Greeting to all my friends from the London District Weavers and Spinners!

Back in January of 2014 LDWS was generously given a large amount of wool and cotton yarn by former-member Donna Fleming.  While a lot of this yarn was put up for purchase by Guild members, much of the wool yarn was kept by me (Ellen Cotter) for a special blanket-weaving project.

I have been approached by numerous Guild members to put together some information on how I wove my three initial blankets.  I am a beginner weaver and this was my first big project on my new 60” Leclerc Colonial loom, so please feel free to ask me any questions, or point out anything you would do differently (or if you notice any mistakes in my math!).  I must especially thank Pat Zannier for all her assistance and guidance (I really could not have done this without her), and also Linda Elkins for her help in ordering all the mohair from Brassard.

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You can see one of the blankets on the front table, as well as two hanging up on the left hand side

THE BLANKETS:

This blanket-weaving project will eventually produce 9 woven blankets in three different colourways (blue, brown/red, and green), made with three separate 11 yard warps.  The first three blankets, woven in shades of blue, were completed in November 2014.

The blankets measure 50” by 70” before washing.

YARNS:

The majority of the warp yarn is a discontinued brand:  “Artisan” by Kamouraska Yarns (100% wool), from Quebec, interspersed with brighter colours from Briggs and Little (also 100% wool).  The weft is Brassard’s brushed Victorian mohair (70% mohair, 24% wool, 6% nylon).  It’s an all Canadian project!

Since the Kamouraska is discontinued, any other worsted-weight yarn could be substituted, including Briggs and Little, which is inexpensive and comes in a variety of beautiful colours.

COLOUR:

For the initial blue colourway, I used six different shades of blue and grey Kamouraska.  Rather than arranging the stripes by colour, I arranged them by brightness: light, medium, and dark.  This gave a smoother and less disjointed look to the stripes.  To cheer it all up, I also included narrower stripes of bright blue, yellow, green, and orange B&L.  The mohair weft was also done in more muted blues, but also included some bright yellows and green.  Without these brighter strands, the blankets would have been muddy and less interesting,

WARPING:

The warp measured 50” wide at 8 ends per inch = 400 ends

I chose to use a floating selvedge on each side, which is included in the 400 ends.

The warp was 11 yards long for 3 blankets measuring 3 yards each.  3 yards x 3 = 9 yards + 2 yards for waste.

400 ends at 11 yards each = 4400 yards

each skein of the Kamouraska measured  approx. 200 yards = 22 skeins of yarn

The pattern warped was a plain twill: 1/2/3/4

blue blanket warp

On the warping mill!


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The back beam

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Tying on to the front beam

WEAVING:

The blanket was woven in plain twill, as warped: 1/2/3/4

The mohair was beaten at approx. 5 ends per inch.

Not beating it too tightly was probably the hardest part of the project!  You want it to be much looser than you might think, so that the blanket drapes well when it is completed.  Beating too tightly will result in a blanket that is stiff and heavy.

Given that the warp is 70” long, and the mohair is 5 epi, means there are 350 total mohair pics.  At 50” wide, each blanket should use approximately 500 yards of mohair.

 IMG_1814Hemstitching and re-starting after a section where I beat the weft too tightly

IMG_1862Weaving!

FINISHING:

After the blankets were removed from the loom, I twisted a 5” fringe on each end using 4 ends per fringe section.

I washed the blankets, one at a time, very carefully in my front-load washing machine.  I would have preferred a top loader as it is gentler.  As it was, I put it in on the ‘soak’ setting on COLD with a small amount of laundry detergent for 25 minutes.  I then switched it to the ‘rinse’ setting on COLD for another 20 minutes.  These were the minimum times I could set on my washer.

When I removed each blanket from the wash, I immediately brushed it while it was still damp.  I used a plastic floor scrubber to brush each side of the blanket in four directions, ending with brushing it lengthwise towards the fringe.  I did the brushing on my ironing board since I could easily adjust the height.

The measurements of the blankets after washing and brushing were approx. 45” by 55”

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On my dining room table, just after being cut from the loom (before the fringe and before washing).  The colours were much brighter before the brushing.

IMG_1818My assistant throughout the process, Aras the Eagle

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The fringe, after washing and brushing

unnamed (3)The finished blanket, washed and brushed

 

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

Gentle on the beating!

If something minor is bothering you with the warp or the weaving, fix it NOW so it doesn’t become a bigger problem later on!

An awkward tie-up takes two minutes to fix, or hours of swearing to leave as is.  It is worth fixing it right away.

Take lots of notes as you go, and take lots of pictures!  If you can’t see it anymore, because it has been wound onto the beam, you will not remember what it looks like.  You might think you will, but you won’t!

 

I hope this guide has been interesting and informative!  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, Ellen Cotter (evcotter@gmail.com) or Pat Zannier who has woven about a million of these blankets (patzannier@rogers.com)

 

The London District Weavers and Spinners’ annual show and sale is coming up, so mark it in your calendars!  The sale was such a success last year, that we’ve decided to extend it to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this year.

Every year I continue to be amazed by the quality and selection of items available for sale (including some of my own).

Handmade gifts are the best gifts, so come check us out!

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And here is the result of much colour planning…

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After one more bout of hemstitching to correct some broken/twisted threads, I have begun to weave in earnest.  Dark blue, aqua, yellow, red and green.  I can’t wait to see each colour as it blends with the warp.  And the mohair is like a beautiful cloud.

 

 

I love colour!  As a fibre artist, how could I not!  And I like to think that I’m good at choosing colours that go well together, though there are some that would disagree.  

There was a project that I wove using shades from 1970s melamine that definitely attracted some odd looks.

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I think it’s fabulous!

 

But if you aren’t trusting your instincts, and maybe just a few too many of your friends are giving you the look, check out some of these awesome online colour resources.  

 

I love to try different things, but if I wove up every colour combination I could think of, it would take a lifetime!  Places like these websites allow me to play around with colour combinations, find my favourites, and weave up the best things I can think of.  Plus, it’s just so much fun!

 

Basically, there are two types of colour resources online, the technical ones, and the artsy ones, but both are useful.  The technical ones tend to have black backgrounds and a bunch of numbers (don’t let that dissuade you!)  The artsy ones always seem to have a picture of a beach somewhere.

 

Technical Colour Resources:

 


 

Artsy Colour Resources:

 


 

And my FAVOURITE!  DeGraeve Color Palette.  This site allows you to upload your own picture, and it will pull from it a colour palette.  So cool!  So useful!  Here’s the picture I chose (below), and here’s the palette.


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Check out these great resources and find your favourite.  I guarantee you’ll think of colour in a whole new way!

 

Fond this great Instructable on How to weave on Branches.  Can’t wait to try it – the results are beautiful!

Well, here we are three weeks later and hardly any progress has been made.  *Sigh*  This is my first major weaving project, and I’ve made a number of errors proportionate to my experience.  Little experience = major errors.

I threaded the pattern wrong the first time, so the spacer needed to be unwoven, the warp re-threaded and tied on again to the front.  Did I mention that we finally got some hot weather and that my studio/laundry room is like a sauna?

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Hemstitching after the new spacer section.

Still, it’s re-threaded etc and looking really good.  I rewove the spacer section and wove about a foot with the mohair, then cut it off as a sample.  It’s extra work, but I wanted to be absolutely sure of the final product.

IMG_1719On the loom with a new section of spacer, then woven with the dark blue mohair.   It’s a plain twill pattern that will leave the blanket nice and fluid.

I washed up the sample with some SOAK and let it dry.

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The moment of panic – have I done it right?  Will it wash well?

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Drying on the front porch.

I am very pleased with the results: drapey, soft, and warm.

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Lovely and soft!

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The kids are back to school this week, so it’s been really hectic, but stay tuned for more weaving updates!
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The warp beamed on to the loom

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The back beam, full of warp yarn!

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Almost ready to tie on to the front beam

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My daughter helping me wind bobbins of mohair for the weft.  

You can see the purple wool fabric woven in to serve as spacing at the start of the warp.

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Time for a new project!  Well, not exactly new since I’ve been planning it all summer, but now it really starts.  Blanket weaving!  The London District Weavers and Spinners Guild, of which I am a member, was given a whole bunch of gorgeous wool yarn.  We sold some of it to the membership, but kept the bulk so that I can weave it all into blankets.  Now, I’m a fairly new weaver, and I’ve never woven anything this big, but of course I jumped in with both feet because I’m just like that.  We’ve got enough yarn to weave approximately 9 blankets done with three warps, which is EPIC!

The wool yarn came in basically three muted heathered colourways: blue multi, green multi, and a red/brown multi, each colourway being made up of about half a dozen different colours.  I’m going to be throwing in some brights to each in small stripes to cheer it all up.  I’ve made the blue warp now and soon it will hopefully be on my loom.  Here’s a pic of part of the warp on the warping mill: 

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The weft will be done in mohair so the blankets will be super super soft (touching the cones is like petting the softest cat).

Speaking of looms and cats, here is a pic of my new 60″ Leclerc Colonial loom, currently set up as a counterweight, and my cat Aras taking a tour.  More pics to follow once I get the behemoth warped with the blanket warp.  I can’t wait!

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And for good measure, here’s a pic of a mother swan and her four signets we saw on our trip to Stratford!  

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Doesn’t seem that long ago, really.  This summer has just flown by.  The weather was terrible, and business slow due to the rain and cold, but my stuff looked really good.  I’m really pleased with the display and I think I would have sold quite a bit if people hadn’t been put off by the weather.

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About Me:

Ellen, a crafty homemaker with two kids and a penchant for correcting other people's grammar.

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