Deflected double weave explorations

Ever since I first saw this deflected double weave scarf by Madelyn van der Hoogt, I’ve wanted to play with this version of the weave structure – the idea of interlocking yet distinct layers of weaving sparks my imagination.

screenshotIt seems to me like a metaphor for the layers of meaning and ‘otherness’ that intertwine through life, the ‘thin places’ and thresholds of enchantment I glimpse in the everyday. The original scarf is woven with a fine merino but I’m trying to use what I have whenever I can, so I chose some of my handspun yarn and adapted the draft to suit. I used unfulled handspun for this so there was plenty of scope for of felting shrinkage.

handspun yarn

The weaving is straightforward, the ‘layers’ alternate, and one layer weaves plain weave while the other floats. It goes relatively fast because of the size of the yarn and all the spacing. Spaced deflected double weave in progress

Off the loom, the weaving is quite fragile and needs careful handling to minimise movement of the yarns. The unfinished width off the loom is 25 – 28cm.

Spaced deflected double weave before finishing

I divided it into 5 pieces to experiment with different ways of finishing it and these were the results. They don’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side but the two sides are different because of the dominant direction of the yarns.

This first exploration was hand washed and I spent some time rolling some of the float areas between my palms to felt the yarns together. Felted and fulled. Finished width 16 – 17cm. The two layers stay separate, and the gaps are bigger so the layers move independently.

The second exploration was put into a washing machine with a normal load of washing and washed at 40 degrees on a quick wash setting. Felted and fulled. Finished width 14 – 15cm. The most densely felted and textural. The two layers stay separate but are closely integrated.

The third experiment was steamed (I have a washing machine with a steam setting – I haven’t tried steaming on the stove). Lightly felted and not fulled. Finished width 15 – 16 cm. The layers and the yarns stay separate. Very soft, squishy, and fluffy, rather than robust.

My fourth exploration was finished by rolling and rubbing using feltmaking equipment, the same way that felt is made from fibre. Felted but not fulled. Finished width 21 – 22cm. I decided not to full it as I like the way the yarn has felted into solid flat strips in place and didn’t want to shrink these further at this stage (maybe later or next time). The layers are largely separate but have felted together in a few places. I could probably avoid that by separating them more assiduously between rolling.

The last experiment is similar to the fourth but with the addition of some sari ribbon and sari yarn between some of the layers and using this nuno felt tumble drier technique, except that I used a warm setting so it would be possible to dry some washing at the same time. Felted but not fulled. Finished width 21 – 22cm. The layers are mostly either joined deliberately by the fabric or felted together by the process. I had less control in this one than in number four, and the yarns have also felted together a bit more and with more energy and crinkliness, all of which I like. And I love the effect of including the fabric.

So, with several interesting transformations, I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of this form of deflected double weave, and there’s still so much more left to explore.

Drawing with fibres

I haven’t worked much with prefelt but I recently got some different kinds to try (from Wingham Wool Work) and these are some exercises I’ve been doing with lines and marks using different prefelts and different fibres.

This is Blue-faced Leicester on black Merino prefelt, before and after felting. Some of the fibres were wetted before laying them down, or laid onto wetted prefelt, and these retain more definition, I think.

preparing handmade felt

handmade felt

Update: I realised when I looked again at the notes I made for this next one that I had mixed up the order of the first two – it’s Shetland on the left and BFL next (now corrected).

This is the same prefelt, but exploring different fibres. Each group of three lines shows: untwisted fibres, dry twisted fibres, wet twisted fibres. From left to right the fibre is: Blue-faced Leicester, Shetland Shetland, Blue-faced Leicester, Merino, Teeswater, Massam. I love using Merino for felting but to be more sustainable I would prefer to find a UK alternative, the more local the better, and only use Merino when nothing else will do. Of these fibres the Shetland BFL has a lovely quality of line and is much less ‘hairy’ than the Teeswater and the Massam, almost as smooth as the Merino. The BFL Shetland is somewhere in between.

handmade felt

This is Merino on white Merino prefelt, I do love these lines.

handmade felt

This is Shetland fibre on Norwegian prefelt. It’s a much coarser prefelt but I like it more than I expected.

handmade felt

Here I made the prefelt first myself from Merino fibres (because I wanted the colours), laying out the fibres in random directions and then using a version of the dry rolling method described by Treetops Colour Harmonies in Australia. I used Merino for the lines too, dampened and twisted by rolling a little between my fingers. It’s just a small experiment in drawing with felt. I really enjoy the way the line crinkles as the felt shrinks.

handmade felt

One of the advantages of Merino, apart from softness and sheen, is the huge range of ready dyed colours. Does anyone have a source for dyed Shetland (and BFL!) tops in more than a few colours? And/or any other breeds to try? Bowmont?  I do have some lovely Shetland cross fleece grown here on Tiree, in a couple of natural colours which I’m going to try dyeing myself as well.

a few felt mats…

I’ve been working on a big project – big  for  me anyway – felt mats to form part of the centrepieces at a wedding reception. The mats are around 41 x 68 cm each and there are 13 of them! The colour scheme is purple and turquoise with gold so I enjoyed working with those.

felt mats

I’ve managed a rate of about two mats every three days over the last few weeks, fitting them in round other things and I couldn’t have done it without the generous instructions for tumble dryer felting provided by Treetops Colour Harmonies on their web site. I added a couple of notes to myself regarding the process. One is to use  the biggest heaviest towels that will fit in your tumble dryer for the fastest felting. Another is that when smoothing out the plastic layers between tumbles, if you use the backs of your hands and not the palms the plastic doesn’t drag. I started off using painter’s dustsheet plastic but found it not very durable and quite difficult to handle. For the size I was working on, cut up kitchen bin liners worked fine and one liner did all the mats and is still going strong. Plastic dustsheets come in huge sizes though so they would be a better option for bigger projects.

felt mats

To keep the size and shape uniform I made samples beforehand and kept notes of the amount of fibre to use for each layer – a good discipline for me. The mats have three plain layers and then the decoration. Each one is decorated slightly differently. I decided early on that it would be good to have something lasting at the end, so the mats are only lightly fulled and still have plenty of shrinkage in them. After the wedding I’ll bring them home and finish fulling them to produce smaller table mats for the bride and groom to keep.

felt mats

I’m committing them to the postal system shortly – wish me luck!

a quick one

I realise how often I don’t post here because I take so long to write a post and get images together; and how counter productive that is.

So just a note about a couple of things I’m doing.

The latest in the withdrawn warp experiments, this is bigger than the previous one, 36cm long, and was woven on the tail end of the first warp on my new Saori loom. The fibre was combed top, with an assortment of frayed fabric strips. I’m beginning to get an idea of how this could develop.

wool. fabric

This is the first length of fabric I wove on the loom using the pre-wound warp that came with it. It’s mostly handspun yarns and the warp is cotton. Apologies that I haven’t yet trimmed the ends on the back.

length of fabricOffset Warehouse, while looking for a heavy organic fairtrade cotton. I sent for their sample set and it arrived yesterday. I love the range… They sell reclaimed fabric as well.

fabric samples