A Clever Red Ruana for Linda

A red ruana designed and woven by Linda Ligon gave Dorothy Tuthill the inspiration to design and weave her own. The result is a gorgeous nod to Linda's original.

Dorothy Tuthill Nov 19, 2019 - 3 min read

A Clever Red Ruana for Linda Primary Image

The red ruana designed and woven by Linda Ligon that inspired Dorothy Tuthill. Photo Credit: Joe Coca.

One of my favorite treats, especially on a long winter’s evening, is to browse through old—let’s call them classic—Handwoven magazines. I’m fortunate to have many. In one of those issues (not so old, 2009), Linda Ligon offered a red and purple ruana (shown above) as a blank canvas for embellishment. Well, I love red and purple, and Linda’s touches of gold and turquoise were wonderful—so inspiring! Nine years after her offering, I took up Linda’s challenge.

For me, this was the perfect opportunity to empty a drawer or two of yarns to use as warp. I chose pretty much any reddish yarn that could be sett at 12 ends per inch, meaning pinks, reds (including brick reds), and purples. Following Linda’s lead, I made the selvedges gold. I wound as many warp lengths as each skein would give until I had 300 total. I laid them all out on the front beam of the loom and sleyed them through the reed so that the colors flowed, pinkest at one side, purplest at the other.

Red Ruana

Dorothy Tuthill's Clever Red Ruana.

I threaded the warp in extended twill, but as soon as I started weaving, it was obvious that this was a poor choice—the floats were much too long and the fabric was flimsy. I alternated twill sheds with plain-weave sheds to get a fabric with sufficient hand and drape for my purpose. My weft was a fuzzy yarn that I’d had for who-knows-how-long, but any yarn that would weave at 12 picks per inch would do.

Linda’s ruana had a nice knitted binding on the neck, but I’d rather weave than knit, so I wove a narrow band on my rigid-heddle loom (though any loom would do) using turquoise and green. I seamed the back of the ruana with gold, attached the turquoise band, and added an assortment of twisted and wrapped cords and Bolivian pom-poms (see Resources) until my need for color was met. I especially liked the way Linda trimmed the knotted fringe of her ruana to make little balls, and I did the same, except at the corners where I added pom-poms and left the fringe as tassels.

Winters can be long here in Wyoming, but my (and Linda’s) bright red ruana makes me smile on even the coldest day.

—Dorothy Tuthill

PS: You can find the full yarn list and instructions for weaving this clever red ruana in the September/October 2019 issue of Handwoven.