Tuesday, April 24, 2007

First Woodgrain Scarf Woven

Today, I was able to get back to the loom and weave the first scarf in the woodgrain series. Here's a picture of the scarf when I had woven maybe 600 picks (a pick is one pass of the shuttle).

When I'm weaving, you can only see about 6 or 7 inches of the cloth, because the fell (the most recently woven pick) is pretty close to the point where the cloth wraps down and around the front beam. So here's another picture taken when I'd woven almost the whole scarf, and I'm looking at it under the loom, where it reaches back to wind onto the cloth storage beam (to the right of the picture). You can see more of the pattern from this angle. The light for this picture is late afternoon sun, shining directly in the floor-to-ceiling windows at the back of the loom, so the color balance may be a little different from the picture taken at the front of the loom.

The weft for this scarf is the yellow skein that I dyed with Eucalyptus leaves. You can see pictures of this weft and the others I'll use for the remaining scarves a couple of posts earlier in the blog. The overall coloration of the cloth is heavily influenced by the two warp colors (tan and brown) because the warp is a slightly thicker thread, and is sett quite closely, whereas the weft is a finer thread and woven with fewer picks per inch than the warp has ends per inch. So the woven yellow doesn't appear nearly as yellow as it does when all you see is the weft skein, unwoven.

Because the yellow weft and the tan warp are close to the same value, the net effect is a light color wherever the weft and the tan warp are on the surface of the cloth, and a darker color wherever the weft and the brown warp are on the surface. There are also areas where the yellow weft predominates, but the result is yellow with tan and brown specks, not solid yellow. Optical blending merges the colors of the individual threads into shades in between the three thread colors, much as the dots in a pointillist painting blend into a solid color when viewed from a distance.

I'm quite pleased with the woodgrain effect in the cloth, and am looking forward to seeing the others in the series as they "grow." It takes me about 4 hours to weave one scarf. This particular pattern has about 2400 picks. Some of the time I'm throwing the shuttle at 60 picks per minute, but in between bouts of weaving I need to stop to wind the pirn (a pirn holds thread sort of like a bobbin, except the thread unwinds off the end of a stationary rod, not off the side of a rotating cylinder) or replace warp ends that have knots in them, or deal with other interruptions.

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