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Barbara Shawcroft was a textile artist in the 60’s and onward. She collected wonderful things during her life. The sale of her things attracted the heavy-duty textile people in the Bay Area. It started at 9:00 on Friday. I went with a friend at noon. By then the rush was over and what they missed was left to be discovered. What I missed were many fabulous pieces.
This is a bag from Uzbekistan. The inside fabric is Russian and much sought after. So brilliant the colors.
Here is the bag closed. Have you ever seen red and green so nicely together? The braid trim and long tie add tiny details.
A furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth). I never have enough of these. The Japanese use them to carry things and wrap gifts. I have small to really big ones. What makes this one interesting is that the color in each quarter is different, so can be wrapped in different ways for different looks. This one is about a yard square.
The furoshiki opened out flat. Notice the iridescence especially in the purple quadrant. It comes from the warp and weft being different colors. This piece was woven this way with the color’s crossings in mind.
A genuine Barbara Shawcroft work. She also made huge balls and huge people. Her huge creation, “Legs” hung in one of the Embarcadero Center buildings for many years. It was originally yellow so when they took it down it was pretty dirty and discolored. My ball is about 18” in diameter. The more I ponder it, the happier I am that the early mob left it behind.
A simple basket that is quite lovely.
A short Japanese kimono (Haori jacket?). The stencil printed sleeves are a beautiful addition to the blue and white kasuri pattern. All cotton. Very wearable.
I think this was a futon cover. It is made of double ikat squares and stenciled squares. A find.
A close-up of the futon cover. Perfection!
Just in case anyone has forgotten, here is the box I am trying to duplicate. It is in Kay SekimachiI’s show. I see I first posted about it on June 21st! (see it here). I knew it was months ago that I got smitten with it. The post shows other pieces in the show. It closes in October. Information is in the post.
The open box shows the inside black layer. Making the top and bottom in double weave is what makes weaving it need 4 layers. She had some simpler plans, but I hope I can accomplish the 4-layer plan.
Here is my mock-up.
Here with the box open.
Here is how it is to be woven: flat, of course, and in one piece.
Here is an update of my mirror installation. I need it to be close to the shed. I don’t want any mistakes that will prevent the layers from separating. That means every shed must be clear. I didn’t have very many mistakes in the sample I cut off, thank goodness. Controlling the shuttles is a big issue as well so the layers stay separated. I see Kay only had 3 layers in places in one plan, so I’m trying new tie-ups to try it. It will be weeks given that I don’t work on it all day, every day. I’m enjoying the process and telling myself that there’s no hurry. Maybe I’m procrastinating just a little.
I’m not completely satisfied with the warp yarn I have on the loom for my box project: i.e., samples. I’ve been constantly consulting the Sett Charts in the back of my book, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle for other possibilities.
Here is the sett chart for linen. There are a total of 14 pages of charts. Half are for plain weave and half are for the same yarns for twill.
What has consumed me this time in checking the charts is comparing the sizes of yarns to see what I can find that will be a good size but also can work on a very, very dense warp. Since there are 4 layers, the sett (ends per inch, epi) will be 4 times what it would be for a single layer. If one layer is 16 epi for example, the total sett will be 16 x 4 = 64 epi. Ideally, I’d like something around 1500 ypp (yards per pound).
The part of the sett chart that I’m interested in at first is how many yards per pound because that can give me the information I need to know the size of the yarn.
In my case it doesn’t matter if I look at the Plain Weave or Twill charts because I am mainly interested in the size of the yarn, the ypp. However, it is important that I’m looking at the charts for linen. The numbers and sizes vary greatly with the different fibers. See my previous Tip on Yarn Count. (Sept. 24, 2011)
I have a nice yarn I might like in my stash. With this Yarn Balance, I can find out how many ypp and go from there. This valuable scale used to be called a McMorran Balance. Here’s an example of how the balance works. Say the length of the yarn that balances on the scale is 21 ½”. Multiply that number by 100 to get the number of yards there are in a pound. In this case, you get 2,150 yards per pound (21.5 x 100 = 2,150). Another balance is available for meters/kilogram, too.
You can compare two yarns quickly to see if they are the same size by hooking them together as if you linked your two index fingers together. Hold one set of yarns between your thumb and index finger. Twist the other two ends so that both sets twist. If they both feel the same, they are close to the same size.
Note: The term grist is sometimes used when talking about yarn size. For example, one might say, “I want a yarn of the same grist as this other yarn for my project.”
This worksheet to find the yards per pound is in my book, Weaving for Beginners.
This chart is helpful and is also in the beginner book.
These calculations were worked out using Ashenhurst’s Rule. The rule and exceptions are in both books, Weaving for Beginners and Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle and in several of my previous tips.
Four layers and the warp is divided in half besides. I wound 4 shuttles, 2 black and 2 white, then realized I needed 2 more, then 2 more than that! A good rule helped a lot. “Wherever the weft changes from one layer to another, we get a fold: wherever the weft weaves back in the same layer, we get a selvedge.” Since I want the layers separate and not joined, I needed to have 2 shuttles for each layer. The layers are divided in the middle at this point which requires more shuttles. “Double Weave on Four to Eight Shafts” by Ursina Arn-Grischott has been a big help.
I realized there would be a lot of tie-ups required for the box so was glad I could tie-up the treadles sitting on a stool. Even that was a chore. However, I’m glad my loom can give good, clean sheds even when 7 shafts are lifted, the 8th will stay down.
I soon realized I needed too many treadles even though I have 10. I made a skeleton tie-up, and it is easy to treadle. I don’t use a computer program, so I listed the lifts for each shed on adding machine paper and pinned it where I could see it.
I’d heard of using a rear-view mirror to see if the sheds are clear so went to Amazon and found these very cheap ones with a sticky back.
I even installed it myself! Just stuck it onto the loom by the shuttle race. It can even be adjusted up and down and sideways!
Here’s the mirror showing a clean shed.
For the top and bottom of the box the warp is further divided. It was a big exercise for me to figure out both the tie-up and the sequence of shuttles and colors.
I put colored threads in where the divisions are so when a shuttle dives in and out of the warp it goes in the same place each time.
The colored threads are at the back of the loom and can advance as needed and I don’t have to worry about them.
The warp needs to be wound tightly onto the warp beam. Think of a spool of sewing thread.
I’m trying out warping with a trapeze. I think I’ll like it a lot I could get consistent weight as I wound the warp.
Here’s the trapeze from the front.
It looks like a white warp thread is caught in the raddle. Watch out for this problem. It is a loose thread getting into a tangle.
When I got the warp straightened out you can see it belonged in another raddle space. Because it was so loose, it began to migrate into another dent. That will prohibit the whole warp from moving until the tangle is undone.
The extensions allow you to wind the last bit of the warp, up until you get to the cross to set up for threading.
One previous post shows how to wind the warp onto a kitestick rather than make a chain. Check out the post which was published on May 29, 2020. Whether you warp back to front like I do, or the other way doesn’t matter. A kitestick keeps the threads under tension so they can’t tangle.
Today I feel that my box project is really underway. I made the two linen warps for the 4 layers I will need. They are waiting to be loaded into a raddle, then beamed onto the warp beam.
For this linen warp I don’t want to play around with twist, so the spools are positioned horizontally with the thread coming off the sides of the spools.
I like to use this counting string that comes out fast with a quick jerk. See the next illustration.
Here is an illustration showing how to crochet the counting string so it will come out quickly. It is from my book, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle.
Here I’m getting my strings out to tie all the crosses and make choke ties. My students will remember the string box!
I like to color code the ties so one color is on top and another below the pegs. The crosses at the ends of the warp do not need to coordinate in any way. This avoids twists in the warp.
Here I’ve taken the end of the warp off its peg in preparation to wind the kitestick.
What end of the warp to begin winding on the stick depends on whether you warp back-to-front or front-to-back.
If you warp Back-to-front: You start winding from the top of the warp—where the threading cross is. (For me, the bottom of the warp is where the raddle cross is.) You want access to the end for loading the raddle and beaming so it should end up on the outside of the bundle.
If you warp Front-to-back: Begin winding at the end opposite the one with the threading cross. Then the cross is available to you for threading. (The cross end is on the outside of the bundle.)
My fingers are in the end loop of the warp ready to put it onto the kitestick.
With the loop at the end of the warp, form a lark’s head knot over the stick. Be sure to include the loops of the first and last warp threads when you begin to form the lark’s head knot. Look carefully where my forefinger and thumb are in the illustration. To form the lark’s head knot, reach with your finger and thumb through the loop and grasp a portion of the warp coming from the warping board. Make a new loop out of the warp itself by pulling some of the warp through the loop and put the newly formed loop onto the stick. Pull up as big a loop as you need to go on to the stick. It’s a little like crocheting. The illustration shows making the knot on the stick. Immediately pull the warp against the lark’s head knot to make if firm.
My previous post on July 8, 2020, explained how to identify S & Z twist easily. This post tells why it helped me reduce warp breakage. More S & Z information relating to bobbins, pirns, and weaving is in my book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth.
I was making a warp using a singles linen, probably 14/1, that I had in my stash. It kept breaking when it went around the end pegs. Actually, I could see that the thread was pulling apart. I figured that the way the spool was standing up on my spool holder was the problem: I was untwisting the yarn so it became enormously weaker. (Truth be told that was ½ of the breaking problem: the yarn was old.)
Notice the diagonal lines in the yarn and the toilet paper. They are all going in the same direction. That direction is called Z because it is the same direction as the diagonal part of the letter Z. I assume my warp thread was probably a Z twist singles.
I had my spool of yarn on the spool holder this way which was untwisting my yarn and causing it to break. It was set so the yarn was UNTWISTING as it came off the spool. This diagram shows the twist of the yarn in the opposite direction: we say S. That is because the diagonal lines are the same diagonal as the diagonal in the letter S.
I turned my spool end-for-end so then twist was ADDED which made the yarn stronger instead of weaker and the breakage stopped. (However, it didn’t make it strong enough to overcome the old age and the yarns broke instantly when I began to beam the warp! It all had to be thrown out!!)
At times you do not want to add or subtract any twist. Then you take the yarn off a spool on its side!
You can add S or Z twist when you unwind yarn from the end of a spool. When the yarn, as seen from the end of the spool moves in a counter-clockwise direction as it unwinds from the spool, Z twist is added. By turning the spool end-for-end, the yarn will move in a clockwise direction as it unwinds, adding S twist to it. (This option is not available with cones which are made to stand only one way up.) To understand S & Z twist read more in my chapter on shuttles in my book mentioned in the introduction.
Repeating the principle: which end of a spool the yarn come off from dictates the direction of the twist put into the yarn—because the yarn is coming off the end. Take the yarn off a spool on its side and no twist will be added or subtracted.
You can add or subtract twist not only by how you wind a pirn, but also by which end of the spool of yarn you take the yarn off. For consistent cloth you want the wefts to be totally consistent as to twist. However, a novelty cloth can be woven using different twists: depending on how you put a pirn on the winder or stand up a spool of yarn.
After putting my favorite colors in my mobile for the China BoND exhibition, I wanted to have more of them. I began dyeing more silks in the same way as before. (Using old recipes along with information in the book “The Art and Science of Natural Dyes”.) I cut different silk fabrics and put them into bundles. That way there was a variety of tones and shades coming out of one dye pot. My plan is to exhibit them a little distance from a wall and have a light fan gently fluttering them.
I hung a few with Japanese obis behind them. The orange was madder I think (that greatly disappointed me because I wanted red). The browns were from oak galls. The one on the left was in the same dye pot as the blacks. The difference was that the organza ones (undegummed) dyed black, and the silky silks dyed brown. It was interesting to me that always the undegummed ones took the dyes much darker. The white ones were how everything started out.
None of these made it for the mobile but I loved the subtle colors. The lavenders were using different shades of indigo overdyed with cochineal. The oranges were madder. I was disappointed greatly in them until I put them together with the others. The greens were from indigo and weld then some were after-mordanted with copper or iron. The greenish tone one in the middle was a cochineal disaster (it did nothing) after-mordanted with copper.
The purples are from cochineal and the blues from indigo and woad. I strung all the swatches on monofilament (fish line) and made blobs with a glue gun to keep the little bunches in place.
The reds were from cochineal. The reddest one used the recipe for scarlet and the others for crimson. One recipe asked that first dye with turmeric, then mordant with tin before finally dyeing with cochineal. The yellows were dyed with weld and the lavender with indigo and cochineal.
Here they are hanging in my hallway outside my door. The ruffles I wove years ago are hanging in the background.
The other side of my hallway. In front is a gorgeous silk dyed by a friend in India. Look her up on Instagram under “Medium”. They do exquisite shibori works. The framed pieces on the floor were my first projects using different fabrics in the same dye pot. The round piece on my door is a fan I brought back from India. The piece with the little squares I dyed with black walnuts and played with the grain of the silks. The blue circle is a Japanese print and the square piece above it is by Lia Cook.
The little sculpture is a kitchen tool to shred things, I think. Another treasure from India.
This is my 4th post about the work of Kay Sekimachi. The others were on June 21, 2021, September 16, 2014, and September 17, 2014. On July 30, I paid my third visit to the exhibition, and I have another one scheduled. The Textile Arts Council of the DeYoung Museum organized a visit to the show with Kay there to answer questions and receive our adoration.
In the June post, I showed what caught my eye at first. This time here are more subtle pieces that inspire me.
Aka/Kuro II, 2007. Polyester, linen; plain and twill weaves, painted warp, wood dowels, gesso. 38.75” x 5.5”. Kay calls this one of her scrolls. She has more on the loom at the moment but hasn’t gotten to it in a while. It is stunningly gorgeous and simple.
Detail of above.
Rouge et Noir, 2007. Linen, dye, and lucite. 28 ¾ » x 6 ¾”.
Detail. I love the red at the corner.
Another detail. Notice the care taken at the hem.
Homage to Agnes Martin. Approx.. 12” x 12”. Linen, textile dye, permanent marker. There are several of these pieces. This time I really noticed the subtleties in the painting.
Notice the care in presentation. The linen is stretched over a board and framed with a reveal. There are several of these variations in the show.
Another detail of the frame and more subtilties.
Note: the treading for this series of posts is a straight draw: 1,2,3,4. Etc.
The sequence for weaving two separate layers is this:
The sequence for weaving two separate layers can be written this way:
To weave the top layer:
You will weave two sheds for the top layer with one of the shuttles.
To weave the bottom layer:
This is the principle of weaving all double weaves—you’ll use this principle for all the double weave variations.
To weave the bottom layer, first lift the shafts for the top layer (shafts 1 and 3). Add to those shafts one of the shafts designated for the bottom layer (your choice, lift shaft 2 or 4)—a total of three shafts will be lifted to create the first shed for the bottom layer. Throw the second shuttle. The second shed for the bottom layer uses the same principle: Lift the shafts for the top layer and also lift the remaining shaft for the bottom layer (either 2 or 4—the one you didn’t lift first.) Throw the second shuttle again.
Note that with a floor loom the shafts all fall down when you take your foot off the pedals, but with a table loom you have to raise and lower each shaft individually—and that means lowering shafts when you change to a new shed.
To weave a tube, you’ll use only one shuttle, and it will go from the top layer to the bottom layer in a different sequence, which will close the layers at the edges of the warp, forming the tube.
It’s the sequence of sheds that makes the edges join as well as using only one shuttle.
Visualize how the shuttle will go from the top layer to the bottom to the top again and to the bottom, which will form a tube as shown in the illustration.
Again, the principle for weaving the top and bottom layers doesn’t change. This time, it’s the path the weft takes that joins one edge of the warp so that the cloth can be opened out to twice as wide as the warp. Only one shuttle is used for double width.
To weave double width:
Try to visualize the path of the shuttle in the illustration. Use the principle that the shuttle weaves one top shed, then one bottom shed, then the other bottom shed and lastly, the remaining to shed. The fold will form on the edge opposite from where you entered your shuttle to begin the sequence. There are many techniques to make the fold less visible on page 256 of Weaving for Beginners.
I wanted more of my favorite colors for another idea for presenting them. Besides, I loved the colors. This post is about getting the purples again; all with cochineal. I was using both old Chinese recipes and the ones in the wonderful book by Ellis and Boutrup, The Art and Science of Natural Dyes.
These are my favorite purples that I ended up with. It was really hard to reproduce them. I had photographed the original colors; then took the bundles apart for the mobile.
I started trying for the purples on July 1st. I had copious notes, but it was hard to be patient and decipher them. Since I had the mobile, I knew I had gotten the purples but my first attempts were disasters or near disasters—definitely not the purples I wanted again.
I got some really terrible results and thought maybe the problem was that I was using cochineal extract powder instead of the actual bugs. But when I post mordanted some of them, the original results weren’t so bad. I used iron and also copper.
I got another batch of uglies but realized it was the mordant that was the problem. I was using the old Chinese recipe and the dye just wasn’t taking. So the recipe in The Art and Science of Natural Dyes was the one I realized I’d used before. In the meantime, I liked the greens a lot that came when I post mordanted the bundles with copper.
These were dyed using the Chinese recipe for scarlet. But I had to improvise and work hard to get these real reds. I’m glad I had enough left over because my notes were useless.
All the purples began with the Chinese recipe for “crimson”. Here is a batch of early trials, trying to use fter mordants to get purple out of the pinks without success.
These were the scarlet trials just in case they would turn into purple by some chance.
When I was photographing them last night, I couldn’t resist putting everything out on a card table. It was a long journey. Today I’m dyeing another batch of PURPLES just so I’ll have a nice supply of them. The pot looks great this time.
Each “bundle” was composed of a variety of silks. That made for a lot of nice shades and variations from one dye pot.
The part 1 post was published on April 30, 2021. You can read it HERE.
The threading for this series of posts is a straight draw: 1,2,3,4, etc.
There are three basic variations of double weave.
1. Weaving two separate layers at once.
2. Weaving a tube.
3. Weaving double width. (You can weave a cloth twice as wide as it is on your loom!)
I like to have students practice writing the sequence of sheds on paper before weaving a sampler. I’ll give three examples to practice for each concept before suggesting that one go to the loom and begin to weave. That way you get plenty of practice and understand what to do. I write the sequence of sheds using “T” to indicate the top layer and “B” to indicate the bottom.
Make a Key
Start with a key to plan the sequence of sheds for a particular variation of double weave (weaving two separate layers, a tube, or double width).
The key will indicate which shafts you have determined will be for each layer. I have given three keys to work with in my sampler. More keys could be made, but these three will give you a start to understanding the principles of double weave. In making a key, you may arbitrarily decide which shafts to use for the layers. On the other hand, the colors in the warp may make the determination, depending on which shafts each color is threaded.
This key determines which shafts to use to form the top and bottom layers. For this key, let the top layer be woven with shafts 1 and 3, and the bottom layer with shafts 2 and 4.
This key indicates that shafts 2 and 4 are to be used to form the top layer, with shafts 1 and 3 forming the bottom layer.
In this key, shafts 1 and 2 are to be used to weave the top layer, and shafts 3 and 4 for the bottom layer.
The sequence of sheds can be worked out once you know which shafts will be forming which layers. (They key) The sequences change depending on which variation of double weave you want to weave (two separate layers, a tube, double width).
The part 3 post will be about the sequences for the variations of double weave: two separate layers, a tube or double width.
I’m trying to replicate the purples in my mobile, my entry for China (no word). I’m spending the weekend working with cochineal trying for purples. The reds were first—I went the wrong way with the pH but really got a red red which I wanted at first. Then I dyed another batch for the pinks. Now, for the purples. Before that I mordanted everything in alum.
Here are the reds and then the after-processes I tried: copper, iron, ammonia with more or less time in time in the baths. I have some asparagus pots which are perfect for sampling small bathes.
Here are the purples I got from the reds. I have more I can dye but want to decide which colors I want to dye for real.
Here are the pinks and the resulting shades using copper, iron, ammonia again in after-baths.
A closer look at the samples. Next, the decisions.
In the light of day none of these are what I want. I’m starting over making a new batch of dye working with the Chines recipe for cochineal crimson instead of scarlet.
As usual the undegummed samples dyed darker than the silky (degummed) silks.
My mobile for the China entry took all the pieces I’d dyed of those colors. I wanted to have more for myself so began dyeing with galls (oak galls) for the brown-grays and blacks. I spent most of the week recreating the dye which meant practically starting from scratch even though I had lots of notes from the first time. These silks are all degummed which is the way we usually think of silk. They were in the same dye pot as the blacks in the next photo! I pretty much used the old Chinese recipe that called for a handful of sumac at one stage.
These sheer and not-so-sheer but stiff silks are all undegummed. That means the sericin from the silkworm when making the cocoon has not been removed. Organza is an example. “Silky” silks are all degummed like in the photo above. In all my experiments the undegummed silks took the dyes extremely stronger. That surprised me. I got blacks on these and the brown-grays on the degummed silks. Both dyed exactly the same.
Here is a close up of the black silks. The backgrounds for both are Japanese obis.
This is how I made my strings of the silks. With a glue gun I made blobs on the monofilament to hold the pieces in place.
I love this box. One day when I was naïve and in a workshop with Kay Sekimachi, she told us how she wove it. Now it is in a fantastic solo show, and I want to weave it. I must not have thought it was very tricky at the time, because I cannot find her instructions.
The top and bottom add to the mystery. We know she had 8 shafts.
Also in the exhibition is this book. Looks simple. Maybe it is and maybe not. It needs some thinking about.
She made several of these “books” and I have one. This is a painting that she did that she transferred to the warp for the design for a book similar to mine.
Another box with another treatment for the top.
Another box which looks like warp ikat. I think maybe she transferred the black onto the warp rather than regular ikat. Similar to the books.
There are several of these magnificent beauties in the show. This is called Amiyose III. To get the black monofilament, Kay used Rit dye. I’ve gone twice with weavers and there is a lot to ponder and wonder about.
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) ends October 24. Don’t miss it! Plan a trip to San Francisco and take a day in Berkeley. $10 each. Reservations required AHEAD OF TIME.
I sent in the photos and entry papers on Friday! What a relief to see everything DONE! The photos, the statement and finally, SEND. To see the mobile in motion, check out my Instagram video below. I’m happy with the colors. They are what I think of as “old Chinese colors”. I used old Chinese natural dye recipes and that was a challenge and a big journey. I had 48 bundles with 15 different silks in each. That’s 720 swatches. There are lots I didn’t select; available now for something else!
This is me at the photo shoot for scale. It is my entry for the Contemporary Art and Design Exhibition: Reconstitution of the Past Colors at the BoND Biennale of Natural Dyes in Hangzhou, China. I went last time but it’s not possible this time. I commissioned my tech guy, Bob Hemstock to make the mobile and be the photographer.
This is the mobile I sent 2 years ago with natural dyes. It got into the show and the China National Silk Museum bought it! Right now, I just want to get into the show. That year the mobile was Bob’s idea!
I think these veils came after my ruffles in the previous post. I thought I should make something large so these are long. The warp is the same high twist silk from my stash. (Same threads as the ruffles.) Since then, I have shortened them by rolling up the bottoms a bit.
I was wanting to weave sheer cloth. I wove double weave to dense up the warp a bit so the wefts wouldn’t beat down too close to keep the cloth open, sheer, and still have integrity (not sleezy). And weaving tubes meant I only needed one shuttle.
A friend with a little farm gave me some of her cow’s tail. I’m not sure it’s the right thing but it is what it is.
The two layers made moire! I was thrilled. When I tried to repeat it, I didn’t get the moire which provoked me no end. But I love this success.
Here is a blue one. I sold this one to a woman whose husband had just died. It reminded her of his last breaths.
A detail of Blue Veil. I had some fine silk on a skein that I gave up on putting on a spool. I just cut the skein and then had nice, long silky threads to lay in.
More of the silk fringe on one of the other veils.
While in the throes of getting my entry ready for the China exhibition, I thought I would continue with some double weave projects and ideas.
I made these ruffles several years ago and had post cards made to give out on a trip to Japan. They came about by surprise but then I made a few. They hung in the windows of two galleries. The Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles and a Gallery in Mill Valley. I was very proud of them.
The first ruffle began as a tube woven in very fine silk. Probably around 95 threads per inch in the warp. I was after moire. The moire didn’t work so I thought about turning the tube inside out to see if it would make moire then. About half-way through turning it inside out (like turning pants inside out) when it was all ruffled up I stopped dead. I thought this is something!
Here I was fussing with one during the photo shoot. I put tiny stitches here and there to keep the ruffles in place.
Here is the bottom of one of them.
Here are the 6 dyes I have chosen for the entry for the BoND exhibition in China. I made hundreds more nice colors, too. Variations came from different silks, different mordants, and different post mordants. Working with old Chinese recipes, I had a great time figuring out what a bucket or a handful etc. meant. And I learned that 2 ”loots” equal 1 ounce. The Art and Science of Natural Dyes by Boutrup and Ellis was a lifesaver.
I am already thinking about using the “extra” colors for future projects in different ways.
These are the reds. Probably cochineal. Now I’ve separated the bundles with their precious labels and grouped them according to which colors work together.
Here is the group from my woad vat. I had to order the woad from Scotland. Michele Garcia’s indigo Workshop At Home at Slow Fibers Studios explained the chemistry, so I knew what ingredients in the woad recipe related to his 1-2-3 indigo vat. The woad vat has indigo in it. You make dips in the vat like you do with an indigo vat.
The blue purples. There will be 6 groupings.
These all were from oak galls with iron and sumac additions. The undegummed silks took the dye much darker and make black for one of my groups. (these are stiff silks). The shiny silks make lovely greys and brown greys as they all were dyed the same as the blacks. Consistently the organzas, etc (undegummed silks) dyed significantly darker than the “regular” silks we are used to.
The red purples.
Here are swatches of dyes I had done before the weekend Indigo and Cochineal are what’s pretty much here. I was trying for two kinds of red: scarlet and crimson. I’m using old Chinese dyes as much as possible. One interesting set of silk bundles was dyed with various shades of indigo then overdyed with cochineal. For lavender and greys. I still had weld, woad, galls, and madder yet to do.
I worked all weekend on madder. There were several different mordants to be used. I had 3 pots soaking at a time.
This was taken Saturday night after a dye of mordanting. What I had to show for a day’s work. Still left to do were two bundles of iron mordant. (Mordanting is a process often done before actual dyeing.)
At the end of Sunday (2AM) I had these swatches of madder. I am disappointed but will try again. The reddish ones were with madder extract. The undegummed silks took the red, the regular silks were titty pink. The yellows were from roots I’d received as a gift in Japan. I guessed what type of madder the roots were, and I think I guessed wrong. Also, I realized a bit too late that madder could NOT be cooked above a certain temperature. Then I read that chalk would be good. Why wasn’t that said sooner? Anyhow, got the chalk and will re-do the madder this week and hope I get reds. I’ll change the way I extract the dye from the roots, keep the temperature correct, and add chalk. Any suggestions? The Ellis book says not to heat madder over 150F (65C). A person I met in the indigo workshop said not over 120F. I kept to the 120F. I think I’ll go with the 150F and keep it at 140F so as not to exceed the 150F.
I’m thinking of posting interesting double woven pieces for some future posts. Interspersed might be my dye project progress. I feel swamped thinking about the June 16 deadline.
I wove this piece quite a few years ago out of cotton sewing thread. It began at the top with weaving the warp in a single layer. Then I opened it up to 3 layers, then to 2 layers. Then I decided to make as many layers as I could given the width and density of the warp. This was based on the idea of weaving double weave like a “Kleenex box” with an opening in the center of the warp and the edges like the edges of a tube.
Here is what the warp looked like when woven as a single layer. I put the red stripe in so I would know where the opening would be.
My kitchen now has an indigo vat that I made in the workshop on May 1. It was the first of the two classes with Michel Garcia. There were 3 of us in the Berkeley studio. We brought our buckets, ingredients, scales and a 4’ dowel for stirring the vat. Then we brought them home to do homework in preparation for the second class on May 8.
This is a picture of my vat. This is what a healthy vat should look like. It was wonderful to see immediate results. The best part was learning the chemistry to explain how the “magic” of indigo dyeing actually is accomplished. And how to maintain a healthy vat. Also wonderful was that it is really quite simple with Michel’s 1-2-3 method with only 3 ingredients plus water—and they are all safe.
Our homework is to test the vat every day for the week and watch how the vat matures or changes. With Michel’s method it was easy to do many dips in one dye session. My sample fabric is a cotton from a Japanese flea market.
Besides the big test piece I made small bundles of fabrics. One bundle is silks and the other, cottons and linens. Just like my other dyeing experiments, all the fabrics in a bundle were dyed the same; the differences in color occur because of the different fabrics in the bundle. More results at the end of the week. Stay tuned!
Weaving tubes and double width and blocks will probably be in future posts. This post is about the underlying principles for all double woven textiles. There is a large section on double weave in my book, Weaving for Beginners.
You might like to print out the principles to hang on a wall in your studio.
I like to teach double weave by using words to describe what to do instead of giving a weave draft because a draft doesn’t really show what the cloth will be like. It does show both layers being intermingled, which is not useful at all for actual weaving. Drafts are in my book, but I like to use words for the threading, tie-ups and treadlings.
Here are the results of the weekend’s work on my dye project. There are 4 bundles drying in the photo. All the pieces in a bundle were in the same dye pot. In other words, a bundle represents one dye process. The pieces on the string were in a bundle. On the rack are 3 bundle’s worth. All variations on cochineal. More on cochineal to follow.
The undyed bundles have been mordanted with alum and will be dyed later.
The status of my kitchen after the weekend.
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Here is the last view of my kitchen before the dye pots come in and my dish drainer goes on the floor. I’m working on a project to submit to a show in China. Deadline is June 16. YIKES! However, now I’m loving the smell of the lilacs I found at the florist this week!
This is clearest this “counter” has been in a long while. Before long, it will be covered with dye notes, etc.
It’s taking a lot of organizing and I’m not finished yet. I have 48 envelopes for 48 bundles. Each bundle is designated for a different dye or dye process.
Each bundle has 15 different silks. That way, there will be 15 slightly different tones from a single dye pot. Organizing it all and getting all the ingredients and planning all the preparations is a big job and I’m still working on this stage. 48 x 15 = a lot of swatches.
Making the bundles took all of the surfaces in our lounge to collate.
I’m counting on this label maker and Tyvek and Sharpie pens for making 48 very specific labels. Some need some processes done before mordanting, during, or after dyeing.
I’m using old Chinese recipes along with the Boutrup/Ellis book.