By Patricia Belyea
WAUCONDA WA The precision needed to produce ikat kimono wool boggles the mind. The fine wool yarns are tightly bundled with thread to form a resist and then dyed—often many times. The yarns are then woven into yardage filled with elaborate patterns.
The extreme difficulty of lining up the woven motifs creates the characteristic blurry edges found in ikat textiles.
Wool kimono were popular during the Showa period (1926-1989) for men, women, and children. Worn three seasons of the year—Fall, Winter, and Spring—wool kimono provided warmth and did not wrinkle easily.
Today, wool is rarely woven for kimono. And kimono are no longer an everyday sight in Japan.
Just like other kimono textiles, ikat wool is woven in a narrow width of approximately 14”. And each bolt holds 12 yards of wool. The wool is fine with a soft drape—perfect for making flowing kimono and quilty projects.
Ikat kimono wool makes an uncommon table runner. For a long table, I use three yards of kimono wool, just hemming the short ends. I center the runner on the table with the ends cascading over the edges.
I have made a queen and a king bed quilt with kimono wools for a country home in Michigan. The wool quilts are slightly heavier and bulkier than ones made with quilting cottons.
The queen quilt, Swallow’s Rest, features circular piecing with ikat-woven kimono wool in red, gray, and yellow. Look for the swallow motif in the yellow wool.
The king quilt, Momiji (translates to Autumn Leaves), is quilted with a maple leaf motif in the ikat-woven red wool blocks.
To visit the Okan Arts Japanese Textile Show and peruse ikat-woven kimono wool +click here
KIMONO WOOL TIPS
For pre-washing, I use Seventh Generation clothes detergent in my front loading washer with the Cold/Cold cycles. I lay the wool out to dry.
For pressing, I use a hot steam iron on the Wool or even the Cotton setting.
The creative and talented Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts in Missouri stitched my wool quilts on her longarm machine.
The bed quilts were photographed by Michelle James of Michigan.