Rainbows On Your Loom

Rainbows are wonderful. Dorothy Gale, Kermit the Frog, and Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo‘ole, have all sang about these magical natural phenomena. When I was a child, seeing rainbows was a rare, wonderful experience. My friends and I would trek out as far as permitted to try to find the pot of gold at the end. As an adult, I am still delighted by rainbows even though I see them far more often in New Mexico—apparently the rapid desert rainstorms followed by bright sunshine are the perfect rainbow recipe.

As a weaver, I love projects that create rainbows on cloth; whether they’re done with multiple yarns or a space-dyed yarn, woven rainbows never fail to make me smile. When using rainbow yarn, it can be difficult to do the color changes justice. First, you have to carefully pick your yarn; you don’t want to use the rainbow yarn in both warp and weft because you’ll lose the color changes, and it will get muddy. You also want to make sure the yarn you use with the rainbow yarn isn’t so thick that it obscures the color changes.

Next, you’ll want to think about structure. Whether you use the rainbow yarn in the warp or weft and how the two yarns interact will determine the structure. Sometimes you can get away with using plain weave, but you’ll often want to choose a structure or technique with more floats. These floats will literally put your colorful yarn to the forefront where you can better see the color changes. Just be careful: Too many floats can make your fabric snag and become less than structurally sound.

If that all sounds complicated, I have good news: You don’t need to design from scratch (unless you really want to). You can instead look to projects designed by other weavers for guidance and inspiration, and when it comes to weaving rainbows, there are few weavers more adept than Sara Bixler. She has an astounding ability to look at a space-dyed yarn and magically turn it into cloth where the color changes are seamless and perfectly highlighted by the weave structure and other yarn choices.


The Rainbow Connection Shawl by Sara Bixler was inspired by the appearance of a rainbow on a gray and rainy day.]

For her Rainbow Connection Shawl, Sara combined the vibrant Kauni 8/1 laceweight in rainbow with silky soft Tencel and a Merino/Tencel blend. The resulting shawl mimics the feeling of spotting a rainbow and a bit of blue skies through gray clouds on a rainy day. It’s hard not to smile when you see it. I’d imagine weaving the shawl would be an even better experience than just seeing the final product, as each pick of the Kauni reveals another piece of the rainbow.

If you love rainbows in the sky and on your loom as much as I do, you’ll want to check out our special limited-quantity Rainbow Connection Shawl kit. It includes all the yarn and instructions you need to weave the shawl on a rigid-heddle loom with a pick-up stick OR a 4-shaft loom. What’s not to love?

I have my kit at the ready for a gloomy day when I need a reminder that light and color can be found just beyond the clouds.

Happy Weaving,

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