Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Antelope Canyon

While waiting for some new scarves to go through a wash/dry cycle so I could press them, tag them, and have them ready to bring to CNCH, I managed to weave a few more inches of the Antelope Canyon image. The curves of the eroded rock that forms the walls of the canyon are beginning to take shape.

I was concerned that there might not be enough hue difference between the two reds, but now that I've woven more of the image, I think they're just enough different that the shapes can be read in the cloth. Gotta love scarlet and fuchsia together, they're just electric! And the gold really pops next to them.

Conference of Northern California Handweavers 2014

CNCH 2014 is coming up this weekend, April 25 - 27. DH and I will be in the vendor hall throughout the conference. Marketplace hours are 10:00am - 7:00pm Friday, 10:00am - 6:00pm Saturday, and 10:00am - 2:00pm Sunday. Location: Oakland Convention Center, 550 Tenth Street, Oakland, California.

We will have dobby- and jacquard-woven textiles, lots of beautiful wood textile tools (nostepinnes and niddy-noddys, for example) plus plenty of other wood products for home and kitchen.

Plus, of course, the byproduct of the woodturner's art, sawdust and wood chips for extracting dye. Lots of different woods to choose from, and each purchase includes detailed instructions for use.

Be sure to drop by and say hello!

Monday, April 21, 2014

On the Jacquard Loom

The bright, saturated colors I posted here are now in play on the jacquard loom, along with a bright gold. All are Bambu 12, about 6200 ypp.

The image is a much-manipulated shot of Antelope Canyon, a well known slot canyon in Arizona. I liked the colors, shapes, and composition of the original image.

The color of the border around the image is a placeholder for a weave that creates an equal blend of color A (the lightest fucshia on the left end of the swatch strip) and color C (the lightest scarlet). The two are close enough in value that they are indistinguishable in the weaving, except that the blend is a slightly different red than either the fuschia or the scarlet seen separately. In the border, the gold weft is weaving 8/1 satin; its stitchers are completely covered by the floats of the reds that are weaving 3/6 satin, so it is almost completely invisible.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tramm Silk

In a comment on the previous post, Peg asked, "The yarns are gorgeous. Do you use tramm silk as is for weft? I have a bunch of it and find it challenging because it is SOOOOOO fine. Impossible to use for warp."

Well, tramm silk comes in several sizes. According to my McMorran Balance, this stuff is about 10,000 ypp. I've used it as weft, but I've also used it as warp. Just not all by itself.

One project (many years ago, right after I acquired the silk) was a painted warp of mixed silks, both bombyx and tussah, some textured and some smooth, mostly in the 30/2 range, mostly from Treenway Silk. 30/2 is about 7,500 ypp so a little thicker than the tramm. But because it's unplied, the tramm spreads out to fill as much space in the cloth as the thicker yarn. The yarns were all wound  into small bouts, mordanted in the bouts, and then painted with natural dyes and woven in turned twill blocks. I had an 8-shaft loom at the time, so two blocks of twill was what I could manage. The results were stunning!

Another idea I may explore soon is to combine tramm silk with 30/2 tussah (which is very matte compared to the lustrous tramm) in an interleaved design. If I warp with 2 ends of tramm and 2 ends of tussah together, there will never be a lot of tension on 1 strand of tramm, and I should be able to beam and weave the combined yarns successfully. The usual problem with tramm happens when you hold a single strand under tension, and it simply slides apart at weak points. If you hold a lot of strands together under uniform tension, however, you'd be hard pressed to break any of them.

I think an interleaved design with a luster difference between the two warps would be beautiful - it would make the two different threading lines really stand out from one another. I've gotten similar effects working with a lustrous tencel plus a tencel-silk blend that has a matte finish because it's made of shorter lengths of fiber that are less tightly spun and plied than the 100% tencel.

Another possibility, if you have a spinning wheel, would be to add twist to two strands of tramm, then ply them together, thereby adding tensile strength to the fiber. You'd end up with a thicker yarn, too, which would be easier to handle than the tramm in its natural state. It would be a one-of-a-kind yarn, too, which is always nice - maybe nice enough to make up  for the time it would take to do all that spinning and plying!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Eye Candy

That's what tramm silk dyed with wood-derived colors is - a delight to the eyes.

The caramel on the left is from cocobolo. The peachy pink is redheart (it's very similar to the hue I get from bloodwood). The warm grey on the right is the bubinga, which only made a blah warm beige, and then got an iron afterbath to bend it toward grey; I like it better now.

A fourth color is still drying on the rack. I'll begin to transfer that one from the dye skein to a more useable form tomorrow. The original 100-gm skein it came in is too much yarn in too small a circumference skein to dye well/evenly, but I hate to overhandle the thread by reskeining it, then mordanting, dyeing, after-dyeing, rinsing, etc. Next one out of the stash will get that full treatment, though, because the original size skeins are next to impossible to rewind after they're dry. I don't know what equipment the factory uses to make the skeins in the first place - it feels like it was an umbrella swift, which is a bad choice because the swift contracts a little with each round of thread, so the skein ends up being very unevenly tensioned.

Oh, well, I love the colors!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dusk: A Special Project

DH and I have been working on a collaborative project. The International Tech-Style Art Biennial is coming up in the summer at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, so we thought we'd try to create an interactive textile. It's a wall hanging that reacts to the audience: if it detects that someone is standing or passing in front of the piece, the action begins. If that person gets too close, the action stops and waits for the person to back away to an acceptable distance before resuming.

Imagine a late summer meadow at dusk, with fireflies and frogs and crickets. The insects and frogs do their thing if someone is there to appreciate them. But they object if you get too close - the frogs and crickets stop singing, and the fireflies go into panic mode.

If the piece had been accepted into the show, I wouldn't be able to show it to you - the museum wants to be the first place work is exhibited. However, I was just notified that the piece was not accepted, so here's a link to a video showing how it works.

We had a lot of fun working out the overall design, and DH spent many happy hours researching the frequency, duration, and interval between flashes in various species of firefly. That, and getting familiar with the Arduino environment for hardware and software development. Sometimes the guy needs tech projects to keep in the swing of things.

There are audio speakers and an amplifier imbedded in the frame, along with a little CPU and lots of wiring to LEDs mounted on the face of the weaving. The jar you see in the video is a vehicle for mounting the motion detector (which decides if there's anybody in the room) and the proximity sensor (which decides when you've gotten too close). Those sensors can't be hidden inside the frame, because they can't "see" through cloth. DH put some extra LEDs in the jar, so it seems as if you've just been out in the meadow with your butterfly net catching fireflies.

By the way, although we have fireflies on the West Coast, they aren't bioluminescent, so you would only be familiar with their magic if you live in the Midwest, East, or South. I'm not sure about other continents...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

More Dyepots

Three skeins of tramm silk went into wood-derived dyepots yesterday afternoon. The first is a wood called Redheart, which is giving a beautiful peach/apricot/pink color:

Next is Bubinga, a red-colored African hardwood. It's a bust. Pale beige, in spite of the rich color in the jar and in the dyebath. Oh well, one can always find a use for subtle neutrals... And once again, I'm reminded that many reds are simply fugitive - the colorant can't bond with either fiber or mordant, and just goes down the drain afterward. Live and learn. It'll be a disappointment to the gentleman from DH's woodturning club who gave me a huge lawn-and-garden-size garbage bag full of Bubinga chips. Its main function now will be as garden mulch, via the greenwaste facility.

Last is Cocobolo, a favorite for russet browns, from a tree that grows (very slowly) around the Gulf of California.

While these were soaking, I finished the jacquard image of the boat at the cabin: