Trying Recycled Jeans Yarn

This is a new to me yarn from Venne Cotton called Eco Jeans.  It is a 12/2 cotton, made from recycled blue jeans and jeans clothing, spun together with used PET bottles.  My research shows that PET plastic is the plastic, often used for water bottles, that is collected in our blue boxes and can be ground up and reused, over and over, and has a low carbon footprint with recycling.  So, saving used clothing and plastic bottles from the landfill must have some positive, right?

The denim clothing is broken down into small fibres and combined with the broken-down PET to create a soft, linen-like thread that feels like old, well-loved blue jeans.  It comes in a variety of blue-jeans colours from Dark Navy to Cloud.

I adapted the pattern called “Bricks and Mortar” available at GIST yarns, to make these scarves.  Sett at 15 ends per inch using the colours Navy, Steel and Cloud.  My warp was 11.75 inches in the reed, and 6 yds long, to make a sample and two scarves, each about 74 inches long on the loom.  The pattern has a warp-float effect, and I treadled in a Huck style: tabby, float, tabby, float, tabby.

After taking the scarves off the loom, I twisted the fringe, and washed in a gentle wash in my machine, and air dried.  Finished with a gentle steam iron. 

Soft and drapey, and very wearable next to the skin, though I think I will try an even looser sett next time.  Finished size of each scarf is 68.5 inches long x 10 inches wide.  306 gm of yarn used in total. 

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Christmas Towels

This year I have been weaving in turned twill.  I love the look that is coming to life here, and the ability to expose colour changes while still weaving with one weft.  So, I decided to make classic Christmas towels in red and green and white. The warp on the loom – red borders, and columns of white and light and dark green. A simple arrangement of traditional seasonal colours.  Fat stripes, thin stripes.

A few days later, and I was rolling the towels off the loom! I love watching them puddle on the floor.

Six perfect towels. Towel #1 was woven almost Tromp-as-Writ. Red borders, White crossing white, green crossing green. Of course, I was using up all my stash, I used the last of my emerald green and Forrest green in the warp, so I used spruce green in the weft.

Towel #2 was woven using only red weft. As the twill is turned from 3/1 twill to 1/3 twill the white and green made their way to the surface.

 Towels #3 and #4, woven with only green weft. Towel 3 uses Spruce green – reminiscent of evergreen trees. Towel 4 uses a brighter Limette green and narrow stripes of red. and makes me think of gaily wrapped presents under the tree.

Towel #5 is woven with natural weft and used a sequence of fat, medium and skinny twill turns.

And finally Towel #6 woven with bleached white weft, and repeating sequences of twill turns.

Stash-busting at its finest, and seasonal towels for gifting.

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Colour Vibrations with Zanshi

My last weaving was full of colour, with lots of colour changes and ends to weave in.  I needed a palate changer, a little bit of simple weaving that I didn’t really need to think about.  I looked at the stash on my shelf and pulled a dark blue, a light blue, and white to create a striped warp.  These colours in the warp would provide a nice foundation that would “go with” several weft choices.  I wanted to randomly use up bits and pieces, and not think too hard about what I was weaving as I cleared my mind for more complicated designs.

I happily made my warp, with a simple graphic and wound the colour blocks and started to dress my loom.  I took a break and looked up, and my husband was watching Blue Jays baseball.  I looked at the team uniforms, and then my warp, and . . . now that is all I see.

It confirms my belief that nothing really happens in a vacuum, and everything that is going on around us affects our choices.

I wove a long, long run of fabric, mostly plain weave with small inserts of twill.  The weft is composed of the left-over thrums of past projects knotted together, creating a rustic feel with random colour changes.  Thrums are the scraps of warp threads that are left over on the end of the loom, called loom waste, after the handwoven cloth has been cut off.  These small scraps of yarn can be knotted together and used for weft in a new project.  The knots become points of interest in the story.  In Japanese weaving, this technique is called zanshi.  In addition to the plain weave, I added small sections of twill to add to the story.

The thrums were all 2/8 cotton, and no real thought was given to colour changes. Just tie on the next piece and keep going. No ends to weave in.

I will probably sew this fabric into a set of tote bags.  It feels good to recycle the small lengths of cotton thread to a useful purpose.

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Canvas Weave Napkins

Following along with the Jane Stafford Online Guild, I have worked through Episode 5.2 Canvas Weave.  I rearranged the draft to weave napkins instead of a sampler.  Canvas weave is a fun and easy one shuttle weave.  Jane gave us lots to think about, and different ways to create canvas lace.  For the napkins, I choose two colours of 2.8 cotton:  natural and flax.  I put the canvas lace in the centre, and smaller amounts of canvas towards the outer edges, creating a nine-patch square when woven as drawn in.  Throughout the episode, Jane Stafford gave us many variations, so we went beyond the simple Tromp-as-writ.  I wove 14 napkins in total.  Here are my four favourites.

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Weaving with a Song

More fun with turned twill, this time with a song.    I have been thinking about how to turn music into weaving for a while now, and so I took the plunge.  I started with a simple song, in this case “Row, row, row your boat”.

From this, I made a profile draft based on the relative value of the notes.  So, an eighth-note has a value of 1, a quarter-note has a value of 2, a dotted quarter-note has a value of 3, a half-note has a value of 4, and a dotted half note has a value of 6.  Using this information, I created the profile draft shown below.  I looked at the first line of the song.  The first note is a dotted quarter note, with a value of 3, so I put 3 squares on the bottom line.  The second note also has a value of 3, this went on the second line.  The third note has a value of 2, and back to the bottom line.  I worked my way through the first line, Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.  Then I mirrored the draft back to the beginning of the line.

I let each square of the profile draft become one unit of turned twill.  The squares on the bottom row were threaded 1,2,3,4 for each black square and the black squares on the top row were threaded as 5,6,7,8 for each square.  I used 2/8 Tencel in the colour order given.  The multi-blue was a beautiful skein of Tencel/bamboo, hand dyed by Teresa Ruch that I had been hoarding for some time. 

I wove the first scarf in Periwinkle Tencel, using the relative value of the notes of the second line, “Merrily, merrily, merrily ,merrily, life is but a dream”, again mirrored, to create the border design. 

For the second scarf, I switched to a light olive green and used a repetitive sequence for the turned twill design.  this scarf has an iridescent glow, and I love the way the colours look different on each side.

The scarves just sing along with the music.

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Turned Twill Towels

These towels are modelled after those shown in Jane Stafford Online Guild, Season 5, Episode 1, turned twill.  I changed the colour order, making cherry the largest colour.  Then I have stripes of yellow, grey, apricot separated by black to complete the asymmetrical warp.  I loved watching the colours advance, and recede, and even disappear through the manipulation of turned twill.  Jane’s explanations and examples cleared up any doubts and confusion I had about using turned twill. 

Weaving these towels became a journey of joy and exploration.

A change in weft colour from magenta in one towel to cherry in the next, gives a different tone to the towel. 

Alternating stripes, changing the turn of the twill adds dimension.  Here the grey stripe in the first towel looks almost blue against the orange.  And in the narrow strips of apricot and cherry, the shift moves from weft-faced to warp-faced twill.

Dots and dashes are achievable as well.

And weaving with these colours and adding in more made these towels a joy to weave, because everything looked so different from what I thought I was going to see.  Hard to believe they all came from the same warp.  Colour is the star of these towels, but turned twill is a strong supporting cast.

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Wool Scarves with Embedded Messages

I continue my journey of finding ways to communicate through the woven cloth.  These scarves have what looks like random stripes, but a message is hidden within.

The stripes form letters, which form words of love.  I turned to an early career in computer coding and remembered binary codes which use zeros and ones to create a key. 

It was simple enough to let each “zero” be a dark thread and each “one” be a light thread.

I coded the message: “Love You Forever” and mapped out the warp placement.

I threaded this as a broken twill, eight threads per letter, and changed the direction of the twill for each new letter.  I wove one scarf with dark yarn, Harrisville Shetland Midnight, and one with light yarn, Harrisville Shetland Cornflower.  10 ends per inch, 10 picks per inch.  The Harrisville Shetland bloomed on washing and here we have two delightful scarves woven with love.

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Penelope Scarves, Coded in Cotton

This in the first weaving that evolved out of reading the story of Penelope, a woman from a long time ago, who was waiting for her husband to return, and passed the time while waiting, weaving during the day and unweaving again through the night.  And I started thinking about what we think about while we are weaving.  And I thought about how many of us weave for loved ones who are not at home with us.  Family and friends who have gone off to serve in the military, or to work overseas, or to a different part of our country.  Children who have gone off to school, or to start their own life in a different city.  Sisters and friends who are no longer close by.  Others that we cannot be with during these Covid times.

We are makers.  We make things with our hands and with our hearts.  My daughter says that when she cooks with love, the food always tastes better.  And it really does.

Then I thought about how we can let our loved ones know how much we care and respect who they are, what they do, and where they go.  And I thought about real messages, secretly coded into the cloth.  I looked around and started seeing bar codes everywhere, on practically everything we buy and use.  Bar codes are a series of light and dark lines, the order of which describe a product.  The bar code is scanned, and the computer interprets the code and identifies the product.  So, I searched the internet and found out the order of the light and dark lines of the bar code that represent the letters of the alphabet.  It really is a form of colour and weave: For instance, A is DDLDLDLLDLDD.

I simplified it a bit so that every letter represents 12 threads in a light and dark pattern.  Then I thought of a person who is going off to travel on a grand adventure, and I coded the message “Go, make memories” into the scarves. 

So, a subtle message embedded into the cloth.  I made the scarves in a lighter and a darker colour of Fox Fibre naturally coloured cotton, light green and coyote, and I separated each letter with a dark brown thread of 2/8 cotton.  Sett at 20 ends per inch.  I wove the first scarf in straight twill, with a border in brown basket weave and twill.

The second scarf on the same warp was woven in plain weave with organic cotton in the colour “Curry”, and naturally coloured “Coyote”

So, certainly not a coded message that can be read with a bar code scanner, but you, the weaver, know that the message is there. What messages do you weave into your cloth?

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2020 in Review, and Welcome 2021

2020 was a year of isolation and introspection.  I spent much more time in and around home, and much less time out in the world.  At first, the isolation was hard, but as time went on our guilds figured out how to meet and have programs, and rhythms began to emerge.  It was good to have meetings again, even if they were virtual, and this pushed me to have something finished each month for show and tell.

In 2020 I wove 70 items on 23 different warps.   Three of my favourites from 2020 are:

Chocolate Mint Tea Towels, inspired by chocolates, and waiting to be hemmed.
Chocolate Mint Scarf on the same warp, a bit of pink accents added in

In Chocolate Mint, I love the big blocks and stripes that come up in just two colours.  I also like how the hand and look of the fabric changes when I moved from weaving with cotton for the towels, to weaving with silk for the scarves.

Overshot Scarf, silk and bamboo weft on cotton ground

Overshot is silk just glows. Changing the background colours added interest and movement as the colours shifted.

Simple linen striped tea towel

Here the simple plain wave structure is combined with symmetrical stripes and soft, absorbent linen.  It feels like a heritage piece.

In 2020 I became more confident as a weaver.  A highlight was being published in, and on the cover of the Sep/Oct 2020 issue of Handwoven magazine.  I have also become more mindful in my weaving and I am learning to be more present and focused in what I do. 

Moving into 2021 I am starting a long-term, multi-part project and building a collection.  Well, if every textile has a story behind it, then it stands to reason that every story has a textile connected to it.  I am gathering stories, myths, fables, legends and fairy tales that have some aspect of weaving or spinning or textiles involved.  I want to examine how the weaving, spinning, or other textile impacts the story and the characters.  I am re-imagining the stories with a textile twist, and then designing a textile inspired by the story.  Then that textile will become part of the collection.  So, you will hear more about this project as the year moves along. 

The first story I am working on is Rumpelstiltskin, and the textile concept is spinning straw into gold.  From a spinner’s perspective, if the “straw” of the story is flax, then the “gold” must be a lustrous linen thread.  The value of textiles throughout history would, at times, overshadow the value of gold.

I have designed a linen table runner “Rumpel’s Runner” to be this story’s textile. This project is currently on my loom, awaiting completion.

Moving into 2021 all three looms are dressed,

The Baby Wolf holds “Rumpel’s Runner”, in fine 40/2 linen in natural flax colour.  It is hard to see the pattern on the loom, but it will become more evident once it is off the loom and washed.  Weaving here requires full care and attention, keeping in mind the springiness of the linen, and a sixty-pick pattern count.  It is hard to see the lace pattern emerging on the loom, and some unpicking happens when I get lost.  I am enjoying the look and feel of the linen.

on the loom, 8-shaft huck circles inside huck lace squares

The Queen is dressed with a simple scarf in naturally coloured cotton, light green and coyote brown, and accents of 2/8 cotton in dark brown.  Easy and restful weaving, I love the feel of the cotton in my hand, and watching the web build up is easy on my eyes.  I understand that the colours of the naturally coloured cottons will deepen and intensify upon washing, so I am looking forward to seeing the difference.

cool cotton scarf
View from the breast beam, naturally coloured cotton scarf with accents of dark brown

You can see a theme emerging here of natural colours in natural materials.  Calm, restful, cool cellulose.

The Ashford table loom hold a carpet warp to weave mug rugs based on the samples in Jane Stafford Online Guild episode 4.9-Weft Faced Twills.  I decided to weave the samples mug rug size to help my materials stretch further.  With only 69 ends and sett at five ends per inch this warp was super fast to get dressed on the loom.  The weaving however is super, super slow.  It took me three full hours to weave one 6-inch-wide, 7-inch-long mug “carpet”.  My daughter suggested that these be called mug carpets instead of mug rugs, because they are very heavy and dense.   Here I get to play with colour and symmetry, and graphic division of space.  A lot of design considerations go into each little carpet.  I expect it will take me a good long while to work through five yards of warp. 

Wishing the best for everyone as we move into the new year. Happy Weaving.

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Basket Weaves in Blue

These tea towels came off the loom just in time for Christmas Gift Giving. 

The towels are a combination of twill and basket weave inspired by JST Online Guild Episode 4.7.

I pulled out all my partial spools of blue 2/8 cotton – pale blue, chambray, cobalt, royal, periwinkle, and marine blue.  These went into the warp in different twill threadings.  Then I used black 2/8 cotton to form the separating stripes, threaded as basket weave.

I wove the towels using different colours and different twill treadling ideas.

One towel was woven using only basket weave treadling.

Changing colours, I used up more partial spools. This one has light purple as weft.

The last one I wove, using the colours and threadings “as-drawn-in”, or “trop as writ”, where the weft colours and twill patterns follow the order of the warp threading.

My warp was six yards long, and 21 inches wide in the reed.  I wove five different towels, approximately 33 inches long each, and a small sample.

These towels were a delight to weave.  My frugal self enjoyed the opportunity to use up odd bits of yarn, and the project provided an ever-changing “loom landscape” with shifting patterns and colour changes.  I was pushed to weave just a few more rows each time I sat down at the loom.

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