Dying Warp and Weft using Rit Dye Powder

This was an experiment in teal. According to the instructions on the box, one packet of Rit dye powder should be dissolved in three gallons of water (roughly 11 litres) and is sufficient for 3 yards of fabric.

I pushed my luck and dyed 155g of cotton warp, 2 metres of cotton fabric and a bit under 2 metres of undyed calico.

I prepared the fabric by scouring it for about 30 mins in pot of simmering water mixed with soap flakes and washing soda, with the objective of enhancing the fabric’s propensity to take up the dye. It’s what I learned when I did the shibori class.

My stainless steel dye pot has a capacity of maybe 9 litres. I followed the instructions faithfully other than the too small pot. The steps were:

  1. Heat a pot of water to almost boiling
  2. Mix the dye in separately in 2 cups of very hot water
  3. Add the dye mixture to the hot water
  4. Add 1 tbsp washing liquid and 1 cup salt
  5. Wet the fabric and yarn
  6. Stir for 30 mins or until the colour looks ok
  7. Rinse in warm and then gradually cooler water
  8. Wash in warm water with mild detergent and allow to dry
  9. Clean the pot with a solution of bleach

I skipped step 8 and did not wash the warp yarn as I didn’t feel like handwashing it and didn’t dare risking tangles by using the washing machine. As it happens, I got plenty of tangles anyway.

The results were good on the whole and for a first attempt. There  was a very small amount of spotting and streaking on the fabric and the uptake of colour on the warp was not as even as it could have been but it’s all usable.  I turned some ugly fabric into usable weft fabric. The photo, sadly, isn’t quite true.

I won’t be able to reliably measure the shrinkage on the 8/4 cotton warp but would guessimate it at less than 10%. Good thing I allowed for a bit extra.

What would I do differently next time?
I wound my warp into two skeins and bound each skein with several loose figure eight knots but the dye did not penetrate well to the threads that had been enclosed by the knots.  Maybe a looser knot would help or a double figure eight configuration.

How do you dye your warps?

A Rag Rug of Firsts

This rag rag was always intended to be a test. It was the first time I used warp from my big cone of 8/4 cotton rug warp, a first time using a temple (stretcher), a first time finishing a rug with a turned edge and a first time weaving with a rose path threading.

Rag rug made with old sheets and shirts for weft

The hemmed ends are a first


 
Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t keep threading after you start feeling tired. You will regret it when you find yourself rethreading the following day.
  2. Measure twice, cut once. I was two warp threads short. The problem was easily solved with a new length of warp and some washers for weights, but I had to think about how to solve it.
  3. Using a temple is well worthwhile. No draw in visible this time.
  4. It’s worth the time sewing strips together for the weft but this only worked well for me with the main pattern 1 1/2 inch strips.  The sewn joins on the narrower 1cm strips that I used for the hemmed edges pulled apart under tension.
  5. Worn out sheets make excellent warp strips. This rug has a combination of worn fabrics (old sheets and shirts) and new fabrics (a new bed skirt from the op shop.) The worn fabrics packed in better and were less rigid in the finished mat.
  6. Don’t be frightened to make up your own design. Magazines and books are great but so are your pencil, your calculator and your mind. One of the reasons I bought the huge mill end spool of cotton rug warp was so I could experiment freely without worrying about wasting expensive rug warp.

img_0422

The rose path threading yielded sections with patterns that remind me of the beach. It’s a lot less formal a look than I had in mind but I like the unstructured look. Having said that, the rose path border patterns I tried to achieve were a total bust. I don’t know what went wrong and I’m keen to try again.

I plan to have a crack at dying the warp next. I like the yellow, but I also like variety.

Buying Fabric in San Francisco

Front of Frabric Outlet store showing signage

Here’s what it looks like from the outside

I made a visit to Fabric Outlet in the Mission District of San Francisco in order to post a review as a community service to you all.

In truth, I was was pretty keen to to see the place as it had such good reviews on line.

I’d been to the Mission District before, where Fabric Outlet is located, in order to visit Gracias Madre vegan Mexican restaurant, which Tinkerer and I were invited to on a previous holiday after requesting an authentic San Francisco dining experience. I loved Gracias Madre but I think it’s fair to say that Tinkerer regards vegan cheese as a bridge too far.

I remembered the area around the 16th and Mission BART station as grimy and impoverished. This time I visited in the mid-morning and I found the area downright unpleasant.

If you decide to visit, wear closed shoes, or at least your Birkenstocks to get your feet off the ground a bit. I understand that homelessness and poverty are complex problems to solve, but getting a street cleaner out on a regular basis should be manageable by the local authorities. The stench of urine around the BART station was overwhelming. And don’t get me started on the pigeons. If you have a bird phobia at all, stay away.

Interior view of fabric Outlet showing rolls of ribbon

And the inside

It was a short walk to Fabric Outlet and I recommend visiting if you have a need for a specialty fabric or anything unusual such as fake fur, or leather, or sequins. The range is excellent and includes notions, patterns and upholstery fabric. Prices seemed reasonable to my inexperienced eyes and they had a 40% off promotion running on the day I visited. Sadly for me the promotion didn’t include oil cloth, which was the one thing I was looking to buy.

The style of the store was also more human than you might find at a fabric store at a suburban mall, perhaps due to it being located in a basement and having fewer bright lights to dazzle you.

The only fabric I brought home that day was a couple of metres of new quilting type fabric from Thrift Town next door. I’m still not sure if it is 100% cotton or a blend, but as I’m planning to use it for rug weaving I’m happy either way.

 

 

A Warm Welcome at In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA

Quilt samples on display, pineapple quilt and bolts of fabric

Not usually my cup of tea but I even thought these pineapples were cute.

I bought a $4 silicone thimble at In Between Stitches and I received a warm welcome on a 38 C degree day, which I believe is 100 F. Regardless of your measurement system, I think we can agree that’s a hot a hot day. Hot enough for ice cream, but that came later.

If the weather was warm, the welcome at In Between Stitches was equally so. I met one of the owners who took the time to chat with me, told me which is her favourite quilting magazine, wished me a good visit to California and even sent me away with a complimentary copy of Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler Magazine from 2010 in which their store was featured. This is easily the most authentic and friendly response I’ve had when I’ve mentioned this blog to any quilt store proprietor, in any country and I am thankful and appreciative. These people do so much more than parrot ‘Have a nice day’ when you leave.

Cutting area inside the store with work in progress and quilts hanging on the wall behind
They offer classes, have a beautifully designed shop and the samples are to my mind tasteful and inspiring. If you’re in the Livermore area, visit this shop at 2190 First St. You won’t regret it.

Photos were taken with permission.

A Virtual Friend becomes a Real One in Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting one of my virtual friends Michelle, who blogs at Sleepy Cat Hollow. We started following each other’s WordPress blogs some years ago, then exchanged a mail or two and connected on that other social networking site.

This weekend we got to meet Michelle and her lovely husband. They were kind enough to introduce us to geocaching and to the historic silver mining town of Virginia City in Nevada. It was delightful to have the opportunity to turn a virtual friend into a real one and to meet some people with a knowledge of the area that goes back to their childhood years. 

Thank you Michelle and Lee.

A Visit to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies

img_0363In the interest of research I made a trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies at Pacific Commons in Fremont, California. The location is quite beautiful, as you can see from this car park photo. It feels like those hills follow you wherever you go in these parts, and they are spectacular to look at, particularly when the setting sun exaggerates the contours of the land by casting deep shadows. I got to Pacific Commons by bus, itself an adventure in this state where the car, SUV and truck reign supreme.

Shelving units at Jo-Ann's

It’s a spacious store

Generally I’m finding bus travel to be convenient and easy, though sometimes you can be faced with some serious walks just to get from one place to another once you reach your destination, particularly when you are going to a new shopping centre in a suburban location. It appears the planners assumed you would be driving, rather than walking, from one shop to the next.

I had read about Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores  as a place where many sewers get their fabric. The range was large and the whole shop was huge.  Many blog posts mentioned  making purchases only with a coupon and I could see why, as prices seemed to be on the high side. Financially, you’d definitely better off buying fabric in Bangkok though no shop I have seen in Bangkok could match Jo-Ann’s for range. And then there’s the cost of the air ticket…

Bolts of unpatterned fabrics on display shelvesThe selection of upholstery fabric was really impressive and it was good to see both upholstery fabric, fashion fabric and quilting fabric all in the same shop. That doesn’t tend to happen in Australia or New Zealand.

I bought a couple of dress patterns and some crochet cotton to continue my band weaving using a finer weight yarn, in the hope it will give me a better finish.

The checkout operator generously let me use my 40% off coupon even though it hadn’t downloaded correctly to my phone. Full marks for customer service on that one.

 

Nomadic Weaving Sami Style

I’m away from my big looms right now. My temporary status as a nomadic person gives me the opportunity to try my hand at Sami style band or tape weaving. The Sami are the nomadic peoples of northern Scandinavia but the tape weaving tradition is well established  in Sweden also.

If you’re interested in getting up and running with this technique yourself, this Band Weaving site, written in Swedish, has photos that illustrate the components clearly enough that you could get by without reading the words.
Here’s my kit.

Wooden band weaving supplies, backstrap and heddle

Portable. Perfect!

Here’s my warping board. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to make a cross and I paid the price with tangles later, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

And here’s the work in progress.

Tape weaving showing heddle harness and  shuttle

Not bad for my first project

I plan to apply steam to finish the tape to try and get it smoother but first there is a lot more weaving to do. Next I will experiment with different fibres and colours. The fine holes on the Stoorstålka heddle are a bit limiting on using heavier yarn for the pattern threads it seems to me. I wonder how others have dealt with that. I can’t be the first.