Thursday 31 December 2009

Handwoven scarf, from the wool to finish

(Click on the photo to view at a larger size.)

Having decided red is a good colour for a scarf for my Mother, I went to Wingham wools and bought a collection of dyed merino tops. The rich shade they call "cherry red" became my starting point and reference for selecting the other shades.

I picked out a couple of reds darker than the cherry, then a pink, to balance the pink I chose pale and deep purples, and then the vibrant shocking pink seemed to add a highlight tone to set the others off, and having a touch of bluish tone it seemed to bridge the gap between reds and purples.

I didn't plan this carefully beforehand, I just had fun in the colour shed at Winghams, picking things up, comparing with the other colours and assembling a collection that seemed right.

I took 60g of cherry red, and then smaller amounts of the other colours, splitting each colour in half so each singles yarns would have the same proportions of the colours. For spinning, I pre-drafted two colours at a time, usually but not always cherry red plus one other.

Here's the start of the first bobbin (on a Timbertops spinning wheel).

... and this is what the full bobbin looked like -

Bobbin two went on a different lazy kate for plying, and I used my Ashford Traveller with a new jumbo bobbin and jumbo sliding hook flyer, which took the full length (nearly 200g) of plied yarn.
Looking at the picture above, on the left side of the lazy kate, you can see an odd dangling black thread, untidily tied in s bow. This is fine black elastic which I am using as a brake to prevent bobbin over-run (the situation where the bobbin spins freely unwinding yarn faster than it can be plied). It works. Any lazy kate can have a brake with this simple method. If you look again at the bobbin on the Timbertops built-in lazy kate, you will see I used the same there too.

Part way through plying -

I got the yarn spun, skeined, washed and hung up to dry. This is when I discovered that large skeins off jumbo bobbins take longer to dry! Whilst waiting (it took about 24 hours) I started to think about what to use for weft, and a weave pattern.

Originally I was going to use a different weft, I thought maybe a touch of orange with the cherry, or a deep red and cherry colour. I spun short samples and held them up against the skein, none were quite right. Then I looked at the great 200g skein and thought, well, there's enough yarn there already, and I know that the colours match.

After tea one evening, I sat down with my wool sample blanket and looked at the different patterns it offered. I wanted to be a little more adventurous this time, the scarves I wove early in 2009 used diagonal 2-2 twill and a simple wavy twill, but there are so many possibilities in weaving, what else might work? How about... square E20, 4 by 4 Broken Twill threading and a 2-2 twill and plain weave shaft lift pattern. This would enable the warp to be dominate in stripes, but the colours in the weft to show in between.

To determine the sett, I used this wooden square, wrapped threads around one way then thread a weft through with a needle, trying out plain weave and 2-2 twill.

The sett for the twill was working out at 12 epi, but tight. I decided to weave at 10 epi to get a looser structure that had enough flexibility that it could shrink when wet-finishing and still have a good handle and drape. I must say, I thought this would be o.k., but as I didn't have time to weave and wash a sample I wash a little nervous until the finished scarf came out of the washing water and looked right when it was hung-up to dry.

Just before we get to the scarf, here's the rich colour of the warp as I was setting up the loom.

...and the tiny amount of warp waste after I'd tied tassels both ends of the scarf, no more than 20cm total...

and the scarf!