Monday, April 6, 2009

Sleepless, stoleful nights [MFM/Scarf #30]

Had another one of those can't-sleep-a-wink nights last night. Mostly this was because of the three or four cups of coffee I drank around 5:00 pm but it also had something to do with my latest commission: my mother in law has asked me to weave a stole for a close friend of the family who's going to be ordained as a priest next month. My in-laws were over last night to talk vestments (much to my father in law's surprise, I think!) and after they left I couldn't stop thinking about colours and fibres and structures and on and on and on... You'll be hearing loads more about this stole project in future posts, I can guarantee you.

Finally, since I couldn't sleep anyway, I got out of bed and tackled a few quiet things that needed doing, including wet finishing scarf #30. As you may recall, I'd left wide gaps in the reed and was worried about how they'd fare when the scarf was wet finished. Part of last week's horrid-break was due to indecision and inertia related to this: I was pretty sure the current sleying wasn't going to work but just couldn't drum up the energy to cut and resley. I thought maybe it'd be okay if I used a boucle for weft instead of the smooth cotton in scarf #30, I wasn't sure how to adjust the gaps... finally I just had to come to terms with the fact that what was needed was for me to cut #30 off, wet finish it and see what happened.

The hold up here was that, due to the sparseness of the warp threads, a loose fringe really didn't seem in order and I'm a bit of a lazy bugger when it comes to twisting fringes. But heck, at 4:00 in the morning when you can't sleep, you may as well twist some fringe, eh wot? So that's what I did - whacked #30 off, fiddled with the fringes some to find the best way to do 'em, and then twisted them and washed and dried the scarf. I steeled myself for disappointment, even disaster. I told myself I could always keep the scarf myself if it didn't turn out well...

...and it turns out I'll almost certainly be keeping this scarf because I love it! Love, love, love, LOVE it. I know that's totally self congratulating but... well, it's true. Self, I congratulate you on a lovely scarf! I haven't even trimmed the weft tails off yet 'cause I've been wearing it since I woke up (on the couch, at noon). I love the colours, I love the weight -- it did exactly what I'd hoped drape wise. Yes, it's a bit picky - got to be careful not to snag it on anything 'cause the weave is really loose - but I think it's totally worth it.

So here's the scoop:

As I said on Wednesday, I was aiming for a wide scarf with enough drape that it could be worn comfortably knotted around my neck. The scarf was around 15" in the reed and I wove with a temple so it was pretty close to 15" on the cloth beam. Once it was off the loom and had been mooshed around as I knotted and twisted the fringes, it had gotten narrower: its pre-wash dimensions were 13.5" x 80".

I had hemstitched the scarf on the loom but the hemstitching looked a bit wimpy and the fringe a bit skimpy, so I knotted the fringe right on top of the hemstitching to give it some bulk, twisted the fringes hard, and then knotted at the bottom of the twist. Then, to add more texture and interest, I knotted each twist one more time somewhere in the middle at random heights. I'm super happy with the fringe; maybe this will be the kick in the pants I need to twist my fringes more often!

I washed the scarf on delicate - was concerned to note that it had caught on something in the washer and some of the threads pulled a bit but I managed to push them back into place with a fingernail and all was well. I dried it on low heat but even so the end result is 12" x 76" so not too much shrinkage, really. The difference in width is largely due to the vanishing gaps, actually. The spaces I left in the reed are completely gone - no sign of 'em at all in the finished article! And yet, if I hadn't left the gaps, not only would the finished EPI be denser than it is now, there'd be far less weft in each shot so the fabric wouldn't have the same drape and hand.

So... I guess I'll tie on the warp exactly as it is and keep weaving a couple more! I'll make one with the same colour weft as the first so that I can sell one of them - no way am I parting with this one! And then I might use the boucle I'd had in mind just to see if that preserves the gaps some.

Incidentally, I'm also really happy with these scarf-on-model photos, in spite of the fact that the model is me. :P I guess you don't have to be a beautiful willowy Italian model to do a scarf justice. It's a bit fiddly to take good pictures of yourself but with time and patience it can be done! It'd be a whole heckuva lot easier if Bella had one of those nifty swing-out-and-swivel-around LCD screens that let you see what the camera was pointing at from the business end of the lens but we made do.

Before I tried taking pics of myself, I took a couple of Ron. He's so obliging! I grabbed the closest scarf to hand for these and the colours are a fright with the shirt he's wearing but even so I quite like these snaps because they show just how sweet and smiley and helpful my No.1 Squeeze is:

I think this may be my new all time favourite picture of him:

♥ ♥ Isn't he a doll? ♥ ♥


Sue said...

Yes, he is! And your scarf looks great. Hard to tell how it feels, except that you obviously love it. I'm glad that your experiment worked out so well. OXOXO Mom

ASpinnerWeaver said...

Glad you get to keep one for yourself. Glad you have a sweet and obliging husband.(I am lucky enough to have one, too.) I am looking forward to hearing about your priest's stole;I made a couple many years ago.

laura said...

really like the colors, and wow! great photography!

jackie said...

Doll indeed!
I made a stole for a priest last year at this time. YOu can see the finished product here
I always twist my fringe and I get compliments on my fringes quite often. Every now and then, you have to keep one for your self. My solution to drape is to weave most of my plainweave slightly warp faced (it weaves up quicker too!)