Monday, January 11, 2016

'Patience... and the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown'

This old Chinese proverb comes to mind when I weave. It seems like such a long journey from winding a warp to finishing a garment.

Well, at least I am not reeling the silk from the cocoons... to make the strands of fiber... and then to spin and ply them into yarn.

Here are some photos documenting my latest project: a vest and jacket made of deflected double weave fabric, finished for differential shrinkage, using two painted warps. The photo above shows the fabric on the loom: an 8-shaft deflected double weave structure using two warps painted in two different color palettes. The "background" layer is 18/2 merino painted in a range from burgundy to orchid purple to gold to rust, while the pattern layer is 20/2 pearl cotton painted in turquoise, yellow, lavender, and pale green.

What I enjoy most about working with the merino is that it fulls beautifully, making a sturdy and forgiving fabric and emphasizing the pattern made by the cotton. Here's a detail photo.

Here's the draft, showing only one repeat. There are lots of variations, and the back of the fabric is just as interesting -- but very different -- from the front. This is characteristic of deflected double weave.

I won't bore you with the problems I had at the start, aiming to weave at least 10 yards of fabric in deflected double weave as a collapse-weave fabric. Well, then again, maybe I WILL bore you a bit. When you're weaving with two different yarns -- which is necessary, if you want to achieve a collapse weave -- the selvages can be an issue. You have two separate layers because it's a two-shuttle weave, leaving the ins and outs of two very different yarns on the selvage. Even when you add a section of plain weave on the selvages, you still have the problem, because of the two different yarns. I struggled with this, and finally added fishing line about 3 inches away from each selvage, affixed to the front and back beams (so it did not advance with the warp). I wove around the fishing line and, every time I advanced the warp, I cut the loops around the fishing line, creating a fringe along with weft. Problem solved!

So, days or maybe weeks later, I had about 9 1/2 yards of fabric to wash and then full. I started in my bathtub, stomping on the fabric much as I would do if I were stomping on grapes to make wine ;o)

Then I put it in my front-load washing machine, on a rinse, drain, and spin cycle only. That's all it took to become a nicely fulled fabric, making the cotton pucker into an interesting pattern.

The photo doesn't show the color shifts with the two painted warps, but you get the idea. Here's a somewhat blurry photo showing the yardage as it dried -- indoors, of course, since it's wintertime. You can see the fringe along the selvages.

It's hard to cut into fabric that you have spent hours (seems like years) weaving, but it is essential if you want to create a garment. Unless you want to make a toga, I guess. I adhere to the Nike slogan, "Just do it." One suggestion: it helps to weave way more than enough yardage, so you know that you have extra fabric in case you make an error.

Suffice it to say that I wove enough fabric for a jacket, using a wonderful pattern by Marcy Tilton (Vogue 8693). (Applause here for Marcy, as her patterns work so well for handmade fabrics.) I won't show the photo yet, because I am entering it into a juried fashion show and I don't want to tempt fate!

But -- at the top of this post and below -- here is a glimpse of a simple vest I made, using my leftover yardage. The pattern -- this one is Vogue 8713 -- is so very easy that I sewed it up in an afternoon!


Valerie said...

Elisabeth Hill has posted two You Tube videos on managing selvages in deflected double weave.

You fabric and vest are lovely!

Denise Kovnat said...

Thank you, Valerie! Her video was very helpful.

Notes from CNCH, the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

  Let's start with the photo above: a series of samples woven on eight shafts in deflected doubleweave by Marta Shannon. It's just o...