I’m Margaret Cherre, the artist behind Second Wind Weaving. I do all of the designing and weave every piece by myself, working in my home in upstate New York. Handweaving is my passion. I love working with a wide range of fabrics, experimenting with colors and textures, widths and lengths, weaving patterns and methods.
In my last post I showed you a pile of unfinished polka dot towels. It took me a while to get them hemmed and pressed, but finally, there they are in all their glory.
Again, many thanks to Susan Pogue for her draft. Everyone who’s seen these towels, either in person or in photos, has really liked them, so I am positive I’ll be be weaving more polka dotted towels in the not-too-distant future. If you look closely, you can see that I did the alternate/new treadling on one towel as shown in the Handwoven magazine. It didn’t send me in real life like it did in the Handwoven photo, so only used it for one towel.
I’ve started June with 3 silk scarves. First up is a clasped weft. I’ve not done clasped weft in a while, and never with silk, so was eager to try this with a twill threading and treadling.
This is a 20/2 silk warp and weft. However, since clasped weft results in 2 shots of thread in each pic, the weft is much thicker than a typical 20/2 silk scarf, and the result is a bit thicker, with a less graceful hand, than is my personal preference.
For scarf #2 I used a lovely red silk, again in 20/2. A much nicer hand on this one, and a simpler treadling pattern.
After getting input from some of my trusted friends and relations, I decided to put some beads on the fringe of this scarf. One little seed bead in each bundle of fringe, placed randomly.
I wove scarf #3 with a tan weft, and returned to the original treadling, producing sort of arrowhead shapes. This weft is 60/2 weight – very fine. I used 3 strands of it together for weft, figuring that would approximate a 20/2. Interestingly, this scarf is much lighter, much softer than the red scarf. Surprised me.
I rather enjoyed the red seed beads on the last scarf, so used the same method and put seed beads in this fringe, too. I chose a pearlized neutral color, so the beads are much more subtle than in the red. In the photo you have to look for the bumps to see them, I think.
I have the last of my handpainted warps on the loom now. We’ll see what I end up with.
It’s May 7th and I have 6 scarves woven, wet finished, and complete! First up, I started with some hand painted 20/2 silk. I dyed this yarn in late April, using a photo I found online from Blue Brick Dyeworks, as inspiration. They called it Prairie Storm, which works for me.
Here’s the yarn I ended up with from that inspiration image.
I chose a weave structure I’ve used many times and really like, and wove the first scarf with a 20/2 gold weft. Looks like that storm at dawn.
Then I used 2 strands of a textured green & white silk singles I’ve had for a long time. I also changed the treadling, turning the pattern into leaves. So different! The colors are more spring-like, and the texture adds a strong element.
Here’s a close up so you can see both weave structure and texture.
For the last scarf I wanted a strong color, so used 2 strands of 60/2 chocolate silk. Now that prairie storm is really threatening.
I went back to the treadling of the gold scarf, which you can’t really see there, but you can in this close up.
Then, sticking with my must-use-stash mantra, I pulled out a rayon seed yarn, something I’ve never used before. Sett at only 15 ends per inch, I had to remove my go-to 12-dent reed and go up to the attic to get my 6-dent to accommodate this ‘lumpy’ yarn. I wasn’t at all sure how I’d like it. Turns out I love it! I used a different supplemental weft for each of the 3 scarves.
First is a wide ribbon with a gold metallic center. This one, like the other 2, has a regular old 8/2 rayon weft.
You can’t really appreciate that ribbon or the texture at that distance, so here’s a close up.
That wide ribbon didn’t look at all good on the loom, and I wasn’t at all sure how the whole thing would wet finish, so I cut it off and wet finished scarf number 1 before proceeding. Decided I didn’t want to use such a wide supplement, so re-threaded the reed for the next 2 scarves.
This one is uses a soy silk flat ribbon-like yarn in purples and pinks.
And the last one has a hand painted rayon yarn in greens and blues.
The only downside to these scarves is that there was no way I could twist that fringe, nor did I think they would make a nice hem. So I tried a few different simple knotting techniques, but neither is as neat a look as I prefer.
Today I got the next scarf warp on the loom. This one is dominated by this interested rayon boucle yarn that has metallic interest. Looking forward to seeing this one weave.
I got 3 more pieces finished in March, bringing my completed total to 15 – YAY!!! That dropped my weaving deficit by 8 or 9. I’m sure I can make up a few more in May, so I’m feeling much more comfortable.
These 3 pieces have a rather lengthy story, so I made it a point to combine several photos into a collage, and I’ll do my best to moderate my verbiage as well.
After my last two disappointments with my silk dyeing, with so much color rinsing out, I spoke to my dye teacher. She suggested perhaps I hadn’t scoured sufficiently, so I committed to more scouring. And it’s a darned good thing I did, too. I did these 4 scour baths on one day, each with the hottest tap water possible, a combination of soda ash and blue Dawn, and a soak of at least 1/2 hour per bath.
You can see the water getting progressively cleaner with each scour. After these four I dried the skeins, as I wasn’t quite ready to dye them. On dye day, I did one more scour bath, and the water was pretty clear.
I dyed the skeins with light and dark blue, and a medium green. Here you see them going from dripping wet to almost dry, then dry and wound into balls, and finally the warp chains.
Pretty amazing how much the color lightened from wet to dry, isn’t it? These are 30/2 silk skeins, so it’s very lightweight and fine – more than 7,400 yards per pound. I had 720 ends to make a warp that was about 24″ wide in the reed. Because the warp was variegated and I thought it would be busy, I decided to keep the weave structure simple, and used and all-over huck lace.
For the first piece I used a sort of unusual yarn that’s been in my cupboard for a while, a 20/2 rayon in a beautiful red-violet. This has even more yards/pound than the 30/2 silk. In this photo look at how much light passes through the shawl and you get an idea of just how airy it is. A featherweight for sure.
I wove the second piece with 20/2 twilight silk, so it’s a bit heavier than the purple shawl. Still light and lovely.
I took a closeup of this one so you can see the structure better, and see how different the two sides look.
I chose the green 30/2 silk I’d dyed earlier this month for the weft for the last piece. Again it’s a very lightweight piece, woven and sewn into an airy cowl. Here it is long.
Although it is both wide and long, it’s so light that it’s easy to wrap it twice for a different look.
I’ve already got 2-1/2 more scarves woven to start May out right. It’s another hand painted silk warp that I’m happy with.
This one is about dyeing goofs, repeats, and surprises.
My brain starts thinking about and planning the next warp while I’m working on the one currently on the loom. I knew I needed to weave with silk, and I needed scarves, so I figured I’d do some silk dyeing. I wanted to use my shower curtains as my inspiration – they are dark to light teal.
So I measured out some 30/2 silk the warp for 3 fringed scarves, and also decided to dye a skein in a darker shade for weft. Then down to the basement with my notes from earlier dyeing.
I hand painted the warp. It was clear that the blue-ness was virtually all gone, even while I was painting. This natural silk had quite a yellow cast, so it reacted with the dye and everything was shades of green. Ok, I can live with that.
I decided that instead of immersion dyeing the skein, I’d paint it, all the same color. Much quicker.
I wrapped them up and brought them upstairs to batch overnight. The next morning it was back down to the basement for rinsing and soaking.
Wait – what?! I unwrapped the skein first, and the color was POURING off it. Why?? Oh crap! I hadn’t dyed silk in quite a while, and forgot that silk MUST be steamed. So. What to do now? How to resolve this?
I set the skein in a soda ash presoak (which I later had to dump as so much dye came off the skein), mixed up more dye, re-painted and re-wrapped it. Then I took the skein and the warp upstairs and steamed them both. Now for another day and night of batching.
The following morning it was back down to the basement to unwrap and soak. After soaking for several hours and more rinsing, I was surprised at how much dye STILL left both the warp and weft yarns. Here they are hung in the basement, dripping wet.
Once they’d stopped dripping, I brought them upstairs to finish drying, as it takes too long in my unheated basement. Although much paler than anticipated, I liked the fresh, spring green.
Once both warp and weft were dry, however, they were both MUCH lighter still. Oh well, I wasn’t going to dye them both again. So I warped the loom and started weaving.
The weft color was so similar to the warp colors that the weave pattern was almost indistinguishable. I went with an easier treadling for most of the scarf, with just the complex pattern near the ends of the scarf.
I sure didn’t want to use that weft for another scarf and don’t have more 30/2 silk, so I switched to 20/2 blue silk for the second scarf.
For the last scarf I used some green cashmere-silk I’ve had for quite a while. It’s so fine I used it doubled.
Unrelated…I also wove 8 towels this month. Sticking with my ‘must use stash’ mantra, I warped the loom with lots of mini-cones of vintage cotton rick rack yarn for bumberet. This yarn was roughly the size of 3/2 cotton. Because I didn’t want a warp-faced fabric, I gave some thought to what my choices were for weft. For the first 2 towels I used aquamarine 8/2 cotton, doubled.
I wove the next 2 with peacock cotton, again 8/2 doubled.
I looked around at my bins. What else did I have hanging around that might work? I picked some Sugar & Cream yarn, first in a dark-ish blue, then in a light aqua. These towels are definitely thick, but I believe they’ll be nice and thirsty.
Then I picked an odd green 8/2 cotton, again doubled. It’s not my favorite combo, but it’s okay. Finally I used a pale blue, going with plain weave for this last towel.
I have another handpainted silk warp on the loom now, but that’s another story for next time.
I got 2 more scarves woven and finished in March. The warp and weft are both 8/2 tencel with a rather wild supplemental warp. The supplemental warp (or is it more correctly supplementary?) is sort of like tinsel, with lots of 3-dimensionality. You can get some idea how it looks at a distance…
…and get a better idea with a closeup.
I usually warp for 3 scarves, but this time I just did 2…I had no idea how this novelty yarn would work. Would its metallic ‘hairs’ be completely caught in the warp and weft and not show? Would they stick out too much? Would it shrink at a rate much different from the rayon and pull it out of shape?
As it turned out, it worked rather well. I have 2 balls of the novelty yarn and will use it again in the future.
After I got these scarves done and recorded in my spreadsheet, I gathered my courage and looked at the number of pieces I’ve finished since July. I’ve spent a bunch of time not weaving due to other commitments, injuries, and a choice to make some time-consuming garments, so was afraid what these numbers would look like. As a reminder, my estimates are that I have to complete 6-7 quality pieces each month. So for July through March I should have finished 54-63 pieces.
I was pleased with my total of 46. Although that’s between 8 and 17 pieces short, I thought it would be worse than that. Do I think I can make up 17? Probably not. But I think I can make up 8 in the next 3 months. Especially since I’ve woven very few scarves so need more, and they take LOTS less time than bigger pieces.
I’ll be putting a warp on for 3 silk scarves tomorrow for a strong start to April.
I’m going to start this post without a story, just showing you a few pieces I forgot to post when I finished them in February. This is a mixed warp – cotton, bamboo, and rayon chenille. The weft is all rayon chenille. I particularly like this first piece, a long open vest with side slits, although it’s a tad small for me.
I intended this second piece to be a regular shawl with fringe. I twisted the fringe, and the combination of fibers turned into a real mess during wet finishing. I untwisted and untied it all, and the piece sat there for a while waiting for me to decide if I would twist again, hem, or turn it into a mobi. Finally I decided to just hem it as is.
Okay, that turned into a story, but just a tiny one. Here’s a long one.
I wanted to do some dyeing, so went to my Pinterest page and looked at my Dyeing Inspiration board. Design Seeds is a marvelous place for color, and I was moved by their Color Spice combo.
I measured out 3 wide and 2 narrow bouts of 8/2 mercerized cotton and went down to the basement. The wide bouts were going to be the spicy colors, and the narrow a bit of turquoise to complement. I dyed the first wide bout, using a few new dyes I’d purchased, actual ‘professionally created’ colors instead of my own blended creations: golden oak, chocolate brown, and my own terracotta blend.
I decided I needed more red in the mix, so added ‘some’ (not measured) red to my terracotta for the other 2 bouts. Then I dyed the skinny turquoise bouts. After batching and drying, it was clear that I’d been too stingy with the dyes – I had some undyed spots on my yarns. Nothing I can do about it now. So I beamed the lot.
As I was beaming I decided I wanted to use chocolate for weft for the first piece. Of course I didn’t have any yarn in anything faintly resembling that color, so I had to dye it. No sweat.
Except that in my ‘must use stash’ head I wanted to use some 8/3 mercerized cotton I’d picked up in a weaver’s sale. An odd size to be sure, but it looked nice and would work for weft. In winding it from cones to skeins for dyeing, problems arise. One of the cones looks okay, but is actually lots of shortish pieces. If I’d been planning to use it as warp I’d have thrown it away. However as weft, each of those short pieces was roughly the amount that would fit on a bobbin, so it made sense (at the time) to use it. I ended up with something like 25 mini skeins and 3 normal sized ones.
Mix up the dye bath, do the dyeing, and batching, get them out to dry. Uh oh. All those skeins ended up in a real mess! Granted, I don’t dye in skeins much and so probably didn’t tie them correctly, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t have white/undyed spots on this dark weft. It took me LOTS of time to untangle them and wind them into balls after everything was dry. But the color was just what I wanted.
Now to weave. Then machine sew. Then hand stitch. Here’s what I ended up with. I’m quite happy with all 3 pieces, and very pleased that I actually succeeded in creating pieces in the colors originally planned.
First up is an open front cardigan, using that chocolate weft 8/3 cotton weft. I didn’t make it as wide as my first two, and like the way this one hangs better on the body. (Neither Lady Jane nor the mannequin showed it as well as a real human does.) No need to round the corners.
Next I used an 8/2 tencel in cayenne to weave a simple jacket. Really brightened up the look.
I finished off the warp with a sienna 8/2 tencel for a wide cowl.
Is it just me, or does everyone (or at least every weaver) have a story behind everything?
For today, let’s just go with one. The story of this skirt.
Although I have woven a grand total of 4 tapestries, completing half of them, I faithfully read Sarah Swett’s blog. She fills it with her photos, drawings, paintings, and stories, as well as her beautiful tapestries. Well over a year ago she posted a skirt she made using a combination of weaving and knitting. I LOVED it! I wanted to do it. But I was busy and the idea just sat at the back of my mind.
Then in January of this year Sarah produced directions for how to make such a skirt – yay! I immediately bought her PDF and started planning. By the end of the month I was working on the woven parts, using clasped weft. (Note: the colors in this photo are the most true.)
That was the easiest part for me. After the weaving was done I dutifully followed Sarah’s directions for calculating the knitted sections. I started by knitting up a swatch. You know I hate to sample, but I had to get a gauge for the yarn and pattern I wanted to use. I chuckled when her directions said to knit a swatch, or knit five. Five samples! She must be joking! Well, I ended up knitting five swatches.
None of the colors I had were really what I wanted. I went to Joann Fabrics and bought a yarn that I thought would be perfect, but the variegation didn’t work the way I wanted at all (center swatch). I then went to the lovely fancy yarn store and bought a skein of stunningly soft and beautiful expensive yarn.
At least all the samples I had knit were the same weight yarn, and were all the same size, so I didn’t feel a need to knit one more with the new yarn. I just started knitting those panels. Then I cut my handwoven fabric into panels and started putting the skirt together as planned.
But wait! What’s wrong? Hmmmmm… You know how your teachers always told you to read all the directions before you started the test? Well this was sort of like that. First I realized that I planned the weaving wrong, with my selvedges at the waist and hem of the skirt, not the sides of the panels as Sarah had. That’s okay, it’ll work out the same.
Then I somehow couldn’t wrap my mind around how many knit panels I needed. 3 or 4? Why couldn’t my brain understand? Then after I stitched the first 3 knit and woven panels together it was clear to me that the skirt wouldn’t fit, it would be too small for me despite my careful measurements. Luckily I enough extra fabric for one wider panel. Okay, take a breath and let’s proceed.
I put everything together and tried the skirt on. Well poop! Despite my best efforts, there was puckering at every seam of knit and woven fabric. Fortunately I’d hand sewn it all, so it could be taken out without any damage to either side, just a lot of sighing. Then I laid it flat on a table and actually basted the pieces together. (Previously I’d sewn as I went, sitting on a chair, with fabric over my lap – not flat, not basted. Wrong, wrong, wrong.) I hand stitched it all together again.
Now I was thinking about the button closures. My knit panels were made from a lusciously soft, single ply sock weight yarn. I didn’t think this was a good fit with buttonholes – the yarn would stretch out of shape too easily. Nor did I think it was good to hold the buttons. Similarly my woven fabric was too thin and soft. So I had to reconfigure the plan and make a narrow strip of doubled woven fabric for the buttonholes, double the fabric on the other side for the buttons.
I made another trip to Joann’s for buttons, as nothing I had at home was right. Found some I really liked, so now I could make the buttonholes.
Putting everything together, it was clear that the skirt was still not going to fit right. How could this be, after all I’d done?! Answer, unlike Sarah, my body has plenty of lumps. My belly is bigger than my waist, so a straight line from the waist down would be too small for my belly, while something that fit the belly properly would fall off the waist. How to fix, how to fix? The answer was obviously darts. How big? How many? Where?
I finally decided to just make a dart in the center of each woven panel. The calculations weren’t hard. Again I hand sewed, just in case.
But now I had to finish the inside waist of this skirt. Wide twill tape was my answer. It’s not beautiful, but at least it’s functional. I finally finished the skirt last night – almost 3 months from when I began. So ignore the fact that the top edges, as shown in that first photo, aren’t perfectly aligned. At this point, it is what it is, and since I almost always wear a top on the outside, to help hide the big belly, no one will see it.
I’m happy with the results, if not with my bulging belly. Will I do this again? Yes. I’ve learned a lot and won’t make the same mistakes the next time. And I just love the concept. Will I do it right away? No. I have to produce things to sell.