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Hooking with Silk? Why Not?

Beyond Our Borders

By: Gail Dufresne
Photography by Impact XPozures

Sari Fish, 20" x 14", wool, sari silk, and various fabrics on linen. Designed and hooked by Gail Dufresne, Lambertville, New Jersey, 2013.

For years, I have incorporated materials other than wool into my work. I love textures and unusual materials such as bouclé, velvet, angora, mohair, and all sorts of yarns and ribbon. I couldn’t come up with any good reason to limit myself to wool.

At present, one of my favorite materials to use in my work is silk. Silk gives a sheen that wool cannot. I found a direct Indian source for sari silk, ribbons, and yarns. All of the different material I use is made from 100% silk, which is left over from the colorful saris manufactured in India. The waste ends of silk sari production are collected from industry weaving mills in India and sewn together to form a continuous length of brightly colored silk ribbon. Lots of varieties are available: a multicolored ribbon with smooth ends and one with a fuzzy end, skeins of ribbons made from strips of patterned silk chiffon fabric, and “solid” colors of ribbons which have been dyed to one color (but expect a ton of variation in color and texture in each of these skeins, including bits of beads and embroidery from the original saris from which they are made). Many of these strips also have little treasures of sequins and embroidery in them.

The silk strips are so much easier to use than starting with a silk garment or silk yardage that has to be cut to size. It is available in ribbon or in spun yarns in gorgeous colors, but it can also be purchased in white or off-white. It dyes beautifully and can be dyed in the same dye pot as wool for coordinating colors since silk is dyed with the same acid dyes used for wool.


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