Indian Corn – weaving project

Sometimes I help my friend Katie out on her stall when she goes to fibre shows. If you’re already a customer of HilltopCloud and go to fibre shows then you might have seen me there trying to be helpful ;0) – waves! – and we moderate for each other’s Ravelry groups too. We go to the same guild and we get together to spin, knit and weave at other times too. It’s nice to be able to help each other with projects or work as we share similar textile interests and so my latest weaving project has been for Katie as a sample for her next show – Yarndale in Skipton, Yorkshire, UK this coming weekend. I was able to weave this up on my trusty Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom which I’ve had for a while now and really love but also using my new Schacht loom stand which was an awesome early birthday/Christmas present from Katie herself and has made my weaving life an awful lot easier! ;0)

When we were packing up the stall at Woolfest in June I asked Katie if she’d let me play around with some of the hand dyed BFL pencil roving. It was a new stock item for 2014 she first dyed up this year before Wonderwool Wales and can be used for spinning just like regular roving or even just knitted up as it is as super chunky yarn. I really wanted to try weaving with it though – I love texture in textiles as much as or more than I love colour and I felt the thick yarn/thin rovings were just begging to be woven. One of Katie’s signature dyeing techniques is using really short runs of colour in random effects, something that’s enhanced on the very thin rovings and I thought this would be really interesting to explore as a weft yarn. She kindly picked out a ball for me: hopefully the deal worked on both sides – I got to play with the yarn and if it went to plan, Katie got a sample to go on display!

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Here’s the original ball of dyed roving. It’s various shades of red with browns and a few peachy pink shades in really short sections but because the colours are tonal and analogous (next to each other in the colour wheel/spectrum) they blend in well together rather than shouting out.

Because I procrastinate for England and also because I wasn’t entirely sure what warp I wanted to use I didn’t get around to weaving this for quite some time. I did know that Katie needed it for this weekend – so I had a deadline – and we’d arranged to meet up for a spinning day this week so she needed it by then so I could give it to her as I’m not going to Yarndale myself. Recently I picked up some “vintage”100%  wool yarns from a local shop and some are a really rich walnut brown and are quite a heavy DK weight so I decided one of these skeins would work well and warped up the loom at 10epi.

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I would have preferred 8 epi but I don’t have a heddle that size just yet and I wanted more of a weft faced weave effect so I knew I was going to have to beat each pick down quite hard to get that given how close together my warp was.

However the thick warp and super chunky roving weft simply flew by; I was really happy with how it was turning out. In just a few minutes I had this.

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You can see how the weft is popping up between the warp threads. Lovely texture!

It really didn’t take very long to use up the warp on the loom – I hadn’t put a very long warp on. Being something really new to me, I wasn’t sure what yardage of fabric I was going to get even though I did have yardage on the yarns. It went a lot further than I expected though. I had a lovely morning weaving in the autumn sunshine with a cup of coffee and some music on.

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September is my favourite month (well OK so I was born in September!) – I love autumn best of all and the first few weeks of September are like coming home to me. I love peaceful methodic tasks where I can think freely whilst my hands are busy. Tabby weave with texture – it doesn’t really get much better than that! September is also a month that makes me think of corn – as in sweetcorn or corn on the cob. It’s a family favourite and I would often request it as my birthday meal. I’ve already had one meal of home grown corn on the cob this month although the sweetcorn didn’t do that well for me this year – there were high winds when the male flowers were ready to pollinate and at this altitude when the wind blows, things end up a mile away before you can blink. So the pollen didn’t really make it down onto the female flowers sadly. However we did get one meal of corn at least! I grilled it to bring out the sweetness – if you grill or barbecue it you don’t even need to add butter to it. Although as a treat, butter and salt on sweetcorn on the cob is just delicious! I thought that this weaving looked really similar to the texture of Indian Corn – the ornamental maize that is left to dry on the cob so the kernels are hard and shiny. It’s multi coloured in shades of red, green, brown as well as yellow. It’s really pretty and makes a great autumn ornament (don’t try smearing butter on and eating it though – you’ll break your teeth!!)

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What do you think – Indian Corn or what?

I cut the fabric from the loom and fulled it by hand. I was undecided whether to make a bag or a cushion or if I should just give the fabric to Katie as it was. I really wanted to see it made up into a cushion though so I zigzagged the edges and sewed it up ready to stuff. I also made some felt flowers in toning colours of merino to ornament it. I decided I’d better wait for Katie’s verdict before I got too carried away – luckily she liked it and so I sewed on the felt flowers but left it to her mum Elaine who is a talented needlewomen behind the etsy shop Quince Pie to finish off the cushion.

So I don’t have any photos of the finished cushion I’m sorry – but lucky me I got to keep what was rest of the ball of roving so I can make another cushion for my own living room. When I’ve done that I’ll post a picture for you to see. I’ve really enjoyed this mixed media project. If you’re going to Yarndale this weekend (I’m not – I’ve got a Macmillan Coffee Morning to host!) then why not head over to HilltopCloud’s stand to see Katie and Elaine’s wares and see if you can snag yourself some pencil rovings to play with too? And if not, I’m sure there’ll be some more in her etsy shop when they come back – well if I don’t snaffle it all first that is! ;0)

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