Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Bit Of this And A Bit of That

Marga's knitted crib blanket

Like a lot of groups our guild is holding meetings on line.  It works great for our business meetings and it is nice to see the faces of friends that we miss.  Sometime it is even more fun when those friends are in their home environment with pets and partners drifting in and out of the scene.  (Sheila's cats are the best.)

But some things just can't be reproduced with internet magic.  The best part of our guild meetings has always been "show and tell'.  It is that time when we get to share our triumphs and pass on lessons learned.  

It is almost impossible to see a piece of cloth held up to a camera so our guild now has a photo show with both detail and overall photos of an item.  The detail photo allows you to see the structure and fibers or subtle colour differences.

   The picture of the knitted crib blanket is from our latest meeting.  Unfortunately the knitting group hasn't been able to meet during the winter but hopefully as the weather improves it may be possible to meet outdoors.  Many of the knitters are also spinners.

Jude's silk fusion lamp

Our members have a variety of fiber interests and most are proficient at more than one.  So it is not unusual for show and tell to include a wide range of objects including items that are made directly from raw fibers.

Rita's ice dyed yarn

Colour is such a major design factor in the visual arts that almost all fiber arts enthusiasts have an interest in dyeing.  Sometimes it can be fun to just experiment with colour.  At other times it is a necessity to get the exact colour you need for a specific project.  Rita's exploration of "ice dyeing" has given her a range from magenta to purple.

Carol's River Scarf

The yarns used in the woven scarf were also hand dyed in order to get a range of colours that represent water.  The scarf was a "challenge project" to weave something inspired by water.  The elaborate design started off as the meandering course of a river.  Using that line as a starting point and Fiberworks software Carol came up with a narrow symmetrical pattern to fit the scarf width.

With access to our studio limited we haven't been able to organize the popular studio projects this winter.  For the spring we are trying a different approach.  Two of the small looms have been set up with a waffle weave pattern in cotton so that members can weave dishcloths.  The small looms are easy to space apart.  In addition to that one of the table looms has also been set up for dish cloths.  Members will be able to do their own "studio project" at home.  The photo below shows a dishcloth in progress on the loom.  

honeycomb dishcloth in progress

And finally the Double Weave Workshop was a great success.  A Tale of Two Seasons starts in early April.  There are more on-line workshops in the planning stage so check here next month if you are interested in learning opportunities.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Comfy Blankets

Terry's baby blanket
This post is about comfy blankets. For some they conjure up cozy nights in front of the fireplace.  For others they are a traditional welcoming present for a new baby.  Whatever your approach, there are a lot of options with regard to purpose, size and materials.  

There are baby blankets, elegant throws for the sofa, the classic "car blanket" or cozy afghan, large ruanas that can double as a blanket, lap blankets for wheelchairs, and full size blankets for a bed.  They can be made from practical washable yarns, luxury fibres or sweater weight wool.    

There are a number of ways to weave a blanket depending upon the equipment you have and your ingenuity.  The major issue is how to create a long rectangular piece of cloth that is wide enough to serve as a blanket.  The major limitation is the width of the loom on which you plan to weave the blanket.

What follows are two examples of equipment extremes.

Linda's blanket warp on 60" loom

Our guild is lucky enough to have a 60" wide counter balance loom.  It is ideal for weaving a wide blanket in one piece.  The photo above shows a multi-coloured wool warp wound on the loom's sectional beam.  The warp was the foundation for a man-sized blanket.

At the opposite end of the equipment spectrum we have the baby blanket wrapped around the teddy.  It was woven with a washable synthetic yarn on a 20 inch rigid heddle loom in 3 panels.  The panels were joined by a decorative herringbone stitch.  The challenge with this approach is to weave the pattern consistently for the length of the warp so that you can match it across the 3 panels.  You can also add interest by highlighting the join with hand sewing.  

Mary's blended colour blanket


 Mary's large blanket is another example of a pieced blanket.  It has muted stripes symmetrically arranged around a panel of blues.  The middle panel was woven separately and added as a design feature.  It also avoids any irregularities in matching the two sections that were woven on the same warp.


Throws, afghans and lap blankets are often narrow enough to be woven as one piece on a 45 inch or even a 36" loom.
The blue throw with fine stripes of textured thread is an example of  designing the cloth "in the reed".  This designing technique starts with a number of small warps, each consisting of a different yarn.  The order of the yarns in the warp is determined as you thread them through the reed.  This is a great way of using up small amounts of fancy threads.  The throw was a cooperative effort by 3 guild members.  Pauline and Myrtle designed the warp and Kathy wove it on one of the studio looms  

Mixed warp throw

The plaid mohair afghan was also woven in one piece on a 45 inch loom.  On a loom 45 inch loom you can weave a blanket that is 40 inches wide in one piece.  The blanket will be brushed vigorously to bring up the mohair nap which helps to trap heat.

Jackie's mohair blanket

If you loom is too narrow to weave a blanket as one piece you can always try a double weave technique.  With this technique you weave two layers simultaneously.  If those layers are only joined on one side then the resulting cloth is (almost) twice as wide as the warp.  It takes some practice to make the joined edge invisible in the final cloth but once mastered the technique is fast and easy.  It avoids problems with matching patterns.  With 8 or more harnesses you can make a patterned blanket without the worry of matching the patterns.
The cotton carriage blanket was woven on a 36" loom in a plain twill.  The weft was a variegated yarn the same thickness as the striped warp.

double weave carriage blanket