Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Outside Me

I've been thinking about why I'm often dissatisfied with my weaving projects.  I don't mean dissatisfied with the resulting product, although that's sometimes true, but rather that I'm uninspired or uninterested in what I've made.  It doesn't lead to further work in that vein, or not often, at any rate.

Why is that?  Well, among many contributing factors is this: Often what I weave is driven by something outside of me.  I take a class and I have homework or I want to finish up something started in class.  I want to weave a present for someone, a present designed to fit their preferences, not mine.  I want to use up my capacious stash, rather than buy more.

Now, all of these are perfectly good reasons to weave something, and in fact may push me outside my comfort zone.  But where are the projects I weave because I want to explore something?  They don't come along often, but I think I need to make more time for them, even if it does mean my niece doesn't get a handwoven linen tablecloth as a wedding present.  (She may not even want one, for all I know.)

So, here's a project that I'm making just for me.

Let's call it Warp Number Zero, because it's off the loom, but quite recently.  Handspun wools, blended with silk, mohair, alpaca, Angelina, and who knows what. I forget how many different fibers - perhaps 6 commercial batts, plus 2 yarns that I spun some time ago, plus 4 or 5 batts I blended just for this.  The mixture of yarns and fibers yielded a slight seersuckering, but overall I adore this. Plainweave, warp-faced, weft is commercial 16/2 blue-violet cotton.  Thoroughly machine-washed and mostly dried, then pressed through a damp press cloth and dried flat the rest of the way.  About 15 inches wide in the reed, sett 40 epi, warp was 8 yards long.  Destined for, and inspired by, clearly, a Sara Lamb-type kimono.  I still need to spin and weave a band for the front opening.  That will be warp #3 or 4 or so, depending on when I finish the spinning.

What I like and don't like, so far: This fabric has a lovely hand - light and drapy, yet with substance. I like very much the wash and contrasts of colors across the width, which is not conveyed well by my lousy photography. There is one spot where I'd prefer a better blending effect, but it barely bothers me. I can live with the seersuckering, but I'm already spinning for an all-BFL fabric, which probably won't seersucker as much (but who knows). I like the complexity of colors within even just one of the yarns I spun for this, complexity resulting from hand-painted or hand-carded fiber (and not carded particularly evenly). I am interested in spinning and weaving more complex yarns like these, and I need to learn more about how a particular pattern of painting will spin up.  Ditto for the many different ways to spin a single hand-painted braid.

I'll have more to say about this fabric when it's sewn up and has been worn for a while.  I'm hoping to finish the kimono by New Year's or thereabouts.

Monday, September 26, 2016


There's something about a vacation that makes me think about changing up my life.  I'm old enough now that I've given up on the get more exercise/eat better/go to museums/lose weight/travel more sorts of changes, because changing habits is hard and I'm lazy, but this time I thought it might amuse you to know I'm planning to track my weaving progress over the next 100 warps.

It's all Devin's and Sara's fault. Well, Devin's fault, really, as he has just been able to move the floor loom he bought when he was 13(!) into his new house and, in the resulting fog of weaving fumes, has committed to weaving 100 warps using a certain twill he loves.  All in handspun wool, if I remember correctly.

Now, as should be apparent, I am ever so much more sane than Devin and so I am not committing to weaving 100 warps of any one thing, unless you count "what interests me" as one thing.  I'm firmly into the beginning-intermediate stage of weaving (emphasis on beginning), so I have heaps and heaps of weaving things to learn and try and be seduced by.

If I'm committing to anything right now, it's to learning these two skills:  discipline and patience.  See where I wrote changing habits is hard and I'm lazy up there in the first paragraph?  Yep, I need to work on discipline.  Discipline to stick to a worthwhile project for the months, perhaps a year or two, that it takes to accomplish something I'm satisfied with.  And then, of course, enough patience to have that kind of discipline.

Enough words.  Time for pretty pictures.  Here's warp #1: warp-dominant plainweave in odds and ends of wool around Harrisville Shetland weight, woven off with wicked skinny purple wool (oh, look, I'm too lazy to go look at the cone for the actual size).

Eight yards of warp, about 34 inches wide. Perhaps three yards are woven, so far? I put this on the 4-shaft Purrington late last winter, when my brain was fried by trying to understand everything Laurie Autio is teaching us in Year One of her Explorations in Advanced Weaving class. I needed simplicity. No particular finished project in mind, although it would make a nice jacket or skirt, if it ever gets woven off.

There are other looms with warps on them, but this is enough for now.