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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

Autumn Colors

I’ve made a couple of these scarves at this point, it seems to be one of the most popular color combinations. Its one of my personal favorites, so I can understand why. It’s also the perfect time of year for them. This scarf just sold on Etsy, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take some photos of it on this glorious fall day. It matches the leaves around me perfectly.

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Blue for Houndstooth

This was another commission scarf for a friend, and again it turned out even better than I planned. Commissions are fun! They get me out of my own point of view and give me an excuse to play with something new. She loves blues, greens and purples and liked the thought of houndstooth pattern. She wanted a scarf to keep her warm and safe when she is out cycling at night, so I increased the ratio of reflective strips and did one every half inch. And that certainly did make a difference, this scarf lights up incredibly well.

The colors turned out perfect. It is actually the exact same yarns I used in the Peacock Scarf, but the impression this scarf leaves is so different! Its one of the things I find most fascinating about weaving, its not just the color of the yarn that matters, its the color of the yarn next to it as well, and the one next to that.

Okay, who wants a scarf next?

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Dyed Warp Scarves – A study in teal

These are two scarves I did much earlier in this year. A fellow crafter and I worked out a deal for trading commissioned art objects. I wanted a carved hair pin, and she wanted a woven scarf. This is the hairpin I ended up with, which is amazing and perfect and exactly what I was hoping for. I love that it stares at you. 13221208_944075643278_2196960803119822986_o

When talking about what she wanted in a scarf, she has a favorite shade of blue-teal-gray-silver that she loves. Of course, finding the exact right shade was going to be impossible, so I decided to play with dyeing my own yarn.

The base yarn was my ever favorites Earth Guild Dragon Tales boucle yarn. Its a rayon fiber, so easy to dye. And the boucle structure means it catches light well, is somewhat shiny, super absorbent, and simply easy and fun to weave.

I think its always interesting to see how colors play with each other when weaving, its not like any other art I’ve played with. Both of these scarves use teal yarn from the same dye lot in their warp. But because of the other yarns they are paired with, you end up with dramatically different scarves.

Both scarves use the same tie-up, a broken twill design that creates interesting diamond shapes. The one on the left uses Dragon Tales “taupe” color for the weft that lightens the effect and gives it an excellent gold shimmer. The one on the right uses the same dyed teal in the warp and the weft, but also their “autumn spice” variegated yarn as stripes down the warp, and to create an color transition effect at each end of the scarf.

In the end, neither scarf was the exact shade my friend was looking for. But she said this gold-ish one “called to her heart,” so I consider it and overwhelming success.

The one I call “circus colors” is still available (etsy link), if you feel like falling in love with it…

Peacock Scarf

Recently a friend asked me to create a scarf inspired by peacocks. I asked, “do you mean like the colors? Or are you looking for the shape of the tail? Or the eye effect the feathers have? What do you mean?”

She said, “whatever you want, you decide.” So, well, I did.

Sometimes overly generic guidance in creating an art piece for someone else can be irritating. What do they want? What do they expect? What if you’re wrong? But sometimes it really can be freeing. If you trust the person, and if they trust you, it can be awesome to just be like “sure, peacock, I can work with that.”

When I was commissioning this weaving bench, I told the artist “add something artsy to it.” He said “What do you mean?” “Just add something to it that feels right at the time. That’s something you came up with.” And he did. And I loved it.

Anyways, art inspired by friends can be really really cool. Here’s some photos of a scarf.

I used what is very quickly becoming my favorite scarf yarn: Earth Guild Dragon Tales. Its a point-draft twill pattern, and yes, I think the sort of maze like “spots” look like the eyes on a peacock tail to me, haha.

The warp colors are dark green on the outsize edges, and I mixed in light green towards the center to create a gradient effect. I used the same technique in the weft threads to blend between dark blue, light blue, light purple to dark purple and back again.

Personally, I think I fulfilled the “peacock” brief pretty well. And I loved making it and feeling inspired by just that one word. It’d be fun to try it again. Want a scarf inspired by your words? Leave me a comment and it might just happen!