Woven Stained Glass
My mission with Flora & Fiber is to inspire you to create your own handcrafted traditions. As such, I am exploring a variety of fiber arts techniques and bringing them to you. This project, woven stained glass, was fun and a little off the beaten path. It started with contemplating how to use leftover yarn from another project.
Some of you may have seen this Mermaid Scarf I wove a few months back. (BTW I plan to do a post on freeform overshot in the future).
The variegated yarn is Wisdom Poem Sock yarn in the Cruise colorway; a beautiful kaleidoscope of rainbow colors! I had a little over a half of the skein left and I was pondering what to make with it . . . and then my copy of 'The Wheel' from Ashford arrived. On page 10-11 (Issue 28) was an article written by Ginger Balch on weaving Stained Glass on a Rigid Heddle loom. Perfect!
This design produces a multi-colored patchwork effect using a tapestry-like technique similar to clasped weft. In clasped weft, there are two wefts that cross partially from one side to the other, encircle each other, and then return to the selvedge edge from whence (hmmm . . . whence?) it came. Generally, clasped weft is a weft-faced weave (meaning the weft dominates and very little of the warp shows). However, this project was woven more as a balanced plain weave. The different blocks or "stained glass" are a combination of varying the colors, as well as their size by how far the yarn is drawn into the shed (i.e.., half way, three-quarters, etc.). I think this will make more sense as you read further.
First the warp. The article recommended using a multi-colored yarn for the warp. The Wisdom Poem Sock yarn is 75% wool/25% nylon and super fine (459 yd/3.5 oz.), and would not hold up to being under the tension needed for the warp. So, I went shopping in my stash yarn for something that would hold up as warp, had some color variation, and would look good with the Cruise yarn. I found Artyarns Luxe Fine Merino (superwash) in Twilight colorway (180 yd/3.5 oz.). This produced a more tonal background, whereas a more variegated yarn might have produced a greater color effect.
I direct warped my Kromski Harp Forte rigid heddle loom using an 8 dent reed, 60 total warp ends, and 79 inches total warp length. I used a total of 144 yards of warp yarn with very little loom waste.
Next, I separated the colors of the ball of Sock yarn and wound them into individual butterflies. The article suggested using butterflies, rather than shuttles and I would agree this was the best method. As I wove, I randomly chose from my pile of colorful butterflies.
Butterfly-small bundles of yarn; sometimes referred to as hand hanks.
I am including a few step-out photos that will hopefully give you an idea of how I wove the clasped weft.
Note - you will be working with the wrong side facing you; the joins are a little more obvious on the back than on the front of the project. Although, after finishing, this was less noticeable.
The weave was loose, I'd say about 6 picks per inch. I wanted this to be a really drapey scarf so I intentionally beat softly, really just placing the weft threads. Continue this sequence back and forth inserting and interlocking the butterflies. You can change colors and the size of the block however your heart desires. Do be sure to leave long enough tails when changing butterflies, as these will need to be woven in when finishing.
Once the entire piece was woven, I removed it from the loom. Using a tapestry needle, I wove all the tails in about 1 inch. There are a fair amount of ends to weave in, but the process really went pretty quick.
I used a simple knotted fringe on either end. To finish, I gently washed in hot water and then dried flat. I trimmed the fringe ends uniform to 6 inches. The finished scarf is 7" wide by 56 1/2" + 6" of fringe on either end for a total of 68 1/2".
This "Winter" we have had a multitude of 80 degree days, so come March 1st Pete and I thought we were safe to pack away all the "winter" coats, gloves, boots, etc. And then . . . . it got cold . . . . and snowed! This scarf was finished just in time! It's lightweight, but soft, cozy, and warm. You just want to squish it next to your face!
I'm pleased with how the scarf turned out. I only used about 95 yards of the Sock yarn and still have 176 yards remaining, so I may have to try another one of these. Variations might include an all black warp; black tends to make bright colors pop. Or find a colorway for the warp that has more contrasting colors.
I hope you enjoyed and were inspired to try something new yourself!