Monday, 16 October 2017

Sophie's Tapestry Weaving Experience

I am new to tapestry weaving and this is my first attempt at using a loom. To try weaving I used the Schacht Lilli loom. This is a simple design so it was easier for me to understand how the loom works.
The first thing I did was print off a set of instructions on how to warp the tapestry loom and a simple guide on how to weave. This included diagrams for me to follow. To be able to start weaving I needed a basic understanding of what the different terms meant when weaving, thankfully definitions of these terms were included in the instructions (see excerpt below).

You can also take a look at our blog post Getting Started with Tapestry Weaving which explains the technique using a simple tapestry frame and bobbins.

Setting up the Loom

I used different colours of rug yarn for my tapestry weaving. I took a black yarn and tied a simple knot round one of the beam teeth on the loom. To warp up the loom I took the yarn backwards and forwards between the top and bottom beam with the yarn linking it to the beam teeth. Ensuring that it was tied off securely.

Setting up the Stick Shuttle

I needed to wind the shuttle with the yarn for the weft. There are different ways a stick shuttle can be loaded but I used a simple method. Threading the yarn from the top to the bottom of the stick shuttle to create a bulk of weft. It is important to make sure that there is not too much yarn on the stick shuttle as you will struggle to thread the shuttle through the shed.

Time to begin weaving!

Now I could begin my tapestry weaving. By following the instructions I had an understanding that I needed to use the shed stick to weave in and out of every other warp thread across the warp. For this loom the shed stick stays in place for the entire weaving.
The pick-up stick is placed in the opposite row to the shed stick it can then be turned onto its side to make more space (shed) for the stick shuttle to go through the warp.
To start the tapestry weaving you need to thread the shuttle through the warp (under and over every other thread). This creates the first weave. Now the tapestry beater is needed to press the weft into place, this means that it should be pushed down into a straight line and to be in line with the beam.

The next stage of the tapestry weaving

Removing the pick-up stick from the loom is the next step to be able to weave the opposite shed. It has to be used to weave under and over the opposite threads which are on the shed stick. The shuttle is then threaded through the warp again to create a second weave. The beater is used again to push down the weft and create a tight weave. I found that it is essential that the weft is not threaded through the warp too tight. Otherwise it will cause the warp threads on either end to be too tight. This then causes an inwards dent throughout your weaving. The steps are then repeated to create a simple tapestry weave.
This is where it became clear to me why the shed stick stays in place. The reason being when the pick-up stick is removed to create the next weave it can be placed through the same warp threads as the shed stick. Personally I found this easier as I then only had to thread every other weave and it saved time throughout my weaving.

Trying a different technique

As this was my first time doing tapestry weaving I was inspired to try different designs! I tried using a different colour and only wove half of the warp, reducing the weave by one warp thread on every 4 weaves. I did this by using exactly the same technique as the previous weaving. By keeping the shed stick in place and using the pick-up stick to create the new weave to be able to thread the stick shuttle through.

After completing a few lines of this design I decided to use another colour on the opposite side. Hoping that I would be able to link the two colours together to create a block similar to the previous design I had created on the loom.

When the weave was complete I noticed that the colours did not link in the way I wanted them to. There were wholes within the weaving which meant that it wasn't completed correctly. To overcome this problem I decided to try and create tassels to link the two colours together!

Creating the tassel!

To create the tassel I used a different coloured thread on a tapestry needle. I used the needle to thread the yarn through the two warp threads that had the different colours connect to them. I then tied the yarn at the back of the loom. After this I created a loop of yarn which I repeated four times and then secured it by looping the yarn at the back again and tying a firm knot. I was then able to cut the loop in half to create a tassel; this is how I overcame my problem of the yarns not connecting.

If you would like to have a go at tapestry weaving, George Weil stock a large choice of tapestry frames and looms.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Tie-dye Pillowcases with Children

You may have seen our post Tie-dyed Onesies using Jacquard Procion MX dyes in which professional nannies Cara and Kim did some fun tie-dyeing with the children they look after.

This post shows what the children made with the left over dyes!

Tie-dyed Pillowcases

The white pillowcase were first prepared for dyeing and then soaked in a solution of 20g soda ash per litre of water (allowing approximately 2 litres of water for every 100g of dry fabric). The soda ash solution is what helps to bond the dye to the fabric making the colours permanent and wash fast.

The bottles were filled with 150ml of hot tap water and 2-4 teaspoons of Jacquard Procion MX dye powder were added before shaking the solution to disperse the dye. This type of dye is for use on cellulose fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon.

Tying the Fabric

The tied off areas of the fabric will absorb little or no dye and this will create the patterning on the fabric. You can use string by wrapping it tightly around the fabric before knotting it, or elastic bands pulled as tightly as they will stretch without breaking.

Applying the Dye

It is a good idea to protect all work surfaces and wear disposable gloves when working with the dyes. With help from the adults, the children applied the dye using the squeezy bottles. The children had a lot of lovely colours to choose from, although 2-3 colours can be equally effective.

Here are the tie-dyed pillowcases laid out to dry.

And here are the finished pillowcases!

Tie-dyeing Alternative Technique

Another method of tie-dyeing fabric involves the tied item being fully submerged is a bucket of dye solution. It is then allowed to dry before unwrapping the tied parcel. The fabric is then tied again (but in different places) and submerged in a different dye colour. This process is very effective if you only have two dye colours such as turquoise and yellow. The parts of the fabric that were protected by the ties will remain either turquoise or yellow. The parts of the fabric that were dyed with both colours will be green.