Friday, April 10, 2009

Turns out you can make a silk scarf out of a sow's... shirt? [Guest Scarf 6]

Today's guest scarves, woven by Dave Robinson, really cache in on the current hot trend of upcycling. Not that Dave's jumping on any bandwagons here - take a look at his website and you'll see he's been at this for a long time, even before reclaimed materials became uber trendy. Still, this project hits all the right notes for today's upcycled crafts sensibilities - it's green, it reduces waste, it recycles old clothing and turns it into beautiful scarves - beautiful silk scarves, in fact! Best of all, it benefits a local charity. What's not to love?

Like last week's scarf, this guest scarfa began with just three little sentences that arrived in my inbox along with a couple of pictures. Being the intrepid investigative reporter that I am, I then pumped Dave for more info to share with you all. :) Here's the whole story, starting with Dave's setup and fleshed out in another "interview" like last week's:

The Set Up:

DR: I do volunteer work in a thrift store, we get a lot of clothing that is soiled or has holes and cannot be sold. I take these and cut them in thin strips, wind them on bobbins and weave scarves with them. These are striped ones from silk:

The Skinny:

JWD: Dave, those are really neat! I love the combination of all those different coloured fabrics. :) Do you always use silk or do you use other fabrics sometime? How do you choose the fabrics you're going to use - are you looking for particular colours or weights or fibers or what?

DR: Most of the time I use silk. If I am going to be spending time cutting things up it might as well be nice fabric. Once and awhile I will do cotton or rayon. It depends on the color. I just like the randomness of what comes out.

JWD: How wide are those fabric strips? How do you cut them up? I love that picture of the fabric wound onto the bobbins!

DR: The strips are about a quarter of an inch wide and I just cut them with scissors. I tried using a cutting wheel like for quilting but it just took too long. I usually do them while I am watching TV.

JWD: What are you using for warp? What set do you use?

DR: I use old crochet thread for the warp or tencel and the set is 15 epi.

JWD: How well do they drape?

DR: They drape fine as long as the fabric is not too thick. [If it is] then I call them runners. [A man after my own heart! - JWD]

JWD: What do you do with the scarves when they're woven - do you sell them?

DR: The thrift store I do volunteer work at has an art sale each year so what is left over from Christmas and birthday presents I donate to them.

JWD: Is there anything else you'd like to add to the story, any links you want me to include, a bio you want to share?

DR: Here are a couple more pics, I use the thrums from the scarves to do table runners.

I have been weaving for a little over 30 years, I use to embroider and was going to start taking some classes so I could teach embroidery. When I was at registration I found out all the embroidery classes were closed. The woman who was at registration taught the weaving class and ask me if I would like to try it. And, I have doing it ever since.

JWD: What a great story! I notice you've got stripes of some other material at the sides of the current warp - what is that? Looks like chenille...?

DR: It is, it was left over from a project. Just enough for the edges.

These recycled silk scarves are by no means the only thing Dave weaves, either, nor are silk shirts the only recycled fibres he uses. He also weaves scarves from recycled sari silk, rugs from loom waste and Pendleton selvedges, even rugs made from neckties!

This reclaimed fibre idea really appeals to me. I don't think I'll be weaving rag rugs again any time soon - I simply haven't got the patience for all the prep work required! - but I have been toying with reclaiming yarn from old sweaters, a la Lee Meridith's tutorial on CraftStylish. I also really love the totally random colours in Dave's scarves. I'm always inclined to leave as much of a scarf or blanket's design as possible up to chance or whim and it's great fun to see the same idea play out in a totally different way in someone else's project. :)

And finally, I loved Dave's story about how he got his start in weaving - especially since it's actually kind of similar to my own! At least insofar as we both happened upon weaving by accident when intending to register for some other craft. It's made me curious how others got their start - were you an accidental weaver like me and Dave, did you learn at your mother's (or daughter's!) knee, did you inherit a loom from a relative without any idea how to use it?

I want to hear your stories, too!

Have a great Easter or Passover or just plain Long Weekend, however you choose to celebrate it. :) See you Monday!


Sue said...

Dave's work is inspiring. There is no end to what a person could recycle -- er -- upcycle with a bit of imagination! Very cool.


barbara said...

Hi Janet, Thanks for the posting on "you can make a silk scarf out of ...", really neat. I hope you and Ron have a wonderful long-weekend. Stay "unplugged" some of the time and just enjoy the moment. Weaverly yours ......... Barbara (Flinders Weavery)

Shell said...

Wow, I am inspired. I am working on buying a mighty wolf this summer.

jackie said...

I went to The Craft College in Fredericton to take pottery or photography and ended up falling in love with weaving! Who knew?

Janet said...

Just wanted to share some comments on Dave's post via the Weaving List.

Sandie writes:

"WOW! I can't wait to try this. The silk is so vibrant. I have collected obis from the post war years in Japan made with warp of hand made paper finger-rolled into strings, and woven with thinly torn cottons or other waste
fabrics. They are very unusual and I haven't seen anything like that until seeing Dave's scarfs. Bravo Dave for your recycling ideas and artistry. (I'm a BIGTIME thrift shopper, too!)

I'm off for [a trip] and can't wait now to GET BACK to try this silk weaving! I'm hoping I really did save those vibrant silk blouses that were in vogue a few years back and didn't give them away. Who knows what lurks in the bottom of a fabric collectors closet??"