Satisfied or Not?

Marcy Petrini

November, 2022


Early in my weaving life, I took an inspirational Convergence seminar from Anita Luvera Mayer (see her recent HGA Textile and Tea: )

Something she said really resonated with me: if you are satisfied with every piece you make, you are not growing enough. And she quoted one out of three. It wouldn’t seem that one satisfactory project for every three would be a good measure of success, but if we think about baseball, a batter who gets on base one third of the times is very successful!


I don’t think Anita meant that out of three, one piece was worthy of a museum exhibit – but it could be – and that the other two would be headed for the garbage. Rather, we should have a vision, a plan, or an idea of what we want to accomplish with any given weaving. That is the benchmark by which we can determine whether we are satisfied or not. Some weavers are supercritical of their work, but saying “I don’t like it” or “it didn’t work” is not very helpful for growth.

I follow the advice that I give to others when I teach critiquing your work. For every piece that comes off the loom, whether I am satisfied with it or not, I ask myself: if I were to weave this again, what would I do differently? Chances are that if I am satisfied with the project, what I would do differently is a small tweak. And then there are the others….

I have been mesmerized by the wonderful pictures that the James Webb telescope is sending back – and the universe that they represent. I wanted to capture some of them in a weaving.


Here is the scarf:



It works as a scarf, pretty good drape, colorful. I was hoping, however, to capture the darkness of the universe and the points of light that we can see in some of the pictures. For that I failed miserably. Where did I go wrong? Poor decisions all along the way!

First poor decision: not enough darkness. My original idea was to alternate one thread of 20/2 black silk with a 20/2 silk thread of a different color. Perhaps not a different color with every alternating thread, but using a few ends of a variegated red, then a variegated blue, etc. Then the weft would be 20/2 black silk. I could add the shininess of the galaxies by using some metallic thread along with the silk weft. With plain weave, the fabric would be little boxes of color in the midst of black.

While threading I decided that I could shift the color boxes a bit if I periodically put two black warp ends together and two colorful ends together. I am not sure that this decision added anything to the design, but that’s what the drawdown below shows.



Neither this nor the original draft that had strictly alternating colors really captures the darkness of the Webb pictures we see. More black warp ends would have been better. But I didn’t notice, and I moved forward.

Second poor decision: changing the size of the colorful warp ends. As I was gathering 20/2 variegated silks, I came across a yarn in my stash, Blue Heron rayon metallic, color way "Parrot". Perfect I thought, colorful and shiny. I had used this yarn before for warp and weft and it had worked well. I had also used the Blue Herron in a red colorway as weft on a 20/2 silk warp. Even though rayon can be dense, the scarves I had woven had good drape.

The yarn, however, is larger than 20/2 silk. In fact, it wraps at 24 epi; I had sett it at 12 epi for the plain weave scarf that used it for warp and weft. For this scarf, I was planning a sett of 24 epi (wraps at ~48 epi) for the 20/2 silk. With the larger yarn I had to change the sett. Some calculations (something went right!) I decided on a sett of 18 epi.

The Blue Heron was left over from the previous project. From a back-of-the-envelope calculation, I figured out that I had enough rayon for the warp to alternate with the silk.

Third poor decision: bad arithmetic and scale. I wound approximately 6.5” and I ran out of Blue Heron! The scarf was supposed to be 8”. I decided to finish the inch I was winding with the Blue Heron red colorway, which is also metallic. I needed just four ends of the red.

However, now the scarf had a stripe on one edge. I decided to wind a separate inch for the other side. This way, I would have 8”. Furthermore, the switching of the color design would be balanced. One side has four reds, the other nine, not a whole lot of difference – I thought.

I use a lot of 20/2 silk sett at 24 epi or closer, so from experience I know that the difference between four and nine threads is 3/16” or less, which is probably not noticeable when wearing a scarf.

However, this warp was sett at 18; that alone would make the two sides different by ¼”, which starts to be noticeable. But the red rayon was threaded for every other warp thread. Thus, the four-thread side stripe is less than ½” wide, while the nine-thread side is 1” wide.

This is clearly visible in the scarf below, but I only noticed after the scarf was off the loom.



Fourth poor decision: a weft that doesn’t show. I had planned 20/2 black silk as weft, but when I started weaving, I realized that the weft was not very visible, and the colors stood more than I had planned. I found some 8/2 dark blue silk and used it instead. Up close while weaving, the larger weft worked better, but from the scarf you can see that it is not very noticeable.

Now I know what I should have done, and what I would do if I were to weave it again…. Maybe I will…..

Happy weaving and happy holiday season!