-1 treadling is usually preferred, and is significant enough to keep in mind while designing.

I have to say that this was an informative exercise, which also shows one of the benefits of sampling. I plan to add these samples to my S&W notebook.

Posted 12 Nov. 2008 at

1 Summer & Winter: A Weave for All Seasons, Donna Sullivan, (Interweave Press, Loveland, CO, 1991) p. 16

Related Posts:
Summer & Winter: A Basic Definition
Summer & Winter: Treadling
S&W Samples 1: Traditional Treadlings

Sunday, November 09, 2008

WNCF/HG Towel Exchange

By Leigh

Yesterday was the final WNCF/H Guild meeting of the year. In addition to officer elections, this was also when our towel exchange took place. You may recall the waffle weave dishtowels I wove for that. But before I tell you about that, I'd like to backtrack to show you the drive up the mountain to the meeting. Even though it's a little late in the autumn color season, it was still a real treat.

The exchange took place after the business meeting and program.

There were 18 participants. By drawing numbers, we traded for as many towels as we brought. In addition, each participant received a project sheet from each towel weaver.

I was very pleased with the towels I received. They are exactly my colors!

This one is a plain weave with twill weft stripes, woven by Bobby Payne.

And this one is a warp faced compound tabby woven by Lynda Feldman.

This was the first exchange I've participated in. Besides two lovely new towels, I am also delighted to have a project book with so many ideas and samples. Definitely a welcome resource.

Related Posts:
Waffle Weave

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Almost Like Christmas

By Leigh

I am the happy recipient of Peg's recent stash cleaning. This is all cotton ....

A wonderful assortment of cottons to spin.A closer look ....

Peruvian and Pima cottonsLovely natural cotton rovings from The Bellwether.

Organic Upland cottonLuscious organic cotton from Mielke's Fiber Arts

Lovely cotton poonis"Real" poonis (as opposed to mine, click here to see how I make them) neatly wrapped in a newspaper in who knows what language.

Natural colors plus commercially dyed pencil rovingPlus a sampling of other cotton goodies.

A match from my own stashInterestingly, I already have a cone of that pencil roving! The bit from Peg has a label in non-American spelling,
"Cotton Pencil Roving
Colour - Solar Flame"

I got mine came from Holly Bee when I was taking weaving lessons there 8 and a half years ago. Talk about a small world!

I promise that I tried to encourage Peg to spin at least some of this herself, but I can't say that I'm not delighted that she prefers spinning other things. I'm happy to be able to look forward to more cotton spinning in the future.

Posted 6 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Spinning Cotton Lint

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hurrah for Hardy! Hurrah for Wine!

By Leigh

You may or may not know that I use Ubuntu Linux for my operating system. I have been absolutely, totally happy with it, except for one thing: weaving software, most of which is written for Windows. Except for the Advancing Twills workshop, where I had to do my drawdowns by hand, this actually hasn't bothered me too much. Plus, I haven't relished the learning curve that comes with any new software. I do have Windows as a dual boot on my computer, but I haven't found my need for weaving software worth the nuisance of that.

I did try ArahWeave, which is written for Linux. You can read that post (with lots of screenshots) here. ArahWeave however, though free and loaded with features, is a dobby loom program and so didn't meet my immediate needs.

Still, sometimes a weaving program would be handy. Such as for the Towel Exchange I'm participating in, because I need to include the draft on the project sheets we're going to exchange. This is when a program like Wine would come in handy.

Wine (acronym for Wine Is Not an Emulator) is free, open source software which enables Windows programs to run on Linux, Mac, etc. It has been included in all the versions of Ubuntu I've had. However, when I downloaded WeaveDesign awhile back, I couldn't get it to run with Wine. Disappointing, but not enough to take the time to do anything about it.

With the towel exchange due date coming up however, I decided to try it once again on my latest version of Ubuntu, 8.04 aka Hardy Heron. I can't tell you how excited I was when WD opened up, ready to use. And here it is .....

Ta-Dah!  A Windows program on my Linux machine!
One thing about WeaveDesign however, is that I can't use it for skeleton tie-ups, such as I'm using with my latest summer & winter weaving. It won't allow me to click on more than one treadle per shed. But with the success I've now had in getting WD to open up in Wine, I'm encouraged to begin exploring other weaving programs and downloading some demos. Any suggestions?

Related Posts:
Weaving Software for Linux
ArahWeave Continued
More Weaving Software That Can Run On Linux