Monday, March 11, 2013

Collaged Nuno Felt Scarflet

These are pictures of the process used to nuno felt a scarf with multiple pieces of upcycled silk.  The printed silk is an upcycled blouse and lining and it is a crinkled silk, there are also some pieces of a brown bubbled texture silk from my stash. 
   I cut the silk up into sections and laid it all out on my bubble wrap.  Little bits of ribbon and strips of torn silk are used to embellish the surface.  Using hand carders, I  blended multiple shades of green and brown merino wool and used it as a sort of glue to hold all the silk together.  The textured silks are notoriously hard to felt through so you just have to keep rolling and working it until the fibers migrate through the silk.  Using lukewarm soapy water, Not Hot, works best, but in my basement things get cold very quickly.  I usually have to rub by hand quite a bit to provide some wamth to get the fibers to move.
When all the fibers are laid out I wet everything down with warm soapy water, (I use Dawn dish soap) and lay some tulle over the top to hold everything in place.  I rub all over with my hand wrapped in a plastic bag to keep things sliding smoothly.  I remove the tulle and cover the work with a piece of clear plastic, press all the air bubbles out, and roll up in the bubble wrap or pool cover.  I roll about 600 times, open it up and check it. Adjust anything that has moved out of position, re-cover with plastic and roll from the other end.  600  more rolls, check again.  Depending on your silk, wool, temperature, etc. you may have to roll more.  When the fibers have begun to stick together and migrate through the silk you can move on to the next phase.  I usually get some warm soapy water and start working the piece by hand making sure that all of the wool is attaching to the silk properly.  I use the flat of my hand and wet each section with the warm water just before I rub it gently against the bubble surface.  I have to do it this way because the basement is so cold.  When I am sure that everything is attaching properly I start to full the piece.   I put the scarf into a basin with warm water and then gently squeeze about 20 times.  Open up and check it and then repeat.  If everything is ok, I  start throwing the piece, gently at first then gradually increasing the intensity.  Every twenty throws check the piece to make sure it isn't sticking together in the wrong places.  Keep warming the silk in the basin as it cools off.  I throw the wool until it is fulled firmly, strong enough that it won't pull apart with use.  I snipped lots of holes in the wool to give this scarflet a little more surface interest.  Just snip a little hole, then rub with your finger to form the hole and reseal the edges.  Continue to full after the holes are cut to make sure you don't have any freshly cut edges remaining.  Rinse the piece thoroughly and give it a soak in a mild vinegar solution to reverse the alkalinity of the soap solution.  I always soak my pieces in Eucalon when they are finished to soften and make them smell nice.

Letchworth Arts and Crafts Show

I finally bought a new camera a few weeks ago and just today took the time to put the disk in and learn how to use it. It has a lot more bells and whistles than my old camera so it may take some time to get used to it. Hopefully my picture quality will improve eventually. The Letchworth Arts and Crafts Show took place in Letchworth State Park over Columbus Day weekend. This was my sixth year participating in the show and the weather gods weren't too kind. Saturday afternoon was spent holding on to the tent so it didn't lift off, Sunday no wind, but rain all afternoon. Monday was ok. Sales were slower than last year, but attendance was down due to the hideous weather. I heard that Saturday alone was down by 10,000 shoppers, luckily the serious buyers still come out. I won Best of Show for a deflected doubleweave scarf that was woven using a draft from the Ruby Leslie workshop I took a few years ago. It was one of the hardest projects I have ever woven. Weaving two layers is hard enough but alternating four shuttles with different colors and carrying all those threads up the sides without making an ugly selvedge is quite challenging. There are two scarves from the warp, the winner, with three different patterns, and the second one has the same pattern throughout.
Tomorrow morning Sarah, Pam, and I are off to the Hudson Valley for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. We are driving down Friday in the hopes of avoiding the traffic jam at the bridge crossing the Hudson River. Every year we sit for an hour waiting to go the last two miles. We will cross the river and spend the night in Hudson NY, then drive to Rhinebeck early in the morning. Keeping our fingers crossed that this will work out better, and looking forward to exploring Hudson. Sarah says there is a good Mexican Restaurant there, and that always sounds good to me.

Double Weave Honeycomb Progress Report

Upon completing the threading for this project I couldn't wait to get started weaving. I started with with the dark green chenille, but it just didn't look right. I emailed Madelyn Van Der Hoogt who had designed the blanket and published it in Handwoven in 1995, and she gave me some advice. The dark green chenille contrasted too sharply with the natural cotton warp. It just wasn't visually pleasing with all those white threads laying over the chenille weft. Searching online, I finally found some of the heavyweight natural color cotton chenille at I Love Yarn.  The owner said he would be able to send it in about a week, which turned into three weeks, but I was so relieved to find the right stuff, waiting was fine. So after some fits, lots of cutting out and starting over, the blanket is finally underway. There have been some problems with loose warp threads and broken warps on the right edge, but with almost 2000 ends, I expected some problems. There was one (yes, only 1) threading error and 1 sleying error. I finally found some instructions on-line to make a simple temple here    and that seems to have solved the fraying problem. The weaving is a little slow, four weft colors, and the chenille between each color means changing shuttles often. As a short person, weaving a wide piece can take longer because all the leaning from side to side is tiring. The first pic shows the blanket in progress with the little paperclip temple in the lower left corner, the other picture shows the first attempt that didn't work.

Weaving Update

I am almost at the halfway point of threading this doubleweave blanket. Threading about an hour or two a day, eventually it will get done. Between painting a bedroom and trying to get the spring yard work done, there are not enough hours in the day. This week brought three sales on my etsy store, that's a record! There are never any small boxes around for mailing so I finally ordered some on-line. Of course they didn't come in time for these packages. The last two sales were mailed out in boxes constructed from larger boxes and they weren't pretty. Recycling is my preference, but the time that was wasted trying to make a box was stressing me out. The etsy blogs talk about the importance of branding, and packaging is an important part of the appearance you make to the public. This year I will try to work on that, because professional looking packaging is essential to that all important first impression.

Going on the Loom

After about three years sitting in a closet, this warp is finally going on the loom. It is the warp for a doubleweave honeycomb blanket and has about 2000 ends. This design by Sharon Alderman is in an old issue of Handwoven, and I love the look of it. Honeycomb is usually a one sided fabric because of the long floats on one side. Sharon designed this blanket as a doubleweave so that the floats are in the center between two layers of cloth that you weave simultaneously. The fluffy chenille strips hold the two layers together at intervals. Because you are weaving in two layers, you have twice as many warp threads, and twice as many picks. You throw the shuttle for one layer, change the shed and throw the shuttle for the second layer. This will probably be the most difficult thing I have woven to date. I will have to be careful to keep a good clean shed so that the weft picks end up in the correct layers. Any mistakes will probably have to be repaired by hand when it comes off the loom. The first picture shows  my warp spread in the raddle, tfrom the back,  the other picture shows the front before going through the reed  Took a few weeks to get this done This is an 8 harness weave and I had to count heddles to make sure I have enough on each shaft before I started threading . I think this structure would make a lovely scarf, maybe I should have tried that first. Oh well...

Felting Workshop with Marie Brate

I recently took a felting workshop at the new location of the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center of the Weavers Guild of Rochester.  This is my first class with Marie, although I have admired her work for a long time.  We made little capelets using a nuno felt technique,  Each capelet has a little felted flower embellishment, although mine isn't sewed together yet...
This is Marie's original design so I won't be making any of these to sell, but I have a nice piece to wear and enjoy, and learned a lot in the process.   We did ombre coloration which was new to me, and layed the felt out in an overlapping X pattern instead of the shingling I have always done.  It made a thin yet structurally sound piece of felted cloth.  Marie had pre-dyed all the silk gauze that we used in the class, and had serged all the edges with cotton so the stitching matched the silk.  There was a big bin of merino roving and novelty yarns to chose from and each of the classmates came up with a unique and beautiful piece.  We each made a little flower pin for a closure but they weren't finished in class, because the shaping had to dry. 

First Big Snowfall

I can't believe how much snow has piled up in 2 hours. Really pretty, but I still haven't dug out my tender bulbs, or brought in my clay pots, or picked my cabbages. Oh well.

Priscilla Kibbee Fashion Show

The November program at the Weavers Guild was a fashion show of coats by Priscilla Kibbee. The coats are pieced and quilted using the most amazing assortment of fabrics and artifacts from all over the world. Some of the coats were just stunning for the workmanship and others were just plain fun. Several of the coats had themes, ie. Cows Don't Get no Respect featuring cow fabrics, and Life is Short, Eat Dessert First. Theme fabrics were collected over many years until Priscilla had enough to make each coat. Each coat was completely unique and there were LOTS of them, she filled her car and left many more at home. Priscilla teaches and exhibits all over the world which gives her ample opportunities to collect wonderful embroideries, beadwork, needlepoints, etc. to incorporate into the garments. The guild really enjoyed seeing her work and the models had a great time wearing these unique garments.

Finished Tencel Scarf

I finished this scarf in time for the Mayday show last weekend, but it didn't sell. So... I get to enjoy looking at it for a little longer. There is enough warp on the loom for one more scarf, but I will use a different color weft and maybe weave circles instead of ovals just to change it up a bit.

Interlacements Show

On Monday afternoon we took down the fiber show at the Arts Council for Wyoming County. Everyone hated to see it go. The color, beauty and variety of the items in this exhibit attracted viewers from all over. One of the many fiber exhibits in the area this spring, it was also one of the most remote. I snapped a few pictures before it all came down. My friend Sarah photographed the opening, but I haven't managed to get my hands on any of those pictures yet.

People's Choice Award

I just looked at the Website for the Weavers Guild of Rochester and found out that the Overshot Throw I had put in the 65th Anniversary Guild Exhibit won the People's Choice Award.  I was so surprised to find out.  I am still in AZ and had someone pick up my pieces for me when they took the show down.  The guild is also printing a book of the exhibit which will include a photo of my throw as well as the draft, if I ever get it written down correctly.  Here is a link to the page on the guild website.   The first piece pictured on this page is a huge overshot bedspread by  Helen Jarvis, my teacher and the woman who literally wrote the book on Overshot.


The second piece on the page is mine.  You can see pictures of the overshot weaving in progress in earlier posts on my blog.

Weavers Guild Program by Sarah Fortin

Today was the October meeting of the Weavers Guild of Rochester and we were lucky to have Sarah Fortin come to do a program on shadow weave. I have been an admirer of her work for a long time now. Sarah is a regular contributor to Handwoven Magazine, and recently taught a workshop at EGLFC, Easter Great Lakes Fiber Arts Conference, held at Chatauqua Institution. She graciously modeled one of her gorgeous coats for me and allowed me to photograph her samples. I have always liked shadow weave, but now I LOVE it. The way Sarah adds color to complement the structure makes the pattern look much more complicated than it is. Packets of her drafts were available for $5, a real bargain for guild members. The program was inspiring and the samples are amazing, can't wait to try something in shadow weave!