Weaving With Sari Silk

Hi Madelyn,

I recently bought some beautiful recycled sari silk from Nepal. I have always wanted to try weaving with it but now have no idea what to make with it. Any suggestions? The only items I can think of are table runners or maybe a tote bag. And I’m wondering if I should use it for both warp and weft?

Please advise,
Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth!

Sari silk (see Photo a) is a singles yarn spun from remnants of the fine silk fibers used to make saris. The yarn is somewhat irregular—fine silk ends extend from it so that it is likely to be a bit sticky. I scoured past issues of Handwoven looking for projects using recycled sari silk, and, probably because of its irregular texture, none of the examples use the yarn as warp.

Weaving With Sari Silk: a. Nepalese recycled silk, b. Vest by Sally Gelbaugh, c. Close-up of vest

a. Nepalese recycled silk, b. Vest by Sally Gelbaugh, c. Close-up of vest

An important goal in using sari silk would be to show its rich colors and texture as much as possible. Sally Gelbaugh, in “It’s All on the Surface: Three One of a Kind Vests” (Handwoven, September/October 2004, pp. 64–67) uses sari silk for the outline weft of honeycomb cells (see Photos b and c). The cells are woven in 10/2 black cotton, a perfect background to set off the jewel-tone colors in the sari silk. A honeycomb fabric is relatively sturdy, suitable for vests, as in this example, but also for bags and totes and table runners and mats.

Sue Bleiweiss, in “Recycled Sari Silk for a Tote and ‘Padfolio’” (September/October 2007, pp. 48–51) uses sari silk as the weft in a plain-weave cloth. The warp is 5/2 pearl cotton with a somewhat open sett (12 epi) in dark gray and dark violet. The sari-silk weft predominates with its greater thickness ,and the warp colors melt into the colors of the silk (Photo d).

 d. Tote and “padfolio” by Sue Bleiweiss, e. Scarf by Stefanie Meisel, f. Runner by Betsy Blumenthal


d. Tote and “padfolio” by Sue Bleiweiss, e. Scarf by Stefanie Meisel, f. Runner by Betsy Blumenthal

Blumenthal table runner

Runner by Betsy Blumenthal

Sari silk yarn predominates in a very unusual way in Stefanie Meisel’s, “Lacy Wool Scarves” (January/February 2005, pp. 58–61). She uses it as a weft that skips over spaces of more than an inch to weave with four threads of merino wool. When the merino is fulled, it locks the sari-silk yarn in place. Variations of this idea could be used to weave scarves and shawls.

And, finally, isolated picks of sari silk embellish a runner in Betsy Blumenthal’s “Festive Dresser Scarf” (January/February 2014, pages 32-33). The silk is placed in sheds raising one warp thread out of four instead of in a plain-weave shed. With this idea, you can make fabrics for multiple uses.

I hope these ideas are useful!
Madelyn


If you have a weaving question we would love to hear from you! Please email Madelyn! Pictured: Starry Sky Placemats by Judit Ozoray Handwoven Sept/Oct 2016


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