For the Great Competition of Weavers - January 2018 edition - we were asked to design a warp based on the theme Change. I decided to embrace change as a design principle, hoping to demonstrate through the project the transformative effects of incremental change. At nearly every step in design and production, I have introduced a small change. In the warp fiber selection, change was introduced through the use of two slightly different yarns. The difference in fiber content produced a difference in color saturation, resulting in a subtle distinction between the two in both value and sheen. In the warp design, the colors shift from violet through blue to green incrementally - producing a gradual change from one color to it's near opposite. The two warp yarns were dyed together and beamed together then threaded in an advancing parallel sequence. This required carefully alternating each yarn, placing it in the proper place within it's separate sequence, which advanced by one shaft after every 5 ends. Working in Fiberworks, I developed a weave structure that would allow each of the two yarns to alternate being in the foreground and background. The slight difference in value and sheen achieved through dyeing the two yarns together results in a subtle undulating pattern, resembling ripples across a body water. The weft is the single unifying element, with varying shades of the similar colors to provide a little depth but not overly variegated to ensure continuity. The two wraps I have created are finished with a hand-sewn hem stitch and twisted fringe, which allows the true colors of the warp to be revealed, distinct from the weft. There is also a 2 meter shawl with machine-sewn zig-zag stitching and short fringe.
The warp began as 1 kilo of natural silk yarn and 1 kilo of natural 65% silk/35% linen yarn. Two skeins - one silk and one silk/linen - were dyed together. While identical in color, I expected some variation in value as the dyes and process chosen were suited for the primary fiber - silk. I anticipated that the linen, rather than being dyed, may end up merely tinted through the process.
In selecting which dyes to use, I wanted to maximize the light-fastness and color-fastness of the silk. This would enable me to wash clean all dye molecules that had not bonded with the linen fiber. I didn't want any of the weak dye bonds that can result when dyeing with particular acid dyes to make it difficult to determine when the linen was actually clean. It's a lot of effort to go through to then inadvertently remove much of the dye you've just placed on your silk. This much I know.
I chose Sabraset dyes for this project, which are designed to permanently dye protein fibers like silk. Starting with a limited palette of the pure, manufactured Sabraset dyes required me to mix colors to achieve the specific hues that I had in mind. (Toward this end, I found the book Color in Spinning by Deb Menz to be an invaluable resource.) But mixing my own colors also ensured harmony between adjacent sections as colors next to one another were formed with different percentages of the same base dyes.
The two skeins were laid out on my dye table and painted with four colors, two of which would be used on the next two skeins. The next two skeins would be a combination of these two colors plus an additional two which moved the scheme further along the color wheel. In this way, I proceeded to dye 10 pairs of skeins in a color scheme that changed incrementally.
Here are all the skeins drying.
Ready for winding into cakes...
...and ready to warp. It's always a surprise how the yarn looks once it's wound into cakes. In skeins, you perceive the separate colors more easily. As a cake, and in a warp, the optical mixing of colors comes into play, melding the separate colors into a single hue.
Here you may be able to tell that the linen yarn (the cakes on top) are ever so slightly lighter than the silk below. The silk is also distinguished by a higher degree of sheen. The two yarns were about to be paired and warped together. They wouldn't be distinguished from one another again until the weave structure set them apart. At least that's what I hoped at this point in the process!
You can see the pairs here on the warping square in this section of dark violet.
My favorite part is always seeing the warp colors come together.
Here you can see the bits of un-dyed linen quite clearly, as well as the transition of color across the width of the warp.
I developed a weave structure with a parallel threading to incorporate the two warp yarns individually and allow them to alternate being in the the foreground and background of the resulting pattern. The principle of incremental change was applied while threading the loom as each yarn was carefully selected and placed properly in it's separate, advancing sequence. It was a relief each time I completed threading the 80 ends that were part of one complete sequence. I did this 12 times for the 960 ends required for the warp.
Threading the loom took extra care. Not only did I need to ensure that the sequence of the two parallel advancing repeats was correct, but I had to distinguish between the silk and the silk/linen yarns to make sure they were incorporated into the correct sequence.
Weaving was equally challenging, requiring an advancing treadling pattern. There were many hours of silent weaving but once the sequence became muscle memory, I could go back to listening to podcasts!
It was such an incredible relief to me when, about 18" into the first section, the undulating pattern could be discerned in the weave. I love the subtlety in the shift between the two yarns. Combined with the color scheme, it reminds me of ripples of water across a still body of water. I chose to work with a range of blues for the weft to enhance the aquatic effects of the warp and weave structure.
The length of the warp - approximately 18 meters - allowed me to weave 3 pieces. Two of these are 5.1 meter wraps finished with a hand-sewn hem stitch and twisted fringe. The third piece is a 2 meter shawl finished with a machine-sewn zig-zag stitch and 1" fringe.
The following photos show the Supima cotton weft wrap. This is the wrap that I entered into the competition. It is 5.1 meters in length (not including the fringe) and approximately 28" wide. It is woven with a 16/4 Supima cotton weft yarn that I dyed in shades of teal. It weighs approximately 304 grams/m^2. It is extremely soft. It has a lovely drape without being overly thin. I think it would be good for carrying small babies and toddlers alike.
The following photos show the Rose weft wrap. It is 5.1 meters in length (not including the fringe) and approximately 26" wide. It is woven with a rose yarn that I hand-dyed in shades of turquoise. It weighs approximately 324 grams/m^2. This number is a bit misleading as it is technically more dense than the Supima weft wrap but mysteriously feels lighter in hand. It is extremely soft and has a pleasing squishiness. The thin feel in hand leads me to believe that it would be best for carrying smaller babies.
The following photos show the organic cotton weft shawl. It is 2 meters in length (not including the fringe) and approximately 28" wide. It is woven with Venne organic cotton yarn, commercially dyed Peacock. It weighs approximately 310 grams/m^2.
The three pieces will be available for sale by draw. I have all the listings ready but tags need to be sewn. I've got a busy week coming up and I want to make sure this gets my full attention. For this reason, I'm keeping the draw open until Friday, January 26th at 12:00 PM Pacific.
To enter the drawing, please complete the form below. Entries are limited to one per person and are non-transferrable. I will draw one entry for each wrap on this date. If your entry is selected, I will send you a PayPal invoice. Full payment is required within 24 hours unless other arrangements are made in advance.
And now some information regarding the change that is foremost in everyone's minds. As you are undoubtedly aware, the federal safety standards for infant sling carriers approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission last year go into effect January 30, 2018. I have a sample and am currently preparing to send it for testing. Depending on test results and processing time, I may be on a short hiatus. I plan to spend the time on some very necessary drawings for a small construction project I hope to start this year.
I will be testing a twill weave variation in a silk/sea cell/linen/cotton combination. My plan is to begin by offering wraps with this weave and combinations of fibers in close approximation to the sample submitted. It is difficult to decide on a weave and fiber combination when you've spent years exploring the possibilities. This is one of the reasons I haven't yet submitted my sample. I'm still not 100% sure this is the direction I want to take but I hope to get this nailed down soon!
Before the limitations come into effect, I threw on a fast weft-over project on the AVL. I plan to have a couple wraps complete before the deadline. You can read about this in the chatter group on Facebook, wonder woven love.