Chris's ribbon – finally!

This project has kind of stymied my loom for the past few months. It’s OK, though – I have been so busy knitting that I really haven’t noticed. I decided to finish this up for Valentine’s Day for Chris. If you look closely, you can see that the peacock feather (which is my symbol for me) has a heart in the center. I was concerned that it would be too subtle, but I think it shows up OK. I forgot to include a penny or dime for scale; this ribbon is made of 60/2 spun silk, and is 5/8″ across. The brocade lettering and the peacock feather are all done from my reeled silk, dyed with Jacquard acid dyes.

The strapwork is double-faced, so that it shows up on both sides. The pattern area is 25 tablets across, the all-black border is 2 on each side (to keep the pattern from bumping into the edging) and then the edge pattern is 6 tablets wide, turned all one way. The background of the brocade is double-turn double-face done in plain weave.

A little closer on the ends.

Close-up of the peacock feather. The crown isn’t quite as crisp as I had hoped, but I think it still looks OK. I thought about doing a valentine heart in red, and was about 2/3 of the way through drafting out the pattern, but decided that would be too gushy.

29 replies
  1. greeneyedpagan
    greeneyedpagan says:

    Lovely! At first glance, I thought you did it with beads (one of my weaknesses, when I find the time, although I despise bead looms, but that’s just me.)
    Very nice indeed, and Chris is a lucky man. 🙂

  2. zet1972
    zet1972 says:

    Wow. You’re really amazing.
    Did you use a sewing machine to make the patterns and name?
    I thought about buying a Singer machine and making Roman shades once, but it just seems way too complicated…

  3. admin
    admin says:

    It’s all woven in; I made the ribbon. It’s all by hand. I use tablets to make the sheds; it’s a special kind of weaving.

    This started as two balls of red thread, two balls of black thread, and several little tiny bobbins of the brocade thread.

  4. skittl1321
    skittl1321 says:

    Okay, I read the comments and it said that you did this with tablets.

    How did you change the colors of the warp (the ends are different from the middle)

    My (uneducated) guess did you thread the end colors in certain holes and the middle colors in the other ones, and than rather than turning forward or back through a hole rotation, only turning so the colors you wanted showed up?

    But it doesn’t seem like that works, because the color of one end is different form the other.

    So how do you change the color of the warp?

  5. admin
    admin says:

    I’m not 100% clear about your question. There are two different things going on:

    There’s a border section on each side. The center section is threaded with two black and two read threads per tablet; the borders are threaded (from the outside) with one tablet solid black, four tablets with alternating red and black threads, and one more solid black. After threading them (I use a multi-spool “fast warp” technique) I manipulated the edge tablets to make the little chevrons. The border turns continuously forward or backward; I turned it until the twist build-up was too high, then reversed. The center section, with the red strapwork, was worked by turning the tablets in a pattern so that the red threads came up as needed – Double Face design.

    The patterns on the ends are brocaded. I used a supplemental weft on a separate shuttle. On the section in the peacock feather eye where there are more than a single color per line, I had multiple shuttles. The black shuttle weaves the ground weave, with the color shuttles floating over selected threads to bring out the pattern. Brocade allows for multi-colored work, and finer detail than the double-face.

    Does that make sense?

  6. admin
    admin says:

    Re: oh wow!

    Hee… and we’ll learn to do all kinds of things which have become obscure in the modern world, since they can be done faster, cheaper, and easier by machines! I think it’s funny/ironic/tragic that so many of the things I most enjoy doing, are “lost arts” type crafts with few suppliers and little market. Well, that is – little market in today’s market economy – I just don’t foresee anybody knocking my door down to pay me $150 for a ribbon like this one, which is what it’d cost at about $10 per hour.

  7. perspicuity
    perspicuity says:

    pretty neat too. i’ve done some weaving on before with a 4 harness loom, and have been thinking about making or getting a tapestry loom, and the tablet or inkle weaving keeps whispering at the corners too – at this point, inexpensive and small is good. eventually, someday, a nice wide folding at least 4 maybe 8 harness setup (just $999 new!).

    i should go give the knitting machines a workout, and make some blanets or somethings.

  8. admin
    admin says:

    I know what you mean! I keep thinking, “New toy! New toy for me now!!” but then have to play Inner Parent, and say, “No, go play with the toys you have!” Inner Child is MUCH more fun.

  9. molasses
    molasses says:

    Re: oh wow!

    i know.
    this is kind of what i meant when talking recently about the difference between art and craft. because “craft” is devalued and seen as unnecessary/time wasting. like making soap.

    you’re an inspiration. i really liked the thrift store sweater remade as a bag.
    the best thing i’ve learned in recent times is to just do it/make it. knit it, paint it…whatever we do is art. these things are good for our brains and souls.


  10. admin
    admin says:

    Re: oh wow!

    I kind of have a different definition of art/craft. Art for me is a particular head-space in the manufacture – when I draw, I always go there; it’s a timeless, visual, magical space. Craft is more meditative and less intense; I usually think of things as being craft if I can do them and hold a conversation. Some of the things, like the tablet weaving, combine the two – the design process very artistic, the manufacture very crafty. Amusingly, my soap, which I really think of more as craft, makes me $10 – $15 an hour easy, but the art is hard to get people to want to pay for. And yes, I agree – all good for the brain and the soul.

  11. admin
    admin says:

    That’s a neat pattern. I haven’t made the whole thing, although I did use the pattern for the square base as the beginning pattern for Big Red Bag.

    I like the stays-square aspect of it, because it’s knitted-inna-round.

    The only thing that seems like a challenge with the French Market Bag-sket – would stuff tend to flop out of it? It just seems like it might. I haven’t ever carried a basket shaped like that one.

  12. molasses
    molasses says:

    i like the shape though, you’re right, it may be impractical.
    i’m behind you by a mile or two in skill sets, so these patterns aren’t *real* to me, just purdy.


  13. twilightspirit
    twilightspirit says:

    Heya, I’ve missed seeing your posts around assorted communities lately! So of course I had to check here.

    I love it. The peacock feather is absolutely gorgeous, don’t worry.

    ~chuckles~ I was sitting down with a tablet weaving tutorial last night and starting my cards, and of course I thought of you, since I’d seen at least the “Chris” portion of this before.

  14. admin
    admin says:

    Thanks for checkin’ up on me!

    I haven’t done anything new and different with knitting, which is the community I had been posting in most… I have a couple of things (literally) simmering on a back burner, such as my adventures in wild silk spinning, which should hit Spinning_fiber as soon as I get enough decent results to photo, and more tablet weaving stuff once I get that done!

    I’m currently in the design stage for a contest entry, using that same silk ribbon warp; it’s going to have an espaliered mulberry bush at each end, and a quote from Emily Dickinson, “A little Madness in the Spring” and a silkworm and moth at the center. Our Handweavers Guild spring show is themed “Seasons” and I figured that Silkworm Season is the best for me to do!

  15. twilightspirit
    twilightspirit says:

    Oh that sounds delicious!!!

    I haven’t been paying much attention to any of the knitting communities, myself. Spinning seems to be my main squeeze, and I’m not complaining. Neither is my family, for once. They see handspun, hand-dyed yarn and see dollar signs. ~rolls her eyes and grins~

    What actually got me on the ball with tablet weaving was a day of brainstorming for Ren Faire garb. I refuse to use anything that isn’t authentic, and it seemed right up my ally. 🙂

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