Sunday, January 26, 2014

It All Comes Out in the Wash...

I belong to a couple of weaving groups on Facebook and 'lurk' for the most part. One smart voice there is Margaret Coe  who ably stick handles questions from newbie weavers. Some months ago Margaret recommended a neat trick for when you start a new warp off. There it is shown in the picture above and some of my more regular readers will have noticed I have been using it for the past few projects.  Its the Two Stick Start. It the best tip I have tried in a long, long time! It just works. 

The warp above is 9/2 linen, for a 8 shaft huck lace that I have tied an overhand knot every sixteen ends and then laced on. I laid in three shots of a similar sized 'scrap' yarn which in this case is regular 8/2 cotton. I beat to close the gap and then laid in three more weft shots and beat again. It closed it but there is a slight gap. There can also be tension issues until the weaving progresses further. So I placed a short lease stick into one of the plain weave sheds, changed to the other plain weave shed and placed the second stick. I carried the cotton weft up behind the sticks on the right and started weaving plain weave and you can see how quickly it came together! The sticks provide a nice firm, flat base and from the knots to the top of the gold yarn is four inches! You are off to a real good start almost right away. { ...but it didn't spare me from a denting error and I had to redo some sleying two to three inches on the far right side as I had doubled my ends in one slot.  Geesh!}

When I wound my pirns I ran the weft yarn through a clean damp cloth as I wound them. This tames the wirey linen and you can get a nice tightly wound pirn. The cloth is damp, and not overly wet so the yarn dries quickly. Once you use this on one pirn, all weft for the project must be done the same way or there will be changes in the cloth and the way it weaves up.

I wove six inches of plain weave for my hem allowance and then ladder hemstitched every four ends. I used a slippery synthetic cord doubled as my spacer.  It slips out quite nicely with a gentle tug. Next was one inch of plain weave to frame the lace, then the lace dance begins!

Last time I wove this pattern I used red 9/2 linen and used a sett of 22 epi. It was well balanced when all finished and pressed but I wanted it a smidge tighter so this time I set it 24 epi. Between the coarse linen, the reed marks and the lace five end groupings, the new cloth on the loom has streaks and lines all over the place. You can only hold your breath and hope it all comes out in the wash! (more on this line of thought later...)

I wove two runners using the same natural grayed / beige linen as weft. The runners were woven to roughly sixty inches from the end of one hemstitching to the next at the other end.  There is a small plain weave border down both selvedges and by the time you get to the end of a runner you begin to see the start of some troubled times to come. The plain weave and the lace areas take up differently as the lace centre is more textured and the plain weave is flat.  By the end of the runner you can see the plain weave edges pull down more and then curve upwards to the lace. I didn't experience this effect with the red linen runners. I checked a cone of the red today and it has a much softer touch to it. Perhaps as a result of the dyeing process?  This natural grayed beige linen has a much firmer feel to it... more wirey.  I decided to cut off the runners after each one was woven and retie back on. So the Two Stick Start got a good work out!

The third runner was understandably a bit shorter but I skipped weaving samples this time round and so that twelve inches helped out a lot. I used a snowy white 9/2 linen as my weft and it looked great! There is a nice colour separation on the lace floats so they frame the diamonds. White in one direction and beige in the other.  This type of two colour lace where the colours are more subtle appeals to me. Traditionally lace is woven in one solid colour warp and weft and usually the same yarn as warp and weft. {Beige projects are difficult and boring to photograph and if I used a lighting correction in the tweaking of the pictures, it turned all the colours really weird... so please bear up with the darker shots. I did use the camera flash and had lights on everywhere!}

I decided against using the serger on the raw edges as the serging line can be a tad bit lumpy. I didn't want that ridged line  with a flat hem. I used my sewing machine instead and did a stitched zig zag  which I think you can faintly make out on the raw edge in the picture above.  I steam pressed and measured the hem allowance. I'm going to turn it over by thirds.

The beauty of doing this with linen is that it takes a nice fold with just the fingers pressing. You can double check the measurement. I steam pressed it when I'm happy...then fold up to the hemstitching and press and pin.

As you can see by the close up above, a raised ridge line from the serger would have shown through and I wanted it flat, flat, flat!  The hand sewing was done by a running blind stitch and the three runners were an evenings work by the television.

Things started to get interesting the next morning when I filled the laundry tub to handwash the runners. The first to go in was the shorter white beige blend. I lay the runner on top of the suds and let it absorb the water. I came back a few minutes later and started to squeeze it out. I thought I could see a distinct line warp wise in the wet cloth! Oh crap....   I had used a full cone and part of another to wind the warp, but I had checked the batch numbers and they were both the same! Had someone somewhere made a mistake? I laid it to one side and then 'floated' the next runner on the surface of the water.

Look what happened below.... the side of the runner absorbed water at a much faster rate!

Even when wet there is still a colour difference between the two areas. I gently squeezed water through the cloth but did not wring it out. That would set creases into the cloth, especially the thicker hem allowance. After rinsing, I let it drain well and  rolled into a large towel to absorb the excess water. Once they were all into large towels and resting I sat and did some thinking on the situation. Two cones and two different  reactions.  I had a theory worked out.  Well, there was only one thing left to do and that was to see what happened when they were damp / dry and firmly pressed.

Here they are .... and first up is the white beige runner:

I could see no sign of any colour change! It looked completely even across the runner. This is a blend of beige and white so perhaps it obscures the issue? This one measures 12.5 inches by 55 inches finished.

So here are the all beige runners and both measure 12.5 inches by 61 inches finished.

Again, no sign of any variation in colour! Great!  So what was it?  I think the two cones, while the same batch number, there was a difference in the linen used. It would seem there was almost like a coating on the surface of two thirds of the yarn used.... and not so much on the new cone. It came down to the way the linen was processed.  I hope the washing process took care of this detail for the future. If not, there's no sign of it when dry thankfully. All the reed marks disappeared with wet finishing  and I would have to say the change in sett also worked very well. I would use this sett of 24 epi with this yarn again next time.

So now my Louet Spring is empty and I'm trying to work out what goes on next. Do you ever run out of inspiration from time to time? I know that there is a  ton of different weaves out there to try and so I just need to find one that appeals to me.  I have to clear off the Woolhouse loom and get a shorter towel sampling warp on there so there's lots of housekeeping details in the studio to take care of.   

My left knee has been troubling me and so weaving has been considerably slowed.... hence the long time periods between posts. Sorry about that but it can't be helped. I'm just happy to be able to be able to still weave!

Hubby Bruce hasn't received a surgery date as yet and as of our last check, they are now booking well into March (which is definitely not the promised January). This may end up placing his surgery and mine on a collision course later this late spring or early summer. Apparently there is a shortage of anesthesiologists.   Meanwhile my Dad is still in hospital and the news is he could be there for another week or two before being released.

I'm hoping this will all come out in the wash as well!


Flyin Bobbin said...

This was an absolutely fascinating post to read! I have not woven with linen since my one and only weaving lesson over 25 years ago. I don't know the term "pirn" so will be looking that up, for sure. I like the tip of two sticks to even out the start of the weaving--I have read of it but never tried it. Did you like using that technique? It always amazes me what a wash will do for a finished piece of work! Your work is so lovely. Wishing you all the best with upcoming surgeries and your dad.

Cindie said...

Lovely runners. I'll have to give that 2 stick method a try, always happy to find easier/better ways to do something in weaving process.

Unknown said...

Beautiful pattern, beautiful weaving. I always admire weavers who do this kind of weaving. I can't seem to keep up with the treadle order. All plain weave for me!

Thanks for the reminder about the sticks--I'll try that next time--if I remember that long! And you made me wonder if winding two strands of wool would be helped by running them through a cloth. One of the strands always seems to be longer as I weave. Hmmm...things to ponder.

barbara said...

Hi Susan - my heart was breaking for you when I was reading your post and the color difference appeared. Amazing how it all came out in the wash, I let out a big "yipee", as I read the note that all was well with the runners. You put so much work into your projects, it would be such a shame that a color difference would show up on cones with the same Dye Lot. Though people do make mistakes.

Sorry to hear your dad is back in hospital; hopefully he will return home in the next week or so. Amazing how surgery appointments can get delayed, there always seems to be a shortage of specialists, OR time, etc. etc. etc. I have faith that "it will all come out in the wash" for both you and Bruce, and your dates will not collide! Just keep putting positive "vibes" out to the universe. Weaverly yours ...

mellansystern said...

Nice works. How many shaft du you use to make this pattern?

Greetings from Barbro

Anonymous said...

Susan, I almost had a heart attack when I read the description of the color difference. Whew, am I happy to see that everything is fine and runner is complete. Linen is my all time favorite fiber and your runners are beautifully done in huck lace.

Hoping that you and yours are well on the road to becoming hale and hearty this year. Please pet Miss C for me. hugs, M

Susan said...

Thank you everyone for your comments!

Sherri: the treadling for this lace is very simple and each 'section' to create a lace row is 5 steps on the treadle. One step of a plain weave treadle and one is a pattern treadle. (example: 1,5,1,5,1) then the next section would be 2,6,2,6,2
You just move from group to group and this gorgeous pattern is building below your hands! Give it a try sometime...

Barbro: this draft is 8 shaft huck lace. I'll go in and edit something into the post. There is a link where I said I had used this pattern before and I think that would lead you to even more information.

Take care,

Louisa said...

Your title was one of my mom's favourite aphorisms! So glad it worked in this case because the results are just lovely. I adore linen and huck, especially in the same cloth!

Virtual fingers crossed for all your family's health issues to be happily resolved.

mormor said...

So very beutiful!! Very nice. and god photos.
Greetings from monika in Sweden.

Lisa W said...

Susan, these runners are just gorgeous! Thanks for describing your process. Very helpful to a new weaver.


Unknown said...

Lovely runners and beautifully finished as always.

dteaj said...

One thing about linen is that it is a natural product. Linen varies from one growth year the next. In addition the retting process can create major differences in coloration. Assume natural linen has the equivalent of dye lots and you'll be safer. I'm very happy for you that it washed out this time. Love your work.

Cyndee said...

Hi Susan,
We made it to Natchez, Miss. 77F and no snow!
Stopped at the Mississippi Craft Center yesterday.
Saw some beautiful weaving but nothing to compare to yours. :)