Supplementary Warp—Something Different

Supplementary warp is a structure where there is a warp across the whole width plus another warp that goes part way across. In the areas where the extra warp(s) is/are there are actually two warps threaded together in the heddles and the reed. (I like complicated things that are actually simple ideas.)

African Thoughts
I wove this in a class at Pacific Basin School of Textiles where I really learned to weave. The subject was supplementary warp. It turns out to be one of my favorite weave structures. I liked it right away because “the weft couldn’t muck up my warp!” In other words, I only had the warps to think about and that was a relief. I copied the triangles from a book of African textiles. Then I played with all the other designs that I could get with the threading for the triangles. To me it was a sampler that was becoming pretty nice. So, I ended it the same way I began to make it look like I planned it that way. The embroidery floss was in my stash.

Lidded Box
Actually this was my project for the “sampler” I wove in the class. The assignment was to make something 3 dimensional using the supplementary warp structure. That was the beginning of my infatuation with boxes. It’s double weave with the supplementary warp in between the layers.

I think I wove this on my own sometime later. I got the idea of reflections using some twills.

Twinkle, Twinkle
I was to weave something to do with music so got the silly idea of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. I have a loom built for supplementary warp with 40 shafts for the extra warps. There are 4 other shafts for the ground weave. The 40 shafts work with a mechanical dobby. The 4 shafts have treadles and their own shafts and heddles. It’s available if anyone would like to have it. It has around 18” weaving width. Jim Ahrens built it. I bought it from Kay Sekimachi, so it has a good provenance. It’s in my studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. I thought I would weave Jin weaves and collected some information but time has run out for me now. However, I see people are weaving Jin now, so maybe someone will want it. Best Offer.

Color Blanket with Triangle Illusion
This I wove in the double weave class. I was hot to have a color blanket so one side has the supplementary warp grey triangle. The back side has vertical bands of the colors with black or grey wefts crossing. I was disappointed the triangle didn’t appear to lift off the surface as much as I’d like.

Red Squares
This time I wanted to see if I could gradually make an image disappear. I used 6 shafts for the supplementary warps and 4 for the twill ground since I have 10 shafts on my original Ahrens loom. It needed the shafts to be held down so I could get clean sheds when all but one of the shafts was lifted.

Balanced Weaves: When Both Warp and Weft Show

In Memoriam:  Virginia Davis died this month.

It’s appropriate that this post is to be about balanced weaves—balanced plain weave: Virginia Davis was an expert. She noticed that paintings were done on canvas cloth and that made her decide to weave her own canvas along with her Double Ikat and other dyed work. This piece is 12” x 21 ½” and is one of her smaller pieces. It’s one of her signature pieces where the edges of the ikat are purposely blurry so the effects of the dying done before the weaving are appreciated.  I’m so proud to have it hanging in my apartment. I love the optical illusions, too.

In the close up of this piece by Virginia you can see why it is important that both the warps and wefts show.

Here is a close up of a balanced weave shawl by Marlie de Swart.

A larger area of Marlie’s shawl shows how the warps and wefts blend.

Here is Marlie’s lovely soft shawl which I use as a blanket at the foot of my bed. It is beautiful to look at as well as wonderful to take a nap under. Everything is plain weave, over one and under one. This is the THIRD piece Marlie has ever woven. It is weaving perfection. Notice that in a few places she changed the weft in the shed.  I think she said the soft yarn was alpaca.

At the end you can see the colors of the warp threads that Marlie used by looking at the fringe. See how the colors built into the warp are in a nice proportion and are different but relate with every change of weft.

This photo relates to the illustrations in the two previous posts: this one being balanced weave and the warps are neither close nor far from each other.

How To Get Weft-faced Weaving.

This rug is weft-faced. Many but not all rugs are. In this case the weft entirely covers the warp.

Here the same warp and weft yarns from the previous post are woven weft-face. Notice that the warps are farther apart and the wefts are close together in comparison with the previous example of warp-faced weaving.

In this diagram notice that the wefts bend, and the warps are straight. That is so the weftscan be beaten close together on straight warps. Increase the tension on the warp so the wefts will cover when beaten in.

To get enough weft in the sheds to cover the warps you usually need to bubble the weft. See the next illustrations.

Another step is to beat in the weft hard. This is a photo of young Peter Collingwood. His book, The Techniques of Rug Weaving is a cherished bible. Beat on the open shed as usual then close the shed and beat again and you might even beat again on the next shed to get the wefts to completely cover the warp. If you really want to do a lot of weft-faced weaving the Collingwood book is IT. My books only give the basics. I don’t weave weft-faced things. My mentor/teacher, Jim Ahrens said, “Weft faced! Can’t make any money that way!” So, I never took to it.

There are many weft-faced patterns you can make on a 4-shaft threading. This is woven with 2 colors.

The third technique for weft-faced weaving is to spread out the warps wider than usual. This is an elementary way to think about determining the sett: Use your ruler to wind both the warp and the weft threads together. Alternate the warp and weft threads on the ruler. Keep them flat. Be careful not to twist or stretch them, but still, push them together until they just barely touch. Finally, count only the warp threads in your inch to get the approximate sett. See the illustration. You probably will use a thicker weft yarn than a warp yarn. This is a way to get started. Of course, sampling is important on the warp you intend to weave on.

More on Wrapping: Use That Number for WARP-FACED Cloth

What if you didn’t know about how to determine how many warp threads you need per inch for a project? In other words, the ends per inch or epi? And what if you just used the number of threads you wrapped on the ruler for your ends per inch? The warps would be close together with no space left for the wefts—this fabric is called a warp-faced fabric or warp predominant one.

Here is a close up of a woven piece by Thomasin Grim that is almost totally warp-face. That is, only the warps show and none of the wefts are visible. You can see a small area of balanced weave where both the warps and wefts show for comparison. More about that in a future post.

Here is a photo of the whole piece by Thomason Grim where it is mostly warp-faced.

This is an illustration from my book, Weaving for Beginners that shows that the warp threads are so close together that the weft barely shows. In future posts you’ll see the same yarns in balanced and weft-faced fabrics for comparison.

The Difference Between Shaft and Shed: Another Spelling Lesson

Here is a shaft
Many weavers and teachers call it a harness. We should know they are one in the same, but that shaft is the more correct term.

The photo shows the shafts in a loom. They raise or lower the warp threads.

Here is a shed
It’s the space where the shuttle goes. If there were no shed one would have to physically go over and under the warp threads. This is one of the main jobs a loom does: make the sheds.

Here is a view of a shed in a loom.

This photo shows NO SHED. What it does show though is the shafts. None are raised or lowered.

The sheds often are created by pressing on treadles.

The sheds can be created by levers if there are no treadles on the loom.

For a loom to be a loom it must be able to make sheds. However, rigid heddles do not have shafts. Instead, they have a rigid heddle that creates the sheds.

The sheds are created by lifting and lowering the rigid heddle.

Warp and Weft: Another Spelling Situation

What do warps, wefts, and woof Mean?
Warps are the threads that are measured out and put on the loom first. Wefts are the threads that cross over and under the warp threads during weaving. I heard one person say, “Warp is the one that has the letter A in it.” When I checked for the definition of woof I first noticed: “a low gruff sound typically produced by a dog.” Further on, “the threads that cross the warp in a woven fabric”. I didn’t follow further, e.g., for woofer!

We can talk about a warp as a whole or a single warp thread or yarn. Warps are the ones weavers put on the warping board. It’s a strong piece of equipment used to measure out the threads or yarns to go on the loom. A group of threads for a project is called the warp and could inches, or feet, or yards long. Also, a single thread can be called a warp. However, every warp thread needs to be the same length.

The weft weaves over and under the warps that are on the loom already to make cloth.

Wefts come in any number of packages: Skeins often look like this.

Skeins must be completely unwound for the yarn to be useable. A skein as in the photo is used for dyeing but not for any other use that I can think of. To unwind a skein, you could put on the back of a chair and wind the yarn into a ball.  Then it can be used for warps or wefts or many uses.

Balls come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Weavers can use yarns in any package other than a wound skein.

Cones are another type of package for yarn. They are well known to weavers. The thread comes off easily and fast for making warps or winding shuttles for wefts.

Weft yarns or threads need to go onto shuttles so they can pass easily over and under the warp threads. There are many sizes but this type of shuttle is usually this shape. Usually they are made of wood. The word shuttle means to go  back and forth between two places. Like a space shuttle.

This is a boat shuttle and is much more efficient than the stick shuttle seen before because the yarn wound on its bobbin comes off faster and more smoothly. You can see that it is going over and under the warp threads. In this photo fatter wefts were woven already.

The Difference Between Warps and Wraps: a BIG difference besides the spelling!


I got two inquiries this week about weft faced weaving and a request for more posts about weaving last week. These help me know what to post about, so I appreciate your suggestions. Write me your suggestions as a comment any time.

Note: To find information in previous posts:
1. You can search for subjects on my website using the “Search” widget on the right sidebar on every page.
2. You can also click on any category in the Categories List on the same sidebar.

The illustration shows examples of 2 warp yarns. Both have 4 warps per inch or ends per inch. (4 EPI) Note: warps are often called “ends”. Hence: 4 epi or 4 ends per inch.

Here a yarn is wrapped around one inch on a ruler. The number of wraps per inch in this case is 15. We might say 15 WPI. You can wrap the yarns on a ruler fairly far apart, so they just graze one another, or so the yarns are squashed together. I suggest wrapping the yarns somewhere between these two options; that is, touching one another very closely, but never overlapping.

Compare this illustration with the first one. This illustration represents wrapping—you can see that the threads touch each other. In the first illustration there are spaces between the warps which is what you would see on the loom. Unless a project is warp faced, there is always some space between the warps on the loom. The number of warps in an inch is called the sett or EPI. 

The spaces between the warps in the illustration allow for the wefts to intersect. In this case we have the same yarn for the warp and the weft and a balanced weave with the same number of warps per inch as wefts per inch. (That does not always need to be the case.)

Following the previous illustration, here we see that the wefts take up the spaces between the warps. That’s why there can only be 2 warps per inch (EPI) when there are 4 wraps per inch for this yarn.

It has been determined that there should be 2 EPI (warps per inch). Notice the dotted circles at the top of the illustration: they represent the WRAPS of the warp yarn in an inch. I hope you see the difference now: the warps per inch are what the warps on the loom are. The wraps are used to help figure out how many warps per inch there should be for your project.

Life After My BIG Sale

The big sale has come and gone but I still want to remember it. It was a huge success and lots of friends old and new, former students, and a surprising large number of textile enthusiasts came. It felt like a big party, and I had such a good time. Again, friends took care of things while I could just enjoy myself. This photo shows what greeted people as they entered the show. They were surprised and impressed. It really was like something completely different. The party went on from there. Visitors as well as volunteers all had a grand time. The original design was by Cynthia Broderson. She helped from early planning through to the end when I had things at home to put away.

I’ve gotten a few photos of people showing me how their new treasurers look in their new homes. I would love to see more photos. You can send them in the “Comments” or email me at so I can share them here. I got one the other day and I can’t find it. I hope the new owner will send it again.

This is one treasure that went to a new home and her owner emailed asking how I hung it. That got me to thinking. This is 1//3 of a kimono length and I wanted to show that it was the beginning end where the artist/weaver “signed” it as an original.

I hung the kimono length on a closet pole (from hardware or lumber store) that I covered with washed white flannel. The flannel keeps the acid from the wood from touching the textile. Here I’m showing that method hanging another piece.

This shows the end of the covered closet pole and the large S hook I used.

This shows the end of the closet pole covered again.

The length of the closet pole and how I stitched the cover.

Very often I use monofilament to hang things when I can hang something from the middle of a rod. I might have used monofilament instead of the S hooks to hang the jacket shown above.

I always have monofilament on hand at home.

Here is the S hook. There were many types to choose from on Amazon.

After the holidays I think we’ll have things that are left on sale online. Stay tuned. First, I have to mark everything as SOLD on my database to know what is still available. You can click on to see what went into the sale. I’ll update it when we do the online sale.

A Report: I’m Coming Down Slowly: After My First Sale

I had my first sale at our Textile Arts Council’s Textile Bazaar on November 12. It seems long ago to me now, but I’m still coming down after all the preparations and then the excitement of the day. The Textile Arts Council (known as TAC) is a group associated with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The organization raises funds to purchase textiles for the museums’ collections. There are two museums connected as one entity: the deYoung Museum and the Legion of Honor. I was on the board in the 1990’s heading the programs. We had 29 people come to our lectures at that time. Now I would say over 100 came before the pandemic. Now days the lectures are on Zoom and people join in from all over the world.

I (I should say we) had a large booth at the bazaar to give a taste of what would be available at the two-day sale the next week. It was an impressive space and people said my pieces looked great. Really, it was the booth itself that was beautiful. I had much, much help. Mainly I had a woman who does textile sales professionally help me and we designed the space together with her inspiration. We had stands up on the tables with special pieces. A coat from Uzbekistan, a silk under kimono from Japan, and a contemporary coat made by a local designer made a big splash on the stands.  There was a rack of clothes and lots of textiles to paw through.

My woven ruffles, natural dyed silks, and a banner hung down from a high frame. I had volunteers to collect the money and replenish the tables so all I needed to do was to answer questions and schmooze with people. We also handed out a flier that announced that there would be lots more available at the sale the next weekend. It was a big success.

Getting Closer and Closer

It’s so close to my big sale. However, on THIS Saturday is another big sale–sort of a preliminary one. I scheduled it primarily to advertize the one next week. However, getting it ready for packing our cars tomorrow has been a big and exciting task. I think my advisors have designed a wonderful booth for the Textile Arts Council of the deYoung Museum’s Textile Bazaar for day after tomorrow. Pictures will be in a follow up post. It’s a trial run for me completely.

I made a website of examples of some of what will be availabe. Just click the link at the bottom in the picture below to check what will be available at my big show at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Finally Announcing the Big Sale! …and a little one the week before

Whew!! Finally I feel like we are close! I could count the days, but I’m afraid to because I know I would have a panic attack. The big sale as you can see above is November 19 and 20. But I am going to have a nice booth at the Textile Arts Council Bazaar the week before on November 12. More info on that at the end of the post. Saturday, November 12, 10 AM — 4 PM, St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1111 Gough St. (at Geary), San Francisco.

I’ve had so much help with this enormous project. I think if I realized what I was getting into, I would never have attempted it. I’ve hired a person who has textile sales professionally and she helps with pricing, setting up, everything else including psychotherapy when I go berzerk.

Before that I had an appraiser of Asian Art to help me understand what I have accumulated in my textile collection. Now, when I look at a treasured piece, I remember all about how I bought it and in what country. Of course Japan (many trips) but also India (3), China (3), Uzbekestan, Philippines, Mororrco, and Bhutan.

Besides downsizing my collection (no heirs), I want to part with my work. I’ve had a couple small shows, but haven’t sold the majority of my work. I wonder if people ever sell much at shows! I have lots of weavings but also a lot of dye work that I did during the pandemic.

My tech guy, handsome Bob, has designed so much, as well as offered good advice along the way. We made hang tags, 2 flyers so far, and a large banner. The photo above is of the hang tag. At the sale he will show images of a large obi I have that is made of precious linden bark with sumi ink drawing. It is one of my most precious pieces. It hangs in my apartment and measures about 14″ by 24′.

Another very special piece is an under kimono. Jaspanese ladies liked to wear red underneath their subtle outer kimonos. The red was dyed with safflowers and is fugitive so it has faded over time. That’s how we know the kimono was dyed with safflower–because of the way the lining has faded.

My friend, Cathy arranged a trip for us to go to Amami Island in Japan to see a very special textile being woven. Kimonos would be woven of the cloth and the textiles are known as Oshima Textiles. We went to a special Oshima shop in Tokyo once and all the kimonos were very unattractive to our eye. However the mud dye and the weaving is extraordinary. We went to Amami Island and saw them weaving what I’d heard about: TWICE WOVEN cloth. That means, at first the threads would be woven for the RESIST when the threads were dyed. AFTER THAT the threads would be put back on a loom and WOVEN again.

I brought home quite a few pieces of beautiful cloth; each one is amazing! And to imagine and realize that each and every thread had been woven twice! In future posts I can show diagrams and pictures and you can see my pieces in my collection for the sale at my new website in the Oshima section: PeggyOsterkampCollection. Click Here

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Bazaar and at Building C (Room C 205) at Fort Mason.

More Moiré: With Two Layers

The posts are fewer than usual because I’m up to my ears working on my sale which will be November 19 & 20 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. A preliminary sale will be on November 12 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. Get there for the first look!

 The last blog was about making moiré by pressing two cloths to make the “watered” look. In this post, I bring up again about making moiré by weaving and other ways of having two layers on top of each other. See my previous post from June 20, 2022, for more on two layer moiré. SEE HERE.

Recently I found three small scraps of fine silk warp woven in double weave. When I held them up in the air, voila! Moiré. It is about 10” long. The warp was about 3 ½” wide. If I put it on a flat surface, the moiré would disappear and you would only see plain weave.

The second little scrap. This one is 8 ½” tall not including the fringe.

The third one is 6” long. I did a little black ink on it but if you put it on a flat surface, all you would see is plain weave plus the ink places. The moiré depends entirely on the two layers. Don’t forget to look at the previous post. SEE HERE

Uzbekistan Part Four: Getting Moiré or a Watered Look

Watered : Term used to describe textiles in which a rippled or watered effect is produced by pressing certain ribbed fabrics in such a way as to flatten parts of the ribs and leave the rest in relief. The flattened and un-flattened parts reflect the light differently. Synonym: Moire 
From my go-to book, Warp & Weft by Dorothy Burnham

This is the watered look or moiré on one of the pieces I brought back from Uzbekistan.

Here are the huge rollers that press the fabric to make the moire.

The first step is wetting the fabric.

The cloth is doubled before going into the rollers as per the definition above in the introduction.

The cloth is fed into the rollers.

The double cloth is separated.

The cloth is dried.

Moire can be on plain cloth, too.

A special piece I found was still doubled and here you can see it being separated. The moire is on both cloths but it took the two of them to press on each other to make the watered look (moire). I was thrilled when I found my photos and the fabrics I brought home. And now they will be in my sale. I hope lots of people will come: there will be interesting stuff as well as museum quality things and my own work. It’s a big deal for me. November 19 & 20 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The reason for the sale is that I’m downsizing and want to pass my treasures out into the world and see the people who they go to.

Uzbekistan Ikats: Part Three: An Interesting Weft Ikat

We saw this scarf and marveled how the ikat was done.

Upon looking at it closely we could see that the weft skeins had just been tie-tied randomly. We never saw a pattern develop, just random horizontal lines. Just 2 colors.

Then I saw the color blanket aspect of the whole scarf and the few and interesting colors that were used. For example, the warp had only red threads and green threads.

Many of us know that you get iridescence when you mix complementary colors which red and green are. So, in the areas where red and green crossed we do, indeed see iridescence.

It got too much for my brain to figure out all the wonderful combinations that were achieved in this scarf.

Then we discovered another scarf with the same type of weft ikat—where the weft threads are randomly dyed (and resisted, hence: tie dyed). This gave a completely different look to the regular warp ikats that we normally saw around Uzbekistan.

Another view of the scarf with the same wefts going all the way across the ikat patterned warp threads.

How interesting it was to travel with weavers on that trip. And I love re-living those days while getting these ready for the sale. Almost everything is numbered and photographed and, in the database, now. And everything around my apartment has Post It labels with numbers. The number for this scarf is 865. The hang tags are at the printers. That’s a next step and I have to decide on the prices! This is a huge job. All needs to be done by Nov. 19 and 20.

Uzbekistan Ikats: Part Two: The Heddle Maker Comes to the Weavers

The very most interesting part of seeing the ikat weavers in Uzbekistan was finding out about the heddle maker. I saw the weavers working and I saw them making the warps, but I kept asking “How do you thread the looms” and I would never get any answer. Only,“it happens.” Finally, after really, really insisting, they understood that I was asking about the man who comes to the loom when needed and makes the heddles for the warps—ON THE LOOM! They had him come to show us how he did it which was fabulous! This is a page in a large picture book for the region and I saw the picture of the heddle man and was overjoyed. (Simple things can make me very happy!) So, I spent $40 and bought the book. I always thought I could cut out the page and save it and make nice calendar pictures out of the rest of the book but none of that has happened.

Weavers know that the warp threads on the loom must be evenly tensioned and lined up. Every warp thread needs to be threaded through a loop, in our case loops of string. The loops are called heddles. You can see they all need to be the same size.

The complete heddle for each thread consists of two loops. This is not unusual in the world but not the way our American heddles are usually made.

The heddle maker brought his jig so that each loop is the same size. I loved the jig and wish I could have bought one. I am very sure I tried.

He found a cross that I’d never seen used before. I think it came from the regular weaver’s cross plus something like what we call the false cross. That way he picked up the threads for 4 sets of heddles. We would say for 4 shafts.

Here he is picking up his heddle string with a needle that is on the jig to make his loops of string. Probably a blunt needle.

All the string heddle loops for one shaft are on the needle, ready for a bar to go through to make the top of the shaft from which the tops of the heddles hang. Remember this is repeated for the bottom heddle loops forming the bottoms of the heddles.

Here he pulls the heddle bar through.

Now, 4 shafts worth of heddles are in place, the registration lines are lined up, and the weaving can start.

Wonderful Ikats in Uzbekistan: Part 1

I unearthed my pile of ikats from Uzbekistan when I found the Philippine blouse in the previous post. I’d forgotten how vibrant and beautiful the pieces I brought home were.

I also found my photographs that show precious aspects of the process of weaving these ikats. Here is a photo I took of men tying the warp threads. When they are dyed, what has been tied will resist the dye. When all the colors are dyed, they will be put on the loom and the pattern will loom into view as the cloth is woven. What a marvel! Here it looks like all the threads were first dyed yellow. Here they are tying the areas of the pattern where the yellow will be protected from the new dye colors. In so many techniques, it’s the way of resisting the dye that is the technique to make the patterns. This is sophisticated “tie-dye” for sure!

Here is a photo I took of a warp on a loom. Notice the woman in the back of the photo doing something. There you can see where the end of the warp is. The warps are tremendously long. In the previous photo the threads are folded several times on the tying frame so the pattern is repeated over and over for the very long warp when the length is stretched out.

The line across the pattern is so they line up perfectly. It’s called the registration mark. It would be at the ends of the warp shown in the second photo—where a repeat would be. I sought out fabrics where the registration lines showed because that interested me. Notice the mirror image of the design –that happens when the warp is folded back on itself on the tying frame.

Here’s a registration line visable on the warp on the loom.

Here is another photo of a long warp. Check out the remainder of the warp in the back corner.  So, for the entire length, the pattern has to match up.

Here’s a shot of the weaving room in one of the studios we visited.

Another shot of some of my fabrics.

More to come about my Uzbekistan textiles in posts to follow as I get them ready for my sale.

It’s Surprising What You Can Find Out from Mr. Google!

I realize I should explain more about my sale in November.  Online sales will probably be available AFTER the sale is over. The reason I’m talking so much about it here on the blog is that is what is consuming me now. And I’m finding it really interesting and exciting, really, to see things I have stored away and to revisit their stories. I hope you’ll bear with me on this adventure. I’ll also be selling (for very, very little) my own work. I look forward to enjoying knowing who the new owners of my treasures are. I hope to goodness it all works out. For some of my special treasures from my travels I’ve even engaged an appraiser.

I was wondering where in the world my blouse from the Philippines could be because I wanted it for my sale coming up. Well, the big surprise was that it turned up in with my stack of ikat textiles from Uzbekistan!! You wonder??? It was balled up and bound with a rubber band! I guess that was it because was so stiff and took up so much space. I remembered it so well—we found it in a junk shop on the last day of our trip to the Philippines.

It was a mess and I needed to iron it, but how? So, to the internet and of course I found it right away. I think the fiber is abaca (not pina, pineapple fiber). Never iron when dry only damp on cotton setting, and then how to iron the sleeves?? It worked perfectly and was so fun to see this miserable wad turning into something so flashy. My sleeves aren’t perfect, but they’ll do for the first attempt. They are sometimes called butterfly sleeves. I think of them as Imelda Marcos sleeves.

You can see my original post about buying the blouse on the post for March 3, 2016.

A Rug Sampler

I unrolled this rug to get it ready for my sale of my collection in November. I have to document everything which means take photographs, give it a number, put it in Word with the number, put it in the database. Then comes the rest: pricing, making the hang tag, packing it up, taking it to Fort Mason for the sale and then setting up. This is piece #644 and there are a lot more pieces to record.

I bought the sampler rug in Oaxaca while on a textile trip there some years ago. We visited the workshop and saw that all the yarns were dyed with natural dyes and then woven in the studio. There were skeins of yarn drying in the breeze on the roof. The same pattern is used but each section is made up of a different color combination. That’s what appealed so much to me. I love samplers and to sample.

Here is the pattern and you can judge the scale. Note this color combination.

A completely different color scheme for this section.

When I unrolled it, I noticed the signature of the weaver in the corner. What a joy to see it and remember seeing it and falling in love with it. It might be hard to let things go, but I am thoroughly enjoying visiting my treasures.

Silks Part Five: Kibiso Silk

Several years ago Yoshiko Wada gave me some of this kibiso silk to experiment with. Then on a trip to a silk farmer in Japan, I asked for some. I was shocked when he presented me with an armful of 6 or 8 huge skeins of it. It’s the waste that is taken off the outer part of the cocoons. I’ve never seen a cocoon with this waste; it must be removed right away.

Here is a close up of one area of the skein. You can see there are finer and thicker areas. It is very stiff because the sericin is still on the filaments.

A close up of another area of the skein.

Here is a close up of an area of a hanging I wove with it as part of the warp. I didn’t put the kibiso threads in heddles but put them in between them. The threads didn’t go up or down but stayed in the middle of the sheds. When I wanted them on top I put the shuttle underneath the threads. When I wanted them underneath, the shuttle went over them. That is similar to how floating selvedges work.

Here is a close look at the loopy area.

Here is the whole piece. I did weave more small pieces and undegummed some of them. The fibers turned soft like cotton candy and the blue threads bled to dye them.

Silks Part Four:
Raw Silk or Noil? Which one is raw silk?

To quote Giovanna Imperia in our post dated July 5, 2022 found HERE:

“The filament from the cocoon is covered in sericin — which is a protein gelatin produced by the silk worm to bind filaments while making the cocoon (Think of it as worm spit). It is not removed from the filaments being reeled to add strength and minimize breakage.

More from Giovanna.

To quote Cheryl Kolander in her book:

“Raw Silk”
Unbleached, cultivated silk noil fabric is very popular under the name “raw silk”. This is a misnomer: true raw silk is silk which has not been degummed. The reason for the nickname may be that the noil fabric has the muted luster and lack of sparkles associated with true raw silk.

Oddly enough, it is the lack of luster of raw silk—both the true raw and the noil—that is their greatest asset. The matte finish gives them a casual look. They can be worn places and times where a sleek, lustrous silk would be too dressy.

Noil silks are also popular for clothes because they are very wrinkle-resistant. And noils spin a soft, bulky yarn that knits or weaves a lightweight but thick and substantial fabric.”

I bought this exquisite scarf from a silk farmer in Japan. The threads are single silk filaments.

A close up of the single filament scarf.

A close-up of a noil scarf.

Another shot of the noil shawl in the post on July 25, 2022. SEEN HERE

Silk Part Three

Here are more bits and pieces of silk information that I think are interesting.

This is a corner of a large cap (flattened out) made of layers in preparation for spinning.

You can see one thin layer pulled back and the interesting edges of the layers.

I’m sure I bought this just because it was so interesting. I’m glad I saved the label. 130 layers is a lot of layers!

During the pandemic I brought home this silk roving and my spinning wheel. Remember, I’m a weaver and not a spinner! Besides my wheel doesn’t like to spin fine; it’s better just as a twister. But since silk doesn’t draw like wool, I thought to give it a try.

My silk spinning with no instruction. I’m reminded of how proud I was when I learned to spin wool and my thick and knobby yarn! Junco Sato Pollack wrote and suggested having a bowl of water to wet my hands but it all seemed too much. I’ve taken the spinning wheel back to the studio and don’t plan to spin any more in this lifetime. In the meantime, I have some thick silky yarn for a future weaving project.

Here is some silk that Junco raised herself.

These spools are what I used for the warps for sheer fabrics and my ruffles. The color is fugitive–temporary—only so those at the mill could know which were S or Z spun or plied or overtwisted. Most are undegummed (stiff) and highly twisted. You’ll see how fugitive the colors are in the next photos.

This is the color those threads on the spools turned into as soon as they hit the air on my warping reel. The white “fringes” were from a silky silk (degummed) skein that I gave up on unwinding and just cut the skein and laid in the long threads.

The overtwisted character made for wonderful collapse pieces. I had fun with collapse and was careful to keep water away from anything I didn’t want to collapse.

My ruffles I made by weaving very long tubes and turning them partially inside-out. The sett probably was 96 epi at one repeat (8 ends) per dent in a 12 dent reed.

This is a skein a friend gave me of silk chenille. I dyed it with black walnuts. It’s so precious I don’t know what to do with it.

Silk Cocoons – Part Two

These are more natural silk cocoons. In Japan a man I met at a flea market has a business of selling natural fibers. These cocoons thrilled me!

You can see why the above cocoons interested me when you realize most cocoons look like these.

Did you notice the stem on one of the cocoons in the above photo? I did and found out that the silkworm MAKES the little twig that makes its attachment.

Here is a little bit of the silk fibers in a fluff along with the silk “twig”.

Here is a skein of yarn made from the silk twigs. I am calling this the baby bear yarn. A strand of 5/2 cotton is for comparison.

This is the mama bear size yarn.

This is the papa bear size yarn.

This is grandpa bear size!

Here is a lovely shawl made from the cocoons shown in the first photo.

A closer look at the fabric. It is soft and a joy to wear.

Silk Comes from Cocoons. I Find Them Fascinating

Many know that I’ve travelled a lot looking at interesting textiles and all things textile related. I’ve brought home many things that interest me. The other day a friend came to my studio for some kibiso silk for her artwork and then came back again for a cocoon. When I got out my cocoons I found a lot of things I’d brought home from China, Japan, Uzbekistan, and India and ?? This post is the first one about cocoons. Note: I’ll be selling my collection of textiles in San Francisco in November. Stay tuned.

We visited a silk growing place in Japan where they raised at least two different varieties of silkworms. There was a video showing how they saved some males and females for breeding. They showed putting a pair of moths under a domed basket where they bred then I think the eggs came and the moths died. These two cocoons made two different silks.

This scarf is made of two layers. Each layer was made from silk from a different variety. One layer is pure white and the other is yellow-ish.

These cocoons made the thread on the spool. The silk filaments were reeled off as the cocoons were unwound. The silk threads in the scarf above were unwound (reeled off) from the cocoons. The scarf is stiff which tells us the sericin has not been removed and is called raw silk.

In the case of the breeding cocoons, the “bug” (pupa) inside the cocoon  develops into an adult that breaks out of the cocoon as a moth. Since the cocoon is broken, the fiber cannot be reeled off. These spent cocoons were in a wastebasket in a mill where they were reeling off the silk. I helped myself to see what the cocoons looked like and was pleased to find one pupa. (The word chrysalis is the same stage as pupa but only refers to butterflies).

These cocoons were purposely cut open so that silk fiber cannot be reeled and must be spun. It means the moth can exit the cocoon on its own without being killed. However my understanding is that the moth soon dies a natural death.

On a silk growers farm in Japan we made hankies like these in preparation for spinning. The cocoons had been degummed, were wet, and had been cut open. We put our thumbs in the hole and  worked with forefingers and thumbs from both hands to pinch and spread out the cocoons into flat pieces like these. We draped them over a dome and piled up a certain number (maybe 12?) together, then removed them for spinning. These were called caps. If they were flat they would be called mawata.

Here are silk hankies on a small frame with several layers. I’m finding there are lots of ways to spin silk in the book “A Silk Workers Notebook” by Cheryl Kolander. Apparently, each method produces a very different type of thread.

Camp! A Great Place to Introduce Weaving

I’m taking 7 Structo looms and 2 others to a day camp. They are all ready to go.

Kids love the mechanics of a loom and these clanky Structos have really fascinated them in previous years.

Rusty but still workable make them even more interesting.

I have an old tape loom which I hope will interest some. The long, wooden levers are the “treadles”.

A closer front view.

A basket of yarns should entice the kids.

Silk is silk is silk – or not? – A Guest Post by Giovanna Imperia

We all love to weave with silk! It is such an incredible fiber: soft, supple, yet very strong
and with great aging stability.
However, not all silk is the same. Starting at a high level, silk can be classified based
on the moth type and the yarn construction. Below is a good way to visualize the

Muga silk is also produced by a specific type of Antheraea moth (Antheraea
assamensis) exclusively in Assam, India. It is very rare and is highly sought after
because of its warm golden color and sheen.

Reeled silk
Cocoons are placed into hot water and filaments from several cocoons are pulled
together and reeled. This produces a continuous multi-strand yarn. A number of multistrand
yarns are then plyed together to create the desired yarn size.
The filament from the cocoon is covered in sericin — which is a protein gelatin produced
by the silk worm to bind filaments while making the cocoon (Think of it as worm spit). It
is not removed from the filaments being reeled to add strength and minimize breakage.
Both Bombyx and Tussah silk are available as reeled yarns. They are both very strong.
The nice thing about Tussah is that it can withstand high torsion due to its natural
strength. So, it is possible to achieve high TPMs (Twist Per Meter) when creating crepe
yarns. A good example is the Italian silk crepe that Lunatic Fringe currently sells. The
base yarn is partly degummed Tussah silk. The Italian mill that I used to source the
yarn was able to apply 1800 TPMs — making this a very tight over-twisted yarn with a
lot of elasticity that can be used as warp.
One word about degumming. This is the chemical process that removes the sericin
from the silk. Degumming improves sheen and softens the silk, making it easier to dye.
However, degumming also removes the protective layer of sericin that adds strength
and protects the silk from abrasion. Partial degumming is an attempt to take
advantages of both sides of the chemical process: remove some sericin to soften the
yarn, but retain some to maintain the strength needed for high torsion.
In my experience, undegummed or partially degummed silks are the best as warp. The
long filaments rarely break under tension or due to friction. The sericin can be removed
after the weaving process to achieve a softer, more drapeable fabric.
Because reeled silk is a continuous multi-strand yarn, it does not pill or fuzz with use.

Examples of reeled and handspun silk.
Bottom row from left:
2/260 partially degummed natural ivory tussah (Japan, from Lunatic Fringe), handspun tussah (Japan, from Habu Textiles), naturally yellow reeled tussah (Laos).
Top row from left:

two handspun tussah skeins in natural brown (Japan), reeled bombyx in natural white (Japan, from Habu Textiles)

Examples of spun silk with even and uneven ply.
Top: spun handdyed variegated silk with even ply (China, Red Fish).
Top left: hand spun handdyed, slubby uneven ply (US).
Bottom left: tram handdyed organzine silk (Source unknown, dyed by Randy Darwell) . Cone on the left: bleached spun tussah uneven ply (Italy). Cone in the middle: recombed spun tussah organzine (Italy). Cone on the right: silk shantung loose ply

Spun silk
Most spun silk commercially available today comes from China. In Italy, where the
production of silk has essentially disappeared, many mills import the fiber from China
and then ply and dye the yarn in Italy. This allows the Italian mills to maintain their
quality controls while benefiting from lower production costs.
Once the first quality silk is reeled from the intact cocoons, the reminder as well as the
damaged or pierced cocoons are used to produce a variety of styles of spun silk.
Sericin is first removed from the silk waste. Next the fiber is carded and spun.
Generally speaking, spun silk tends to be weaker, more fuzzy and less durable than
reeled silk because it is produced from shorter fibers. It is also important to consider
how the fiber is being plyed: an uneven or slubby ply will make the yarn weaker, and
more difficult to use as a warp.
Not all the spun silk is the same. Since it is produced from the silk waste, different types
of yarn are actually produced. For instance, here in the US we are very familiar with
Shantung and Noil (In Europe also called Bourette due to its knobby appearance).

However, in Europe spun silk also includes another grouping called “Schappe”. This
type of spun silk is actually a higher quality than Shantung or Noil. In fact, Shantung silk
is typically produced with whatever is left over after the production of Schappe silk.

All three types of spun silk can be used in a similar fashion. The difference between
them is mostly in terms of sheen, and smoothness of the yarn — with Schappe being
the smoothest, most consistent and with the greatest sheen.

Let’s summarize:
• Reeled silk is a continuous multi-strand yarn. Very strong. Smooth with no
imperfections. Bombyx is high sheen. Tussah is more rustic. Reeled silk does not
fuzz or pill. If undegummed, unlikely to be affected by abrasion.
• Spun silk is produced from the silk waste. Short fibers that are always degummed
before carding and spinning. Some are spun with intentional imperfections. Not as
strong. Not high sheen. More sensitive to abrasion, and over time it fuzzes and pills.
• Warp yarn:
• Tight and balanced ply
• Undegummed or partially degummed yarn
• Spun silk with longer fibers
• Weft yarns:
• Unbalanced ply with slubs
• Loose ply such as tram silk
• Spun silk from very short fibers
• Originated in the Shandong province in China
• Spun from whatever is left over
• Purposely stubby and uneven
• Often confused with Dupioni
• More refined texture than Dupioni with smaller slubs and
less stiffness
• Spun from the higher quality short filaments after the
cocoons have been reeled, and from cocoons where the
moth has emerged thus damaging the continuous filament
of the cocoon
• Irregularities are removed from the fiber yielding a smooth,
regular, high sheen yarn

At a very young age I became fascinated by the textures and visual and tactile
experiences provided by certain materials such as fiber and metal. Over time, I also
became intrigued with the possibilities created by the interaction between structure,
techniques and material manipulation as a way of creating texture and threedimensionality.
In my most recent body of work I have taken the tactile experience a
step further by creating work that can actively involve the user as transforming agent.
This is achieved by allowing the viewer to manipulate, reshape and reconfigure the
work. Thus, transforming wearables and non-wearables into unique personal
My work has been shown in many juried and invitational national and international
exhibits. Selected work has also been reproduced in textile and jewelry books, and
can be found in private and museum collections.
Over the years, I have written articles for Ornament Magazine, Strands, Handwoven,
Shuttle, Spindle and Depot, and a variety of international braiding conferences
proceedings. And, of course, I am the author of the book “Kumihimo wire jewelry.”
Published by Potter Craft (Random House), 2011.
Many of the yarns discussed in this blog are available from Lunatic Fringe Yarns (https:// As I have been sourcing yarns in Italy over the last decade or
so, I have built a collection of interesting spun silk. If you are interested in expanding
your collection, I can be reached at