Saturday, October 15, 2011

Woobu Scarf: Take One

Although my yarn stash isn't yet taking over my home, it is slowly growing excessive. As most knitters do, I periodically pledge to make some projects from yarn out of my stash, rather than buying more yarn. Sometimes that's easier to do than others. In this case, it was an inspiration to dig out some gorgeous Woobu that I had left over from two projects (oops, that reminds me of two more Finished Objects I haven't yet blogged...) Once I dug it out of my closet, I realized that I have just tons of it. I decided to make two (maybe even three) woven scarves with it.

The Jengu yarn is the whiter one - I used that for the warp of the scarf, in a point threading. Then I wove a 2/2 reversing twill to match, using the Irish Girlie Green. The colours in the green look pretty fantastic, not least of which is because of the sheen of the bamboo in the yarn.

It was a challenge for me to weave this loose enough - after having woven so many towels out of cotton/linen, I am used to beating the weft yarn pretty firmly. Even while trying to be gentle, I still started this out with far too many picks per inch, and had to unweave a bit and try again. It was a very quiet and gentle project, and I enjoyed the beautiful colours for every bit of it. In fact, while I was weaving this scarf, I kept thinking that it must be the prettiest thing I've ever made. After weaving, I twisted some fringe for the ends, and then gave it a bath in some Soak and laid it out to dry.

Once again, the whole scarf took only two days (which ultimately means I finished two whole scarves, start to finish, in four days!) It seemed to take a bit longer to dry than the alpaca, and resulted in a firmer fabric than the previous scarf did. That might be due to the much springier nature of this yarn in comparison to the relative lack of stretch in the alpaca. I am planning a second scarf with the same warp & weft combo, but in a different twill design, and right now I'm considering whether I might want to make that one a bit looser, at maybe 10 ends per inch, rather than 12. The jury is still out on that.

End results: a pretty scarf, a smaller stash, another project out of my head and into my hands. Big win.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grey on Gray Twill Scarf

The greatest part of finishing the towels is that I finally got to start working on the scarves I had in my head. The greatest part about weaving scarves is that they are so darn quick. I put this one on the loom on Monday and finished weaving and had it off the loom by Tuesday night.

I wanted to make a scarf for my HLM, since I have only ever made him one scarf (a rather impractical one I knit years ago, pre-blogging.) He mostly wears black and muted colours, like many guys, although he has started to branch out into colour in recent years. I decided to stick with a monochromatic scarf, to try to make it very wearable for him, so I chose two shades of grey in a luxurious soft alpaca. I made it nice and wide, so it can cover face and neck, and long enough to wind around the neck once and still hang down enough to tuck into his coat.

I wove it in a simple 2/2 twill, with both colours in both warp and weft, which creates a simple and masculine block design. It is similar to a gingham, but I assure you that I had this scarf planned out long before I decided on a whim to make a gingham towel. The sett is 15 ends per inch, which seemed great while I was weaving, but once I unwound the cloth from the loom, it felt so stiff that I thought I had woven it too tight. I washed it in a sink full of Soak (and was shocked at how filthy the water got during that wash) and laid it out to dry overnight. By yesterday morning, I knew it was okay.

Now that it's completely dry, the hand is great: it drapes well and has lots of movement on the bias. Some of the softness of the alpaca is constrained by the weave structure, but it will be interesting to see how the fabric changes with wear, as some of the guard hairs come loose to enhance the sensation of softness. As well, I expect the alpaca will begin to full together with use, as has been my experience in the past with alpaca garments.

In any event, my HLM seems pleased with it, and it will certainly keep him warm once winter comes again to the Great White North.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Allover Stars Towels

I have come to realize that one of my blogging problems is that I love the moment of the reveal so much that I often forget to post in-progress photos. Here we are again, with a project that I didn't get around to mentioning until it was already completed. Yes, it's another set of woven towels, but the last ones I'll subject you to, for a while.

After I finished the Striped Star towels, I folded up my loom and worked for a bit on a quilt top that I wanted to finish (oops, there's another work-in-progress I haven't shown off, yet.) I had several woven scarves bouncing around in my brain, but I decided to put them off until I wove one more set of towels. That's because I realized that I could just tie the warp for these towels onto the warp from the Striped Star towels (very easily because it is the same yarn at the same sett and threading) which saved me the effort of having to put 450-ish ends through the reed and heddles individually, and also saved a bit of length in the warp. Okay, that was probably greek to most of you who aren't weavers, but in simplest terms, it saved me a day or two (or four) of effort by tying the warp on. That way, I could get to the weaving part a lot sooner. I got it tied on with virtually no problems, and was weaving right away. They went quickly, with each towel taking about two days to finish.

When I mentioned to my sister that I was going to do towels with allover stars, rather than just intermittent stars where the stripes cross, she said: "Oh, won't that be awfully busy?" (She clearly takes after my mother, who says that every hexagon quilt I make looks awfully busy.) I knew it wouldn't, and thought that it would be sort of like a gingham, which isn't busy at all, but has a pleasing repetitive design. As I was weaving the first of the star towels, I realized that the threading for them was the same as the threading for gingham. The sett (how many threads are in one inch of weaving) was closer for the star design than I would want it for plain-woven gingham, but I decided to risk it, for one of the four towels, anyway. It did end up a little stiffer than the other towels, and I couldn't quite get the squares to be square (because the warp threads were a bit too close to let the weft thread push far enough between them.) Still: so cute.

I hemmed the four towels by hand and then threw them in for a machine wash and tumble dry. They shrunk a bit, and the weave collapsed in, like a waffle-weave would. I steam ironed them and they flattened out nicely and have a soft absorbent hand, like the previous set did. Oh, and did I mention that the back of the towels has the reverse design: white stars on a purple background?