Monday, June 20, 2016

Sumer Icummin

Happy Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)! Every year when summer rolls around I find myself craving a smart new straw tote bag. The trusty old and worn canvas tote bags that got me through the fall and winter just won't do. I'd not considered make-your-own, but inspired by knitcole's Rafia Tote Bag, this year desire became a weaving project, with raffia and citrus-y colors and pirates. I must admit the project came together when I saw the whimsical fabric I picked for the bag lining, Robert Kauffman Message in a Bottle, designed by Suzy Ultman.

Pirate-y lining fabric

For the warp I used Just Our Yarn Aziza, 5/2 100% Tencel, in pretty variegated lemonade and limeade tones, part of my MDS&W loot. It's lovely stuff, also very slinky. I didn't attempt to wind it into a ball, but dressed the loom with the yarn still as a hank, which is why the remainder pictured below is in a (now much smaller) hank.

Warp and weft yarns

Dressing the loom took me three days and about 367 yds (336 m) of warp. There were the usual sorts of interruptions and delays, not to mention I find the process tedious in the extreme. Some people say it's meditative. After the dreadful news last week I needed something meditative, but for me this wasn't it. Strange that I'm a process knitter, but an impatient weaver. I tend to think of my woven FOs as intermediate items, precursors for sewing projects. Maybe that's why I don't think to take many pix of my loom or weaving-in-progress (sorry).

For the weft I used Morex Ribbon 100% Rayon raffia. The entire spool, 110 yds (100 m), fit on my stick shuttle in a loose rustling mass. There was lots of aural stimulation, unusual for fiber projects! I wove a few inches before realizing the raffia is a skinny cord when it comes off the spool...

Skinny raffia cord

... but it can be spread into a broad flat ribbon.

Broad raffia ribbon

The fabric looks and drapes much better with the raffia woven in the form of a spread ribbon rather than an unspread cord – the cord is stiff and unstable as weft while the ribbon scrunches down nicely when beaten lightly. I thought about unwinding the shuttle, spreading the raffia, then re-winding the shuttle, but decided it worked better to keep the shuttle wound with rustling raffia cord and to spread only enough for a pic at a time. More tedium. Oh well, I'm happy with the results.

Raffia fabric

The straw bag is shaping well! To be continued....

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