So much happened the past few days that it’s hard to know where to start!
Perhaps I should start with the fabulous silk yarns that arrived today:
The bottom left silk is undegummed silk organzine at 83,000 yards per pound. The bottom right, undegummed silk organzine at about 30,000 yards per pound. The stuff on top, which looks a bit like dental floss, is actually tram silk from Lunatic Fringe Yarns – a virtually untwisted reeled silk, also at 30,000 ypp.
All this arrived just in time, since the highlight of Sunday was a trip to visit Lillian Whipple! Lillian, in case you didn’t know, is the Queen of Fine Thread Weaving, and she has all sorts of exquisite pieces in her house. As if that wasn’t wonderful enough, she was also gracious enough to let me page through binder after binder of Fine Threads Study Group samples (she’s been chairing the group since it started, sometime in the ’70s I think), looking for hints on how to construct a fabric with the breezy drape I was looking for.
It turns out not to be as difficult as I had feared. For a fabric of the weight I’m after, 140/2 silk in a predominantly plain weave fabric should be entirely sufficient. The sett for that, according to the samples I perused, should be somewhere between 60 and 90, 72 being most common. I won’t weave it completely in plain weave, though (that would be boring!) but will include network drafted sections of twill, in a flame or feather like pattern. The twill sections will collapse slightly (in theory anyway) which might add some interesting texture.
Regardless, it looks like I can “get away with” a yarn that’s about 30,000-35,000 yards per pound, at an almost-reasonable sett, and still get a nice floaty fabric. That’s a relief – I’ve worked a little bit with 120/2 silk, and I typically work at 50-60 ends per inch, so 72 ends per inch really doesn’t intimidate me.
Sharing top billing on Sunday was a trip to visit Sharon, my sewing mentor, where we draped one interpretation of the “ragged” skirt:
Admittedly it doesn’t look like much, but it’s a prototype, right? This one is composed of lots of bias-cut, raggedy-edged strips, done in china silk and organza. We liked the floaty look, the movement, and the variation in fabrics, but Lillian warned us that handwoven fabric, especially in slippery fine threads, will ravel incredibly fast. So we may wind up going with the second idea, which is bias-cut squares of fabric gathered on the top. I plan to drape a prototype of that sometime this week, using silk organza, china silk, and maybe a bit of chiffon. I may even get fancy and dye them different colors, to give a sense for how the colors play out against each other.
Finally, I managed to get some play time with the dyes. I was more experimental this time, so the results are not as spectacular as the first round, but I learned a lot, both in design and composition, from making these:
The last one, obviously, was not at all successful design-wise; it was an experiment with wet-on-wet printing that didn’t work out particularly well. I may overdye it with some brown dye, to tone down the color contrasts and make it a bit less “busy”. Or I may just pitch it. Either way, I’ve tried something new, so I feel like I’ve gotten my $3 worth. ($3 being the cost of each T-shirt, from Dharma Trading Co.)
Finally, I finished off one set of dye samples – playing around with liquid bleach and bleach gel on variously dyed Procion MX and Cibacron F color swatches. No photos (sorry!), but the results were interesting. I plan to do some more samples later this week or next weekend.
Plans for this week:
- Inventory, organize, and put away the stuff piling up in my studio (!)
- Weave some more rayon chenille burnout samples to see if I can figure out how to stabilize the chenille
- maybe, maybe try to weave some yardage for the CNCH Yardage exhibit- the deadline was extended to May 1, so I might just have time to come up with/weave something
- Read the various books I’ve been collecting, on fabric design, surface design, etc.
- Sign the loan documents for the house (the house will actually be ours next week, hurrah!)
- Have fun!