The Saga of the Japanese Paper Yarn

It’s December 17, which means it’s only one week until Christmas Eve. It’s past time to focus on getting ready for that holiday with my family, but I am entangled in what has become an unusual adventure using paper yarn from Habu.

When I first put on a linen warp to weave some placemats with paper as weft, I was so excited to use the paper yarn dyed with indigo. Granted, it was a very pale indigo, so I admit I had some worries about how the woven pattern would show up on the pale warp of white and unbleached linen (#365 in Strickler). It didn’t show up well at all! Unsure of how to progress, I may have reacted too quickly by diving through stash and deciding to use a beautiful blue linen as weft. The placemats are lovely in this blue, but I continue to wish they were paper. I now have four of these, and I used up the whole first warp to get them.

In October I took the remaining paper yarn and dyed it with indigo from a friend’s vat. She had re-invigorated the vat a bit more than she planned. After just a five-minute dip I pulled out my skein that was far darker than I had planned. Well, that’s the nature of natural dyeing and certainly the nature of being a novice. Although it was a quite a bit darker than what I’d envisioned, I was smitten by the variation in blues. It’s quite stunning. I call the color variation ‘abrashi,’ a word I learned from Persian rug weavers.

In summer I made a new warp and tied on to the old placemat warp. I won’t do that again any time soon. I started weaving my newly dyed paper yarn in late October, mixed in with making the gifts I needed for this busy season. Now, with gifts finished (sort of…and nothing wrapped yet!) I have turned my attention to getting the last four paper-woven placemats finished. I will have two pale indigo paper placemats, four all linen placemats, and four darker indigo paper placemats. All of that was from an original wish to have six indigo-dyed paper placemats. I could finally see the finish line of this extended project! There is quite a difference between these three attempts, and you can see the changing colors in the newest, darkest version.

Yesterday I finished the 3rd placemat and went to wind more bobbins. That’s when I realized how little is left of my skein of indigo dyed paper yarn. I would be lucky to get another two bobbins wound, and that’s far from what I need for this last placemat! Why is nothing every easy?

I slept on my dilemma for a night and woke up this morning ready to take apart one of the pale paper placemats to salvage the weft. Of course I have to dye it, and it will take more than a novice’s ability to get a blue anywhere close to what I got back in October. That makes me think I need to pick out the weft from both pale placemats.

It took me 1 1/2 hours to unpick one placemat. The weft became tangled in the warp whenever the warp got to be longer than 1/2″. So every 1/2″ I cut the warp closer to the weft and continued to unravel. That means the one placemat was cut into almost 50 little fringes. Here is the mess in progress.

I only unraveled one placemat, and I know I should do at least part of the second placemat to ensure that I have enough weft. I also went looking for my indigo kit from Maiwa, but it wasn’t where I last remember putting it. Nothing is easy….ever.

Although I am focused on getting this project off the loom before I leave, I realize I may not succeed. I want to come home next spring to an empty loom ready for a new project, but I am only home until Tuesday…this Tuesday. It will be a downer to come home to this last placemat that needs so much work in an area I am completely unprepared to tackle. Such is life. It’s a good thing I love weaving. This is quite a hurdle and a saga, but we can’t help what we’re drawn to do. I fell for that yarn, and you can’t choose what (or who) will melt your heart.

The yarn has also compressed during weaving. I need to get it back to the ‘tape’ it was initially, and I need to get close to matching the blue I dyed in October! Wish me luck!

Onward….but maybe not for months to come. The saga continues.

2 responses to “The Saga of the Japanese Paper Yarn

  1. Pingback: Time | ArgoKnot

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