I love the way that ikat textiles soften and blur the boundaries of a design. This is a characteristic of the way that ikat cloth is produced. Ikat designs are made by resist-dyeing groups of threads – usually by binding them tight in some areas so that the dye cannot penetrate into those parts. The threads may be warp or weft threads. When removed from dye pot and unbound these threads will have areas that are dyed and areas that remain undyed. Patterns are created by carefully arranging the warp when the loom is dressed. Typical of these designs are striped patterns that are made by offsetting the bands of colour to make simple designs.
My ‘Ikat’ design is really an illusion. It is a further development in my personal challenge to create as many different designs as possible from one warp threading. The ikat appearance is created through the manipulation of the different blocks of warp threads in my original ‘Dukagang’ block design.
Like my other handwoven lambswool throws, the ‘Ikat’ throw is woven in a soft and drapey 3 shaft reversing twill and the contrast in colours in the pattern comes about because of the way that this twill weave gives the opposite colour on the reverse side of the cloth.
The photograph above is a closeup of an original costume designed by Leon Bakst for the Ballet Russes, made from a complex piece of double ikat cloth in which more than one colour has been used in the dyeing of the yarn prior to weaving. You can see how the dye bleeds slightly and the alignment of threads shifts to give the blurred or slightly zig zag effect that is customary in ikat weaving.
In the closeup photograph of my handwoven ‘Ikat’ throw in soft blue you can see how the basic block design has been manipulated and rearranged to give the shaded and staggered appearance of an ikat cloth. However it is still woven on the same unbleached lambswool warp as all my other throws, and uses only one solid coloured yarn in the weft.
If you would like to know more about ikat weaving you can read about it in the Wikipedia entry on Ikat.