I never published a post about the tapestry looms that I was making, things got in the way of finishing them and when that happens life has a way of moving on to the next project regardless. In fact I still have one thing to do to finish my large tapestry frame! And the medium one (being warped on the red table cloth below) will be ditched or remodelled after I finish the project on it.
Just a twirly sort of day yesterday. Winding bobbins, shuttles, warp chains and plying. Still have some tapestry bobbins and a stick shuttle to wind, then I’m ready to thread the loom and paint some more! Very colourful blanket coming up.
As I was finishing the muted yarn I finally, after two years of just looking at the fiber, figured out how I would have really liked to spin and ply it! Isn’t that just typical…. Where’s that Ctrl+Z when you need it?
Big brown pony is recovering from a monster abscess in his left hind hoof. Very ouchy, swelly and gooey. I’ll spare you the sight.
To get the motivational kick in the butt for this tapestry adventure, I’ve signed up for the Tapestry Diary weave-along on Ravelry. I don’t have a plan, but isn’t that the whole point of a diary? Some freeform flowing shapes are probably what’s going to happen after going through and discarding a number of calculations and ideas involving squares or cartoons and various shapes and choices of yarn.
And it did make me go and warp up ALL the looms actually, as I’ve hinted already here. Subsequently finding all the flaws on both homemade looms, so they are being fixed after a bit of brainstorming and a visit to the lumber yard + farm machinery / ironmonger (I just LOVE that kind of stores) for doodads.
Anyway, I haven’t really gotten seriously started, but the February portion ended up as a commentary on the winter weather and view. Dark ploughed fields and half dead grass. I managed to get some structure for the furrows, even making them smaller at the top for a bit of perspective, but of course you can hardly see it with a dark brown yarn (My handspun Shetland from the SAL sweater).
And then I thought I might use this cartoon I made from an old photo of big brown pony to put in the middle of it all, year of the horse and that. Proper diary. 😉 I may however stretch his nose a little forward, as I think this has a slightly restrained feel to it – and the “canvas” is landscape format anyway.
And I just realized, tapestry and weaving is where I’m going to suffer the most with my varied colour choices. Because you can always mix your paints differently, photographed object are what they are unless you run them by Photoshop, but every time I come up with a new fiber image theme I need to get more yarn!! Ouch on the budget. I
need hope to get natural skeins by the kilo(s), so I can just dye to my heart’s content. Spinning for tapestry may happen eventually, but that also takes a toll on the time budget (and I don’t have a lot of longwools fiber stocked anyway). Especially if you want to do multi thread blending, meaning laceweight yarn or thinner, which takes forever to spin. Not logical if you’re trying to make the most of your playtime. Then spinning becomes tedious production and costs way more in hours than yarn to dye for. No, spinning is for the fun yarn.
I don’t know yet if I prefer the freeform invent as you go tapestry or the more traditional stringent method of designing first, I think perhaps the latter, because the diary has been giving me so much trouble, but maybe with experience it will change.
I’ve also spent an insane amount of time debating which project from my list to put on the rigid heddle loom first, redesigning some ideas endlessly (hello IC?), calculating yardage since I have only just enough or barely of some of the yarns. Discard, use other yarn, change design on FO? Especially the one project with insanely expensive linen yarn…
So I decided to just start with the ones that are definitely fixed to simply get more hands on experience, even if they’re not “timely”. I also realized, after dying the yarn and all for a specific project that needed the same warp and weft, THAT I HAD NOT TESTED IT FOR STRENGTH!! What an idjit. It’s 1 ply. It so drifts apart = broken warp threads all over for sure. And that was even for a mini-series of image-cloths! At least I remembered before getting started, so now I’m doing ONE test with a stronger warp in a similar colour, just to get it out of my hair (clasped weft), but I won’t get the multicolour warp I had planned, it has to be grey all over. I’m going to have to translate that idea to tapestry if I want to make it. Something with fog, trees and mountains in a very light, open cloth to then be embroidered. Well, later when I have other yarns, or in another medium. The dyed yarn will be used – somehow.
I have to keep saying to myself “This is a test, this is just the first”. Not so much the landscape in my head as simply an exercise in concave and convex, in using hands and paying attention to selvedges. It won’t be as open as all that either, this yarn is sticky.
Hopefully I’ll learn. Next week I may show you some of my homemade tools.
Technically it’s not tapestry, so what do we call it, pictorial weaving?
I didn’t yet get up to that promised week of just plant dyeing every day and writing up a storm about it, but I yesterday did a bit of odds and ends for future projects. First I decided to use up the bucket of woad solution that I saved back when I last dyed in fall. I had some extra yellows, so I planned to throw them all in together.
The theory is, I think, that you just need to reheat to 50° C, apply hydrosulfite and Bob’s your uncle. PH was good. Blue froth – not so much. Perhaps that black coating on the bucket lid was all the dyestuff?! After all my preparations the dyebath still looked odd, a lot like another which I never used, of Japanese Indigo which I suspected was harvested too late. So this time I tested one skein just for science and got what I expected: FAIL. But at least this task is now off my list 😉
I can’t properly acid dye beyond the solutions I’d already made, since my scales are broken, and I use such tiny amounts of powder when I mix that spoon tips are too inaccurate. So I’ve run out of most colours after today! 🙁
In fact afterwards I had a pot of leftovers with some other baths poured into as well, some kind of brown, I suspected it might even be nice (on the white spoon it looked just like red wine), but which yarn do I put in, as in, which type of project am I likely to use it for?! I don’t like to just pour it out…
I made a purple that I really ended up liking, so now I regret only making a small skein. For the intended tapestry project (yes, yes, I know I said I’d use the plant dyed yarns for that, and I will, I promise! But, you know… one idea breeds another and….) I don’t need a lot of the purple, if any, but perhaps I’d want to use it in another? Oh well. It was something with violet and a bit of black and a bit of rusty brown from the other pot, but did I also include green? (my goto breaker of purple to tone it down a bit) And if somebody now says “what do you need the scales for”, see the above mention of the huge amount of leftover dyebath. 😉 I also don’t know quite what made the gold colour, which I ALSO like, because that too was made from sloshing leftovers into my last bit of yellow.
In the end I found a use for the leftovers, which did not yield red wine but rust. I stuck the end of 100 g top in there until it had enough, next bit in, next dye leftover etc. completely at random. I mean to spin it and weave it as a tapestry, shapes determining what happens with the colours. Or something. It’s cheviot and there’s no way it’s getting near my skin other than hands.
Perhaps not one of my brightest moments. The top ended up looking pretty ghastly, but I’m going to spin it anyway. Who knows, I might get a surprise? And then what happened as I got to the end of the rope and it had taken on enough colour? I was left with ANOTHER bath, this time dark green. So whatever, I added one of the small silk skeins I use for plant dyeing.
And now for some weekend. I wanted to weave now that I’m all warped, finally, but apparently I’ve been overdoing things says the body, headaches for two weeks now. I don’t think I ask it for very much, I’ve been indulging the “no exercise wish” for a while longer, but apparently “projects” are taxing the stress muscle even if they’re fun and relaxed. I don’t feel stressed or anxious, but I know it could be the next step, even though I think I’m doing pretty well with my attitude towards “busy.” I rarely go “OMG there’s so much I have to do”. So it’s probably “I have so many things I wanna do. Just one more…” 😉
Or possibly it’s not my busy-ness at all but my thoughts about “what if someone disturbs me or asks to see me in the middle of my project, not right now please I need to do this thing first. Just go away and come back next year.” And I know I’m blowing it out of proportion. Something to work on.
So I’m not feeling happy about this break as usual, a weekend of just sitting isn’t really my idea of a good time. Probably doing nothing will stress me even more, so I’ll have to pick one, slow project to fiddle with. Back to serial thinking…
Tonight I deserve a rest though, I wheelbarrowed a week’s worth of horse manure out to the back field to try to cure my shoulder tension. And vacuumed the bedroom. Possibly I’ll just spend the weekend doing the rest of the house very slowly and getting my desk ready for a fresh start Monday.