The Fine Threads Study Group at Complex Weavers has a sample and study exchange each year. As a member of this group I’m happy to share my study for this year in this post.
As I was browsing through the samples from the 1990 Complex Weavers Swatch Exchange, I came across Verda Elliott’s sample and study, “A Touch of Ikat.” Verda has passed away in 2009 but her inspiring work lives on. In her study, Verda combined two tie-up and treadling sequences on the same threading for a combined draft and wove the samples on her 24 shaft compu dobby loom. I liked the idea of an ikat effect without having to do any dyeing/resist dyeing that is used in true ikat. I tried her method but had to make a few changes in order to weave a sample on my 16 shaft treadle loom, at times having to step on two treadles at the same time. I wove a sample using 10/2 cotton, the same size yarn as what Verda had used (see the very last photo and Draft 4 below). This sample looked fine but when I tried it again with a finer 20/2 cotton the effect was too subtle, barely noticeable unless you were viewing it up close. So for my Fine Threads Study samples I decided to try a different approach.
I experimented with networked twills and color placement and found that vertical sections of alternating light and dark colors in the warp and a solid color in the weft produced interesting ikat-like patterns. Here’s the piece in progress on the loom with an interesting air brushed-like quality as well:
I used 20/2 rayon for the warp and 20/2 cotton for the weft at a sett of 42 epi and 42 ppi. The piece was washed by hand, air dried and steam ironed with overall shrinkage of about 5%. Now I have to cut a lot of it up into samples for the group swatch exchange!
The width of the vertical stripes is important, if it’s too wide the effect is less striking, and when the entire warp is a solid color the effect is different as shown in Draft 1:
Draft 2 below is what I designed and used to weave my piece. It has the same threading, treadling and tie-up as Draft 1, but the color interaction in warp and weft give it a very different appearance. I can email the complete WIF file of this draft to anyone with weaving software who requests it, just let me know.
Draft 3 below is a variation on a theme, it’s the same in all respects as Drafts 1 and 2 except for the slight difference in width of the vertical stripes and the various color combinations:
As I mentioned in my introduction, Verda Elliott’s 1990 study, “A Touch of Ikat,” was my inspiration for further study that led me to design and weave the Ikat-Inspired Networked Twill piece above. I originally began my study by weaving this sample according to Verda’s method using 10/2 cotton at 28 epi:
UPDATE November 8, 2013: Several weavers have asked me to send them the WIF file for the Ikat-Inspired Networked Twill draft. One weaver, Mahesh Deshmukh, used it to create his own beautiful designs and sent me these images (posted here with permission):
UPDATE February, 2014: I rewrote this post as an article that has been published in the February 2014 issue #104 of the Complex Weavers Journal with the same title, “Ikat-Inspired Twill Studies.” Most of the articles in this amazing issue focus on loom-controlled shibori and ikat and I’m thrilled that my article about twills that look like ikat is included. Complex Weavers posted images and downloadable WIF files of the drafts from my article as well as images and some drafts from the other articles from this issue that may be viewed at this link.