Scarf Ace

I’ve always loved those lightweight gauzy scarves that many department stores carry. They look so elegant and swing softly with the wearer, making  every movement look so graceful.  Very chic.  And they’re almost always imported from another country, sometimes India, sometimes Nepal or Thailand. Being a handweaver of scarves here in the States, I cannot bring myself to purchasing an imported scarf.  So when I was asked to demonstrate weaving on a rigid heddle loom for a community event, I thought it would be a good idea to warp something on the loom that might capture the feeling of one of those flowing and colorful scarves.

For the warp yarns, I decided to use two balls of Berroco’s Zen Colors.  This is a cotton and nylon ribbon generally used by knitters.  One ball was a bright multi colored variegated pattern of lime green, turquoise, orange and red. The other ball had stripes of pink and orange side by side.

Berroco's Zen Colors ribbon yarn

Berroco's Zen Colors ribbon yarn

Also in the warp is a cotton/acrylic nylon yarn in light green spun with a multi-colored ribbon.  This is Katia’s Sonrisa.

Katia Sonrisa cotton yarn

Katia Sonrisa cotton yarn

The warp yarns were purchased online from Webs in Northampton, MA during one of their clearance sales. I threaded the warp yarns on a 24″ wide  Schacht rigid heddle loom and with an 8 dent heddle. I have several of these looms that I use in my weaving classes.  They are true workhorses. – built sturdily with indestructible wood.   As I understand it, Schacht is no longer manufacturing these looms, but rather concentrating on their line of  “Flip”, a folding rigid heddle loom, and the “Cricket”, both excellent looms, and more portable than the ones that I have.

I warp my rigid heddle loom using the direct warping method. That is I do not use a warping board or reel to wind a warp chain first before threading the rigid heddle.  I thread the warp yarns directly from the balls or cones to the slots of the rigid heddle.  I believe that Rowena Hart was the first to describe the direct warping method in her book, The Ashford Book of  Rigid Heddle Weaving published in 2002 and recently reprinted.

While threading the slots in the rigid heddle, I started with the Sonrisa yarn and threaded every other slot, leaving the alternating slots empty for the time being. Once I finished threading with the Sonrisa for the width of the scarf which is 7 inches, I went back and threaded every other of the remaining empty slots with the pink/orange ribbon yarn, leaving the alternating empty slots blank for now.  After the ribbon yarn was threaded across the width of the scarf, there were still empty spaces at every fourth slot. These slots were the last to be threaded with the multi colored  ribbon yarn.  Unconventional?  You bet!  But the results were worth it, and the time saved by not winding a warp chain beforehand is priceless!

Ribbon and cotton yarn threaded on an 8 dent rigid heddle

Ribbon and cotton yarn threaded on an 8 dent rigid heddle

Now to get that lightweight, gauzy effect, I decided to use a fine cotton yarn, 10/2 perle cotton in the color Oleandar by UKI.  This can be ordered directly from the manufacturer, www.ukisupreme.com.

10/2 perle cotton in oleander by UKI

10/2 perle cotton in oleander by UKI

The scarf is still on my rigid heddle loom, and this is what it looks like:

Gauzy ribbon scarf on a rigid heddle loom

Gauzy ribbon scarf on a rigid heddle loom

I really like the way some of the ribbons twisted slightly during the weaving process, adding a bit of texture to the fabric.  The scarf looks a bit like gauze and it feels like a fine fabric.  I hope it will flow gracefully once it is off the loom.  I can’t wait to wear it!

The Big Muddy

“Waist deep in the Big Muddy” – the lines from Pete Seeger’s Vietnam era protest sang has been playing in my mind for the last 24 hours. I was at the Pink Palace Craft Fair in Memphis, TN for the last 4 days. The weather was perfect the first 3 days.  On Sunday, the last day of the fair, the weather forecast had predicted some light rain and occasional thundershowers.  That turned out to be wrong. There were downpours all day long, and the visitors at the fair which was held in a city park had to dodge small rivers and floods around, and sometimes through, the tents. Several of us upon leaving became stuck in the mud and required the assistance of a front end loader or a couple of strong young men to become mobile again. It was an adventure! But needless to say, the faithful and die-hard shoppers were out in full force, and of course all the craftspeople and vendors were there to the bitter end!

My mud covered sneakers at the end of the day!

My mud covered sneakers at the end of the day!

I shared a double booth with several other craftspeople from MACA – Memphis Association of Craft Artists. There were  potters,  jewelers, and I was the lone fiber person.

MACA booths at the Pink Palace Craft Fair

MACA's booths at the Pink Palace Craft Fair

Pottery and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Pottery and Jewelry in the MACA booth


Fiber and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Fiber and Jewelry in the MACA booth

Our group received several positive comments on the appearance of our booth, and most of us did quite well in sales. Of course, it was also a pleasure to educate the public about our group and our craft work.  And my booth partners and I will have something to talk about for awhile as we shared a leaky tent, a little flooding, a lot of mud and a lot of muscle as we all helped push each others’ cars out of the mud!  It wasn’t bad at all.