Over a year ago I took a workshop with Su Butler called “You Did That on Four Shafts?”. Su’s an inspiring teacher with a wealth of experience. The workshop covered surface design and some dying techniques.
One technique she taught us was woven shibori. We used a natural colored thin thread to weave plain cloth (either plain weave or twill for you weavers). Every few weft shots, we lifted the shafts in a different pattern and wove in a sturdy, thicker thread (8/4 cotton warp). When we wove in the thick threads we left 3″ tails hanging out on each side of the fabric. After removing the fabric from the loom, we pulled on the tails of the thick thread to gather the fabric. This made it all puckery across the width of the fabric. Next we dyed the fabric, let it dry, then pulled out the gathering thick threads so the fabric spread back out. The fabric had taken the dye in some places but not others, because it had been gathered.
I had fun experimenting that weekend. When I came home, I wove some more using that technique and even tried it with a warp I had set up on the loom in an overshot pattern. Since I’m not an experienced dyer, I just let them sit around until I got the gumption to attempt the dying portion.
Last month I finally took a deep breath, got out the dyepot and went to work. The colors aren’t expert, but the effect is fun.
I learned a few things when I dyed on my own. First, I just need to do it more. Second, the horizontal stripes in the big piece were kind of distracting. Third, the most successful dying was when I dyed one side of a piece in color A and the other side in color B. That effect gave more interesting results.
I guess I have another area to explore now. There’s always something new to learn in weaving. How much fun is that?