This project was driven by a long-standing desire to construct my own clothing. I wasn’t interested in making any political statements or return to some mythic “simpler time” but rather more practical reasons: I’m 5’1” with bust, waist, and hips, and finding well-fitted clothing is a challenge from both a height and shape perspective. As every woman who is shaped outside the normal distribution knows, the off-the-rack clothing industry doesn’t design garments for curvy women.
I was first seduced by a sexy deflected doubleweave (DDW) pattern I found in a back edition of Handwoven. I had to try it but it was a few years before the stars aligned and I had enough nerve to potentially waste some of my precious Jaggerspun Zephyr wool/silk blend fiber. My first attempt went brilliantly right up until I sent it through my front-loading washer, thinking it was gentle enough. The result was beyond disappointing: it shrunk from 7’ x 11” scarf size to 3’ x 6”cravat size. It’s a very warm cravat and I actually do wear it on the very coldest days of the year. Lessons learned! But, I knew what to do – and what not to do – to wet finish this piece of work. I played with color combinations and generally had a lot of fun with discovery.
A year or two before this first experiment with DDW, a very close friend and the woman who played Robin to my Batman -- let’s call her Kerry because that is her real name -- one day tossed four cones of 20/2 cashmere in I my direction and commanded me to weave her something beautiful in dark blue, dark green, burgundy, and ivory. At the time, more than two colors scared me and I promptly parked that beautiful fiber in the stash. The cones followed me on a move to England where they sat in a project box for 18 months.
Back to the future: You get a lot of time to think while you are weaving and I just knew that the DDW pattern would be the right one for her and something she wouldn’t weave for herself. In part because it’s too fiddly and in part because I have more shafts at my disposal and my pattern requires eight. In a moment of inspiration I drew a fifth color from my stash, a BFL/silk blend, hand-dyed by Cheryl at Sonoran Desert Dyed Fiber and I found a way to mix the yarns into a plaid-ish DDW. That first DDW was only three colors. Now I had five!!
Fast forward a few weeks and voila: I was cutting off an beautiful DDW scarf from the loom which I vigorously wet finished by hand. It was fine enough to double over as a scarf without creating bulk. I road tested it around town and took an action picture of it near Tower Bridge.
I was satisfied that as a scarf it was brilliant. I wanted one of my own. Nonetheless, the scarf went to Kerry, the majority owner of the fiber content; an 18” sample went to Cheryl so she can show off what her fiber could do. We even entered that scarf in competition at Maryland Sheep & Wool and got second prize in the category, and I agreed with the judges comment that it was still a little flimsy. It needed a closer sett and another round of hand-fulling.
Next time: Part 2, Planning the yardage and selecting a skirt pattern