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Handwoven Silk Scaves

I’ve been weaving for six years. In weaverly terms, that’s really nothing. I read articles, blogs, and posts on Weavolution by women and men who’ve been at this craft/art for half a century. Heck, my first weaving class was taught by a man in his 80’s who learned to weave rag rugs as a boy during the Depression to bring money into the house and never stopped. So six years is a drop in the bucket…one or two strands in a warp, a few throws of a shuttle…insert your favorite metaphor.
gebrochene twill scarves on the loom
On the other hand, one common statement about how to get good at something is to do it for 5,000 hours. Many weeks I spend 30-40 hours researching, planning projects, sitting at the loom, or fringing and wet finishing. Even when I factor in the fact that some weeks that drops down to about 20 hours, my calculator tells me that I’ve worked at weaving for well over 5,000 hours in those six years.

However, in addition to weaving for only six years, I live in the sticks two hours from everywhere, so most of my weaving is very solitary and predominantly learned from books and the old trial-and-error method. While I may have woven miles of a particular weave structure, I may not have a clue about the correct terminology for that structure.

A case in point – drall. I’d seen it in print, read it on the net, attempted to have people explain it to me in words (unsuccessfully, I might add). It wasn’t until I was finally pointed to a draft for it and accompanying weaving resources that I understood. OOOOHHHH. Drall is a classic Swedish term for a particular arrangement of what others (me included) call a 3/1 vs. 1/3 twill. Took me a good two years to figure that out.

Similarly the term gebrochene. My reaction is gebro-what? What is that? How do I even pronounce it? How many harnesses does it take? Again, gebro-what?

Then not too long ago I purchased some magazines from a weaver who was downsizing her stash. One of them, Weaver’s from winter, 1997, had an article on gebrochene. Ahhhh….based on some historical weaving, gebrochene is a German term for a modification of what I (and others) call Ms & Ws. I’ve woven Ms & Ws plenty of times, and some modifications of it, to date always on my 4 shaft counterbalance loom. This article whet my whistle for an 8 shaft pattern on my Mac. So I sat down with my computer software, drew in a threading that pleased me, figured out that I’d need to use fine threads to get enough pattern repeats to make me happy, and then played with a variety of tie ups. I ended up using the following draft.

gebrochene weaving draft

I wound a warp of 260 ends of 20/2 undyed silk (about 8,000 yards of thread to the pound) and got it on the Mac. Threading went smoothly, I was set to weave. For the first scarf I used a black weft. Although I’m not usually a black & white gal, this is my favorite of the three scarves. For each photo I’ve shown you the ‘front’ and the ‘back’ of the scarf. I can’t decide which side I like better.
handwoven silk scarf, black gebrochene

For the second scarf I picked a Pacific blue silk that makes me drool. It’s so richly colored and has such a terrific sheen that I paid top dollar for it when I saw it in a store. Woven in this scarf, the mix of the white and blue really tones that color down more than I would personally choose. I’d probably like a scarf woven with all the blue.
handwoven blue silk gebrochene scarf

Based on my experience with the blue, I picked a deep burgundy for the third scarf. This is lovely. (Not as red as it looks in the photo.)
handwoven red silk gebrochene scarf

I think the scarves may be a bit heavier than people will be buying in the summer, but I do expect lots of admiring lookers. Time will tell…

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