I’ve been working on my scarf commission the last few days. I started by cleaning up the image – a tedious process requiring several hours of work, getting rid of extraneous pixels and tweaking things until I had the image pixel perfect. Then I converted the image to Arahweave. I didn’t much like the results, though:
The phoenix’s edges were disappearing into the background, as I feared they would. Back to Photoshop, where I resized the design and redrew the phoenix as a black-and-white design, with no shades of gray. The next simulation looked great!
Weaving up samples came next. For these samples, I was testing out colors and yarns. Kathy already knew she wanted to use golden yellow for the red warp, but wasn’t sure what colors would work well against the blue. So I wove these samples for her:
Sadly, the photos are not really 100% true to color – the turquoise is much brighter than it appears in the photo, though the other colors are closer in shade. The prettiest ones against the blue, in my opinion, are the darker red-purple and the turquoise – and Kathy agreed with me. So I will be weaving three scarves – one red/yellow, one turquoise/blue, and one red-purple/blue.
At least, that’s the current plan. I mailed the samples to Kathy so she could see the colors in real life, since digital photos can be tricky – we’ll see what she thinks once the samples arrive.
And next steps? Once Kathy decides on a color and sees whether she likes the drape in a small sample, I’ll weave up another set of samples, this time checking the drape of the yarn and making sure the motifs come out correctly – they are quite squished in the sample, so I’ll need to adjust the aspect ratio to make them the correct length. And then I’ll weave the actual scarf.
If all this sounds like a lot of work for a scarf – you are right! But weaving – good weaving – is a complicated business. You have to decide on colors, drape, fiber content (silk, cotton, alpaca, ??), weave structure. Then you have to draw up the design you plan to weave. After that, there’s the technical design of the fabric – what size yarn to use, what sett, how hard to beat, and lots of other factors. And then, you weave the samples. If the samples look good, then you can finally weave the real thing.
It is not always this complicated. The more experience you have, the more you will know about the variables involved. But if you are doing something new, then you do have to consider all these factors, and it takes longer. This is why I told Kathy that the first scarf would be the most expensive – because most of the work is in designing the fabric, not the actual weaving of the finished product. I would estimate that about 80% of my time is spent designing, and only about 20% on weaving. It’s a lot more complicated than it looks.
And what now? Well, I’m flying off later this morning to Maryland, where I will spend four days packing up my mom’s apartment (so we can sell or rent the condo). Then I’m going up to New York to join the rest of my family as we inter her ashes at Ferncliff Cemetery, where her parents are also interred. We had a custom urn made for her, blown glass emblazoned with a phoenix – we think she would have liked it. (It is a little difficult to make out the phoenix in the photo, as the colors are quite similar, but the yellow part is the tail, the wings are outstretched, and the head curves back towards the viewer – I’ll try to take better photos when I get to Maryland.)
From there, I’ll spend a few days visiting with my good friend Edouard on Long Island. Then I’ll move onwards to the American Craft Council’s “Present Tense” conference, October 13-15, before finally flying back home. It will be a long trip – almost two weeks – but Mike will be home to make sure Tigress gets her cat treats and Fritz his belly rubs, so I’m pretty sure all will be well. 🙂