Sunday, January 19, 2014

Shawl for a Queen

My kingdom's spinning guild makes a hand spun shawl for each new queen as a group project.  Sometime this means we do nothing for several reigns, but usually we end up making a shawl at least once a year.  The women who had been doing the weaving got her Laurel last year just before Pennsic when the last shawl was presented, and decided that she didn't feel it was right to continue doing the weaving, and as her first act as a Peer, volun-told me to weave the next one.  Eeep.  This will be presented at an event in February.

Things have been a little nuts for me the last couple of months.  In addition to the usual holiday madness of my little business and going home to visit, I've had the flu since New Years eve and have been dealing with some ongoing health issues that have been making getting anything done increasingly difficult.  My focus is not as good as it once was, I get confused easily, and I am in a lot of pain a lot of the time.  In the last week my neurologist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.  Not great news, but at least we now have an idea of what the problem is (or really in this case isn't) and how to proceed with managing the symptoms.  Knowing you need to slow down and adjust your expectations from yourself and understanding why are two totally different things and for me at least the why turns out to be a key piece for my coping abilities and peace of mind.

Anyway, the upshot of all of this is it's taken me longer to get started on the shawl project than I had planned.  But I finally got the Perugia towel off my loom, and have started doing the sampling for the shawl on my new table loom!  Yay for awesome Christmas presents that make sampling possible!  It's a 4-shaft 18 inch wide Dundas loom, which they do not make anymore, that we were able to pick up used, even though it had never been used by the previous owner.  The heddles were still tied together.  Warping it was so much easier than warping the floor loom, and weaving on it is fun though it's a bit of an adjustment going from tie-ups to manually controlling each shaft.  I'm using the same diamond twill pattern I used for the towel for the shawl, set at 16 EPI with a commercial warp and the hand spun weft.  We decided to use a high contrast for the warp to give the cloth a shot effect, which I think will look well when it's finished and should have a nice bit of shimmer.  So far I am happy with how the sample is working up.  I plan to weave a bit more and wash it before I warp the big loom, but I should have that done by the end of the weekend and be able to get the warping done this week.  The actual weaving won't take all that long.  With the larger yarns the whole project will go much more quickly than the linen did.

Finished Faux-rugia towel, finally

The faux-Perugia towel is finally, after long last and much swearing, gnashing of teeth, moving of the loom, and tearing of hair, done!  It's off the loom, washed, and I am actually pretty happy with how it turned out.  Yay!  This has been by far the most difficult and possibly overly ambitious weaving project I have done so far, but I have learned a lot.  I can't honestly say the result were quite worth all the agony, but adding in the educational piece and the fact that it's off the loom and I can now get on with my life it's all good.

The original plan had been to weave a length of plain
weave to do some embroidery with on the same warp, but somehow I ended up not having quite enough warp to do it or enough patience, so I have what you see.  The towel was 53 inches long and 29 inches wide before washing, and 50 inches long and 23 inches wide after washing.  This is right in the low to middling range of extant Perugia towels, and in looking at it a very useful size.  I will be able to use this as a small table covering, a large lap napkin (large napkins are really good for covering garments made of expensive, hard to wash fabrics), or for using while serving at table.  It also works nicely as a head covering.  The 40/2 linen was a huge PITA to work with (mostly warping), but the end result is a lovely fabric with a nice hand that drapes well and is thick enough to make a good napkin but still fine enough to look like real fabric and not a rug.  I'm a little sad about not being able to do proper pick-ups but the end result looks more like what you see in the art work actually being used by servants and more middle class people than what has survived in museums, most of which seem to be have been used as part of church vestments.

A couple of critical things I have learned about weaving with linen for next time -
1 - wet/damp linen is much easier to work with.
2 - sizing is your friend!  I used boiled flax seeds.  It's much easier to apply this diluted in a spay bottle than attempting to brush it onto the warp.
3 - For whatever reason my floating warps kept snapping.  I was able to fix this by soaking the warp thread in the sizing then reinforcing it with a thread of fine beading wire.  Fishing line would probably work better but I didn't have any on hand.  Next time I am working with a fine, inflexible warp, I will get some fishing line.
4 - I need a better cushion on my weaving bench.  Ouch.