Back to School and Projects

That’s rather misleading since most weavers go to ‘school’ more in the summer than the rest of the year. I went to Convergence and to a tapestry workshop in July. In August I taught a workshop. Summers are usually quite busy for weavers.

And now it’s September, so although it is technically late summer, that sense of ‘back to school’ and autumn is quite firmly in our heads. I have only two short months before I’ll be living on a boat again, and the urge to finish projects and get some new ones started (and finished!) is strong.

If only I’d gotten Bob involved in my loom problems earlier I would be much farther along on my fabric projects. I still have all that glorious pale indigo paper yarn from Habu that needs a mission. I resorted to a linen/cotton blend for those no-longer-paper placemats, and the pattern is showing up nicely. I’m just disappointed about them not being paper.

The weft is now Duet from Gist. The color is Chambray. It’s left over from a couple of previous projects, including napkins for our son and his partner a couple of years ago.

It’s 55% linen and 45% cotton. It works beautifully for these placemats, but I am still wishing they could be woven with paper. The important thing is that they work, and I like them! The downside is that of course I didn’t have enough weft, which was one partial cone and one full cone. Now I’m waiting for the arrival of another cone, and it’s a holiday weekend. Ugh. I ordered on the 2nd and got a message that shipping usually takes one day to my address. But as of today my order has not been ‘fulfilled.’ I guess that means it won’t go out until tomorrow, and then it won’t get here in time to meet my self imposed deadline. I hoped to take them to my small area guild meeting on Thursday for show and tell, and then I wanted to use them next week when I have two weavers staying with me. Oh, fate.

It’s lovely, right? I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that I have to tackle making my indigo kit from Maiwa because I want to use this yarn, and it needs to be just a tad darker. I can’t use this color. So I decided to dip my toes in the dyeing process by using a kit I got from Abundant Earth Fibers. They carry acid dyes rather than natural dyes, but they say their ingredients and their process for dyeing is organic and vegan. I bought two colors: sugar snap and moonbow. I decided to try sugar snap first, on some singles wool that I spun for tapestry. It was an easy project and enjoyable on a late summer morning when I was home alone. I started by wetting my wool. No need to mordant ahead of time in this process. The kit comes with a tea bag of dye and a pouch of citric acid.

I used my pour over kettle, which has a built in thermometer, to heat water to 185 degrees F. I heated a bit higher since this kettle does not hold the 10 cups required. I poured the first overly hot water into a big measuring cup while I heated the second batch. I took a video of adding the water from my kettle to the glass jar with the tea bag of dye floating in it.

The second short video is adding the wetted wool skeins to the jar of dye. I had two 50 gram skeins to dye, and each tea bag will dye 100 grams of yarn or fabric.

Someday, if I ever get smarter, I will combine these two videos into one. I enjoyed the process! How could I not? It was simple and watching the color transfer to the yarn was magical, as always. The instructions say to add the packet of citric acid after the yarn is in the jar. Swirl things around to get the citric acid well distributed. That was quite magical because I could see the yarn bind with dye. Suddenly the water in the jar barely had color. The yarn had all of it.

The color of the yarn is hard to show. It’s not the color of young sugar snap peas that I see in my mind. It’s almost as dark as pea soup on the first day you make it. It’s an interesting color, quite complex. Here are my attempts to capture that color.

This is closer.

I also happened to watch a video from Botanical Colors about their new easy to use alum mordant. It requires no heat and can be re-invigorated several times. You have to leave your materials in overnight since it works at room temperature. The upside is there is no trying to keep a pot at an optimal temperature, and you don’t dispose of the mordant liquid until you’ve used it a number of times, adding just a bit more alum each time. I ordered some liquid madder so I can dye something with the new alum product.

I want to ‘up’ my dye game. After I try the aluminum triformate and madder I hope to have the courage to tackle the indigo vat supplies I bought from Maiwa.

Who knows when I’ll get to do this, but I do hope it’s in September or October. After that I will be a sailor’s wife living onboard. I have quite a busy schedule this fall, all of it I am very much looking forward to doing. I am giving a short talk about Archie Brennan on Thursday this week. It will focus on his ability to find solutions. Our afternoon project will be to weave portraits on chopstick looms. This is a project near and dear to me, because all of us in the Wednesday Group were surprised when Archie presented us with little looms he’d made from all the chopsticks we’d used over the years of having Chinese take out together after our Wednesday classes. He was so very clever. We all gave our chopstick portraits to Archie, and he had planned to find a venue where they could be displayed. That never happened, and sometime before he died all our chopstick portraits came back to us. Now I want to keep that wonderful idea of Archie going. So, onward to a new batch of potential weavers.

A fellow weaver has commented on my last post with suggestions for me to consider about how make that paper weft I abandoned work. I’m excited and plan to look into that this morning. I can pursue some alternative treadlings for my Greek key twill and possibly make use of such a subtle color difference between my warp and weft. Thank you, Valerie! Meanwhile, I also want to try dyeing that yarn just a couple of shades darker.

There is a certain energy at this time of year, isn’t there? It’s the beginning of winding down to the end of the year, but it seems that most of us face that with renewed energy to make something, do something, be something. Let’s all get going!

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