Friday, 15 September 2017

Fashionable Woven Belts 2

Sash Belts

I saw a fashion article earlier this year with an illustration of a lovely sash belt.

Close up of sash belt

Here is another sash I saw in a shop window.

I remembered that I had bought a Peruvian sash belt many years ago.

Peruvian sash in warp faced plain weave. 

It is  163 cm  in length and 7.5 cm( 3 inches) in width.
Here is a close up of the material.  It is in warp faced plain weave and uses very fine cotton.

Close up of sash belt from Peru

Of course, sash belts are part of the folk costume in many countries. They are made using many different techniques; finger weaving, tablet weaving, sprang as well as patterned band weaving.
Norwegian belts

Russian belt

Sash from Guatalmala.

Assumption sash, Canada.

Here is another traditional Ukrainian Belt, called krajka, handmade using the old traditional weaving loom in Western Ukraine. There are some lovely designs shown in the Etsy shop WovenSlavicBelts.

Ukrainian woven sash

Weaving a warp faced plain weave sash.

Sash belts are easy to weave and wear.  I thought that I would try to weave my own sash as I love stripes and warp faced plain weave is such an easy structure. I was not sure of the sett for 16/2 Swedish cotton.  I decided to use a high sett and weave a short sample.

I used three colours of red, white and blue, with a darker blue for the border.  I used a 14 dent reed with 6 ends per dent.  Weft is white 16/2 cotton.

Sett at 84 per inch

width 3.75 inches / 9.5 cm     =       324   ends

Blue  30          1      25              1
White      41                      18
Red                     25      1             Centre  40 red  then reverse the colour order.

Belt on the loom

It was easier to weave than I thought it would be. The Swedish cotton is good quality and strong.

close up on loom showing dotted edging to the solid colour areas
I tried using a dark navy weft so that the edges of the band would be a solid colour. This made the white stripe darker so I switched to using a white weft.  This was better and did not show up in the red and blue striped areas.  It makes a white dotted edge to the belt which echos the dotted edges of red and blue.

Here is the finished belt. It is 9.5 cm in width which I feel is slightly too wide. The feel of the woven material is smooth and flexible.  The cotton has a slight sheen.  The colour is more natural than on the close up on the loom. Artificial lighting alters colour values.

This is the finished belt. 

I am not sure I will wear this as a belt.  The material is lovely to handle and I thought that I could make a small bag with it.

It was a good learning exercise.  I now know the sett for weaving warp faced wider bands and the type of material that 16/2 cotton produces.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes  September 2017

Friday, 1 September 2017

Traditional handtowels Cat Track and Snail Trail

The first book that I bought when I started to learn to weave was A Handweavers Pattern Book by Marguerite P Davison.  It was first published in 1944.  It is a treasure - lovely to browse and full of traditional patterns with wonderful names such as Gothic Cross, Queen's Delight, Batchelor's Fancy, Wall of Troy, and Saterglantan.  The last name felt very exotic and it was many years before I discovered that Saterglantan is a weaving college in Sweden.

I decided to weave one of the patterns - Cat track and Snail trail which I saw in an Interweave Press booklet.  In Marguerite Davison's book it is known as Wandering Vine.

 This is a design that can be played with and new combinations discovered.

Another variation for cat track and snail trail.

Here is another version. The cat track is more distinct and the snail trail is narrower. Remember that there needs to be a plain weave tabby in between the pattern weft.

A variation of the pattern

I decided to adapt the pattern to make four shorter cat tracks surrounded by the 'snail trail'. Perhaps it should be christened kitten track and snail trail

weave chart for cat track and snail trail

The hand towel warp is 16/2 cotton and the weft is 16/2 cotton and the pattern weft is 16/2 linen doubled.
The sett is 24 epi for the 16/2 cotton stripes.
The ppi is approx. 40 because of the tabby overshot.

The warp is in stripes 40 ends in white and 40 ends in colour. I used five stripes of white alternating with six stripes of green.

Here is the weave chart with the tabby weft included. It does seem a little more complex but it is easy to weave.

Weave draft with tabby weft highlighted in blue.
The draft may seem a bit confusing but it is easy to get into the swing of using two shuttles. One shuttle has the plain weave weft of 16/2 cotton.  The other shuttle has a doubled 16/2 linen yarn.

Adapted cat track and snail trail.
The handtowel is very sturdy and absorbent. On the loom, the cloth will seem very stiff and rather hard.  Do not worry. Once it is washed it becomes soft.  This cloth is very absorbent.

I decided weave another version using blue and white stripes.

Weaving on the loom
Of course, the design can be varied by using a blue or white tabby yarn and a blue or white linen pattern yarn. Once threaded the pattern can be woven with either two small footprints or four smaller ones.

I  made a long warp for four towels. This warp had been lying around for some time so I used it for the online workshop with the Online Guild for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers for January 2017.  the first workshop of the year is always UFO  (Unfinished Objects)  This is a chance to look through your projects half finished or as in my case not even started and make a good effort to complete them.
I really like this workshop and each year I have managed to find the extra effort to complete long abandoned projects.  It is such a good way to start the year.  Even owning up to what you would like to do is an added incentive to really achieve your goal.  I am so pleased that I finished this before the end of January.  i really found it difficult to get up the enthusiasm needed but once started and with encouragement form other Guild members, I was away.

In between each towel I used a few picks of yellow cottolin. This is where I cut the long fabric after weaving. At the beginning and end of each towel, I wove 10 - 12 picks using 16/2 cotton in plain weave.  This is to make the hem less bulky.  The white cotton is folded underneath and will not show when the handtowel is hemmed.

Here you can see the difference when using a blue linen pattern yarn with either a white tabby weft of a blue tabby weft.

For the pattern yarn of a doubled 16/2 linen I use my large shuttle which can take two spools of yarn.

A two spool boat shuttle. 
Whenever I need to use a double yarn, I always use this shuttle.  I have tried winding two threads together but I find that there is always some slack in one yarn.

Once the fabric is off the loom, cut it into the towel lengths.  I iron the top and bottom of each towel to press the material for the hem.  I tack the hems and add the hanging tags and press again.  Then I sew the hems using a zig zag stitch.  The towels are washed in a normal machine wash.

Hanging tag.

I wove a hanging tag for the towels.  There are 35 warp ends in two colours.  i used 16/2 cotton doubled for the warp ends.  The weft is blue cottolin.

I like the effect of the dotted pattern and the horizontal stripe in the centre.

Here are two finished towels.

Two handtowels one with a two footprint cat track and the other with a smaller four footprint track.
Measurements of the two towels before and after washing.

Two track pattern

Width before washing: 45 cm                    After washing:  41.5 cm
Length before washing: 64 cm                   After washing: 61.5

Four track pattern

Width before washing:    45 cm                After washing:  41.5 cm
Length before washing:  64.5 cm              After washing:  62 cm

The towels look really lovely and are very absorbent.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes May 2017

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Exploring colour and band weaving (2)

In my book, The Art of band Weaving, I described a way of designing colour stripes for bands.

Using a colour strip from the photograph.

I enjoy experimenting with colour. I thought that I would use my own method to design a stripe pattern for a woven band from this picture.

View across Framwellgate Bridge near my home.

I isolated a strip from the photograph.  This can be done at any angle. The resulting colour strip I took is here.

colour strip from photograph
The colours of the restaurant and the greenery with the autumn leaves combined with the grey stonework of the bridge are striking.

The range of cottons to match the colours in the strip.

1.  Here is my first attempt to combine these colours into a band design

There are  61 warp ends using 16/2 cotton.

Here is the woven band. This is the first design.

2.  I decided to vary the design by omitting one of the yellow stripes in the centre. I think that the second design is more dramatic. There are 56 warp ends in this band.

3.  For the third design I removed the brown stripes and made the yellow stripe in the centre smaller. There are 54 warp ends in this band.

4. I thought that I would look at an asymmetrical design. Here is the drawdown with 37 warp ends.

Which design do you prefer?

This was a very informative exercise.  I love designing bands as I can play with colour and make combinations easily.

Happy Weaving.  Enjoy exploring colour and designing your own bands.

Susan J Foulkes  August 2017

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Exploring Colour and band weaving (1)

Exploring Colour Combinations.

I completed a very interesting course called the Power of Colour with FutureLearn.   I learned how to use some digital tools for analysing colour in an image.  There are three free tools which you can use. I took a picture of a view near where I live.  I uploaded it into the three programmes to see the range of colours:  ColorExplorer,  TinEye Labs and  Pictaculous.  You can try these programmes for yourself.

You need to make sure that the image is of a small number of pixels for the programmes to work.

Here is my photograph.

Photograph across Framwellgate Bridge Durham City, UK


The first analysis is from ColorExplorer at

I uploaded my photograph and this is the colour analysis.

TinEye Labs.

The second analysis is from TinEye Labs. at


The third analysis is from Pictaculous at

It is interesting to compare the three types of analysis from the same photograph.  Why not try it for yourself.

As a tool for interior design I can see that it would be very useful.

The four colours from Pitaculous matched to 16/2 Swedish cotton.

First Idea.

I used the four colours to design my first band. There are 61 warp ends. i used 16/2 Swedish cotton used double to make a wider band.  the weft is 6/2 cotton in grey which is nearly the same colour as the grey 16/2 cotton at the edges of the band.

My first idea

The woven band

Second Idea.

After weaving, I decided that I did not like the single red stripe. I left the single green stripe.  There are 58 warp ends.

The woven band

Third Idea.

For band 3 I thought that I would leave the colours in stripes minimising the overlap of colours.

graph for asymmetrical band

Four colour band 3.  I like this version.

So three variations using just four colours.

I would probably not have chosen this particular combination of colours from my photograph but it has been fascinating to see what could be done with them.

I feel that these colour analysis tools would be of more use to interior designers.  It was fun to play with them. I feel that I would probably have found these colours anyway by my own method of taking a strip across the photograph.  I will show you how to do this in my next blog.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes  August 2017

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Workshop at the Old Kennels in June

Workshop June 2017
The Old Kennels

The Old Kennels - the conservatory and the gazebo.
Thursday 15th June and Friday 16th June 2017

This two day workshop on Swedish Band Weaving provided the opportunity for a small group to learn how to weave patterned bands using a double slotted heddle and backstrap. The Old Kennels prides itself on organising courses which have a small groups of participants so that tutors can tailor the workshop for individual needs and skills.My workshop has nine participants and filled very quickly.

Day One

  • Learned how to set up a backstrap and rigid heddle in a good weaving position.
  • Start to weave a selection of heart and flower patterns or knots and meanders.
  • Started a band neatly.
  • Learned how to add in a new weft thread.
  • Gained a good understanding of the pattern draft and weave structure.
  • Examined a range of different woven bands from Sweden.

Day Two

  • Opportunity to weave more patterns of choice.
  • Learn how to make a warp and thread the heddle.
  • Learned how to finish a band neatly.
  • Examined different ways of finishing bands such as decorative tassels and knots.
  • Learned about lettering and started to weave a letter.
  • Learned how to design a decorative border.

The setting is idyllic and the weather was very hot indeed. We started the workshop in the conservatory but soon moved outside to the gazebo.

Inside the conservatory
One of the delights of the Old Kennels are the alpacas and the cats.

Unfortunately, it was too hot for the alpacas to stay outside.  However, Christine managed to take this lovely photograph.

Some of the newly shorn alpacas.

One cat in particular liked to feel part of the workshop. Sylvester was quite a character.  He would leap onto the work table and find the place where he would be most in the way.  He then would fall instantly asleep!  He was the most restful cat I have known.

The best place to sleep

All the heddles were ready warped so that the group could begin quickly.  I demonstrated how to start the woven band and the first few picks.  Then everyone could have a go.

Demonstrating the start of the band.

We had a break and then on return it was to find Sylvester stretched out as usual.

An even better place to sleep

The booklet to accompany the workshop gives lots of patterns for hearts and flowers.  We started with hearts but everyone soon moved on to the pattern of their choice.

Following the pattern.

The first two hearts
Lunch was amazing.  I am pleased that we were only there for two days as the food was plentiful and very very tempting.

After lunch and for the following day, we moved outside. Having the opportunity to work outside was great.  The gazebo offered shade from the sun but was also cool.

working outside in the gazebo

On the second day, Christine started to weave letters and produced quite a long piece.  Unfortunately I was so busy I did not have time to take many photographs and it was soon time for the workshop to end.

A sample of work at the end of the first day.

I managed to get together pieces of work from day one. People who had never tried this type of weaving before managed to complete many designs.

Looking through the brochure made me keen to try an attend a workshop next year.

Take a look at some of the wide variety of courses that they provide at this lovely venue.
The Old Kennels at

The Old Kennels,
Devon, EX14 4RW
tel. 01823 681138

Thank you to all the participants and to Christine for sending me some of her photographs.  I hope that you all had as much fun as I did.

Online Band Weaving Workshop with the Braid Society

 October 2017

Do check out the details for the online workshop in October.  The details are on the home page of my blog.

My travels around the Baltic region have shown me the colourful heritage in many countries. I would like to share some of the lovely patterns with you in this online workshop.

The workshop will be spread over three weeks and will be open to anyone who has joined the Yahoo group, Braids and Bands. All the patterns will have 13 pattern threads.

If you are a member of the Braid Society, there will be a fourth week with more complex patterns.  Do think about joining the Braid Society.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes July 2017