Here is the latest shawl, the slow color progression from one end of the shawl to another:
It’s a hideously bad photo (the colors are NOT true), but it gives you some idea.
This shawl represents a turning point for me: it is the first shawl I’ve produced that is (I think – still need to look it over closely) technically flawless, that I don’t feel the need to apologize for in some way. I’m not sure I like the colors (too much yellow, I think) but in pattern and in weaving it’s pretty darn good. I could enter it in competition, or sell it, without reservations.
Next up on the loom will be the precision dyeing “faux weft ikat” using a knitted blank. This will be interesting. I calculated the exact number of inches in a single shot of weft by weaving 10 shots, then carefully unweaving them and measuring the length. Then I divided by 10 to get the average length, far more accurate than measuring a single shot.
Then I asked Nancy to knit me a blank with each row exactly the length of a single shot. She returned the blank to me a few days ago, so now – at least in theory – I can dye the blank in patterns, unravel it, weave it up, and the same patterns will appear in the finished cloth. Weft ikat without the frame and tying.
In practice, of course, I expect the numbers to be slightly “off” in one direction or another. If it’s too long, the patterns will drift slightly diagonally (at least in theory; I have to do some tests to understand exactly what will happen). If it’s too short, I can either live with drifting patterns OR cut off a few warp threads at the edges to make the piece a little narrower. There will also be some variation in the length (even a knitting machine is not 100% constant) so the image will be somewhat fuzzy, even if it turns out to be an exact match. Finally, the image will be much longer on the machine knitted blank than it will be woven, because of the taller rows that knitting produces.
Because of all this, I think I’m going to try dyeing a sample first (always sample!) and see what happens before committing the rest of the blank. I think I will do big yellow dots on a deep orange background (though I haven’t decided for sure yet), and change the weave structure to something very simple, probably the 4-shaft goose-eye pattern. With so much color going on, a complex weave structure would be pure chaos.