Stitched Shibori Part Two – Figuring out how a scarf was made

In a previous post: “Changing My Mind and a Dilemma” I showed a curious sampler and a beautiful black scarf or shawl with stitching patterns. A weaver asked how the patterning was done. I spent a day figuring it out. I pulled out a long roll of stitched shibori paper which was a big help. That needed its own post (Part One). Here is Part Two which builds on the information in Stitched Shibori  Part One.

One of the things I liked about both the sample and the scarf was that the intensity of the stitching pattern went from distinct gradually to blurry. I especially liked that the ends of the scarf were black with hardly any of the stitching pattern showing at all. That told me that the black ends were inside where the resist was the faintest. And the stitched patterns were most distinct in the middle of the scarf. Then the pattern gradually faded and got more and more blurry until at the ends it barely showed. How the strips were accordion folded to make this happen was an issue. Another thing I noticed that the fabric was quite thin. That would make stitching through many layers doable. I took a strip of paper to experiment with the folding steps. I hope it is understandable.

Almost immediately I noticed that the scarf was made in narrow strips sewn together with generous seam allowances showing on the wrong side. Again, this related directly to the design of the sampler. And narrow strips would be easier to work with. The seams were interesting in themselves. There was space between the cloths sewn together yet it looked like regular sewing machine stitching. Was a card or something sewn in with the seam and then removed??

Step One is to get the ends of the strips to be INSIDE so they won’t show the stitch resist or barely hint at it. Fold the strip in half and make the ends together. Then the other folds will be more and more on the outer sides of the bundle to make the stitching pattern less and less blurry–or more distinct depending on how you think of it. I penciled in shading on my paper strip to make sure the ends were inside the bundle.

Step two. Prepare to fold the strip.

Step Three: Make the first fold of the fabric.

Step Four: Continue folding each half of the strip in accordion pleats. You will need to figure out the dimensions of the folds.

Step Five: Fold the last time on separate sides of the bundle as shown.

A close-up of the folds.

Another close-up showing dashes to simulate the stitching for the resist.

Stitched Shibori: Part One – How one artisan created his stitch resist shibori fabric

Some years ago Yoshiko Wada’s Japan Textile tour took us to a quaint town of Arimatsu (near Nagoya). We went there because it is known for making shibori patterned fabrics. Shibori is a little like tie dye and can be very complex. One small factory used stitching on a sewing machine to create the resist patterns. I imagine the fabric was a supple white silk. Long (11 yards) strips of paper like pellon were clamped on top of accordion-pleated fabric. Then the long, thick bundle was stitched in a pattern on the sewing machine. After stitching, the bundle was dyed. When the paper and stitching were removed the pattern remained white where the stitching had been and resisted the dye. I became more interested in the technique than the result and asked if there were any of the discarded papers around. And a carton of them was brought down from a high shelf.

This post relates to a previous post with stitching as the resist.

I brought home a roll of the stitched paper that was discarded after dyeing.  The paper was folded lengthwise for strength then clamped to the cloth. You can see that one half is darker and more distinct because that was the side on the outside of the fold. And that is where the stitching and dye were the most prominent.

The holes where the machine stitching was are clearly visible.

This was a traditional design. The white spot is where one of the clips held the paper to the fabric. Since the paper is 11 yards long, that would be the length of the cloth that was stitched and then dyed. The fabric had been accordion-pleated down to the narrow width of the folded paper to 1 ¾” wide.

Here is a simulation of the paper on white fabric and shows where the stitching had been before dyeing.

A little fan was made with some “discarded” paper.

When a Tube is not a Double Weave Tube: a Confession, a Correction, and a Mystery Unsolved

I almost always look at any textile with the warp going vertically—it’s just natural. So when I saw the sample in the previous post I did the same. I saw it had two layers; it looked like it had a join in the middle of one of the layers. So I thought it must be double weave and some clever way of joining where the slit would naturally be for a “Kleenex-box-type” tube. When I was questioned about it by an expert weaver, I guessed I’d better look at it again so I could explain it to her. Well, I was very wrong.

I discovered the cloth should be looked at the other with the warps going sideways—horizontally– because there was a selvedge at one end. And this was made from a single layer of a wide piece of silk!

This is what the other side looked like. Remember it from the previous post? I thought it was woven as  a double weave cloth.

A length of fabric about 25” long was folded in half, horizontally. That means the selvedges were on each end resulting in a short, wide piece with the raw edges together to make a seam. This was done first, before any folding and stitching for the resist. This is how the tube was formed. It was NOT a slit cleverly disguised. It was a seam cleverly disguised.

I discovered a lot when I looked at the seam itself. There were about 8 rows of stitching that had been made before the seam was sewn. 4 of the rows would be in the seam allowance to prevent unravelling. The other 4 rows would provide stability on the other side of the seam I suspected. Also, probably some of the wefts were pulled out to make the short fringe at that time. Then the raw edges were put together and the seam sewn. You can see the rows of stitching and the one row of stitching that was actually to join the pieces.

After the seam made and pressed open, the resulting tube was flattened and ironed with 2 hard creases. And you can see the rows of stitching disguising the seam.

A row of stitching through both layers at one point kept the tube together. That stitching I had seen before as a double-weave-stitcher row but indeed it was just 2 rows of regular machine stitching close to one another.

Then, finally the tube was ready for the stitch resist. The mystery remains how the stitching for the resist was done so that on one side the stitches resisted the black dye making light dots but on the light side the stitch marks are black.

Changing My Mind and a Dilemma

I was all ready to pin down a little satin piece I’d woven and dyed onto a small piece of cloth I brought back from a trip to India. I’ve loved the piece. We visited a studio where the woman made very contemporary fashions using traditional dyeing and resist techniques used by the local artisans. I think I begged for her to sell the piece to me. She wanted to keep it as a sample. Many of you know I love samples so it really resonated with me. It is 12” x 27”. Yesterday when I ironed the piece, I discovered the “back” side and then came the dilemma. It was fantastic—an astonishment to any weaver. There was no way I could ignore that side and use the other side for my small simple piece. The dilemma was what to do with the original satin. More about that when I decide what to do. This piece is so unusual and inventive I had to show several views. The last photos are of a real scarf/shawl that resulted from the sample.

Here is a close-up showing a bit of both sides. The black side is what I’d planned to use and the light side is the discovery I made.

Here is more of the side I discovered.

This is the whole piece. It’s made of a rather thin, soft silk.
This is the side I had always remembered.

This was the next SURPRISE! It is double woven in a tube—with the edges in the middle rather than at a selvedge.

Here is a detail of a full-size scarf or shawl.

This is the “back” side. Hard to say which is the front or back. It looks great as a scarf bunched up.

Did you notice the seams on the “front”? I especially love them here on the “back”!

Jacket to be shared!

Here’s the jacket–Cathy Cerny and I are sharing it. I have the summer when I go to Japan and Cathy has the fall when her exhibition opens in the fall. After that we’ll dicide how the sharing will go. Neither one of us could bear to part with it.

Here’s a map of where I’ll be for the 11th International Shibori Symposium. I’ll begin around June 23rd or so. Bye for now! 

My Gift for Japanese Artisans

In Japan, one always gives a gift when visiting someone. When we visited an artisan or maker, we always gave our more “important” gifts.

Our guide took us to visit Kubota-san in Kyoto, a stencil dyer. We had a lovely time visiting after seeing his studio where they were printing a kimono-length piece of cloth. When I gave him a silk handkerchief I dyed after folding it an interesting way and then doing arashi-shibori (pole dyeing) in my indigo vat. He was pleased and immediately put it into his pocket!  I had been worried that it wasn’t useful, just a unique piece of silk!

My Furoshikis

This is the way Japanese often wrap things. I realized I had a little collection and displayed them in the window of our gift shop. I use them often when carrying things. The big one is really useful for carrying things to a pot luck. I also am using it now while carrying my work back and forth from the studio. I think I bought them when I just liked the cloth. Often the cloth is two-faced—that is, woven with two different colors or patterns on a single piece of cloth. Most are crepe—they stretch so nicely to tie.

They are easy to tie this way. You just set the object diagonally on the cloth and tie the opposite corners in a knot. The knotted ends form the handle for carrying. I have seen several books with different ways to wrap things with a furoshiki—even a wine bottle!

My first one is the big one given to me when we visited a stencil dyer long ago—in 1967. I’ve never found that dyer on all the trips I’ve made after that.

At a flea market I found the tiny ones—couldn’t bargain the seller down! One we bought at a sale in a department store. I’d seen one for a hundred dollars in a special natural dye shop. At the sale I got it for a “song” after pawing my way through a pile of furoshikis along with other women looking for bargains. 

Broken Threads Disaster–My Solution

I’m weaving 125 fine threads per inch so I can weave another ruffle (see my gallery) which I will shibori dye with indigo. Then the ruffle will disappear and appear in the dyed and un-dyed areas.   [click any photo to enlarge]

I’m trying to weave with finer-than-ever silk threads. I should have starched them first but didn’t because I didn’t realize it would be necessary. That would have made the threads stronger.  There are 125 threads per inch and I made more threading errors than I’ve ever made in my life. I have spent hours correcting these almost invisible threads and have lost a few and a few have broken –there are 16 threads to date that are hanging off the back of my loom and I expect I’ll have more as I weave along. Here is a close up of the weaving and one broken thread pinned in. (I’ve been mending the threads with sewing thread so I can see them.)
I used this stand which I’d used when I was weaving velvet to rig up a way to keep all the threads from tangling. Knowing that the only thread that can’t tangle is one under  tension this is what I did.
I took the threads as they came from the warp beam and made a cross to keep them in order. 

 Here is a close-up of the cross I made to keep the threads in order.
To further keep them in order they went through this grid.

Here is how I tensioned the threads. These are fish net shuttles I used when weaving velvet.