Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gilding the Lily: beading and final finishing scarves

Okay, fair warning... this is a long post with lots of photos. Lynnette will love this one. :)

Today I'm talking about how I bead and finish scarves ( and by extension, shawls etc) so this is a sort of 'tutorial'. I'm working on the four scarves I recently took off the big Woolhouse and you also saw in the fringe twister post. All fringes are twisted, but the tassels are not trimmed yet. Below is my bead stash. It's a hefty bag of goodies! Beads and other shiny things grab my attention like a magpie. I'm always on the look out for beads in certain colour schemes as those are the colours I know I weave more often with. If I get down to Victoria I always stop in at Beadworld at the Johnson Street Market. Tell hubby to stay away for at least an hour and settle in for a good browse as the place is *loaded*.

I start by dumping them all out and then removing obvious mismatches for colour and making a pile of possibles. I let the colours, bead size, yarn grist of the handwoven and my mood 'talk' to me as I pull together a grouping of beads to try. Sometimes I have lots of choice and others not so much. (I make a note in my wallet journal of the colours that need more attention next time at Beadworld.) Finally a few more are weeded out and now we are down to real potential candidates.

Which is narrowed further to the ones I want to work with on this scarf. This scarf is 100% tencel warp and weft. Since I'm a neat freak, they are all sorted into little bowls. Beads need corralling! You still have plenty on the floor when you're done any way...

Then I get out my superfine beading needle ( magnifier lens to thread it with along with my progressive bi-focals!), thread conditioner 'Thread Heaven' and other useful items, such as a bright light. In this picture you can see how fine this needle is by judging it against the ordinary sewing thread.

Thread Heaven is a soft malleable waxy compound that you drag your polyester thread through and it will now magically behave. It reduces the twisting and kinking that can happen with sewing threads. { I have used older sewing threads that were my mothers and they don't do this! What have the manufacturers done in the past years that makes these threads so difficult to work with now?} You can also use a block of natural bees wax and this will accomplish much the same effect. You will need to reapply from time to time as you sew and it washes out. Not that it leaves any sign that you've used it though...

I take a good long length of thread, thread the needle and coat the thread ( run through fingers to eliminate the static charge). Then using no knots, I sew UP the side of the scarf, then back down to the bottom edge again.

Then turning the work, I work the needle across to the first gap between fringe bouts:

Then I start 'composing' with the beads and may try several arrangements before I settle on a combination. Mainly I just go with what feels right. I aim to have two or three feature groups of beads per end and keep to a fixed arrangement. I lick my (clean) finger tip and the beads cling nicely. Pick them up with the needle point and when done I insert the needle back down through the beads MISSING the end bead.

In this case, five blacks, and three reds and I go back down through the two lower reds.

The needle slips into the edge threads and I tug the thread through all the beads. I check to make sure there is no extra thread hung up somewhere. This can happen, so be sure to check both sides.

Then I move the needle across the base of the next fringe bout and come up in the next space. In this case, one of the two special groups per side:
In this spot I have the 'special' beads to thread down back to the base again, always with a bead on the end to hold everything. Check for snagged thread.

Then onto the next section and so on. I find that keeping the sewing thread under tension is a big help in controlling the work and its progress. Much like warp threads on the loom!

Here I've looped the thread over my finger tip as I work the thread back down through the beads. It's also hard to do all these steps AND take pictures but I somehow managed!

Then at the opposite end, just repeat the initial steps to end the work. Turn and do opposite side of scarf. Admire work. Ask opinions of anyone around! If you decide you are not happy about the bead combo, just snip and off they come. I usually go with my first instincts...

Okay one scarf done and three more to go!

Here are the bead combo's for the silk cashmere weft. ( bead stash needs more added to this category!)

The end result.....

Then my personal fav, silk yak blend with it's steely grey sheen:

Then last, the silk wool blend; the beading work is under way here:

And the final edge is done!

They all went into warm sudsy water and soaked for 20 minutes and I squeezed them thoroughly to help shift threads, and also to wash out any spinning oils and possible dye particles. Tencel doesn't shift much or full but the protein weft fibres will move. Rinse twice, with a drop of fabric softener in the last rinse water. I used the spin cycle only in the washing machine. Then I took them to the ironing board and gently worked them into shape and pressed them with a medium setting and no steam. It is more or less to get their shape back and flatten them and remove wrinkles created by washing and spinning. I hung over old towels over night to dry. The next day I trimmed off any weft tails carefully and them gave them a hard pressing with a medium iron, using full steam. (I use a Rowenta iron and like it very much.) Then I carefully straightened the fringe and combed the ends. Held them down with a ruler and then trimmed them off with a rotary cutter at approx 1/2 inch to 3/4's of an inch. Now gently tack sew my new labels into position..

Admire again.... a lot.
My new labels come from Sterling Name Tape Company . They were recommended by Dave
I got some made in black and beige. I just ordered more in white and so I will have a nice selection. They will only go onto scarves, shawls and more higher end goods I weave. ( My next goal is to get new hang tags designed) Okay, here's the fashion parade! 'Scuse the model, she's a bit stiff. :)
Cashmere and silk with tencel

hand dyed silk wool blend with tencel

tencel with tencel.... geat sheen!

Did I mention this one is my favourite?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Back...Three Ahead...

So this is a 'state of the studio' address :)

Above is my Louet Spring, 'Lilibet' and she has been languishing with a double weave sampler. This picture was taken few days ago and I now have the double weave sampler woven off. The end result is I will warp up and weave another double weave project soon but this time use 2/8 cotton over the cottolin I used this time. I have downloaded some neat workshop notes from Double Weave pro, Paul O'Connor and will try his method. But for now, the next warp going on this loom is white 2/10 tencel and a huck lace pattern for a shawl. That will be inspiring for me to weave. The warp is all wound and ready to go.

The fine huck lace in bamboo on the Louet Jane ' Cricket' is sort of in limbo. I moved it out of the way to get the old loom dismantled and off to it's new home and I just haven't picked up where I left off.
Why? Its because of this project on 'Emmatrude':

I want to do a shawl project, using tencel ( I have scads of the stuff!) so I chose my colours and even ordered a particular dye lot batch from Yarns Plus to ensure I had enough. Worked out my colour scheme, my draft, my project width and all particulars. I started to wind my warp and one colour, my main colour was *not* the 2/8 I was using but 2/10 instead. I had stored it in the wrong storage box!

So now I had to go entirely with the other taupe colour throughout and just skip the other. I wound the warp and was winding it on the loom. It just didn't excite me, but I got it all on the sectional anyway.

I even threaded it in the elaborate M's and W's. Sleying went well. Two per dent in a 12 dent reed. Tied it up and sat down to weave. I had forgotten to take the front apron rod over the back of the knee beam. Seems all the messages I was getting and ignoring were coming with a firmer 'oomph' now. If I had to untie, to fix the beam problem, then why not fix the entire problem? Okay. I replaced the cross once more, untied, unsleyed, unthreaded, then one by one I snugged each bout back into it's one inch section on the sectional beam. Then I unwound the three stripes and removed them and wound new replacements. Then started the process all over again, but now going ahead. Why all this? We'll take a look at the colours:

I've used this colour combo before to good effect but for some reason I placed taupe inbetween the red and black. It did nothing for the red at all. But I had thought " the black weft will fix that". Here it is on the lease sticks waiting for threading. I persevered despite that feeling something isn't working here.

Here's my spinning chair all set up for the threading:

So was it worth it? I feel much better with the new look and it was worth the changes and the work. You see I also changed my mind about the treadling as well. It was originally going to have a 'Coast Salish' Aboriginal feel to the colours and pattern. The colour change meant the advancing network twill treadling that created tall feathers was nice but it wouldn't work given the colour change. I opted for a complex M's and W's treadling with runs to and fro. No interruptions, phone calls or distractions... again.

Lots of impact now! The wimp factor is gone. :) So a closer look at the pattern...

Knowing my love of pattern, would it surprize you to know that you are looking at three repeats of a straight run of 1 to 12 on the treadles ( see bottom of photo) then from that point up to the fell is ONE repeat of the main pattern. It reminds me of some of those beautiful Nordic sweaters with the intricate pattern work. The true inspiration for this style of bands came from my viewing the stunning work of Master Weaver Inge Dam. Please look at her amazing work and you'll see the effect she achieved. She weaves with tablet bands incorporated into her weaving. This concept came to her through the study of textiles found in Iron Age sites in Northern Europe. While I'm not ready to attempt card weaving on the loom *yet* I thought this gave me the same look until I'm ready to try the technique for myself.

In the mean time I hope that my weaving time in the next few days is smooth sailing and trouble free. (touch wood)