Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Band Weaving and Record Keeping

The Importance of Record keeping

Record keeping may seem dull but it is invaluable.

Here is a page from one of my early record books for plain weave warp faced bands.

Keep a pattern drawdown and a small sample of the woven band.  It is easy to weave a short extra length to keep and they are really useful when designing bands in the future.
A few years ago, I found that I had so many record books and they were bulging.  I thought that I would digitise my records.

I started to scan the bands and save them with a JPEG of the drawdown.  I had to decide upon a standard format.  Adding in the materials used, the number of warp ends and the band width was important.

As my newly pristine records grew, I realised that I could put them all in a book. Here it is; The Art of Simple Band Weaving - colour and pattern. It was self published a few years ago by

My book is in ebook format for IPad as well as print

Once I started to record my band patterns, I realised that it would be very useful to have some background information.  So the first chapter was written.  Then I thought about how I design new bands and so other sections were added.  In fact the book started to expand much further than my original idea.

Where once I had many bulging files, I now have a useful book on my shelf.  I use it when I am thinking about new bands for towel tags etc. It is a wonderful resource for me as well, I hope for others.

What sort of information is useful to record when weaving bands? 

Here are some ideas.

Warp details. The centre thread is in bold and indicated by M. This shows the colour order for making the warp and threading the heddle.

Grey      4
White        4
Green            1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1   1    1    1    1
Red                   1   1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1   1    1

Total number of warp ends: 43

Yarn for warp: 16/2 cotton in four colours used double.
Yarn for weft:  16/2 cotton in grey used double.

Width of woven band:  13 mm  approx 0.5 inches

If you have a programme for recording your weaving you can add the weave draft.

Weave Draft

Weave draft for narrow band.


Always weave slightly too long a length for your project so that you can keep a sample.  This is invaluable. You do not have to keep neat samples.  If the beginning of the band is a bit wobbly as you find the correct tension, save that piece for your record book.

woven band sample

Try to keep records.  They are an invaluable resource for the future.

New Book on band weaving.

A new book on tape weaving has just been published by Schiffer Press.  The author, Susan Faulkner Weaver,  uses another way of recording band patterns.  Make your records to fit your own weaving needs.

This is a lovely informative book giving many traditional band patterns from the USA. 208 pages
Schiffer Press 2016  ISBN 978-0-7643-5196-9
Author: Susan Faulkner Weaver.

Susan J Foulkes  February 2017

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Weaving in Ireland

I promised that I would do another blog about my trip to Ireland. My previous blog showed the start of my journey. Click here to read it.

We stayed in Galway, an attractive and interesting city. It will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020. Having been to Liverpool in the UK  and Umea in Sweden when they were Capitals of Culture, I can recommend a visit in 2020 to Galway.  We hope to visit Aarhus in Denmark this year as they are the Capital of Culture in 2017.

The camp site site was in an idyllic spot overlooking Galway Bay.  We stayed for 6 days and the weather was mostly fine. One night there was a storm with 60 -70 mph winds coming straight towards us.  Fortunately our motor home is sturdy and so the movement in the wind was not too violent.

Overlooking Galway Bay - an idyllic view. 

We took a second trip to Inishmore from  Ros a' Mhíl.  The bus journey to the harbour was a good way to see the countryside and takes nearly an hour.  On the way we passed the entrance to Spiddel Craft Village.  Unfortunately the bus did not stop but it looks like a place to visit next time we go to Ireland.

Spiddel Craft Village from the bus.


The ferry to Inishmore was very efficient and it was a smooth journey.  I wanted to visit the craft shops to see if there were any criosanna for sale.  Kilmurvey Craft Village is another popular tourist stop. We cycled out to Kilmurvey and I visited every craft centre there but no-one had any crios for sale. There were only two outlets that said they would normally stock them but as it was the end of the season, they had none left.

Kilmurvey craft Village
The cycle ride was exciting and the leisurely pace meant that we could appreciate the beauty and the scenery of the island.

At Kilronen, there were a few craft shops but no-one here sold crios. However, there was a lovely selection of wool and of course plenty of Aran sweaters. We went for a long walk up to the black fort.

The famous Aran Sweater Market in Kilronen.

A colourful wall of wool.


However, Galway was lovely to explore and here I  found O'Maille on the High Street.  This is an absolute must to visit if you like traditional crafts of knitting, weaving and spinning.
Here is the web site.

'Slow is Good'.

I had a long conversation with Anne Ó Máille, seen in my photograph.  Everything for sale in the shop is made in the traditional way. Yes, she did have some criosanna for sale which had been hand woven on Inis Oirr.

Anne Ó Máille holding the crios I bought.

She was a fountain of information and stories.  The Aran sweaters for sale in the shop are woven in a traditional way without a pattern.  Her supply of knitters who are skilled enough to weave like this is dwindling but their work is superb.

The shop has been established for some time.  This link gives further details about her knitters.

The photograph on the wall shows some of the cast and director of The Quiet Man, a film made on location at Ashford castle in 1951.  All the costumes were made of tweed supplied and tailored by the shop. (see the web site for further details).

close up of the photograph showing John Wayne
I bought a crios but also some lovely delicately coloured sock yarn  This was a relatively new line for the shop but she was keen to encourage quality Irish yarn. As Anne emphasized 'Slow is good'. She wanted to encourage quality goods made with care.

I bought a pack of four colours of sock weight yarn from mixed mountain fleece.

I contacted the spinner about his wool as I wondered whether it would be suitable for weaving.

Diamuid was most helpful and told me a bit about the background to his company, S Twist Wool.

His introduction to the world of yarn started when he first learnt to weave after leaving school.  He spent a year in Stroud, Gloucestershire learning under a weaver there. His company,  S Twist Wool produces yarn for knitters.

The wool is collected from local farmers in the Kilkenny / Tipperary region and is washed using a natural fermentation method. This ensures that no harmful chemicals are used. All the washing is done by hand and the wool is dried in the open air.
Mindful of a carbon footprint, all of the natural dyes are gathered locally.  Making a decision about which dyes to use was made after extensive testing and hundreds of samples.  Finally, three local dyes were found which are fast enough to be offered. A lot of the experimentation centred around low-energy dyeing methods, such as solar and fermentation dyeing.

The colours of the sock yarn I bought are lovely and delicate. It was difficult to choose which colour pack to buy. I also bought a crios in the shop. When I got home I decided to weave my own design using this lovely coloured wool.

One skein has been wound ready for warp making.
It has been a long time since I wound yarn into balls from skeins.

The yarn is now ready for making the warp. 

I needed to weave a sample and make a warp long enough for a belt.  I was not sure how much yarn I would need, particularly as the white is used both for the warp and weft. Fortunately I had enough white to finish the belt.

Weave Chart

weave chart for the crios using four colours of wool.

The weave chart shows the colour order for threading. This chart is set up for two shafts and plain weave. I used 6 shafts to weave plain weave so that I could spread the warp to reduce the amount of friction on the warp ends.

There are 54 warp ends. I wove a short sample at 16 epi but the weave structure was too open.  The crios I bought is warp dominant.  I increased the sett to 20 epi and this made the woven fabric similar to the belt that I had purchased.

I wove the belt on my Louet table loom using six shafts.

weaving on the table loom.
The shuttle is on of my favourites and was hand made by Gunnar Karro. His shuttles and heddles are a real delight to handle.

close up of shuttle and fabric. 

Here is a picture of the finished belt.

It is 185 cm in length. The width is 6 cm  The crios that I bought in Galway is 175 cm in length and the width is 4.5 cm.
The wool is lovely to handle and I enjoyed the challenge of designing and weaving a belt.

There will be a further blog about Ireland in the future. There was so much to see, do and enjoy.

I have just finished a lovely book about the Aran Islands - it covers geology, archaeology, history, folklore, cartography, flora and fauna and history and more! It is Stones of Aran, Pilgrimage by Tim Robinson. He uses place names to recover stories of Aran in a discursive ramble around the perimeter of the island. It was first published in 1976 and I bought a second hand copy.

Happy weaving and happy reading.

Susan J Foulkes February 2017

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Hand towels on four shafts

Hardwearing Handtowels.

This weave is lovely and very useful as a hand towel. I do not know what it is called. The two pattern blocks are in a 2/1 twill with an additional pick. The warp is one colour - unbleached cotton - so the colour is only in the weft.  This means that if a long warp is put on the loom, several towels of different colours can be woven.

This is a block weave.  
There are three blocks to treadle.  The first is the border for the hem. The next two blocks alternate to form the pattern. This draft will not weave plain weave but the first treadling on weaves over two under one.  This is used for the hems of the towels.  Use a thin cotton such as 16/2 cotton in unbleached or white.

For the pattern there are two blocks. One block is threaded 12312312312 and the next block is threaded 43243243243.

As you can see with the two colours of weft, one block shows more of the coloured weft than the other.  This gives the appearance of checks. From these two blocks different patterns can be created.

Warp: 8/2 unbleached cotton
Weft; 8/2 unbleached cotton and 16/2 coloured cotton used double.
Sett: approx 20 epi
Picks approx 25 per inch.
For these towels I warped 460 ends. The width at the reed is 85 cm.

The pattern can be woven in stripes or checks.

on loom weaving with two shuttles.

Weaving Sequence

The border is the first pattern on the drawdown and is only used for the border. Weave about 4 cm with unbleached 16/2 cotton used singly.

The stripes are woven with 8/2 cotton used double.  Weave four picks with 8/2 doubled cotton in block two. weave four picks with double red 16/2 cotton in between then four picks with 8/2 cotton.
there are 20 picks in red before the next pattern.  I decided to weave three groups of two pattern blocks at each end of the towel.

For the centre of the towel, weave 30 cm then repeat the border pattern.  Finish with 13 cms in red then 4 cm in 16/2 cotton for the hem.

closeup of towel on loom
The hem is easy to turn under.  I used a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine.  The finer weft makes the hem less bulky.  I like the contrast with the white for the hem at each end of the towel.

The towel pattern can be varied.  I wove the  fourth towel in a pattern of small squares. This towel has been washed once then pressed.  This towel is not dependent upon an exact length of warp so it is useful for the final towel of the four. If my warp is not long enough, the pattern repeat is short so I can weave to the very end of the warp leaving just enough for the hem.

Close up of the towel woven in small square motifs.  


Before washing
                                     Length    76 cm  width 54 cm

After washing
                                     Length  70 cm  width  50 cm

Hanging tags

I designed a hanging tag for these towel. Here is the weave draft for the blue hanging tag.

pattern for hanging tag.
There are 27 warp ends.  I used 8/2 cotton and blue 16/2 cotton used double.

The tag is 1.2 cm in width.

Here are the completed towels.

Completed handtowels

The towels are soft but are very efficient at drying hands.

I have woven variations of this design many times.  The towels are very hardwearing. I love the fact that when weaving, different colours can be used for the weft.  Next time I weave some more,  I think that I will vary the pattern.  I liked the small squares so I thought that I could design a different block pattern.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes
January 2017

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Pinterest: Cataloguing the World: the bow loom and the inkle loom

Bow Looms.

Here are some images of bow looms in action.

I love this picture of a class in Japan all using bow looms with heddles. They all seem to be enjoying the experience.

A simple bow loom made from a rough branch.

Here is another picture of a bow loom with  heddles

This useful diagram shows how the bow loom works. A long warp can be used, as the extra warp is wound around the forked end of the stick.  The other end has an attached tape which could be used to tie the end around the waist of the weaver.

It is not the only image however. Here is a copy of a photograph of the artist Karin Larsson with one of her daughters.  She is weaving on a large bow loom which appears to be tucked under her left arm.

Carl and Karin Larsson with one of their daughters.  

The photograph is not clear as it is from an illustration in a book.

Bow looms do not have to be used with string heddles.  Here is a very simple bow loom for a tapestry woven friendship band. I bought a lovely little bow loom at Tacoma to use on a weaving open day for the Durham Guild.(see my blog for November 1st 2016 Durham Guild Open Day).

Small bow loom in action

My little bow loom was very popular.  I have warped it with more beads for my next demonstration!.

The complete loom

Close up of weaving with beads.

The beads are threaded onto the warp thread before warping the bow loom.  Half the beads are on one side and half on the other.  The beads are brought down to the fell of the band when needed.

It is very quick and easy to weave and a very good introduction to weaving for beginners.

Here is a link to an introduction to bow loom weaving. Bow Loom weaving preview:

Other simple looms.

Of course, these simple looms do not have to be bow shaped.  The loom can be a variety of shapes. Both these pictures come from Lithuania
a circular branch loom with a circular warp.


A forked branch used as a loom 

Weaver tensioned weaving.

It is fascinating to see how resourceful weavers can be.

Look at this picture of an Estonian weaver.  She is weaving a patterned band using a circular warp. The warp is tensioned by fixing one part to a hook on the wall and the other part goes around her left leg.  This means that she can alter the tension on the warp very easily and both hands are free to manipulate the heddle rod and shuttle.

An Estonian weaver in 1912

Here are two weavers in Cusco, Peru weaving in the Centre for Traditional Textiles. I took this picture in 2007. Here the loom is weaver tensioned.  The warp is attached to the fixed post and the other end of the warp is fastened around the waist of the weaver.  It is a backstrap loom.

Even with this simple equipment, patterns of astonishing complexity can be woven.  It was a joy to watch and a pleasure to support the weavers by buying textiles in the shop. I particularly liked the way that every textile for sale had a card with the weavers name on it. So often weavers are anonymous and yet their work should be celebrated.

Centre for Traditional Textiles, Cusco, Peru.

Here is a close up of the weaving.

Close up of the intricate weaving

An Early Inkle Loom?

Now for an update on my post about Pinterest. Click here to read my previous post about Pinterest: cataloging the World.  (July 1st 2016)
Here is the picture that I was trying to identify.  Is it an early illustration or a modern artists impression?

I asked members of the Braid Society and one member, Janis contacted Nancy Spies. Nancy kindly supplied the relevant links to the original illustration.

Here it is.  It is from Le Livre de bonnes moeurs de Jacques Legrand which dates to the 15th century. The probable date is 1490.  I have added the link address if you want to look at the other illustrations from this book.

"Le Livre de Bonnes Moeurs" 15th century, French, Chantilly (Musee Conde) OR Paris (BNF).  The web site is not clear, but apparently 77 pages of the MS are at Chantilly and 4 are in Paris.

Here is a close up of the inkle loom.

Close up of the early inkle loom from 1490.
It would be wonderful if someone could make a replica.  However, I think that a better quality picture would be required to see the detail. The original artist has depicted the threads and the wooden uprights so I would imagine that in the original picture the relationship between them would be more easily seen.


As I wrote in my previous blog on this subject, it is fascinating to see how ancient looms were depicted.  These images deserve to be examined more closely and compared to modern counterparts. Some surprising similarities and differences may emerge.  I do not yet have an answer to the mysterious depiction of the bow loom used for tablet weaving  illustrated in my previous blog about Pinterest. Here is the illustration again.

bow loom used for tablet weaving.  Where is this image?

If you want to see more images, do check out my Pinterest site.  One image can lead to another one on someone else's pin board. I am sure that you will love the search. Enjoy your own wander through 'a garden of bright images'.

Happy New Year.

Susan J Foulkes  January 2017

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours for inspiration

Autumn colours on the River Wear in Durham City

The FutureLearn course on the Power of Colour was very interesting. During the course I decided to take Autumn colours as a theme and design a scarf. I took this picture a couple of years ago.  At the moment the top of the cathedral is shrouded in scaffolding and is not so picturesque but the trees on the riverbank have been as glorious as ever.

On a recent walk I took this picture of autumn leaves on the path.

Autumn leaves
What a variety of colours in the leaves. Green, golden yellow, crimson red, brown, orange. I love autumn colours.

 The horse chestnut tree and its conkers are particularly colourful.

I looked at the yarn I have in my stash and chose colours to represent autumn and the lovely shiny surface of the conker.  I thought that a simple grey weft would be suitable.

Silk yarn for the warp and grey tussah silk for the weft. 
I wanted to try an unusual pattern and I thought of the shape of the conker.  I found a pattern of circles and adapted it. It was time consuming to thread the heddles accurately as you can see from the weave draft.

The Weave Draft.

The pattern uses 16 shafts and I used two shafts for a basket weave selvedge of 4 ends on each side. so 18 shafts in all.  The weave draft gives two full pattern repeats.  I have highlighted the centre and border of each repeat in colour so to make the pattern repeat clearer.

Weave draft for curved circles on 16 shafts.

Each pattern takes 32 warp ends.  I used 12 pattern repeats and 4 ends on each side for the selvedge. A total of 384 warp ends in all.

The weft in the picture is  2/20 Tussah silk in grey. I tried weaving with this yarn but it was too thick for the sett.  I chose a yarn remnant that I had of a fine pale yellow cashmere. This worked much better and the pattern of circles became more prominent. The yellow fits better with the autumn colour theme.

The silk is a 2/60 silk and I used it in threes. This meant that I could gradually shade the colours  across the warp.

I used a 10 dent reed threaded at three warp ends per dent : 30epi.
I think that this sett was rather tight and I could have used a slightly lower sett.

Here is the weaving on the loom. The shaded colours of the warp show up in the sunlight.
weaving on the loom

Here is a close up of the circle pattern whilst on the loom.

The weaving looks loose but the cashmere yarn will swell when washed. 

The finished scarf.

Here is the finished scarf. I found that washing softened the scarf to give a lovely cuddly finish. I was very pleased that the circle shapes are circles.  I tried hard when weaving to keep an even tension and beat but I was not sure whether the circles would remain circular once the scarf was off the loom. Using a different yarn for the weft may have altered the way in which the material set after washing. However, I need not have worried.

The silk warp ends are twisted for the fringe.

Network Drafting.

A few years ago, I wove a large scarf/stole for myself in Autumn colours.  I experimented with network drafting to achieve a swirly pattern.

Here is the weave draft. It is on 16 shafts with two additional shafts for the plain weave selvedge.

The stole is in 2/60 silk used double sett at 36 epi.

It is difficult to photograph.  The pattern seems alive when the scarf is draped and moving.

silk stole in Autumn colours
Silk never goes out of fashion.  I love the way it reacts with light to show up the pattern.

Happy Weaving.

My next blog will be in January when I will be updating my Pinterest blog from July 2016.   One of the mysteries has been solved thanks to a reader who was as intrigued as I was about the medieval pictures. The second post for January will be the four shaft handtowel pattern.

Have a wonderful festive season.

Susan J Foulkes December 2016