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