One of my favorite materials to work with is fine silk thread. Unwound, it is full of energy, chaos and static in our dry clime. However, when tempered into intricate and delicate interlacements, the silk threads become vibrant and lively in the most delightful of ways.
I begin with half-pound cones, winding them onto spools before creating a warp.
While my designs are often based upon my studies of old weaving drafts and monographs, I am also inspired by the works of contemporary weavers. I evaluate patterns on a computer but weave on a foot treadled loom. Once the warp is on the back beam, I thread the loom's harnesses. Generally there are over 800 warp threads in one scarf.
These handwoven scarves are each comprised of almost 1.5 miles of fine silk threads.
The weft thread I often dye prior to weaving. To obtain a gradient of color, I first knit up the weft yarn into a blank canvas. I can then dye it in sections of shifting colors.
Once dyed, the knit material is unraveled and wound onto pirns, now ready to weave!
I weave my fine silks on an 8 harness floor loom. To add visual complexity, the treadling pattern often has a repeat of 60 to over 100 throws of the shuttle in length.
A piece fresh off the loom is quite stiff from the high tension required while weaving. The loose ends must be managed; either by hemstitching or twisting fringe. However, after wet finishing techniques and a good hard steam press, the woven silk is supple with the drape and lustre expected of this luxury fiber.