I’ve been weaving for decades and as with many other arts, it is a solo enterprise. It takes time, but it is time worth spending.
The process begins with the purchase of white silk fiber* and winding the threads from cones into skeins. These are then submerged into small dye baths where they simmer, then rinsed, dried, and unwound onto spools. I use “acid” dyes that bond with protein fibers. Warps are designed, colors coordinated and dressed on the loom, stretched from front to back, then sleyed back through the eyes of the heddles and the reed. Then I weave. Each woven piece is unique. There are no motors, no power assists; just the clackity-clack of the beater bar being pulled gently through the threads. After weaving I cut off the two scarves and machine-stitch an edge seam using fine silk thread. Each end is hand knotted and threaded back into the scarf. The finished pieces are then gently washed, machine dried and ironed.
I weave almost exclusively in silk with yarns that are hand dyed during the winter months. Strung across my studio, heat from the wood stove dries the skeins. Only two scarves are put on the loom at a time and each is woven with a different color silk. The dyes are never measured; combinations infinite. With silk’s natural imperfections, an ideal channel for creativity and surprise.
Silk is a natural fiber that is drawn from the cocoon of a silk worm. In addition to being soft and luxurious, it is durable—strongest natural fiber. Strands pulled from the cocoons are too thin for weaving; between 6-20 strands are reeled together. For a pound of silk, filaments from 2-3,000 cocoons are required. When woven, this translates into a scarf that is gentle, elegant, resilient.
My works are woven from Bombyx or cultivated silk, which is the most widely used.
Because of its natural protein structure, silk is highly breathable, absorbing up to 30% of its weight in moisture without making you feel damp—keeping you cool in the heat, warm in the cold. And silk is the most hypoallergenic of all fabrics, containing many amino acids that work with the body and known not to irritate the skin.
Wind it around a sweater or a bare neck. Go bold or quietly with color.
* Black fiber is purchased. Hand-dyeing cannot create the desired intensity. All “colors” are hand dyed, blended by combining the basics—yellow, cyan, fuschia, and black.