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.

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