Alpaca Reflective Walking Coat

I’ve been working on this coat, in some form or another, for almost a year. I’ve been planning it for even longer. I think my New Year’s resolutions for two years ago included something about “sew a garment with my handwoven fabric.” And now I finally have!

The fabric for this jacket was hand woven on my 54″ 8-shaft macomber loom. In fact, this fabric is the only thing I ended up weaving on that loom before reselling it. There was nothing wrong with the loom, but it was simply too monstrously large for my needs. It worked great for this one project though.

I used a simple tabby draft, and counted on the fun colors of the yarn to make the fabric work. And the reflective strips of course! After weaving, I wet-finished the fabric to encourage a bit of felting. It “blurred” the colors of the yarn together, but I’m still quite satisfied with the results. The reflective bits show up nicely, and don’t affect the drape of the heavy fabric.

This coat is very imperfect. I ended up rushing a bit at the end, because I decided at the last moment that I wanted to enter this piece in a textile art show at a local gallery! Which is super cool, and which hopefully I will mention again if the coat gets accepted, or even if not! But yes, I had a hard deadline for photos to submit, so I was definitely trying to get some of the bits done at the very last minute.

I’m still incredibly happy with how it turned out. The lining fabric is Spoonflower’s satin, in a fun patchwork-like design I was excited to find just for this project. The pattern is McCall’s M6800, it had good instructions and a decent fit, though as mentioned I was moving fast and not paying a whole lot of attention.

Salt and Pepper Transitions Scarf

I’ve mentioned many times how much I love commissioned projects. Not only for the ego boost, but because it encourages me to try things I might not have done on my own. Even if the request is pretty open ended, it will likely send me in a direction I wouldn’t have otherwise. Basically, I think of some commissions as free inspiration.

This woman who requested this scarf wanted a gift for her friend. Her friend had decided to stop dying her hair and start embracing the grey hairs. So she wanted to give her friend a black and silver reflective scarf in honor of that.

I really enjoyed thinking about that transformation as a concept; the transition from solid black, to mixed “salt and pepper,” to solid silver.  What would that look like in a weaving? How would it look around someone’s neck?

To achieve this look, I set up the warp to be solid black on one side, and then start alternating silver, until it ends up solid silver on the other side. Then, I used the same method to change the weft from black to silver in the same way. This gave my an asymmetrical scarf, with one end thats black and mixed and the other that’s silver and mixed.

I like that the scarf shows the combination of colors every step of the way through transition. From the first scattering of fine threads, to the dense mixture. And of course, with the twinkle of the reflective light all the way through.

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And of course I couldn’t resist doing one of these:

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If you’d like to commission a scarf, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 🙂

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.

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.

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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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.