Silk scarves to dye for – how Saraswati silks really sizzle

Posted by on Aug 24, 2014 .

Silk scarves to dye for – how Saraswati silks really sizzle with colour.Silk absorbs colour very well, whether natural or chemical dyes. Originally, colours ground from plants, bark and even insects, were used. Perhaps the most well known is indigo, a blue colour obtained from several plants in Asia and Europe (where it was called woad). While natural dyes are enjoying a revival, most fabrics today are dyed with safe chemical colours.

Compared to the mid-20th century there is a wonderful spectrum of shades – from sizzling brights to subtle earth tones and everything in between. Saraswati silk scarves capture much of that remarkable rainbow – and with two tones each, you are spoilt for choice.

Note that while the front and back colours of a Saraswati scarf clearly contrast, the shades intermingle. For example, the ruby in Black Ruby is not plain red: it’s dramatically darkened by the black warp threads. Similarly, the black is shot through with moody maroon.

Wonderful though the colours of Saraswati silks are, the real credit for their reversibility and lustre goes to the weaving technique – Reversible Spanish satin weave. If, instead of a satin weave, a plain weave interlaced different coloured warp and weft threads, the resulting scarf would be a single overall colour.

You might wonder about silk fibre in its raw state. The colour depends on the type of silkworm. Bombyx mori, the domesticated silkworm, creates white silk. Wild silk, such as India’s Tussah, is a brown-yellow, and Muga a striking gold. These wild silks are sought not only for their natural colours but also because of their structural, sometimes ‘crispy’, feel.

South East Asia also produces a yellow-cream silk, which absorbs dye very well. Colloquially known as ‘raw silk’, it may contain slubs (thicker parts of the yarn) and seem highly textured or uneven - these ‘rustic’ qualities are part of its powerful appeal.