Inspired by Dianne Totten’s talk at the Association of Northwest Weaving Guilds Conference in the June of 2017, one of our guild members, Marian, decided to try a second pleated scarf to enter into our guild’s Bronze/Get Wired challenge. Loom controlled Shibori is a method of placing weft pleater threads, similar to smocking threads, every few rows in a plain weave ground cloth.
The pleater threads should be strong and smooth for drawing up, flexible enough to knot and fine enough so that the holes don’t show once the thread is removed. Polyester upholstery thread works well and fits easily into a shuttle. A weave structure is chosen to allow the pleater threads to be placed in a pattern; diamonds for instance. Twills work well. Marian chose a simple overshot pattern which allowed the pleater threads, set every 6 rows, to form large diamonds. .
The ground cloth weft should be 50 -100% man made thermal reactive thread such as orlec or polyester. This ensures that the finished product, once steamed with the pleater threads drawn up will be permanently pleated. In this scarf orlec was used for the pleats and bamboo for softness and hand and they were woven pic-on pic. (If the colours are close enough the thermal and the natural threads can alternate every 6 rows when a new pleater thread is added). Pleating the scarf doubles the weight so using a fine weft such as 2/16 ensures a light weight scarf.
So here’s how it went. After winding a 2/8 tencel warp using a couple of bronzes with a ‘duck egg’ blue accent at a weaving friend’s cottage on Georgian Bay this summer, Marian rented a nice Ashford table loom from the Greater Vancouver Weavers and Spinners Guild to use in her daughter’s garden during a visit out west. After setting up the loom, Marian wove off and on while they all went off to work or daycare. It was lovely.
One day close to the end of her stay, she took her work off the loom, finished the ends, pulled up and knotted the pleater threads and set it in a steamer on the stove for a couple of hours. 45 minutes is recommended but this was a small double boiler style steamer and she had to adjust the coils a few times to ensure every thing got thoroughly steamed. …because, once you remove the threads, you either have pleats or you have flat cloth …there is no going back. And she got pleats! Once the pleater threads were removed, the scarf was rinsed in luke warm water to remove the traces of any holes left by the pleaters …and the pleats remained.