Well, I learned a lot from my first try at stretch mounting my handwoven fabric. I under-estimated the width of the wooden frame because the fabric stretched lengthwise much more than I expected. I have about a foot of fabric folded in on both ends. But overall I am happy with the proportions of the finished piece and the effect of the fabric being taut with edges rather than hanging freely. The little pillow on the couch was made from some wool fabric that I made when we lived in Cuenca.
A beginner's weaving experience with the SAORI weaving loom.
I set up an Indigo Dye Pot recently and my friends Silvia and Ramona joined me one day to try a variety of Japanese Shibori techniques:
Arashi Shibori - wrapping fabric on a pole
Kumo Shibori - wrapping an object in the fabric like a marble or bean and securing it with string or rubber bands
Itajime Shibori - folding the fabric and binding it with blocks of wood
Kanoko Shibori - tying a length of fabric at intervals to create patterns
As with my previous experience with the slippery warp, this is another learning experience in the world of handling fiber.
Recently my friend Angelita Abad, an Ecuadorean cotton spinner from Tumianuma about 30 minutes from here, brought me some of her home-grown, hand-spun cotton fiber to sell. It is so wonderful to work with real cotton thread straight from the plant so to speak. It is really beautiful thread with many natural tones intermixed. Sometimes I even find a few long black hairs in the thread but I leave them there which I guess serves as a kind of DNA signature for the future.
The heads of cotton are so beautiful to look at. I can't resist buying all of it. But I'm learning how to evaluate the thread tension. When it is spun too tight, it folds back on itself and becomes a constant pain to manage.
I didn't look closely at the most of the recent heads that i bought and later found out that there are very tightly spun.
So I had to look up all the ways to relax overspun thread. It is very tedious.
But one option is to ply it to make it more manageable. I don't own a spinning wheel (yet) but I realized that the Navajo Spindle (that I got from my friend Cynthia who is now traveling the world) could be used for plying.
So I learned a few things about Navajo Spinning on YouTube and will leave the links to the most useful videos below.
Here is the Navajo Spindle surrounded by cotton heads, cotton cakes and sample scarves. You can't really see its height but it is 32" (81cm) tall.
I"m happy to report that I was able to get the rhythm of rolling the shaft down the side of my thigh to make it spin.
My first plyed thread is irregular in tension but I get the gist and can get better at it considering that almost all of the thread from Angelita was overwound!
Links to YouTube videos about the Navajo Spindle:
This is a good explanation of how it works and what it means 'to spin off the point'.
This fellow does a good job of explaining the history and technique of the Navajo / Southwest Spindle.
This is a pretty video to watch and it has some explanation.
My most recent experience with fine thread turned out so nice (see previous post) that I felt confident buying other fine threads. But I learned that there is a lot of difference between un-mercerized threads, that I am used to using, and mercerized threads which are shiny and more slippery. So after finding that the warp was slippery, I changed gears, chose a heavier cotton and wool for the wefts and came up with 3 different samples on the same 5ft. warp.
I also decided to incorporate a wonderful linen woven ribbon that was gifted to me. This is the fanciest and most beautiful thread I have ever used - Kestral from Quince and Company, made in Italy. As you can see, just a little bit of a specialty thread can make a project pop.
I decided for my 100th weaving project that I would use the smallest thread I have ever used and I would use all 720 heddles on my 36 inch Leclerc loom for the first time. For the warp I used undyed 8/2 cotton which is typically used for dish towels. For the weft I dyed several shades of blue green that look like seaweed colors to me. The resulting Seaweed Shawl had double warp threads (720) which I found out muted the dyed weft threads. So for my next project with the dyed threads, I used only 360 warp threads which allowed the dyed weft threads to be more brilliant.
The cotton has been growing now since October 2016. The plants are much taller and fuller now and producing well but I have one mystery to solve. I got Virginia green cotton seeds from a friend but so far those plants only produce white cotton. I wonder where the green cotton is? Could it be a nutritional problem? Scroll through the pictures to see the lovely green covered seeds that produce white cotton. I would love to hear from anyone with insight into this situation.