I spent part of yesterday browsing through the drafts on Handweaving.net, looking for inspiration. One of the drafts looked a little like peacock feathers, and that struck me as a fruitful subject: it would turn one of the disadvantages of multiweft taquete, the fact that the colors on the bottom show through, into a major plus. Peacock feathers are iridescent! so having small glints of the other colors showing would be perfect.
So I looked at a bunch of peacock feather images, took one, resized it, indexed the color, and then did a LOT of editing in Photoshop to produce this result:
It has seven shades: black, dark green (green + black), light green, bronze, turquoise, purple, and dark purple (purple + black). As much as I wanted a four-shuttle weave, I just couldn’t reduce to four weft colors without losing something important. So this is a five shuttle weave.
Then I did the extensive manipulations necessary to produce a weavable file, producing this drawdown:
And then, of course, I wove it up:
I like it, tentatively, though I will probably modify the design to eliminate the dark green. There is very little visible difference between the dark green and the light green (I should have remembered this), so my intended feathery effect turned into a green blob. I will instead make the black go further into the green sections, producing the desired feathery effect.
Is this not a miracle of modern software? From idea to simulation to drawdown to woven fabric, all in just one day.
As a five-shuttle weave, it is quite slow. So far it is coming out at 90 ppi, and about 4.8 seconds/pick, so it looks like I can weave just about 8″ per hour. Again, time-consuming but not insurmountable – that’s 10 hours of weaving to do an 80″ shawl, about a week of work.
Next up: experiment with some variations. I want to simulate it with thin purple stripes lengthwise between the feathers, and change the design so the feather edges are “feathered” with black rather than green/black. I also want to experiment with using a strand of glitter either in the blue or the purple, though I think that is probably gilding the lily.
If I like the results from that, it will be time to weave up the shawl!