Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spinning for Tapestry Yarn Part 2

I started spinning yarns for tapestry weaving when I was designing Oberon's Mermaid.  I didn't have enough color variations in the type of yarns I needed but I had lots of fiber.  I started thinking about the most efficient way to spin yarns for this project and it occurred to me that instead of thinking in terms of spinning for a specific project I would start spinning to create a palette of yarns that I could use for just about anything I cared to do. I decided on a lace to fingering weight singles because I could then bundle a number of the singles together for a coarser sett or use less threads for a finer sett. Also, by bundling the singles I could get more color and shading effects with fewer colors to start out.

Once I got started I found I really enjoyed spinning yarns for tapestry because I didn't need thousands of yards of each color and I enjoyed the variety.  I ended up spinning 81 different yarns for Oberon's Mermaid with each hue represented by many tints ,tones and shades.  I found I could add a little glitz if I liked, take one dyed roving and add a little light, dark, warm or cool and come up with just the variations I needed.  I was smitten with the color play possibilities!  These first yarns were almost all prepared on the drum carder and spun worsted so the result was a semi worsted yarn.  Here is a picture of some of the yarns I made.  

Now I am ready to experiment a little further with spinning yarns for tapestry weaving.  My first yarns were spun from Corriedale and Romney Breeds and soon after I added Navaho Churro and Cotswald to the mix.  It is interesting to study how different sheep breeds have an effect on the finished wool and I would like to try a few more. The other thing that I would like to explore is wool combing.  I would like to compare using the drum carder preparation versus wool combing preparation.  Since I will be spinning all the samples worsted I will be getting a semi worsted with the drum carder or a worsted style yarn with the wool combing. Even though I have always used some plied yarns in my tapestry weaving I plan to use both singles and plied yarns in the sampler  so that I can study the difference.
 Last week I designed a sampler tapestry where I could explore these questions.  Each sheep in the tapestry will be a different breed and/or a different fiber preparation. This is a cute sheep picture with a purpose!  I plan to draw the cartoon on the cotton I will use to back the tapestry and write the "key" information about the sample in the drawn sheep.

As the sampler was being designed and I was starting to weave I began prepping some fiber samples for my sheep.  My first breed is Romney, a very reliable choice.  I made some drum carded samples, some flick carded samples and some combed samples all in singles and 2 ply and all spun worsted.  Here are some pictures of the wool combing adventure.

Placing the Locks in the Diz

Combing the Locks

After combing the locks I pulled them through the Diz.

Here they are ready to spin.

The sample skeins.

Lizzy is keeping an eye on the finished balls ready to weave into the sampler.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bracelets from Rendezvous

I am still busy finishing bracelets that were in progress at Route 66 Rendezvous.  Here are two Affinity style bracelets, one with crystals and delica beads and another with bead trim, gold thread and silk. They were done on the Mirrix Lani Loom.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Deep Blue Sea Bracelet

This bracelet was in progress at Rendezvous and finished yesterday.  It is my first attempt at all beads and I enjoyed it.  I used my new Mini Mirrix won in the Ott Light Facebook contest with the no warp ends kit.

Here is the under side finished with an iridescent button.


Pictures from Rendezvous
A view of the jewelry projects in progress.
At the beginning of the day.
A few tapestries to brighten up the booth.
The jewelry projects attracted quite a bit of attention and I had a tapestry bead cuff, a no warp  ends bead bracelet and an Affinity bracelet in progress on various looms.
I brought an album with photos of Mirrix Looms, projects and available items.
Lizzy greeted everyone and presided over the warp threads and Mirrix heddles.

I took along some tapestries to display, here is Oberon's mermaid and the sampler from Kirsten Glasbrook's book on tapestry weaving.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Finishing a Small Tapestry

I have been doing some finishing on the Riverside tapestry this week.  It is about postcard size at 5 inches by 7.75 inches and I enjoyed weaving it.  There is an idea cooking, not fully baked yet that it might be fun to create a collage of small tapestries based on the theme " postcards from home".  In the interim  it would be nice to be able to display it individually. Of course there are many ways to finish tapestries but I will take you through my process for this one.

Starting from the beginning I loosen the warp before cutting it from the loom.  Notice the bright yellow orange thread, this will not be part of the finished piece.  I like to use a guide thread to help keep the edges even and parallel as I climb up the warp.  This is nothing new but most of the time the guide threads are an extra warp thread placed next to the actual edges of the piece.  I have been frustrated with this in the past because of my tendency to weave the guide threads into the actual tapestry.  My solution is to use a very contrasting color of cotton rug warp and place the guide threads on separately next to the doubled warp ends that will be the actual edge of the tapestry.  Then I weave a waste header in the same color catching in the guide threads to make them stable.  They are not attached to a heddle either.

Once the tapestry is off the loom i can remove the guide strings and the waste header in one piece and it is even possible to reuse it.  Then I trim the ends to make it easier to handle and let it rest for a couple of days before I proceed.

As you can see the back is a jumble of ends and I was really working on reducing weft ends?  I also try to keep the ends away from the edges but if I have missed a couple  they get needle woven away.  This is a good time to mention that it is important not to split or needle into the warp threads themselves but to carefully weave under the wefts to hold the threads in place.

Next, trim the ends to a reasonable length. Here, a half inch or so.  I like to use appliqué scissors for this.  For an all wool tapestry trimming is all you usually need but this tapestry has many slick threads like cotton, silk and rayon. These threads work themselves out of the weaving much easier and so I tie them loosely into a small knot before trimming.

Then I will give my warp threads a neater trim.  If the piece needs blocking I would do it now.  Also should mention that I had only one small slit that I needed to sew in this piece and it is done by now. This tapestry is responding well to a light steaming on the back so I will leave it at that.  Here are the ends trimmed, knotted and worked toward the center away from the edges.

This piece has hems on two ends so I will reinforce only two edges with twill tape, if I had no hems I would do all four edges taking the warp ends in as I go.

I press the hems under along my Soumak edge using a metal guide and steam, for picture purposes there is no press cloth in this picture .

Then strong thread is used to whip the edges of the hems and the twill tape in place, whipping the warp threads under as I go.  The back is a little neater now.

Then I like to take a piece of cotton fabric and make a backing for the whole tapestry. I often use this backing to add more documentation as I usually just put initials on the front.

Here is a picture of another small tapestry with the backing stitched in place with matching thread.

On Riverside I also attached a small hanging sleeve to the back which can be used to display it right away.  If I decide later to make it part of a larger piece it will be simple to remove the cotton backing with the hanging sleeve without damaging the finishing underneath.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Catching Dangling Threads

Lizzy and I are getting ready for Rendezvous and I thought we could catch a few threads that have been left dangling today.  Lizzy is my studio buddy, made by my good friend Jeannine Glaves.

First, here is the finished sampler from the Extreme Warp Makeover weaving workshop with Robyn Spady that I wrote about earlier .  It was done on a Rosepath Twill threading and a four shaft loom and mine has 34 different samples but I did repeat two of them twice.  Quite an impressive array!  I have also included some details.

First Half of the Sampler

Second Half of the Sampler
This shows the corduroy , deflected weft and echo weave samples.
Here are some pattern variations with heavier  threads.

From the end of the sampler warp, a bonus two pieces of fabric that I am using for a multi technique bag along with some tapestry and bead trim that is still on the Little Guy Mirrix loom.

Deflected Weft with a novelty ribbon yarn and some swivel variations.

Finally a picture of me demonstrating for the Renaissance Festival at the Castle in Muskogee last weekend.  The weather was perfect and it is fun to talk about fiber arts with the public, especially the children.  I had my inkle loom and my hand spindle with me.

A couple of my friends were there demonstrating spinning and we had a good time going back in time.