If the pattern on my Indigo Shawl looks familiar it’s because I tied on a new warp to the old warp of my previous double weave project so that the threading is the same, the treadling is only slightly different, but the tie-up is now a twill, and what a surprise it turned out to be!
The idea of using indigo-dyed cotton has been lurking in the back of my mind ever since I bought a bunch of cones of it at a closeout years ago. The labels on the cones indicated that they were from the UK and warned that the indigo color rubs off. I was curious as to whether it was synthetic or real indigo and why the color rubs off. When I asked about this on a couple of weaving lists, Ian Bowers, managing director of George Weil & Sons Ltd (a supplier of textile art and crafts materials in the UK), replied (with permission to quote), “There is absolutely NO difference in the chemical composition between synthetic indigo and that from plant material. There may be different impurities which behave in the same way as indigotin but this would take substantial analytical equipment to differentiate. The tendency to crock (rub off) is dependent on a number of factors including the finish on the yarn fibres and the skill of the dyer….” I also got some replies from weavers who dye with natural indigo and some who even grow their own plants, like Dot, and it sounds like a wonderful experience that I would like to try one day. In any case, I decided to go ahead and use my indigo-dyed yarn for the weft and make sure to wash and rinse very well the woven fabric once it’s off the loom.
I used one white and one very light blue 20/2 cotton together for the warp, keeping the same sett of 30 e.p.i. from the last project, and used the 10/2 indigo-dyed cotton for the weft. The p.p.i. (picks per inch) turned out to be somewhat less, about 25. The woven piece was washed by hand in very warm water, rinsed 6-7 times in warm water until the water was clear, rolled in some old towels and placed flat over some more old towels to dry and ironed while it was still slightly damp. The blue color stayed dark even after all the rinsing and the very light blue color in the warp is not from any “bleeding” from the indigo dye but because I used the very light blue cotton as part of the warp.
Now I have a shawl to wear with my blue jeans:
I used 14 shafts for weaving the Shawl and wondered what would happen to the design if I tried to reduce the shafts and treadles to 8. In Draft 2, I think there is still a little bit of a resemblance to the original pattern:
I wanted to see if I could further reduce the shafts and treadles to 4 and still retain some resemblance to the original design but I couldn’t do it. I came up with Draft 3 which is completely different but still fits in with this post’s theme of twill tie-ups:
If you love twills, especially unusual ones, I recommend the book, Twill Thrills (The Best of Weaver’s), edited by Madelyn van der Hoogt.