Opposites attract

I’ve been on a quest, and I still am. I want to find a silk, already dyed, in roughly a 30/2 size with a great sheen. I can occasionally find a 30/2 undyed, and can always buy undyed silk both larger and smaller sizes – sometimes with sheen, and can usually buy silk that has more texture than sheen. Combining all the qualities I’m looking for seem to elude me. In the meantime, I try a variety of silks to see what has the greatest appeal to me and my customers.

When I think of silk, the words sheen, softness, and drape come to mind. Conversely, when I think of linen, crisp and matte predominate my thoughts. So when I found yarn that combined silk & linen I was intrigued. What would this fiber look like on the cone? (I bought it from colourmart in the UK, so couldn’t see it in person prior to purchase.) How would it work up into a fiber? Which properties would predominate?

I’ve had the yarn for a few months while it was waiting for me to choose the right project. I decided on a shawl. I’d wanted to try a snowflake pattern, and decided this was the perfect opportunity to develop an 8-shaft pattern and show it off in the silk-linen fiber.

So I went to my computer to play with my Fiberworks software, and came up with this draft.
snowflake twill shawl draft

I measured out 480 threads of white silk-linen yarn long enough to weave two shawls, and set up the Macomber loom at 24 ends per inch.

I had a blue in the same fiber that I thought was too bold for my purpose, and a lilac that I thought was too subtle. I decided to start with the blue, and was really amazed at how tame it became with the white in this pattern. (Sorry this picture is so yucky. I only shot two on the loom, and this is the better one. I tried fixing it in Photoshop, but the uneven lighting made it a real challenge.)

snowflake shawl on loom

It was clear to me that the ‘snowflakes’ themselves – the Xs, didn’t predominate. Instead the diamonds between them did. While this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, I thought the pattern pleasing enough that I wasn’t going to re-design and re-thread. Particularly since I still had no idea how the finished fabric would feel and drape.

I wove both of pieces, took them off the loom, wet finished and pressed, and was happy to see that these handwoven shawls seemed to marry the qualities of the silk and the linen beautifully.

handwoven shawl in white & blue silk-linen

They have a nice drape while still maintaining body. The pattern is much more subtle with the silver lilac, but it’s still a lovely shawl. At least I think so.

handwoven shawl in white & lilac silk-linen
I’ve worked on making some changes in the draft so that the X of the snowflake is more predominant (I now have 7 versions saved on my computer), and I’ll try the new draft with another fiber, another day.

6 comments to Opposites attract

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