Natural Dyeing Adventures- Black Walnut Scarf part 5: The End?

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure if this is the end or if I might try to do something else with it. It’s been done for over a week and I keep going back and forth.

I don’t love brown or earth tones so I was hoping the eco printing would add some vibrancy to the walnut-dyed scarf. I used what I could find and while it did add color, it was mostly yellow and green shades. I left it wrapped up 24 hrs and the colors are really dark so that’s good at least!

This picture is it in really bright light and backlit. Indoors or worn it really looks more like a natural leopard or cheetah print and less like mold.

I can’t decide if it looks as bad as I think it does or is it just that I don’t like the colors.

I did “forage” some bright orange maple leaves the yesterday outside of the local Italian market. I was debating about eco printing it again with them it but the splotches from the flowers really are all over the scarf. Would the leaves make it look worse? It doesn’t seem like I’d have to mordant it again so it wouldn’t be a big project.

The big question is did I ruin it by the eco printing? I was hoping the red and gold flowers would add red, not just yellow. I wasn’t expecting clear flower outlines because I used squishy, fluffy marigolds and mums but some color variety would have been nice.

Maybe adding leaves would fill in the gaps and make it look more intentional?

As my guild reminded me when I mentioned I was working on it during our last meeting, it is supposed to be an experiment and learning experience but I also want it to look good!

Natural Dyeing Adventures- Black Walnut Scarf part 3: Weaving

I am starting to wonder if the project is a little cursed! As I went to start to weave I realized I had warped it going the wrong way! I somehow didn’t realize that there were holes for the clamps (why is this?) on both sides. The loom is so tiny, there isn’t a huge amount of difference and I was trying to get it done and I guess not focusing enough? But when I went to weave in some scrap yarn for a header it was clear I was on the wrong end.

Luckily, I think it will be okay. I panicked then thought that I tie the warp on my floor looms on both ends and that’s secure enough. I rewound the warp on the end that I had tied off instead of the end I had wrapped with warp. I wove a thicker header than usual to give some length for fringe to make up for the length that normally I wouldn’t reach while weaving which is now in front of the loom. I will just have to cut the warp off rather than untie it when I’m done. Or I could machine hem it if it is a little a short. Hopefully that works? I’m already a little tired of this project.

It does look nice! I’m starting with the leftovers from the warp which is the skein that was a little less evenly dyed so I’m getting some pleasant variation. I’m not sure if that will end up being too much of a contrast with the next skein of weft when I get to that. The warp will still be pretty unevenly dyed so there still should be some variation.

I ordered some alum for the eco printing. Once again I see a lot of different suggestions about how to eco print fabric and about half suggest alum or iron. I think alum brightens colors so I’m going with that.

Natural Dyeing Adventures- Black Walnut Scarf part 2: Warping

Yesterday the yarn was fully dry so I used my cheapo swift and rolled it into balls. The yarn is very silky and easily tangles. I ended up making one tiny ball of some tied together scraps that with any luck I won’t have to use as weft.

This morning I broke out my neglected Cricket 15 inch rigid heddle loom to warp it up. The rigid heddle sock yarn scarf patterns I found online largely called for a 10 dent heddle but I only have 8 and 12 (as you may recall, I bought it used on Marketplace and that’s what came with it) so I went with 12. 8 felt too wide since my goal is the eco print the finished scarf so I’d want a somewhat tight weave.

Warping didn’t go well. It is easy to direct warp on the rigid heddle but I realized the plastic lock had come loose allowing the apron rod to pull forward shortening the warp. That a real issue with direct warping, you are warping to a peg that is the distance of your final project, plus some waste so if something shifts, it throws the whole project off.

I really refer the wooden pieces of my Kromski 32 but that’s already warped with a wrap project I haven’t actually started. The Cricket makes sense when it comes to making a scarf because it is so small I can basically weave in my lap but it really does feel like a child’s toy to use.

I pulled the warp out but of course it tangled and I ended up winding a bunch of small balls that were only a few yards long and tying them on. I was worried I would run out of yarn if I didn’t use it all.

I finally started pulling from the big ball again from the center pull and it some how tangled up. I ended up cutting it, tying it on again and pulling from the side. Then a tiny bit from the center got tangled to the outside yarn I was using and I had to free that. Oy. It took way longer than I was expecting but I did get it set up.

Running out of yarn turned out to not be an issue because I warped on about 90 inches and 10 inches wide and had a lot of yarn leftover. That might solve what I had thought was my weft issue but I am wondering if I should have made it longer. I don’t think it will shrink much if at all because the yarn has been washed several times and it’s sock yarn so it is meant to not shrink and to be machine washable. While this project is an experiment, I would like it to be a functional scarf!

I haven’t tied it on the front yet so fingers crossed that goes well.

My goal is to do plain weave so the eco printing stands out. It’s a short project so hopefully I can weave it quickly and eco print while there are still pretty leaves and flowers around.

Right now the warp reminds me of ‘80s “flesh tone” pantyhose. I do think the dyeing went well, I just think it’s kind of ugly. Which I knew going in was probably going to be the case. I am hoping the eco printing will perk up the final project.

Natural Dyeing Adventures- Black Walnut Scarf part 1: Dyeing

When we visited the Landis Valley Museum I foraged some black walnuts that were dropping (and rotting) all over the place. I figured of all places not to mind some low key foraging it would be a living history museum!

I picked up about 8 green pods and double wrapped them in some plastic bags we had in the car. I let them sit, bagged, on our enclosed porch until today.

They were starting to get soft so I just stepped on the bag and cracked them open a bit.

I added them to the large steamer pot that I ordered from Amazon. My idea had been to thrift a pot but I really didn’t think I had the time to do that and still have time to complete my project before the walnuts really rotted.

At our guild zoom meeting on Monday I volunteered to present a dye project in December (dyeing yarn and then making something with it is the guild project from now until May) so I wanted to get on this project while I could still do some foraging in case it didn’t work out.

I had the idea for using a steamer pot with a deep insert because the insert acted like a sieve and I didn’t need a strainer or to use a mesh bag. It also has a shallow strainer basket that would be good for steaming yarn.

As soon as I added water to the pot it turned dark brown. I think this is because the husk/pod is where most of the dye comes from, not the actual shell or nut.

I brought it to a low boil and boiled it for about an hour. I know other sources say to boil it for many hours but this water was already very dark and if I’m honest, I don’t really like brown and didn’t want to make the yarn too dark. My plan is to weave up the yarn and then do some eco printing on the finished product using flowers and leaves from my yard so I need a lighter shade.

I strained out the walnuts. I soaked the yarn (to make this easy on me, I used white super wash sock yarn) in warm water about the same temperature as the dye. That seems to be important? I didn’t actually want to soak the yarn so I used stainless steel tongs to dip the yarn in the dye about three times. It really soaked up the dye!

I then put the yarn in a basin and rinsed it in our bathtub until the water ran clear.

Then I hung it on my new collapsible drying rack. I was excited about this one because it folds into a pole and not only has arms but the arms have holes I could hang hooks from for more yarn.

I only dyed two skeins—one for the warp and one for the weft. I’m going to make the scarf on my 15 inch Cricket rigid heddle so the sock yarn isn’t under too much tension and there will be a lot less loom waste. I don’t want to invest too much into an experiment! I don’t have the yarn stash so many weavers have.

I picked black walnuts because they are easy to find, don’t need a mordant and are color fast. I like the idea of natural dyes but so many fade so quickly! Some recipes tell you to redye your project yearly depending on the materials used. Who has time for that? I like to complete a project and move on.

The directions I found online were mostly on these blogs clogged with ads that are written in that robotic, repetitive SEO way that I find boring and difficult to follow. Some had you heating and cooling the yarn and heating and cooling the dye and then heating it together. Others had you heat the yarn and put it in hot dye. Some had you dip and some had you soak for anywhere from 15 minutes to literal months. It was really all over the place. Many directions had you using the dried shells which might explain some of it. I was using the very dye rich whole pod.

I just did what made sense to me and I have brown yarn now so I think it must be good enough. I had more than enough dye to dye many, many more skeins of yarn.

Harvesting Color, which I checked out of the library, had you fermenting the walnuts (in the husks) for three weeks. She does not explain why you are to do that. Then she has you boil it an hour, strain and then soak your yarn for 60-90 minutes. She also points out that you could add the husks back into the dye to darken it again as desired. I don’t find that a lot of books and blogs give you a lot of the “why” I am looking for. Why does she have you ferment when others don’t at all or like in Wild Color, only have you soak overnight? She talks about getting the same dye from the husk or the shell but other books imply there is some difference in color and state that the husk is where the majority of the “dye” is found. It’s all a little confusing. I guess the longer you soak or boil the walnuts the more concentrated the dye is so you can use it for more batches?

Rigid Heddle Project Nine: Sparkly Scarf

I warped my Kromski 32 yesterday for a table runner and kept the momentum for the Cricket 15 today.

Warping the Cricket is so much quicker and easier since it is a smaller loom and I can firmly clamp it to our heavy coffee table. It makes such a difference!

I warped a pretty wide scarf because I wanted to get all of the colors in it. I used Lion Brand Mandela Sparkle in Crux. As much as I love wool, it really isn’t feasible to only use that, especially as I’m still learning. That’s just too much of a financial commitment and I’ve already sunk a lot into the looms and other odds and ends needed for weaving.

I think it came out pretty well. The yarn wanted to catch on the warping sticks though which made it tedious to work with. I like the colors and sparkle though!

Rigid Heddle Project 7: A Lonely Dish Towel

I wanted to make something more everyday useful so I found this pattern for dish towels using a 15 inch Cricket that yields four dish towels on one warp, one after another.

It was a long warp—-155 inches— which was challenging because that is almost the length of my living room. I’m convinced no weaver lives in a small space. The amount of random junk and long tables I see so many patterns, books and blogs call for is mind boggling. Is everyone who weaves a pack rat in a giant house? I’m glad I didn’t take too much notice of this before I got started because that might have discouraged me.

I used Hobbii 8/4 cotton in Turquoise (#33) for the warp. I used almost 3 (186 yds each). Next time I will wind it into balls first, it tangled very easily no matter where I pulled from and there was a large clump of tangled yarn in the middle of the ball. It is not the brand of yarn the pattern called for but less than $1.50 a ball on sale, it seemed like a better choice for a first towel project. It is the same thickness and fiber.

I didn’t really enjoy using the yarn for the weft, just the length off the shuttle passing through would knot.

After weaving one towel length I decided to teach myself the hem stitch and pull one off the warp. I should have hemmed it in the beginning (I think that’s something people do? but the pattern I was roughly following didn’t call for it. Hem stitching the end side while on the loom went fine but when I tried to go back and hem stitch the first bit, the yarn tangled so much I ended up just knotting it into tassels. Not ideal but I was really left with a mess I didn’t even think I could even machine hem.

I hand washed it and put in the yard to dry. I am not someone who really beats down the yarn so I wanted to see if any shrinkage would help with that. It did! It really tightened up.

I retied the warp on the apron and that was oddly difficult and resulted in having to cut off a big chunk of yarn so that has derailed my plans because I have a lot less warp than I planned on. I’m going to just weave something else on it and call a day.

I have a ton of this yarn left in several colors so I need to come up with some use for it! It tangles so easily! I think it might be good for a bread bag? It is a slightly coarse weave and thicker yarn than how I prefer towels. Warping on for a shorter project would be less fraught I think.

So not a total failure-I do have one functional towel—but now I have a lot of warp to use.

Rigid Heddle Project 6: Purple Plaid Scarf

My second attempt at making something quick for the State Fair. The deadline is soon so a scarf seemed like the logical choice.

I had problems with the warp on the Cricket creeping off the warping sticks last project so I was extra careful when warping the colors on. The warping were made especially for the Cricket 15 inch by a super nice and fast shipping woodworker on Etsy but I think they are just a tad short. My Kromski ones are almost exactly the same length as the back beam so it’s different. It’s fine but now I know, I will be more careful. The second back beam still puzzles me since the Kromski works just fine without it. It just seems cumbersome to me. This time I used rubber bands to help keep the heddle and warp stick steady and that seemed to help too.

For this one I used cones of Brown Sheep worsted weight Nature Spun wool in Magenta, Amethyst and Alpine violet. I did alternating stripes of 8 wraps around the warping peg (so 16 ends) twice yielding six wide vertical stripes. Doing multiple colors in the warp looks impressive but is so easy! I used a little clicker counter from Clover to keep track. It really amazes me how much of weaving is just tying a knot (to switch colors in your warp or tucking an end into the next row (to change weft colors).

After all that careful warping on, I tripped carrying the loom to where I was actually going to weave and the heddle flew out so I had to loop the yarn through both the slot and the hole rather than just the hole (why isn’t it called the eye, like on a needle?) which was a pain. But it seemed to work just fine.

Then I wove the weft in passes (rows) of 18 for Magenta, Amethyst and 8 in Magenta to make plaid.

No major problems with this at all! It was tedious counting the rows even with a counter and I wonder if I should have put the medium colored strip in the middle of the wider light one but I think it looks great as-is. There were times when the weaving looked like it was at an angle and I don’t know how that happened but the pattern on the finished product is straight. I guess it was winding unevenly?

I hand washed it with hand soap in the sink and let it to dry on a towel on our picnic table.

It was almost 100° so it dried really quickly.

I cut off all the spots where I joined the yarn. I’m really happy with how it turned out! I’m wondering if I should iron it because it is a little wrinkled.

Rigid Heddle Project 5: Placemat/Tablerunner

I saw that the Maryland State Fair has a “weaving less than one year” category and thought it might be fun to enter. The deadline is soon so I decided it would be good weave something small and quick on the Cricket to enter so I started this.

I taught my husband how to indirect warp for this one so he could help out in the future if I needed him to. I think he got the hang of it. It is pretty easy!

I had ordered warp sticks and they came in the day before I used them. I’m not sure how it happened but as I wove, some of the yarn inched off the side and was directly on the bar and became very tangled.

I was so upset because I had been doing a very careful job minding my salvages and rows and I couldn’t see anyway to salvage it. I had to cut it off so instead of a wide scarf/narrow wrap, I ended up with a large placemat or tablerunner. I figure I can use it in backgrounds of my food photographs but I’m not going to enter it a contest!

I used Brown Sheep worsted weight Nature Spun wool as the warp and some Red Heart Unforgettable in Candied for the weft I had from my mom’s stash she gave me after she got sick. I actually bought some more in case I didn’t have enough so I am drowning it in now! It really worked well as the weft and has a nice shimmer. Maybe I’ll try again some day?

I still want to enter the contest so I’ll have to try something else and be more careful. There was a gap of a few minutes between warping on and cranking and yanking so maybe that was it? I did have some trouble using the warping sticks with the Cricket, it has two back warp bars and a rod rather than the one back bar like my Kromski and that also threw me off. I’m not sure why exactly it has two? It made it trickier to use both the paper and the warping sticks—the loom is small and there isn’t a lot of space for your hands if you are warping close to the edge.

Rigid Heddle Project 4: Purple Variegated Scarf

I found a 16 inch Cricket loom with a second heddle (and Kraft paper!) on Facebook Marketplace (the only reason to stay on Facebook besides crafting groups) for a reasonable price in a town not far out of the city.

I went for it and actually picked up a drop spindle and wool kit the same day, also from Marketplace, nearby. Why not? I still think getting the bigger loom first was the right move but it was a good deal and I was curious.

Everything warped on smoothly and easily, having the clamps attaching the loom on a heavy coffee table really helped, the stand is great on my Harp but the loom and stand is very light and they want to move. For this I was able to use the same second table I did with the Kromski for indirect warping but they both stayed put without having to heavily weigh them down. I’m tempted to try clamping the Kromski to the coffee table to warp but then I’d have to reattach it to the stand fully warped which sounds awful.

I did run into one problem—after I pulled the yarn through the heddle holes and went to tie it off, some pieces were very short. I’m not sure how this happened. The table with the warping peg never moved and it wound on very evenly as far as I could tell but there were a few strands that were 3-4 inches shorter. I had to cut them all to even it out. Luckily I wasn’t too concerned about it being the correct length. There was no “surprise” when I finished of extra or tangled yarn so it is puzzling how this happened.

I used Brown Sheep worsted weight Nature Spun in Amethyst I bought on clearance from the Woolery by the cone for the warp. For the weft I used a ball of random yarn I think I bought in person at Michaels. I had wound it to use in frame loom projects so I didn’t keep track of what it was. I ended up needing a tiny bit more yarn to finish it and didn’t have more and couldn’t find it in my Yarn.com or Hobbii orders from a few months ago. I did have some purple variegated yarn of a similar weight and texture so I used that for the last few inches. I really don’t think you can tell.

It weaved up very easily and quickly. I did use the Kraft paper but I ordered some short warp sticks for next time. They really are easier when working alone.