I'm always interested in trying new dye techniques. For this project, inspired by the sea, I wanted to investigate the role of water in dyeing and how it's use - in quantities greater and smaller - might affect the outcome. My prior silk warp dyeing - for Conservation of Matter and Energy - involved the direct application of dye to fiber. The method I chose for this project utilizes the presence of water to create gentle gradations of shifting color.
The warp includes Mulberry silk dyed in small batches in my very large crock pot. To each batch I added slightly different shades of blues, greens and purples and I experimented with the water levels. When more was added to the pot, the dye was more likely to mix with a neighboring color, yielding surprising color combinations. The water diluted the dye, creating gentle gradations of color within each skein. The hot, acidic water prepared the fibers to take the dye. Each batch was kept at a simmer until all dye had bonded to the fiber and the water was clear. This is a very satisfying moment - when the murk has cleared and you're left with beautiful variegated yarn floating in water!
I dyed enough silk to allow each skein to fill one section on the loom. While beaming the silk, I grouped together skeins that were dyed in the same batch to create a of progression in color from light to dark. Each individual strand has within it all the colors of the yarn in that section. These colors shift down the length of the warp, which appears more or less striped as like colors gather and disperse. This is met with an occasional pop of a bright green or purple.
The warp wasn't yet finished. Last Spring, when I was working on Weave 2 Together - which combined a similarly variegated warp on one beam with a smooth gradation on the other - I really liked the effect that was created when the two were combined as I was weaving a plain weave header in setting up the loom. (The rest of the project was woven in an echo weave which distinguished the two warps rather than combining them. You can read more about that here.) I found that the second warp added a wash of color, much the same way a weft will do. It also added interest in it's gradation - slightly shifting the balance of color from one rail to the other. With this project, I wanted to pursue this earlier thread. I chose to combine the subtle transitions of color in the silk with a clear gradation of color in a separate warp on the other beam. A smooth gradation of blue-greens in cottolin is thus combined with the kettle-dyed silk. I love silk paired with linen and cotton!
The warp was threaded in a balanced sequence - with each thread from the silk warp followed by one thread from the cottolin warp. I used a 12-shaft twill draft derived from the pattern I used for Agave and Annabelle Learns How to Weave. I chose this draft for it's subtle pattern and tweaked it slightly to create an even simpler look. For this project, I didn't want the weave pattern to compete too much with the color work. The weave adds a bit of interest but isn't too distracting. It has a dense interlacement that provides a cushy feel. It is a characteristic that pairs very nicely with my favorite fluffy cottolin.
A number of wefts were employed in varying shades of blue. Weft fibers include Organic pima cotton, Mulberry silk, Tsumugi silk and superwash Merino wool. All but the Tsumugi silk are hand-dyed - some by me and for this specific project. Some I had on hand. One I had left over from a previous project. This one I over-dyed to better suit the colors of this warp.
As mentioned above, I'm always interested in trying new dye techniques. In many recent attempts I have been working on methods for dyeing cellulose fibers (cotton, linen, hemp, for example) that will yield the same soft transitions of variegated color that can be achieved in acid-dyeing silk. The process is completely different and I've found that for cotton dyed with fiber reactive dye, the removal of most water from the process - a sort of low-water immersion variation - yields similar results. With practice, I've found ways to allow each skein dyed within a batch to be very similar to the next such that weft changes are much less noticeable. Some of the wefts employed in this project are not quite there yet and I've indicated which pieces have weft transitions that are more noticeable. I don't know if it's something that bothers anybody but me. But it does bother me enough to try to avoid it and to disclose it when it's present.
ione Organic Pima cotton v.1 wrap features hand-dyed Organic pima cotton. The weft is the most recently dyed skeins of Pima. When this weft was dyed, my technique was well-practiced and there is little variation from one to another - making weft changes very subtle. The weft was dyed with a mix of blues and purples. It leans toward a periwinkle or dark sky blue overall with added dimension in lighter blues and purples. This wrap is a bit more densely woven than the other pima weft wraps and a bit less soft.
ione Mulberry silk v.1 wrap features a Mulberry silk weft kettle-dyed in a manner similar to the silk in the warp. It is slightly variegated, predominantly dark blue. The overall color leans toward dark blue-green. It should be noted that the silk weft used for this wrap is not as soft as that used for v.2 but I think it will soften nicely with use. There is also a portion of the lighter rail's selvedge with a longer float (interlaced every 3 threads instead of 2). I have reduced the price to account for this minor cosmetic flaw, which occurred during weaving.
ione Organic Pima cotton v.2 wrap features hand-dyed Organic pima cotton. For this weft, I took some skeins I had previously dyed a light wash of sea glass. I over-dyed these with my variegated technique using blues and purples. It has a lot of variation in color within the skein. The skeins do not vary much from one to another so transitions are not very noticeable. The overall color leans toward a muted turquoise. Along with the pima weft v.3, this is the airiest, fluffiest wrap of the bunch. There is one area with some skipped threads that are not very noticeable and do not affect the integrity of the wrap. I believe one of the harness must have gotten stuck and loosened itself before I noticed there was a problem. The price has been reduced to account for this minor cosmetic flaw.
ione Organic pima cotton v.3 remnant features hand-dyed Organic pima cotton. The weft has been dyed with a variegated technique in deep purples, blues and light blues. This was an early attempt at the technique and, while the colors are the same from one skein to another, the distribution of the colors vary, making weft changes very noticeable. I considered scrapping this piece and making pillows but it is one of the airiest, fluffiest of the bunch and will make a divine ring sling (or shawl)! I hemmed the end with the most even skeins to make the weft changes less noticeable when this is worn. The price has been adjusted to reflect the poorly matching weft yarn.
ione superwash merino wool wrap features madeline tosh lace-weight superwash merino wool in the colorway Clematis. It is a deep, moody blue with a subtle sheen that leans toward purple and provides a beautiful contrast with the warp. It does have some variation between skeins and will show weft changes a bit more than some of the other wraps. This is the most dense of the wraps at 320 g/m^2 and also the softest.
ione Tsumugi silk wrap features Tsumugi silk in a dark blue-green with characteristic flecks of white throughout like sea foam. It is the thickest of the wefts and shows the weave structure very well. It has a rustic, matte finish.
ione Mulberry silk v.2 wrap features Madeline Tosh Pure Silk Lace in the colorway Blue Nile. It is the brightest and lightest of all the pieces.. The weft color blends well with the cottolin portion of the warp - allowing the variations of color in the kettle-dyed silk portion of the warp to read clearly.
All wraps are ready to ship and will be available for purchase in my shop on Tuesday, October 25th at 12:30 PM Pacific. You may click on the photo for a link to the listing page. However, the page will remain closed to traffic until password access is removed at the time that the listing goes live. Before then, you may contact me with any questions you may have through the business page on Facebook or tag me in the Facebook Chatter page, Wonder Woven Love. Thanks for reading!!!