Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rigid Heddle Woven Shawl

As I continue to work on getting more and more accurate garb for my Viking persona, I decided to take the next step in my weaving and start weaving the fabric that I sew with.

My husband got me a Beka rigid heddle loom, with a 10-dent rigid Heddle. I went to White Rock Weaving Center, where they recommended Kraemer Yarn's Eileen 100% Merino wool for weaving and later dyeing.

The yarn turned out to be a little small for the rigid heddle, and moving forward I would like to get a 12-dent so I can pack my threads in a little bit more tightly.

As you can see, it's working well, but the threads are still a little too far apart for the kind of sewing I want to do with this fabric later. At this point my hope was that the fibers would full a little during the dyeing process. Sorry that the perspective is a little strange. We live in a small apartment, and the only kitty-safe place I could store it was hanging off the back of a door. Surprisingly enough, it didn't seem to have any noticeable impact on the tension!

I decided to weave a couple sample pieces to capture the stages of the dyeing process. In this picture I'm weighing the fabric and samples in order to figure out the amount of alum I'll need for the first step of the dyeing process.

Here you can see the woven wool in the alum bath. I held out the first sample to compare later.

While the wool was enjoying its nice alum bath, the madder was finishing up its overnight soaking. I researched madder before, for my Hedeby Harbor bag, and I enjoyed the thought of continuing that experimentation with a new modifier (iron) at the end of the process.

I like to use big pickle jars, because I can easily seal them. With cats, any kind of a barrier is good to keep them out of things they shouldn't be in. Also, I like being able to see the color as the madder steeps and creates the rich liquor.

I poured the madder liquor through a strainer and into the dye pot. The three glass jars fill my 8 gallon pot nicely. I did have to get my smaller, finer strainer out and do some skimming before putting the wool in. I didn't want the debris to get trapped in the wool.

Much cleaner now, and with the wool soaking up its first color.

And the final iron bath, to sadden the color of the wool. I didn't want to let the wool linger too long, so this was the shortest bath. Sadly, I didn't grab a closer picture of that stage.

The image above features the three fabric samples: the fabric as it came off the loom, the fabric treated with the alum mordant, and finally the alum treated fabric dyed with madder.

And now we have the final product... or at least the point in which I had to stop because Laurel's Prize Tournament was in a couple hours.

Feedback from the Laurels:

The Laurel's Prize Tournament was a fantastic experience, and I left feeling like my mind was swimming in new ideas and different approaches. For one thing, I didn't check the composition of my water, as harder and softer water can yield different results.

Another suggestion had to do with chalk. The weld dyeing project I had on display had to do with using chalk and iron on weld-dyed fabric to turn it a nice, spring green. The chalk served to boost the intensity of the weld's yellow before the iron bath turned the yellow fabric green. The laurel in question suggested using chalk, for the same color-boosting purpose, next time I dyed with madder.

Several people remarked on the uneven nature of the color. I dyed the fabric after weaving it, so there are some striping issues. The laurels I spoke with suggested some alternate dyeing methods, like scrunching it together to work the dye evenly. Several people also suggested including dyeing the yarn before weaving with it. That way, the final weaving will have more of a heathered effect.

Finally, a couple people mentioned changing from plain weave to twill, which was a popular style in period.

Thoughts on Moving Forward:

The biggest concept that came out of this projects was that it's important to make and follow a plan, especially if you want results you can replicate. Flying by the seat of your pants can be fun, but it's not going to reliably give you the kinds of results you'd like.

I'll post an update soon, but I'm going to try to make more in a similar color. This time, I am going to make and follow a plan regarding quantities and duration. I'm going to dye the yarn before weaving it, and then do plain weave to match the previous piece. Hopefully, then I can make a full garment.

So, watch this space for updates!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

King's College 6-10-17

Good morning!

Here are the Google Sheet presentations for my classes today at King's College.

Sewing or Finishing your Garb by Hand
Tablet Weaving for Beginners

Because this link is to the actual Google Sheet, you will always be able to view the most current version. Have a wonderful day, and please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.