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!

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.

In Which I Learn to Weave

I’ve always wanted to learn how to weave on a floor loom, so I finally took a class. I loved it, and now I’ve got an even more expensive less useful hobby than sewing.

The class was to weave a scarf, and we were allowed to choose any material the art center had on hand. I fell in love with a variegated slubby rayon yarn, and used that for the warp. The third picture was my practicing the treddling and play with colors to decided what I wanted to use in the end.

I decided to go with an ombre effect, and the final scarf uses several inches of the variegated yarn at each end of the scarf, which I then alternate with, and eventually end with a solid blue silk yarn. The pattern is “Finnish birdseye” which I chose almost at random, but because I liked the diamond crosshatch pattern, and the tie-up was the same as basic twill.

This piece is actually on display for the summer of 2015 in the Sawtooth Center Gallery in Winston Salem NC.

 

A Dress for 1914, January

So, I was teaching myself about gradient dyeing…. I wanted to create a dress for Neil Gaiman’s Calendar of Tales, from his January story. This is 1914’s dress. If you haven’t read his stories, or heard about his project, you need to! No really, check this out, right now. I’m not posting a full image of the dress here, because I want the final image to be a bit of a surprise…

My objective for the dress was to imitate the styles shown in Downton Abbey, the season 1 dresses at least, because they were mostly set in that time.

I’m not entirely satisfied with this dress. Its a beautiful dress (if I may say so myself!) but its not the effect I was going for in the end. To me, it looks more disney princess than anything else. I think my problem is mostly that I used two such contrasting colors. Most dresses from the time stuck to one color family. However, The Man Himself specified 1914’s long white skirt, and, well, I didn’t want to do an all white dress because it’d feel too wedding dress-y. And I was in the mood to try something new, I’d been reading about ombre dyeing and I wanted to try it myself.

The dyeing went wonderfully! That was also half the problem. My original plan was to have an over dress of the white chiffon that toned down the darkest purple on the bodice. But that shade of purple was just so beautiful, and the chiffon wasn’t as transparent as I wanted it to be, so ended up not doing a full over dress.

I think if I’d had more time I could have added a lot more embroidery, and that would have been truer to the 1914s super elaborate styles and fashions. If I could have added some beading and heavy embroidery to the skirt, I think it would have been perfect.

Gradient dyeing was definitely fun, and an effect I plan to use again in the future.

We had the photo shoot for the project last thursday. The picture is from when we were preparing for the shoot, we were gathered in the lobby of a local building, and my glove was feeling rather contrary (Photo by Kelsey, a gorgeous model)….

calendarcandid

This photo is of the scene in January, when 1914 greets 2012 in the place where years go when they’re over. In the background, you can see several of the other years hanging out, enjoying life beyond time.

final

The photography was done by Sonja of Soulfire Studios ( facebook , tumblr ). Isn’t it fantastic? Everything feels magical and sort of timeless. (My favorite part is how she got the color of the water to actually match my dress, haha).

2012 is modeled by Matthew Sumner, of Beat Down Boogie.

I think my favorite part of this project is that I didn’t even know half the people I was working with when it all started. I just decided “Hey, I want to do this. I won’t be able to pull it off alone, so I should find some other people who want to do this.” And I sent out a bat signal, and friend of friends of friends responded. And this happened. And it was fantastic. Love of art and love of neil gaiman collide, and cool things happen.

I chose to work with the January story for several reasons. One of the easiest reasons is because it was one of the only stories where clothing was mentioned, and I wanted to sew something fantastic and fun. It was also the most Gaiman-esque story in my opinion. It left so much open, there are so many more stories just aching to be told. One year, one lifetime, second by second, battling a fight…

Anyways, this is the dress I imagine 1914 would be wearing. I copied a style similar to what fashion was like historically during that time, with a high waist, straight skirt, and lots of embellishments But I took a few liberties of my own, of course…

I also very much liked the imagery of sand trickling through an hourglass, and I tried to incorporate that theme in as many places as I could. The main fabric of the dress is gradient dyed, going from a deep midnight purple at the top and fading to timeless white. The embroidery on the bodice echoes that transition, and the shape of falling grains of sand. The beading in the back train of the dress does the same, individual beads trickling away like seconds of time.

dress

Gaiman builds an image at one point in the story, the final grain of sand caught in the hourglass, the final second of Twelve’s time… One grain of sand per a second, for a year. I’d like to say there are as many beads on this dress as seconds in a year… But I did the math, and that comes out to be 31,536,000. Thirty one million, five hundred thirty six thousand seconds, in a normal year. (I wonder if the personalities of leap years are different? See, there’s a whole new story someone could write within this story…)

There aren’t that many beads on this dress, but there are probably a good couple of thousand.

Edited at 1:26pm local time (which happens to be 5:26pm GMT): Actually, I missed submission time by TWENTY SIX MINUTES. FML. Stupid Greenwich Mean Time. Also curiously appropriate, given my mental meanderings on the meaning of seconds, and time, etc etc. *sigh* Oh well. such is life.