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Woven Shibori

Next month I will be taking a 3 day class in woven shibori with Catharine Ellis. She adapted traditional Japanese shibori into “the language of weaving.” The Japanese shibori pattern called mokume is made by stitching parallel lines into a piece of cloth, then gathering the stitches tightly.  When the cloth is dyed, the folds resist the dye to form a pattern. On the loom, pattern threads are woven into a ground cloth in regular intervals. When taken off the loom, the pattern threads are gathered, as in traditional shibori, and knotted. The cloth is dyed, and the compressed areas in the folds resist the dye to form the woven pattern. After dyeing, the pattern threads are pulled out, and the ground cloth remains.

Weave Draft for the First Piece

When I was a weaving student at Kent State, we had to draw weave drafts on graph paper, which was extremely time consuming and tedious. Fiberworks PCW is the program I use now, and it makes life so much simpler. The next step is to thread the loom with 16/2 bamboo threads according to the draft.

Threading Plan

Threading bamboo yarn in 8 shafts.



The lighter threads are the ground cloth, the darker are the pattern threads that will be gathered when the piece is finished.


The red thread on the right marks the first row of my pattern repeat. If I don’t mark the beginning of each repeat I would constantly be losing my place because when I’m weaving I am daydreaming/listening to an audio book/singing along with the music. The green thread near the bottom right is a marker that I place every 20 inches woven. When the piece is finished and off the loom the fringes are twisted. This is my least favorite part, but it helps to put on an old movie.


When the fringes are finished, the pattern threads are pulled tight and knotted



You can begin to see the pattern that will emerge after the cloth is dyed. The first dye bath is a red fiber reactive dye made from Procion MX Basic Red mixed with MX Watermelon.



The cloth was dyed a second time in a vat dye. The Procion dye penetrates into the cloth more than a vat dye, so I was expecting to see finer details of the pattern with the second dye bath, which was a combination of red and violet. When the cloth comes out of the vat dye it has to oxidize to reveal the color and bind it to the fibers, and it was a beautiful fall afternoon to hang the cloth outside.


After oxidizing for at least 10 minutes, the cloth is washed in hot soapy water to remove excess dye particles.


I left the cloth to dry overnight, and removed the knots the following day.


It’s like opening a Christmas present!


Aaaand it’s finished…




Back to my loom…


  1. Pingback: Blue as Indigo | Threads in the Loom

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