This was my largest project to date. I had to put myself on a fairly strict schedule to get it finished by the deadline, but I did and am really pleased with the results. Also, it was my first project in Handwoven since they changed ownership. Once owned by F+W Media operating under the name of Interweave, Handwoven, along with Spin Off and PieceWork faced an uncertain future when F+W Media filed for bankruptcy in 2019. Enter here the pioneer of Interweave Linda Ligon along with partners Anne Merrow and John Bolton and our beloved fiber magazines were saved! Not only were they saved, they were improved. If you have not had the chance to check out these great magazines, I highly recommend it...now they even have spines visible when sitting on the shelf and the most beautiful thick and glossy pages. The improvement in the quality of the paper in the magazine seems like a small thing, but it makes such a difference when the publication is in your hands! It continues to be an honor to contribute to their content.
This particular blanket uses a shadow weave structure. Shadow weave is a really neat technique, as you can choose a standard weaving pattern and punch it up visually by playing with dark and light colors. This means that a crucial step in the process is choosing colors with a nice contrast. For this blanket, I wanted to make sure I had dark, medium and light toned hues that had great contrast but also cohesion in hue. Choosing a cohesive color scheme was the straight forward part. Ensuring the colors I chose had the contrast I wanted was less obvious. One neat-o trick for determining contrast (this can also be used when knitting color work) is to take a picture of your fibers with the black and white filter of your phone. This eliminates hue and shows only the tones. As you can sea here, my three colors really truly were light, medium and dark toned. I think this went a long way in the visual success of the shadow weave.
When warping for shadow weave, you alternate between your light and dark (or medium) tones in an ever-other-end fashion. This means I alternated between blue and yellow across the weaving width when I warped. This particular pattern had lighter stripes along the outer edges and the darker, deeper contrast running down the center of the cloth.
Alternating light and dark is critical in the weft, as well. This is what completes the look of a shadow running through your pattern. So, for the warp, I alternated picks of the banana color and the darker blue color. To do this, you simply maintain two shuttles while weaving. You simply carry the thread up the side of the weaving for every pick a color skips. This sounds confusing in words, but you simply weave with the two shuttles, taking turns. To keep your edges consistent and tidy, you can make sure to set one color in front of the other every time you switch shuttles. For example, if I finished a pick of yellow, I'd set the shuttle down in front of my blue shuttle before picking up the blue shuttle for a pick. Then, when I finished the blue pick, I would set it down behind the yellow shuttle. This keeps the way the threads carry up the side of your cloth consistent. It's a small detail, but can really make a nice visual for edging. For this cloth, the fabric was cut and seamed to make the blanket, hiding the edges. For something like a shawl, however, these edges would be highly visible and the attention to detail along the sides would make a significant difference.
Like I mentioned earlier, this was the largest cloth I had woven...ever. I used my wonderful PVC pipe table loom, and it was really put to the test. I was worried the cloth would not fit on the front roller. It was close, but we made it. It was really fun to unroll this beast, though. We almost didn't have a stretch of floor big enough in our house to see the whole thing unfurled! To construct the blanket, it was cut in two places to create a three panel blanket, as shown in the picture. I used the yellow to graft the panels together. It is not my strongest skill, but I think I did pretty well lining things up and seaming them together. There are little bumps where it is seamed along the back of the blanket, but it not really visible at all from the front.
The blanket was soaked in a dilute vinegar bath to help keep the colors from running. The dark blue did run just a little, making the yellow just a hair darker in the end compared to how it started. I think they did a lovely job staging the blanket for the pattern pics in the magazine. I am actually a little bit proud of how this baby turned out.