If you follow Melisa’s, my wife, blog at albaranch.net – and if you don’t, you should! – you will know that she is a fiber artist. In the past I have helped her in various ways from as simple a way as being a ‘skein holder’ while she winds balls of yarn, though being the glamorous assistant when she’s warping her looms, up to even making (so far) a few peg looms for her.
Although she knows that I’ll always be there to help and encourage her, Melisa has always felt that I would be even more enthusiastic about fiber art if I did some myself. So this is it, my first weaving attempt that’s (sort of) all my own work. I say ‘sort of’ as one of the yarns I used is yarn that she dyed with her ‘greener shades’ dyes.
For my first project, I started with her 8 foot tri-loom, and the goal to weave a shawl. Melisa’s own work is very focused on texture, as well as colour. However, I wanted to focus mainly on colour and pattern (I do admit that, as a Scot by birth, at some point I would love to weave my own tartan.)
I raided Melisa’s vast (and I do mean VAST) fiber stash and came up with a natural white yarn that is targhee wool, and a 60/40 Merino/Mohair blend (from some of our own past critters) that she had dyed a variegated red/purple/blue.
I started with the coloured yarn and did a few rows, with the plan to alternate ‘blocks’ in different sizes with the white. The weaving was done in the ‘continuous strand’ technique, which means that you create both the warp and the weft as you weave. This is different from more conventional weaving where you set up the ‘warp’ first (generally the yarn that runs ‘up and down’) and then weave the ‘weft’ (the yarn that runs left to right) through the warp.
The pattern came quickly to mind – 12 rows coloured, 12 rows white, 12 rows coloured, 4 rows white, 4 rows coloured, 4 rows white, – then repeat. As you weave in continuous strand, by its nature, you end up weaving in from both sides at the same time. Thus the pattern was mirror imaged, coming in from both sides together.
The pin count of the loom was such that, the center section of the finished piece, was a repeat of my starting point – 12 coloured, 12 white, 12 coloured – with the white band being the very center.
Working in the evenings, after the daily chores and other on-going projects were done for the day, I tried to do a few blocks of rows before bed time.
I managed to get the weaving finished before the end of my leave, and on the last evening I had to read up on how to crochet off the top edge. In theory – if I hadn’t missed the top loop-, it would stay together without the crochet, but to help stablize and strengthen the edge, crocheting was a better choice.
The shawl still needs to be ‘fulled’, which involves lightly washing it and ‘beating’ to get the fibers to felt slightly to help it keep it’s shape. Thats a task for next leave!