More Silk Scarves

A couple of weeks ago I followed up on our guild’s silk scarf project by doing 11 more at home.  I had purchased a dozen scarf blanks and had picked up a bunch of neckties already, so was ready to go.  I also wanted to experiment with a couple of things, like re-using the necktie material if it seemed like it still had enough color in it, and pre-dyeing the scarf blanks before doing the dye transfer part.  So it was a week of play in the studio, and a break from weaving!

This layout:

P1040564led to the scarf on the left below.  Notice that the scarf on the right has some white areas.  It turns out the trickiest part is rolling them up so that no wrinkles form in the scarf blank, as this leads to undyed areas.  I later fixed this scarf by putting it through the process again, laying pieces of necktie across the undyed areas only.  It added more visual interest, so all was well!


The next was an experiment with woven, as opposed to printed, necktie material.  In our workshop, I learned that the woven ones don’t transfer their dyes as well, but I had already purchased some and was hoping to not completely sacrifice them to the waste bin.  The problem is that the dye is in the thread the material is woven from, instead of being printed on the surface of the tie.  Only one of these came through very strongly.

P1040566I later put this through again with some additional pieces that I knew would transfer dye, to make it more interesting. It is the scarf on the right.  The one on the left is the first one I did at our guild’s workshop.P1040581

This layout used some of the wide end pieces that have lining on the back (so that side won’t transfer dye).  I found that I could open up the narrow end and lay it on the back side of the wide end, thus getting printed fabric on both sides.  For these scarves, I pre-dyed the scarf blank a pale turquoise color first, so I didn’t have to completely cover the scarf blank with necktie material.

P1040571This led to the one on the left:

P1040576Another layout on a pre-dyed scarf with the wide end of neckties:


which is the one on the left:P1040579

Loved this orange tie!  I think it has enough dye left to use at least one more time.


It, and this one, led to the 2 scarves below.


It’s interesting that the olive green tie above only came through as lemon yellow on the scarf.

P1040589Here are a couple more that I didn’t get layout pictures for.


I have taken 10 of these up to the Winthrop Gallery.  I found a neat old broom display at the White Buck Trading Co. sale last weekend, and fitted it up for a scarf display.



Aluminum Groundhog Day

Miscellaneous news from the home front today.

The Airstream emerged from its winter burrow yesterday, and did not return!  We have projects to do before we take off on a road trip in early June.  Rick almost has the new armrests for the front sofa done.  We want to pull the rear window and clean it up like we did with the others last year.  And, we need to seal the exterior seams – this was done at the factory when it was built in 1973, and the Spokane Airstream folks told us that once it is done again, it will be good for at least another 20 years.


The White Buck Trading Co. in Winthrop (Western themed stuff, and a “museum” of old stuff) closed its doors several months ago.  They have leased half the space, and yesterday re-opened to sell off the old stuff.  Rick picked up some woodworking tools on Saturday, and yesterday we went back and picked up this cool old plow for next to nothing.  It will be “yart” (yard art).


Signs of spring and new life  – the farm down the road has 3 baby Highland cows, and piglets too.


A friend of mine showed me a cool way of draping my new shawls last week, and I thought I would share it.  Often when you just wrap a shawl around your shoulders, you have to hold the ends with your arms, or pin it in some way.  It doesn’t want to hang down straight or stay on your shoulders all by itself!  This method achieves that, if you are just wearing it as a large scarf, not wrapped around you for warmth.

Start by folding the shawl in half across the middle:bias drape 1

Now draw the bottom edges away from each other.  The goal is to create a fold that is on the bias of the fabric.  You may have to play around with how much of an angle you want:

bias drape 2

Now hang it around your shoulders, so the crossed edges are against your neck and the bias fold is hanging across your shoulders.  This is the tricky part.  On a person, we could get the bias fold to run straight across the back.  On the manniken, I had to drape it a little differently, but it still looks nice.

bias drape 3

Now the ends hang down straight in front.  On these shawls, it also shows off the 2 sides of fabric nicely!

bias drape 4

You could do this with a narrower scarf as well, and any kind of shawl or scarf – not just handwoven.  I also tried putting it on with the bias fold up against my neck and the crossed edges hanging below towards my shoulder blades.  You can make a kind of “shawl collar” this way, and the ends still hang down straight in front.  So play around with it and see what you think!

Four Shawls & A Cowl

This week I finished the four shawls for my guild’s challenge project.  As previously noted, these were all done on the same warp of 20/2 mercerized cotton, and the same threading (extended manifold twill) and tie-up.  But I used different treadlings for each one, and different materials and colors as well.  They seemed rather stiff right off the loom, but after washing and pressing they have a lovely hand and drape.

Pattern weft:  brown 8/2 rayon used doubled, Tabby weft: 20/2 mercerized cotton, changing color every pattern repeat

1 brown rayon a

Pattern weft: variegated 8/2 tencel used doubled, Tabby weft:  10/2 tencel

2 gold meadow a

2 gold meadow b

Pattern weft: solid teal 8/2 tencel used doubled, Tabby weft:  10/2 tencel

3 teal tussah a

Pattern weft: variegated 8/2 tencel used doubled, Tabby weft:  10/2 tencel

KS spring meadow shawl

I had enough warp left to weave this cloth (table mat?) in black 5/2 pearl cotton with a 20/2 gray pearl cotton tabby weft.  Used the same treadling as the 4th shawl above.

black&white mat a

front side


black&white mat b

back side


On the knitting front, I just finished a cowl using some of my handspun yarn.  It was a 2-ply and approx. laceweight.  One of the singles was spun from a merino/tencel dyed top from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks.  The other was merino/cashmere in the same colorway.  These are dyed in a regular repeating color sequence, which I was careful to preserve in the spinning.  When plied together, the same colors lined up pretty well so I got this nice soft striping when knitting with it.

Zuzu Petals Cowl

The pattern is “Zuzu’s Petals” by Carina Spencer (available on Ravelry or her website).  I was pretty much getting gauge on the recommended needle size, even with the handspun.  But I tried it on when partway done and decided it was fitting a little too close around my neck, so I took it back to the point where you quit knitting back and forth and join in the round to begin the lace chart.  Then continued the stockinette part with the same increases until I had added 24 more stitches (two 12-st repeats of the lace) then went on and joined in the round and finished it up.  I think it works much better for me, or at least in this yarn.

I just love this little cowl – it may be my favorite thing I have knit this year!

Silk Tie Soiree

Yesterday was a really fun day at the guild room.  We have been planning to do a group project, which was to learn how to dye silk scarf blanks by transferring dye from recycled silk neckties.  We collected a bunch of neckties from various sources and ordered 11″ x 60″ silk charmeuse scarf blanks from Dharma Trading Co.  A couple of women from the Seattle Weavers’ Guild came over to visit and lead us through the process (there are also some YouTube videos out there that are pretty good).

Basically you lay out a piece of muslin bigger than your scarf (a couple of inches on each side), then lay the washed and ironed scarf on it, right side up.  It takes about 3 neckties worth to cover one end of the scarf in a pattern.   Don’t open up the ties, just remove the labels, as you want fabric on both sides – although you do need to remove the wide end as there isn’t fabric on both sides in that area.  Fold the other end of the scarf over, to sandwich the necktie pattern between the 2 ends.  Fold the muslin over, then roll the whole thing up and secure (but not too tightly) with cloth strips or string or something.  The roll is placed in a hot water bath with vinegar in it and kept just below boiling for about 2o minutes.  They tend to float so you have to come up with a way to keep them submerged!

Here we are starting our layouts:




This was mine:


and another  one:


One very interesting thing was that the color of the necktie doesn’t necessarily predict how it will come out on the scarf!  Some just transfer their dye more completely.  Others transfer as a paler color, or a different color.  So there is a definite element of serendipity to this whole process.  But they all came out really cool.


mine is the one on the right




I have more neckties and scarf blanks here at home, so will be doing more of these!

A Learning Experience

Our guild has an annual “challenge” project which we work on throughout the year (read: at the last minute) and the results are presented in April.  This year the theme is “Twill”.  I decided to use drafts #263-268 in Carol Strickler’s “A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns”.  This is an extended manifold twill from the Bateman manuscript (draft 201 in Shuttle Craft Guild Monograph 40).  The Strickler book offers additional treadling variations.

In March I got started, intending to weave a series of 4 scarves to try out different materials, colors and treadling variations.  I did all the calculations for an 8-inch wide, 12-yard long warp using 20/2 mercerized cotton sett at 30 epi.  Then I wound the warp using my AVL warping wheel, to put it on my sectional beam on the 32″ Macomber loom.  First major error:  I forgot I was winding 2 threads at a time (using 2 cones of close colors, natural and a pale tan).  Using the counter on the warping wheel, I wound as many times as I should have for a SINGLE thread, and got twice as many warp ends in each section as I needed.  So now I had enough warp on there for a 16-inch wide piece, but crammed into 8-inches on the sectional beam.  And I didn’t even realize it until I was partway across threading the heddles.  Oops.

But this did turn into a learning experience!  My advisors at the guild told me to finish the threading and then sley the reed, which would spread it out to the full 16″.  Then wind it forward onto the front cloth beam, inserting sticks frequently to keep it from getting too mushy and stuck together.  Then spread it out in the back and re-attach it onto the cords for the requisite number of sections on the sectional beam.  Wind it back onto that beam using lease sticks in the cross in front of the reed, to provide needed tension.  That was a sweaty palm day, let me tell you.  But by golly it worked (with a few broken threads along the way).  So now I am making shawls instead of scarves.

Here is the first one.  The pattern weft was 8/2 brown rayon used double.  The tabby weft is 20/2 mercerized cotton, same as used for the warp.  I was afraid it would be a little boring so I changed the color of the tabby weft every complete pattern repeat – pale tan, natural and a medium gray.  The treadling was the original one from Bateman and is #264 in Strickler.  I wanted to finish this one completely, through the washing and pressing phase, to make sure it had the right drape, before moving on to the remaining three shawls.  It feels good!


Notice how different the other side looks:


and a close-up of the pattern:


Last week I finished the second one, but it is still on the loom.  I took a picture when I first started it, though.  The pattern weft is variegated 8/2 tencel used double (from WEBS) and the tabby weft is 10/2 tencel in gold.   This is treadling variation #266  in Strickler.


I am now working on the third one, using solid color teal 8/2 tencel used double for pattern weft, and 10/2 tencel in color “tussah” for the tabby weft.  This is treadling variation #268  in Strickler.


I will post more pictures in a couple of weeks when they are off the loom and finished!

We are having an early spring and the hills, and our yard, are greening up.  There are wildflowers out, and birds coming to nest.  They expect to have the North Cascades Hwy open by the end of the week, which is about a month earlier than normal!  Of course, that does mean the snowpack is low….

Spinning Camp 2015

It’s been about a month since I went to the spinning retreat/workshop on Orcas Island with 2 friends from the valley.  I had missed the last 2 years so it was great to be back with Judith MacKenzie as our excellent teacher and mentor, and an interesting group of women.  There were some familiar faces, and some new ones as well – one group of 4 came all the way from Indiana!

The theme this year was “Wit, Wisdom & Wool” but basically it was trip around the world to explore  various fibers.  A lot of these were fine fibers such as yak, silk, camel, etc. and my friend Jacquie, who is a new spinner, really was thrown in the deep end.   It was a good review for me for things I had encountered in previous spinning retreats, especially since worsted draw isn’t my strong suit.

Here is a general view of the room – spinners, fiber and Judith!



We started with 100% yak (Himalayas, Tibet, Mongolia) and were shown several ways of spinning the top.  Later I also tried a yak/silk blend that is yummy.  The yak fiber is a soft gray color.  On day 2 we went on to a camel/merino/silk blend and then some 100% baby white camel, plus what Judith said was “adolescent” camel – not truly baby.  Of course, all of this is accompanied by many wonderful and informative stories about the nature of the animals, their history, and how important they are to the lives of the people who live with them and use all of their products.  This was definitely the “wit & wisdom” part of the week.

Then we moved on to silk – 5 different kinds, to be exact.  Eri is a wild silk from Tussar, India and is gotten from spent cocoons (that is, the fibers are shorter because they allow the worms to hatch and eat their way out of the cocoon, which breaks the continuous thread).  This is a rare and hard to get silk- it was white.  Muga silk is a wild silk from India and also very rare – it was a lovely honey color and has a lustrous, reflective surface.  I found it easier to spin than the eri and some of the others.  There was a dyed black tussah silk from India which was kind of coarse, I didn’t care for it.  White bombyx silk (cultivated) was finer than any of the others and a challenge to spin.  There was a natural color tussah (wild) that was quite nice, and finally some dyed bombyx that Judith had dyed an indigo blue.

On the third day we had a diversion into a color gradient exercise.  We used cotton hand cards to open up and prepare a solid color dyed merino top (the hue).  The hue was blended on the hand cards with white (for a tint), gray (for a tone) and black (for a shade).  These were spun into singles, and then we made all the possible 2-ply combinations of each to see what different yarns could be achieved.  It was fun!

Next was a trip to the Shetland Islands.  We spun up different natural colors of Shetland from rovings, and learned the different ways to spin it depending on its intended use.  Also we had a visitor in the form of a Shetland sheep:P1040435

By the fourth day they were getting the dye cabin going.  People brought all kinds of things to dye – ugly yarn to made beautiful, spinning rovings, sweaters than needed a change of color, you name it.  This is always a part of camp.  I brought some Corriedale roving from home – it came out a little felted and I need to figure out how to disturb it less if I continue with this at home.  I also dyed some Polwarth/Silk top and that turned out pretty well!  They also had three electric drum carders set up so we could make mixed fiber and color batts to spin.



The next stop was Australia and a chance to try Polwarth, a Lincoln x Merino cross.  Lovely, long & silky fiber but with plenty of crimp too.  I am in love.  Then we moved to South America and alpaca fiber.  Judith brought a whole haucaya alpaca fleece that we could sort through, and also an alpaca/silk blend in roving form.

Here are some things I spun and finished at home:


yak, silk, camel spun in class, then made into a random 2-ply to become – something!

Polwarth/Silk roving dyed at camp. one finished and one yet to be spun

Polwarth/Silk roving dyed at camp. one finished and one yet to be spun

Judith's own dyed merino/silk - enough to make this shawl pattern

Judith’s own dyed merino/silk – enough to make this shawl pattern

And here is our Methow Valley contingent, with Judith MacKenzie:



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