It’s been a slow week, creatively speaking, because work has occupied most of my mental/emotional energy. I’ve been collecting and processing huge amounts of information – basic stuff like the layout of the building (it’s important to know where the coffee is!) as well as more complex stuff: how the publishing industry works, our product, and all the details of the three projects I’ve been assigned, all of which are in states of minor crisis. Plus the local people and politics. There’s a lot to assimilate, all at once! As a project manager I get to deal with most or all of the teams in the company, which means learning a little bit about what every team does.
But I’ve been through this before; it’s just part of being a project manager.
This does not mean that I’ve been idle! I’ve now scanned all but 10 Weaver’s magazines, and am in the process of running them through the text recognition software. I’m up to issue #21 now. I’m dreading the process of manual correction, though, and am wondering if I can get away with just skipping it; after all, I’m just trying to search, not come up with a text-only version, and stuff like KLJLJHW!! (which is what a misread picture produces when scanned) is unlikely to turn up in search results. But I hate to be that lazy, so I’m still arguing with myself. I may do a partial job now and then work on it progressively, a couple magazines a week, until I’m done.
I’ve also done some prep work for actually weaving! I did a bunch of measurements and calculations and arrived at the correct length of knitted blank for each panel; I knitted up one blank yesterday, dyed it this morning, and will weave it up on Friday/over the weekend. I will also knit up and dye a blank for the second panel on this sample warp. I’m hoping to get the warp woven up and off the loom next week.
I think I’ve decided to do my handwoven T-shirts. Well, not T-shirts exactly, but blouses of fairly simple design, suitable for work. I have about 2 lbs of silk at 9000 yards per pound, which would be a nice weight for a blouse; I’ve ordered 2 lbs of 20/2 cotton at 8400 yards per pound, and will use it as weft. (I’d use 100% silk except that I don’t have enough of it for the amount of fabric I’m envisioning, and I don’t think I can get more.) Because cotton is a cellulose fiber and silk is a protein fiber, I can cross-dye the fabric for visual interest; I will probably use a solid color cotton weft and then dye the silk with acid dyes. (Because silk also dyes with fiber-reactive dyes, I can’t dye each yarn a separate color.) According to my calculations, I should be able to get a 19-yard warp out of my 9000 ypp silk – the fabric might have to be a trifle narrower than planned if I run out of yarn, but I think that will be OK.
Because I’m cross-dyeing, I can use a white silk warp, which will save time; the cotton weft will need to be pre-dyed, but I can do that while setting up the silk warp. I’m probably going to use mostly black weft, because I like black and it will “pop” the colors in the silk, but I’m still considering.
And I’m considering patterns. I’ve gone through my pattern stash and have narrowed things down to four patterns: two very simple ones and two somewhat more complex ones. The more complex ones would be suitable for shows and conferences, the simple ones will be great for everyday wear. Each pattern takes about 4 yards of handwoven fabric (except for one that requires 6 yards), so I should (in theory) be able to get four blouses out of the warp. If I use different drafts and different colors, they should look unique enough that no one will suspect they’re off the same warp.
What remains to be considered is the threading. I am debating between a point twill threading and a straight draw. The point twill gives me a larger repeat in the design but limits me to symmetrical patterns, and can produce problems with long floats; the straight draw has no such limits but is limited to a repeat of 24 threads, which, at 40 epi, is only about 5/8″.
I could use a more complex threading, but I like straight draw or point twill because it is easy to design in Photoshop, and the design scale and repeats are small, which is easier to work with in a sewing pattern. It is also better, design-wise, for something that will look good on me, since I am a short person and large designs would be overwhelming.
Doing this project will probably take me a month or so, which will likely guarantee that Autumn Splendor is not completed for next year’s shows. I’m a bit disappointed by that, especially since it means it will probably never appear at Convergence. (Convergence requires that the project not be published anywhere prior to Convergence, and I expect there will be some writeup of the project somewhere before 2014.) Part of me is sorry about this, but part of me is ecstatic that I won’t be working under a hard deadline. To submit Autumn Splendor to this year’s Convergence would require having the outfit photographable by February, which would give me eight months to sample, weave, and sew up approximately 32 yards of fabric. I could probably do that if I worked every waking minute between now and February, but after doing that with the wedding-dress, I’d prefer not to repeat the experience. Especially since I’m just starting a new job!
And, finally, happy birthday to me! I turned 41 yesterday, and hope to enjoy every moment of the next year as thoroughly as I enjoyed the last.