Sunday, 1 May 2022

Weaving a set of placemats

I am weaving a set of four placemats and a centre mat. The warp is 6/2 cotton in blue and white.  The weft is 3/2 cotton in white. 

Sett: 27 ends per inch.  3 warp ends per dent in a 9 dent reed.

I calculated the shrinkage of the small sample piece I had woven all those years ago.  It is 9% so I increased the measurements accordingly allowing for hems for each mat. 

Number of warp ends: 398 This gives an extra two warp ends at one side to balance the design. The warp is approximately 14.7 inches at the reed which I hope will give the width I need once the material is off the loom and washed. Each pattern group of vertical twill is 11 warp ends. It is a 5/1 twill. 

Here is the cloth on the loom.  I am using a rug shuttle because the weft is relatively thick. I have not used this type of shuttle for some time and it took a while to get used to it. For the hem at each end I used a finer weft, 6/2 cotton and wove ten picks in plain weave. This ensures that the hem will be less bulky than using the thicker weft. 

Close up of weaving on loom

Comparison with sample.

I wove a length of 48 cm on the loom which shrank to 44 cm when removed from the loom. I hemmed the piece and washed it to check the shrinkage. 
I was not satisfied with this sample as the white warp shows through the colour stripes.  The width of the material needs to shrink more so that the blue warp stripes are more pronounced. The weft travels over 9 warp ends on every other pick. This will make the width of the cloth shrink.

Reverse of weave draft showing weft floats

The reverse of the material shows how firmly I was beating the weft. 

Top mat weft beaten lightly. Bottom mat weft beaten firmly.

I tries another sample and I decided to beat less firmly. The ppi is now 16 per inch. I was careful to angle the weft at no more than 2 inches up the opposite side of the warp. The weft goes over 10 warp threads 
I took this sample off the loom, hemmed and washed it. 

Turn over the plain weave picks and iron firmly.

Now turn the raw edge under and press firmly.

Once the hems are pressed, pin the hem. The edges can be hemmed and pressed. 

Hemming the placemat.

Before washing.
Width on loom with  no tension  33 cms
Woven length on loom not under tension ( not including hem) 47.5 cm 
Off loom and hemmed  length:   46.5 cms

After washing
Width  31.5 cm
Length: 44 cms

For this placemat, the warp stripes were more pronounced so I wove the rest of the warp. 

All the placemats are finished.  Here they are.

These placemats are a replacement for the set I wove in 2014.  

Susan J Foulkes  May 2022.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Course Work - a valuable resource.

I have reorganised my weaving room and book shelves.  I thought that I would start to prune my weaving stock.  Two shelves are filled with the course work that I did for my BTEC in Art and Design (Handloom Textile Design ) in 2001. 

I looked at the first set and realised that here was a resource I had forgotten about. 

Here is one display board


This is the second display board.

These boards were part of my first project  based around architecture in Bradford. We had to sketch buildings as a basis for designing cloth for various purposes. 

I made a folder of my sketches and designs for various types of cloth. 

The old Prudential buildings is a wonderful source of pattern and texture. 

The pattern on the brickwork was very intricate and I made a carpet sample.

Here is a second carpet sample

This sample could be used on a room divider screen.

This is a sample of decorative twill. 

There are three folders to accompany these boards: an Index of development samples, and Index of record sheets and Reference weaves.

 I had not examined these files for some time and I found that there were some interesting textured samples.

I had been intending to throw away all this material but the samples and records of the weaves is invaluable. Here is a group of five sample weaves from the collection. I am amazed at how much work I completed for this course. 

 In fact  I chose one pattern to weave some placements. This sample is in 6/2 cotton with a weft of 3/2 cotton.  It has a pleasing texture and I think would be thick enough for placemats. It is woven on 8 shafts in two blocks.  

Here is a close up showing the vertical twill structure. 

The ridged effect is created by the two vertical rows of plain weave which separate the two blocks vertical 4/1 twill. I have coloured some of the plain weave on the drawdown to show the dividing lines between the blocks of vertical twill. 

I will post a picture of the weaving of these mats in due course. They will be woven in blue cotton with a white plain weave dividing strip. 

Susan J Foulkes April 2022

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Exhibition pictures

 Spinning Yarns and Weaving Stories

I have been decluttering my weaving 'stuff' to dispose of old material and records that I no longer require.  I came across details of an exhibition that the Durham Guild held in 2004. I still use one of the items I made. Here is the description of the exhibition from the catalogue we produced. 

     'To celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2004 , the Durham Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers decided to hold an exhibition at the Oriental Museum.   Our work was to be inspired by the collection at the Museum.  The question arose as to the title.  What to call our exhibition?  For an earlier display of work at the Botanic Garden two Guild members had produced wall hangings: Jen Campbell made a vibrantly coloured house and Elsie Shaw produced a subtle and sensitive tapestry of a tree.  Independently, they told me the story behind the image that they had chosen.  The stories were interesting, informative and also personal and certainly added to an appreciation of the pieces of work.  So, our design challenge was born - ‘Spinning Yarns and Weaving Stories’.'

The stories gave the visitor to our exhibition an insight into the inspiration and creative journey that led to the item on display.  Guild members wrote their ‘stories’ of how they were inspired by an exhibit(s) in the Museum and how it led to the design of their hand-made item. These stories appeared next to each person’s work.  

Here is the cover of the exhibition booklet. 

My work for the exhibition was inspired by Japanese kites and Japanese shop curtains which were exhibited in the museum. 

Japanese Kites.

The Oriental Museum has a fascinating collection of traditional Japanese kites.  They were mounted high up on a wall but have no strings or tails.  Using a variety of traditional shapes, they feature characters from Japanese history and folklore.  They are now in storage. 

Three Kites.

1. The Sanjo kite shows Minamoto no Yoshitsune a 12th century samurai.  It was made by Hikoichi, Kobayashi  Creation date  1900-1950; Meiji Period; Taisho; Showa Period. The museum catalogue has this description: kite featuring Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a 12th century character. He is wearing a red, yellow and blue helmet. White face with pink shading in eye and cheek area. Caption in top right hand corner.

2. The Sagara kite is a painting of Matsuomani from the play Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami in the Bunraku theatre.    Creation date: 1900-1950; Meiji Period; Taisho; Showa Period. Description: Banraku kite made by Mitsuro Otatuke,

3. Chozaburo Kitamura, kite, featuring Ryuotaro. The face is white with red upper lip and red patches around eye and cheek bone. Blue sword placed between teeth. Lots of black hair. Colourful background.  Here is the link to the original.

I liked this particular kite and drew a copy. I photographed the one hanging in the museum and I transferred my copy onto a tee shirt which I still have after all theses years. 

Here is my tee shirt. 

I remembered the triangular kites from my childhood and my homemade kite tails - simple lengths of string with coloured paper tied in bows.  I decided to use the kites as my inspiration and the idea of kite tails to design and weave some scarves.  I thought of words to describe kite tails - light, airy, frilly, floating, fluttering, balanced.  My scarves had to have some of these properties but also to be practical as scarves. 

Floating clouds

Here is one of the scarves that I exhibited called Floating Clouds. This scarf also won third prize at  ‘Convergence’  in the ‘Handwoven’ competition in Denver, Colorado in July 2004. It is a double weave scarf using an overtwisted merino yarn  for the warp and botany wool and silk for the weft.

The name was  inspired by a piece of shakuhachi music - Ukigumo -  ‘As clouds float quietly in the wide deep sky, their shapes and sizes gradually change over time.  This can be seen as a metaphor for human life, in which serenity, tranquility and movement prevail.’  (Tajima Tadashi  - Master of Shakuhachi 1999 WDR World Network).

I became intrigued by kites.  In a book on the ‘Art of the Japanese Kite,’ I discovered that they do not have tails.  In Japan, if a kite has a tail it is said to be of a poor design!  Never mind - my own creative journey led me to scarf designs of greater originality.

Japanese shop curtains: Noren

I liked the Japanese shop curtains in the museum and wove a long length of cloth from unbleached cotton.  I made three separate curtains to be hung as one item.  I did not want to use a too obvious kite design; perhaps a bird would be appropriate.   I found a striking crest design of a crane (Tsuru).  This I thought would be the ideal image to have on my curtain. 

Tsuru  a crane
I decided to use a dye that was activated by sunlight.  This was not an ideal choice as my woven material was plain weave in 16/2 cotton.  This type of dye is best used on silk or fine fabric.  I made many templates of the crane crest and placed them on the cloth. The dye reacts to light so that the cranes appear as undyed shapes. For the blue cranes I made large templates with the crane design as a cut out. I had to purchase many pots of dye to complete this project.                                                         

My display of curtains and scarves. 

Cranes are such an important symbol in Japan.  I made as many paper cranes as I could to hang alongside the curtain - I could not manage one thousand! 
Here are the curtains at home in our spare bedroom.

Here is a close up of the cranes. 

During the course of this project, I read books on Japanese folklore, watched a film of Bunraku theatre plays , wove to Japanese flute music, drew kites, crests, and made lots of origami cranes.  I reacquainted myself with the films of Akira Kurosawa which I love.  It was a fascinating journey.

Two books were very useful.

When I visited Japan in 2019, I bought a second hand garment which had a crest on the back. This lovely jacket now has a second life. 

In my book of Japanese design motifs, the crest is similar to crests in the section showing Pawlonia designs.  
There is always something new to learn. 

Susan J Foulkes March 2022

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Two lovely books


2018 Zhejiang University Press

This is a very large and heavy book. It is in English and the articles and accompanying illustrations are wonderful. I bought it through Amazon. 

A World of Looms - weaving technology and textile arts is the result of a conference in 2018 in China organised by the Chinese National Silk Museum. The sections cover: China, Japan Korea Southeast Asian looms, India, West Asian looms, African and Madagascar, Ancient European looms, Andean looms, and the Jaquard loom. 

Each article is lavishly illustrated with beautiful photographs.  The conference also invited weavers to demonstrate the range of weaving skills from their countries. 

You can take a virtual tour of the exhibition. Here is the link. You will be redirected to the website. The web address is very long!

 Virtual Museum tour 

What is fascinating is the number of reconstructed models of the looms. I wish I had known about the conference. I would have loved to have been there and meet participants from around the world. 

Another new book

2021 Indiana University Press

I ordered this book on Amazon but it was a few months before it became available.  Again it is beautifully illustrated. The book accompanied an exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art - Dressing with a Purpose: Belonging and Resistance in Scandinavia.

There are three sections, Sweden, Norway and Sapmi. 

The introduction by Carrie Hertz has pictures taken at the Winter Marknad in Jokkmokk in 2017.  One picture was taken in the Stoorstalka shop. There is also a great picture of Per Niila Stalka and Lotta Stoor.  It brought back memories of my visit in 2020. The annual Marknad is a huge occasion. 

Here is my blog about my own visit to the Marknad just before the pandemic.

It is such a pity that last year and this year as well, the Marknad has had to go digital.

Hopefully, life will get back to normal soon and travelling will be allowed. In the meantime we have virtual tours and digital access and books. 

Workshop in the UK

If you live in the UK, I will be running a workshop at the Pitt Rivers Museum in April. I am looking forward to teaching this fascinating technique for weaving filled cords.  I am busy making items with the cords to show some of the decorative uses for them.  The Pitt Rivers Museum have made the weaving discs which are not available elsewhere. Nowadays, this technique is rarely used but it deserves a wider weaving audience. I am also presenting a workshop for this technique at Nordic and World Braids and Bands 2022 in Denmark. 

Nordic and World Braids and Bands 2022

For the Sigga weaving workshop, participants will have a long warp of Sami band weaving wool to make their own belt.  I have finished weaving a long Sami belt using the Sigga heddle. 

Here is my work in progress using the Sigga heddle.  I had to stretch across the living room to start the belt.  

It is a very long warp. Here is the finished belt for the workshop. Now comes the finishing - making a decorative plait and tassel. 

In the workshop, I will be teaching the method of making this very decorative Sami plait. I have woven short samples for all the participants with long warp ends so that they can practice making this type of plait before trying it on the belt that they will weave. It will be an enjoyable day.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes February 2022

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Weaving patterned bands on multi-shaft looms

 Do check out the January edition of Handwoven magazine.  

I submitted a project about Stash Busting and it was accepted.  My project was weaving tea towels using up small quantities of yarn.  I am sure that all weavers have a stash which needs reducing.  Here are my tea towels, beautifully photographed by Handwoven. (permission was given to use this image).

Stash busting tea towels. Handwoven Jan 2022

My previous submission was Nov/Dec 2014, Vol 172, no 5, pages 66 - 68.   The Heart of the Swedish Band Weaving Tradition. My Baltic heart tea towel has been very popular.  These project details are available as a download at: 

Using a multi-shaft loom to weave patterned bands.

You can weave narrow bands on a table loom or a floor loom with eight or more shafts.

The advantages of using a multishaft loom are:

  • You can weave more complicated patterns with greater ease.
  • You can weave longer bands.
  • The weaving is tighter because the tension is greater.
  • You can use very fine threads which would be very difficult to use with a back strap.
  • You can use pattern threads similar in colour to the background, which can be difficult to see. 

To help you design or copy bands I have used the Fiberworks PCW weave program.  You will need to adapt the following instructions if you use a different program. 

1.  The Threading Draft

First set up the program so that it is in lift plan mode as the patterns are designed in the lift plan.  I set it to 7 shafts. There are five pattern threads for this band. The warp pattern threads are in dark blue colour. The four border threads are in pale blue. I changed the colour of the weft to white.

The full threading pattern shows the background threads and border threads and the two background threads in between each pattern thread.  It is important that the two background threads in between each pattern thread are threaded in the correct order. A pattern thread on a odd numbered shaft has a background thread on each side on shaft 2. A pattern thread on an even numbered shaft has a background thread on each side of it threaded on shaft 1. This is known as the Baltic threading and produces a crisp pattern on the front of the band and a crisp pattern in reverse on the back. 

The full threading draft

2.  Pattern Threads 

It is easier to plan your design using only the pattern threads and four border threads showing.

3.  Using the Lift Plan

You can now start to put in your pattern on the lift plan.  I have coloured the centre pattern thread red. The first two columns are  plain weave for the background and border threads. Leave these columns blank until the end. 
This pattern is for the S├ími band.  I have copied this pattern into the lift plan. All patterns must repeat over an even number of picks.  The plain weave lifts have not yet been added. Only the pattern is shown on the treadling. 

4.  Adding Plain Weave

The next stage is to put in the plain weave for the background and border. For this you need to examine the centre thread of the pattern.  In this case it is on shaft 5.  I have coloured it red. Look for the section when it is raised over three threads.

When weaving with a rigid heddle, the centre thread is always threaded through the centre hole.  The background threads next to it are threaded through the slots. So, if this pattern thread is on an odd numbered shaft, the first pick raised over three threads should also raise the background threads on shaft 1.  This means that the background thread on shaft 2 which is on each side of the pattern thread will be lowered. This covers the background thread underneath so it does not show on the reverse side of the band. You can now fill in the plain weave.

It is important to add the plain weave in the correct order. These are filled in down the left side of the treadling. 

Here the plain weave has been added to the treadling.

This is the full drawdown.  The treadling repeat is eight rows.  The top row is the first and represents lifting shafts 1 3 5 6 7 
The second pick lifts shafts 2 4 6 7 

5.  Check the pattern repeat

The final check is to ensure that you have a correct pattern repeat. Go to the weft button and repeat the pattern.  If the pattern is regular  you know that your pattern  repeat is correct. The plain weave border threads are in pale blue. The centre of the pattern threads has been coloured red. The treadling now shows two pattern repeats. 

7.  Weaving: more than eight shafts

If you have up to eight shafts available, you can weave all five thread patterns (symmetrical and asymmetrical) and seven and nine thread symmetrical patterns.

For seven and nine thread symmetrical patterns, you will need to use a point draft.  Asymmetrical patterns for 7 and 9 pattern threads require a straight draw on 9 or 11 shafts.


In 2018 I was commissioned to weave a set of six sashes for the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.  I used my 32 shaft Megado loom.  Here is one sash in the process of being woven. This complex piece of weaving would have been extremely difficult to produce using a heddle. 

Do check out my blog for April 2019 for details. 

I have woven a small banner for the International Conference in Denmark in 2022. These letters have thirteen pattern threads. 

 Nordic and World Braids and Bands 2022
August 14-19, Svendborg, Denmark
5th International Conference on Braiding

The information about this wonderful conference is now available at

Do check out the details of the two workshops I will be taking on my blog. 

A happy and peaceful 2022 to everyone. 
with very best wishes

Susan J Foulkes  January 2022