June 17, 2010

A Scarf of Another Colour

Turns out the jag may not be about green, or leaves- but actually scarves in general, because lo and behold, here I am with another blog post and... surprise!
Another scarf.  This one has a bit of a story, and isn't even knitting, but weaving. A while ago I was at Lettuce Knit and they had this really cool yarn. 

The whole ball is one repeat, where the colour changes by way of one strand of the four ply (but it's not really plied, there's no ply twist)  being swapped out at a time. In the one I got it starts out with four strands of the dark pink, then after a while it's three dark pink and one medium, then two dark pink and two medium and so on, until it's made it's way charmingly through dark pink to light pink.  (It's Color Changing Cotton from Wolle's Yarn Creations and she's got a blog here that shows off what she does.  My colourway is Triple Berry.)

Now, I don't much care to knit with cotton, but this yarn was so charming to me that I gave it some thought, and moments later was standing at the cash register with two balls in my hand and a big weaving plan.  I thought that if I warped with one and wove with the other that things might get interesting fast.  The yarn sat around the house for a while, being moved from table to desk to counter, and the night before I left for Squam, completely on impulse, I tossed my Cricket loom and the yarn in the trunk in case there was time to work on it.  (If anyone's interested, I used my 12 dent reed.)   There was, and one afternoon while Denny (resident weaving expert) and Megan and Natalie were out, I started. 

My plan was to warp the loom so that the colour changed across the warp - dark to light.  Problem one?  Too much yardage.  (I know. Nice problem.) I started at one side with the dark pink, and quickly found that if I just went straight ahead and warped, that I wouldn't get through the whole repeat.  I needed less of each colour.  I worked out how many sections of the repeat there were (4 dark pink, then  3 dark pink/1 medium, then 2 dark/2 medium,  1 dark/3 medium, 4 medium, 3 medium 1 light... etc)  and figured out how wide I wanted the scarf, and then how much room I could give each section.

I'd warp along, then when I had the width I wanted from that section I'd cut the yarn, wind off the excess, then retie it to the loom at the beginning of the next colour. 

It worked pretty darn well, and at some point in the process Denny came home, cracked a cold cider and watched me do it.  It all seemed to be running like a charm, except for one thing that the experienced weavers among you (I would not be one of them) may notice. 

I warped the loom backwards. Totally backwards.  Faced the wrong end of the loom towards the peg, bolted that bad boy down and then warped it completely wrong. Absolutely wrong.

More than that, I even finished warping it wrong.  Yup.  Cut the yarn from the peg, wound it onto the wrong beam and then sat down and pulled the yarn through the holes in the heddles completely backwards, all the while complaining to Denny that it really seemed harder to warp the loom than it ever had.  (I blamed the yarn.) Denny, used to my complaining about yarn problems, hardly cast a look in my direction, but sat knitting and murmuring comforting things.  It was only when I went to her and asked for her help tying the warp on at the end that she noticed what I'd done.  After I'd sworn for a good long time (I was eloquent, if repetitive) Denny helped me rewind the whole thing through to the other beam. This is, I understand, pretty much absolutely not done, but there seemed no other way out at that point.

I wove along then, starting with the dark of the second ball, and weaving along taking bits of the repeat out as needed to get it the way I wanted.  About halfway through this process the whole thing developed tension problems that I couldn't overcome (this was entirely due to having to wind the warp onto the right side of the loom) and I took drastic steps.  I unwound the whole thing, untied the warp from the beam and wound the whole thing on again, then retied the warp.

I have since been advised that you can't do that with a warp, and that it's a very bad idea, but there was nobody there to tell me that when I did it, and it worked anyway.  (I bet now that I've been told that it can't work that it will never work again, but for that one time it would seem that my ignorance of what was possible worked for me.)  I kept weaving, kept modifying the length of the repeat as needed, and when I was done I had this:

Which is, pretty miraculously, considering that I warped the loom backwards, a very pretty scarf. 

The warp changes colour right to left, and the weft changes colour bottom to top, which means that on the bottom right there's solid dark pink, and on the top left there's solid light pink. 

One big diagonal shift, and the whole thing was one heck of a weaving lesson- and resulted in what I think of as a  Very Interesting Textile. In a lot of ways I got just what I wanted, in exactly the hardest possible way to get it.

The next one is going to go way better.  Less swearing. I hope so, anyway.

Posted by Stephanie at June 17, 2010 4:38 PM