Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In search of a brain...umm, I mean yarn.

I'm sitting here with my mouth on fire, lips tingling from the spicy buffalo wings I just ingested. I figured while I was between wings, I'd quickly jot down a blog post. Allowing sufficient time for the burn to abate might be considered an added incentive, but in truth, I figured it's been awhile since I updated the blog. (Let's blame the weather and the holidays for that, shall we?) Why am I eating spicy buffalo wings at 8:25 pm on a Wednesday evening? Because I just got home from 'some things looming' where I was working in the loom room sampling yarn.

I've been looking for soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky, 2 ply yarn to weave with. Why soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky, 2 ply yarn? Because I want a yarn has a low epi (ends per inch or the amount of lengthwise threads that fit into an inch, for the non-weavers out there). I could go into the reasons why, but for now, that's secondary to the task at hand. It's an uninteresting pursuit, I know, and yet, I sit here and write all about it, anyway. I'd even bet that there's plenty of folks out there who could recommend exactly the yarn I need. (Feel free!)

I usually work with cottons, rayons, linens, silks, copper wire, and blends thereof, that are rather thin, as in fingering weight or thinner, for you knitters out there. Most of my pictoral weavings are made up with various mill ends, and of varying textures. My warp is always perle cotton, sometimes mixed with other things, but mostly, it's just the vehicle for the imagery, so it doesn't have to be luxurious or glamorous, since it hides in the background, merely providing the structure to the cloth. Utilizing tapestry and lace techniques, I alternate transparent areas with opaque. So, apparently, I've gotten rather out of practice when it comes to threading my loom in anything but a straight 1-2-3-4 draw with fuzzy, fluffy yarn. You see, I only need four shafts threaded in the most basic of ways to accomplish my work. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it).

Want to know where to get good mill ends? I could possibly recommend a few places. Want to buy perle cotton in bulk? I have a few sources, some I don't use anymore, yet I could probably tell someone where to look. Soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky, 2 ply yarn? Apparently, I have no clue. Hence my quest.

Detail, Kaliedscopic Daydreams, (c) 2009
melanie ritter mitchell

No stone is going unturned. Along the many paths I've searched, I've found wool yarn that's definitely nice, and uh, well, somewhat thicker, with a recommended epi of 10, so that fits, sort-of. But I'm not yet convinced it's all that soft. I'll work it up tomorrow, wash it and brush it, and see what I've got, but until then, I'm just hoping I'll end up surprised. I've found soft, 2-ply wool yarn, but it's kind of thin, and I'm looking for bulk. The other day while on my hunt, I had a lovely phone conversation with the Master Weaver at Halcyon yarn and learned a few things that 15 years of weaving never taught me, but still no real satisfactory answer. I've even checked out the yarn section of the mega-monster-craft store. Which is what I was working with tonight. Surprisingly it wasn't all that bad, but I completely forgot the rule of sampling before I sample. In other words, I should have made a small swatch, before working it up into full length test-scarf. Good thing it only took me three and a half hours to set up, weave, and cut off the project. I might be more depressed than I already am. I would have needed to add an entire bag of Hershey's chocolate nuggets to my buffalo wing dinner. (Chicken Molé anyone?)

Apparently I'm brain dead, because I know better. And it pains me to admit to such a mistake, out loud, all over the world wide web. But hey, I made a very nice balanced plain weave. Not too much of the weft showing. Not too much of the warp. If I were weaving a saddle blanket, I'd be extremely proud of myself right about now instead of writing a confession to the world. I know what I did wrong. Even understanding my mistake doesn't take the sting from this perfectionist's heart. So tomorrow, I will make sure the brain is fueled up, neurons firing, before I face my loom again. And I will continue my quest for soft, inexpensive but nice, chunky 2 ply yarn, because at this point, it's no longer about the project at hand. It's all about the conquering the quest. Oh and hey, I can feel my lips again. Guess I can go finish my dinner now.


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