2009 Weave of the week #34: More colored squares
September 6, 2009

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


2008 Weave of the week #5: Abstract jacquard
August 30, 2008

Vintage wool jacquard

Vintage wool jacquard

To me this swatch of vintage French woolen jacquard looks more like an abstract painting than like a textile. It was woven with fine wool set tightly (approximately 50 epi x 50 ppi), so that the tightness of the structure accentuates the colors and sharp angles between the fabric’s warp- and weft-faced satin weaves.

The piece reminded me of Abstract Cubist painter Lionel Feininger’s work, so I did a quick online search, and on NYC’s Museum of Modern Art’s website I found “Ruin by the Sea,” an oil painting with abstract geometric shapes and similar colors, that Feininger did in 1930 (to view the Feininger piece, go to www.moma.org/collection/provenance/items/593.66.html).