Ooooh – collaboration! One of those undertakings full of opportunity and creativity. Frabjous Fibers/Wonderland Yarns sent Schacht a box of fiber and yarn goodness. This wonderful Vermont company has an abundant line of hand-dyed yarns and fibers, including fair trade yarns and other delights. I was instantly drawn to the colors and textures of yarn and fiber and the promise of enjoying a project yet-to-be. I selected two braids of Organic Polwarth Wool Top and one magical skein of Unicorn Luxury Silk Mohair Blend.
Such luck! A chance to spin and weave – but what? I knew that the warp would be the handspun and the weft the Unicorn yarn. Beyond that, the project was still unknown. Time to ponder that while spinning.
To begin – color selection and fiber prep. The two braids were 4 ounces each of Desert Rose and Tapestry. Although I loved the color combinations of each, I decided to take out the deeper, richer colors of Tapestry to lighten the overall palette and save them for a future project. Jillian Moreno was my inspiration for being selective with color as well as my approach to prepping the braids. In recent months I had referenced her book Yarn-i-tec-ture as well as her DVD 12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top. Great resources! To create shorter color changes, I split the braids lengthwise into quarters.
Next – spinning. My first step was to spin the Polwarth wool top into two 2-ply yarns. I spun the singles on my Sidekick wheel, end to end, then plied them just as they came off the bobbins. The plied yarn was 9-10 wraps per inch. After calculating the yardage of the Desert Rose and the transformed Tapestry, I could plan the next part of the project.
Followed by – warping & weaving. Full disclosure – my first time weaving with handspun! With enough warp for a shoulder wrap, I began designing on the 15” Cricket loom. The halo of the Unicorn yarn and the WPI of the handspun made a 5-dent reed the best option. I decided to incorporate two basic design elements: a weave structure consisting of 3 sets of skipped slots and holes and for the wrap to have a turned collar. To begin, I doubled ends of the Unicorn at each side and planned the skipped slots and holes, taking into consideration the design element of the collar. Next, I randomly threaded all of the Tapestry (because it had less yardage) across the reed, then filled in with the Desert Rose. At each end of the woven piece, I did an overcast stitch to hold the weft in place for finishing. I reserved the Unicorn exclusively for the weft and wove a fairly-balanced, plain weave. After washing the piece, I discovered two happy surprises. One, the ends on either side of the empty slots and holes migrated to the open space, lending a more organic appearance to the piece. And two, I was completely in love with the combination of the handspun with the Unicorn. There is an unexpected life to this little wrap that has me enamored with weaving with handspun – and that bit of unicorn magic! The Unicorn selvedges also created a fortuitous ruffled edge!
And – finally. A big thanks to Frabjous Fibers/Wonderland Yarns for providing such inspiring fiber for this multi-faceted collaboration. I thoroughly enjoyed the partnerships of spinning and weaving, handspun combined with commercially-spun yarn, and Jillian’s guidance and successful application.
Although I encourage spinners and weavers out there to embark on their own woven handspun and yarn collaboration, I am including the basic details of this project.
Plain weave with handspun warp yarn and commercially-spun weft.
Sidekick Spinning Wheel, 15” Cricket Loom, 5-dent reed, 1 stick shuttle.
FIBER FOR HANDSPUN WARP YARN
Frabjous Fibers: Organic Polwarth Wool Top #671 Desert Rose, 1 – 4 oz. braid and Organic Polworth Wool Top #124 Tapestry, 1 – 4 oz. braid.
YARN FOR EDGES OF WARP & ALL WEFT YARN
Wonderland Yarns: Unicorn Luxury Silk/Mohair Blend (63% silk, 23% kid mohair, 11% nylon, 3% lurex and a bit of unicorn magic) in Off With Her Red.
Warp length: 84” (includes 36” for hems, take-up, shrinkage, and loom waste).
Warp ends: 65
Width in reed: 14.5”
Using the direct warping method, follow the warping plan below: warp 2 ends of Unicorn doubled (4 ends total), 2 ends of handspun, skip 4 dents, 16 ends of handspun, skip 4 dents, 16 ends of handspun, skip 4 dents, 23 ends of handspun, 2 ends of Unicorn doubled (4 ends total). Helpful hint: for the handspun yarn, randomly warp the Tapestry (or yarn with the least amount of yardage) first and then fill in with the Desert Rose (or yarn with the most yardage).
Begin the piece with an overcast stitch, followed by ½” of tightly packed weft for the hem. The piece is woven as a fairly-balanced plain weave. Weave 50”. End the piece with another ½” of hem, followed by the same overcast stitch.
Leaving a few inches of waste warp before and after the tightly packed weft and overcast stitches, hand wash in lukewarm water and roll in a towel to remove excess water. Lay flat to dry, keeping project width as even as possible. Trim away waste warp close to the overcast stitching and fold over ½” for hem. Press using a towel between iron and project. Fold over another ½” and press again. Hand stitch hem. Lay project out flat with right side facing up. The top of the piece is the section of warp with 23 ends of handspun. Find the center of the top, fold selvedge back approximately 1½”, and pin. At each end, fold back just above the hems and pin. Continue to fold and pin from center to hems, creating a tapered collar. Hand stitch collar just above the Unicorn selvedge. Finish with a button closure, as shown, or wear with a shawl pin.