Friday, May 31, 2013

Dye Day - Unique Tapestry Yarn

Some additions to my stash
I finished my kaibab squirrel tapestry and it's having it's final rest out in the sun under some books.     A photo soon.

Since I was outside I took a photo of the silk yarn I dyed at our guild's dye day.  The dye day was designed to be a day to dye silk scarves which I blogged about earlier.   Of course, one can really do whatever one wants.

I always take a few skeins of silk yarn to these affairs - not to acheive some specific color but to capture some colors that others have mixed up.  These colors are not reproducable but they tend to be great colors which I would never in a million years come up with.

The two greens were made by pouring all the leftover greens into one jar when cleaning up.   One skein was dyed loose while the other was dyed braided to give it a mottled effect.

The two purples and the light olive green looking yarn were all from one mixed color just at different saturation levels.   The yellow green one was handpainted with the gradation from golden yellow to black which I was playing around with. I can't remember where I got that teal from...

These yarns will be a nice addition to my stash.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Last Inch - Pulling In

Back of tapestry
with 1 inch to go.
One more inch to go on my kaibab squirrel tapestry.

The last inch is always the hardest...particularly here where the last inch is merely a grass background.  Nothing really to keep me interested except for the finish line.

The problem with the last inch is that the edges tend to move inward due to inattention, speed and a different bubbling of the weft.   Now that I have stated the issue, I will now see if I can finish up that last inch...without the edges moving inward.

I have a lovely frame for this piece.  The edges need to be a certain size and ...straight. Should be done tomorrow. Let's see how it goes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wrong Blue? Easy fix...

From this....

To this....

WIth a bit of this. 

Dyeing Silk vs Cotton

Results of my morning

I spent a few minutes this morning dyeing some yarn I recently bought at Dharma Trading when I was up in the Bay Area.   Eventually I will run out of my favorite 'thin' tapestry yarn and will have to replace it with something else.  So while at Dharma I selected three candidates. a 100% noil silk, a 50/50 cotton/silk blend and a 100% pima cotton.   And this morning I thought I would test how each takes the dye.

For our guild's color wheel project one of my colors is green so I have been collecting various green yarns to do something in green.  Today seemed a great opportunity to add to my green collection as well as test out the new yarn.  I found an old Createx liquid dye called Emerald Green and decided to try that out.  Here are the results:
100% Silk on left, 100% cotton in middle, 50/50 blend on right.

 As you can see, the three skeins are slightly different colors. But they are definitely green. They were all in the same dye pot for the same amount of time.  I always find it fascinating to see how the nature of the fiber makes a difference in the resulting color.

Next I wanted to try something called Paris green.  As I mixed it up I tested it and the color was way too blue so I added a bit of yellow to bring it back to the green side of blue.   But from the results below you can tell I didn't add enough yellow to shift it to green.   Again most interesting to see the colors resulting from three different fiber blends in the same dye pot.

100% Silk on left, 100% cotton in middle, 50/50 blend on right. 

And here is the Paris green with a lot more yellow added with a resulting color which fall within my 'green' category.  On my computer screen the one on the right looks a bit blue but in real life it tends more to green. 

100% Silk on left, 100% cotton in middle,50/50 blend on right.

And now I think I have quite enough green yarn for a 4 by 10 inch tapestry! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Shannock Loom - Paper Clip Heddles

This is my baby Shannock loom which is a small portable tapestry loom that I have had 'forever'.  It was the first tapestry loom I ever bought and the only portable one I currently have.  All the other portable tapestry looms have been sold or given away since I always ended up weaving on this one.  It is quick to warp, easy to use and allows me to switch from weaving on the back to the front  of the tapestry depending upon what I am trying to achieve.  I normally weave from the back but in detail situations I often need to switch to the front in order to get a dot of color exactly where it needs to be.

Tony asked for some photos of the shedding device on this loom so I took a few.   Next time I warp the loom, I will try to remember to take some action shots to show how easy it is to warp.

I have always thought the shedding device quite brillant; it uses paper clips instead of strings as heddles.   The shed is created with paper clips which hang on a heddle bar.  They are attached to every other warp and when the heddle bar is under tension the clips are pulled forward to make a shed.  When the heddle bar is released they relax and the opposite shed is created.   It's quick to set up and creates a uniform shed.

Moving the handle of the heddle bar downwards create the tension
 on the paper clips and makes a shed.

That nut in the foreground can be moved
in and out to change the shed size. 

Here the paper clips are in a relaxed position creating the alternate shed. 

The paper clips are the large ones; just shy of 2 inches.
 It's important to put them onto the heddle bar in the same direction or the edges tend to catch. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Weaving Something Realistic

The beginning of a small tapestry...

My fingers felt good enough recently to start tapestry again.  I had two warps set up on my baby Shannock tapestry loom to weave some Kaibab squirrels; one with the warp vertical and the other with the warp horizontal.  The pieces are but 5 by 7 inches but a fairly slow weave at 14 epi and single silk wefts.  When I planned this tapestry way back when I wanted to weave a fairly realistic squirrel and see if I liked the result better with the warp going vertical or horizontal.

I am considering writing a story about a Kaibab squirrel...they are the squirrels that only live on the Kaibab Plateau of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  When I visited the North Rim I saw one and it really peaked my curiosity.  There is another species the Albert squirrel which lives at the South Rim.....but that is a whole different story.

Anyway, I decided to weave a couple of these cuties and am fighting my natural tendency to have it look like a cartoon vs. a more realistic portrayal of what the Kaibab squirrel actually looks like.  I will probably end up with a quasi-realistic portrayal....somewhere in-between. I did successfully curb my desire to show the animal smiling and looking content with such a fine nut in its hand...instead going for a more alert look with those goofy tufted ears upright listening for anything which might steal its food.  I look forward to weaving its big fluffy white tail.

I find it easier to draw or paint something realistic vs weaving it...with tapestry it comes down to laying a single piece of colored yarn in each intersection of warp and weft.  Too many choices for singularly tiny spots of color.   And most of the spots are critical to having the image look 'right'.  I need to select the right color and the right value for each spot so the reflections of the sun and the shadows fall on the body in the right places.  Otherwise it will not look realistic. It's all about the its all about value.  Rarely is a dot next to a dot of the same color/value in this tapestry.  So, progress is slow...yet satisfying.

What I am going for here is different than going for a cartoon-like appearance which has larger blocks of single colors/values.  Dimension in the image is achieved through some well placed dark lines vs. any value changes or hue changes.  The cartoon approach is  always easier and faster to weave...not necessary better or worse...just different and executed more quickly.

To make my life a bit easier, the squirrel is comprised on five colors and the grass background has about five colors too.  I look forward to seeing how the first tapestry turns out and how the second varies from the first.