Black Windows Pillow

Because most of our readers are rigid-heddle or 4- or 8-shaft weavers, we don’t feature many projects in Handwoven that require more than 8 shafts. However, I found the 12-shaft Black Windows Pillow by Lea Vennix from Handwoven May/June 2018 compelling in its use of color and its soft texture. Lea used both rayon chenille and wool in her warp and weft, which caused some interesting differential shrinkage. The 12-shaft doubleweave structure allowed her to hide the long floats of wool inside her two layers, while still allowing them to shrink during wet-finishing. In theory, there is a “right” side to this pillow, but honestly, I loved them both!

Weave well,

Black Windows Pillow

Lea Vennix’s Black Windows Pillow “wrong” side.

Designer Lea Vennix’s Statement

I don’t remember having an “aha” moment of inspiration—a moment where I knew precisely what color or structure to use for this specific project. This project began as I was weaving a color-study sample for the Complex Weavers Double Weave Study Group. I warped with rayon chenille, with the goal of seeing how colors would interact in four-color two-block doubleweave.

I wove the first sample exactly as printed in an article by Paul O’Connor (see Resources), and I enjoyed playing with the many color combinations. The sample was nice and the colors blended well, but along the way, I started thinking about other possibilities. I thought about adding lines of colors, changing the warp or weft colors, adding supplemen¬tary warp, or using different warp and weft threads to add contours to the blocks.

The sampling took off on its own and became a mix of discovery, frustration, and learning experiences. I made a yarn wrapping to check my color choices and wound a second warp. My goal was to continue the doubleweave background but add black threads to outline the block contours. I wanted the bottom layer to act as a self-lining for the fabric, which meant hiding the supplementary warp and weft threads between the two layers.

On the loom, the fabric is flat with long floats. After washing, drying, and ironing, the fabric appears quite different due to the shrinkage of the wool. The underside of the fabric forms little puffs of chenille and the top looks like windows framed in black. Before trying this project, make a sample. Depending on the wool, your washing machine, and the water temperature, you could have very different results.

Project at a Glance

PROJECT TYPE: 12-shaft.

STRUCTURE: Doubleweave with supplementary warp and weft.

EQUIPMENT: 12-shaft loom, 25″ weaving width; 6-dent reed; 3 shuttles; 5 bobbins.

YARNS: Rayon chenille (1,450 yd/lb; Valley Yarns, WEBS and Maurice Brassard et Fils); 8/2 wool (2,100 yd/lb; Blue Mountain, Maurice Brassard et Fils).

OTHER SUPPLIES: Black sewing thread; 18″ x 18″ pillow form.

Featured Image: Lea Vennix’s Black Windows Pillow shows what you can do with differential shrinkage and great color choices.

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