The Story of a Scarf

I'll start with the basics: This is a 12-shaft weave, using three hand-painted warps in 60/2 reeled silk, at a sett of 60 epi, using an extended parallel threading, with a 120/2 spun silk weft.

Oh and it's not quite finished (what you don't see in the photo is the unplied fringe on the back of the mannikin).

I call this design "Pagoda" because the pattern looks like the multi-tiered roof of a Buddhist temple. See the the cascading pattern in the middle of the photo? And the colors remind me of Asian silk fabrics. Plus the cultivation of silk itself originated in China.

The story behind this piece is that it wasn't really planned at all!

It simply started with the yarn, which was undyed reeled silk from Habu. I purchased it for a bargain price when our guild was selling the yarns and equipment of a good friend, the late, abundantly creative Joy Duskin. I didn't even realize it was reeled silk -- which means silk that is thrown (or wound) straight from the cocoon, the most treasured silk of all. (Most of us purchase and weave with spun silk, which comes from incomplete pieces of the silk filaments and is less sleek and durable.)

I had never woven with reeled silk -- and this was in the gum, to boot! ("In the gum" means that the sericin from the silkworm's spit, which helps maintain the structure of the cocoon, has not been removed, so that the silk is stiff and has a matte finish. Silk can't be dyed in the gum. Also, removing the gum improves the luster, hand, and texture of the silk.)

The yarn sat in my sewing room for at least a year -- until I got together with two friends, Molly McLaughlin and Deb Kaplan. They both know lots about silk and Deb patiently showed me how to de-gum my skeins in hot water and soda ash.

This story is getting way too long, so let's cut to the dyeing: I wound two warps and hand-painted them with MX fiber-reactive dyes in two different colorways -- and THEN decided that they were too close in their hues. So I hand-painted a third warp. That's why you see a band of color in the center of the photo and different-colored bands on either selvage. I was planning an Echo design, which is typically threaded color A, color B, color A, color B, etc. For this scarf, using three hand-painted warps, the threading was A-B-A-B for about 4 inches, then A-C-A-C for about eight inches, then back to A-B-A-B for the last four inches.

Below is my design line, which I created on 8 shafts instead of 12, which left room to create a parallel threading 6 ends above the original design line. I chose not to put this on a network, just to see what happened.

Original design line on 8 shafts

The threading on 12 shafts: 
My original design line plus a parallel line 6 shafts above

In Fiberworks, here are the steps involved.

1) I expanded the number of shafts to 12 by going into the dropdown menu labeled "Tieup," clicking on "Shafts and Treadles," and increasing the number of treadles to 12.

2) Next, I clicked on the "Warp" dropdown menu, then clicked on "Parallel Repeat." I left the box checked that says "Add Shafts Above" (because I already created 12 shafts to work with), then I clicked on "Shafts shift by 6," and then clicked "Apply."

Next I created a classic Echo (also used for Rep) tieup, which is an ascending twill tieup with half the shafts up and half the shafts down, like so:

And then I created an advancing point-twill treadling, but that was all long warp floats and definitely unweavable.

Still, it was easy to solve, just by adding a parallel treadling. Using Fiberworks, this was done by clicking on the "Treadling" dropdown menu, clicking on the command that says "Extended Parallel," then putting the number "5" in the box labeled "Treadles Shift By," and then clicking on "Apply." (I shifted by 5 treadles instead of 6 as I had in the threading because I wanted to use only 10 treadles. So I divided 10 by 2 to get the correct parallel for the tieup.) This is the way Rep is treadled, on an extended parallel treadling. But the scarf isn't traditional Rep Weave, because I use only one weft yarn rather than the two (one thick, one thin) that characterize Rep.

And here's what the final drawdown looks like. (The red lines in the warp tell me where I need to shift my color arrangements from ABAB to ACAC, remembering that I'm using three hand-painted warps.)

Here's a closer look at the scarf itself.

And one more view...

I hope to enter this in an exhibit next year -- and I will let you know if and when it's accepted! Thanks for reading.


Nangellini said…
I love reading your process but especially seeing the beauty you manifest. Magnificent work! (Play!)
Denise Kovnat said…
Thank you, Nangellini! I hope we get to meet each other sometime!

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