Friday, April 3, 2009

A family affair... [Guest Scarf #5]

Not long after I posted a request for guest scarves on the shiny new WeaveZine forums,1 Christopher Netter wrote me about a scarf that he'd made: "Well, it's not exactly new (last year), but here's some pictures and text via my wife's blog posts on one of the scarves that I was weaving last summer. The scarf uses rayon yarn in both the weft and the hand painted warp. The weave structure uses a progressive twill that I whipped up on the computer. "

So I moseyed off to Cheryl's blog to see what Chris was talking about and... WOW! No wonder the scarf sold so quickly after they listed it in their Etsy shop.

Needless to say, these three little sentences and the pictures of their beautiful scarf on Cheryl's blog2 prompted more questions than they answered, so I just had to find out tons more about this project! Turns out that Chris' wife Cheryl dyed the warp for the scarves - three, not just one - and that Chris wove each one with a different weft and treadling.

In contrast to the first few guest scarf posts for which weavers wrote up a little story that I could post as a single piece, this scarfa story unfolded via some back and forth emails in which I'd ask a bunch of questions and Chris would answer them. Since I'd much rather post the guest scarfas in the weaver's own words rather than mine, I'm going to try a sort of "interview" format this week. Incidentally, some of the conversation was more about selling scarves online than about Chris and Cheryl's gorgeous scarves themselves but, since this is a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately and I know at least a few others' as well, I've left it all in.

Chris writes:
"We are both embedded software engineers by training, although Cheryl is now retired and is spending more time with her life long past-time of fabric based soft-sculptures. These employ hand dyed fabrics, hand painted faces and other feature, beading, clothing, and well, everything else that would go into a soft sculpture. Cheryl's love of color and skill with dying was the motivating force behind the scarfs.

I began my fascination with fiber at an early age with braiding, a pastime I still practice -- on Cheryl's hair. I began weaving 14 years ago, because it looked like fun and it involved "patterns" and fiber. That, and I've always found looms facinating. I love twills in all their varieties and took the Cheryl's dyed warps and created drafts and threading that showed them off to their best advantage.

This is what happens when a "pattern person" gets carried away. This scarf is woven using a progressing twill pattern on a purple and turquoise hand-dyed warp with a black weft. The result: an eye catching scarf with a wonderfully soft hand. It measures 7 1/2 inches wide by 45 inches long with an additional 3 inch twisted fringe.

JWD: What a beautiful scarf!

CN: Thanks!

JWD: And congrats on the quick turn around on Etsy. I really love the dolls you two have in your Etsy shop as well - verrrry tempted by the ogre and wyvern in particular.

CN: Don't be bashful. They're up there for YOU to buy.

JWD: I've always been curious how well handwoven scarves and shawls sell on Etsy. Do you find that your things move pretty quickly in general? I've got an Etsy seller account and one on Artfire as well but since I've never uploaded any pics to either one yet, I haven't made any grand discoveries. ;)

CN: My wife runs the Etsy shop (I think she also has one on Artfire as well). We've put three scarves up (the three from the same warp) and two "flew out the door" - to the same person. The third has a magenta weft and is still up for sale. So I'm not sure that I've got the best set of data for how well scarves and such sell on Etsy.

JWD: Is a "progressive twill" the same thing as an "advancing twill"?

CN: Yah, same thing. I tend to think of the twill progressing while I'm weaving, hence my "twisted" terminology. To be honest I think that only one of the three qualifies as "advancing". In looking over the drafts just now, only the black wefted scarf's twill advances. The navy weft is "just a twill" and the magenta weft I believe would be a "point twill".

JWD: How did Cheryl dye the yarns? It looks like ikat...?

CN: The warp was hand-painted using fiber reactive dyes. Fundementally, the warp is laid out then dyes are applied in sections and allowed to overlap to blend the colors. There are actually two different hand-painted warps in each scarf. That and a change in twill direction is how the striping was achieved

JWD: What weight of rayon did you use?

CN: 8/2

JWD: What EPI?

CN: 18 EPI - balanced

JWD: Is the weft the same as the warp?

CN: Yes the same 8/2 rayon yarn that was used for the weft and warp. The warp started life as white, but once it was in Cheryl's hands it became more colorful.

JWD: What software do you use for designing?

CN: BeforeWeaving.

JWD: Cheryl's blog mentions that there were three scarves on the warp - did you use the same treadling for all of them? The same black weft?

CN: There were three scarfs on the warp and the tie-up is the same on all three, but the treadling pattern is wildly different. Here's some commentary on each.

Navy weft: This is a "simple twill" - I was letting the twill and the color shift warp bring out the striping in the scarf. This result is a nice even hand and smooth fabric. About as 'classic' as I was going to get out of this threading and tie-up.

Black weft: This is what happens when a 'pattern person' runs amok with weaving software. The treadling shifts each iteration, creating the advancing twill (the draft is almost visually disturbing when viewed on the software). The resulting fabric is thicker and softer than its twill sibling. (It also has some floats that are almost too long.)

Magenta weft: I was playing with a point twill design here and letting the patterns in each stripe mirror the adjacent stripe. It looked really cool on the software. It looks REALLY PINK with the magenta weft.3

JWD: Were they all the same length?

CN: Well, they were suppose to be the same length, but I miscounted the marker threads on the black wefted one and it ended up 45 inches. I've since changed my measuring approach. Now I pin an old tape measure at the beginning of each item and weave until I get to the desired length. No muss, no fuss, no counting.

JWD: Speaking of length, do you usually weave your scarves to finish around 45" long? I'm still trying to gather intel on the length that folks like to weave their scarves. :)

CN: I aim for a something in the mid-50's. Truth be told, I'm terrible at estimating finished length. This is in part due to the utter laziness and in part due to um, not needing to know. Funny thing is, I'm an engineer by day - you'd think that I'd be all neurotic about that sort of thing.

Aren't they all beautiful? I can't decide which I like best! I think it might be the blue one but I'm all about bright colours these days and I'm really loving that pink one. Parenthetically, all of these scarves as well as many of the wearables in Cheryl's Etsy shop are modeled by their daughter, so the whole family really is involved. Lucky them to have such a beautiful and obliging model for their products! Very good planning on their part, I must say. ;)

You can see more pictures of Chris and Cheryl's work on a website Cheryl put together a few years ago, so be sure to do that... but first, if you are even the tiniest bit like me, you MUST stop reading Right Now and go to see Cheryl's Etsy shop. Come back after, please, but stop messing about and Go Look. Right now. Go on.

...Back? Good! Aren't those amazing? For anyone who might be interested in such information,4 the following items are now officially on my birthday wish list: the aforementioned ogre which is just too fab for words, this kitty fairy I'm not sure I can live without much longer, the ridiculously cool dragon pendant, the very cute kitty potholders, or any of the kitty (or fish) pins. You've still got a month, so there ought to be plenty of time. ;)

See you Monday!

1. If you haven't been to the revised WeaveZine site yet, hie thee hence and check it out! It's the old WeaveZine (now in weekly format!), WeaveCast and WeaveGeek sites all rolled into one.

2. Can I just say right now that "Twentypoundtabby" is quite possibly the best blog name EVAR? Scampy, our own nearly-twenty pound calico would be really cheesed if she knew about it - at me for not thinking of it first, and at Chris and Cheryl's cat for outranking her in the blogosphere. Scampy is Alpha Cat around here and likes to throw her considerable weight around if she thinks her position as high cat on the totem pole is under threat.

3. If you ask me, it looks REALLY COOL in the scarf, too!

4. *cough*Ron*cough*Mom*cough*


Peg in South Carolina said...

Thank you for taking the time to produce this post. It is wonderful!

Beth said...

So informative. Beautiful painted warp and weaving!

lisa said...

Hi Janet -
I am one of your mum's students and you have really inspired me. I was really stuck for inspiration and your blog has got me back on track. You are one of my regular stops now. Thank you!

Janet said...

Peg & Beth: glad you liked the post. :) I'll be using this Q&A format again for sure!

Lisa: thanks so much for your comment! Mom's been saying that folks on Vashon are stopping by but it really means a lot to me to have concrete proof. :) Knowing that people out there are following the blog and find it inspiring really inspires and motivates me in turn, so thanks!