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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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.

 

 

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.

Simple Stripes

These scarves were based off a commissions idea I got off a request on Etsy. It was a lot of fun just doing something very simple. Not to mention a reminder of how fast scarves can go if you don’t choose a complex draft or a lot of color changes.

I deviated from my love of Dragon Tales rayon with these scarves. Not that I’ve given up that yarn, but it was time to play with something different. These are done with a slightly finer tencel yarn. They’re set to 30 ends per an inch, which is the highest I’ve done yet. It takes a lot of time, but gives the scarf such a tight weave and smooth finish. The fabric flows over my hands.

One is a pale jade green and dark forest green. The other is a silvery grey with cobalt blue. Both of them have reflective strips every half inch. I used a narrower width of reflective strips for these scarves since the yarn was also finer and the scarf is thinner and smoother and less “plush” than the dragon tales scarves. It seemed to work out pretty well!

Quiet Winter

Its been a quiet winter season thus far. For the months before Christmas I was really focusing on filling out my Etsy store and seeing how well that could do. It was fun, and actually pretty successful. But it means I didn’t spend much time sewing, or even writing or taking photos of scarves that haven’t already showed up here.

I did have fun doing a couple of school spirit scarves for UNC fans. They went fast and were super fun and easy. One in a houndstooth, and one in a simple stripe.

 

 

Summer-Winter Scarves

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on a series of summer-winter scarves. No, these aren’t scarves you’d wear in the summer (at least not in the south around here. Maybe in the arctic circle…) Summer-winter is a historical weaving pattern category. These weaving patterns are done such that they emphasize different threads of yarn on different sides of the fabric. One side of the fabric shows more weft threads, and the other side shows more of the warp threads. This means that if you have different colors for warp and weft, one side of the fabric will be dominantly different colors than the other side. These styles of patterns got the name “summer-winter” because they would be used to weave bed spreads and blankets. When the season turned, you could also turn over your bedspread to get a different color, or pattern, almost making it feel like a brand new room.

When you use summer-winter patterns in “block formations” on a weaving, it means you can create intricate little squares of different patterns and textures all nestled up together. I really like the effect when used with lots of colors.

This scarf was done just with blues and purples, and of course, some reflective threads thrown in for good shiny measure. It was actually the “rescued” warp from the last project I mentioned, which was an absolute failure. But that failure encouraged me to try something random and new, and I’m totally happy with the result. Without that failure, I wouldn’t have flipped to a random page in my weaving book and said “sure, lets learn about summer-winter patterns…”

 

Of course, once I finished that one and saw the result, I wanted to see what it would look like with more colors. The green-blue-purple combination has been working out well for me lately, and I had another request for a “peacock colored” scarf, so…

Something about the combination of these colors, and their visual relation to each other really gives this scarf a “pixelated” look that I really like. Its always fascinating to me how some weaving patterns look good with more contrast, and some don’t. How some patterns seem to exaggerate color values that are close, and other patterns absolutely lose that color value.

Even weaving patterns that I’ve used before, I still feel like I’m experimenting with every scarf I make. Its so much fun! Yes, its more fun when it succeeds than when it fails, but even the failures eventually lead to something cool.

Lavender Fields

Another reflective scarf finished! This one’s complex pattern took me a lot longer than any of my recent creations. I also planned it out with a completely different color scheme, but once I got a few inches in changed my mind. Yarns might look amazing together when you line up the spools next to each other, but somehow everything changes once you actually start weaving them.

This overshot leaves pattern demands enough contrast that the complexity of the shapes actually stand out. Sometimes a change of plans can end up surprising you, and though it might not be what I was going for, this scarf is still beautiful.

I think I’m also finally getting the hang of capturing the reflective threads in photography too. Either that, or I just got incredibly lucky with this one. I’m okay with that, haha. There’s about 30 magical minutes when the sun isn’t quite down, but its dark enough that the flash doesn’t wash everything out, but its light enough that my camera can actually find a point to focus on, and the moon is in the right phase, and you turn around thrice widdershins, and and and…

dusk-transition

You can also sometimes get lucky before that though, when the sun is at a low enough angle sometimes it hits just right and you get dramatic sunset lighting AND the reflective moment. I’m particularly pleased with myself for the above transition gif.

Yarn Intimidation

I received some of the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen as a gift about a year ago, and I’ve been too intimated to do anything with it. Yes, I can utterly be intimidated by yarn. But I know I’m not alone. We’ve all had that moment where we’ve found a material so wonderful, and so perfect, we’re afraid to screw it up. Afraid to make that first cut of fabric. Afraid to unspool that yarn. Afraid to take the first step that you can’t undo, that means it’s begun and you better do it right.

irish-sm

One thing that’s been holding me back is that the yarn is a wool/silk blend. It is spun slightly loose to make it light and fluffy and so so soft. But that means I’m a little afraid to risk it as warp threads, which take a fair amount of abuse from the heddles and the reeds. Its a great weft fabric, but it means I need something equally amazing as a warp fabric.

silk-sm

I think I’ve found it. This is a super fine spun mulberry silk thread, dyed it a lovely dusty rose color. It is so smooth, and very very fine, but silk is super strong. And the color is subtle enough that I hope it will allow the dyed blend to really pop and be the star of the show.

Now, I just have to work up the courage to begin.