Fall 2020: Fire and Ashes, Water and Mud – Amidst Covid.

Marcy Petrini

January, 2021


Here is the scarf by that name:


As summer gently slipped into fall, we continued our daily and weekly routines to keep body and souls together.

The inside world was good enough, but the outside a disaster. By Labor Day this country had 22% of the world’s deaths, even though our population is only 4%: 183,000, the numbers are both staggering and numbing. And unemployment, failed businesses… and then racist violence.

Just as we thought we couldn’t handle anymore, Mother Nature lashed her anger. Fires out west, tornadoes on the Gulf Coast – heart-wrenching devastation.

I turned to my weaving.

The colors from the reports were vivid. The colors would tell the story.

I found some 5/2 silk that would be appropriate for the rigid heddle, with a sett of 12. Starting with the red fires turning to black ashes on one side, and starting with aqua, turning multi-colors of brown, greenish, blackish, as the water retreated and left mud. The ashes and mud met in the middle. The red seemed to have given away to grey in the virus, but there is red for blood from the violence, too.

I envisioned a slightly warp dominant plain weave, to focus on the colors. So, for weft I thought I had just the perfect yarn: a multicolored black to white silk, with lots of greys. When I found the yarn on my shelf, although I still love it and I have used it in a couple of projects, it was bigger than I had remembered. It was worth the try, anyway.

I made the hem with some of the 5/2 black, thinking that it would work better than the multicolored silk, especially if I decided not to use that silk.

After weaving a few inches, the result was a weft-dominant fabric with irregular stripes of black, grey and white. Not the look I was going for. Back to the drawing board for weft.

On the shelf there was a big cone of an identified grey cotton, unmercerized with a nice sheen, which wraps at 30 epi, probably 8/2. I tried it. It worked perfectly. Large enough to make the fabric stable, but small enough to result in a warp dominant scarf, not adding to the weight and keeping a good drape.

So, I wove away and finally got to the end. I hemmed it with the grey cotton. Time to unroll, only to stop dead on my tracks. I had completely forgotten about the hem with the fat 5/2 black silk at the beginning of the scarf. I tried to convince myself that it would be all right, but I wasn’t convinced enough to take the scarf off the loom. I left it overnight to make a decision.

The next morning, in the bright light of my studio, the original hem looked even worse. I decided I would use the grey cotton and hem the beginning of the scarf before I cut off the black silk hem which I could use as a guide. I sewed the hem and took the scarf off the loom.

As I was about to cut off the original black hem before wet finishing, I noticed that the grey hem from the night before was not straight. Sometimes I caught 2 weft threads, sometimes 3. Now determined that it was going to be right, I cut off the new grey hem, placed a white guide thread up to where the hem should catch and hemmed it again. This time it was successful. I was able to pull out the white guide thread and cut off the black silk hem. Finally ready for wet finishing

I am thinking that this scarf took longer to hem than it did to weave! But it’s done. Here is a close up.



Meanwhile, winter started rolling around…..

Stay safe and happy weaving!