I put this warp on the loom in 2002. I had an inkling at the time that I should not do this: I had lots to do, and should not tie up the big loom with this warp. I went ahead anyway.
I wove a small bit, then stopped. (If you click on it, there is a larger photo). I got busy with deadlines, other projects, and, to be honest, a bit of fear and loathing of *this* project.
It is handspun silk, the warp is tussah, the pile weft is a mix, mostly bombyx, but some tussah. There are four distinct yarns involved in a pile project: the warp, the pile, the selvedge, and the foundation weft. All of it is handspun silk.
When I wove this, it took an hour per row, there are eleven rows per inch. The finished piece was to be 48 inches; you can extrapolate the time commitment this meant. It was put aside, as I said, in favor of other projects. Then it languished. Being honest with myself, I was afraid of it.
The time commitment I could deal with: being a spinner, I am used to making things in increments. I knew I could do a row here and a row there, and it eventually would get done.
But the design was freeform. I began to realize it was intimidating to me: I was used to balanced, symmetrical and graphable designs. One midnight, in one of those unbidden revelations, I decided to try out the design in a smaller work, just to see if I could manage it:
I liked the design, the colors, the sinuous border pattern, the way the hearts turn into stars as they hit the sky, the moon, and it's reflection in the water, and the fish, swimming toward the moonlight. Once I had woven this, I felt more confident in the bigger piece, but things just kept getting in the way: the chair was not in front of the loom, so sitting down to a row here and there meant shuffling furniture, finding tools, yadda yadda, blah, blah, blah. It just wasn't getting done.
Never one to waste a more-than-300 thread handspun silk warp, I just let the warp languish. It niggled, in the back of my mind, and wanted to be woven.
Then I had another midnight revelation, involving using the warp for an entirely different project. That idea pushed to the forefront, and this weekend I resolved to finish this as a sample, useful in classes, and get on with the next thing.
As I wove the last few rows, not caring about the old pattern, I flew through them. I, in the intervening years, had become much more adept, the rows were going at about half the rate as before. This was intriguing. The colors I used to finish it off also enchanted me: I began to have thoughts of just finishing this, and ignoring the next project. It was tough, I had to take myself in hand and really look at the sample, which showed its origins and lack of planning in various color changes. So I finished it off:
If you click on the photo, you can get a close up. In the close up you can see the new weaving, where the plain blue begins, and the violet disappears. You can also see the stripe of color that so enchanted me: the reds-to-orange-gold in the blue field. That serves as the sample for the next project's colors, and I like them quite a lot. At the top edge of the weaving, in blue, and later at the final edge in plain silk, you can see the soumak lines, and if you look really closely, a very white line of linen, which is the twining.
This was so fun to do, that it has energized me for the next project, which I just can't wait to start. It is great to be excited and energized at the beginning of a project, so perhaps all this angst was worth it! I promise updates soon.