Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nearly two yards in....

I have woven nearly two yards of the new cotton fabric.  The warp consists of half 12/2 naturally pigmented cotton, here shown in a better picture, washed and unwashed:

The yarn as it comes from the tube is shown on the left.  On the right, you see it after it was simmered in water with washing soda and a little Dawn dishwashing liquid and dried.  The change in color is dramatic.

Magical, isn't it?

The cloth underway on the loom consists of one end of the yarn above and one of a pretty fine but highly refined cotton, a 36/2.  They alternate across the warp and the weft is solely the very fine cotton.   The cloth on the loom looks like this:

I plunked down the little reelings I photographed above so you can see them and get a little sense of the scale of the cloth.  It is fairly open plain weave which when washed will come together to be a little less transparent. 

Sad to say, the 36/2 breaks very easily.  If a couple of threads cling to each other and are struck by the shuttle, that's that and I need to do some mending.  I have done a lot of mending but once the fabric is off the loom and washed thoroughly, none of the mends should show.  I watch ALL the time so that I can catch broken ends and do the mending promptly.

Meanwhile, I am having trouble with my camera.  I can only get one image at a time and then have to fiddle and fiddle.  I think something is wrong with its innards and since it is under warranty, it will be shipped back for factory repairs.  I have a less capable camera I will use in the mean time.  I am grateful that it still works!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Silk washed and ironed and the next thing....

I finished weaving the samples last night and washed and ironed (yes, ironed because I wanted to show off the luster of this lovely silk) the samples today.  Here is how the experiment turned out:

The colors are vibrant and I think you can see the luster of this beautiful silk.   This piece is going off to Redfish Dyeworks as soon as I can get it packed up and addressed. I promised Elf and Sandra a sample and I keep my promises
 When I taught at MAFA in 2009 (Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association conference) I stopped in the A Touch of Twist booth.  While I was looking around I found some naturally pigmented cotton for sale.  They had a 10/2 green and a 12/2 olive (a darker green once washed).  I know that the cotton fiber in the boll is covered with a sort of waxy covering.  Unless you are spinning cotton yourself, that coating is usually removed before the cotton comes to handweavers as yarns.  In the case of the naturally pigmented cottons, no bleaching or dyeing is performed so the yarns come to us with that waxy covering intact.  The color of the yarn once that coating has been removed is very different for these naturally colored cottons.  I particularly like the olive green and decided that I would like a simple cotton top for summer wear.

The cotton, 12/2, woven across itself, even plain weave (which produces the lightest fabric for a given yarn) would be heavier than what I wanted.  I bought a very fine, very refined, cotton (~36/2) some years back.  It is what I would call oyster-colored, a very light, neutral gray and I decided it would be good with the olive color.  The plan is to alternate them in the warp and perhaps use just the fine cotton in the weft or perhaps use two shuttles, on pick of each, alternating.
The little winding on the right is the color on the cone.  The darker color on the left is what the yarn looks like when it has been scoured.  What I did was put some hot water in a little pan along with washing soda and just a little dishwashing liquid.  I simmered the yarn briefly and presto! the color was revealed.  Yes, you can wash the resulting fabric several times to develop the color, but using washing soda isn't harmful to cotton and is the quick way.

On to measure out the warp!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An experiment

It has taken me some time to get my feet under me after IWC.  It isn't clear why it has taken so long but things are under control here and the lawn is freshly cut so I can get back to weaving.  I am rarely away from a loom for more than a day or two on either side of a teaching trip, but not this time.

I got some 20/2 silk from Redfish Dyeworks at IWC and have converted the skeins to cones--tedious job--and finally have the loom dressed and have begun weaving.  I am experimenting with the colors I brought home with me and am not sure yet whether I am sold on what I have begun to weave.  I don't make decisions about the cloth until it is off the loom, washed and pressed.

Here is what I am seeing:

I am weaving it in a two block twill and have almost made it through one complete color repeat. 

We'll see what I think when I have woven all of it and then finished the cloth.  The yarn is very easy to use: it's strong, smooth and lovely to touch.  A couple of the skeins are a little striated, not completely level dyeing.  I don't mind that at all; it simply points out that it was hand-dyed.  And of course, it was.  Elf is good at that!

What do you think?