Light Reflective Scarves

Now that the nights are getting longer, and the evenings are getting cooler, I find myself going back to weaving scarves again.

I was actually in Berlin, Germany for most of the month of September, and of course I couldn’t take my loom with me. About halfway through the trip, I had this idea for a scarf that I desperately wanted to make, but couldn’t do anything but plan out in my head for weeks.

Luckily, when I was able to get home, I was able to put my plan into motion. A couple of months ago I acquired some sample spools of 3M reflective strips cut very very narrow. And by narrow I mean 1/32″ wide. So basically reflective threads. 3M is the company that makes all that night-safe gear that reflects light so powerfully it seems to actually “light up” when hit with a direct beam, headlights for instance. So its used in running shoes, and jogging sport clothes, and jackets, and safety vests etc etc etc.

Since the strips I had were so thin, and actually fairly flexible and strong, I was able to weave them into cloth just like any other yarn.

This is my Starlight Scarf. During normal daylight hours, it seems a fairly normal scarf. Delicate, creamy white blending into silvery grey. The woven pattern is actually the same overshot tie-up I used in the emerald scarf, which is kind of star-like.

But once direct light hits it, especially when the ambient light gets low or even dark, the special 3M threads in the scarf light up as if they’re glowing.

Sometimes you have grand ideas of things you will create, and the reality just doesn’t quite reach your dreams. But other times, other times reality exceeds what you could have hoped for, and those are the moments that everyone remembers. Those are the moments that really feel like art.

This was one of those moments. I love this scarf, it turned out better than I could believe. And it’s success led me to continue playing with those reflective threads.

I did another color gamp (a weaving technique that pairs every color of thread in a set with every other thread.) This time though, I used every color in the Earth Guild Dragon Tales line (except black and taupe.) And in between each color in the warp, I included one of the reflective threads.

The results were just as good, if not better, than the Starlight Scarf.

 

In Which I Build a Loom

So you may remember me mentioning that I actually bought a second loom. Yep. This is the girl who owned 0 looms this time last year. Now I own two. Is this a problem? Nah!

Besides, for the second one, I truly could not resist. My local guild was trying to get rid of a 45″ Nilus Leclerc. Get rid of? Well, it was in pieces. All the pieces were there, but it had been living disassembled in in somebody’s garage for awhile. But they were selling it for $200. With a bench! You can’t even get just a bench alone for that much! How could I say no? Plus, my first loom was a 36″ Nilus Leclerc, so its not like I wouldn’t have a “living” model to help me put it together… You can see the “before” photos below.

It wasn’t in perfect condition, and a few pieces needed to be replaced (one of the shaft heddle supports, and the brake tension spring, and the aprons were pretty rough). But even though it took me nearly six months, I really enjoyed putting this loom together. Honestly, it was a learning experience about all the interesting bits of a loom, and how it all works.

Now that its all together, this loom is a truly beautiful piece of work. It is old, but still strong; it’s still got plenty of years left in it. My favorite thing is small, but its a whim I’m glad I followed through on. Check out those “after” photos!

As I said, the aprons were pretty rough looking. And I have nothing if not tons of scrap fabric at hand. And I thought, well, why are aprons always plain white? Why not have a patterned apron? And I found this lovely fabric. Its a line art sketch of butterflies and botanical plants. It fits the color and mood of my fiber studio, while really bringing out the lovely grain of the wood of the loom. I feel like this print just “fits” the loom, and gives this old loom a wonderful bit of unique character that I’ve never seen on any loom before.

I absolutely love the effect of a printed apron. I’m thinking about trying to convince other people to maybe try it out. Not much of a business potential, I guess, as people rarely change their aprons. But, well, you never know. Maybe this fad will catch on, and I’ll be able to claim that this loom started it all.

The first project I started on this loom is a simple rag rug. I got some good sturdy cotton warp in a nice green color, and it seemed appropriate. Then I had some scrap fabric lying around that had been tie-dyed in some bright blues and purples and.. more greens. It seemed like meant to be, and a fun easy first project to test the loom’s capabilities.

rug

The rug is going great, and I couldn’t be happier with this second loom. And yet… I see more shafts in my future. There will come a day when I wont be able to resist, and I’ll have to give up one of these beauties, and invest in an 8shaft loom. Four shafts can take you a lot of places, and you can do most anything on them, and certainly use them well and beautifully… but…….

Weaving Wainbow

This scarf was an exploration into a classic weaving pattern called a “color gamp.” The idea is that you do equal strips of many colors along the warp and the weft, that way you can see how each yarn interacts with every other yarn in the set. Most people do them in ROYGBIV order, for obvious reasons, but that’s not required. Its another one of those moments where I really appreciate how weaving and math interact.

Color gamps are great for really seeing color theory in action. Color is one of the most illusive, complex and difficult things to explain or control. Sure, red is red, that’s simple right? But how red is red? What does it mean to be a redder red? Sure, red plus yellow equals orange…. When you’re playing with paint, maybe, less so when you’re playing with light.

How colors interact when they’re next to each other is also very difficult to explain, or predict. So much depends on the weight and hand of the yarn, its fiber content, how reflective it is, how saturated the colors in question are. Thats why something like a color gamp is a good idea. It lets you literally see how each yarn interacts with the other yarns, over and under, shadow and highlight, contrast and complimentary.

Plus it just looks cool.

I’m sorry for the title, I couldn’t help it.

 

Weaving Words

This was probably the hands-down best project I worked on for Christmas. Remember how I said the clasped weft scarf looked kind of like sound waves? I decided to incorporate that into a woven words scarf.

voiceart

I recorded myself saying “You are the most wonderful father a daughter could have. I love you daddy.” Then I looked at the sound waves for it, and wove it into a black and white clasped weft scarf. I also artistically drew it out, and wrote the words, and framed it to make it very clear what the scarf meant. Super sentimental, but kind of wonderfully perfect. My dad has always been the most musically inclined in the family, and he’s recently started recording audio books, so sound waves seemed so appropriate.

The yarn is the same dragon tales rayon boucle dyed by an Asheville local place named Earth Guild. Its the same yarn I used for the painted christmas scarves. Its, hands down, some of the easiest and most beautiful yarn I’ve worked with yet. It weaves easy, soft but strong, and washing machine/dryer safe, and SO SOFT once it’s fulled. The colors stayed fast, and it simply glows in the right light.

I love this concept of turning spoken words into a scarf. It could be done with any phrase, or any snatch of music, or famous speech. The black and white look so classic. I also feel like clasped weft would make really cool piano keys along the edge of a scarf.

A New Space

In the last few months I’ve lost two roommates, and gained another one. This has meant lots of shlepping furniture, rearranging and cleaning, and not a whole lot of time or space for any sort of sewing or reading. Now, however, that’s all changed…

The end result is a spare bedroom, which I have now claimed as a hoity toity fiber studio. Ooooo, Ahhh. I’m so excited, I’ve never yet had my very own space dedicated to crafting etc.

Its a smallish bedroom, but I’ve still managed to fit both looms, a boxy shelf/drawer/thing, a book shelf, an ironing table, a large warping board, and a large glass-top desk. Any any sort of room is better than stealing and cluttering up the downstairs dining room.

Oh, wait, “both looms”? Yes…. I bought another one. I already knew I’d have a spare bedroom, and then this LOVELY 45″ Nilus Leclerc was at the local weavers fall sale for $100?!?! How could I say no? Of course, the reason it was so cheap was because its currently in pieces. It even comes with its own bench though! And underneath the dust the loom is in good shape! I’m so excited. It’ll be a learning exercise to put all the pieces back together.

I already feel good in this space. The back wall has two windows, hidden by the sliding panel style ikea curtains. I can’t wait to play with various fabrics layered on each other, or weave my own intricate curtain panels (I’ve already got some great ideas there). I also managed to hide a desktop computer, and a monitor that can move back and forth between the desk, and an out of the way shelf corner. That way this is also my computer/gaming room, and I can binge watch netflix while crafting things, or rock out to music. The shelf above the desk was a “picture ledge” according to ikea. I took one look at it and thought that’ll be perfect for thread!. And it is! It fits perfectly, and is organized and close at hand, and even looks good! We also took the door off the closet in the back corner so that it still works as storage, without giving up square footage for the door to open.

Having the space be comfortable and highly functional really contributed to a ton of excellent christmas presents I’ll show off soon.

Twelve Scarves of Christmas

UPDATE: if you love these scarves as much as my friends and family did, I’m selling more of them in my esty shop for this christmas!

Well, I was very very busy for the weeks up to christmas. There are a lot of photos for this post, but I assume you guys wont mind. I, of course, decided to give everyone a scarf. Scarves are so fun and easy, when you get into a rhythm they don’t even take very long, you get to change up the colors frequently, and they’re just so satisfying.

There’s a local to Asheville yarn store called Earth Guild that does their own dye of some rayon weaving yard. It is absolutely gorgeous, and I’ve been eyeing it for awhile now. They also sell hand-painted warp scarf kits. The yarn is already measured and painted for you, and they provide warp and weft all in a bag. Just warp your loom and you’re ready to go! I confess, once I did the first one and saw how fun and easy and BEAUTIFUL they were, I went a little crazy. The given color combinations are absolutely gorgeous, and with everything pre-mesured, as long as I stayed in the twill family, I simply just tied on new ends to the old ones and didn’t have to do 75% of the annoying pre-work bit.

The only two that weren’t pre-painted kits were the two ones I did with their line of variegated yarns. There’s one foresty green and blue scarf, and a golden scarf with purple and reds. Same weight as the other yarn, just the warp is a variegated and the weft is a solid color. For a couple of inches at each end, I also used variegated in the weft, and then slowly transitioned to the solid to create a nice ombre effect. Does it happen to correspond very closely to the very first scarf I did? maaaaaybe 😉 But it just looks so good!


Anyways, it was so delightful to use Earth Guild’s scarf kits. They are the perfect project in a bag, easy, beautiful, somewhat addictive. They’d also be great teaching tools, they easily display the basics, leave out part of the math, good strong soft yarn, the colors look amazing and hide simple flaws, and they don’t take long at all! Any friend that wants a good project to learn to weave on is welcome to come sit at my loom one weekend, and I’ll show you the basics!


You’ll also note that I got the boy to model for me, as long as I also promised to model, haha! Everyone keeps asking for it, well, I’m finally going to attempt to take more photographs of me actually wearing the things I make.

Clasped Weft Scarf

This is a clasped weft scarf in soft wool. I’d seen a similar effect on pinterest somewhere, and just loved the way it looked. Almost like a sound wave pattern, or a city skyline. I read up about it, and discovered the concept of “clasped weft.” Its really quite simple, but so striking, and varied depending on how you use colors. I want to do a tutorial for it, once I have another project that needs it, but for now I’ll leave you with this cool gif I made.

claspedgif

I know, I still think gifs are cool, sorry. 😉

It was a fun project, my first done without a specific purpose or person in mind, simply because I wanted to experiment. Now that I know what it looks like, I suspect you’ll see more clasped weft projects soon. Its definitely slower to weave, but I’ve got some good ideas on how to use it. You could encode binary messages using one colors as 0 and the other as 1, hehe. You could weave in a section of music you really love. You could imitate a specific city’s skyline, or measuring carefully get some cool sine curves. It’s also a pattern that lends itself well to weaving in some LEDs or conductive thread, not that I’m getting too excited or anything.

Anyways, proof that my loom as been busy in the last six months. Very very busy as you’ll find out next time.

New Weaving Bench

My loom didn’t come with a bench, and for the last few months I’ve been using a dining room chair. While not a huge problem, it is the wrong height for proper posture, and doesn’t allow the same range of motion as the bench I got to use at the studio weaving class I took. When I researched how much it would cost to buy a mass-manufactured bench which had no character, and which I’d have to pay for shipping anyways, I had a rather brilliant thought (if I do say so myself.) A friend of mine has some skill as a woodworker, and so I was super excited to commission a custom weaving bench from him.

I’m not picky. I simply told him the width of my loom between its legs, and the height I wanted it, and said that I wanted a seat that opened into a storage area. Beyond that, I left it entirely up to him how he styled it. Oh, and I requested one more thing: I told him I wanted him to do something artsy to it.

“What sort of artsy thing?”
“I don’t care, up to you!”
“What do you want it to look like?”
“Your choice!”
“What kind of things do you like?”
“Unique things made by artists!”
“Gah! Fine. But you have to pick a color. What color?”
“Oh, alright. Green. Do something green to it.”

I am more than pleased with what he came up with in the end. It is perfect! It is something unique and beautiful that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. THIS is why you make friends with artists. THIS is why you support artists whenever you get the chance. Fill your life with unique beautiful things that make you happy. ART! wheeee!

The one thing I might add myself is a padded cushion for the top. I think I’ll try to hand weave a cover which I can stuff with memory foam, or a pillow. That’d be highly appropriate.

Wedding Shawl

This is the second finished project from my loom, and I love it almost more than the first. It was intended to be a wedding shawl for a friend… Who was getting married in June, in 100deg weather. Ehh, its the thought that counts 😉

The pattern is called “huck lace,” and it was fascinating and easy to weave. It creates an interesting wave-like pattern by alternating basic weave sections with long “float” sections. This means that once the fabric is removed from the loom and loses that tension the float areas are allowed to bunch together, while the plain weave sections stay stable. It also means that the warp threads float on one side, and the weft on the other, to create an interesting color effect.

I was inspired by the pattern in examples online, and I wanted to do something traditional by giving a blue gift to a bride. I found a lovely soft full wool (Jaggerspun Heather Line 2/8) in cream and light blue. Oh it is glorious yarn. So easy to work with, and so soft once I fulled it.

In the end I was having so much fun I wove a little too far, the “shawl” is almost long enough to be a lap blanket. But it feels and looks so good, I can’t complain. I really truly enjoyed this project, and can’t wait to see what I’ll weave next.

 

Emerald Scarf

So I’ve decided on the first real project I’m going to complete on my new loom. Its a little complicated, maybe, but I think it will turn out well.

Tencel yarn 8/2 going on the loom to make a scarf. I’m excited to try out a pretty overshot pattern I got from the book I found: The Handweaver’s Pattern Dictionary. There’s a digital tool called PixelLoom you can use to play with patterns and colors.

pixelloom

My favorite part about this picture is that it shows such an obvious and satisfying progression from tangled chaos to nice straight order. It really scratches the itch on that type A part of my brain that likes everything in its place, numbered lettered and color coded. That’s definitely part of what I enjoy about weaving so much, if I can’t corral all the chaos in life, at least I can take hundreds of mixed up threads, and turn them into whole cloth.

chaos

I like the pattern a lot. But, lest I fear that it is not ambitions enough for a first project on a new loom, I also decided to try out some “leno lace.” You hand pick out groups of threads and twist them around each other and run a weft thread through the middle of the twist to hold it in place. Because this scarf isn’t intense enough already.

This picture shows the completely different tone and feel you can get just by changing the weft color. The bottom is the same dark-green as the outer edges of the warp. The top half is the same shell/cream color as the center threads of the warp. Its always fun to try something different or unexpected as the weft, because you never know what will surprise you. Colors are so influenced by the what’s around them, it can change the character of a yarn completely.

colortest

Here is the finished tencel overshot scarf! As far as first projects go, I am ridiculously proud of this one. It was a birthday present for my sister, because I felt like the super rich green colors, and the star-like pattern just called out to be hers. The yarn was very easy to work with, and has a beautiful feel in the finished project, soft and smooth.

window2

The ombre effect was gotten by using three different colors of warp thread (forest, cactus and a cream color), and alternating them in the transition areas. The effect is exactly! what I was going for.

fringe

A couple of inches from each edge I did a single row of “leno lace.” Its a method of twisting the warp threads over and under eachother, and anchoring them with a single weft pick. You can check out the project page for some close up pictures of it. Although its quite simple, I might try to do an easy tutorial on this method just so that I can get some practice at tutorial writing, and to get some cool variations I’ve thought of recorded. And so that I just have more pages over there under that page heading ;-).

close

I hand twisted the fringe. I know they sell little battery powered twisters, but I don’t feel like it’d speed up the process much when you’re doing a short fringe of lots of different threads. I’d just spend more time unhooking and hooking it up to the next fringe rope. Plus I kind of like twisting fringe, its soothing and easy to do in front of the tv.

fence

I got the overshot pattern, and instructions for leno lace, from a book called The Handweaver’s Pattern Dictionary. Its a fantastic resource with good pictures, good explanations, and decent inspiration. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who has access to a loom.