Remembering Mondrian

color block windows, top

Sometimes when much of life is completely beyond my control I tend to obsess. One way to combat obsessive thoughts is to occupy my brain with complex tasks that don’t allow much room for other activity. That’s what I did for the past several days.

I’ve long wanted to do a different kind of doubleweave. My first doubleweave, accomplished back in 2009, just 2 years after I had my first weaving lesson ever, was a double width baby blanket. I did a few more double width things, then got away from doubleweave for a bit. Recently I used doubleweave to weave the tubes that ended up being those little treasure pouches.

Although as a concept doubleweave takes a while to wrap your head around, for me, neither weaving double wide nor tubes is particularly difficult or time consuming. This project was different. I wanted to weave what’s typically called color windows. I can show you much better than I can explain what this means.

So the photo up top is an example of color windows. Each of the colored squares is surrounded by black, on the order of a block-y stained glass. This is cool enough, but it’s double cool when you look at the other side. The design flips to black windows with colored borders!

color block windows, back

I enjoyed watching the patterns build as I wove. What I didn’t enjoy was all of the bobbin-changing required in this piece. It’s a two-shuttle weave — one for the black thread & one for the colored thread — so it’s automatically slower, more than twice as slow for me, than using a single shuttle. But with these ‘perfect’ little squares, every time I got to the next square, approximately every inch, I had to change the thread in my colored bobbin to the next color. This dramatically slowed the process down even more. I used the warp color order forward & reverse for my weft colors. That is, I wove the colors as follows: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, F, E, D, C, B, A.

Then, I’m weaving along, and realize that I have miscalculated. When considering how much yarn I needed for the weft for each scarf, I did the calculations as if I was weaving a single layer. With doubleweave, the scarf is 2 layers thick, so you need twice as much yarn. For the colors, no problem. For the black, though….I ran out after about 66″. I had more black rayon, but I’ve ‘been there done that’ enough to know that all blacks are not created equal. The other rayon was not just a different dye lot, it was a different manufacturer. Although they looked to same to my eyes on the cone, I wasn’t going to take a chance that the last 10″ would look different and would therefore ruin the looks of the entire piece I’d already spent so much time on. So I decided that a well-done shorter scarf was better than a longer one that caught your eye with an error.

Ok, on to scarf #2. I didn’t want to change my bobbin every inch or so, so decided to alter the pattern slightly. I’d alternate the lengths of my windows and only change bobbins every 3″ or so. I was surprised at how much quicker this was! I stuck with my color order though, with the weft colors following the same order as the warp colors, without reversing. I decided I didn’t want that much of the light colors grouped together, so wove with colors A-G, then started again at A.

I enjoyed weaving this scarf so much more that I figured I’d get a bit looser still for scarf #3, and change the size of the windows and the colors as my weaving muse saw fit at the moment. Sometimes there’s only 3″ of color, sometimes more than 5″. As I was weaving this scarf it reminded me of Mondrian, a painter many of us became familiar with in the 60s. Although Mondrian had already been dead for 80 years, that was when Yves St. Laurent used his color block style in dresses. I couldn’t change the width of my blocks, only their lengths.

I’ve now fringed and washed these 3 scarves. I’ve put them outside to dry, but may end up having to toss them in the dryer if the sun and/or breeze doesn’t appear. I’ve hung them on this rack so you can see part of both front and back of each.

3 color windows scarves

I wove these scarves in 8/2 rayon, sett at 18 ends per inch per layer, so 36 ends per inch total. We’ll see how they feel and drape when they’re dry and pressed. I may need to use finer yarn next time. The woman who now, after seeing the time commitment, blows my mind even more with her work uses 60/2 silk – almost 15,000 yards of silk in one pound, compared to about 3,300 yards per pound in my 8/2 rayon. I think I showed an image of one of her shawls before, but here’s a treat for your eyes again.

doubleweave silk shawl

Some day, when I’m not weaving baby wraps……….

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