Archive for October, 2009

2009 Weave of the week #41: Berber wedding blanket
October 25, 2009

Berber wedding blanket

Berber wedding blanket

This week’s featured weave, the wedding blanket of which a detail is shown above,  was handwoven by Berber women in the mountains of Morocco.  (I should perhaps mention that Berbers — who call themselves “Imazigen,” which means “free people” in the Berber language — are indigenous people who have lived in North Africa for 4,000 years.)  This was another gift from my friend Penelope,  who traveled to the Fès-Meknès area and brought back some fascinating textiles.  Wedding blankets are believed to have magical powers that protect the users from the evil eye, so this would have been an especially welcome gift.  (Click this link to read an earlier post about another Moroccan textile from Penelope’s trip.  That fabric’s silk fiber content is suddenly in doubt after a reader posted interesting information about it.)

My blanket is 3’7″ x 5’8″, and is very warm to sleep under.  It is densely woven plain weave,  in natural-colored sheep’s wool,  with lighter-colored nubby cotton stripes and smooth cotton knotted pile fringe.  Round metal sequins,  like the ones visible in the photos,  are traditionally sewn on by brides-t0-be and their relatives.

Knotted pile with sequins

Knotted pile with sequins

In  his excellent book The Techniques of Rug Weaving,  Peter Collingwood says, ” A clove hitch on one or two warp ends, is used in some Moroccan rugs.”  My blanket’s fringe has four multi-strand knots per inch,  as shown in the photo above.  I can’t tell whether the clove hitch is the knot that was used or not,  but maybe I can find out at the October 31 meeting of the New York Guild of Handweavers,  when Susan S. Davis,  an anthropologist and expert on Moroccan textiles,  will be the guest speaker.  For complete information about the meeting (the public is welcome),  visit the Guild’s website,  here,  and to read more about Susan S.  Davis and about her work with Moroccan women rug weavers,  visit her website,  here.

One of the reasons that I love writing my blog is that it leads me to look closely at textiles that I have lived with,  and taken for granted,  for years,  so that I can write about them.  Knotted pile,  for example, is a technique that I tried once and discarded because it wasn’t practical for production weaving (the result was the vegetable-dyed pillow to the right of Bobby in the photo below).

Bobby and knotted pile pillow

Bobby and my only knotted pile project

However,  examining the wedding blanket has reawakened my interest in the pile weaves,  and I’m excited about where the concept may take me.  Don’t look for shaggy scarves at Saks any time soon, though.

Update:  To see three more Berber wedding blanket capes,  see  Susan S. Davis’s photo on my gallery page (click on the thumbnail to enlarge the image).

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2009 Weave of the week #40: My scarves @ Saks Fifth Avenue
October 18, 2009

Orange/grey herringbone stripe

Orange/grey herringbone stripe

This season’s shameless commerce post:  Above and below are photos of the seven-piece 2009 men’s scarf collection that I designed exclusively for Saks Fifth Avenue.  The collection is made up of a new rib weave in three rich solid colors,  and updated color combinations of my herringbone  stripe and pinstripe designs (click on the images to enlarge).

All scarves  are 100% plush rayon chenille and cost $195.00.  My designs are individually handwoven in the USA,  so the quality is impeccable,  and their carbon footprint is teensy-weensy.  Each scarf is 9″ wide x 72″ long — my most popular size for both men and women — plus a short cut fringe (see photo at top of post).

My collection is available,  under the Fern Devlin label,  in the men’s scarf department,  at these Saks Fifth Avenue stores:

Beachwood,  OH

Chevy Chase,  MD

Chicago,  IL

Hackensack,  NJ

Las Vegas,  NV

New Orleans,  LA

New York,  NY

The weather has turned autumnal and the stock market is up,  so please support domestic American handweavers  (and at least one American designer) and buy my scarves.  They will warm your soul as well as your neck — really.  And you’ll look good in them,  too.

2009 Weave of the week #39: Sally Shore, ribbon weaver
October 11, 2009

3-D ribbon weaving by Sally Shore

3-D ribbon weaving by Sally Shore

I recently received an announcement of an upcoming group art show,  and was pleased to recognize ribbon weaver Sally Shore’s name on the exhibitors’ list.  In 2007,  she was a guest speaker at a NY Guild of Handweavers meeting and gave a dazzling presentation of her work.

By interlacing ribbons using “triaxial weaving” (three structural elements instead of weaving’s usual warp and weft),  Ms. Shore produces fabrics with astonishing effects (like the three-dimensional piece above) and turns them into bags,  baskets (see photo below),  clothing,  and artwork.  To get a better idea of her creative scope, visit her website.

Soft basket by Sally Shore

Soft basket by Sally Shore

Triaxial weaving is a Malaysian basketweave technique that is also called “mad weave,” and The Mad Weave Book, by Shereen LaPlantz, is available here,  if you want to find out more about it.  In her talk,  Sally Shore mentioned that the book that got her started was Weaving with Ribbon by Valerie Campbell-Harding.  That book doesn’t cover triaxial weaving,  but Sally Shore’s A Ribbon Weaver’s Handbook undoubtedly does.

In the group art show, which starts October 13 at the Broome Street Gallery in Soho, work by approximately thirty members of Artist-Craftsmen of New York will be on view.  The members work in several media besides fiber,  including photography and ceramics.  For more information about the show, and about Artist-Craftsmen of New York, visit their website.