The shot silk project is finally complete and I now have three-plus yards of shimmering iridescent silk: mostly periwinkle blue except where the light catches the violet weft and makes the cloth shimmer. This silk yardage, with 50 threads to the inch, is the most ambitious and most beautiful thing I have ever woven and it completely lives up to my hopes. The cloth has a nice “hand” that’s midway between soft and crisp, and it’s so lightweight that it can be folded repeatedly into a small rectangle that has scarcely any weight, like the Elven-cloaks of Lorien.
I learned several things from this project. First, it is an error to zone out while weaving. Occasionally the shuttle would catch a lone thread and incorrectly pass over or under it, so I needed to be alert. When there are 30 rows of weft in every inch, “reading” each thread from left to right requires extreme in-the-moment mindfulness, which is the opposite of zoning out.
I also learned a lesson about the relationship of the beater to the beaten cloth. There is a “sweet spot” on my Louet Spring loom (and probably on every loom) which is only about an inch deep, and the edge of the fell (the finished cloth) needs to remain centered within this sweet spot whenever the warp is advanced, lest color imperfections immediately become visible. I used to believe that these visual imperfections that appeared each time I advanced the cloth were due to improper tensioning. But instead, it has to do with the angle of the beater as it it smacks against the edge of the fell as I weave. When I learned to advance the fell only one inch at a time, maintaining position within that sweet spot, the color was always consistent. This is not a real problem with coarser woven projects such as scarves or dishtowels, but when weaving with fine silks, color inconsistencies can ruin your project. Because I figured this out as I went along, the last half of the yardage looks neater than the first half.
My original intent was to have a garment tailored from the yardage, but because I have cancer, it makes little sense to make clothing that I might not get to wear much. I am considering all options. One idea is to cut off one yard and use that smaller piece to make a tie and pocket square for my son, who enjoys “suiting up”, along with a number of hemmed handkerchiefs to give as gifts to friends. This would leave a large piece two yards long which could be used as a shawl. But I’m still open to other ideas. I will consider all good suggestions!