The finished solar dyed kimono sweater!!!!
I really like how this project turned out. The sweater can be worn open, with the collar folded back, or crossed and held together with a sweater pin; this pin is a hammered copper spiral I bought from an artist online.
This sweater took nearly five months to complete. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into when I started. It includes 119 four-inch woven squares and four half-sized rectangles. It’s my first completely handmade sweater. I learned a lot making it. It contains several sustainable and experimental features:
- I found the Weave Easy Hand Loom, a vintage 1971 miniature rigid heddle loom, at a thrift store for $3. I discovered that I liked both little looms and rigid heddle looms during this process.
- I bought the worsted weight wool weft yarns from thrift stores and fellow weavers. (The weft yarns are vertical in the body of the sweater.)
- I learned how to dye those weft yarns, which were originally undyed, in a solar panel cooker using food coloring and vinegar, a relatively non-toxic dye choice and fossil fuel-free dyeing process. I even constructed a large panel cooker out of used materials to use just for dyeing.
- The warp yarns were leftover bits of wool yarn from my stash. The granny square composition allowed me to mix and match these leftovers into a harmonious whole.
- I learned how to lace together the squares invisibly. I removed the squares that I originally placed under the arms with two half-sized rectangles to provide more space for arm movement. It is easy to weave rectangles on this loom. I folded the two removed squares into triangles to make gussets, a common feature on historical, loom-shaped garments.
- I learned how to knit an edging on handwoven fabric.
The kitties kept me company throughout the entire process, from start to finish.
At last week’s Flagstaff fiber arts gathering at my house I showed the almost-completed sweater to everyone. They liked the little bit of frilliness provided by the bottom edging and advised me not to block it very much. I took their advice. My friend Lauren loved the sweater so much she kept making jokes about wondering if she could walk off with it without me noticing. She now wants to make her own similar sweater on a pin loom she has that she has never used.
Hanging on my warping board you can see my unfinished cochineal-dyed wool vest woven by my mother, who is also in the picture, as well as the backstrap loom scarf warp. I plan to finish those projects next. I will also start the knitted headband I have designed to coordinate with the sweater. An autumn chill has arrived.
The rest of my outfit is thrift store silk.