Can You Make One in Blue?
This scarf had its beginning, rather prosaically, in a piece of homework.
It started as a college assignment to produce a collection of woven items based on an inspiration of my choosing.
I first selected the interior of St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Dundee, then narrowed this down further to a delightful mosaic which portrays the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary in pre-Raphaelite style.
Even this one piece was still too rich for me to handle all at once, so I focussed in further to the curtains, the angel's wings, and the night sky.
A major part of the assignment was to explore this source in artwork – something which, frankly, terrifies me! When paints and pencils are too scary, I turn to collage, which is a fun way to play with color and not get stressed about having to draw.
Having completed my assignment and put it all on display, a friend expressed interest in one of the scarves I had a woven. It was a lightweight mix of silk and cotton in every shade of red, pink and cream I was able to lay my hands on. Trouble was, this friend is not very keen on reds and pinks. “Can you make one in blue?” she asked.
I went back to my artwork and played around with the blue sections of the collage and some blue yarns. I discovered something about myself as a weaver; I love warps. I enjoy making a warp and get enormous satisfaction from seeing a warp all set up on a loom and looking perfectly beautiful (yes, I really do love them.) This means that I am prepared to go to quite a lot of trouble when I am making a warp, including many color and yarn changes.
I began by making exploratory yarn wrappings with the colors I had so I could practice blending my blues together and see what other colors might add a bit of pizzazz.
I wrapped the yarn around stiff cardstock and taped the strands down on the back with cellophane tape.
When I had an idea of where I wanted to go I set out to make a new wrapping that would be the basis for the warp itself.
To convert the wrapping into a plan for winding a warp is a doddle. You just need an idea of the number of ends per inch you want to weave with and a ruler. I measured off my wrapping about a quarter of an inch at a time, which would make 6 ends of two strands each in my warp, and looking at the threads in that section of the wrapping I determined what colors those 6 ends needed to be. I jotted all this down in a grid and when I was done I had a plan.
Most of the warp consists of mercerised cotton, but for a bit of extra interest there are a few small sections in a thicker silk yarn. This helped me decide where to change blocks in my twill threading as I wanted all the silk to appear in warp-faced blocks on the same side (the “right” side) of the finished scarf. I wove several samples before I decided that my preferred weft was royal blue and that I liked my twill blocks better with a broken rather than a straight treadling.
You may want to weave the design just as I have presented it here, but my hope is that you will also feel encouraged to try this design technique for yourself. If you have a stash like mine, with lots of little bits of yarns, then this is an ideal way to bring them all together and get them co-operating with each other.
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This project is recommended for weavers who...
- Think a warp on a loom is a lovely thing even before it is woven.
- Enjoy blending colours but (like me!) are not very good at space-dyeing or want to control the colour placement very precisely.
- Might have a lot of little bits of yarns in their stash or perhaps can’t decide which color to buy.
- Have eight shafts to play with.
I wove my samples on my eight-shaft table loom, a little Louet W30. Since it is not a wide piece, I could have woven the scarf on this as well, but for speed of weaving I chose to use my floor loom, an eight-shaft Louet Delta.
In this design I used three different yarns in a total of fourteen colours.
- 2/16 mercerised cotton from The Handweaver’s Studio (14,800 yards/kg, sold in any quantity required): bright blue (25g); blue (20g); dark navy (10g); dark purple, blue-violet, light blue, light purple, warm pink, green (5g each)
- 2/20 Sartel Sam mercerised cotton from Texere Yarns (sold on 25g spools or 100g cones): slate (10g)
- 9/2 Traub tussah silk yarn from Fibrecrafts (sold in 100g hanks of 450 metres): dark teal #6502, teal #6409, dark blue #6411, mid blue #6210 (10g each)
Note: Each cotton warp end consists of two strands of the cotton yarns.
Download my winding plan for the complete winding order. Or follow the strategy I used above to plan a custom warp from your own color inspiration.
To make the scarf the warp should be 2.4 metres or 2 2/3 yards long allowing for 18” loom waste in addition to the fringe. Add extra for sampling if you want to experiment. For example, by trying out different wefts or treadlings.
2/70 silk from Uppingham Yarns (sold on 225g cones):
Royal #88 (10g)
Note: The weft should not be beaten too firmly during weaving, aim for about 20 ppi (picks per inch.)
I sleyed the cotton ends at 24 epi (2 per dent in a 12-dent reed) and the silk ends at 18 epi (alternating 1 per dent and 2 per dent in a 12-dent reed). Remember that each cotton end is actually two strands of yarn so there are four strands in each dent.
Width in reed
I wound the warp in five small bouts and warped the loom from back to front. I find it much easier to manage the threading sequence when the beaming is out of the way!
Two-block broken twill
Note: The drawdown image below shows only part of the threading and treadling. Since this is a non-repeating broken twill; the threading is quite long. For the complete drawdown, please download the WIF file above.
Additional information is listed in my detailed threading plan.
Woven length on loom
I used paper tape to measure the length on the loom until I had woven 61 inches. This includes four picks of plain weave at either end which is caught into the hemstitching.
Width & length off loom
Off the loom, the scarf relaxes to about 10” x 60”
Width & length when finished
After wet finishing, the scarf measures 9” x 58” (excluding fringe)
I hemstitched both ends of the scarf by hand on the loom. I wove four picks of plain weave to support the stitching and gathered the warp ends in groups of four – eight strands of cotton, four strands of silk or a combination. Precision was not too much of a concern here as I knew that I was going to make a fringe and that I wanted the fringe to be relatively ‘plump’.
Each section of the fringe is made by combining two groups of warp ends: they are twisted separately in an anti-clockwise direction then twisted together in a clockwise direction and knotted about 5” from the hemstitched end.
My preferred method for doing this consistently is to weight the scarf down so that the line of the cloth sits along one of the lines of a cutting mat. Then I select a pair of lines the desired distance below and try to get all knots to sit in that range. I know that I will never get them all in exactly the same place but this keeps me from fluctuating too wildly. When the knots are all tied I use a metal ruler and a rotary cutter to trim off the excess yarn.
Cally Booker winds her warps in the city of Dundee on Scotland’s east coast. She has been weaving for almost four years and finds it difficult to remember what life was like before she had a loom. As an aid to her future memory she now chronicles her weaving ups and downs in her blog t’katch.