Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weaving Scarves (and Spa Cloths)

It's funny when you feel as though you're not making any progress and then you start counting up the finished items... and realize that you've gotten quite a bit done indeed!  I'm feeling much more cheerful about my weaving.  Not much is being done on the floor looms, but my rigid-heddle looms, especially my little Cricket, have been working their heddles to the bone!

Spa Cloths

I've finished nine spa cloths.  They're all hand-finished, washed, dried and ready to find new homes.  The four in the photo above are destined to leave here in the next few days.  The three in the bowl... well... we'll see what happens with them.  I have lots of yarn just waiting to become more spa cloths.  There's more of the lavender, lavender linen to make a different version, a set of natural colored yarn for yet another set and much more waiting in the wings!

Scarves and More Scarves
I usually don't like making scarves.  I seldom wear them and don't often give them as gifts.  However, they're great as samples.  They typically don't use much yarn and they're a finished project.  I've been working with my Cricket, developing projects that could be woven on a narrow loom and still be attractive.  Here are two scarves that depend on the color of the yarn to make them work.

Autumn Scarf
This scarf, while technically woven on the Flip loom, could easily have been done on the Cricket.  It has very subtle color variations that don't really show in the photograph. The warp is striped in stripes, alternating wide stripes of forest green with narrow ones of brown.  The weft is the autumn-colors Kauni Effektgarn (color EV).  It's easy to see the gradual shading of the Kauni, but the warp stripes give a depth to the scarf that's more subtle.

Faux Ikat Scarf
Now this one is just fun, and I mean fun!  You take a handpaint sock yarn with shorter color runs (this isn't the time for Mini-Mochi or Kauni) and arrange it on the warping board so that the colors pool together.  You can't wind the warp "out-and-back" style as you usually do, you have to wind it around in large circles.  The diameter of the circle depends on the repeat of the colors.  I used Great Adirondack's Silky Sock for this scarf.  A single color repeat was a bit over a yard, so the finished scarf with two color repeats was.. very long.  Not The Fourth Doctor long, but long.  The interesting thing is that it's not as easy to get the colors to pool as you might think.  Sometimes, I think they had been caught in a skein backwards or something because the winding would be going along well and then would come a thread that didn't fit at all.  I finally realized that those threads would have to simply be cut out.  Things went better after that, until I saw that one rogue thread made it into the warp, dead in the middle.  I pronounced it a design element and off we went!

The scarf is woven off with Malagrigo Sock in Violeta Africana, a beautiful tonal purple in Malabrigo's cushy-soft merino wool. I am really proud of this scarf!

Lace on a Rigid-Heddle Loom
But tabby weave, while pretty, was getting a bit boring, so I decided to play with weft floats.  In multi-harness weaving, this is how laces such as Atwater-Bronson and Huck laces are done.  The same thing can be done even more easily with a rigid-heddle loom.  All that is needed is the addition of a pick-up stick.  The pick-up stick is placed such that every other slot warp thread is caught.  Then when the pick-up stick is used in place of the down heddle position, only half of the threads are lifted, which means the weft thread skips over all of the hole warp threads and half of the slot warp threads.  This draws the warp threads together just close enough to make a normal down heddle pass stand apart from the weft float section.  And this gives us lace!

Bamboo Lace Scarf

The first lace scarf was woven in a fingering weight pure bamboo, Midori by Fiber Lady. I met the Fiber Lady folks at KidNEwe this year.  Their yarns and rovings are beautiful - hand-dyed in luscious colors.  But the natural color is beautiful, too, and I thought it would make a lovely lace scarf, as indeed it did. I bought WAY too much yarn and roving from them, but I probably won't see them again for a year, so I had to have enough to tide me over!  The next ones will probably be woven on the floor looms... maybe.  Again, this scarf was technically woven on the Flip, but could easily have been done on the Cricket.

Aqua Panda Silk Scarf
And here's the last scarf in the collection, a lace scarf woven in Panda Silk.  The warp is the subtly variegated Blue Lagoon color while the weft is the solid Aquarium.  The Blue Lagoon gives the scarf very subtle warp-wise striping. While it was on the loom, I thought it would have been better to have woven it with the colors reversed.  Now that it's off the loom and finished, I think I prefer the way I did it.  I'm working on another Panda Silk scarf with the variegated in the weft and the solid in the warp.  We'll see how it compares.

So back to the looms and more weaving!