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Weaving with Hand-painted Silk Ribbon

Weaving with Hand-painted Silk Ribbon

Weaving a piece with hand-painted silk ribbon on a Mirrix loom.

Painting silk ribbon is a heck of a lot of fun, I do have to admit. A tad exhausting especially when one does it all day. There is a lot of wringing and hanging and redoing and analyzing and not being able to do anything else unless you want to remove those darn gloves and squeeze on a new pair. But what is even more fun is weaving with it. We've carried hand-painted silk ribbon once before but only in six colors and not like the current batch which is filled with blindingly bright colors and interesting fades and splashes. It just was a very good day in the dye studio (a.k.a. my kitchen). 

It's taken a month, but I finally got a chance today to play with this ribbon. Actually, that is not true. I did weave some weft-faced strips on a fine weight c-lon cord but I did not get a chance to photograph that. I am in Seattle visiting with Elena and coming up with weave-alongs, pod-casts, new kits, etc. for the next year and flew out of my house before I had a chance to snap a photo of those strips. The silk ribbon reacts quite differently from the silk yarn which is plied silk. The color is never blotchy but mostly makes smooth transitions into new colors. The silk is flat and so takes color like a flat surface. Imagine you are painting on a very thin flat surface. The colors are also richer because they always soak right through the very exposed silk fibers.

I used the ribbon as both warp and weft. Because I did not have the correct spring, I found an eighteen dent one and used every other dent. I was going for about ten ends per inch but got more like nine ends per inch, which in fact was probably the correct sett. I did not want this to be a weft-faced weaving. Rather I wanted it to be almost even weave where the warp and weft show the same amount. Had I wanted it to be weft-faced, with only the weft showing, I wouldn't have wasted all that expensive silk!

I also used the lovely new spacer beads from Myuki. They are sort of flattened with large holes. I thought they would fit neatly between the warp threads and they did. I strung them onto the weft silk and the wove with them. 


This piece was obviously fast to warp and fast to weave. Watching the colors intersect was fun. I guess I can never get too much of that.

I was weaving this as an experiment and didn't quite know what to do with the finished product. 

Go big? Go small? Make it practical or completely impractical? Oh and the reason I did not use the shedding device is, well, we couldn't find the right size bars to go in it and I am away from my supply closet. Using the shedding device would have made this even quicker and so much easier!

What would you make with a piece woven like this with our hand-painted silk ribbon?