|Far left, this photo shows the usual braiding distance from the torii.
When working at this distance, the customary sword beat is replaced by gently 'sculpting' the soft yarn in place, creating a curved pattern unique to wide braiding. Moving the point of braid closer to the torii produces straighter lines.
The fragment on the left is how the scarf began (after some color changes). I liked the rich pattern but thought it was time to try something different, like introducing texture. I achieved this by alternating sections of plain (one over/one under) and twill (two over/two under). It destroyed the symmetry of the original pattern, but created a new one that gives the scarf a crinkled waffle effect. The wavy edges result from the contrasting tensions.
Simple placement of colors (blocks across from each other), works well when using only two colors as the braiding creates the third middle value. My preference has been for deep, subtle plaids, as seen at right, worked with 5 ends per tama.
This was my first attempt using the 'Itsukushima' idea, working three separate braids that are linked, then at certain points allowing the threads to continue across the adjoining braid in a random manner. At roughly 8-1/2" the scarves are wide enough to be worn folded in half length-wise, allowing the design elements to show in an interesting way.
The linking slows down the braiding considerably as each throw has to be 'set' where it is linked. The scarves must be planned and graphed accurately ahead of time in order to determine the appropriate number of threads in each segment needed to align the links correctly. Of course, patterns changes are inevitable while working.
A second scarf where the three braids interact; the two different-width borders cross the braid at different intervals. I like ending the scarves at a point, as it distinguishes them as braided and not woven. The fringe is either braided (very time-consuming), or twisted (S and Z). By this point you must be wondering how one gets the two ends to match. It depends on how you initially attach the warp. I have tried several methods and am still working on the solution. Have to find a faster way, that's for sure.
108 tama - 5 ends per tama. The latest scarf - modeled by Makiko in virtual reality. Thank you PhotoShop!
Thanks to Michael Hattori for photographing most of the work in this gallery.
Richard can be reached by e-mail.