The Cloth Behind My Fine Weaving Hanging

This is a hanging I bought in Okinawa in a shop that was all textiles. I loved it the minute I saw it at the far end of the shop.


The dyeing is so special; however, I can’t tell you much about it. It’s been hanging in my window for a year at least and the black is still as dark as ever.


You can see the careful placement of the colors and the ikat pattern. Planning this for the colors to hit precisely in the warp as well as the weft just right was skillfully done. Double ikat at it’s simplest and most beautiful. I also like the slight irregularities in the yarn.


Scraps and Patches Make for More Scrolls

I mounted this piece wrong-side-up because the mending was so interesting. Notice the ikat patterns and stripes in both the warp and weft.


Here is a close look at the patches on the wrong side of the silk fabric. Notice all the stitches on the big patch.


Here is the right side. Up close, the pattern doesn’t match at all, but that wasn’t the point. A patch is a patch. I bought this fragment at a flea market. Probably it was part of a kimono that was taken apart and sold in fragments. I am lucky that someone cared to pass it along.


This is a scroll of my weaving and dyeing. I think I was wiping out the last drops of Japanese green persimmon (kakishibu) dye and liked how it turned out.


Here is the piece up close. It’s small: 4” x 12”.


Remember this “fancy twill” from a previous post?


This scroll has another scrap I saved from my persimmon dyeing period. The background silk was dyed with clamp board resist technique in Japan.


Detail of above. My piece is 4 ½” x 17”.


I just discovered another scroll with a persimmon dyed piece mounted on a piece of the same fabric as the first photos. It’s small, too 5 ½” x 7”.


Odd Scrolls but Interesting

I loved this little bag the minute I saw it in a tiny shop in a neighborhood in Japan (Tokyo?). While Cathy did her shopping in another shop, I went back and got it. I’m so glad I did. I put it on a scroll so I could look at it whenever I liked. It’s really small 6” x 7”.


I love the delicate weave of the cloth on top. The bottom is made up of the cocoons or skins of insects. More about them next.


I found a sheet that had these “skins” glued on which I had framed when I got home. I think the insects are a bit like tent worms, but I don’t know how these cocoons or skins are formed. They are like the paper in those big wasp’s nests. A friend in Japan said she had them in the trees in her yard as a child.


Here is a close up of an obi I got at the same Japanese antique textile dealer’s shop in Tokyo. Imagine all the work trimming each one and then the piecing.


My mother-in-law gave me her mother’s collection of baby caps she collected in Germany. There were two caps like this one in with some scraps of lace she gave me. They are covered with tiny stitches.


I took one apart and mounted the pieces on an indigo blue background. They aren’t impressive as a scroll but when you look closely at the stitches, you become impressed!


These two pieces were sewn together to form the sides and the top. It was a pleasure to unpick the teeny tiny stitches that seamed the pieces together and enjoy the designs stitched on the cloth.


Weft Ikat Revisited

One way of making weft ikat seen here is to stretch out a guide thread and paint or stencil the design for the weft on it. Then it would be stretched out along beside a long bundle of yarns needed for the weft for the entire warp. Where the dark pattern hits the bundle is where the bundle would be tied to resist the dye. I would die to have one of these weft frames with a weft pattern on it.


This shows the areas on the weft where the pattern was to be tied to resist the dye. (The resisted areas resisted the dye and remained white.) Here the wefts are woven on a traditional dark warp.


Here the same wefts woven on a white warp.


Remember this tote bag from a previous post? The egret could have been put on a frame like in the first photo and that pattern thread used to mark the weft for tying and dyeing. Note that white wefts were woven on the dark warp for the light area where there was no pattern.


Remember this pocket I made from an earlier post? Did you see the horses?


Here are the horses! The stencil for the horses was made by the creative young weaver in the previous post. Note that she chose to use a white warp with the stencil for the ikat weft. Her name is Butsusaka Kanako.


Current Scroll Show: Part Two

A Needle Weaves Gauze! 36” x 22” (doubled).
Background:
The background is the main feature. Mentor, Milton Sonday, at the Copper Hewitt Museum in New York needle-wove this gauze piece (it was 22” long) long ago I assume! It’s unbelievable. He told me he had a frame set up somehow.
Center: A silk kimono fragment from Japan. I think this was a piece where they stenciled the design on the warp. First a warp is extremely loosely woven with a weft that zigzags up and across the warp to hold the warp threads in place. Then that “cloth” is taken off and stretched and stenciled. Then that warp is put back on the loom and woven as beautiful silk cloth. The designs were bold and a cheaper way to imitate ikat. The term for silk woven this way is: Mason. We visited the workshop and were blown away. Both Cathy and I ended up getting a piece of the stenciled warp threads, plus at least one gossamer silk scarf.


Fragments Worked into Felt. 37” x 20”
Background:
Commercial linen I dyed.
Center: I marked old cotton kimono ikat fabrics I got in flea markets in Japan with sumi kink. Then these pieces were laid on wool fiber and felted. I love how the cloth shrank into the felt. The cloth is OK to do this if you can feel your breath through it. (That means the cloth is open enough to work– we were told by Jorie Johnson.) I learned these in a workshop at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley where I’ve had amazing experiences.


A Fancy Twill Meets Peggy’s Mottled Cloth. 8” x 18”
Background:
I’ve woven this twill many times and I always like it. It was labeled “fancy twill” so I kept the name. It’s 3,2,/1,2. I think. I like the thick and thin ridges.
Center: A cotton fragment from wiping the bowl of kakishibu dye (green persimmon dye). The dye came from Japan. It has to be fermented for some years. I tried it for two years and didn’t get anything. I just liked the way some of the small pieces turned out.


Trying to Get Away with Something. 11” x 32”
Background:
Plain weave cotton shawl from the Philippines. Slash pattern due to random ikat weft threads.
Center: Satin weave silk dip dyed in black walnut dye. Notice where I ran out of silk warp yarn and substituted with another yarn and thought no one would know the difference. It makes me chuckle when I see how the left side did everything different: shorter on top and shorter on the bottom.  I couldn’t resist keeping it anyhow. I think it adds character. At least I don’t think it’s disfiguring. Or as a friend once said, “It doesn’t insult me.”


Closer look of the above.


More Designs on the Needle Pillow Warp

This post may help explain how my needle pillow cloth was woven. These pieces were made on the same warp. I had made a dozen or so pillow fronts and backs (in plain weave or tabby). Then I got creative and played with ideas of what else could be woven on the same warp. This is a scroll I made. I used the fabric I wove on the needle pillow warp for the background. It measures 7 ¾” x 26” including fringe.


I wove some samples and decided to make this for my scroll. The warp was handspun singles from Bouton. I wanted to see if I could use this fragile cotton for a warp. I used a sizing for the first time in my weaving life. The pattern weft is silk and shows up nicely against the matt cotton.


Here is a piece with two samples. The I used silk chenille that I’ve been hording dyed with black walnuts. In one part I used the chenille as the pattern weft. It looks similar to the needle pillows except I used only 1 block. The tabby was black sewing thread, I believe. For the flat sample, I used the reverse: the chenille for the tabby weft and the sewing thread for the pattern weft. Again I only used one of the blocks.


For this sample I used all sewing thread (easier with only one shuttle.) Again I used only one block and the pattern and tabby wefts were sewing thread. I do love to try things.
Notice at the bottom where the warp floats are is where the two-stick heading was.


Warning!
Sometimes the floating wefts don’t seem to meld together.  See how the floats snug up to each other in the needle pillows and in the Chenille sample above? Read below.


This illustration and quote are in The Weaving Book by Helen Bress and is the only place I’ve seen this addressed. “Inadvertently, the tabby does another thing. It makes some pattern threads pair together and separates others. On the draw-down [draft], all pattern threads look equidistant from each other. Actually, within any block, the floats will often look more like this: [see illustration]. With some yarns and setts, this pairing is hardly noticeable. If you don’t like the way the floats are pairing, try changing the order of the tabby shots. …and be consistent when treadling mirror-imaged blocks.”


Beware of Scammer!

Here is a piece I thought I sold. I got an email saying that this person wanted to buy a piece of my art to surprise his wife on their anniversary. AND would I accept a check. I emailed back that I proposed this piece, the price plus crating and shipping, and that a bank check or payment by PayPal would be required. I was a bit suspicious, so didn’t want to spend much energy on it.


Meanwhile, I began to get the piece ready: meaning finished. I dyed all the shiny silk fabrics and pinned them to the background for the finished piece, complete with hundreds of pins. He texted back that he needed to send his personal check because his wife dealt with the family finances and he wanted it to be a surprise.


A close-up of the piece I call “Shiny”. Another text said that he was transferring to the Philippines and that a shipper would contact me about sending the work. And he would accept that I required that a check needed to be cashed by the bank.


I realized that squares of on of the fabrics were curling at the corners. Oh, my! I thought that wasn’t too bad but wouldn’t look like the photograph I’d sent. So, I set about flattening each and every one with archival double stick tape. The next text said the check would be coming and that it would include extra money that was to go to the shipper.


All of the pieces were laid so that the grain of the fabric switched 90 degrees to create the checkerboard effect. I also liked that often the silks weren’t ironed flat and added another shine to the fabrics. After awhile I got a text that the check had been delivered by Fed Ex. Soon it came to my door—empty except for a check written for an extra $1,000 written by a bank. I immediately mobile deposited it on my iPhone and a notice came that it would be held for 13 days. When I texted him that news, he said to take it to a teller or ATM because he couldn’t wait because that it would spoil the surprise for his wife. I called my bank and was told something was fishy if it was to be held that long. So he said to go ahead and deposit the check which I did. When the confirmation was emailed to me it said the reason for the hold on the check was: “Paying bank states check may not be paid.” I texted that back to him and have refused to respond to a couple of his further “testing me” texts. THE END.


Finished Linen Scrolls: Looking Back

Here I a photo of all the background fabrics I dyed. This was in a post at the end of June—seems long ago. I loved the results, seeing them lined up, and felt they would look good together.


All the were white when I began about 3 months ago. All (but 1) were linen which is a fabric I love. The second from the lightest end turned out to be silk. The reason I wanted so many different whites is that I knew they would vary slightly when put into a dye pot together. I think the salesmen at Linen Club in Chennai, India were perplexed why I got “a meter of this, 2 meters of that” etc. and when I asked only to see the white ones.


On the scrolls, I made the “art” the dyed fabrics that were in one dye pot together to show the subtle variations.


More of the fabrics in a single dye pot. I only used 2 natural dyes: onion skins and black walnuts to make the 14 scrolls.


Another set of fabrics. I used 3 tannins (quebacho, myrobalans, brugeriera), alum mordant, and iron and copper with the onion skins and black walnuts.



Scroll Project Update: I Will be Hanging Them Soon!

The linen scrolls are finally finished! And all 14 of them will be hung in our gallery space in the common areas in the retirement place where I live. Here are some of them hanging ready to be rolled into a room to be quarantined for a week. I began with white linen fabrics that I brought back from India in February—just before the pandemic hit. Way back in March I began dyeing with onion skins from our kitchen’s chef and black walnut dye I made a year ago.


Here is the rest of the 14 in the collection. I began with 9 different fabrics with the idea they would be subtle variations in color when they came out of the dye pots together. One fabric turned out to be silk so in all the different dye baths it was always the lightest one. Usually silk dyes the best and linen the lightest but I used techniques for dyeing linen and the silk wasn’t happy. The Ellis and Boutrup book came to me just at the right time. It’s hard to believe that everything started out white sometimes.


Here is one of the scrolls. I almost always arranged the pieces in the center from light to the dark. Often I basted the swatches to a backing pad I made out of cotton. Then I attached that to the background fabric. To make the small pieces lie flat I used French knots to tack them down.


Since I have been in lockdown all this time, I could not get to my studio to find matching threads for the French knots and stitching. I used what I had, matching the value of the thread to the fabric. Colors of the same value blended in so well they were barely noticeable—just like the threads had matched. I had a lot of spools of thread of different values to work with.


What is a Scroll? A Trilogy of Scrolls?

Introduction:

What is a scroll?
My inspiration is Japanese scrolls. They are narrow “wall hangings” that hang in little niches where art is displayed–usually a flower arrangement. Usually they are long and have a nice background with a piece of art mounted on it. I went to an exhibit in Japan a couple of years ago and the artist’s scrolls were many shapes and sizes–all with a background she chose for the art displayed on it. So that is what I’m calling MY scrolls. I’ve been matching up backgrounds and art. Sometimes parts are made by me –woven and/or dyed or things I’ve brought home from many trips. I’ve been under lock down since March 8 and can’t get to my studio where my looms are. I’ve been enjoying looking at what I have in my apartment and using what I have on hand.

Another background cloth from the striped warp in previous posts.

The background this time is plain weave. The warp threads are DMC 6-strand embroidery cotton. Someone gave me two cartons of cones of the stuff we usually see as little tiny skeins. The colors are wonderful and can be subtle. I took some light ones and some dark ones for the stripes.

Here is a close up of the art. They are shiny silk squares I cut from fabrics I dyed all with black walnuts a year ago or so. I attached them to pieces of cotton fabric (also black walnut dyed) with a museum-quality double stick tape. I love this tape and use it a lot. I got it from a bookbinding supply place in Brooklyn. The name is Talas. They have an extensive catalog and do online orders. I then attached these pieces to a flannel cloth for just the right amount of body for the hanging.

I’m thinking I have a trilogy—not a triptych; but they might hang together.

Here is a close-up of one section. In all the sections I turned the shiny squares 90 degrees so the way the light catches them makes the checkerboard pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fabric for the squares in this section was an upholstery fabric, I think. One side is silk, the other is cotton. The squares didn’t like to stay flat with time! However, it shows you how I mounted them with tiny bits of the tape in the middle of the tops of the squares.

Three Faces of Karl (Karl is the name given to San Francisco’s fog)

Introduction:
I think maybe people would like a break from my linen scroll project. Life has suddenly gotten in my way so I don’t have any pictures ready of the latest and last ones.

This is one of the first scrolls I made at the beginning of the pandemic. I wove the ground fabric just before the lock down.

I used butcher’s twine for the weft. It’s what Lia Cook used long ago in her pressed pieces. I’d been wanting to use it for a long time. When I wet the fringe to straighten it, some of the cloth got wet, too, so it shrank—dah—butcher’s twin is supposed to shrink when it gets wet. So, I spread it out on the counter and wet the whole piece. The selvedges tightened up nicely.

This is the top piece. No fog, the City (San Francisco?) is clear.
The little pieces I wove with the handspun cotton I got in Bhutan. It’s fun to think about where some of the pieces or yarns came from. The warp was that fine silk at 125 ends per inch of long ago. I was determined to weave it off even after I lost a huge number of threads to threading errors and breakage.

Fog is coming in.
The silk threads for the warps are going horizontally. I dipped the pieces into black walnut dye. The wefts are the vertical threads in these pieces with the “selvedges” on the top and bottom.

Fog completely obliterates the City!

Scroll Project Going Ahead

Introduction:
I got several good suggestions about ironing my linen fabric. They all seemed to remind me of things I’d known but not thought about. The main thing is that linen likes water and it should be damp then ironed dry. One recommendation was to take it from the machine and iron it then. I’ve done that with great success—but this time I was worried that the spinning in the machine might put in permanent wrinkles. Read on.

I ironed it at midnight then hung it in the shower overnight. It is beautiful.

One person suggested sprinkling it with water and rolling in a towel overnight to evenly moisten the cloth. That is what I did but did it after lunch and waited until bedtime to iron it.

Around midnight was when I got to the ironing board. The cloth was nicely and evenly damp. One suggestion I received was to roll the cloth with a rolling pin like the way they use a mangle with pressure to iron linens in Scandinavia—Sweden? I used to do that years ago with linen and forgotten completely, however finding a rolling pin was an issue. I looked in the back of my drawers and there was none. So I called our kitchen and was able to borrow a big, heavy one—4 pounds. I ironed a portion on the front, then on the back, then used the rolling pin on the board on the area. It looks beautiful. The cloth is seamed so there are two layers and all worked out fine. Yea! Now I’m rolling ahead again—what a good feeling it is.

A close-up of a portion of the cloth. Next is to hem the ends, put on the swatches and the lovely piece of bamboo I have for the top. Then the first one will be DONE. I’m glad not all of them need such treatment, but I think they will be beautiful hanging together.

Scroll Project Interruption


This is the first scroll in the linen project and I decided that it was too long given the size of the dyed pieces section.

Here I folded some back at the top and bottom and decided I liked this proportion better. So I was all excited to cut off the extra and have a beautiful finished piece instead of a first draft. I cut off the piece and finished the top and bottom and was all ready for the beautiful ironing part.

I practiced some on the cutoff piece with my wonderful wrinkle releaser and decided to go to the main piece. On the main piece some blotches appeared where the releaser was and they didn’t iron out! Oh dear.

So I decided to spray on my fingers and pat an area that had a wrinkle for a more gentle approach. If you look carefully, you can see my palm and fingers on the cloth! I knew that wouldn’t do but also knew that it would wash out. So I soaked it in a basin of warm water with some Dawn liquid detergent and sloshed it up and down, wrinsed it, and hung it to dry. Beautiful. Now I’m at square one again! I am thinking that I’ll just dampen it with plain water and iron it like the olden days. But I should make some more trials on my practice piece probably first. The issue is that the cloth is double–can I get both the front and back ironed nice. Or, must I take out the seam and start over but be very careful not to manhandle the cloth and get more wrinkles when I redo the seam and finish the ends. Any advice or thoughts are welcome. I’m letting the project marinate for a few days, but a bit sad that the oomph I had last week has died down a bit.

The Scrolls: It’s the CLOTH that Counts – More First Drafts

Introduction:
I think the reason I’m enjoying this project so much is that I get to enjoy so many textiles close up, over and over and over. The woven linens just speak to me; even the selvedges. I’m afraid my photographs aren’t doing them justice. (I need some encouragement.)

This piece is short and wide. I have been inspired by a show of unique scrolls in Japan a year or so ago. There were a couple that were short and wide like this one that I can’t get out of my mind. I began with cloths that were different sizes and that determined the size I had to work with for each scroll.

The black marks from the safety pins during dying dictated the shape for this one. But when I saw the shape, I knew it was right.

This was my favorite dye outcome—wouldn’t you know, it was the smallest piece I bought. I think it might be silk and it probably was expensive. In all the samples I made with it, it came out darker than all the others. It’s an open weave and looks like linen and I treated it that way, so it stays in the linen collection.

This is another short one. The cloth wasn’t wide enough to double so it and the black one is only one layer of cloth. I matched up each bundle from a dye bath to its background. When all 12 are finished, I may rearrange them and make my final decisions on dimensions. Part of the excitement is that I know this is only the first draft.

I’m So Proud of Myself!


This is the most I’ve ever dyed all by myself! And I love looking at the pieces all together on the shower rod. (Couldn’t bear to take them down this morning to take a shower.) These are the dyes and the linens I chose from my samples; the first time I ever made anything from sampling. I’m thinking of using them for the backgrounds of scrolls.

I love to see the fabrics after they’ve been ironed. I was up until 2:15 last night ironing them all. I just hung each one up after I finished and I like the arrangement a lot.

The black and grey textured ones I just ironed with a hot iron. The black came from putting the cloth in an after bath of iron.

For the smooth ones I used the wrinkle releaser spray I mentioned in a previous post. I am in love with the cloths and colors I got.

Look what my safety pins did! I guess I will have to sew tags on if I need to keep track. The label is cut from a US Mail plastic mailer or a plastic Amazon mailer.

Is wasn’t bad enough that just where the pins were made marks but where other fabrics’ safety pins hit the good fabrics, they left a few marks here and there. I learned a good lesson. Not sure how I’ll deal with the smudges. Maybe add some of my own? Anyhow, I won’t use safety pins again.

Mordanting? Do I Need To?

Introduction:
Over a month ago was when I got my first batch of onion skins from Danny, our Chef and I said maybe I’d start “next week”. Now I’ve been at it for 2 ½ weeks. The apartment is more of a mess than ever with fabrics everywhere, dye samples, and bundles of dyes. I was excited with my results until one day when Yoshiko Wada called and said I must use a mordant with onion skins as a dye. We mordanted in dye classes I took, but I’d never done it at home, only choosing dyes that don’t need mordants (which I thought was the case with onion skins). I did have alum but never used it, so I guessed I’d better try it.  A mordant is a metal salt that is used to fix a dye in a fiber. The word comes from the French word mordre, which means “to bite”. Usually it is done before the fiber is dyed, but not always.

Here are two bundles of silks; the stiff ones (undegummed) are on the left and the silky silks on the right. Boy, does silk dye deeply and easily. There were all mordanted in alum. It wasn’t such a bother as I thought.

I put a small batch of unmordanted silk in with the mordanted into my pot of onion skin dye.

This book became my bible. It is so user friendly. It does refer you to another page often, but the organization makes it easy to use. And I took notes for what I needed. I took a class with the author; Catharine Ellis last fall and it was wonderful. I just hadn’t looked into the book until now. I knew that my linens would be the next challenge and really appreciated everything she wrote about dyeing (and mordanting) cellulose fibers as well as silks.

Because I’ve promised myself that I am going to dye the fabrics I brought back from India, I knew I needed samples first to determine which fabrics would do what. It was fun organizing this swatch chart and it took a good bit of time. The 11 degummed silks are in the left 2 columns and the 10 stiff silks (undegummed) in the right two, for a total of 21 different silk fabrics. The unmordanted ones are the left ones in the pairs. Looks like there is very little difference in the colors with the mordanted ones. However, Yoshiko said mordanting made them more color fast. Since mordanting wasn’t so onerous, I guess I can entertain the idea of mordanting a lot more (or not??).

Out of the Dyepot: Silks and a few Linens and Cottons

Introduction:
What was I thinking?? That is how I felt when I opened the big bag with the fabrics I bought in India for dyeing. The silks are gorgeous—each one more luscious than the previous one. But I got “a meter of this, a meter of that, 2 meters of this”. That’s a lot of fabric. But they are so-o-o wonderful.  And I’m deciding that they are more and more wonderful dyed in red or yellow onion skins I got from our kitchen. My first samples were about 2” square because I only have a little bit of red skins. I made much larger pieces in my first yellow onion skin dyepot. I’m not sure what will come next, but I’m thinking about it. I know I don’t want to make something to wear because I have too much already from trips and I don’t sew well enough. Besides, I don’t make anything useful.

Just off the drying rack—how exciting. These are from the second red onion skin batch. And I know they will look much better than this when ironed. You can see that the silks dye easier than the linens. All of these were in the same dye bath.

Here is a bundle of the undegummed silks. I like them undyed, too.

Here are the silk fabrics I have to work with stacked on a chair with a yardstick for scale.

Here are some of the small samples on the drying rack.

These are the “silky” ones—in a previous post I only showed the undegummed ones. I dyed those stiff ones first because I has such a little amount of red skins, I knew I’d get the most color with them. I’m glad there was enough color for the silky ones. Interesting to get a yellow one.

Here are the linens and cottons. They aren’t so dramatic. I think I’ll save them for my black walnut dye. I haven’t done any mordanting. That seems more than I want to get into. I’m too impatient.

Here are the fabrics that came out of the yellow onion skin dye. No mordant.

A Good Reason to Warp Front-to-Back: An Afghan Woven by Helen Pope

Introduction:
One of my mentors, Helen Pope, wove gorgeous afghans while warping “front-to-back”. My students know that I prefer the other way, “back-to-front” but in this case, she is using the better technique. I realized that I would never have thought of designing such a project with my back-to-front mentality. It would be nearly impossible to wind the warp with all the yarn changes going back-to-front. Her afghans proved that even something that isn’t very efficient, can be done and can be lovely—and the effect is worth the effort. (Read at the end for the pattern for knitting her fringes.)

Helen made two very different afghans on each warp and gave them to family members and special friends for over thirty years. (She made mine to go with my sofa at the time.) She had one loom devoted to them. Mohair was always in the warp (and weft, I think.) and she brushed one side to raise the nap.

The weave structure was double weave in three blocks so threading was complicated.

Helen carefully chose and dyed her textured yarns. She often combined more than one thread to make up a warp yarn.

There were many warp threads per dent. She tied each new warp onto the end of old ones so she never had to thread the heddles again.

I saw her beam on a warp one day—there must have been 6 or 8 warp chains! It was a tedious business untangling the yarns while beaming—but was worth the work. Threads in each dye bath were in separate chains. She had baby bathtubs as dye pots.

Helen was very particular about her fringes. In this afghan, she kept the warp threads from each layer separate. Often the fringe color was so changed by the wefts she used that the fringe no longer worked with the woven part. In those cases, she knitted the fringes in appropriate colors and sewed them on to hide the original threads.

From Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book:
“Knitted Fringe: Any yarn can be used. This can be used doubled, trebled, or quadrupled, according to the yarn used and the weight of fringe desired. A cotton fringe is better quadrupled, which necessitates the simultaneous use of four balls of cotton, the four stands being held together and knitted as one.

“Cast -on a number of stitches divisible by three. (Helen cast-on 9 stitches for a 5” fringe with 1” braid. I think her notes on the page meant that she knitted 2 1/6 yards for 5” fringe with 1” braid.)

“With 6 stitches on the needle, cast-off three only, and finish. Unravel the remaining three stitches, unravelling the entire length of the knitted strip, until one side presents a fringe of even loops, while the opposite side has the appearance of a knitted braid. This is then attached to the fabric with an overcast stitch. To straighten the fringe, dampen it, and allow it to hang straight, and dry.” From Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book, page 128. 1938. Printed in Great Britain for Hoddder and Stoughton Limited, St. Paul’s House, Warwick Lane, London, E.C.4 by Cox & Wyman Ltd., London, Reading and Fakenbam.

Red Onion Skin Dye: Post #690 (My post # 1 was published on November 19, 2010)

Introduction:
Today I got up excited to face the day! I am going to send out some photos of my recent scrolls to friends, make more red onion skin dye, check the scales (-8#!) and it’s a POST DAY! I am loving reaching out and hearing back.

How could this not bring joy: peonies, coffee ready, and more red onion skins to dye!

This is what got me so excited yesterday. These are the first samples in red onion skin dye! All of the fabrics are silks that I got in India. They are all stiff like organza. That means they are not silky because they are undegummed (the sericin hasn’t been removed). I have noticed that this type of silk dyes way stronger than the silky kind so that’s what I especially looked for in the large shop in Chennai. I got 10 different types of the raw silk (undegummed)!

I love the range I got. Since so far, I only have a small amount of red skins my samples are small—about 1 ½” on a side and only silks. Ida Grae in her book Nature’s Colors, wrote: “Depth of color depends upon a large concentration of onion skins in proportion to a small amount of textile”. I’m taking that to heart. I saved the dye and hope to get more out of it. Our chef has brought me the onion skins and I’m now begging for more red ones. I’ve got a lot of the yellow ones.

I love the moire in the sheer fabrics.

One more arrangement while playing around. I am so happy!

Is It Time to Dye Again? What is the universe telling me?

Introduction:
I have been enjoying Instagram a lot lately. (look for peggyoster) It’s a way to show photographs from my daily and now evening walks around my building. I haven’t missed a day since the lockdown and the same walk requires (allows?) me to really look for interesting things, and to watch the progress of the roses. Also, I see a lot of things other people are doing on Instagram. There was a photograph of a piece dyed with onion skins that caught my attention. Then, I thought OMG I see a lot of onions in the salads from our kitchen! They must use onions in a lot of things. The result is that for the last three evenings, a big container of onion scraps has been delivered to my door. A treasure! I strip off the skins of the cut-off tops and bottoms and collect all the regular skins. Maybe it’s time to start dyeing again.

One morning last week I found this sight when I walked into my kitchen. Something was leaking! OMG What is going on underneath the table? I’d covered the table down to the floor with a piece of cloth from Bali so wasn’t sure just what I would see under there. The jugs were full of black walnut dye from a year ago that I couldn’t throw away. Maybe it IS time to think about dyeing again.

I now have 3 dishpans full of beautiful onion skins from the kitchen.  Maybe it’s time…

My dye pots live on my tiny patio. Maybe it is time to get them out.

I have to think of upsetting my tiny kitchen. I guess it’s possible again.

The dish drainer will have to go down on the floor again so I can use the burners. Well, maybe next week.

Stitched Shibori Part Two – Figuring out how a scarf was made

Introduction:
In a previous post: “Changing My Mind and a Dilemma” I showed a curious sampler and a beautiful black scarf or shawl with stitching patterns. A weaver asked how the patterning was done. I spent a day figuring it out. I pulled out a long roll of stitched shibori paper which was a big help. That needed its own post (Part One). Here is Part Two which builds on the information in Stitched Shibori  Part One.

One of the things I liked about both the sample and the scarf was that the intensity of the stitching pattern went from distinct gradually to blurry. I especially liked that the ends of the scarf were black with hardly any of the stitching pattern showing at all. That told me that the black ends were inside where the resist was the faintest. And the stitched patterns were most distinct in the middle of the scarf. Then the pattern gradually faded and got more and more blurry until at the ends it barely showed. How the strips were accordion folded to make this happen was an issue. Another thing I noticed that the fabric was quite thin. That would make stitching through many layers doable. I took a strip of paper to experiment with the folding steps. I hope it is understandable.

Almost immediately I noticed that the scarf was made in narrow strips sewn together with generous seam allowances showing on the wrong side. Again, this related directly to the design of the sampler. And narrow strips would be easier to work with. The seams were interesting in themselves. There was space between the cloths sewn together yet it looked like regular sewing machine stitching. Was a card or something sewn in with the seam and then removed??

Step One is to get the ends of the strips to be INSIDE so they won’t show the stitch resist or barely hint at it. Fold the strip in half and make the ends together. Then the other folds will be more and more on the outer sides of the bundle to make the stitching pattern less and less blurry–or more distinct depending on how you think of it. I penciled in shading on my paper strip to make sure the ends were inside the bundle.

Step two. Prepare to fold the strip.

Step Three: Make the first fold of the fabric.

Step Four: Continue folding each half of the strip in accordion pleats. You will need to figure out the dimensions of the folds.

Step Five: Fold the last time on separate sides of the bundle as shown.

A close-up of the folds.

Another close-up showing dashes to simulate the stitching for the resist.

Stitched Shibori: Part One – How one artisan created his stitch resist shibori fabric

Introduction:
Some years ago Yoshiko Wada’s Japan Textile tour took us to a quaint town of Arimatsu (near Nagoya). We went there because it is known for making shibori patterned fabrics. Shibori is a little like tie dye and can be very complex. One small factory used stitching on a sewing machine to create the resist patterns. I imagine the fabric was a supple white silk. Long (11 yards) strips of paper like pellon were clamped on top of accordion-pleated fabric. Then the long, thick bundle was stitched in a pattern on the sewing machine. After stitching, the bundle was dyed. When the paper and stitching were removed the pattern remained white where the stitching had been and resisted the dye. I became more interested in the technique than the result and asked if there were any of the discarded papers around. And a carton of them was brought down from a high shelf.

This post relates to a previous post with stitching as the resist.

I brought home a roll of the stitched paper that was discarded after dyeing.  The paper was folded lengthwise for strength then clamped to the cloth. You can see that one half is darker and more distinct because that was the side on the outside of the fold. And that is where the stitching and dye were the most prominent.

The holes where the machine stitching was are clearly visible.

This was a traditional design. The white spot is where one of the clips held the paper to the fabric. Since the paper is 11 yards long, that would be the length of the cloth that was stitched and then dyed. The fabric had been accordion-pleated down to the narrow width of the folded paper to 1 ¾” wide.

Here is a simulation of the paper on white fabric and shows where the stitching had been before dyeing.

A little fan was made with some “discarded” paper.

Sometimes Hemstitching Isn’t Right, a ‘Design Feature’, and Decisions Made

Introduction:
All I wanted when I began planning this project was a thick and satiny cloth. I was using a silk that I inherited—the yarn was thick and certainly was expensive. And I wanted to use the new-to-me 12 shaft dobby loom for a 12-shaft satin. (11 threads up and one down, so very warp face). The fact that I ran out of the silk so soon didn’t bother me; I just picked up another skein that looked almost as thick and continued warping. Then I forgot about it. That is, until I took it off the loom. Well, that didn’t matter, either I thought, I’ll just cut the ends straight. And that didn’t work either because all the wefts weren’t straight and no straight line could be made

This is a piece of the silk satin cloth that I wove and dyed with black walnuts. I love the feel of the soft silk and the subtle movement of the dye. And I’ve decided that I like the “design feature” that happened when I used two different silk threads for the warp. I tried mounting it on a variety of fabrics until I came to the one in in the photo. I think everything shows off with this background: the uneven cloth, the luxurious silk, and subtle color. Finally, I’m happy with it. The fabric is an irregular ikat cotton shawl from the Philippines.

I hemstitched the ends in a quick and dirty way just to keep the cloth intact. Then when I began really looking at it, I thought the hemstitching was disfiguring. It interrupted the smooth surface. Oh, “hemstitching isn’t always the answer.” I’ll just remove it.

Before removing the hemstitching, I overcast on the back so I wouldn’t lose any weft threads. I wished later that I hadn’t pierced the threads when I did the overcasting. After I removed the hemstitching, I had the tedious job of pushing the warp threads together to close up the gaps between the hemstitched bundles. I had to take out some of the overcast stitches in places where the thread pierced the weft. Then I could slide the warp threads across to fill in the spaces. The spaces didn’t want to fill in so I spritzed and tried to hold them in place by tapping with the iron. It would have been better to remove the hemstitching before washing and dyeing then the warps would be easier to fill in. But, as is said, “What is, is.”

When a Tube is not a Double Weave Tube: a Confession, a Correction, and a Mystery Unsolved

Introduction:
I almost always look at any textile with the warp going vertically—it’s just natural. So when I saw the sample in the previous post I did the same. I saw it had two layers; it looked like it had a join in the middle of one of the layers. So I thought it must be double weave and some clever way of joining where the slit would naturally be for a “Kleenex-box-type” tube. When I was questioned about it by an expert weaver, I guessed I’d better look at it again so I could explain it to her. Well, I was very wrong.

I discovered the cloth should be looked at the other with the warps going sideways—horizontally– because there was a selvedge at one end. And this was made from a single layer of a wide piece of silk!

This is what the other side looked like. Remember it from the previous post? I thought it was woven as  a double weave cloth.

A length of fabric about 25” long was folded in half, horizontally. That means the selvedges were on each end resulting in a short, wide piece with the raw edges together to make a seam. This was done first, before any folding and stitching for the resist. This is how the tube was formed. It was NOT a slit cleverly disguised. It was a seam cleverly disguised.

I discovered a lot when I looked at the seam itself. There were about 8 rows of stitching that had been made before the seam was sewn. 4 of the rows would be in the seam allowance to prevent unravelling. The other 4 rows would provide stability on the other side of the seam I suspected. Also, probably some of the wefts were pulled out to make the short fringe at that time. Then the raw edges were put together and the seam sewn. You can see the rows of stitching and the one row of stitching that was actually to join the pieces.

After the seam made and pressed open, the resulting tube was flattened and ironed with 2 hard creases. And you can see the rows of stitching disguising the seam.

A row of stitching through both layers at one point kept the tube together. That stitching I had seen before as a double-weave-stitcher row but indeed it was just 2 rows of regular machine stitching close to one another.

Then, finally the tube was ready for the stitch resist. The mystery remains how the stitching for the resist was done so that on one side the stitches resisted the black dye making light dots but on the light side the stitch marks are black.