A Gorgeous Textile, A Dilemma, and Suggestions Wanted

A friend mentioned she is thinking of moving to a smaller place. I asked: “What about George’s blanket?” I noticed it years ago when it covered his bed—a gorgeous handwoven textile made with handspun goat hair(?). She called back to say she found it but the “moths had gotten to it”. I told her I’d like to have it and would put it in my freezer. Just fragments of it would be enough for me. Today was the first I could get a look at it after the freezer treatment to kill any moths and eggs. Now I need help in what to do next.

The blanket came from Elazig, Turkey, a village in Eastern Anatolia. All the women wore shawls similar to this blanket according to my friend.

I hope you can see that this is a beautiful textile. It is hand spun and handwoven of fine, singles threads at about 30 warps and wefts per inch. The goat hair makes it a little coarse but soft. It is very light weight and supple. I want to enjoy it but what should I do? Cut the good parts out and make a collage of them? Back the whole thing with a cloth and keep it intact? I would like any suggestions. I really don’t want to keep it in the large piece, I want to be able to look at the lovely fabric up close.

There is slight tracking of the plain weave—letting you know the warps and wefts were fine singles yarns. (To avoid tracking, one could weave twill or have the cloth dry cleaned. Jim Ahrens said it’s the water in washing that make the tracking in plain weave.)

I put it in the freezer for two days, then out for two days, and finally 2 more days in the freezer to kill the moth larvae and eggs. Thankfully I didn’t see any live larvae but I didn’t look inside the package.

There were white moth casings scattered all over the blanket. I spent an hour picking them off today after I’d opened the package.

Holes, holes, holes, large and small. The blanket had been folded so they just ate through the layers in places

33 thoughts on “A Gorgeous Textile, A Dilemma, and Suggestions Wanted”

  1. I suggest to make it into pillow tops with cotton backing. That way you can enjoy their beauty and they would be movable to the bed or sofa?

  2. I’d put it through the freezer once more in case, since vibrations (like picking off the casings) wakes the eggs up and encourages hatching. Then something involving Japanese mending techniques, maybe? A pieced garment, bag, or lap blanket? Cutting out good bits and collaging them back together like pojagi (sp?) could be nice. Maybe a skirt that way? Stick it in the freezer and buy yourself a couple days’ thinking time?

  3. How lovely! Turkey was one of my most favorite places to travel to!

    How about backing it and then Boro boro mending? I love the simplicity and texture of it.

    If any patience- French weaving the holes.

      • It’s a way to repair antique textiles. If she is referencing what I’m thinking, you take the hem out of one end, pull weft threads to use for the fix, use them to re-weave the holes by following the weave structure, then the end where the weft came from is re-hemmed.

        What I saw on the instruction example was much smaller holes with much finer thread, and it was almost invisible (which was the goal). I think that if you did that here, it would be unavoidably visible, so you might as well make it a feature. And then if you make that a feature, why not use a color?

        It’s really beautiful. What a great blanket!

          • Well, if it were my project, and I had decided to keep the blanket whole), I think I would not pick blue, because the original design features are in blue, and I wouldn’t want my fixes to be visually included with the original design. I would have my fixes be more subtle I think. A natural color that doesn’t try to match super close. Ecru? Some of those holes are pretty big. A slightly washed out version of your favorite color? Not sure if your dyepot is available. 🙂

            If you cut the blanket to make something smaller, but the pieces still have smaller holes, you could use the fix method with weft from the cut away parts to fix the parts you want to use. Maybe not try to fix the really big holes.

  4. What a gorgeous textile! You’re very fortunate to own it.
    I’m with Vicki Ramirez – if you don’t want to keep it as one cloth
    it would look wonderful as a series of cushions for your sofa and /or bed.
    Perhaps a table runner as well if you have enough?

    French weaving is a laborious technique and works best only on small holes because of the need to remove threads from other parts of the textile to make invisible repairs over the holes.
    There are services that perform this task but I’m sure – if you’re infinitely patient – you can find some videos online that will outline the steps

    I trust that you will come up with a wonderful solution to an envious problem to have 🙂

  5. You take yarn/thread from a hidden area of the garment or better yet —saved fabric from hemming and you’re “reweaving” -weft and warp-with a needle. I’ve never seen it done but managed to find someone to repair a fairly large hole in my ex-spouse’ pant 20 years ago in SF near the Shreve building. It must have taken a magnified glass and serious lighting. (The price of office space has run skilled artisans out of town.) I couldn’t sit still to do this.

  6. Lovely piece that you rescued! You didn’t mention the embroidery weaves represented in the textile. I am interested in what you can learn about the dye source, technique, and design.

    Why not use a piece for your scroll work? The fabric is so appealing as a representation of ethnic culture, utility, and beauty.

    • This is what my heart is thinking–for the scrool work but thought to get other ideas before I do any cutting which I think will be hard to do. Then..what do you think about putting together pieces like a collage? seams? raw edges? fringes? see the above comment –Kaketsugi restoration –a Japanese technique. I love the YouTube video and the ideas it is generating for me. Some of it is embroidery and some is woven in on the loom??I haven’t taken a good look yet. I was so obsessed with the moth residue, etc. My friend was with a tour group and probably doesn’t know about the dye. I wonder, too.

      • The video was very interesting, and wonderful to learn for something priceless that needs mending.
        I will research the dye used, and share what I learn. I see from your photo that at the inlay technique is used for part of the design. I wondered if the X’s were also inlaid.
        Since I spin, I would value seeing the selected pieces showing exposed edges, without fringing, and applied to a dark navy “frame” piece. The arrangement could suggest the intention of warmth by overlapping loose ends of several pieces, tacked with one corner.
        Looking forward to seeing the result of so many wonderful ideas forwarded by your followers!

        • Thanks for your ideas. I like mounting on a dark frame–I think I could make several or a lot of them using the scraps around the holes, or other compositions. I’m now thinking of cutting out the good areas and seeing what I have that could be a collage for a scroll. I also think the scraps can be interesting as small framed pieces or large framed as you suggest. Thanks a lot.

    • I LOVE this idea. Also the way of using a needle and thread as a “needle threader” . How did you discover this? I’d like to think about making a post about this.
      Might I mention that you suggested it? Might you give a little more of the story or of you experience for a post?

      • I discovered Kaketsugi during my research about mending methods like swiss darning, scotch darning, french weaving … To be honest I didn’t know how much mending methods are existing and that they are almost unknown.

        It’s a brilliant idea to make a post about this interesting theme and of course you can mention my name :-).

        Did you see the Virtual Video Tour of Boro Textiles at the Japanese Society (https://www.japansociety.org/page/programs/gallery/boro-textiles)? Clothing passed down through generations, incredible in our fast fashion times. I think Kaketsugi was developed
        to mend/restore really precious textiles (Kimonos) in contrast to Boro.

  7. Because I love color, I would reweave or patch or appliqué or reverse appliqué the holes in lovely, bright colors, and then whole cloth quilt it, with rings of color out from the pools of patchs, with the colors blending as the ripples meet and rebound.

    I would also love this in pillows, but perhaps I misunderstood the comment re: cotton backing. I hope that it meant some kind of reinforcement, and not a pillow front in the textile, and a pillow back in cotton.

    • I hadn’t thought of pillows but others have. Yes, I was thinking of a backing for the whole cloth. I was thinking of a matching color, sort of. Other people arte suggesting noticeable colors.Peggy

  8. Peggy, your wall pieces could give you inspiration . Take a nice amount of the fabric and mend the holes with yarn from the other. Mount it on a complimentary backing. This could show the honesty and historic values of the piece. To be admired for it own right

  9. I hope that is truly your one and only fridge, cause it brings me joy to see what it’s primary function is in your world. My freezer is filled with insect collections and roadside scores of cochineal. And the frig holds my 35 year seed collection. And beer. Not much else LOL
    I hope you find your inspiration for the next iteration of George’s blanket from your fans.
    Love your work.

  10. I have loved reading so many wonderful ideas. Creating 2 different keepsakes could be a possibility. Something tangible that wouldn’t be exposed to much sunlight or abrasion (the cloth looks very fragile) so you can enjoy the tactile. The second to preserve some of this piece for documentation of the history of the cloth that was created. The idea of a collage of sorts where you frame some of the cloth as it is now and then with another section of the cloth, if there are threads long enough (or find some fibers that are a close match) reweave a few of the holes so there is a visualization of what the cloth was once like. On the back of the frame attach a picture of the whole piece and a record of everything you know about it. So many options.

    Thank you for sharing your adventures with textiles.

  11. Thinking off the top of my head in my logic. Spread it out and let it talk to you. Not so bizarre as it seems. How can you honor George? You are an artist and will see its potential. All the recommendations are wonderful. The idea of more that one piece would appeal to me especially if you would see it/them them daily.
    I am intrigued by Katetsugi as I have a couple of treasured handwovens with moth or age damage. Were you referencing Beate’s post about “using a needle and thread as a needle threader”? Yes, please make a post.
    I am a weaver just not a tapestry weaver, Yet! A Faithful Follower

  12. If you choose to cut the moth-eaten sections away from the textile, perhaps you could include some of the fabric in a handmade “cloth book” along with some of the many lovely small woven pieces you have woven or acquired in your travels. Or even covers for treasured books!

  13. Reminds me of my 100+ yr old linen and hemp grain sacks from France.

    I have been trying to weave singles spun with my drop spindle to approximate the look, but it is still a work in progress. Have tried cotton sliver and flax.

    Loved your article and photos of Bhutan singles.


Leave a Comment