Over The Rainbow

This is an experiment. There are a couple of notions that have been rattling around that I am trying to work out. One notion is “rainbow.” It is no surprise that everyone loves a rainbow. Of all the projects we did in class at Hill, my color-gamps are the ones I still have hanging in my studio. When yarns are displayed in shops in arrays meant to induce covetousness – they are often arranged in order of the spectrum. And isn’t it sadly unsatisfying to be practical and buy those you need instead of the whole array? Well then,why is “rainbow” unacceptable when you are trying to come up with color combinations for items you want to weave? I think the answer is that it is too easy, too instant gratification. It is the orderly way your mind wants to arrange things that you must resist if you want to make more adult, interesting and sophisticated textiles. Rainbow is too literal somehow.

That all being said . . . I just wove “rainbow!” I saw a scarf at the Convergence marketplace that had been woven in India. It was very fine silk woven in 3 layers. The outside layers (woven as a tube) were very loosely woven plain weave, and the third layer was unwoven threads suspended inside the tube.



I really wanted to try my own version, so I wound a warp of 20/2 wool for the tube sett at 30 epi . I chose wool because I was afraid that I couldn’t get a stable tube if I used very loosely woven slippery threads. I can’t remember how the Convergence scarf worked in that respect??? I used 16/2 bamboo for the suspended threads wanting a fine, brightly colored silky yarn. I held up red, blue, teal, lime, etc to the black and grey, trying to imagine which would work best and guess what? Rainbow!

I wanted to weave it on my 8-shaft loom, and I wanted to have vertical as well as horizontal layer exchanges . . . so I thought it would work fine if I threaded the wool on the eight shafts and “placed” the bamboo ends between the threaded heddles and then sleyed in bundles of 4 in a 15 dent reed. Well, the layer exchanges worked great and the unwoven threads were spaced correctly, but it was a nightmare to weave! The unthreaded ends had to be manually cleared every pick for each segment in which the bottom layers were being woven – yikes.

So, I unsleyed and unthreaded and rethreaded and resleyed (again, thank you Audible for the blessing of audiobooks!) This time I gave up the vertical layer changes, threaded my tube on shafts 1-4 and my free-floating threads on 5-8 (they could all have been on one shaft) and proceeded to weave. I exchanged layers every 7 inches in order to get a black and grey striped shawl/scarf, but also to anchor the free floaters a little bit.

Granted my rainbow is very muted except in the fringe. The weight and drape is very unexpected and nice. I keep waffling about whether I like the mysterious hints of color that you see or if I want something more apparent. I can’t imagine opening the sett anymore and getting a stable fabric. Maybe I will try with a lighter-colored tube. If nothing else I will get some color lessons about shade and tone.