I started knitting the first blank yesterday. Oy vey! 4,050 rows and about 2 hours later, I’m done. The finished blank is 30+ feet long! I tried doubling the width, but wound up with so many dropped stitches that I gave up. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to manage the dyeing of the piece – I suspect it will just require lots and lots of plastic wrap.
I am debating whether to steam the dyed blank or to let it batch. I’m a little hesitant to try batching, mostly because I’ve never tried it before: I’ve been told by several experts that it will work, but I’m so used to heating acid dyes that I can’t help wondering somewhere in the back of my mind if it will really be as lightfast/washfast as if I had heated it. Fodder for more experiments, I suppose!
At any rate, I think I will try batching for this sample, because I don’t want to take the slightest chance of the blank felting. (Yes, I know – if I don’t agitate it, it won’t felt, but I’m paranoid, OK?) It’s hard enough to unravel as is. So I will paint it tomorrow morning, wait a day or two for the dyes to set, and then rinse/unravel/weave it. Then I will try simmering a swatch with soap to see if any dye bleeds. That should put to bed any concerns about washfastness.
Once I have finished testing the swatch, I will take the 54″ sample and cut it into several lengthwise sections. I will try overdyeing with fiber-reactive dyes in different color combinations, to see how different colors of silk warp interact with the changing colors of weft. That will probably happen next weekend. Once that is completed, I’ll be able to start the final material.
I plan to weave up twelve panels: ten for each panel of the garment plus two extras in case of mishap. That is about 50,000 rows of knitted blank! It makes me feel a little faint just to contemplate it, but I expect I’ll muddle through the way I usually do…one row at a time! I think it will take a total of twenty-four hours to knit up all the weft, but I won’t do it all at once…and if I knit a blank, dye it, and then weave it up, it will break up the monotony of each task. So, that’s the plan.
Off to bed! Tomorrow morning I will do some dyeing, then run up to my friend Ginny’s to finish off the samples for that article in Handwoven.