The loom has been busy over the past couple of weeks.
As many of you know I weave quite a bit, but I'd definitely not class myself as a weaver. I know just enough to realise how little I know! All my weaving is on rigid heddle looms. They're a fabulous piece of kit, they produce lovely fabric very quickly, and are capable of some quite complex weave patterns, as well as plain weave.
I started out on a 10 inch Schacht Cricket loom, then upgraded to a Krmoski Harp 24 inch which I hated (poor quality ratchets for tension, and it never felt sturdy enough). Last year at Wonderwool I treated myself to a Schacht Flip, again in 24 inch. It's wide enough to weave comfortably at, and produces fabric of a reasonable width to make clothing without too many seams.
This was the first thing off the loom. Every year our guild holds a Christmas challenge. We all get 100g of the same fibre, and sent away to make something from it. At our Christmas meeting we share the results.
This year we used some Alpaca Supreme from John Arbon. I dyed it, then spun it as singles, planning to use it for an attempt at Collapse Weave. I like to use the guild challenge as an opportunity to try out something new, and this is a technique I'd not done before. It's by no means perfect, but I know where I went wrong for my next attempt. Mostly that I need far more twist in my singles as the scarf hardly collapsed down at all. You're meant to get a fabric that is very pleated, mine just has a slightly rumpled look!
Straight off the loom it looked like this. So did collapse, but nowhere near as much as it should have done.
This project was done much more quickly, just 1 evening in fact.
It's something I've wanted to try for a while following on from a discussion on Ravelry, wondering what would happen if you wove with unspun silk hankies.
I don't actually like spinning with hankies that much as I find them tough on my hands, doing the pre-drafting is fine, but I then find it hard to draft any further for diameter control whilst spinning. As a result I've been after an alternative use of them for a while. I also dislike the stop start nature of having to pause to pull out more hankies, I tend to get in to a zone when spinning.
I was slightly concerned the fabric wouldn't be very hard wearing due to the lack of twist, but the long staple of the silk, and using a finely set warp seems to have prevented that from happening.
It's made a beautiful fabric.
The warp was some grey laceweight on a cone I bought cheaply a while ago, put on doubled in a 12dpi heddle. I then pulled off the hankies one by one, pulled them out in to strips just like I'd do if I was spinning them. The instructions here work well. After that I just wound the strip of hanky round my hand, and used my fingers to push the strip of fibre through the shed. Winding it on to a shuttle didn't really work because it's such a short strip of fibre. When I got to the end of the length, I pulled out another hanky, overlapped them slightly and carried on. I did full (felt) the fabric slightly once I cut it off the loom by using alternate dunks in hot and then cold water.
50g gave me enough fabric to make 2 large cushion fronts.