Saturday, 26 October 2013

New Zealand and WOMAD

I have a new finished item! It has taken a long time due to the ongoing issues I've had with my hands but they are finished and have been gifted to Iain.

When we visited New Zealand last year for my brother's wedding Iain and I stopped over at Clyde in Central Otago. I came across Touch Yarns last time we visited New Zealand and I fell totally in lust with a scarf kit I kept seeing. In the end I purchased the kit comprising two hand dyed yarns in the most amazing autumn colours and a new obsession was born. 7 years ago Touch Yarn was responsible for me starting to knit again and I still own and love that scarf.

So, it was only reasonable to stop over in Clyde specifically to visit the shop and I did make several purchases while I was there.

The Magic Merino yarn is beautifully soft and it is really brightly dyed. The yarn is soft and very slightly sticky. I found it delightful to use.

I knit one sock from the outside of the ball and then the second from the inside using 2.5mm dpns. This has provided a very subtle difference in the socks.

I'm really pleased with how they look and this is the second time I have knit this pattern (Spey Valley by Nancy Bush) and I think it looks great. The pattern was easy to upsize for Iain's size 11's.


Monday, 21 October 2013

Twill Sample

When I did my weaving course there was a 75 twill sample in the back of the coursework. One person at the Guild has made the whole sample - all 4.5 metres!

Having seen that I had an idea and purchased some scrummy, yummy mercerised cotton from Helen at MyFineWeavingYarns at Wonderwool in 2012. The cotton itself is fairly loosely plied but it is lovely to work with, it is easy to use and creates a soft cloth with lovely drape and shine.

I selected 5 colours for the project: turquoise because it makes me happy, then raspberry and orange because these three colours remind me of Andy Wahol's Marylin Monroe series. I then added jade and to really make it vibrate a richly hued purple. The colours are all saturated and together they make me think of sunshine, beer and steel drums; a veritable carnival.

Starting and finishing with tabby I wove 25 different twills, changing colour for each twill block. Some twills were a pleasure to weave and a few may never be woven by me ever again. I did have some issues with dressing my loom (I'm getting better) and I managed to nose dive my boat shuttle in a couple of places without realising I had done so. This does mean the piece isn't error free but it certainly is handsome.

It also has an asymmetrical fringe. I double knotted one end which took a long time. The other fringe has been purposefully left longer so I can decided if I wish to double knot that side. It does however let me easily identify the start of the sample and, thereby the lift pattern. After all it is meant to be a sample.

I just have to decide what to do with the rest of the warp.


Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Jolly Good Weave

Having been missing in action for some time, I have wanted to get back to blogging but powering up the laptop and downloading photos from the camera all seemed a bit of a fag. However, I having come across Blogsy I thought I'd give it a go as it seemed to fit in with my technology.

This weekend has seen me in a class, weaving shibori and I am happy but exhausted.

First, a word about shibori. It is the Japanese method of resist dyeing and usually uses stitching, tieing, folding and twisting to form a pattern on a plain white cloth which is then dipped in an indigo bath to develop a blue and white pattern.

When traditional shibori has been dried and opened up it generally retains its crinkled appearance and is very stretchy until the cloth is finished (when the stretch is removed).

The above two photographs show the same piece of cloth. The top one is shibori with the stitching removed but it has no received a finishing treatment. The bottom photo shows the same fabric with the pattern stretched out, this gives an indication of how the pattern would look in the finished piece. The sample is silk.

The use of resist dyeing is is seen around the world with a variety of methods being used. A popular method when I was a child in the 70's was known as tie dye. Of course the use of resists (as in batik) is also common.

Batik made using hand stamping with wax, dyeing and repeating the process for each colour used.

The Japanese use hand stamping with a resist made of rice flower or seaweed (depending on the location) and the. Dye with indigo.

Having had great fun producing beautiful fabric using vat dies and methods of folding and wrapping, I really wanted to do this workshop on woven shibori; a modern weaving technique pioneered by Catherine Ellis. The course was held at the Wiltshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers with Pat Foster leading.

The homework for the course was to warp the loom according to a chosen weaving pattern, I selected monk's belt which turned out to be incredibly easy to weave. I managed to achieve a reasonable warp so that signified an excellent start (and pleased my weaving teacher who was also attending the course).

The morning of the first day included a talk and then it was time to get busy with the weaving.

By lunchtime I had cloth which I was proud of and by the end of the first day I was I was onto the second sample.

Tired and happy it was home for dinner and an early night.

Day two saw more weaving and then it was time to cut the samples off the loom and get them ready for the dye bath by tieing them up into little tight parcels.

By the time I was finished they looked like two little rag dolls, ready to be sacrificed to the dye pot. I especially like the green one, very cute.

As I had used cotton these bundles were wetted, placed into a Procion MX dye bath of purple, massaged and left to react. They were then rinsed off. One intrepid student opened their parcel at the studio. Isn't it glorious?

It was time to go home so everyone took their tied up bundle home to let them dry before opening. Back at home, I couldn't resist and opened mine up to dry.
Aren't they gorgeous?
I loved the workshop and shall be making more pieces of woven shibori.