Well, after some ups and downs, the first blanket is finished! It has been woven, the fringe was twisted, it was washed and then brushed to a beautiful softness.
On the loom
"The irregular and intimate quality of things made entirely by the human hand" -Willa Cather
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.
You can see one of the blankets on the front table, as well as two hanging up on the left hand side
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.
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.
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,
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
On the warping mill!
Tying on to the front beam
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.
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”
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.
The fringe, after washing and brushing
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 (email@example.com) or Pat Zannier who has woven about a million of these blankets (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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!
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.
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.
Colour Lovers (allows user-submitted content, so you can see what other people come up with)
Seamless – for Wallpapers & Backgrounds (a free iphone app made by the Colour Lovers people)
Fond this great Instructable on How to weave on Branches. Can’t wait to try it – the results are beautiful!