Plain but more- weaving with indigo dyed yarns

Looking through the beautifully arranged shelves of yarns in the studio, the indigo yarns kept pulling the eyes back to them. Living up to its name, ‘The blue gold’, these yarns were too rich and elegant to resist the urge to weave them. But it had to be simple, it had to be something that captured the beauty of the yarn along with the weave. It had to be simple but not too simple. A plain weave is simple and composed but what would make it more interesting?
What did indigo remind us of? The first word that came to mind was sashiko - a beautiful Japanese embroidery done on indigo fabric. It was an interesting thought to recreate this using weaving on the Ashford Rigid Heddle loom. Is it possible to create the running stitch embroidery simultaneously while weaving the fabric? It was a challenge taken without a second thought.
The idea was to weave a plain weave fabric with running stitches. The running stitches were to be made using the warp. After a lot of discussion and trials, we arrived at the extra warp on a rigid heddle loom using a second heddle. You heard it right, not one warp, but two. Sounds tricky, doesn’t it? But it was rather very simple and easy to set up and weave. The extra warp would act as the stitch running through a woven base fabric.
The first heddle is warped for 14’’ using the 10/2 solid Indigo cotton yarn which is the ground fabric. The second heddle is warped for 4’’ in the centre using the Gradient Indigo blue DK cotton knitting 8 ply yarn which acts as the running stitch. The warping of the yarns is done as below.


weaving draft

weaving draft


To Float the 8 ply DK yarn on the face of the fabric :
1 - Heddle 1 up, Heddle 2 up
2 - Heddle 1 down 
To Float the 8 ply DK yarn on the back of the fabric :
1 - Heddle 1 up, 
2 - Heddle 1 down, Heddle 2 down 
When you alternate the number of picks while floating the DK yarn on the face and the back, you will get an interesting weave that looks like a running stitch on the fabric. Because it is an extra warp, there is ground fabric being woven below the DK yarns. So not only does it look like the sashiko embroidery, but it also works the similar way where it has a fabric below, only that it’s been woven rather than embroidered. 
We had fun creating this fabric and making a fun cushion from it. We hope you have fun creating your own.

Happy weaving !!

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