Zarzamora Silk Scarf

It was 97 deg F outside today as I took the photos of this scarf. I finished weaving it last week. It felt silly to make a scarf in the middle of a southern summer, but I wanted something simple and fun to work on. It is a 2/2 twill with the yarn at 24epi.

I have never worked with Malabrigo yarn before, but after this I definitely am again. This is their Mora line, spun of 100% mulberry silk. Expensive, yes, but absolutely worth it. The color is so vivid and beautiful and somehow dynamic. Silvers and greens and blues and browns wend their way through the wisteria like purple. Yes, I’m feeling color sentimental-y, but the dye name is “Zarazamora” which apparently means “blackberry” in Spanish and I love it.

The softness and the drape of the scarf is hard to capture in these photos, but it was waaaay too hot to drag out the body form. I’m sure I’ll find a way to take more later. Just know that it is a scarf you want to touch.

 

I also had a lot of fun documenting some of the steps of weaving this scarf on instagram. While the video snippet quality isn’t the best, its something I enjoyed and am going to try to keep doing. Follow it with #watchmeweave if you want! 

Do you prefer to hold warp in your hands, or use lease sticks when threading the reed? #weaving #watchmeweave

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A re-introduction to Claire McCardell

I recently came across this article on a wonderful fashion designer of the 1950s, Claire McCardell. I was already enjoying the story of her life when I suddenly recognized one of her dresses. (You should definitely go check out this Seamwork Article, its a work of art in its own: https://www.seamwork.com/issues/2017/06/deconstructing-claire-mccardell )

monet-inspiration

I came across this photo a few years ago and fell in love with the dress. I could find out the photographer easily enough, and the model, and even the artist’s studio she’s posing in. But I never managed to find out who designed the dress.

I made my own version, and wrote about it here a few months ago, you can see more photos of it here: https://dressinsouciantly.com/2016/07/10/monets-water-lilies/

But now I am so glad to know more of the fascinating history of the woman who designed it. She seems like she was a truly amazing woman. Thank you Claire McCardell.

me2

The Handmade Project – Video Poll

Have you hear about The Handmade Project yet? No? Oh, well, its only a crafting competition reality TV show hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman….

You can read about it here, and here. And even apply for it here. I’ll wait.

 

Excited yet? Okay, so yes, of course I’m going to apply. The one snag I ran into while filling out the application was the introduction video. Gah, of course. For all the other things I like learning and making, video editing has just never clicked with me. Thank goodness I have some really awesome friends.

Now I have three videos, and I can’t decide which one I should submit. I need your help. Please watch these three videos in any random order, and then vote on this poll:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1p0r6m6Rvy3FgEOXBai8DcoZfBvb7PXkI6AI8S_l-Ynk

 

Thank Youuuuu!

Blue Flowered Birthday Dress

I think I’ve mentioned how every year I like to sew myself a birthday dress. This year was no exception.

I used Sprout Patterns once more, and this time chose a dress I’ve had my eye on since the very beginning. This pattern is the Anna Dress by By Hand London. It is super simple to put together, but still feels elegant without being intimidating.

I think my favorite thing about this dress is that I made mistakes all over the place, but because its got simple lines and a relaxed flow you can’t even tell. Most obvious, I wasn’t paying attention and bought the wrong size zipper. Which I didn’t even notice until midnight the day before I wanted to wear it, no craft stores open now! (As a sideline, I’ve always wanted to start a business that makes craft supply vending machines for moments like this.)

What do you do when you only have 9″ of zipper to close up 22″ of back seam? You modify the dress to have an open key hole back! I simply inserted the zipper in the 9 inches of the narrowest part of the waist, cut out a curve in the rest of the back seam, and put a button at the top! Its even a self-fabric covered button, because I had a few left over from a previous project.

Its not a perfectly fitted alteration, but it works for the casual look I wanted anyways. And besides, thats not even the worst of it. Halfway through I mixed up the skirt panel pieces, and discovered way too late that I had attached them in the wrong order, with the front three halfway around the back. Can you tell? Not a bit! I’m pretty sure the front seams were supposed to line up with the pleat lines in the bodice, but oh wait, I kind of screwed those up too.

And yet, with all that, I love this dress. Its obviously hugely forgiving of mistakes, you can put it together half asleep and still look incredible.

Summer-Winter scarf as Spring approaches

This scarf came from another commissions conversation, but has been something I’ve wanted to try ever since my success with the summer winter block pattern scarves.

Summer-winter drafts are weavings where either the warp yarn or the weft yarn becomes dominant, and so one color can take over. In the block drafts I’ve done before, this isn’t super obvious because the blocks alternate colors anyways. But I really wanted to see what a scarf would look like in a summer-winter pattern without blocks, where one side of the scarf would be a noticeably different color than the other.

This scarf was warped with burgundy tencel, and I used cobalt tencel for the weft. I absolutely love the color effect where one side is burgundy with hints of blue, and the other is blue with hints of burgundy.

The effect of the two colors turned out so well I’m going to have to try this again. And of course I included some of the reflective threads as well.

 

 

Christmas in the 80’s

Our work party this year was themed “The 80’s.” And snarky costumer that I am, I said to myself “I don’t really want to dress like the 80’s. I was alive for them, they weren’t all THAT long ago. I’d rather do something crazy like…. the EIGHTEEN EIGHTIES.” Luckily, I have a boyfriend who was totally willing to go along with it.

I was so pleased with myself that one of those photos became our New Years card. The party was truly wonderful, and the team who put it together did a great job. They even had little instant polaroid cameras everyone could play with. These now have proud places on my desk.

I promise you some excellent real quality photos of the actual costumes whenever I get a chance. But to tide you over, here’s some sloppy shots of my hair, which I was actually pretty proud of doing all on my own.

Weaving with silk

Silk is an intimidating fiber no matter what you’re doing with it. It took me awhile to sew my first garment out of silk, and weaving was no different. Especially when the yarn I got my hands on was so beautiful. This is a silk-wool blend yarn that is hand dyed in a set of matched colors.

Part of my timidity with weaving came from the fact that I felt the yarn was too delicate to use as warp threads. It is loosely spun and with a slight “fuzz” that I knew would catch and fray on my wire heddles. So I needed the perfect yarn to pair with these beautiful colors.

Eventually I found this incredible dark-purple colored 100% silk, and I knew it would be the yarn to work. It is smooth and strong, and even though it is super-fine I knew it would hold up with the wire heddles.

I chose a simple twill tie-up for this scarf, as I really wanted the yarn to be the star of the show, and not my fancy treddling. I had a lot of fun blending each color of yarn into the next, creating what I hoped would turn into a smooth gradient of color bleed. It worked better for some colors than others, but still turned out lovely.

Fulling this scarf was about as scary as anything else. I’ve done two other wool projects, but never a silk-wool blend. I wasn’t sure how the fibers would really react. In the end, I floated it on a couple of inches of luke warm water in the bottom of the bathtub. I’m usually pretty rough on the rayon and tencel scarves I make, I want them to be able to take a lot, and I know the yarn can take it without warping too much. I twist and wring them out to really get them saturated and move the thread about. I was a lot more gentle with this scarf, I pressed it flat to the bottom of the tub, and shifted it a bit, but I didn’t twist or wring it as I didn’t want anything to shrink unevenly. I stuck it in the dryer on a cool air-fluff for a few minutes, to beat some softness into the yarns. But I removed it quickly and let it air-dry for the remaining time. Over-shrinking this scarf was my biggest fear, but it all turned out well in the end.

 

When making this scarf, I decided to measure the warp for about twice what I needed. I figured if I was going to play with silk, I might as well learn something while I was at it. So I did another scarf that was 100% silk in both warp and weft. The warp is the same as the one above, and the weft is another silk yarn that I purchased while I was hunting for the mate to the yarn above. This weft was a little bit slubby and un-even in how it was spun, which is why I ended up moving away from it for the warp to go with the gradient wool blend. But it was perfect as another weft. In color it was a slightly darker raisin color that really created a nice effect with the warp. I like describing this scarf as “dark chocolate raspberry.” It is almost brown in some light, but berry colored in others. The 100% silk in warp and weft is smooth and crisp and is probably the most luxurious scarf I’ve made yet.

Weaving with silk was actually a breeze. Its a super strong fiber, and less prone to tangling. It was easy to keep the warp strong and smooth and straight. The wool-silk blend stretched a little bit, which made it harder to keep the selvages tight and straight. But the 100% silk worked perfectly as the warp to compliment them.

I’m very proud of these two scarves. They’re the first things in while that I really feel like I took a risk on, or learned something new. Don’t get me wrong, its fun cranking out a rainbow plethora of rayon scarves in arbitrary combinations and ideas. But it also feels good to really try something new, and be worried that you’re doing it wrong, and in the end find out that it’s all okay and it turned out great!

Silver Stars Scarf

A dear friend wanted a scarf this winter, and while it may have taken a couple of tries I finally found something that worked and that I thought she’d like. I had several failures along the way, which subsequently led to some beautiful scarves, but not ones that were meant for her. This one finally fit the person…

This scarf is actually quite similar to the very first scarf I wove on my own. It uses the same tie-up, and the same sort of “gradient” effect. But I worked in the reflective threads I find myself using more and more often, and changed up the color scheme and the thread density.

It uses an overshot tie-up pattern. This means that the direct pattern has areas of long floats, weft threads that hang over a lot of warp threads. Normally, that could cause problems with the stability of the weave, or be a potential for “caught” threads that snag and pull. However, with overshot patterns you alternate each pick of the pattern with tabby (the classic over-under basic weave.) This adds stability and density to the cloth, making more complex patterns possible with only four shafts.

The lavender fields scarf is also an overshot pattern.  I’m becoming quite fond of this style. I think because I like the almost “picturesque” complex patterns that can draw larger shapes and designs. This particular tencel yarn needed to be set at 30 epi (30 threads per an inch) which was one of the the tightest setts I’ve had to do yet. But it really made a beautifully smooth and drapey scarf.

This scarf uses overshot to silhouette dark stars on a silver background, interspersed with light reflective threads that sparkle and shine like stars in the sky.

Silk Intimidation Scarf – In progress

Late last year I wrote about that feeling of being intimidated by yarn. (Read it here.) As silly as it sounds, just about every crafter or maker I’ve ever talked has felt something similar. Sometimes a base material is so beautiful you almost don’t want to alter it. You feel intimidated by an inanimate object. You’re almost not sure you can make it better by transforming it into something else, or you’re afraid you’ll screw it up and waste something so perfect.

But holding onto a yarn and never doing anything with it, no matter how beautiful, just isn’t the point. Yarn shouldn’t sit in a bag. It should be worn, and felt. And so, eventually, I got over my intimidation. And it was absolutely completely and utterly worth it.

This silk wool yarn blend is by far the most beautiful yarn I’ve worked with yet. It is soft, but smooth and silky with a slight fuzziness. The hand dyed colors are simply amazing. I’ve been able to create beautiful color transitions as I work one yarn in as the other one goes out. It is a perfect weft yarn. The warp is a dark raisin color in 100% silk that just slides through the heddles and reed.

This scarf is still on the loom. I’m still afraid that something might go wrong (you never know what might happen when you take something off the loom and full it…) But I’m still glad I went for it and played with the yarn that scared me. I’m taking photos pretty much every step of the way, for each solid color area and each transition area. I just can’t stop looking at this scarf.