Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FO: Weaving - Tropical Handtowels

Handtowel-002 Border Detail

My first project woven on the big Toika loom, Yay!

I wanted to weave a simple, mostly plain weave project just to shake down the loom and get a feel for how it weaves. So, I planned a set of handtowels with a random stripe warp (the longwise threads) in colors to match the crazy pink bathroom’s shower curtain, and wanted to try several simple twill and basketweave borders that could be woven with a straight threading and treadle tie-up for 2/2 twill. Desired finished size ~ 12 x 18” plus fringe.

Handtowel-002 Done

Knitters, this is what those scary looking cones of really skinny cotton are for. The yarn is about laceweight to heavy laceweight, and I even mistakenly bought one cone of 20/2 cotton that’s the size of cobweb-weight, but decided to use it anyway for a little extra texture. It weaves up fast though – the actual weaving time on these was just a few hours. Setting up is the time-consuming part of the process.

The colors look great together, and I like my mis-matched borders. I had a number of missed threads on the reverse, since I think the cotton occasionally sticks to itself. But, otherwise, the cotton was easy to weave, and I’m still working on the right combination of tension on the warp threads and how hard to beat in the weft (the crosswise threads) to get a balanced weave (same number of picks per inch as ends per inch, or same number of threads longwise and crosswise for plain weave). My fabric did shrink more in length than width though with a machine wash and dry, so the finished fabric is closer to being balanced, and I think it looks better.

Handtowel-002 Borders

Since I was asked at weaving guild, the edges had no special treatment. I didn’t use a floating selvedge since there was going to be so little twill. I did twist the colors together at the right edge and catch the edge thread on the left with the shuttle on pattern picks. Mostly, I try to weave reasonably quickly, at an even pace, and without fussing with the edges so that a steady rhythm will even out my edges.

It will take me a while to get settled on an ergonomic weaving position on this loom, but otherwise, once I finally figured out how to tie-up the treadles (the foot thingies) to the harnesses (the eyelets the threads go through that, in part, determine the pattern) for a decent shed (the open area between the threads where you throw the shuttle across), it was easy to weave countermarch (a loom type where some harnesses go up and some go down at the same time, on a jack loom they only go up or down). I’ll set up something with a bit more complicated threading or treadling for the next project though.

Project: Handtowel-002
Pattern: Plain Weave and Twill
Technique: Twill and Basketweave borders
Source: Chandler, Learning to Weave
Loom: Toika Norjaana
# Harnesses: 4
Reed: 10 dent
Width in reed: 14.5” 13.5” after draw-in
Warp yarn(s): Cottons from Stony Mountain Fibers in 8/2, 10/2, 20/2
Sett: 23 epi
Weft yarn(s): Same as Warp
Picks per inch: 18
Width: Off the loom unwashed 13.25” / Washed 12.75”
Length: Off the loom unwashed 22 - 23” / Washed 19 – 19.5"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Assortment of Projects

It’s like a Whitman’s Sampler of the fiber arts and projects around here lately. Welcome to my knitting, spinning, weaving, and ham radio blog! Wanna see some FO’s?

While in Mathews last week, we finished the Hubs’ second radio tower.

Heron Haven 130' Tower - last section up

Yes, that’s the Hubs up there at 130 feet. No, I do not climb up there.

Heron Haven 130' Tower - PHB at the top

But, his is a hobby that makes anything I want to undertake seem reasonable, small, and inexpensive by comparison. For example:

Me: I think I’d like to take up weaving.

Hubs: Well then, you should get a loom.

Me: Umm, I may have already found some used looms on craigslist.

Hubs: Looms? How many looms?

So, now you will have to endure my noob weaving for a while. First, I wove off the warp that was on the Baby Wolf when I bought it. Some sort of lineny-cottony blend, and it worked perfectly with the cottolin I had on hand to make a nice, simple dishtowel with a monk’s belt border.

Dishtowel 01-3  border

Pattern: Plain Weave, with Monk’s Belt border, pattern on page 98 of Dixon’s Handweaver’s Pattern Directory.
Woven on: Schacht Baby Wolf, using 4 of 8 harnesses
Warp: Mystery cotton-blend
Weft: Cottolin, 22/2, Cream and Green, from Weaving Works
Finished Size: 17 x 27”, hemmed

Handspun Twill Scarf:
Then, I unwove the scarf I had started on the little table loom as it was taking FOREVER to weave. I did in fact unweave almost three feet of scarf, take the warp off the loom, untangle it a bit, wrap it on the warping board, then beam it onto the BW. Oh yes I did. This was one of those “only a beginner would do something dumb like this because they don’t know any better.” But, hey, it worked!

Goblin Eyes Twill Scarf - 2

The warp is sock yarn (very stretchy, which was a challenge, but soft) and the weft is my handspun(!) Romney from last year’s Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club. The scarf is woven in a simple 2/2 twill which I think really shows off the texture of the handspun, and doesn’t fight too much with the subtle serendipitous stripes.

The scarf has had a soak and a little agitation by hand, much as I would wet finish yarn that I want to set and full just a bit. I used fairly hot water in a big pot, some Eucalan, and dunked the scarf a number of times, rolled it in a towel, then hung to dry.

Goblin Eyes Twill Scarf - 8

Pattern: Straight 2/2 Twill with plain weave borders and knotted fringe
Woven on: Schacht Baby Wolf, using 4 of 8 harnesses
Warp: Tess' Designer Yarns Super Socks & Baby, in a semi-solid dark chocolate brown, 1 skein, 450 yds, used every bit of it.
Weft: Handspun Romney, Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club, October 2007, Goblin Eyes colorway, ~350 yds fingering/sportweight.
Finished Size: 11 x 74”, plus fringe

So, then, I spent a week trying to figure out exactly how to set up and tie-up the Toika loom. And now I know why you do in fact need to have a warp on a countermarch loom to make the tie-up work, despite the loom instructions' claims to the contrary. The beginner wins some and loses some.

I dressed the loom with a very bright random striped warp of 8/2 and 10/2 cotton for a set of handtowels to match the shower curtain in our crazy pale coral pink 50’s tile bathroom. The plan was to weave something simple and fast just to get the feel of the loom, and not get too fussy about little missed threads here and there. Each towel has a different border of twill or basketweave, and will be finished with a short fringe unless I change my mind and hem them all.

Handtowel-02 On the loom
Need some shades to look at these

No more photos of these until the Hubs gets back to Charlottesville with my camera.

Then, I found a sweet little spinning wheel for sale on Ravelry. It’s a 70’s vintage Pipy Saxony, from New Zealand (again, the link will have to do until the camera gets home). The wheel is small enough to pop in the car, 16” wheel, single-treadle, double-drive or scotch tension, with a very “polite” take-up that will be just right for spinning thin. Along with the wheel, it’s former owner Sarah sent me some beautiful hand-dyed BFL in teal blue and violet from her Etsy shop. Mmmm, BFL.

Speaking of BFL, while the Hubs is up on the tower, or while we’re waiting for the wind to die down enough for him to get any work done at the top of the tower, I get long breaks and have learned to bring lots of knitting and my spinning wheel along. Last FO of the day is a skein of brown BFL hand-dyed by Gale Evans, who was a classmate at the Folk School in January, and who has her own Etsy shop. I spun this over a period of a couple of months, so the grist of the singles varied quite a bit, and I decided a the last minute to Navajo-ply which means the thin and thick spots didn’t get a chance to even each other out as they would in a standard 2-ply. But, I liked the idea of preserving the color changes instead of blending as this roving had real potential to ply up to be sort of muddy. I fought the wheel at a few points as well which left me with odd bits of plying. But, overall, I love how the skein turned out, and think I see some stranded mittens being knit with this.

BFL Deep Blue Sea-03

Fiber/Starting Weight: Brown Blue-Faced Leicester, ~4oz.
Purchased from: Gale’s Art, at the Folk School, colorway Deep Blue Sea
Spun with: Lendrum DT, fast-flyer, middle whorl 15:1 / moderate tension
Plies/Method: 3-ply / Navajo
WPI/Gauge/TPI: ~14wpi / DK to Light Worsted / 9tpi
Yardage/Finished Wt: 215yds / 3.6oz
Started: June 2008
Completed: 9/18/2008
Intended Project: Mittens maybe?