Sandy Chilewich has popularized and boosted the reputation of extruded yarn manufacture, specifically in vinyl, which used to be reserved for more industrial applications. She took advantage of a fairly simple mechanical process involving relatively few steps to make much of the woven vinyl products that are part of her eponymous line. The extrusion process begins with polymer pellets, which are melted and extruded through spinnerets. The filaments solidify and cool during the transit when they are drawn to the right diameter and finally wound on a cone to begin the weaving process. Unlike staple fibers, such as cotton and wool, which have a limited length, extruded yarns are a continuous filament and can be any length.
In Plaid Multi Runner, Chilewich has created two different colors in one yarn, which she refers to as bi-colors. In this plain weave construction, she uses seven bi-color yarns and six solid color yarns so that fourteen different colors create this complex plaid. There is the same number of yarns in both the warp and weft so that the design is balanced and non-directional. The sequence and ratios of colors in each directly, however, are different, deliberate, and exact.
Matilda McQuaid is Deputy Curatorial Director and Head of Textiles at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.