Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shadow Weave Bookmarks

Let me tell you about my sad Christmas bookmark project.

Why is it sad??

I really don't like how it came out. I will still blog about it because I'm fearless that way!!

(And because I still want to document projects, even when I don't like them!!)

Instead of my usual, beginning, middle and end posts for each project, I'm going to do just one post about this one....since it really didn't work.

When Jim and I were collaborating on his green scarf, I ordered this shadow weave book since one of the drafts he liked was shadow weave.

1000 (+) Patterns
in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weaves
By Marian Powell

In November, I was thinking I'd weave something quick and easy to give as small Christmas gifts.

When the book arrived, I noticed a pattern that reminded me of a Christmas ornament. I decided to make bookmarks with it.

The book is a little confusing to look at, but the draft I chose is photographed on page 241, with instructions on page 207.

Photo: pg 241, 8 - 2 - 13
Draft: Page 207, Number 13

I had some red and green rayon mill ends from WEBS from my visit in July.

I wound the warp and dressed the loom in record time and wove my first bookmark (above).

I've heard that red and green look muddy from a distance when combined closely, but I hoped as bookmarks the colors would be OK together - since you'd only see them close up.

I made mistakes in this bookmark, but the biggest problem is that it's about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. I wanted a longer, narrower bookmark. Or at least a longer bookmark.

I fiddled with the pattern and added more repeats of some of the sections.

I realized that I wasn't weaving a balanced weave (as I had planned). Instead the weft was packing in too tight making the bookmark too short.

For my second bookmark, I didn't beat as hard so I'd achieve a balanced weave and a longer bookmark.

I achieved that, but it's too loose and sleazy. (You can see holes in the picture above).

Sett is my Nemesis

In hindsight, I think my sett was wrong. I chose a sett of 15. WEBS recommends 15-18 for this yarn.

I thought that shadow weave should be sett like plain weave. (I read that in multiple sources).

Maybe if I had sett the warp more like twill, the weft wouldn't have packed in so tight.

Does that analysis make sense to you?? Is there something else that you think I did wrong or could have done to remedy the situation?

One thing that did work was putting cardboard between bookmarks to reserve warp for fringe. (I know I learned that from one of you brilliant bloggers, but I can't remember who!)

I got plenty of practice hem-stitching. I hem-stitched all the rest of the bookmarks.

After the long bookmark, I could have cut, re-sleyed and salvaged the rest of the very short warp.

I'm not quite sure what I was thinking (or not thinking), but I just wove the rest of the warp even though I could tell it wasn't coming out. I didn't want to cut it off. I didn't want to figure out how to improve it. I guess I was hoping for some kind of Christmas miracle?

Now I have this set of 5 hideous pieces of fabric that I have no use for. I think they'll go into my finished project notebook. I wonder if they'd somehow magically shrink if I washed them.

I guess I have to try it, now that I've had that idea!! I'm not optimistic, but I have nothing to lose. If a miracle occurs, you'll be the first to know!! (And if you have some other brilliant idea that would turn this into something/anything useful, please let me know!)

It's funny how I can be so attached to the outcome for some projects, and so detached about this one. I know that taking creative risks involves failures, and that's fine with me - as long as it doesn't make me stall out! (This project definitely didn't slow me down a bit.)


~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I think it's really great that you are recording your trials and tribulations. It's so frustrating to put so much effort into something, only to have it fall apart. But, you look at everything as a learning experience. I'm learning a lot about perseverence from you. Thanks.

Synnøve. said...

Godmorning Sue.
Im not realy understand what you are doing, but Im think it looks nice.
Im a sort og person that cant knit, or crochet (Il hope its right)
So I think it looks verry nice that you do.

Il hope everything is alright wiht you.
We dont have so cold know, but they say that the coold will come back in february. Il hope not!
The snow keeps falling and it is so beautiful outside.
Only minus 7 degrees celsius, but you remember we had down to minus 40 degrees celsius cold.
It is a bit to coold for me.
Know I wish you a verry nice wednesday there you are.

Hugs Synnöve.

Susan said...

You can wash them up and see if the yarn tightens up enough?

Failing that, I can recommend the wonderful inner satisfaction that comes with a ritual burning of the errant project.
Done this once or twice and would do it again if I needed to.

Toast marshmallows... enjoy it!

:) Susan

Delighted Hands said...

You mustn't give up until you wash/dry them-and perhaps had a long tassel. If that fails, I love Susan's suggestion! (Who says we have to love everything we do-it is good to have a learning moment!)

Leigh said...

Just don't call them bookmarks, call them experimental samples and put them in your notebook as you mentioned. You learned a lot from them so they were definitely not a waste of time!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes....we all have disappointments show up on our looms! I have one idea for your current cloth. Shrink the heck out of it, then press it hard, then consider using them for handwoven holiday greeting cards. You can use card stock, cut out a window in the front panel, glue the fabric behind the window with a glue stick or some two sided tape, then back it with a piece of paper. Don't hesitate to cut up your fabric for them. Maybe only show the center of your pattern. It might be cute if you chose the right color paper. I have seen a lot of left over hand woven fabric used this way with good results.

Future tips when working with shadow weave....1. Best results are seen with highly contrasting colors. These two colors are too close in value. Choose something very dark and something very light....2. Yes, the sett should be the same as plain weave because you have the same number of intersections of warp and weft, therefore, I believe that the sett suggested by Webs was erroneous and misleading on this fiber (oh the joys of using mill ends!). 3. The bookmarks that I have seen that were the most successful were worked in much finer thread...sewing thread or 60/2 silk. They are a great way to jump into these frighteningly fine fibers since the warp is so narrow, you only have 80 ends or so to deal with when threading etc.


ladyoftheloom said...

I think wet finishing is the way to go also. I love how things change in the water, I think Laura Fry calls it magic.

The note card idea is something I am toying with for my project that is stalled out on the loom right now!

Burning sounds fun too!

Jennifer said...

Someone who may be good to ask is the fabulous ribbon artist, Laura Nicholson at


Great ideas thought - it's something I would think - maybe in next year's gift box????

Julie said...

Right now I think any weaving looks pretty good!

Annie said...

My advice would be: put them away somewhere and 'find' them again next winter or so. You may think: wow! Did I make that? Because disappointments in weaving will happen. Most of the time that's because things don't work out as expected. When you see those things again after a long time, you don't remember what you expected.
2. Don't use complementary colours in shadow weaves. One is a shadow, remember? So let one be dark, the other light(er). (Can be different colours) The result will please you more, I think.
3. In a project like this, when I don't think the sett is right, I tend to try and find another weft material, or double the weft. Will work great sometimes.
4. Don't throw these away! It's learning material!

Sara said...

Hmmm...it is a learning experience! I would keep at least one in my weaving journal and record what your thoughts are.

I would maybe cut one off and wash it to see what happens...and if it works - great - and if not - oh well. but, I would record what happened in the journal.

Sharon said...

Figuring out the right Sett is the hardest part of weaving for me, which is why I've decided to weave dishtowels for the next months. I know what the sett is so that's out of the way. Maybe sew them together as part of a bag??? Good luck!

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for the great ideas and information!!!

I have to mull it over a bit, but I think my plan of attack will be to wash the whole group to try to shrink them. Then if that doesn't do anything good, I think the greeting card thing might be fun.

I'm so glad I blogged about this because I like all of your ideas better than my "just put it in my notebook" idea.

Part of me wishes I'd blogged about it back while it was on the loom in December, but I was trying to keep it as a surprise for some people (related to me) who read this blog. But now I wonder if changing the weft, or doubling the weft, would have made this work out fine.

You guys are such a great source of ideas! Thanks for letting me lean on you!


charlotte said...

Thank you for this very interesting post! I have no experience with shadow weave nor with rayon. But I'm sure you find a way to use these bookmarks. Would it be possible to use them in Christmas cards, since they're red and green?

Anonymous said...

Sue, my books of weaving samples over the years have quite a few with the word "disaster" written on them. Sometimes it was the yarn's fault (or so I wanted to believe) and sometimes I just had to do it over with perhaps a different sett, better tension, even beating, no mistakes in threading and treadling, and finishing properly. So, I think your bookmarks are pretty nice and next time they'll be winners!