Even in the Darkness There is a Rainbow

Marcy Petrini

November, 2020


Here is the scarf by that name, woven with 20/2 silk.


Here is a close up:



And here is the story of the scarf:

On March 11, 2020, we had gone to a Carole King-themed concert. No virus yet in Mississippi, I was both hopeful – maybe in denial – and scared; at the concert I looked around me at the packed auditorium and wondered where were those people from? Is anybody coughing? Sneezing?

At the end of the concert we got into our car, I turned on my phone as I usually do, and as Terry was driving up the ramp to the highway on the way home, the phone beeped: a text from my sister Ellie in Colorado. Not unusual, we text all the times. But this one was different; she said: “I know you are at the concert and I am sorry to be the first one to tell you, but they reported the first case in Mississippi. I figured you will find out soon enough anyway.” My heart sank.

A week later there was the first death. Being in the high risk group, we quarantined ourselves; being home isn’t too bad; sure, we miss seeing our friends and concerts and plays and baseball, which was cancelled for our AA team anyway. But I have my fiber work, Terry his photography and gardening and soon we were zooming for meetings, classes, happy hours and dinners.

But what was depressing to me was the number of deaths mounting. Our Department of Health reports daily and we track cases and deaths. By mid-April it was clear that deaths were accelerating. I started finding out of friends who lost dear ones.

On a rainy day, I was sitting at my worktable in my studio looking out of the window into our yard. It was as gloomy outside as it was on my screen with the latest death report.

Suddenly, from the darkest part of the sky, a rainbow in all its glorious colors appeared. “Even in darkness there is a rainbow,” I thought.

As cases and deaths kept on increasing, I often thought of that day, and finally I decided that I needed to weave it. At the beginning of July I had a free loom, and I could get started. It became the first piece of what I hope will be a covid-19 series.

“Even in the darkness there is a rainbow.” Since I weave lots of scarves, this, too, would be a scarf. Darkness: black silk. Rainbow: obvious colors! I looked through my stash and black silk is not a problem, lots of it. I had all of the rainbow colors in silk, but not in the same size, 20/2 is good for scarves. I figured out what I needed and ordered from my favorite vendor who is fast and reliable. I usually get my order in 2-3 days.

Meanwhile, I started to think about the pattern. I wanted the background to be, well, a background, black, with rainbow color stripes. I could weave it with a black silk weft, same as the warp. I wanted the stripes to stand out, so I needed a structure that would allow me to show the color, but still suitable for a scarf.

I remembered that some bird’s eye twills can have interesting motifs and they may work for the stripes I wanted. I looked in Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book and on page 15 I found what she calls Joseph France’s No. 11. I had used the # I and liked it, so I started with that draft. It reminds of Myggtjäll.



I could use the 1, 2, 1 threading for my stripes but I needed more than one motif for my scale; sett at 24 epi, the motif would be only 1/8”, I wanted it a bit bigger. I could repeat the motif by anchoring some floats with a thread on shaft 4 as I may do for huck.

This is what I had in mind for stripes:



The background needed to be plain weave; I could use shaft 3 and 4; this was my next step:



The floats are not workable! To weave 3 vs. 4 for my background I needed to treadle 3 vs. 4; and because the threading across the fabric is odd vs. even, I needed the treadle 1 & 3 vs. 2 & 4.

After some rearranging so that I would weave odd vs. even in sequence, I arrived at the drawdown I used, shown below; the weft is in dark grey in the drawdown to make the intersection between warp and weft visible, but the weft was the same 20/2 black silk as the warp.



And this is the drawdown for the back of the fabric:



As I was weaving, I did think about the nearly 1,000 deaths in Mississippi and nearly 120,000 in the US by the end of spring….. that got me thinking about my next covid-19 piece.

Stay safe and healthy – and happy weaving!

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