The Adventure of the Warp with Two Brains: Part Three
For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
For the first part of this adventure, and to find out who the heck Mary and Sylvia are, click here .
Of the two scarves, Sylvia’s was the tougher nut to crack. Her taste is miles from mine. Though I love the way she puts herself together, the individual pieces themselves usually leave me, at best, puzzled.
“What is this?” I’ll say, picking up one of what appears to be (maybe?) a collection of vintage teething rings from her dresser.
She, fluffing her hair in the adjacent bathroom, peeks out and says, “Oh, yeah! Aren’t those great? I found them at a plumbing supply place that was going out of business.”
“Are they…for plumbing?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I’m going to pile them on like a bunch of bangle bracelets.”
So she does, and I silently swear she has really gone too far this time. Then I spend the rest of the evening listening to people scream compliments at her amazingly cool choice of bracelets.
It makes you feel stuffy and hidebound for not thinking to trim your spring hat with a U-bend and a couple of old faucets.
Something for Sylvia
My challenge was to weave something on the Trekking warp that would play well in the sartorial Halloween fun-house that is my friend Sylvia’s wardrobe.
Sylvia Fowler, of course, is the kookiest dresser of all the women in The Women,
but not because her clothes are wildly eccentric. They’re not. But they do take risks that set her apart as someone who likes to be noticed. Insists upon being noticed.
In a world full of tall hats, Sylvia’s are the tallest.
Also the fluffiest, the flounciest, the fruitiest.
When I imagined Sylvia’s scarf, I figured it had to somehow call attention to itself through texture. But how, exactly?
Testing the Ground
When I sampled for the color-and-weave portion of Sylvia (if you don’t know what color-and-weave is, do see the last installment) something happened that almost never happens.
I liked the first thing I tried.
My starting point, of course, was the “two red, two buff” warp that formed the basis of Mary’s houndstooth. I knew by changing the order of the colors in the weft, I could get a bunch of different fabrics.
Thinking to start simple, I wove a few inches with nothing but buff.
That was it. You know it when you see it, and I saw it. The little dotty stripes reminded me of one of my favorite Sylvia costumes–the pinstriped dress she wears to the fashion show.
This fabric, I realized, could serve as a simple foil for some really eye-catching textural effect–much as the relative restraint of Sylvia’s dress allows her to go completely cuckoo with that flouncy headgear and still appear elegant.
What kind of textural effect?
There was a technique I had been wanting to try out, which I’d seen written up in any number of books and Web sites, for a loop pile weave.
There are quite a few ways of getting loop pile. This method was supposed to be easy and relatively quick, but not suitable for fabrics liable to be tugged and pulled a great deal.
I sent Sylvia a text.
ME: DO YOU TUG AND PULL AT YOUR CLOTHES A LOT?
SYL: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
I decided that was a “no.”
Simple Loop Pile Weave
So here’s what you do.
Step 1. Throw a pick with your pile color (in my case, red). Keep it nice and loose, and do not beat it or change the shed.
Step 2. Get yourself a knitting needle, a wooden dowel, a long pencil–something of a cylindrical nature, in other words. The bigger around it is, the bigger your loops will be, and it needs to be a longer than your weaving is wide. I used an eight-inch US 11 (8 mm) addi® FlipStix™ double-pointed needle, which proved ideal.
Reach between the first two raised strands of the warp with your fingers and pull up a loop of your weft pick. Place this loop over the knitting needle (or whatever).
Repeat this step, making a loop for every pair of raised warp threads in the shed. It’ll look something like this.
Step 3. Without removing the knitting needle (or whatever), beat. You won’t be able to beat completely, of course; just do what you can.
Step 4. Gently remove the knitting needle (or whatever) and beat again, firmly.
Step 5. Change shed and throw a plain pick (in this scarf, that’s another pick of red). Beat firmly. Because this type of loop pile isn’t perfectly stable, this plain pick between all looped picks is vital. Without it, your fabric will just sort of fall apart.
Repeat from Step 1 if you want to make another row of loops.
Off I went, working two inches of color-and-weave (using the buff only, but carrying the unused red yarn up the right selvedge all the while).
Then, four picks in red: a looped pick, a plain pick, another looped pick, another plain pick.
That was my repeat, ending the scarf with two inches of color-and-weave.
The fabric certainly didn’t look like anything I’d made before.
It was so different, I didn’t know if I liked it or not. I honestly could not tell.
So I sent a picture of it to Sylvia in a text message.
ME: WOULD YOU WEAR THIS?
SYL: YES. LOVE IT. WHEN CAN I PICK UP.
ME: IT’S STILL ON THE LOOM.
SYL: GET YOUR [REDACTED] IN GEAR. I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO PAIR IT WITH. BY NEXT THURSDAY WOULD BE NICE. KISSES.
Because in two weeks, we have to talk about the finishing.
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Zitron Trekking (75% New Wool, 25% Nylon; 3.5 oz/100g per 459 yds/420m). Colors: 210 (Buff) and 240 (Red).
Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom (15 inch) with optional 12-dent reed, by Schacht Spindle Company
11-inch Slim Closed-Bottom Boat Shuttle by Schacht Spindle Company
addi® FlipStix™ 8-inch double-pointed knitting needle, size US 11 (8mm)
The Women (1939). For information on sources, visit the official IMDB page.
About Franklin Habit
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest work, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has just been published by Soho Publishing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Knitty.com, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, two looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.