Sunday, 1 August 2021

Cushion covers for new chairs

Over the past few years we have commissioned some beautiful furniture from Forest Edge Woodcrafts.  Gerrit Rietveld produced some amazing pieces of furniture which can be copied once for personal use. The 1919 Rietveld buffet is simply stunning and the Steltman chairs are beautiful.

Martin wanted a couple of chairs for the kitchen/dining area but the design he liked had no instructions and we have not found any examples in museums in the Netherlands. Jamie from Forest Edge Woodcrafts,  was set the problem of making a chair. Fortunately as he had made Rietveld furniture before, he had gained useful insights into how these iconic pieces of furniture were designed and assembled. 

Here is a detail of a corner of the chair.  It was originally made in 1925. 

The back and seat of the chair are bent to shape.  This was an extremely difficult task but makes the chair more comfortable. 

We wanted a cushion pad for the seat in navy blue.  I wove the material and decided to try to make them myself.  This was a mistake.  I can manage simple sewing but a fitted cover with piping was a new departure.  I watched several videos on YouTube and through that I would be able to manage.  I wove a long piece that would do for the top and bottom of the cushion pad.

The cover is woven in 16/2 cotton for plain weave at at 22 epi.  I then wove a narrow length for the piping cord edging and the side panels.  I thought that it would be useful to add in two pale blue ends in the warp to indicate where the material could be trimmed into a strip for the piping cord.

The process of making took much longer than I anticipated and was much more difficult. I started by  making one cushion cover. I measured and cut accurately but assembling the pieces was not as smooth as the YouTube video had shown. 

My effort was ill -fitting

The corners were particularly difficult.

It was the corners that I found most difficult and I was rather disappointed with the result.  I decided not to risk the second cushion to my inexpert sewing but took the remaining material to a stall in our local Indoor Market.  This indoor market was established in 1851 and is less than 10 minutes walk away. 

The Market Hall entrance in the Market Square. 

The market is an absolute gem!  I had recently bought curtains and purchased the foam inserts for the cushions from Stitches Textiles.  I was delighted to learn that she also makes cushion covers.  The second cover was ready in a few days and I collected it this morning.  

professionally made new cushion cover 

The corner is so neat!

The difference is wonderful.  I think I will have to weave some more material and have a second cover made. 

Now we have a comfortable corner.  The mug mats that I wove on the wonderful Weave-Along with Tien Chiu and Janet Dawson in overshot are just the right colours.  Here is the link to the blog showing all the patterns I wove.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes  August 2021

Thursday, 1 July 2021

The Joy of Sacks (part 2)

 Weaving these samples is getting addictive. There are other projects which need to be tackled but these are so enjoyable to weave.  Fortunately I am running out of some colours so I feel that I have made some inroads on my stash.  One more white warp should be enough. 

The designs are from the Thrilling Twills by Ingrid Boesel.  I got the CD when I bought my beautiful Megado 32 shaft electronic dobby loom.  Some of the first items I wove were a set of samples on a cotton warp using some of the 32 shaft designs.  

More Rustic Linen Sacks.

I am using these files again for the linen sacks I am weaving.  The Thrilling Twill collection is now available as a free download for either Windows or Mac. 

This is a very generous offer. There are 4,000 designs to explore from 5 to 32 shafts. 

I like the circle pattern.  There are a number of different circle patterns in the collection.  I wove the material for several linen sacks using it. I decided to change the pattern slightly. 

Here is the first pattern I wove. It is a 16 shaft pattern.  I added two additional shafts for the plain weave selvedge. This is the pattern with warp circles.  FO62  On the PCW weave program it is easy to change the face of the weaving.  

Here is the same pattern after I changed the face so the circles are formed by the weft. You can see the floats between the circle rows. 

Here is the material. You can see the longer white floats between the circles. 

I revised one of the other patterns. Again, it is on 18 shafts with two shafts for the plain weave selvedge. 

This eliminates the longer floats between the rows of circles by adding an additional pick which goes over two and under two warp ends. 

Here is the finished cloth. 

Here are pieces that I have washed and ironed. 

I like the three colour design.

I have woven the material and made 12 small sacks for the workshop next year.  I will need to make a few more but here is the work so far. 

Here are the sacks tied with a sack knot.  I made the ties from bamboo tape using a lucet. #rusticlinensacks  

One design that I really like is the feather/leaf pattern.  I used this for my peacock scarf which I described in my blog for 1st January 2016.  Here is a shortcut to the post. 

Here is a close up of the scarf.

Here is the drawdown for 16sFO55. I added two additional shafts for the plain weave selvedge. 

I am reorganising my weaving room at present and decorating it at the same time.  This entails moving the shelves, painting then moving the shelves back again.  I have managed two of the four walls so far but the next two have the most equipment along their length so it will be some time before it is finished.  It is not a large room and I have a lot of equipment and books.  I am trying to fit my weaving around the work.

Happy Weaving
 Susan J Foulkes July 2021.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

The Joy of Sacks (with acknowledgement to Terry Pratchett)

I have been trying to use up some of my stash.  I bought a selection of tow linen 6 some years ago to weave sauna towels from a pattern by Malin Selander.  However even with a cottolin warp the towels are very rough.  I decided to weave small tow linen sacks to hold my lucet. My design had twill stripes in 16/2 linen used double on a twill background in red tow linen 6.  I started by weaving small samples to check on the sett. 

Sacks for Lucet 

Warp: 6 tow linen in red and 16/2 linen in blue and red used double.

Weft: 6 tow linen in red

Warp order:  8 red 16/2 linen doubled; 16 red  tow; 12 blue 16/2 linen doubled; 16 red tow

12 blue 1/2 doubled; 16 red tow; 8 red 16/2 linen doubled. 

                                  before washing           after washing

20 epi sample width              4  in                        3,68 in

                      length            14.25 in                   13.25 in

18 epi sample  width            4 7/8 in                      4 in

                       length          14.75 in                      14 in

16 epi sample  width            5 3/8 in                       5 in

                       length           14.25 in                     12.5 in 

Here are the three samples side by side.

Here the samples are on top of each other so that you can see the differences in width using the different setts.

Sett: 16 epi made a firm fabric, 18 epi  was better  with a good twill line,   20 was too loose.

Second design using a plain weave background

Three samples later I decided upon the sett but then thought that the twill stripes would look better when contrasted with a plain weave background. 

This time I used natural tow linen and 16/2 blue linen for the stripes. Here are the little sacks. 

I enjoy a challenge and decided to weave more strips of material to make larger sacks to hold equipment for a workshop I will be running next year. 

My loom needed a workout so I chose a pattern using 24 shafts with an additional 2 shafts for the plain weave border. 

Sett: 21 epi  to allow for twill pattern and  plain weave areas.

9 reed threading is 2 2 3

Warp and weft = 6 tow linen.

Warp: natural with two ends of 16/2 linen at selvedge

Weft: 6 tow linen in a variety of colours.

Number of Warp ends = 210 plus 4   ends of 16/2 linen.

The first warp was in natural tow linen. 

Here are three finished bags with hanging tags and ties.

I have definitely experienced the joy of weaving sacks.

I have put on a white warp and wove material for four sacks.  I cut them off and washed the material because I wanted to see how the pattern looked when the material was finished. 

I used four patterns in 16 shaft point twill with two additional shafts for the plain weave border. I reduced the sett to 20 epi which seems fine. the recommended sett for this type of linen is ds12 for lace, 16 for plain weave and 20 for twill.

Here are two patterns on the loom.

Here is a close up of the circles pattern.  As you can see I made a mistake early in the weaving. 

Here is another pattern before finishing.

The measurements were length: 59.5cm and width: 30 cm.

After washing the length was 56cm and the width 28cm. Here is the same diamond pattern after washing. 

The four different designs were interesting to weave. I am looking forward to finishing this warp and trying out new patterns and different coloured wefts. 

If you are not familiar with the works of Terry Pratchett you have a treat in store. Going Postal, chapter five Lost in the Post - in which Stanley experiences the joy of sacks. (page 134).

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes             May 2021


Saturday, 1 May 2021

Another new book and several small cords

When I visited Jokkmokk last February before the pandemic, I had arranged a visit to the Ájtte Museum. The librarian kindly found all the weaving books about Sami weaving for me.  Among these lovely books was one which had been published recently. 

It is a large hardback book. (approx 10 inches x 12 inches; 30 x 24.75 cms). 223 pages. Published in 2018.

I ordered it from this web site, the Samisk Litteratursente, and it was delivered quickly, however, the postal charges to the UK were high.  It was worth it.  They accept credit card payments. 

There are detailed instructions in pictures so that the language barrier is overcome. Each band pattern is on a separate page with a detailed picture and weaving chart. It is wonderful to see the care with which the traditional weaving heritage is being recorded for the present generation.  

I hope that the publishers will not object to my reproducing  a double page spread. You can see how carefully the process is explained in pictures. 

There is a small section about plaiting.  I have been weaving material to make simple bags for equipment and I have started to make a series of ties. Here is one from this book on page 61.

Four end plait

This plait has four ends at the start. The centre two cross over then the sequence is easy.

Left strand under one
Right strand over one, under one

Left strand over one
Right strand under one, over one.

A Five Strand plait

Here is an old plait from Durham. 

Here is the finished plait. 

Here is the completed bag tie

This small bag is ideal for my lucet. I have been following the wonderful online tutorial from Ziggy  Rytka on the Braids and Bands io group. 

Here is one of my lucetted cords. 

I have also started (very late) the loop braiding workshop with Jean Leader.  Great notes and details of how to loop braid.  I am hoping to make some cords for these small bags in a variety of techniques. 

Ramesses Girdle Plait.

Here is a lovely plait on the end of the Ramesses girdle. This pattern is very old as the girdle dates from 1185 BCE.  It is also interesting because no-one has ever commented on the pattern of the plait. Researchers seem to have been fixed on the girdle itself - which is a weaving marvel - and not the simple patterned band at one end and the plaits at the other. This particular pattern in red white and blue, is also used on Sámi bands. It has a long history.

The plait has 8 ends: 2 red, 2 blue and 4 white. 

Happy plaiting

Susan J Foulkes  May 2021

The  email subscription list for this blog is being deleted by Google. I have read many different advice pages on the web but I am still not sure of how to transfer my email subscription list nor set up a new provider for this service.  I will let you know next month what I have been able to do. 

Thursday, 1 April 2021

An article and book reviews.

 Little Looms has just published their Summer 2021 edition:  Easy Weaving with Little Looms

Last year, I was contacted by the editor to write a small piece about weaving narrow bands.  

I have a short article in this edition called Narrow bands Skilful Hands on pages 16 to 20.  

I took a picture of a range of patterned bands to accompany the article.

Here is a version of one picture which starts the article. 

  The magazine print or digital version can be purchased from 

Long Thread Media  also publish Handwoven magazine

A new book about tablet weaving.  

I have received these details from a friend although I have not seen the book.

Tablet Woven Treasures : Archaeological Bands from the Finnish Iron Age by Maikki Karisto and Mervi Pasanen.  It is published by Salakirjat. It does not yet show on Amazon but it looks fascinating.

I have found the link to the publisher. They seem to ship world-wide and accept Paypal payments.

Two book recommendations.  

In 2016, I attended the Third International Conference on Braiding in Tacoma, USA .  I wrote an article for the publication connected to the workshop that I would be teaching.  I had become interested in finding a method to accurately describe the forms of the motifs, the pattern elements on woven patterned bands.  Up until then there had been no systematic analysis of band patterns.   

Symmetry and rhythmical ordering are common features of pattern design. A classification of pattern design was outlined by Washburn, D.K. & Crowe, D. W (1988) in their book: Symmetries of Culture: Theory and Practice of Plan Pattern Analysis. Their book gives a structure for analysing decorated textiles and other plane surface patterns. I have adapted the analysis so that it can be applied to patterns of woven bands. I used this fascinating book to put together an easily accessible way of describing pattern design elements

There are three basic design principles: the shape of the pattern element, the order of the pattern element and the transformation of the pattern element. 

Foulkes, S J (2016) Craft, Individuality and Design, Pp 115 - 120. in  Braids, Bands & Beyond - Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Braiding  ed R Spady ISBN 978-0-9573127-1-5, The Braid Society. Pages 115-120 This can be purchased from the Braid Society.

Symmetries of Culture book has been recently reprinted in paperback by Dover publications--just in case you or your weaving colleagues would like an inexpensive copy. I am not sure when the reprint will be available. 

Here is the review on Dover books. 'This ground breaking collaboration between an anthropologist and a mathematician constitutes both a collection of symmetrical pattern designs from many cultures and a monograph on pattern design and the classification of symmetrical patterns. Intended for art historians, anthropologists, classical archaeologists, and others interested in the study of material culture, it can also serve as a reference and inspiration for the use of symmetrical patterns in art and design.'

Here is one of my charts about the transformation of shapes. I analysed a Latvian belt from Nīca which has 19 pattern threads. Looking at one of the many motifs, I found that the weaver had transformed the motif in a number of ways.  This was a delight to analyse although very time consuming as there are over 2,200 picks with no simple pattern repeats.  A number of basic motifs are manipulated to appear in 3 other ways of orientation. The weaver seems to delight in varying the order and orientation of these motifs in a playful way.  

An example of transformations used in the Nīca belt motifs. 

The Nīca belt demonstrates that it is possible to repeat one motif, to flip the motif, to weave the negative version of the motif and to weave a flipped negative. It is an amazing piece of weaving. 

My full article is in the Proceedings. Here is the reference:  

Foulkes, S J (2016) Craft, Individuality and Design, Pp 115 - 120. in  Braids, Bands & Beyond - Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Braiding  ed R Spady ISBN 978-0-9573127-1-5, The Braid Society. Pages 115-120 This can be purchased from the Braid Society and is available in the USA.

My second recommendation is this wonderful book which was published at the end of last year.  I had ordered the book many months previously but publication had been delayed. It was worth waiting for. 

Weaving of Nomads in Iran Warp-faced Bands and Related Textiles by Fred Mushkat, Lois Beck and Dareshuri  2020  Published by London: Hali Publications Ltd.  ISBN 9781898113805  396 pages

It is a large hardback book with beautiful illustrations. Each band has a two page spread.  There is a full page picture of the band and on the other page, a close-up  and details about the band. For copyright reasons I cannot reproduce any of them here but the publishers interviewed Fred Muskat and you can see some of the illustrations. 

Link to Hali

The book  is expensive and very heavy but any band weaver interested in band weaving history will be fascinated.  As the foreword explains ' Almost without exception, the women and girls of Iran's nomadic tribes were competent or accomplished weavers.' ( page 12) They produced everything that their nomadic lifestyle required and 'enriched it aesthetically.' The history outlined in the book and the recording of the traditional patterns is an important contribution to the knowledge of traditional weaving in the neglected form of narrow patterned bands. 

A glorious celebration of the skills of weavers.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes  April 2021

Monday, 1 March 2021

Making backstraps

I have been very busy since I completed my Masters degree. I have written four articles. I have woven three sets of dish towels - 10 towels in all as well as two bath towels. I wove a set of waffle weave hand towels for a friend. I have also been weaving metres of narrow bands for various projects and experiments. I have given three Zoom talks and I am preparing another one for later this month for a Guild in the USA. I have also started to think about workshops.  I am so looking forward to face to face teaching again.

I have a large amount of stash - yarn bought over the years and not used. I thought I would try to use up some of this stash. I have a collection of tow linen which I bought to weave some sauna towels.  After I wove one my husband said that they were too coarse to be used for drying so this box of yarn has lain undisturbed for years. I decided to weave a set of backstraps for my workshop in 2022 and also a set of simple rustic drawstring bags for holding equipment.  

So far, I have woven the material for the backstraps and tags and some of the material for the bags.

Here is my backstrap project. 

Here are the woven lengths for the backstraps and one length of the ties for each end.

1. The pattern for the first backstrap has 89 warp ends using some left over Finnish linen 6 with Swedish tow linen 6 used double.   

Warp ends = 89    9 reed at four warp ends per dent. 
Total width on loom is 22  dents =  6.2 cm   approx 2.5  inches

2. The second backstrap length has 83 warp ends using the same combination of linen. 

Warp ends = 83         9 reed at four warp ends per dent. 

Total width on loom is  21 dents = 5.75 cm   approx 2.25 inches

Ties for the backstraps

For the ties I used tow 6 linen doubled.

Tie 1. 

The tie has 33 warp ends.  Width = 15 mm

Tie 2. 

The second tie has 33 warp ends. 

Making the backstrap.

Off the loom, the width of the backstrap is 6.2 cm  I cut a length of 84 cm.  I folded down a hem. 

I then folded down the hem again. 

The finished backstrap was woven some years ago.  I decided that a wider backstrap was preferable. 

Take the tie band and cut two lengths of 19cm.

Fold in half and press firmly.

Turn up the cut end and again press firmly.  This cut end will be inserted into the turn down at the end of the backstrap.

Now press firmly and tack in place.  End ties are ready to be sewn.

Here is the pattern for the green backstrap which I wove about five years ago. 

The finished backstrap.  I need to twist a cord for the fastening but at least I have made a start. Only 14 more to go!

Happy weaving 

Susan J Foulkes MA (Art Hist) (Open)