The Road to Silk Wool
“Linen is like a mirror, a strong reflection of light that immediately catches the eye. Silk, however, has a subtle glow, a softness that pulls you in… a timeless luxury that demands your attention without saying anything at all.”
– Sylvie Johnson, Artistic Director
The term “Silk Road”, coined in the 19th century, refers to a network of trade routes that connected much of the ancient world, from the Far East to Europe. The fabled Silk Road also came to represent the exchange of ideas between diverse cultures, so it’s only appropriate that silk wool should find its way to Merida’s Atelier 2020 collection, which took inspiration from the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance and the Ottoman Empire. Atelier 2020 introduced silk wool with rugs like Tavla and Poggio, and its eye-catching glow can now be seen in Merida’s yarn library.
Like the ancient Silk Road, the ethos behind our Atelier collection represents the interconnectedness between art, cultures, and textiles across time: each rug stands alone yet is also in dialogue with others.
Though silk wool is still fairly new to our yarn library, this is not the first time silk has been used for textiles underfoot. Silk has been used as a weaving material in Persian and Oriental rugs for centuries. One of the most famous carpets in textile design, the Spring of Khosrow garden carpet, was made of silk, gold, silver, and jewels and dates back to the sixth century. Our jewel-inspired Gem rug, woven with silk wool, was based on the much later house of Cartier but echoes the heritage of the silk-based Spring of Khosrow.
Here’s an interview with our Artistic Director, Sylvie Johnson, about Silk Wool and its introduction into our yarn library:
What makes silk wool unique?
The light makes it special. The softness, both in look and feel. When you look at linen, linen is like a mirror, a strong reflection of light that immediately catches the eye. Silk, however, is a subtle glow, a softness that pulls you in to touch—it is the timeless luxury that demands your attention without saying anything at all. Silk wool is much more subtle.
But no yarn is really “unique”… What makes a rug unique is the conversation between the different yarns. That’s what makes it interesting. If you had an entire rug made of silk wool, it’s not interesting. Nothing is happening there. These rugs are like paintings, you need layers, movement, relativity to make it the piece the art that it is. Otherwise it falls flat, literally and figuratively. The different yarns are what create the texture, the landscape of the rug. That is why it is so interesting to create these monochromatic rugs: the texture is at the forefront. You see the nuances between the textures of the yarns and how each of them take the color—and light—differently.
Why was silk wool added to our yarn library?
We needed something with more softness and light, something with shine but not shiny. We had linen, which catches light beautifully, but is very strong, and we had alpaca merino, which is very soft. But we did not have something that was both. With the combination of silk and wool, we now have a plied yarn in our library that offers subtle shine with supreme softness. Ply this again with our alpaca merino wool, as it is in much of Atelier 2021, and you have a luxuriously soft blend with three layers of color.
To see silk wool in our Atelier rugs, here’s our top ten:
Looking for something special? Check out Gem. A composition of eight different yarns, Gem 43% silk wool content accounts for its subtle radiance. Add to this an equal measure of alpaca merino wool, and the combined effect makes for a rug that is luxuriously soft and plush, with glints of silk when the light bounces off the plied ground.