All, Creating Things

Weaving Challenge – Chihuly

For my next weaving project, I decided to participate in a handwoven Baby Wrap Competition with 75 other weavers. The theme was works of art and I chose this

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Having been a sculpture major at MassArt I am far more drawn to sculpture than paintings. I also really wanted a purple and green wrap for myself!

My mentor, Peggy, helped me choose a shadow draft structure to get some sort of wavy pattern which isn’t as easy in weaving. She showed me one, I punched it into Fiberworks and starting changing it around to my liking. It took me awhile to get the grasp of it…basically shadow weave is when the warp AND weft both go – light, dark, light, dark, light, dark. Then the weave structure pics up the lights and darks in different ways – mine was mostly 1 pick up everywhere then the pattern was created by 2 picks up in certain areas. It’s also slightly 3 dimensional because of that. It has a 42 end repeat and a parallel straight drawn treadling.

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I was considering tencel for the shine, but again Peggy who had more faith in my pulling this off,  convinced me to use gorgeous silk. She knew I am an experienced dyer and would be able to deal with natural silk skeins no problem. They came out damned pretty I could have just hung those on my wall. I did 3 different shades of purple and 2 of green all space dyed (variegated) so that I could create the light, dark, light dark…but subtly so that it wouldn’t be super crisp stripes. I was hoping that would help with the wavy look of the inspiration piece.

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This time my 6 warp chains were very nice and even, my trapeze worked beautifully, the threading took me 8 hours due to its complicated pattern…but all in all it went great!

I created this cheat sheet for threading. I grouped the 42 ends into 10,10,10,12 and slid over the proper heddles so that I could double check my accuracy in simple groups of 10-12.

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I made this cheat sheet (my eyes were hurting from the charts) to use for treadling. The black is the dark the orange is my light. I used natural and charcoal silk for the weft. 2 shuttles took quite the getting used to, the treadling pattern was so challenging to keep in my head…I seriously starting dreaming in the number sequence of it and kept feeling like I was in an episode of Lost!

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It took me about an hour to do 1 FOOT of weaving… painfully slow for my ADD self to sit there with so little reward. I’m not sure if it was the 2 shuttles or the treadling pattern slowing me down, I might try them both separately some other time to see. It was very rewarding though to see those pretty subtle waves popping up!!!

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All in all, I am super happy with this project…my ONLY complaint is I wish I had gone with a little deeper color. I wanted the purple to be deeper especially. We went to my photographer friend Winter’s house for a photo shoot and I am so happy with how they turned out.

I didn’t win the contest…I think I came in around 20th out of 52. I put so much effort into a complicated structure and emulating my inspiration piece and it turned out the voters (mostly non weavers) were mostly interested in color gradient plain or twill weave wraps which are very popular in the market and only a few noticed the extra effort. Totally fine for me, I am so happy it got me to try something really challenging and feel like I was back in art school preparing for a critique!

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Oh and I made the hat to match! And a bag out of shibori dyed silk organza 🙂

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