|To receive the most out of this study, I decided to use as many types of fibers as time allowed, from fine silk to heavy yak. I wanted each fiber to be suitable for its use and use knots in as many facets of fiber art as possible. Polwarth is a fleece I like the best for clothing. A soft polwarth fleece was chosen for its strength, luster, softness and dyeing qualities (sample P5). The challenge was to be able to spin it compact enough to make a knotting yarn. It makes a lofty woolen as well as a smooth worsted. Polwarth is a fleece suitable for crochet, knit and weaving. How to make such a soft fine fleece suitable for knotting and congenial to the entire project?|
|In planing a woven sweater project, I work very simple. Weaving is not my forte and I enjoy simple tabby or twill. I enjoy dyeing yarns and fibers with all types of dyes. I rarely try to achieve even dyeing, I work for consistency throughout the project (i.e. evenly mottled). I also like to coordinate yarns together. I decided on tabby. The warp would b eof commercial silk (sample P1) for its handle and two ply worsted handspun to integrate the entire project. The handspun in the warp also keeps the weft from slipping. Weft would be all handspun singles spun woolen. I planned to full the fabric and then make a folded square top found in Virginia West's book "Designer Diagonals".|
| Knowing the fabric would be
mottled but with no pattern it would be the perfect type sweater to adorn with Chinese
knotting. I would use soft flat knots that would be sewn onto the fabric after the
sweater was finished to enhance the simple fabric. It would not be necessary for the
knots to be stable because the sewing would control the finished knot.
The polwarth (sample P7) was obtained from Wendy Dennis in Australia. Her fleeces are superb, coated all year, always lustrous, strong and clean. first I washed the white fleece and separated it into three equal amounts. One portion was left natural and allowed to dry in a sunny window on a towel. One portion was dyed with textile resources acid dyes in magenta shades and the last portion in lavender shades (sample P5). the dyes were carefully mixed to mimic the colors achieved by logwood with alum mordant and brazilwood with alum and copper mordants. No care was taken to get even dyeing. Half of each color was put aside for the body of the sweater.
The other half of the magenta and lavender were carded twice through on the drum carder. after being pulled into a worsted roving they were spun Z twist on a double drive flyer wheel, ratio 19:1. Extra twist was added. Because of my earlier discoveries, I planned to use a three ply. for ease of achieving a consistent ply, I decided to Navajo ply the yarn. I did the plying on a double drive flyer wheel, ration 12:1 for control. I was very pleased with the resulting cord. Very strong, round, lustrous and hard enough to define the knots (sample P6). After removing the finished yarn from the bobbin I steam set the yarn in a commercial steamer for 8 hours. This set the twist in the yarn and finished the dyeing process so there would never by any bleeding.
|The fiber that was set aside for weaving was carded on the drum carder three times. The first carding was blending white, magenta and lavender together, two handfuls of white to one each of magenta and lavender. the next carding was from a strip of fiber pulled from each batt. the final carding was from a strip of fiber pulled for each of the second carded batts. The final batts were very well blended but not to the point of being heathered or tweedy. A nice variegation should show up on the final yarn.|
To spin the warp threads, I pulled
the batts into a worsted roving. These I spun on a double drive flyer wheel,
ratio 19:1. they were plied on the same wheel and given a balanced twist. the
diameter of the single was about the size of the fiber crimp near the diameter of the silk
thread. I processed the warp thread no further before warping
| The loom was warped at 12 threads
per inch four silk to one handspun wool. I had chosen a two ply spun silk in white
and in grey to lighten and soften the color of the fabric. It was woven
approximately the same with the soft woolen singles. This loose weave allows the
fabric to crepe after it is removed from the loom and washed giving a finished fabric with
light texture but no pattern. My loom is only 22 inches wide so I warped 3 1/2
yards, double the length needed for the sweater. The pattern call for a square of 45
inches. I know a slightly smaller square works well for me.
The fabric looked nice when I removed it from the loom but still too sleazy for use. I washed it in Ivory Liquid, drained the excess moisture out and hung it out down the center of its length. When is was just about dry I put it in the fluff cycle of the dryer to full it. To finish the fabric completely I blocked it out and rolled it on a tube and steam set it in the commercial steamer for six hours. The final fabric had a nice hand and drape for a sweater and was homogenous in texture and color for the planned project.
This sweater pattern can be finished in many different ways. My favorite finish is with knitted cuffs, waist band and neckline. From the remaining blended bats, I core spun over elastic to make an elastic yarn the same diameter as the weft yarn (sample P4). After sewing the basic sweater pieces together, I pulled loops of the elastic yarn up through the fabric where I wanted the ribbings and slid them on circular knitting needles. Using a 2 by 2 rib, I knitted twenty rows for the cuffs, ten rows for the neck, and twenty rows for the waist.
From my previous experiment with knots, I knew that soft flat knots were best suited for placing on garments. Medallion knots were too complex and would detract from the overall beauty of the fabric. But complicated medallions are excellent for adornment on smooth fabric such as velvet, suede or smooth linen. The double coin knots were simple, pliable and acceptable when made from a softer cord (sample P8). Using both colors of wool together in the knot allowed for more definition in the knot. A row of double coin knots can be manipulated into different shapes if desired. They make nice hearts and swirls. I chose to keep this design simple and followed the angles of the sweater with stripes.
| After the knots were sewn to the sweater, it was lined
with a preshrunk lightweight silk (6 mm habotai). The lining was sewn in loosely by
hand, the hand-woven fabric stretches by the silk does not. Washing care for the
sweater is: hand wash in Ivory Liquid, drip dry, press with warm iron. Store
in a safe place away from moths and carpet beetles.
Detail of Elastic Cuff