One important tool in weaving that is always implied but not really called out is research.
We all do it, although we don’t call it that or acknowledge that it is an important step in our craft. This story is about one research project that has almost driven me insane, but has been rewarding in the long run. And it’s not over yet, because it has opened a whole new world of weaving projects.
This all started with the scarf that Katniss wears in the second movie of The Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. It’s the one she wears while hunting in her home, District Twelve. It’s a really cool design. The pixel level on the web-posted photo I finally found was not good enough for me to really analyze the pattern, especially since the scarf was all scrunched.
Although it was a very unique weave to my eyes and experience, everything old is new again was one of the lessons on hand that I would learn. Patterns pop up in weaving circles like they are the latest new candy, and lo and behold you find something similar that had been published more than fifty years ago. The Katniss pattern falls in this category.
For me, enthusiasm for a project comes from the use of different fibers that makes for fun in the chase, even on the most simple patterns.
Hmmm….. But good friends on the look-out, observation, and patience brought a lot of “Katniss” patterns to my attention, and I started to learn about the structure called deflected doubleweave, also known as integrated cell, and in the case of the pattern I am using for this project, Double Fluff (from Russell Groff, 200 Patterns for Multiple Harness Looms, Robin and Russ Handweavers, 1979). Thank you, to whomever in the Catching Fire production staff that chose that particular scarf for Katniss to wear! (The fact I even went to see the movie was a fluke as well, but I won’t get into that story here.)
Mary Atwater Briggs has the earliest version that I happened to accidentally stumble upon without realizing what I was looking at (printed in 1957). Handwoven magazine has a felted version that has been passed around a lot (January/February 2009, by Barbara Herbster). Weaving Today published a free How to Weave a Scarf e-book with a Felted Lace pattern by Madelyn van der Hoogt (on page 13). Alas, the Catching Fire scarf is definitely not felted. And it’s not really an open windowpane effect. I did try the tie-up with 8/2 cotton from my stash and came out with mixed results:
Kudos to my weaving friend Laura who found the real deal. It is called the “Double Fluff”, by Russell Groff, from 200 Patterns for Multiple Harness Looms, Robin and Russ Handweavers, 1979.
Now for the question of which threads I would use. The Katniss scarf is definitely a fine wool – merino would be my guess, something in the line of Jaggerspun. Quite frankly, I had been hoping to be able to use the yarns I dyed at my Rick Rao Natural Dyes workshop class back in February of 2016. After all, I had handspun silk in there as well as linen, cotton, linen boucle, merino wool and even embroidery thread. It would be a perfect showcase for all the colors that had grown together in Rick’s garden in New Mexico.
Hand dyed skeins from the workshop
I quickly loaded the Double Fluff pattern into my iWeave app to check the draft. Measured the warp, sectionally, and then loaded it onto the beam. In the middle of all this, my gut told me that I would be better off using my 8 dent reed than the 10 dent I had used in all my calculations. I just didn’t want to overtax the yarn through a narrower reed, and I thought that if I had more space than less space with several threads in each dent there would be less stress on the threads while weaving. After re-spreading the warp, I threw two plain weave picks and sewed a hemstitch, then threw four more plain weave picks. Perfect. Out of curiosity I left a one (1) inch dent – another obsession of mine – then started the pattern.
Double Fluff draft on the loom
The plan had been to use only one color per pattern repeat, alternating two different colors. The extra spread from changing from a 10 dent to an 8 dent reed threw my weft measurements all out of whack., so I decided to just go with the flow and randomly choose colors and thicknesses from the remaining hand dyed yarn as I ran out of a full bobbin of any given color. It was a bit hairy at times, but amazingly, the color shifts and the differences in the thread thicknesses just fell into place.
It was a validation that each of us tends to develop a personal palette – with both thread weight and color – so that our leftovers/stashes tend to work well together. And you can’t argue with mother nature’s mix of colors, either.
The plan was for two separate lengths on the warp. In my infinite wisdom, otherwise known as a lapse in situational awareness, I decided to repeat the dent and then hemstitch at the originally planned length, 70 inches, not thinking that the wider width (does that sound brilliant, or what?) would require a longer length for each section to stay balanced (so technical!). I left a nice fringe length, and then started another section without a dent at the hem. Instead of 36 inches, though, I only had a weaving length of 20 before I had to call it a day because I couldn’t get anymore shed.
Since I was just flying blind anyway, I pulled it off the loom and threw it into the washing machine on the delicate cycle with Tide Colorfast. There was no telling how much bleeding might occur, and Tide Colorfast has saved me in the past, and it did very well here. It was hung to dry – and being in Arizona in August, out in the sunshine it went and it was all dry in no time at all.
Of course I couldn’t have a bordering fringe. So I decided to knot a macrame pattern, tying on beads and things on the fourth row of knots, then trimming off the ragged edges. I used charms, beads, feathers, orphaned earrings and buttons – quite a mishmash of memories and symbols.
Closeup of finished fringe
The beads tingle and ring when I throw the scarf around my shoulders. I hate to think of it lying rolled up in a dark drawer – there was so much work put in this (spinning, dying, weaving and finishing). I certainly am not going to sell or give this project away!
With a nice curtain rod installed on a bare wall, it’s now hanging where I can enjoy it when I’m not wearing it. But the journey is not over! Deflected Doubleweave is still my current favorite structure. I am and will be working on more project variations for a while.
Double Fluff hanging out to dry
When I looked at the length versus width of the two sections, it became apparent that cutting it into two pieces of different lengths would leave me with an unusable project result. The wide dent had hemstitch on either side, so guess what?
It’s staying all one piece.
Claudia Cocco has been weaving since the late 80’s, continuing in her family’s fiber arts traditions. Her focus is color and texture using natural plant fibers on an eight harness loom. Currently retired and living in Cave Creek, AZ, Claudia now gets to weave, hike and play the Native American style flute to her heart’s content.
You can find documentation of her weaving adventures on her WordPress blog at https://vairarenbeth.wordpress.com/all-things-woven/