There is no denying that autumn is here. The days are getting shorter and colder. Sweaters have replaced summer dresses in my closet and a coat and shawl are no longer optional when going outside. During the autumn and winter, my big pile of crocheted blankets is no longer purely decorational, but they actually serve the purpose of keeping me warm.
I have not woven many blankets. One of my first attempts was the rainbow blanket that I made by sewing two woven panels together. While these panels were still considerably wider than the items I normally weave, they did not require the full width of my loom. So the challenge to make a blanket out of one single piece using the full 90 cm remained open. The changing season motivated me to face this challenge.
A large scale design
The wider the project, the more warp threads it requires. One of the fun things of having a lot of warp threads, is that it allows you to create large and intricate motifs. For this blanket, I went for a big star shaped motif in shadow weave. The width of the blanket allowed for two repeats of the pattern. To obtain a rectangular blanket, I decided to weave three repeats of the pattern in the length. For the yarn, I chose a blend of cotton and bamboo. This yarn has a subtle shimmer and is very soft to the touch. I combined six colors in total: cream, yellow, green, blue, red and purple.
Playing with color
Shadow weave is a color-and-weave technique in which two contrasting colors are alternated in both warp and weft, usually a dark and a light color. Patterns emerge due to the crossing of these colored threads. It is not necessary to use the same two colors in the warp and the weft — as long as the dark colors clearly contrast the light ones, the pattern remains visible. I decided to use this principle to my advantage in this blanket, by playing with different color combinations.
A light color, I used cream throughout the blanket. I combined this light color with no less than five dark colors: green and yellow in the warp and blue, purple and red in the weft. In half of the warp, cream and yellow are alternating, while the other half contains cream and green. In the weft, I used cream and red for the first repeat of the star pattern, followed by cream/purple and cream/blue. This creates six different sections of the blanket, each containing one full repeat of the star pattern. It is interesting to see how the different combinations of dark colors interact. In some cases the colors blend together, for example in the green and blue combination. For other sections, such as yellow with purple, this is not the case. However, in all sections the pattern remains visible.
A pattern unfolding
As I was weaving, the pattern unfolded gradually before my eyes. Yet, it was not until I took the blanket off the loom that I became to truly appreciate the design. Every time I look at the blanket from a different angle, I see other details. I especially like the parts that fill the space between the stars, they look like some sort of colored and checkered labyrinth to me.
I can now finally say that I made something using the full width of my loom. It was actually quite a challenge to weave with such a wide warp. While weaving a shawl is very relaxing, weaving this blanket was almost an exercise. I had to do some sort of sideways dance to throw the shuttle on one side of the loom and catch it on the other side. It was a fun challenge though and I am positive this won’t be the last woven blanket keeping me warm this autumn and winter.