Rayon Chenille and Woven Shibori – OMG!

(This blog post was originally published August 19, 2010 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

chenille-shibori-scarf

I just finished a rayon chenille weaving project that was a few weeks in the works, mostly because of travel and not procrastination 😉 . I was using the dye resist technique known as Woven Shibori and popularized by Catharine Ellis in her book by the same name.

I’ve been meaning to try this technique for some time, and having the summer basically off to pursue my projects meant I had no excuse. The technique involves weaving the scarf first before any dyeing happens. I chose some light grey chenille that I’ve had for perhaps a decade. You weave it with pattern wefts inserted every inch or so in some strong thread that will be gathered up and tied once the scarf is off the loom.

chenille-shibori-1

chenille-shibori-zoom

I chose a simple four harness (two block) Monk’s Belt pattern, using 5/2 pearl cotton for the resist thread. I chose that cotton because it was the only thread I could find in the stash that wouldn’t break when I pulled on it very hard. (That’s important.) The gathering of the scarf creates the resist, and it has to be pulled very tightly. I ended up re-tieing after I’d done it once, just because I wanted it to be good and tight.

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The next step is to overdye the scarf with a darker, or contrasting color, obviously a color that will harmonize with the original yarn. I decided to go with black. I dyed the scarf using my usual procion dye procedure for rayon yarn. After doing that I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed (because black is stubborn), and let it dry. I ended up waiting for 3 weeks to get back to it, and cutting all the pattern knots, revealing the resist (undyed) areas inside.

The scarf dried in pleats. So I washed it again, and dried it in the dryer to soften the chenille and all the pleats washed right out. I have a lot of commercially dyed rayon chenille in different colors, and this is the perfect stash-busting technique for those cones.

Here’s one last detail photo of the finished scarf.

chenille-shibori-detail

WHEEE! I’m Published

(This blog post was originally published May 24, 2012 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

Now it can be revealed! (Well, I don’t know how much of a secret this really was, but I was waiting until the actual magazine was published before I blogged about it.) I have a project published in the (latest) May/June 2012 issue of Handwoven magazine!

My project is the Houndstooth Scarf in Diversified Plain Weave, and I gotta say that the whole process was both scary and exciting.

It started in January when I wove my first Diversified Plain Weave scarf (DPW for short) and blogged about it. Picture below. The editor of Handwoven noticed my blog piece and sent me a very nice email asking if I would like to do a project for the May/June issue, which was about DPW, among other techniques. I answered, “Yes (gulp)!”

I had an idea for a six-block houndstooth profile draft in DPW. (BTW, there aren’t a lot of six-block houndstooth patterns out there, so I kind of had to figure it out for myself.) So I worked it out and wove a prototype, pictured below.

The yarns I used were just some chenille and cotton that I’d had in my stash for years quite a long time. Brand X chenille Mill end chenille and 40/3 cotton. I needed some main stream standard size yarns to do a magazine project, so I ordered 1450 ypp chenille and found some 20/2 cotton, and I was off and running.

The project was due in the third week of February and I was weaving right up to the last minute. I even took a half day off work to do the last minute finishing on the piece and get it ready to mail, along with the Project-at-a-Glance information sheet and the print outs of the pattern file and profile draft. When you are weaving for publication, every detail has to be just right, and I was feeling the pressure.

The project looks great in the magazine, I must say. Here is a sneak peak if you haven’t seen it already:

And, here is the profile draft for the six-block houndstooth pattern:

Enjoy!

New Adventures with Chenille: Diversified Plain Weave Wow!

(This blog post was originally published December 30, 2011 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

One of the many projects I’ve had simmering in the studio for a while has been a Diversified Plain Weave scarf using rayon chenille and cotton. Diversified Plain Weave is a clunky term for an elegant weave structure that produces a lovely, supple rayon and cotton fabric. You can use other materials including wool or silk, but rayon and cotton is what I have around, and (especially the cotton) need to use.

Diversified Plain Weave (hereafter referred to as DPW) has been around for a while. Klara Cherepov produced a small book on it in 1972, which I checked out from the university library. I found it cryptic and unreadable, much less something I could actually use in the studio. This “classic” DPW relies on pretty strict rules concerning threading and weaving. Each pattern block consists of two shafts, in addition to two tie-down shafts. Odd and even shafts must alternate. Many other rules must be applied.

Madelyn van der Hoogt’s article titled “Thick ‘n Thin Again” in Weaver’s Magazine (Summer 1997) is an excellent summary of “classic” DPW, the pros and cons. However, in this article she introduces a new and improved DPW that eliminates all the hassles of the original, and this totally got my attention.

In this new and improved version, blocks are threaded and woven independently of each other, and do not have to follow a prescribed order. In other words, DPW was transformed into a true block weave. Each block consists of two thin tie-down threads on shafts 1 and 2, and a thick pattern thread on a third shaft. For my scarf I used 1200 ypp rayon chenille in black for the thick warp and 40/3 cotton in black for the thin warp. For the weft I used 1200 ypp handpainted rayon chenille for the thick weft, and 40/3 cotton in black for the thin weft.

Here is a shot of the scarf on the loom:

It was threaded 24 ends per inch, 2 thin threads and 1 thick thread per dent in my 8 dent reed. I added a floating selvedge on each side. I made the warp 9″ wide, and wove 70″, not including fringes. When I got it off the loom it had shrunk to 8 1/4″ in width and 68″ in length. After zigzagging the ends I soaked the scarf in the sink, rinsed it, and spun out the extra water in the washing machine. At the laundromat (don’t own a dryer, never have) I dried it only until damp-dry, then laid it out flat at home to dry the rest of the way. It had shrunk to 6 1/2″ x 60″, a whopping 15% shrinkage in length, and 18% shrinkage in width. That was quite a surprise, but good to know as I plan to do a lot more of these!

Here is a shot of the finished scarf:

The underside of the scarf is the opposite of the top side: the black becomes handpaint and the handpaint becomes black. It’s pretty cool.

What I would do differently:

•I would wind the two tie-down warps together from two separate spools along with the thick pattern thread, thus eliminating the need to stop and cut the warp every time I change yarn. (I may have been weaving for 40+ years, but I can still do stupid stuff with the best of them.)

•I would put the handpainted yarn in the warp instead of the weft, thus eliminating the stripey effect that handpainting yarn naturally causes.

Here is the profile draft that I used

Each block in the threading represents 2 tie-down threads and 1 pattern thread. Each block in the treadling sequence represents 2 “tabby” shots and 1 pattern shot. (Please note that you do not get a true tabby with this threading.)

And here is a sample of my actual drawdown:

The threading sequence goes: tie-down thread on 1, tie-down thread on 2, pattern thread on 3, 4, 5, or 6. This three thread sequence can be repeated at will and you can follow any pattern block with any other pattern block, odd or even.

This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

And I’m Published Again

(This blog post was originally published June 3, 2013 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

I’m pleased to announce that I have a weaving project published in the May/June 2013 issue of Handwoven magazine which is just out on on newstands as we speak. It’s such a rush seeing your work in a print publication — there’s really nothing like it. And the issue theme was perfect for me — color. If there’s one aspect of fiber that I am always focusing on, it is color. With a capital C. Structure runs a close second, but Color is where I live.

This Circles Scarf is the project that I wove for Handwoven. It is a Diversified Plain Weave scarf, woven with rayon chenille for the thick warp and weft, and 20/2 cotton for the thin warp and weft. Here is the front view (that is, the front of the fabric)

And here is view with the underside (back) of the fabric:

 

When I got started with this idea, I was playing around with profile drafts and quickly realized that in this design the front and back of the fabric were very different. In this screen shot the front is on the left, and the back on the right:

When you move through the color blocks for each row of circles the neutrals of the warp appear as circles embedded in the weft stripes. On the back the opposite is the case, the vertical stripes of the warp have circles of color embeded within. Magic!

Here is the Profile Draft for the design. You can go crazy with different structures, but personally, I think the Diversified Plain Weave that I used for this scarf is the way to go.

Enjoy!

 

Shameless Plug

(This blog post was originally published February 26, 2013 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

I’ve been weaving a lot of circles (see my previous post) and using a lot of colors of rayon chenille in small quantities. And it occurred to me, this isn’t a problem, for me, because I dye my yarn. I even over-dye my yarn if I don’t like the current color. But for many weavers, having a lot of colors of rayon chenille at your finger tips might be a pretty expensive proposition.

You can order chenille from the big yarn suppliers, but only on 1 pound cones. At upwards of $15-$20 per cone. Ouch. This is where my shameless plug comes in. I have a shop on Etsy where I sell hand-dyed and hand-painted rayon chenille, in addition to hand-painted tencel and cotton yarns. In small quantities. I sell the cotton and tencel in 4 ounce skeins. And I sell the rayon chenille in 4 ounce skeins. I could even dye to order if a request came my way.

I’m not the only indie dyer out there selling, but if you think about it, this is a real convenience that we provide. Folks needing small quantities should really look into this as a yarn source.

Ok. As I said, I’ve been weaving circles

Circles in Diversified Plain Weave. The warp is alternating stripes of black and gray rayon chenille. The weft is (you guessed it) stripes of rayon chenille in bright colors. This is the prototype scarf for a project I’m hoping will land in a forthcoming issue of a weaving magazine. More about that later.

After I finished weaving my scarves I decided to push the circles idea further and came up with this:

This profile draft has 8 threading blocks, which means for a weave like Diversified Plain Weave or Summer and Winter, you will need 10 harnesses. It will weave in Crackle on 8 harnesses, but I like DPW or S&W better. This design will just have to wait ’til I have more time to devote to it.

Pretty cool huh?

 

Turned Taquete: Next Generation

Over the years I've had several projects published, mostly by Interweave Press. My earliest project was in 1984 when I had two dishtowels accepted for the Design Collection series. I was soon to start an MA program in Craft Design at Iowa State University and I was beyond excited! The next two were a woolen scarf for another Design Collection and, sometime in the 90's, a necktie with palm trees in Theo Moorman technique that was actually in a Handwoven magazine. (BTW, all of my magazines and books are in storage right now so I can't actually check dates or anything.)

After a huge block of time, decades, I was invited to submit a project for a scarf in Diversified Plain Weave to Handwoven and wrote about it here. The project was a 6-block houndstooth pattern woven using Diversified Plain Weave (DPW for short) for the structure. The next year I submitted another DPW project for Handwoven's color themed issue, this time the concept being woven circles (a neat trick using only 6 blocks I might add).

This attention is fun, but in the back of my mind, I always wonder who (if anyone) ever actually weaves these projects. Okay, show of hands: how many of you have actually woven the Circles Scarf????

Well.

Fast forward to … 2015. I wrote in this blog about a Turned Taquete scarf that I designed from a pattern called Jitterbug.

It was my first attempt at using the book Weaving with Echo and Iris. That design was both fun and very challenging. I was so happy when I finally got it right and wove it and shared it in this blog.

And it didn't go unnoticed! Denise Kovnat, who is in the Rochester, NY area, and writes the blog Random Acts of Color, asked my permission for one of her students to use my design in a workshop she taught at MAFA in Pennsylvania. Of course I said yes! And then recently she sent me an image of the finished piece that her student wove. And. Oh. My. God. Take a look at this:

 

 

This scarf was woven by Tina Kiethas and it won an award! Says Tina: “The scarf was in the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers “Celebration of Fibers” show, and it won the Katherine Wellman Memorial Award for imaginative weaving incorporating design, color, and texture.” She hopes her piece will inspire others to try Turned Taquete.

I am so happy for Tina, and so proud that she used my design for her weaving. Well done!

 

Jitterbug and Turned Taquete: Step By Step

I’ve always been intrigued with this design.

I found it in the book A Handweaver’s Source Book: A Selection of 146 Patterns from the Laura M. Allen Collection, edited by Marguerite Porter Davison. It is the first pattern in the book, appearing on page 12. This pattern collection differs from most in that the draft is given in a shortened version and it is assumed that the weaver will be able to derive a useable draft from the information given. Certain conventions apply: a standard twill tie-up and tromp as writ treadling.

Meanwhile, I have been studying Marian Stubenitsky’s Weaving with Echo and Iris. I love the designs in this book, and I wanted to weave them, but I also wanted to understand how to take a profile draft all the way to a Turned Taquete draft. Not easy. Not intuitive. Also, when I try to get my head around network drafting, which Stubenitsky relies on a lot, my eyes roll up in my head, and I reach for a glass of wine.

In this post I will take you through the steps that (I hope) will get any weaver from a four harness pattern draft to an eight harness Turned Taquete fabric. (Disclaimer: I’ve only done the one design, so this process is only for the bravest of the brave. Expect setbacks. But persevere.)

First Step: Take the pattern and write it as a four block profile draft. Treadling is tromp as writ.

Second Step: Rewrite the four block draft as eight blocks. (You will need eight blocks to translate to eight shafts in order to interleave the threading.) Treadling is still tromp as writ.

Here is the eight-block threading, also known as the Design Line:

 

In her book, Stubenitsky devotes a huge amount of space to four-color threadings, but I was more interested in two-color threadings. I zeroed in on interleaved threadings that can be woven as Turned Taquete, see pages 195-199. Once the eight block Design Line is established, the next step in the book is to take the line and pair each end on a 1/1 network. Since I don’t do Network Drafting, I prefer to just say, Pair each end with its up or down partner without increasing the total number of ends. As I see it, this pairing of ends in the Design Line will create more of a flow in the design, easing the blockiness of it.

So this is the Third Step and this is what that draft looks like:

 

Notice that the tie-up is now 4/4 and the treadling is still tromp as writ. Here is the threading:

 

The next step is to interleave the paired threading at an interval of your choice. I decided on an interval of 4, but you could do 3. This is why we haviing weaving software. I went to Threading, Interleave, and chose my interval, and then voila.

Fourth Step:

 

 

Now the number of warp ends has doubled, and has two alternating colors. Later I will change the black and gray to aqua and magenta. The weft will be lavender.
Fifth Step:
Adding tabby treadles to the tie-up (10 treadles are neceessary here) and inserting tabby shots to the treadling draft. One repeat of the threading is 264 warp ends. One repeat of the treadling is 264 weft shots. I doubled the threading to 528 ends. One, because you really need to do that to get the full impact of the design, and two, because my warp was sett at 56 epi and I wanted more than four inches in width. Here is the treadling draft and tie-up:
This color draft shows the final result.
I was a bundle of nerves getting the warp on the loom and starting to weave. The warp is 20/2 tencel sett at 56 epi, and it took forever to thread the heddles. The tencel itself is a joy to work with and it wound on just fine. I wove a few inches and was so overjoyed that it actually worked that I forgot that I was weaving top to bottom instead of bottom to top. In addition, I am weaving the back as the front. Yikes!
I threaded the warp colors magenta/aqua instead of aqua/magenta. Turns out that makes a difference ; – )
A few photos:

 

I’m using 20/2 tencel as the weft, but I’ve been reading about projects with 30/2 tencel or 60/2 silk as weft. If I had used a finer weft, the pattern motif would weave with less length. I will wait and see what the final result looks like once off the loom and washed and pressed. That 30/2 tencel is kind of hard to find, and silk is really not in my budget.

I’ve got enough warp for a second scarf, and I will try a different color weft instead of lavender for that one. Meanwhile, back to the loom!