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!


Peg Cherre said...

Thanks for the suggestions on the tramm, Sandra. I'm not a spinner, and had offered to pay one of my talented & patient guild members to spin & ply for me - he tried but said it wasn't worth it.

I don't have a McMorran balance, but mine is REALLY thin - I don't have any 60/2 silk to compare it to, but I'd guess it'd be like that. On some humid day I can try to use it in combo with some of my 30/2 silk.

Thanks again for all your suggestions!

Peg Cherre said...

Well, I just successfully measured out some of one of my 4 large cones of tramm silk. Hah! Roughly 25,200 ypp - 4 feet of this = the weight of 1 foot of 30/2 silk.

I wound some off onto 4 tubes, then wound a few bobbins off those 4 tubes - without a twist, mind you, 'cuz I don't spin. I'm using it as weft now. Not bad so far - hope that remains true for the length of the scarf. :-)