Friday, December 4, 2009

Down to Brass Tacks

I expected to have trouble weaving these scarves. I didn't expect to have so much trouble choosing a weft!

I'm going to drone on and on and on about my weft dilemma in this post. The good news is that I do reach a conclusion. (And it's also good that I'm warning you of droning right up front. That way you can just scroll through and still get away with commenting without sounding like you didn't read!!)

Washed and unwashed first samples

You may recall that I wasn't happy with the look or feel of my washed and unwashed samples for my First-Time-at-WEBS scarves.

Too stiff, and the wildness of the warp was being tamed too much.

I begged all of you for advice, and you gave me great advice!

Texture Sampler

A few ideas included using green in the weft, using a lighter color in the weft and using mohair in the weft.

In my texture sampler, with just 1 inch squares, I had tried several of these ideas. Mohair seemed the most promising of the ideas, since the resulting fabric was soft and flexible.

After raiding my stash, the first four yarns I wanted to try were my pink Earthguild yarn (rayon, cotton, flax blend), black cotton, purple Earthguild yarn, deep navy wool-silk.

I was also trying twill rather than plain weave for the first time on this warp.

In this picture, you can see the pink yarn in a twill weave, followed by the black, purple and navy and more.

One thing I realized right away is that with twill, the weft shows even more since it's skipping over more of the warp. I'm somewhat anti-twill in general. I know that twill provides drape and there are some really cool twill patterns. But I don't really like twill. I'm learning to like it, but I'm not totally there.

The other thing I realized is that I had much more draw-in in my first sample. So now, even though I hadn't changed the sett, the fabric was more open.

First sample sitting on current warp

You can see that in this warp which is less than 10 inches wide, the sample with the coral and turquoise is over an inch narrower than the samples I'm weaving this time around.

I think it's because when I started weaving last time, I used the technique of throwing 3 picks of plain weave before beating. With each set of 3 picks followed by 1 beat, the edges pulled in more and more.

In that first pink section of weft, I decided to abandon twill for now (even thoughworked hard getting the loom set up with 4 shafts and re-threading so I could weave twill.)

After that small section of pink, I reverted to plain weave for the rest of the samples.

Second set of wefts

My second set of wefts contained some long shots: navy and bright colored ladder yarn, burgundy mohair boucle, thin purple wool, variegated blue ladder yarn, purple luxury yarn (wool, alpaca, angora - who knows what), and pink earthguild again so I could see it with plain weave.

You can see the yarns in order here, starting with the ladder yarn with chartreuse streaks.

I was surprised to like the darker ladder yarn and surprised at how much the boucle overpowered the warp. I had been thinking of ordering a ball of a boucle that would blend with the weft, but I'm so glad I sampled more.

I was also surprised that my first reaction, and Jim's too, was that the first ladder yarn looks the best with the warp. It has a lot of sheen and irregularity, both of which might make a nice scarf. Even though this is a strange use for that yarn, and doesn't really make the most of the ladder yarn.

After sitting with these samples for a few days, to let my intuition have time to develop, the navy wool-silk has grown on me quite a bit.

My three yarn finalists are:
  • purple Earthguild yarn (I just can't give up on having this scarf be in the pink/purple family)
  • navy wool-silk
  • streaky ladder yarn
They ended up in order from bottom to top in that photo of the sample.

Since I'm still fighting to get 3 scarves out of this warp, I cut out weft that I knew I wouldn't use. It's much easier to unweave if you're willing to cut and discard the weft.

Remember when adding a stick and cutting off the start of a warp was a big deal to me?

Now it's run of the mill!

I hemmed the sample and cut it in half down the middle. (I'm pretty sure I heard that idea from Theresa at some point).

One half has gone through the wash and is air-drying.

The hand feels good with all 3 of my yarn choices, so I'm finally ready to start weaving! Phew!!

I try to do 3 posts per project, a beginning, a middle and an end. This project already has a whole lot of middle and I haven't thrown the first picks of the actual scarves!

Here's hoping for smooth weaving ahead!!

Two side notes:

Wikipedia on the phrase "down to brass tacks"

The photo quality in this post suffered from all different lighting conditions - including a power failure. I didn't use a flash for most of the pictures. It's hard to see the color accurately.

After writing the post this morning, I'm wondering if the weft is too dark. I'm still pulled toward the pink and purple. I just hope that I actually have enough warp to make this into 3 scarves....then I can go with the navy, the ladder and the purple or pink. Time will tell! (And you know I'll show you what I come up with!)

If you made it this far, thanks for listening!

Related posts:
Asking for help designing in the reed
Project kickoff
Designing in the reed
Asking for help showing off the warp
Exhaustedly starting to weave samples


Delighted Hands said...

Me thinks you think too much! lol
Pick a color and go for it-you have 3 choices-the navy contrary to your wishes is winning, the pink can be another choice and purple for the last one; ready ,set, go!

Theresa said...

Okay, I love to see how a truly analytical mind works!
That is a whole heap of thought and sampling for a scarf warp, but I understand completely why thanks to your thorough post. We all have such different approaches to how we decide to weave something and what we like. It's great to compare and keep some of those ideas for when we get stuck in our own process.
BTW, I am actually swatching a sample for knitted sweater, I HATE to swatch, but since this will someday be a gift sweater, I suppose it should be as good as I can make it. And we all know it will take me about a year to knit the dang thing!
Weave on Sue, all the colors look great.

charlotte said...

I like the dark weft very much, and I think your scarf will turn out lovely.Have you considered weaving panama? Panama has longer weft and warp floatations, and perhaps both would show better?

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read the wiki article - so many different possibilities (like your weft, now I think of it).
Do you find the small samples work for you? I'm still trying to figure the right size, to be meaningful without too much work/time/material invested.

Ginny said...

As a rank beginner, I love hearing about the process that you are going through to make your decision and the reasons behind them.

I feel like your loom should have stadium seating behind it so we can can all be there cheering you on!

Deanna said...

Thanks for sharing your process, Sue. It's fascinating to follow.

If we're voting, I vote for the navy weft - I think it preserves the character of the warp the best.

Bet the weaving is going to be FUN!

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for the encouraging words! I really appreciate it.

Today I finally had time for a design session in my studio. My first order of business was figuring out my scarf plan. Weaving has commenced!!!! (By my calculations, I can do 3 scarves, one in each of my 3 weft choices. That way I can choose my favorite from my full-sized sample and find other homes for the other two.)

Thanks for the idea of Panama, Charlotte. (I think it's the same as basketweave from what I could find.)

As far as sample size, I'm definitely fiddling around with it and do different sizes for different projects. In this case, I had limited yarn, so I couldn't sample as much or as large as I'd prefer. Extrapolating some of these tiny samples into an actual scarf is pretty much impossible.

But I could tell which wefts really didn't work and the three inches of the navy wool-silk that I've started out with look beautiful. I'm so excited!!

I'm most worried about the ladder yarn looking weird when I go to a bigger size of it. Luckily, it's pretty easy to unweave since it's so slippery, so I'll weave 8 inches or so then decide if it's too streaky. The hand of the fabric with that weft is great.

I'm definitely an intuitive person, despite seeming analytical to some people. (I am an engineer - so yes, I'm analytical as well.) I had a really hard time getting that feeling of "YES, this is my path" on this scarf. I usually like to have that feeling when I'm working on something.

The weaving has been fun so far, and this week should be great since I'll be weaving these scarves first thing every morning.

I have a lot to say about this project, obviously!!!


Sharon said...

I love all the samples and had fun looking at all of them. I had no idea about the dowel technique. I think I clicked on each picture three times. It doesn't make sense that glue holds that dowel in place but boy am I glad to know it does. That's the second cool new thing I learned this week - thanks!

Life Looms Large said...

About that dowel and the glue.....I have used the dowel without glue a couple of times since last winter when I tried cutting off and gluing.

Today I had a huge FAIL without using glue. I think because this warp is loosely sett, I didn't have enough woven to hold the down in place and some of the fluffier yarns slipped out. I ended up un-weaving and just tying on since I have fringe at the start of the warp. But I'm definitely leaning toward glue in future scenarios where I want to cut off and use a dowel!

If you're reading this comment and have no idea what I'm talking about, somewhere back in my huck ramblings I cut off the start of a warp for the first time. It's very freeing, even if sometimes it causes problems!


Jennifer said...

Keep going Sure - you'll get what you want and teach us a lot in the menatime!