Woven Shibori – The Adventure Continues

(This blog post was originally published January 11, 2011 and April 19, 2011 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

In this repub I will be combining blog posts, keeping the really essential bits about Woven Shibori and flushing the bits that no one wants to read about ;-).

Part the first:

I had plans for a new Woven Shibori wide scarf project. I researched patterns on handweaving.net and found an undulating twill pattern for 8 harnesses that I liked and played around with it on pixeloom. I got a warp wound and halfway threaded. I was going to finally get back to it and then the holidays and my holiday knitting kind of got in the way of any serious weaving.

But I thought I would share my draft. I am actually using the sequence on the left which starts with two repeats of a straight draw, then a zigzag in the middle, then two repeats of a straight draw.

This is the drawdown. What I had in mind was an ogee motif repeated across the scarf. See this article on Ogees for more on that subject.


Part the second:

[After the holidays] my woven shibori project moved slowly but it did progress. I got the first scarf off the loom and tied up all of the shibori threads. I had decided to paint the scarf with one color (rust) on one side, wait a bit, and then flip it over and paint the scarf with a different color on the other side. I did this in my dungeon (basement) dye studio. The scarf was just the right length to stretch out on the “table” that I use to paint yarn.

So first I soaked the scarf in my tub of water and soda ash.


Then I stretched it out on my dyeing “table” and painted it with the rust color dye.


As you can see, my “table” is a piece of plywood placed on a non-functioning laundry sink. Not very glamorous, but it is a space that suits my needs and as an added bonus, nobody else in the family would ever consider wanting to use it.

So I have that scarf dried and the ties pulled out. It’s very interesting to note that the dye didn’t really penetrate to the other side very much, with either color. So the scarf is kind of reversible, colorwise.

I have finished weaving the second scarf, with a slightly different tie-up, with longer floats. I am in the process of dyeing it, and there will be two steps. The first was to paint it all over with aquamarine dye, which makes the light yellow a pretty aqua-green. Then I will dip-dye the scarf in a tub with a good medium blue.

To be continued….

Part the third:

When I last blogged about my latest woven shibori project, I had just dyed the first scarf in a two-scarf warp by painting it, front and back, one side with rust orange and the other side with brown. That scarf turned out ok, but I didn’t like the pattern. The undulating twill was way too elongated, and it was kind of broken up. The lines weren’t smooth enough for my sensitive eye.

So my next move was to alter the tie-up for the second scarf. I made the floats much longer with the hope that the pattern would be more clearly defined. I also changed the treadling so that each pattern shot was done twice (last time I did each pattern shot three times). Here is the latest weaving draft which reflects all these changes:


So I wove the scarf (a process that took quite a while, as I was doing a bit of knitting as well). I pulled up the shibori pattern threads and tied them. Then the dyeing began. I decided to do two colors. The base color of the scarf is a light yellow, so the dye colors had to be able to go well with that color. I chose aquamarine for the first color. And I put the soda-soaked wet scarf in a plastic tub and basically poured a half liter of dye solution all over it. I squeezed it and turned it over and over, making sure that the scarf was completely covered by the aquamarine. Then I covered the tub and left it for about a day. I went through the rinsing out, and hung it up to dry.

No rush.

My next move was to mix up some bright blue dye, enough for the weight of the scarf and filled a tub with about three inches of dye solution. I soda-soaked the scarf again, and then draped it over a couple of lucite dowels so that just the ends of the scarf were dipped into the dye solution. I left this for a few hours, maybe overnight, memory fades….

Anyway. I rinsed it out, and then I went away for about a week and a half, and I couldn’t see the finished product until I got back home. The suspense!

So, here are some pics. This is the scarf, with the ties still in:


And here is the scarf modeled by the lovely Stella:


And here are a couple more pics, purely for eye candy:


Woven Shibori (part deux)

(This blog post was originally published November 4, 2010 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

When I last blogged about woven shibori scarfs I was warping my loom with commercially dyed rayon chenille. After weaving the scarfs I planned to first overdye them with Dharma Brilliant Blue fiber reactive dye, which was pretty much the only color that would work with red and pumpkin. Then I would tie the resist threads, and overdye again with Dharma Jet Black.

It took a while, but now the results are in, and by the way, Woven Shibori is awesome.

With a two-block Monk’s Belt for the pattern, I wove the first scarf with pumpkin weft, and did an immerson dye bath. For the second scarf, woven with red weft, I painted the dye on just like I do with painted yarns. For the record, painting the dye is the preferred method from now on.

When you do an immersion dye bath with fiber reactive dyes, the process is fairly labor intensive. You have to mix the dye and the salt with the water, immerse the fabric or yarn, and stir constantly for about 10 minutes. You add the soda ash at prescribed intervals, and stir some more. With yarn, this isn’t so messy. With woven fabric, it feels more awkward stirring a piece of stiff, wet rayon chenille and you really have to watch for splashing.

When the first scarf was rinsed and dried and the resist threads were tied, I did another immersion dye bath, this time in Dharma Jet Black. The black rinsed out into charcoal gray, however, and I think I must have gotten the measurements wrong for the weight of the scarf. But, still, I quite like the result.


The columns of dyed areas flow back and forth with the stripes in the scarf quite nicely, and I think the color values work well.

For the second scarf, I painted the Dharma Blue on, just like I paint yarns. First I soaked the piece of fabric in a tub with water and soda ash for about 20 minutes. Then I wrung it out, and put it on a table lined with plastic. I mixed up the dye in a plastic bottle, then squirted iit on the fabric, working it in with a foam brush. Easy peasy. No splashing involved. Of course, the slow cloth factor increases with this method, because the dye has to cure, covered with more plastic, for about 24 hours before being rinsed out.

After rinsing and drying and pulling up the resist threads, I then put the second scarf in a plastic tub and squirted a half liter of very concentrated Dharma Jet Black dye solution all over it. I covered it up with a towel, and let it sit for another 24 hours, turning occasionally. Were it not for the fact that I broke one of the resist threads when tying them, which resulted in a black stripe in the mid portion of the scarf, I would say that this is the best woven shibori scarf yet.


This darker scarf has a richer, more dramatic look.

More shibori to come!

Woven Shibori and Adventures in Slow Cloth

(This blog post was originally published September 8, 2010 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

I was so jazzed by the idea of woven shibori (see previous post), that I started thinking about all the commercially dyed chenille in my stash that I could re-purpose using this technique. I have a bunch (under 10 lbs.) of commercially dyed rayon chenille, in colors that are okay, but not wonderful and in a weight that is a bit heavier than I use for my dye painting. And I thought, wouldn’t it be a hoot great idea to use up these not-so-great colors of yarn by overdyeing with some better colors, and have some fun with shibori at the same time?

So I chose some tepid red and some off-pumpkin and warped those two colors in stripes. When I got them to the loom, they kind of reminded me of really bad school colors.


Which led me to thinking that I could overdye the scarf once, when it came off the loom, then pull up and tie the shibori pattern threads, and then dye the scarf again, thus adding a third color in the semi-controlled shibori patterning.

I chose Dharma Brilliant Blue for the overdye, but decided to try it out on sample skeins to see what colors I would get. Here you see the before and after:



I went to the Cushings website for some guidance on what to expect when overdyeing. (The Cushings overdyes are for acid dyes on wool, but I figured the colors would be in the ballpark for fiber reactive dyes on rayon.) The off-pumpkin turned into a nice gray which was predicted by Cushings, but the tepid red turned into burgundy, which I didn’t expect. Cushings predicted blue over red would yield purple. I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s all part of the adventure.

Stay tuned.

Rayon Chenille and Woven Shibori – OMG!

(This blog post was originally published August 19, 2010 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)


I just finished a rayon chenille weaving project that was a few weeks in the works, mostly because of travel and not procrastination 😉 . I was using the dye resist technique known as Woven Shibori and popularized by Catharine Ellis in her book by the same name.

I’ve been meaning to try this technique for some time, and having the summer basically off to pursue my projects meant I had no excuse. The technique involves weaving the scarf first before any dyeing happens. I chose some light grey chenille that I’ve had for perhaps a decade. You weave it with pattern wefts inserted every inch or so in some strong thread that will be gathered up and tied once the scarf is off the loom.



I chose a simple four harness (two block) Monk’s Belt pattern, using 5/2 pearl cotton for the resist thread. I chose that cotton because it was the only thread I could find in the stash that wouldn’t break when I pulled on it very hard. (That’s important.) The gathering of the scarf creates the resist, and it has to be pulled very tightly. I ended up re-tieing after I’d done it once, just because I wanted it to be good and tight.


The next step is to overdye the scarf with a darker, or contrasting color, obviously a color that will harmonize with the original yarn. I decided to go with black. I dyed the scarf using my usual procion dye procedure for rayon yarn. After doing that I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed (because black is stubborn), and let it dry. I ended up waiting for 3 weeks to get back to it, and cutting all the pattern knots, revealing the resist (undyed) areas inside.

The scarf dried in pleats. So I washed it again, and dried it in the dryer to soften the chenille and all the pleats washed right out. I have a lot of commercially dyed rayon chenille in different colors, and this is the perfect stash-busting technique for those cones.

Here’s one last detail photo of the finished scarf.


WHEEE! I’m Published

(This blog post was originally published May 24, 2012 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

Now it can be revealed! (Well, I don’t know how much of a secret this really was, but I was waiting until the actual magazine was published before I blogged about it.) I have a project published in the (latest) May/June 2012 issue of Handwoven magazine!

My project is the Houndstooth Scarf in Diversified Plain Weave, and I gotta say that the whole process was both scary and exciting.

It started in January when I wove my first Diversified Plain Weave scarf (DPW for short) and blogged about it. Picture below. The editor of Handwoven noticed my blog piece and sent me a very nice email asking if I would like to do a project for the May/June issue, which was about DPW, among other techniques. I answered, “Yes (gulp)!”

I had an idea for a six-block houndstooth profile draft in DPW. (BTW, there aren’t a lot of six-block houndstooth patterns out there, so I kind of had to figure it out for myself.) So I worked it out and wove a prototype, pictured below.

The yarns I used were just some chenille and cotton that I’d had in my stash for years quite a long time. Brand X chenille Mill end chenille and 40/3 cotton. I needed some main stream standard size yarns to do a magazine project, so I ordered 1450 ypp chenille and found some 20/2 cotton, and I was off and running.

The project was due in the third week of February and I was weaving right up to the last minute. I even took a half day off work to do the last minute finishing on the piece and get it ready to mail, along with the Project-at-a-Glance information sheet and the print outs of the pattern file and profile draft. When you are weaving for publication, every detail has to be just right, and I was feeling the pressure.

The project looks great in the magazine, I must say. Here is a sneak peak if you haven’t seen it already:

And, here is the profile draft for the six-block houndstooth pattern:


New Adventures with Chenille: Diversified Plain Weave Wow!

(This blog post was originally published December 30, 2011 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

One of the many projects I’ve had simmering in the studio for a while has been a Diversified Plain Weave scarf using rayon chenille and cotton. Diversified Plain Weave is a clunky term for an elegant weave structure that produces a lovely, supple rayon and cotton fabric. You can use other materials including wool or silk, but rayon and cotton is what I have around, and (especially the cotton) need to use.

Diversified Plain Weave (hereafter referred to as DPW) has been around for a while. Klara Cherepov produced a small book on it in 1972, which I checked out from the university library. I found it cryptic and unreadable, much less something I could actually use in the studio. This “classic” DPW relies on pretty strict rules concerning threading and weaving. Each pattern block consists of two shafts, in addition to two tie-down shafts. Odd and even shafts must alternate. Many other rules must be applied.

Madelyn van der Hoogt’s article titled “Thick ‘n Thin Again” in Weaver’s Magazine (Summer 1997) is an excellent summary of “classic” DPW, the pros and cons. However, in this article she introduces a new and improved DPW that eliminates all the hassles of the original, and this totally got my attention.

In this new and improved version, blocks are threaded and woven independently of each other, and do not have to follow a prescribed order. In other words, DPW was transformed into a true block weave. Each block consists of two thin tie-down threads on shafts 1 and 2, and a thick pattern thread on a third shaft. For my scarf I used 1200 ypp rayon chenille in black for the thick warp and 40/3 cotton in black for the thin warp. For the weft I used 1200 ypp handpainted rayon chenille for the thick weft, and 40/3 cotton in black for the thin weft.

Here is a shot of the scarf on the loom:

It was threaded 24 ends per inch, 2 thin threads and 1 thick thread per dent in my 8 dent reed. I added a floating selvedge on each side. I made the warp 9″ wide, and wove 70″, not including fringes. When I got it off the loom it had shrunk to 8 1/4″ in width and 68″ in length. After zigzagging the ends I soaked the scarf in the sink, rinsed it, and spun out the extra water in the washing machine. At the laundromat (don’t own a dryer, never have) I dried it only until damp-dry, then laid it out flat at home to dry the rest of the way. It had shrunk to 6 1/2″ x 60″, a whopping 15% shrinkage in length, and 18% shrinkage in width. That was quite a surprise, but good to know as I plan to do a lot more of these!

Here is a shot of the finished scarf:

The underside of the scarf is the opposite of the top side: the black becomes handpaint and the handpaint becomes black. It’s pretty cool.

What I would do differently:

•I would wind the two tie-down warps together from two separate spools along with the thick pattern thread, thus eliminating the need to stop and cut the warp every time I change yarn. (I may have been weaving for 40+ years, but I can still do stupid stuff with the best of them.)

•I would put the handpainted yarn in the warp instead of the weft, thus eliminating the stripey effect that handpainting yarn naturally causes.

Here is the profile draft that I used

Each block in the threading represents 2 tie-down threads and 1 pattern thread. Each block in the treadling sequence represents 2 “tabby” shots and 1 pattern shot. (Please note that you do not get a true tabby with this threading.)

And here is a sample of my actual drawdown:

The threading sequence goes: tie-down thread on 1, tie-down thread on 2, pattern thread on 3, 4, 5, or 6. This three thread sequence can be repeated at will and you can follow any pattern block with any other pattern block, odd or even.

This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

And I’m Published Again

(This blog post was originally published June 3, 2013 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

I’m pleased to announce that I have a weaving project published in the May/June 2013 issue of Handwoven magazine which is just out on on newstands as we speak. It’s such a rush seeing your work in a print publication — there’s really nothing like it. And the issue theme was perfect for me — color. If there’s one aspect of fiber that I am always focusing on, it is color. With a capital C. Structure runs a close second, but Color is where I live.

This Circles Scarf is the project that I wove for Handwoven. It is a Diversified Plain Weave scarf, woven with rayon chenille for the thick warp and weft, and 20/2 cotton for the thin warp and weft. Here is the front view (that is, the front of the fabric)

And here is view with the underside (back) of the fabric:


When I got started with this idea, I was playing around with profile drafts and quickly realized that in this design the front and back of the fabric were very different. In this screen shot the front is on the left, and the back on the right:

When you move through the color blocks for each row of circles the neutrals of the warp appear as circles embedded in the weft stripes. On the back the opposite is the case, the vertical stripes of the warp have circles of color embeded within. Magic!

Here is the Profile Draft for the design. You can go crazy with different structures, but personally, I think the Diversified Plain Weave that I used for this scarf is the way to go.



Shameless Plug

(This blog post was originally published February 26, 2013 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

I’ve been weaving a lot of circles (see my previous post) and using a lot of colors of rayon chenille in small quantities. And it occurred to me, this isn’t a problem, for me, because I dye my yarn. I even over-dye my yarn if I don’t like the current color. But for many weavers, having a lot of colors of rayon chenille at your finger tips might be a pretty expensive proposition.

You can order chenille from the big yarn suppliers, but only on 1 pound cones. At upwards of $15-$20 per cone. Ouch. This is where my shameless plug comes in. I have a shop on Etsy where I sell hand-dyed and hand-painted rayon chenille, in addition to hand-painted tencel and cotton yarns. In small quantities. I sell the cotton and tencel in 4 ounce skeins. And I sell the rayon chenille in 4 ounce skeins. I could even dye to order if a request came my way.

I’m not the only indie dyer out there selling, but if you think about it, this is a real convenience that we provide. Folks needing small quantities should really look into this as a yarn source.

Ok. As I said, I’ve been weaving circles

Circles in Diversified Plain Weave. The warp is alternating stripes of black and gray rayon chenille. The weft is (you guessed it) stripes of rayon chenille in bright colors. This is the prototype scarf for a project I’m hoping will land in a forthcoming issue of a weaving magazine. More about that later.

After I finished weaving my scarves I decided to push the circles idea further and came up with this:

This profile draft has 8 threading blocks, which means for a weave like Diversified Plain Weave or Summer and Winter, you will need 10 harnesses. It will weave in Crackle on 8 harnesses, but I like DPW or S&W better. This design will just have to wait ’til I have more time to devote to it.

Pretty cool huh?


Stash Buster Gold

Here’s a stash buster rayon chenille scarf hot off the loom that has me totally in awe.

I wanted to try the interleaved, echo threading technique that has everyone buzzing. I wanted to use that threading with a Turned Taquete tie-up and treadling sequence. Plus, I wanted to try all that without taking the time to work out my own design. Lazy? Maybe, but I wanted instant gratification.

This is the result, a dramatic, luxurious scarf that had me before the end of the first repeat.

I used odds and ends and bits and pieces of the last of my 2000 yards per pound rayon chenille. I wanted good contrast, so I overdyed half with black, and the other half was comprised of magenta, iris handpaints, blue, green, and whatever I could grab that would plausibly work in the mix. I sett the warp at 24 ends per inch for a warp-emphasis weave. I used the same weight rayon chenille for weft, in black.

(FYI: if you are planning on using fiber reactive black dyes for overdyeing other colors, don’t bother tub dyeing. Just paint the dye on and let it set for at least 24 hours. Otherwise it will never cover the old color sufficiently.)

Here is the original Turned Taquete design on which I based my scarf. It was purchased from WEBS in PDF form at least a year ago. You can find it here. The original is woven with 8/2 tencel warp and 20/2 cotton weft. I bought the pattern before doing much research on interleaved weaves, so when the light bulb finally came on, I was anxious to give it a try.

Glad I did!

I liked doing this so much I ended up buying a huge 4+ lb. cone of 2000 ypp rayon chenille to do more. Though I won’t use this particular design again, I plan to work on my own designs with an eye to weaving in this technique for my Etsy shop.