Wednesday, 1 May 2019

A new band weaving book

I have just received a copy of this lovely new book about band weaving.  I met Annie in Tacoma in 2016 at the International Braids Conference. Her blog is a real inspiration to anyone who enjoys weaving narrow bands.

Her enthusiasm for inkle weaving is infectious. The book has over 100 patterns in the  most glorious colour combinations for 39, 59 and 79 warp threads. I could hardly wait to try one of her patterns.  The layout of the book is very user friendly and the patterns are large and clear to read.  Here is the pattern that I wove. It is number 11 in the book.  I asked Annie if I could put a picture of her drawdown on my blog, so here it is.

It is a pattern for 39 warp ends.  The two rows on the top show the warp threading: the pattern draft.  You can work out very easily how many threads you will need of each colour.  The top row are the heddled threads for an inkle loom and the bottom row shows the unheddled threads.

The rows below are the drawdown which is a picture of the final woven band.

Here is the band that I wove. I used Rowan cotton glace, a thick, shiny cotton, that  weaves beautifully.  I use it for guitar straps as it comes in a range of colours and is very sturdy. I use Annies guitar strap fittings for the straps from her Etsy shop.   You can see how useful they are when you compare it to the actual band that I wove.

Actual woven band

close up of drawdown in Annie's book

The band is 1 inch (2.5 cm) in width. There are 39 warp ends.

You can see how the drawdown
illustrates the woven band very clearly.

All of the patterns in the book are clear and

What will be my next choice? There are so many to choose from.

Annie's book gives lots of useful advice about colour and colour combinations. This is a real strength of the book. You will be rushing to the nearest yarn store to buy some colourful yarns.  Her own designs are inspirational.
It is always a thrill to find new books about the craft of band weaving. Annie has been weaving for many years and her creativity shows through in this lovely addition to any weavers bookshelf.

The book is available from her Etsy shop at                                     
A PDF version is due out soon.

Recently I was contacted by a weaver who has become interested in band weaving. Lynne has two small band looms. She allowed me to use her pictures here.

One is a Norwegian cradle loom,bought last year from Vesterheim,the National Norwegian-American museum and heritage centre. The other is a home made tape loom made from an old Port box! It measures 91/2” by 4” by 41/2” high. Lynne managed to put a 6 foot warp on it. The pattern is from Annie MacHale's blog. Once you have caught the bug for weaving bands it is amazing how creative you can be.

Annie uses an inkle loom but there are many ways of weaving these bands.

Here is my YouTube video: Five Ways of Weaving Narrow Bands

My own book on narrow bands is The Art of Simple Band Weaving

In the UK, the Handweavers Studio sells a wonderful range of yarns which are excellent for band weaving.  Their yarns come in small quantities so that you do not need to buy a lot of yarn in one colour. I am sure that other craft stores in the

The Woolery in Kentucky has a lovely colourful selection of yarns.

They invited me to write a guest blog recently which was a great honour.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes  May 2019

Monday, 1 April 2019

Weaving Letters

Weaving letters with 13 pattern threads

In a previous blog in June 2018, I posted the pattern charts for the letters with 13 pattern threads. Here is the link to the blog post.

Weaving letters and making your own messages is fun. Recently I was asked to weave six sashes for the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

However, I needed to check that the wording would be the correct length for the sash so I had to weave several samples. Because the design was complicated I used my 32 shaft Megado loom to weave the sashes. 

The First Sample

My first sample was too long. I needed to weave the legend 'The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers' twice so that when the sash is worn, it can be read from the front and back  For this sample I used 6/2 cotton and it was too long and too wide.

The Second Sample

I tried a thinner cotton and came up with this design.

I only wove one repeat of the lettering so that I could check the length. This seemed correct.
I chose the colour in the border area to represent dyeing and the red twist on either side of the lettering to represent spinning. The fancy heart pattern will be the centre section which will be on the shoulder of the wearer.

The Third Sample

The sash still seemed a little wide so for the third sample I reduced the white area.

I sent all the samples to the committee so that they could comment and see if they liked the design.  One aspect that I should have foreseen was how clear the letters looked at a distance.  I had been so busy with weaving and looking closely at the sashes, I had not considered how easy it would be to read the message from a distance.  I was given some useful suggestions and went about redesigning some of the letters.

Final version

6 sashes showing the centre section

Here are the final versions.  I do hope that they are useful. I am looking forward to seeing a photograph of the sashes in use.

Do have a go at weaving letters and making your own messages.  Using the 13 Sunna double slotted heddle, weaving letters is much easier than using an inkle loom.

For weavers in the UK, the 13 pattern slot Sunna heddle is available from the Handweavers Studio.

Susan J Foulkes  April 2019.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Bath mats in double weave 2

This wonderful illustrated book is an inspiration for any weaver to try double weave. It is a timeless classic.

Double weave on Four to Eight Shafts by Ursina Arn-Grischott.
Published by Interweave Press in 1999.  ISBN 1-883010-74-8

Using a double weave pattern with two blocks gives more flexibility to design.

Bath Mats

Warp and Weft: 2/3 cotton set at 10 epi for each layer

A double warp is used therefore sett at 20 epi.
Twelve shafts are needed for this pattern. There are three blocks


Black   16   60   12   60   12   60   16
White   16   60   12   60   12   60   16

Here is the drawdown. I simplified the drawdown so that you can see the blocks clearly.  For each square the number of threads is 60 white and 60 black so 120 heddles are needed. In the diagram only 24 warp ends are shown.  For the space in between each block 32 heddles are needed but only only 4 are shown. This makes the diagram smaller so that it will fit onto the page and you can see the threading and treadling clearly.

From the diagram you can work out which treadling to use for different effects.  If you want all white on the surface and black on the reverse use treadling 1 - 4.

If you want all black on the front and all white on the reverse use treadling 13 - 16.

For each of the two blocks you can use the correct four treadles to place the block.

Drawdown showing possible treadling order to produce different effects. 

 You can vary the pattern in many ways.


When making the warp, use a strand of white and a strand of black for each group.  The white and black ends are threaded as shown. The black ends are threaded through the odd numbered shafts and the white ends are on the even numbered shafts.


Note that the weft is alternately white and black. Two shuttles are required.

I wove two mats.  The width was 23.6 however with double weave and cotton this will shrink considerably.

Generous allowances were made for take up and ends of the mats.

Two mats 

Here is a closer look at one of the mats.

Here you can see the two sides of the mats. I deliberately varied the height of the 'squares' as it is difficult to end up with an exact square in double weave. I counted how many weft throws for each square. You can alter this to  make your own variation. The  warp and weft shrink when off the loom and washed.

To start and end the mats I used a thinner cotton yarn to weave 12 picks in plain weave in the same colour as the warp.  This ensured that I could turn in the hem to the inside of the mat without adding too much extra thickness.

Here is a close up of the hem. I think that it is neat.

The second mat is shorter and I used a different size of square in the pattern.

Black dominant

As you can see at the selvedges, it is difficult to keep the black and white from showing. The two wefts should be twisted around each other so that the edge is as neat as possible. 

White dominant

I enjoy double weave but it is time consuming both the warp and weave. I have only used thicker threads. One day I will try a pattern with fine silk.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes  March 2019

Friday, 1 February 2019

Sienna: City of Art

Last September we spent a week in Sienna.  It is a beautiful city and there is so much to see and do I feel sure that we will go back.

Wandering around Sienna, I found two shops that had a working loom.  In one shop,  the loom was in use so naturally I stopped to have a chat. On my Facebook page there is a short video of a weaver in a shop.  It was wonderful to see and to talk to a handweaver. If you go to Sienna do remember to visit this lovely shop.

The shop

Weaver at work

Inside the shop were two looms, one of which was in use.

See my Facebook page for a short video of her weaving on her large loom in her shop.

The Pinacoteca Nazionale is a wonderful art gallery.  We spent two afternoons there as there is so much to see. The web site can give a you a short tour of some of the paintings.

I am taking a part time MA in Art history and art and architecture have always been important when we go on holiday. The Pinacoteca Nazionale is a national museum in Siena. One exhibition was particularly interesting. The theme of the exhibition display was how paintings can inform us about   contemporary life in Sienna at the time they were painted.

One aspect that I noticed was the bed covers in lovely check patterns.There were several lovely patterns.  Here is one of them. The painting showed a miracle.  An infant had fallen out of a cot and had died. He was brought back to life by the Blessed Agostino Novello who flew to the rescue. The painting is by Simone Martini and dates from the early 1320's.

 The bedspread is on the left hand side of the painting.

I thought that it would make a handsome check for a tea towel. Looking through my stash of yarn I found a selection of colours that I thought would be suitable.


Cottolin in four shades for the warp and the weft.

Weave Structure

Plain weave.

Warp colour order

Orange             20         20
pale orange              8
off white                               30      30
white                                           8

Add 4 ends in orange to each side.
Total number of warp ends=  510


Here is the pattern.

There are five orange stripes and four wider off-white stripes across the width of the cloth.

Drawdown for the tea towels

Ends per inch for the warp.

There are 20 ends per inch
In a 10 dent reed thread 2 ends per dent.

Width in reed = 26 inches.

The weft is woven at about 20 epi.
Follow the colour order for the warp.

How I finish the towels

  • Cut the towels off the loom.
  • Iron, then cut off the waste thread

  • Now iron the first turn down.  The first turn down is the 10 rows of 16/2 cotton and a couple of rows of the cottolin. The finer thread at the beginning makes the hem less bulky.

Ready for ironing. 

  • Iron the first turn-down.
  • Now turn down again to the depth of hem that you want. Iron the turn-down. Then place pins to hold the hem in place.

Now run tacking stitches along the hem to hold it in place. Iron once again and the towel is now ready to hem on the sewing machine.

                            before washing                                 after washing

width                             63 cm                                           58.5 cm

length                             69 cm                                          66 cm

I was amazed that both tea towels turned out to be exactly the same length and width. Usually I find that one tea towel is longer than the other!

Hanging tag for the dish towels.

I wove three different tags.  The first tag I wove using a new type of heddle which I had seen on a YouTube video.

I bought the heddle from Stephan and tried it at home. It is very simple to warp. I placed it in a holder so that it would be upright when threading. I tried it with a backstrap. It is not quite as firm as a conventional heddle and does bend slightly in use. It is more stable when used in a loom like the one on the video.

Here are the tags that I wove.

The warp and weft are cottolin in the same colours as the tea towels.

Tape 1. 

Tag 1 woven on new heddle. 


Orange   4      4               4      4
White         2           2          2
Beige                  4      4

Total number of warp ends = 30

I made two variations of this pattern. For one pattern I swapped the white and beige colours.

Tape 2.

The two tape variations. I only used one of these for the towels.

Patterns 2 and 3


Beige                     8      1     8
White                         1     1
Orange                                       8      1    8
pale orange                                     1    1

total number of warp ends = 38

My band weaving book 

Designing your own tags is fun.

My book The Art of Simple Band Weaving not only has many designs but also shows you how to create your own variations.

It is available through

It is also available as an e-book for an IPad.


Once the tea towels had been hemmed I put them into a washing machine for a normal wash cycle.

                      Before washing              After washing

Length                   69 cm                                 68 cm
Width                     65 cm                                 63 cm

Two finished tea towels

I am very pleased with the finished tea towels.

There were of course many other interesting textiles on the paintings.  I will be making more tea towels later.

Here is a link to a painting we saw by Lorenzetti called the Birth of the Virgin .

The bed spread is interesting but look at the lovely towels held by the servants on the right panel.

Susan J Foulkes February 2019

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

The New Year and Welldoing

The New Year is a time for reflection.

In these turbulent times, it is important that we find a calm space.

Last September there was a lovely article in the Guardian newspaper in the UK

Craft has the power to save us all - a wooden spoon at a time.

Here is an extract from the article by Rhik Sammader

It doesn’t even matter if you’re good or not. There is something about making things that many of us are missing out on. An inherent mindfulness, a state of flow. It needn’t be solitary – the emphasis at Make More is on group workshops and skill sharing. It’s an essential way to un-knit our current crisis of mental health. There’s a word doing the rounds, “welldoing”, which points to why craft is great. Creative expression provides a tangible reminder that we are more than our use to advertisers, more than data to be sold. Making connects us to our species’ essence: we are Team Thumb.

What’s more exciting is that the philosophy behind all this could have a deeper impact than simply therapeutic benefit. “Engaging with our products, repairing and maintaining them, rather than expecting to get things cheaper, from further away … at a systems level, that’s a different economic paradigm,” explains Tom Mansfield, who runs the talks here, and is involved with a number of social enterprises, including the League of Pragmatic Optimists, which bills itself as “a club of doers, committed to making the world a better place”. He cites community-owned energy projects: selling renewable energy to the grid, using the profits to fund community gardens, apprenticeships, and more energy projects.

I love the term:   Welldoing

  • Don't use all your precious free time just for passive entertainment. 

             Do and create something using your own hands, heart and head. It  is so satisfying. 

  • Don't just click and buy. 

                                  Do and make something yourselves. Express your own creativity however humble the result might be. This creative expression 'provides a tangible reminder that we are more than our use to advertisers, more than data to be sold.'

  • Don't just throw away.

                                   Do and repair and maintain.

Some inspirational quotes for the New Year.

Theo Moorman's book 'Weaving as an Art Form' was written in the 1970s.  She had noted how young people were turning to crafts.

'As Noah, hearing and seeing the waters rising, must have recognised the power put into his hands in the form of the simplest possible tools and materials, the hammers, nails and planks of wood which were to save the living world, so perhaps spinners and weaver today treasure and revere their spinning wheels, loom, and fleeces when they hear the daily news that pours from radio and television.'

'What dark, or melancholy passions can overshadow his heart, whose senses are always full of so many various productions, of which the least progress, and success will affect him with an innocent joy?'   a quote from 1669

Last year I read a fascinating book  called Finding Flow: the psychology of engagement with everyday life.  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  (published in 1997). Although I thought that there was not enough about craft work in the book,  this quote was particularly penetrating.

He reminds us that:

'All folk art - the songs, the fabrics, the pottery and carvings that give each culture its particular identity and renown - is the result of common people striving to express their best skill in the time left free from work.'                  

I have taken this to heart and wondered what am I going to create this year? Where will my interest in weaving take me?

I  want to share my love of weaving in my blog so do follow my creative journey and find your own space for the creative activities that you love.

Happy New Year to everyone. 

Here is a link to a fascinating article in the Observer magazine  20th January 2019.

As one of the weavers says, '

'Each stool takes two to three hours to weave. “It’s pretty laborious sometimes,” she admits, “but as long as there aren’t any tangles, you get into it. That’s what I’m aiming for – that elusive flow,” she continues. “I guess that’s why anyone does anything labour intensive and complicated, because that’s the reward: that state of mind.”'

Here is a link to my previous January 1st blogs.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Weaving for Christmas

This year I decided to weave some designs to make my own Christmas cards.

Drawdown without tabby

This design is an overshot pattern.  This drawdown does not show the tabby.

Christmas tree design

Here is the drawn down with tabby inserted.

Drawdown with tabby
This pattern uses 8 shafts. Use a floating selvedge to catch in the threads at the side.


I used 2/20 cotton for the background and tabby

The green is three strands of embroidery cotton and the yellow is some gold yarn I found in my sewing box.

On the drawdown,  the blue indicates the white tabby. If I had used white on the drawdown, it would have been difficult to see the pattern.

On the loom.

Here is the weaving on the loom.

I also wove some snowflakes in silver.

Snowflake design

Here is the drawdown with the tabby inserted.

Drawdown with the tabby weft

The drawdown shows the snowflake in yellow and the tabby and background in blue.

snowflake on the loom

I wove each design in groups of two. The plain weave section before and after enabled a hem to be sewn to keep the weaving from unravelling.  I left space of unwoven warp in between each piece.

Off the loom, the strip of weaving showed reed marks.  These did become less after a day or two but I decided to wash some of the pieces.  The loom marks disappeared.

I hemmed each piece of weaving at the top and bottom.

Christmas Cards

Here are 6 of the Christmas cards on display. I cut two slits into the front of the card and threaded the weaving through top and bottom. For the inside of the card I printed messages on plain white paper.

Yes, they did take a long time to plan and weave.

Decorations for the Christmas Tree

If you  want a quicker project for Christmas, what about weaving some Christmas decorations for your tree.

My friend Nancy in the States sent me some lovely woven hangings for my tree.

Christmas tree decoration
Here is one of them. It is just under 4 inches in length and sparkles in the Christmas lights.
Thank you Nancy for a lovely present.

There was a lovely article in the Guardian recently about Advent Calendars.

'In simpler times, the thrill of Advent calendars involved finding a picture of a Christmas tree or holly sprig hidden behind the cardboard door. But then the tradition was hijacked by upmarket retailers, and you came to expect a craft gin miniature, artisan cheese or mindfulness tips. This year, though, traditionalists are fighting back.'

The article was about crafting your own calendar.  A kit is available but it would be so easy to make your own; for example, a  hanging mobile of little bags each with a number and containing simple things. It does not have to be expensive or complicated.

It is so easy to click and buy but so much more satisfying to make and give.

with very best wishes to everyone for this festive time. 

Susan J Foulkes December 2018


I belong to Durham Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers.  One of our wonderful members has just written this blog for the web site.  I would like to share it.

Craft is a wonderful way to bring people together - old and young - experienced and learners.  Soo reflects on two Guild events.  Do read it - and share. 

'It was simply the happiest of days'. 

I have just been reading Theo Moorman's book 'Weaving as an Art Form'. She has a lovely quote at the beginning.

'..what constitutes the dignity of a craft is that it creates a fellowship, that it binds men together...'

Another Postscript

This year I taught two workshops at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford about Sami band weaving.  Sharon attended one of the workshops and sent me this lovely photograph of bands she has woven.

Coffee bags made by Sharon with handwoven ties. 

She makes coffee bags out of leather and wove the beautiful straps to tie the top.  She tells me that she really enjoyed the workshop. The look of these wonderful woven bands shows that she has learned all the skills needed. They are so colourful.
Thank you Sharon for letting me share this photograph.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes December 2018