Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Agriculture Report

The temperature has cooled down a little in the last fortnight, although it's bound to go back up again as we only entered autumn six days ago. Our last 20% of Roma tomatoes have not grown in size, nor turned red, nor even orange, and many seem to be just hanging in there for that last blast of heat. The minis did worse - they started falling off in their respective stages of growth, so we picked everything and pulled out the plants. I hope to put in some broad beans after cleaning up and feeding the soil.
It's only a momentary reprieve after the harried summer of veg, as there is so much, (more than I can ever hope,) to do in the coming wet season. I was feeling angry at being deprived of my best weaving season, (I weave more in the summer,) so I'm trying to make the most of now.
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I wove a second, smaller sample with wefts I have enough of to weave proper pieces. My beat is better, although the fell must come a little further forward for best results, and the warp needs advancing more frequently. I have managed to come up with a more readable way to print the treadling, and marked some of the picks, so it should be easier but I still get confused. The treadling isn't all that complicated, so I persists, but this cognitive decline annoys the heck out of me.

Anyhoo, my thoughts about weft candidates: I'm going to compare colors which are near each other in the sample, bypassing a green in one pic with a yellow in another behaving similarly against the warp. I might sound as if I'm contradicting myself in that respect, but I'm good; I only wanted three or four good options.  
I still like the lighter colors that don't overwhelm the delicate variation in the warp, while Ben still prefers darker values. Above, I find the top pale blue somewhat overwhelming; the middle yellow green friendlier; and the bottom "lime sorbet" slightly subdued.
Here, the top yellow is slightly brash; the middle dirty yellow too dominant; while the bottom dirty yellow lovely. The interesting thing is, the two bottom dirty yellows are in fact very similar colors, so much so when they were in the same bag, I wasn't sure if I had two colors or just one.

This warp highlights very slight differences of hues and values of the wefts. Looking at the second sample made me return to the monochromatic part of my first. When I wove it, I liked the palest gray best, even though it muddled the hues of the warp, making it look dull. Today, I prefer the medium-light gray, (the bit sandwiched between pale gray stripes,) as it shows off the different hues better. 

I'm not sure which one I'll start with, but I have enough good options now. I also made a couple of new drafts with shorter treadling repeats; they look like simpler versions of the first draft. I am thinking of weaving three pieces with different treadling, or not; if I get used to the longest original treadling, I might stick with it.
Thinking further about solid colors which can show off these drafts, I came across some "natural" colors/browns in the bottom of one box. The two on the left are yak yarns from our usual cashmere source. I knew she had them, but I stick with what I know, whereas my mom bought anything. I don't think she's ever woven or knitted with yak, but I'm reading about them now and I might use them in combination with cashmere. Apparently yak yarns don't full at all, so I'm not thinking of using one in the warp and the other in the weft, but some testing will be forthcoming.
EDIT: I take back some of the vehemence I feel about the fragmented/eclectic nature of Mom's yarn stash. If she hadn't ventured into cashmeres, I never would have on my own, and I am glad she did. Still, it's a heck of a messy lot. :-D

Friday, March 1, 2024

So, That Took a While... Or, Yet Another Glutton for Punishment Project?

Goodness, this recent lack-of-idea phase was long and thorough. I wrote paragraphs after paragraphs, but they looked all the same: "Joy, blah, blah... Interesting, blah, blah... I don't want to... " Even I tired of hearing/reading me. 
I think one reason was I wanted more complexity than what I am used to weaving on four shafts, but also the speed and physicality of a foot loom. For whatever reason, I revisited old draft files, and found an "options" file. I make these when I'm brain-storming with myself, after setting the parameters like purpose, fiber, color, size, loom, "the look", etc.
This file is so big I can only show you a portion but you get the gist. This is also a very fun phase of any project. The original project was a commission for a solid red piece using 100% cashmere one way and 70% cashmere/30% silk the other. You know pattern was paramount. 
I manipulated a section, trying to create movement, and came up with this. Not bad. Except it's not the best answer for the current project, because I decided:
1) I would use one of the pre-made multi-colored warps, which will not show the pattern effectively. In fact, neither warp was wide enough for a threading repeat, so I used them both. The value variance in the right warps makes showing off the pattern even harder. 

2) I wanted to sley this at 16EPI rather than my recent standard 18, because it's cashmere, and 16, (or even 15) makes the feather-weight fabric I can't from any other fiber. The ultra-heavy underslung beater makes controlling the beat difficult, so the diamonds are bound to be flattened, but this is something, with practice and vigilance, I should be able to manage.

3) Though woven on four treadles, each treadling repeat is long with a succession of similar-but-not-same sequences.
(Not sure why this pic looks so blurry but trust me on this.) With my non-existent short-term memory, I tried two ways of printing out the treadling, but I still lost my place constantly. I can print it out with even fewer rows/columns on each sheet but having pages and pages on my flimsy music stand feels awkward. I also wonder if I can find a small magnetic board to go on the stand so I can use magnets to help: I had a desk-top version when I was a secretary.  
Alternatively I could simplify the treadling, which sounds saner, but I haven't given up just yet. 
4) After sampling, I didn't like the bitsy stripes made with dark purples on the right, so I moved one and removed nine. It looks tidier.  
Moving on to the first sample. It's a big one because I needed to practice gentle beating and gnarly treadling. All the wefts were cone-end bits or thrums so it looks bumpy, and I don't necessarily have all these colors for a proper piece. Never mind, this is only preliminary.  I sampled 100% 26/2, 100% 20/2 and cashmere/silk 18/2.  
Cashmere doesn't full much, but the cashmere/silk (in pale pink) doesn't full at all. On the other hand, you can see how the lustre shows off the pattern even against warp ends with similar values.
Because I had a lot of achromatics, I tried different values, and I liked the palest gray best, although it does wash out the hues in the warp. White or black work, but I'm not a fan of either as a solution to dealing with "difficult" color combinations, so if I'm going in that direction, I'll look for the palest of yellow or green, or dark blues and purples.  
Of the colors sampled, I liked the very- to medium-pale yellows and oranges the best, but Ben said, "Today, I like the dark ones because I can see the pattern." He's not wrong there.

Coming up next: practicing the beat and treadling, (not giving up yet,) while auditioning weft colors I have enough of to weave a piece. This is a 10m warp, so I hope to get two long pieces or three short.

Also, consider solid, or "very close" color warps for this or similar drafts to really show off the pattern. That is so my thing.