2009 Weave of the week #34: More colored squares

Colored squares

Designed and handwoven by Fern Devlin ca. 1980

I started my “weave of the week”  feature last year because I was amazed at how much one of my doublewoven scarf designs looked like some of the work in the “Color Card” exhibition that I had just seen at the Museum of Modern Art.

Then my recent discovery of Alighiero Boetti’s delightful woven word squares inspired me to yank  a pillow (shown above — one I designed years ago) off a kitchen chair to be this week’s featured weave, because I have been thinking and writing about  colored squares, and this is another way to weave them.

The pillow design was one of a series of color studies, and when I did them, I carefully wrote down the yarn information, though now — several decades later — it doesn’t matter at all what  specific yarns I used.  Unfortunately, the weave draft itself has disappeared, so lesson one is:  Don’t make half-assed notes, and if you do remember to make fully-assed notes, file them (and the samples) carefully.

If this weave structure has a name,  I don’t know what it is, so I’ll call it “binder weave” because it alternates two fine binder (tie-down) ends and picks with one end and pick of a much heavier yarn.  Both yarns in my fabric were wool: 4800 ypp for the binders and 1600 ypp for the pattern.  Below are closeups of both sides of the weave, from a commercial swatch.

Colored square face

Binder square face


Binder square back

Binder square back

By the early 1980s, I had been weaving my own fabric experiments long enough to have made a haphazard collection of pillows in a hodgepodge of colors, yarns, and weaves that interested me.  So after reading an article about Bill Goldsmith’s high-end interior design LCS Gallery in Manhattan,  I decided to try to sell my work there and made an appointment to see him.

One glance at the interior of the LCS Gallery told  me that I had made a big mistake:  Every piece of merchandise — and the showroom décor as well — was in some calm neutral color and/or natural material.  I’m still embarrassed to remember how I felt unpacking my work — NOT neutral;  NOT  “natural ” — which now felt garish and out of place.  Mr. Goldsmith was icy and unimpressed, but he taught me lesson two:  Do your homework on prospective clients first, so you don’t waste a buyer’s time, or your own, by showing something that’s alien to that buyer’s/store’s/gallery’s aesthetic.

Fortunately,  lesson three is that not all buyers are snobs, or narrow in their taste range;  some of them — even busy major store buyers — will look at beginners’ work.  Henri Bendel’s  “open-see” days were legendary,  and their gracious accessories buyer, Claire Nicholson, gave me my first order — one piece each of six mohair and lurex scarves (swatch of one colorway below).

The wound healed, and I sold off most of my pillow samples, but I never called Bill Goldsmith again.  In fact,  it was at least ten years before I dipped a toe back into the interior design market — but that time I made sure to do my homework first.

Mohair/lurex scarf swatch

Mohair/lurex scarf swatch


4 Responses

  1. Sue, It’s a painful situation to be in, so best to avoid it if possible. Or Lucy Van Pelt’s immortal advice to Charlie Brown might help: “Wear a helmet, five cents please.”


  2. Thanks for sharing your story about putting your work in front of the wrong person!! I just had a similar experience on a smaller scale, and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It helps to hear how some one else navigated those tricky waters.


  3. Eva, And thank you very much for reading and posting such positive comments. I really appreciate them.


  4. Fern, I love these especially the doubleweave with all the colors, it’s so interesting and beautiful! I like your story about your experience with the buyers. I was so impressed whenever I saw any of your gorgeous scarves at the big department stores like Saks and sometimes I even recognized them when someone was wearing one as they were walking on Fifth Avenue! Thanks for such an enjoyable post.


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