Friday, January 14, 2011

Ella Rae Scarf

Ella Rae Scarf
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Even though I am on a "Stash Staycation" with a promise of not adding to my stash until the first day of Spring, I have been presented with a small difficulty in that I really could use some yarn with which to practice weaving--yarn that is not too expensive and I don't mind "messing up" a bit. Most of what remains in my stash is high-end sock yarn, and sweater quantities of heavier weight yarn that are already earmarked to be... sweaters, of course.

This meant that when a 50% off any one regular priced item at the local Ben Franklin (which happens to have an unusually nice yarn section) came to my inbox, my resolved crumbled a little. I went hunting.

What I found was a lovely skein of Ella Rae Merino Lace. It's not a true laceweight yarn. I would probably mark it as Light Fingering weight, but it is a bit lighter than I'd want to use for socks as well. It is superwash, beautifully dyed and delightfully squishy. I fell in love at at half price it seemed perfect for another loom project.

I dithered about it for a little bit. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how to do all the math. It's pretty straight forward when you say, "I want to make a project X wide and Y long." It's a little harder when you say, "I have 460 yards of yarn, how can I best divide that in length and width to have a good sized scarf, and still have enough left over to weave it after warping?!"

Ella Rae Scarf
I finally hammered through the numbers on my spreadsheet and thought I had them down pretty well. They made sense. Double checked and nudged about, they still made sense, and so I decided to go with it.

I warped for a scarf that would be around 8" wide (a little less for shrinkage) and hopefully about 2 yards long when finished. That meant I actually put on 2.5 yards for the warp, the extra 18" accounting for "take up", "shrinkage" and "loom waste". I must not have measured that quite right, because instead of that using up just a little over half my ball of yarn, I was down to just over 1/3 of a ball left after warping. That wasn't enough to weave the whole length. Ouch.

But since this was partly an exercise to see what happens with bad math, and how far you can get with what's left, I wove anyway.

After getting the warp set up, I started to weave my header with waste yarn and ran into another curiosity.. too many ends in one slot. Somehow I had accidentally put an extra set about 1.5 inches in from the edge. I had two options. Cut them out, or shift everything over. I opted to untie the warp ends and move everything over one space so everything was properly spaced and then tied back on again. Of course, that's five yards I didn't have for the weft, but oh, well. One mistake found.

As I began to weave, I was careful not to beat quite so hard this time, leaving open spaces between each pick, but not too much. I snugged the selvedges in carefully, but not tight enough to actually draw in the cloth (next time, they need to be just a smidge tighter. I'm told a small amount of draw-in is okay to get clean edges). I also did a small detail of Leno Lace three inches into the beginning of the scarf. It looks wonderful! In particular it is 2x2 leno on a closed shed.

Ella Rae Scarf
I was feeling pretty smart as I got down towards the other end of the scarf. Despite my miscalculation on length and width, I had figured out one other helpful detail. When winding my stick-shuttle, I had wound 50 wraps on one side, and then turned the shuttle around and wound 50 wraps on the other side. Switch back and forth, and when you get down to the last 50, you know you're coming to the end of your yarn. More than that, I was easily able to calculate a good approximate of the yardage left. Add that to the known width of my weft, and I could give a good guess how many picks I could weave with my remaining yarn. I knew I'd need 36 picks to be the final three inches of cloth, so when I got close to that I did my Leno detail for the tail end, and then wove to the last tiny bit of yarn. I left just enough to hemstitch the end of the scarf. Perfect.

Perfect, except for the extra two feet of warp.

Scarf leftovers
So stash-diving I went and I came up with a scrap of handspun I did last year for a Spindler's Challenge that really matched the warp well! I figured this was the space where I could try and see what beating harder, and pulling the selvedges in really tightly would do to the cloth.

I advanced the warp enough to have a nice fringe on the tail end of the scarf and then wove with my handspun until it ran out. I ended up with a pretty little sample I might turn into a wall-hanging.

The scarf seemed too loose to be a nice project. I washed it, anyway, and was still somewhat disappointed as it started to dry. But after it dried, I took it downstairs and tried to steam-block the leno so it would match the width of the scarf, and suddenly, after ironing the whole thing I found the cloth had pulled together into something cohesive, lovely, and gorgeously soft!

I'm already loving wearing this scarf around town. It's light and should last well into the Spring, but still pretty warm. I was almost sad to leave it behind today to try out wearing yet another new finished item. I'm definitely looking forward to more sock-yarn-scarves in the future.

1 comment:

Araignee said...

I have yet to try weaving with a really lightweight yarn and looking at your lovely scarf makes me want to go stash diving in the sock yarn bin myself!