Tentative shibori

Shibori on plain weave cotton with synthetic blue/turquoise dye, pull thread woven in 3/1 twill.

In the picture above you see the shibori I’ve done at school as part of the assignments. To be honest, I didn’t follow any rules except mine. I had no idea of what I could do with shibori, only knowing that I had to weave in a “pattern thread” in to my fabric. This pattern thread needed to be pulled tight (very, very tight… you fingers will need to be sore for the next few days or you didn’t do it right), then tied and then the fabric will need to be dyed.

So yeah, if I hadn’t been so quick to decide “oh a twill will be fine” then I hadn’t been in the mess I was in. I had already threaded half the heddles on my loom before my teacher caught me and told me I could do more than just a twill… then you have that dilemma whether to pull out all the threads and start over, or continuing.

Let’s be honest, I wanted to weave that rainbow I had dyed up and I had already given up on that shibori even before I had woven it, let alone dyed, so I just continued my recipe for disaster. (yes it was all part of one warp)

My fabric is a plain weave, because really nothing weaves faster than a one color plain weave. The pattern thread is a 3/1 twill that I’ve woven into my plain weave at various distances and as per usual I forgot my camera and I don’t have anything to show you but the endresult. But you can still see some sort of striping on the fabric, that’s where the thread had been.

Now, what’s wrong? The pull thread I’ve used to weave in, was thicker than the cotton I’ve used to create the fabric with, meaning that it leaves obvious holes in the fabric once pulled out.

I had already realized that would happen, but I still wanted to make something of this shibori and for the first time this semester I was a bit hesitant about dumping loads of mordant- and dye-solution on it. I still wanted to see some sort of creasing color pattern (to say the least).

So, once I had tied my fabric into something that resembled a big shrimp, I didn’t want to totally immerse it in the mordant and the dye solution because I was terrified that there would be no pattern at all to see. So I sprayed on less mordant solution and less dye than I normally would have if I would dye in a rainbow fashion. I did my best to just dye the “good side” of the frilled fabric shrimp. But when I turned it over to rinse it, I discovered that I still had big parts of undyed fabric.

Deciding I’m going to wing it anyway, I put it in the spin dryer and took it home with the explicit instructions to only cut loose the pull thread when it is completely dry again.

And so it happened, this is the endresult. The fabric gives a slight illusion of still being creased, but it was ironed flat after rinsing it with vinegar solution to deactivate the mordant and having handwashed it in hot soapy water and dried again.

All in all, I like this fabric, it came out a bit lighter than I had wanted it to be, but you can definitely see the creases. However I will need to experiment with this some more and do this at least once the way I should.

Tentative shibori


Offwhite cotton warp on a stone tile floor.
Cotton warp, tied off for ikat dyeing.

I’ve been stressed about things at work, trying to combine it with some (technical/administrative) work for Atelier Drie Linden and the last struggles remaining from my work as a consultant/independent developer. So I’ve been dog-tired last two or three weeks as a result of that. On top of that it does horrible things to my concentration at work, which makes me feel useless, which makes me feel bad, makes my sleep troubled and … you get it, it kinda feeds on itself until you pull out the plug.

So I took the week off to do things I like doing, like weaving. I’ve been wanting to do some weaving at home for some time now, but never really getting to it. And I haven’t been weaving at school either.

I’ve enrolled for the module “dyeing and binding off” a number of weeks ago, which is part of the weaving studies I’ve been doing for the past two years and a half. And I’ve been enjoying it so far. I had enrolled for that same module last schoolyear but due to circumstances I hadn’t been able to finish it, but now I’m determined to. Nothing is going to keep me from it.

So far, we haven’t gotten to weaving yet, but we’re getting closer. Last week we started off with ikat, our next to last part of our warp before we put it on the loom.

Ikat means┬ábinding off a part of our warp for dyeing, the places you tied off won’t be dyed. You can do this with your weft as well, but at school we’re only doing the warp for now.

It is something I’ve been meaning to try, just as I’ve been meaning to try “printing” on the warp when it is on the loom. The ikat was wonderful, the monotonous, repetitiveness of it is really good for emptying my mind. I had to suppress the urge to break out in song, something to accompany the work I was doing.

However, on the train ride home, I had the horrible realization that I had tied off the wrong part of my warp and would have to start over again. And with that, the satisfaction of having done something useful sapped right out of me.

Cotton treads on a warping board tied in packets with raffia ribbon.
One section of the warp being tied off with raffia ribbon.

This week however, after undoing all my work from last week (including winding the warp back into a ball), I realized that I hadn’t tied off the wrong side after all and that regardless I had to start from zero again because I had already undone everything. I wish I had this realization earlier… But never the less, I spent both Tuesday and Wednesday warping and binding of my warp.

At first, I found it uncomfortable to be binding off for ikat, but once I found a rhythm it was quite enjoyable. It’s just as “rhythmic” and repetitive as spinning if you want it to be and I find it is really good for emptying the head. At home, with the radio playing, I quite enjoyed singing while doing this work… some pedestrians passing by the window might have even caught me doing a dance step or two.