Silk Blouse in a Wash of Color
I found Tracy Kaestner’s approach to designing her Silk Blouse in a Wash of Color (found in Handwoven May/June 2018) intriguing, and the resulting blouse spectacular. Using a colorful picture of a Guatemalan cemetery, she chose colors that emulated its colorful yet ethereal feeling and used them to hand-dye the silk. After she settled on her color choices, she selected a weave structure that also evoked an aspect of the cemetery and chose a columnar Finnish Stripe.
No one would look at this beautiful hand-dyed handwoven blouse and remark on its similarity to a cemetery, but when you know what to look for, you can see the relationship.
Designer Tracy Kaestner’s Statement
The world is full of colorful inspiration— but how do you turn what you see into a piece of fabric? I work best from images, which give me something to refer to as I plan my fabric. I match the colors in the image to Color- Aid paper, a set of 314 colors often used for teaching color theory and design. I pull out every color I see and then cull the deck of colors to a workable number for my project. From there I choose my yarn, or in this case, dyes.
I’m a member of a study group that is weaving swatches inspired by the book Colors of the World: A Geography of Color. I picked images of a cemetery in Guatemala. The colors are vibrant with an overall ethereal feeling, and I wanted to get the same feeling in my fabric. I used Color-Aid paper to plan my color scheme, then I mixed blue, blue-green, purple, and pink dyes and used them to paint my warp in several shades of each color, plus a very light gray. Once the warp was on the loom, I needed to choose a weft color, and although it meant straying from the colors in the original image, I chose pink.
I found a Finnish stripe draft in The Virginia West Swatch Book that would give the columnar feel created by the structures in the cemetery. Following the draft, I crammed some of the dents to create warp- and weft-faced columns and left other dents uncrammed for columns of balanced weave. Finally, I adjusted the draft, adding 2 more ends to each block so that the total threading repeat was 36, which was also the sett I wanted for 30/2 silk.
I have several silk tees in my wardrobe; they are comfort¬able and easy to wear. I used those tops to design the pattern for this top. Because I hand-dyed the silk, you can’t re-create this blouse, but this draft would work well using some of the beautiful hand-dyed silks, cottons, or Tencel readily available for home weavers.
Project at a Glance
PROJECT TYPE: 6-shaft.
STRUCTURE: Rib weave variation.
EQUIPMENT: 6-shaft loom, 29″ weaving width; 12-dent reed; 1 shuttle; 1 bobbin.
YARNS: 30/2 spun silk (7,500 yd/lb; Treenway Silks).
SUPPLIES: Sewing thread; Synthrapol textile detergent.
Featured Image: Tracy Kaestner’s Silk Blouse in a Wash of Color combines the loveliness of hand-dyed silk with the comfort of a favorite tee.