The awful truth

Well, drat.

I even sampled this time – I am often too lazy. I sampled this sett (number of warp ends per inch) with some of my churro blanket yarn, and it worked beautifully. But churro is notoriously uneven, and I made the mistake of not sampling all the colors at this sett. Either the difference is the extra tension on the Mirrix loom (much higher than I get on my little sampling set-up) or the unevenness of the different colors of churro (all the same weight, most from the same vendor). Either way, about half my colors of churro won’t weave as tapestry on this loom with this warp at this sett. They leave bits of warp showing. I had chosen the highest sett at which I thought I’d get tapestry reliably, because that would allow for a bit more detail, but I should have sett this at 10, not 12.

Life often presents unpleasant choices, doesn’t it? But some work out fine in the end.

The choices are: rewarp the loom (NO!!!!) or switch weft. I am switching weft. Instead of churro wool, I’ll swap to using leftovers of cotton, and maybe also bamboo and tencel. This could be fun . It will give a chance to play with texture and shine as well as shape and color. The downside: this will be finer weaving, and the daily section will take longer if I still plan to cover the whole warp.

Oh, well. Maybe next year for churro. And today I will remove yesterday. If only one could undo all mistakes so easily, and with so little lasting harm.

Softer Butterflies

More butterfliesDSC02050 today, this time leftover alpaca naturals. I bought these natural, undyed alpaca yarns a long while ago, and I think they came from Red Rosa Farm. Choosing to use this yarn in the tapestry diary means I have made another choice, that the tapestry will never see heavy use (as in a rug, for example). The alpaca is not nearly as strong as the churro yarn, and it won’t stand up to that kind of use. The loft and bloom of it, though, will allow for some interesting textural changes in the piece. Alpaca yarn bounces like Tigger.

I want to spend more time playing with it, but the work holidays are coming to an end, and lots of niggling deadlines and things of pretended importance are tapping their impatient feet. Tomorrow everything becomes harder again, and I will need some soft alpaca butterflies to cushion my fall.


DSC02049Now, since I set using yarn from my stash as one of the rules, I had better make a little confession. Like most textile addicts, I have gathered in a bountiful stash, and it is possible the yarn is breeding when I turn away for a moment. There are bits from Española Valley Fiber Arts Center and pieces from Weaving Southwest. And somehow over the past three years whenever I’ve found myself at the Farmers Market with a spare $20 or so, I have wound up at the Tierra Wools stall and a skein of hand-dyed blanket-weight churro yarn has jumped into my basket. So I have a few colors. Well, who could resist? The hand-dyed yarns are amazing. They are just what the Industrial Revolution taught us to despise – they are Uneven. They are Imperfect. They have… Variations…. They are IDEAL. They give tapestry work a depth and shading and richness like nothing else. I love them. I love opening the skeins and seeing the subtle shifts in color. As I twist the butterflies, the yarn turns in the light and wonderful unexpected shades and highlights jump out. It’s rich as sinking your hands into a chest of pirate treasure. And they have names, these colors: Guadalupe, anochecer, lamb’s nose, afternoon storm.

Today was about beginning to wind butterflies, and here is a small stash of them. I use butterflies to control my tapestry weft. Some people use bobbins instead. I have a beautiful set of wood bobbins from years back, and I want to love them, but butterflies suit me better. If I ever weave tapestry with very fine yarns, with silks and fine cottons and such, I might try the bobbins again. For now, though, butterflies for me.

Winding the butterflies, making figures of eight (or little infinities) between fingers, across my hand, is meditative, peaceful, delightful. I hope that sinks into the yarn, and carries through to the weaving, all in Beauty.

Butterflies need to be kept somewhere, or they will fly all over the house (usually in the arms of a feline). I brought down my favorite duck basket from the high kitchen shelf and gave it a good cleaning. Where does it come from? I don’t know; it is older than I, so it has simply always been there.