Using a Variegated Warp

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn

Hi Madelyn,


A friend and I challenged each other to use a variegated silk from Convergence to make a scarf in a weave structure that was new to us. I threaded a straight draw on eight shafts and tied up the treadles for an 8-shaft sateen. The problem with that is that the variegation goes horizontally, and I want it to show vertically on the satin side, but on the wrong side is where the variegation shows up. What would be the best way to alter this to get a vertical variegation? I'd like to do a satin and plain weave, actually, but can't figure out how to thread for that.





Hi Michaela!


Variegated yarns can be very disappointing. The colors are aligned gloriously with each other in the skein, but when you wind the warp and especially when you use the same variegated yarn in the weft, the result can be just a muddy speckled mess of color. There are several options for avoiding that. First, though you'll have to save this for another project, you can align the colors on the warping board. That requires figuring out the length of the color repeat in the skein and then making the warp length a multiple of that repeat. You sometimes have to adjust on the warping board as you wind to maintain the alignment. My choice, if I were to do that, would then be to use a warp-emphasis twill or satin with a much finer, dark weft, so that the colors in the skein are intensified but not interfered with.


Your warp is already wound, however. I would probably still treat the weft as above. Sett the warp more closely and use a dark, fine weft so that the only variegation in color is in the warp. If you wanted to do stripes of plain weave and satin, I think the best way to do that would be to thread the plain weave in a contrasting solid-color silk, in stripes that alternate with satin stripes in silk. You can thread the satin on six shafts (an irregular satin) and the plain weave on the remaining two. This might require some experimentation in the setts for the plain weave vs satin. (I don't think it makes sense to try to do both plain weave and satin in your silk yarn.) Let us know what you end up doing!



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