Sometimes when you see something beautiful, you can't get it out of your mind. Which is the case for me with this silk scarf woven by British weaver Sally Weatherill (shown above in detail). I came upon it maybe 3 years ago when I took a workshop with Ann Richards at the Handweavers Studio and Gallery in London.
Here's what I gathered from the photo. Simple fact: It's silk, probably 60/2 silk, in double weave. With two different blocks -- one threading for the blue/green horizontal stripes and one threading for the red/purple. A twill threading, probably a 3/1 tieup.
Too many shafts for my loom, as I have only 12 (a large Macomber and a Leclerc Voyageur table loom). So, for starters, I can't weave a sample in 3/1 twill blocks. Fine with me; I will weave plain weave instead.
Second problem: There is no way I can achieve that small blue/green block in the center of the fabric without adding another block of threading. (That's because the wefts in the red/purple block are discontinuous, right? That weft would have to go in between the middle blue/green block.)
So here's what I came up with.
I used 20/2 cotton on shafts 1 through 4 and 9 through 12 and then 18/2 merino on shafts 5 through 8. I did not like the sample at all (so I won't even post a photo). The weft was 20/2 cotton. The sett was too loose -- so loose that, even after fulling in soap and hot water, the cotton looked like cheesecloth underneath the section where the wool shrank.
Next sample. I decided to tighten up the sett and eliminate the middle block of the warp -- thereby reducing the sample to 8 shafts.
Getting there! Here's how the sample looked.
Still not working well, however. Too messy where the wool warp floats over the merino weft. So I tried weaving the wool block in plain weave right along with the blocks of cotton. Here's the altered draft.
Here are the results. Much better.
I still didn't like the way the cotton plain weave cloth looked after finishing. Maybe it was the matte finish (even though it's pearl cotton). I decided to try superwash wool along with the 18/2 merino, so that the merino would shrink while the superwash wouldn't. I looked at my JaggerSpun color samples and found a red that looked the same in both superwash and merino. The blacks in both yarns matched fine, as you might expect. Here's what the sample looked like before and after finishing.
I like this, but some tweaking is still in order. In any event, I promised a surprise at the end of this post. So, going back to the source of inspiration: the gorgeous silk scarf in blue/green and red/purple double weave stripes.
Remember how I set out to figure out the structure? And it took me three different samples to find something even remotely pleasing -- not to mention the fact that I didn't really figure out the original structure?
Well, through the Complex Weavers Collapse Weave Study Group I have been in touch with Wendy Morris -- a gifted weaver who, at the time I visited the Handweavers Studio and Gallery in London, owned and managed the place. I wrote an article for our study group newsletter discussing the scarf and my efforts to copy it and she wrote me back with this surprise: The scarf was woven SIDEWAYS. Those beautiful red/purple layers are woven horizontally. THAT'S how the weaver achieved the gap in the middle.
Thinking out of the box. I will try always to remember to look at something from a different angle! Thank you, Wendy -- and thanks to Sally Weatherill for designing and weaving the gorgeous piece that got me started on this quest. Here's the draft, for your weaving wonderment.