Friday, April 29, 2011

Out of the Comfort Zone

One of the challenges our group set up for this year, was to weave something out of our comfort zone.  Marcy and Betsy both decided to weave with colors they normally don't use.

First up - Marcy's scarf was woven with blues and pinks in a variety of wools. 

Marcy was concerned that her scarf was a bit too scratchy to be worn next to the skin and the group decided that perhaps some of the yarns were rug wools or more suitable for outer garment weaving.  However, there were suggestions about using a fabric softner or a creme rinse for hair to soften the fibers. We all agreed that the scarf would be stunning over a winter coat and that the softness wouldn't matter at all in that case.

Betsy brought three new pieces - two long, slender shawls in teals and one in a brilliant orange (which was outside her comfort zone).  The orange shawl was fantastic with the teal  and purple yarns making a perfect contrast for the bright color.

Sue Habegger decided that there were potential garments in the two blue shawls, and did a trial draping using each shawl as half of a garment.

And, outside of my comfort zone is a warp faced piece of 600 ends and 8 inches wide, woven on Gilmore's "Big Wave" loom.  Read more about it here on my personal blog.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's All About Chenille

There is chenille and then again there is chenille.  Sue Robertson was shopping through magazines for weaving project ideas and kept coming upon articles that showed you how to weave chenille yarns for another project. It almost seemed like a "sign" that she should undertake this task. She and her mother are both quilters - so there were abundant fabric scraps and Sue had this and that leftovers of acrylic yarns.  So the first step was to cut everything into strips and put on a widely spaced warp.  Sue said the threading for the warp wasn't a straight draw, but she didn't have her original draft, so we will have to guess what it was.  The weaving is straight forward and the results are in the photo below.  

This photo is a good one to enlarge to look at the details of the weft in this rather solid and weighty piece.

The next step is to cut lengthwise  between the warps with a rotary cutter and voila, you have chenille yarns.

The last step will be to weave this handwoven chenille into a rug.  Twice woven and twice the fun.

Because I was interested in finding articles about this process, I went through my stash of Handwoven, Weaver's and Praire Wool Companion magazines.  I'll bet the directions can be found in Spindle, Shuttle and Dyepot, but I didn't get those out to look.  Here is a little bibliography for those of you who may find yourself with stash that is too good to throw away, but not good enough to weave with. Turn it into chenille!

Beck, Ulrike. "A Pile Rug in Handwoven Chenille". Handwoven. Jan/Feb. 2008: pp 36-39.
Gaustad, Stephenie. "Do-It-Yourself Chenille". Handwoven. Sept./Oct. 1992: pp.62-64.
Piroch, Sigrid. "A Plushy Mat for a Cat". Handwoven. Sept./Oct. 1996: pp. 53-55.
Xenakis, David. "Yarn for the Weaving". Prairie Wool Companion. Issue 7: p21.

While we are on the subject of chenille, Gus Young showed us her masterpiece in progress.  She had two different weights of white rayon chenille yarn.  After winding warp chains alternating both yarns, she soaked them in soda ash and painted them with fiber reactive dyes.  The darkest threads are teal - then she just kept added more water to get a lighter and lighter color.  This is the backbone of a chenille shawl - weft will be teal rayon and cotton.  The loom is a Gilmore (of course)!

An interesting feature of this photo is the way Gus has tied bouts of her warp to the back beam using texolve heddles.  She loops texolve around a dowel tied to the back beam and then knots bouts of her chenille and forms a larks head  around that knot to secure it to the back beam. 

During the meeting we talked about fringes on a chenille piece.  Most people twist them first before washing.  We are always on the lookout for good ideas, so if you (reader) have any good tips, please add them to our comment section. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's April and we had lots to talk about!

So much went on in the April meeting, that it may take a while to put it all in blog posts.  We did a fair amount of discussion about selvedges - weighting them, floating, doubling ends, etc.  And, we talked about chenille - what to do about the fringe and how to protect it during wet finishing; using it in the warp - the weft, both warp and weft.  Then, there were cures for scratchy wool (is there a cure?), tofu and shellfish yarn?? and what to do when you absolutely don't like the scarf you have just finished. Weaving outside of your comfort zone is our theme for the year and several of us took plunges.  All will be told in good time.

Ingrid has been raiding her husband's t-shirt drawer and carefully replacing what she takes from a stash of new ones so that he won't notice the thefts.  She cuts the tubular shirts into one long strip, one inch wide for weaving in a log cabin type design.  Each t-shirt makes one large ball so there aren't many joins and the knit curls on itself making a nice tidy weft.  The warp is white and purple and the idea was to make a bathroom rug to replace one that is worn out.  (See her blog post here).  She miscalculated the length, and didn't get the first rug long enough; has resigned herself to having to go out and buy t shirts and start over with a new rug.  One of our discussions was about how to cut the shirts into one long continuous piece.  Her reference is Rag Rug Handbook by Janet Meany and Paula Pfaff - page 18 "tube method".  We were wondering if there is a source for tubular knit in yardage stores, so that t-shirts might not be needed.

Someone mentioned that t-shirts can be cut in rings and used like sock loopers.  Just knot them together to weave.  Some people didn't like the idea of the knot bumps, but it really sounded like an intriguing idea to me.

Jackie brought her copy of Favorite Rag Rug: 45 Inspiring Weave Designs by Tina Ignell.  Nice book and lots of great rag rug ideas.

Stay tuned for handwoven chenille for rugs in our next post.

Friday, April 01, 2011


Betsy Abrams wove this great rag rug using a rose path threading and treadling.  She doubled the cotton rug warp and sett it at 6 ends per inch.  Something really colorful for the kitchen.

There is quite a story to this shawl, woven from handspun yarns. Sue Robertson (pictured) thinks that the wool yarns were spun by Dee Jones. The shawl was originally started at a public event (maybe the fair) and left unfinished on the triangle loom. Someone in the guild wanted to borrow the loom, so Sue carefully removed it in its unfinished state and when the triangle loom was again available, replaced it on the loom. This is a feat in itself! She set about finishing up the shawl, but found that she was getting short of colors for the fringe. So she had to set up crock pots for dyeing and discharging (in the middle of the winter) and she managed to get enough wool that matched to finish the shawl. And, it is a beauty.