Like pesto, but without the garlic...

So is it all the various social media or just the ever growing list of things I need to do that has splintered my attention and made me loose my memory and/or mind?? The other day I made pesto for my pasta. I ate it, but man was there something wrong. As I went over the ridiculously short list of ingredients I realized I forgot to add the garlic. It was a moment of clarity mixed with amazement - pesto is just not pesto if you forget the garlic. It just tastes.... wrong.

When I finished my first woven shibori scarf, I decided to do a quick overdye to mute the stark whiteness.  I rinsed it well and then laid it out to dry. And the result? A crunchy feeling piece of cloth. Ugh! Like pesto without the garlic. What's the purpose of having a beautiful piece of cloth if it looses its softness?

The problem though is I didn't actually forget anything in my dye 'recipe'. The soda ash used to activate the dye can result in a rough hand, especially if it's not rinsed well. But the fiber also lost its shine and luster. I'm bummed. There are industrial softeners I could try. I've never used a chemical like that before, and really don't want to take that route just yet. So I'll attempt another soak and rinse and see what happens...

Woven Shibori: Off Loom

Well, I can't lie. This is one of the more time consuming weavings I've done. It's also the first time I'm really excited to get this done and over with because I want to see what happens after I dye it. I'm like a little kid that can't sit still. Even though it's been a bit tedious, the actual gathering and bunching part of the process is definitely my favorite. It's a good way to get out one's frustrations. 
Let me step you through the oh-so-not-difficult process of bunching:

The trick is to pull from one side to the half way point then knot that side:

Then pull from the other side taking care not to break the thread. Then knot those together as tightly as possible:

Keep going until you have a nicely knotted heap of thread:

All ready to dye!

Woven Shibori: On loom

Remember how I tried to do a test piece for my first woven shibori? Yeah, it didn't turn out awesome, which is why I didn't share what happened when I pulled out the threads, but at least I learned a lot.

So instead, I decided to just jump in like I normally do with some virgin bamboo fiber. I found a M/W twill pattern with the pull threads pre-defined. I took that and modified it a little, along with the spacing.

Stay tuned to see what happens!

Woven Shibori: Practice Round - Ding!

I don't normally do test runs of things I make. I just like to dive into something and hope for the best. More than likely, it comes out just fine. And if not, then that becomes the test piece. It's a win-win.

My newest obsession is shibori, which for those of you who might not know is the Japanese art of resist fabric dying. In the states, tie-dyeing t-shirts is the closest thing we know, taken from one type of shibori (kanoko). Other methods of shibori include: pole wrapped (arashi), pleated (suji), clamped (itajime), and stitched (nui). I could go on and on about this stuff, but today I'll only bore you with the stitched method.

In basic terms, stitched shibori is where you take a needle and thread to some fabric, make a loose running stitch then pull the thread tightly resulting in scrunched, bunched fabric. The folds created, if done properly, will be tight enough to resist the dye bath resulting in a pattern.  

Recently I discovered a book at the library called Woven Shibori which takes this theory and it applies it to the loom. But instead of hand stitching in the thread, I weave it into the cloth. How genius is that?! I'm so fascinated by this that it's taken over my weaving project thoughts. And since I've never done this (not even hand stitched fabric shibori), I have no idea what it's going to do to the fabric. Which is why I decided to do some actual test pieces.

I used some variegated cotton thread that I've had sitting on the shelf for years. I have no clue as to why I bought it. I really hate variegated yarn because it never gives you the result you think you'll get. I figured it would be good practice yarn. I think I was right since the resulting fabric is so ugly.

I decided to go even further with the test piece and even added some wool threads. The plan is to dip the end into boiling water; the hot water should shrink the wool but not the cotton and it should naturally pucker. We'll see how that goes.

So this is what the test piece looked like B.D. (before dyeing):

This is what it looked like A.D. (After Dyeing):

Why was I so shocked that it didn't take up much dye? Because of all the pre-dyed fibers I've dealt with, usually can be over-dyed. But then I realized that all the fiber I've over-dyed has been protein based. Darn you animal fibers! You take dye so well! You strike again! 

Time to take out the stitches and see what I get!