Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Michigan Tartan: New-yarn Sett-samples

Quite a range of quality from one yarn! 8 epi to (almost) 30epi.

The Lake Charlevoix Area Weavers Guild asked me to give a program on Weaving Michigan Tartan. The group project is for each member to use the pattern in a defferent way, with different yarns.

When trying a new yarn for any tartan, I first want to learn what sett range works for the yarn. First I count the wraps for an inch. For plain weave, we usually take half that count. For a sett sample, I want to test an even more open weave - thinking lace.

     With JaggerSpun 8/2 Heather, 20 WPI suggested 10 epi. To push the boundries, I began with 8 epi and wound 136 ends in about 3/4ths of a full Michigan Tartan pattern, making the warp 3 yards long. Then I wove this in 2/2 twill - pushing it even further. The 45 Degree paper guided the gentle placing the wefts - very tricky to keep it open! With one square of the pattern completed and both ends hemstitched, a few picks of PW in smooth yarn made my first sample ready to cut down - leaving the smooth yarn on the loom, in front of the reed.

     Then I re-sleyed to 10 epi and wove another sample. The samples continued. For 12 epi I used my 6-dent reed, for 16 epi, the 8-dent reed, for 18 epi the 9-dent. At this sett, the weaving was becomming much easier. It actually required a bit of a 'press' on the beater. The samples continued with 20 epi in a 10 dent, then 24 epi with a 12. The 24 epi sample was quite dense, but still weavable 'to square' i.e. 24 picks per inch with a double beat.

     Every yarn has an upper limit for how densly it will weave into a balanced cloth. Sometimes, even with a weighted beater and resounding second beat on the next shed, it simply won't pack in 'to square' or to that magical 45 Deg. twill line. The 8/2 Heather met its limit at 30 epi! Though worsted-spun yarn is traditional for tartan kilts and other smooth and durable applications, this short fiber, carded yarn has potential for lofty blankets and throws.

     The J-S Heather, being like a woolen-spun yarn, fulls beautifully. The first test of the samples with 5 minutes gentle agitation and line-drying was so-so. A re-wash with 4 more minutes agitation plus 10 minutes in the dryer produced dramatic results. I went back to the loom and re-sleyed one more time - back to 24 epi to weave off the rest of the warp. I'm thinking coating and upholstery. (Hello, Queen Victoria and Balmoral Castle).

My 5 1/4-inch wide warp-end provided enough to upholster my tea mug. I think I like this yarn!

Treadle with Joy, Kati

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