Tag: cotton

My love of cotton

One of the advantages of developing your own style with one specific technique is really spending quality time with your materials – learning them inside and out. 

I’ve been weaving for about 12 years now and somewhere in the first 3-4 years, I did a placemat project that called for carpet warp (sometimes known as rug warp). It’s a tough cotton typically used for rugs. I loved it! 

This type of yarn comes in a million colors and won’t break the bank. And as an added bonus, I have a great resource close by in Kalamazoo, Michigan! Great Northern Weaving offers lots of options for me and in a pinch, I can get in the car to drive the hour & a half to see the yarn in person. It’s a great arrangement! 

Working with the same fiber for so long has given me an appreciation for what it can and can’t do. Carpet warp is a work horse! I think in the many, many projects I’ve done, I have had a yarn break once. It’s so durable and sturdy – perfect for handbags! 

On the flip side, I’ve discovered that because of its sturdiness, it’s not ideal for wearables. It just doesn’t drape well or soften up enough. It’s also not ideal for fringe – it doesn’t keep its shape. If I am weaving a table runner, I either hem the fabric or twist the ends. That keeps the finishing work looking clean. 

One of the other considerations is the amount of shrinkage. For a plain weave/twill weave structure, it can easily shrink 10% in both directions. What is crazy is when you do a little Rep weave (Ripsmata), it can go as high as 20-25% for the length! I don’t find this to be a pro or con, it’s just the nature of the beast. 

I tend to use carpet warp for all my warps. The wefts will vary, depending on the desired end result. But I’ve found it to be very versatile and crazy colorful, which works perfectly for me! 

What are some of your favorite fibers or materials? 

Zen weaving…

Over the years, I’ve had a number of folks watch me weave and comment on how meditative it must be. My response is usually, “Yes, it’s very zen… until I mess up!” That’s sort of how life is, right? It’s going along swimmingly, until it isn’t. And that’s your weaving philosophy for the day!

Here we are, in a sea of cream!
Here we are, in a sea of cream!
Moving right along!
Moving right along!

We are coming down the final stretch for the project, which is great news! I’ve found over the years that sometimes shorter projects are better. So, I have it spaced such that about the time I’m ready for something new, the knots come around the bend! It’s wonderful when things work out that way!

Let's dust in a little brown...
Let’s dust in a little brown…
See the necktie making an appearance?
See the necktie making an appearance?

I love some of the warm, caramel colors in this section of the fabric! Reminds me of baked chocolate cookies – homemade, of course! (Mind you, not baked by me, but by my brilliant sister and Ma – who can completely rock some homemade cookies!)

In a caramel haze!
In a caramel haze!

And what do we have here? The knots have stealthily worked their way up to the mid-section of the loom! I have no more space for weaving – meaning it’s time to pull out the scissors!

We're at the knots! Woohoo!
We’re at the knots! Woohoo!
Start snippin'!
Start snippin’!

I like to start in the middle of the project, cutting close to the knots in the back. Then, I shorten up the tails once I’ve made a knot at the fabric. Snip, knot and repeat until the fabric is free of the loom!

Working my way out from the middle.
Working my way out from the middle.
Release the fabric!
Release the fabric!

Ahhhh… the fabric is almost completely off the loom! Next up, I’ll release the knots from the front and lay it out to see what we have! (I always forget how the project started by the time it’s done. So, it’ll be fun to check it out!) Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Weaving 76

 

It's not easy, being green…

(How many of you are currently imagining Kermit singing with his banjo? Yeah, me too!) Hello! The project is progressing beautifully! I never know exactly how things will come together. So, I’m always surprised! It’s part of the fun!

Rag shuttle to the rescue!
Rag shuttle to the rescue!
A tunnel for the shuttle!
A tunnel for the shuttle!

I started with really dark greens and now I am firmly in the apple green colors! There are very few greens that I don’t enjoy. Some of the really yellowish versions aren’t my favorite. But, they still trump peach most days!

Coming around the bend!
Coming around the bend!
Mixing in a little necktie action!
Mixing in a little necktie action!

All throughout the fabric, I am mixing in strips of neckties to add a little color, texture and recycled-ness! (Hmmm… not so graceful for a made-up word. But, it might catch on!)

Easing out of green, into the neutrals.
Easing out of green, into the neutrals.
The tie provides a little splash of color!
The tie provides a little splash of color!

With the strips of ties, instead of sewing or knotting the ends together, I simply layer the ends. I don’t want to add any additional bulk to the fabric. And, once the ties are trapped in the yarns, it will be very challenging to remove them!

Overhead view!
Overhead view!
It's coming together!
It’s coming together!

For this particular fabric, I am laying in the necktie strips over the yarn – which I’ve found makes it a little bulky in some instances. Next time, I may try something a little different to avoid that. I have to give it a little thought… weaving is a lot of problem solving, let me tell you!

Making fabric!
Making fabric!

And the weaving continues! There is still a bit more to do before the fabric comes off the loom. But, I’m getting there! Have a good one and I’ll talk to you soon…

Run 14 Weaving 51

Visual candy here!

Hello, friends! It’s been a big week and I’m all tuckered out. So, I propose a visual walk through the blog this time around! I’ll be back to my usual glib self next week. Enjoy!

No one's surprised I'm using green here...
No one’s surprised I’m using green here…
The rule of weaving - some are up, some are down!
The rule of weaving – some are up, some are down!
Putting the rag shuttle to good use!
Putting the rag shuttle to good use!
The end of a necktie trying to escape...
The end of a necktie trying to escape…
Love seeing the cones in the background!
Love seeing the cones in the background!
Ah, progress!
Ah, progress!
The woven landscape...
The woven landscape…
This is going to make gorgeous handbags!
This is going to make gorgeous handbags!
Time to forward the project!
Time to forward the project!

Next up, there will be more weaving – yay!!! Probably a little less green, but definitely more weaving! Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Weaving 26

All wound up!

It’s time to do some winding, my friends!

The view from the front!
The view from the front!
Lots of yarn ready to move!
Lots of yarn ready to move!

I find that winding the loom is a deceptively difficult part of the process. On the surface, it seems really easy! Give each group of yarn a yank, unlock the loom, roll it onto the back and repeat for the new few hours. But, like many things in life, there are pitfalls to watch out for. Am I pulling some yarns harder than others? Are the yarns spreading out too far on the back so they don’t fit on the yard sticks? Am I getting the twisted yarns out of the way so I don’t break them going through the reed & heddles?.. But, if you are beginning weaver, ignore what I just said and simply yank, unlock and roll! Piece of cake!

Love me some yard sticks!
Love me some yard sticks!
Closer look at the back beam...
Closer look at the back beam…

Of course I have to take a moment to reiterate my love of yardsticks! I have a 36″ loom so they fit perfectly at the back, keeping the yarns winding on smoothly! And I don’t know of anyone else who uses them these days. So, I feel like I could be the official champion for the lowly yardstick! They are awesome! (This impromptu advertisement was not endorsed by any yardstick company. But, could be in the future… call me!)

View from the back!
View from the back!
It's the aerial shot!
It’s the aerial shot!

If you will note, I still have my lease sticks in the yarn. I have found that they come in very handy! They are a sort of early detection system for snarls in the yarn! It’s better to catch and fix the twisty bits before they hit the reed!

Time to tie it up!
Time to tie it up!

I like to start in the middle when tying up a project, grabbing about 1-1/2″ of yarn for each knot. The goal here is to create equal tension in all the yarns throughout the width of the project. I think it’s one of those things you wrestle with forever! I’ve been weaving for 9 years and still do a bit of agonizing over it each time I start tying things! But according to my girl, Madelyn Van Der Hoogt, I should just breathe through it and relax. She’s sort of the zen master of weaving – at least in my book!

Ta-da! Dressing the loom is finished!
Ta-da! Dressing the loom is finished!

And we are done! The loom is all dressed and ready for weaving! Let’s see if I can make some good thing happen next. Love the weaving magic! Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Winding 18