Sunday, September 30, 2007

Threading the Water Warp

The task of threading the water warp through the heddles is progressing, although not quickly. The weather has turned cooler, and I find my back bothers me if I sit too long threading. Here's where I've got to so far - about 7 sections done out of a total of 10.

In between time spent threading, I'm getting a head start on the next project. On Friday, I wound off skeins of 30/2 Tencel warp for another woodgrain series. On Saturday, I dyed the skeins, and today, I wound and mordanted 60/2 silk for the weft.

The warp is going to be yet another interleaved threading, alternating dark brown and tan. This year, for the dark brown, I used fresh walnuts, as opposed to nuts that had been fermenting over a year. The hulls were still green when I picket them. I scored the hulls with a paring knife, threw the nuts into a dyepot, and covered them with water. That was about a week ago. I poured off the liquid into another pot, put in fresh water, and boiled the nuts for about half an hour, then added that liquid to the original batch. This time, the yarn was the depth of shade I wanted - really deep, rich brown.

The light warp was dyed with cutch (the Earthues extract) to a light caramel color with overtones of peach.

And here are the weft skeins in their mordant bath. It'll be a long, cool mordant process. I started by dissolving the alum in boiling water, added it to a pot full of very hot water, and put the skeins in. They're going to sit there until I've got the dyestuffs ready, later in the week.

Today the pot gets stirred whenever I remember to do it, and starting tomorrow just once or twice a day. By "stir" I mean lift the rings the skeins are looped on up and down a couple of times. With fine thread, putting a spoon or other stirring stick into the pot practically guarantees tangles, so once the thread goes in, the liquid is only moved around by raising and lowering the skein.

The rings are made of heavy copper wire, which is inserted into lengths of plastic tubing. The ends of the tubing are sealed with a plumbing compound called "Goop" which keeps the liquid from getting in and leaching copper out into the pot, where it could affect the dye color (especially with natural dyes). The rings rest on a long, non-stick-coated barbeque skewer (a wood dowel would work, too) so they are easy to grab.

Now to see what sawdust and wood chips I can steal from DH's woodworking shop... I have one batch that's been soaking in denatured alcohol in a canning jar for a couple of weeks, and the liquid is a surprising shade of greenish tan. It'll be interesting to see what color bonds to the fiber!

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