Monday, 1 June 2020

Inspiration Railways and a woven band

Earlier in the month it was my birthday, another significant one.  Ten years ago I had a significant birthday and I wanted to do something unusual so I decide upon a days experience on a steam railway.  This year I had thought to take the other experience which is driving a diesel locomotive but at the moment that is not possible.
We had stayed on a camp site in Bury on a number of occasions and the East Lancashire Railway runs alongside the site. The company renovate, rebuild and run steam and diesel locomotives and have lots of volunteers.

A Steam Footplate Experience seemed a wonderful ideas.  Eight people can pay to go on the same day and also are allowed to bring a few friends  and relatives. Of course, I was the only woman amongst the seven men.  They were all railway enthusiasts and had lots of stories about heritage railways around the UK.

Meeting the train and the real drivers!

We were given boiler suits to wear - it was a cold March day. Health and safety was stressed and we were off. We were divided into two groups of four and the other group went to spend the morning driving the train. My group had a tour of the whole site, including a visit to the signal box.

the signal box

Salvaged goods waiting to be used.

My husband took lots of photographs of the day. Here is my first sight of the train with the other part of the group having a drive.
My first glimpse of the moving train.

We met up for lunch in the railway pub and then it was my turn to get into the train.

We took turns in feeding the firebox, driving the train, being a guide on the train and checking the train when it stopped in stations to allow a change of driver. Our passengers in the carriages were our friends and relatives.

I enjoyed being the guard. It was fun to wave the flag and then get back onto the train.

Waving the flag and blowing the whistle,

Two of the group finally got to go into the drivers cab.  I was the fireman and had to learn the intricacies of  feeding the fire with coal.  Not as straightforward as you might think.  The coal has to be flung into a particular spot to keep the boiler steaming. It was also hard work, but the warmth from the firebox was welcome.

My turn to be stoker

The glowing firebox - very welcome on a cold day.

At last it was my turn to drive.  I was thrilled that my portion of the driving involved stopping the train at a level crossing and waiting for the traffic to go through at Ramsbottom Station. See the Facebook page for the Ramsbottom Heritage Society to find out more about this Lancashire town.  
I had to drive over the level crossing and then reverse the train to connect with the coaches for the return journey. I had another short stretch of driving and then it was time to relinquish the controls.

Here are the controls.

I have found the brake!


I think I had a broad grin on my face the whole day.

Designing a woven band

The online workshop that I ran for the Braid Society has just finished although there is still lots of lovely weaving on show.  The final booklet asked everyone to become inspired and design and weave a 'promise band'. This is a band which is exclusive to a person or group.  I decided to design a band to celebrate my footplate experience 10 years ago.  It was really lovely to relive the experience through looking at my photographs and designing this blog.  Hopefully, I will be able to book my diesel experience to celebrate later this year. 

If you are a weaver and would like to follow the workshop, go to the Braids and Bands io site  
or download the booklets from

So here is my design process for a bookmark to celebrate the East Lancashire Railway footplate experience. 

First design.

Now, my blog is about weaving so I thought that after the workshop on stripes I would design a band using my experience as inspiration.

Warp ends: 53
Warp:16/2 cotton in five colours with grey silk
Weft:16/2 cotton in black
Width:  12 mm

The grey thread is 16/2 cotton with a grey silk thread to give some sparkle and represents the railway lines.  The brown and white in the centre represents the wooden line supports and the white stones in between the rails.

The black and red are the colours of the ex LMS Black 5 Number 44871

drawdown for band 1

And here is the woven band.

I was not entirely happy when I saw the band as I realised that I had overlooked the position of the railway sleepers.

Second design

Railway tracks showing the sleepers

Warp ends: 65
Warp:16/2 cotton in five colours with grey silk
Weft:16/2 cotton in black
Width: 14 mm

Here is the woven band:

version 2
Drawdown for version  2

I prefer this version.  The extended area of the ladder pattern gives an improved impression of railway tracks.

I made a couple of bookmarks from the bands.

If, like me, you are a fan of Terry Pratchett, you will have read this book. I read it with my own experience in mind.  After his visit to the Watercress Line, Terry writes: 'they showed me everything, including their workshops, the footplate and the fire box of a travelling locomotive and, wonder of wonder, the signal box : a treasure in mahogany and brass. Champion!

And here is my certificate.  Champion!  A Wonderful Experience.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes    June 2020

Friday, 22 May 2020


During the workshop I was asked about bookmarks.  Here are some suggestions and some new band patterns.

The simplest bookmarks are short lengths of woven band with a plait at one end and a fringe at the other. The length of the bookmark can be altered to suit the type of book it will be used for.  I use a fine cotton 16/2 Swedish cotton for preference but other fine yarns could be used.

I have made bookmarks made using darning yarn which comes inside the balls of Jawoll sock yarn by Lang. I use the sock yarn for weaving belts and bands as it is strong and comes in a wonderful variety of colours. As you can see, I have used quite a lot of sock yarn!  These little spools are great as they match the sock yarn but are much finer and very strong.

Bookmark One

Here is the bookmark made with the darning yarn from Yawoll sock yarn.

It is a Swedish pattern and I think it is most unusual because of the colours.

There are 37 pattern threads.  The weft is red. The width is 15 mm,  just over 0.5 inches


Red     2    2    2     1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1    2    2    2
Pink       2    2     1    1    1                      1    1    1    2    2   
Blue                                      1    1    1

Swedish band in pink red and blue

Close up of the pattern

Bookmark 2

Here is another unusual Swedish band.

There are 59 warp ends in white, yellow, blue and pink. It is woven in 16/2 cotton.
Width: 14 mm - just over 0.5 inches


White    4            4          2             2              4             4
Blue          4    4     2           2     2              2      4     4
Yellow         2                         3                             2
Pink                           4                          4

Swedish multi coloured band

Here is a close up of the bookmark.

One end has a plait. Take a look at the bottom and top. When the plait is made, the band curls in slightly. You can mitigate against this if the last couple of picks are woven with the weft tightly pulled so that the band becomes narrower. Of course the band is the same pattern on the top and underneath but I think that the non-curled part looks neater.
reverse side of band

Top of band

The other end is whipped with a small tassel of warp ends.

reverse side of band
Top of band

You can see that the same  happens here. So, remember to weave a couple of picks with a tightly pulled weft so that the band becomes narrower.
There is a further consideration. Try to whip the ends and plait so that the curl of the band is on the same side.

Of course you can vary the design by using a plait at both ends. The bookmark needs to be long enough so that the plaits are seen at both the top and bottom of the book

Bookmark Three

This is a Finnish band. I used a plait at both ends for the bookmark.
There are 29 pattern threads.  The weft is white. The width is 13mm   approx 0.5 inches.  

Two plaits for this bookmark


White    1    1    1    1   1     1             1    1    1    1     1     1
Blue         1    1    1    1    1    1       1    1    1    1     1     1
Red                                             5

Here is the drawdown.

There are lots more patterns in my book The Art of Simple Band Weaving. available from Blurb

Also   In Celebration of Plain Weave.  by Annie MacHale

This beautiful book has lots of colourful bands for you to try.

Do check out Annie's blog.  She has two excellent posts about pick up band weaving.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Workshop Week three: Designing and Recording Stripe Patterns

Here is one way of varying a pattern. 

These two exercises are from the online workshop.  I hope you enjoy these new patterns. 

1.  Analysis of band pattern from Peruvian bag.

Here is a simple bag strap from Peru.  There are only two colours but the four central red warp ends are doubled.  This makes them stand out more on the woven band.
There are 31 warp ends.

Warp Chart.

Exercise 2 from Week 2 

Altering a design by changing colours.

Here is my new design from the Finnish band in the booklet for week one of the online workshop. The original band is woven in wool using three colours, red, white and black.

The original band

I decided to use red, blue and white as my three colours.
Warp and weft is Robin Cotton Glace which is a double knit cotton.

My new design

Total number of warp ends is 41
Warp: red, blue and white   Robin cotton glace, double knit, cotton
Weft: white  cotton glace
The width is approximately  27  mm.

Designing bands

In the workshop, I demonstrated how to use a commercial program to analyse colours in a photograph.  Here is one of the programs that I used.  

I uploaded a picture. The analysis shows the proportions of each colour. These can be made into a simple stripe pattern. 

This is the analysis. 

I joined two halves of the analysis together. I ignored the brown, beige and grey stripes at the right.

I designed this band. I altered the proportions and used only a single warp end of green inthe centre. This produces a dotted effect.
new design for cotton band

There are 59 warp ends in 16/2 cotton. The width of the band is 13 mm. Here is the warp chart. 

Warp chart

Pale blue 8                                                   8
Yellow        2                                           2
Green              6                                  6
Burgundy            6                        6
Purple                     4                4
Pink                            3        3
Green                               1

Drawdown and threading chart

Making yarn wraps.

Here are three yarn wraps made by Durham Guild members on a workshop I ran several years ago.  I brought two boxes of coloured cottons so that after they had made a final choice, they could make a warp for an inkle loom. I asked everyone to think of their favourite colours. 

I have made a chart for the final band. There are three colours and 48 warp ends. It is very easy to record your pattern using this Loom Weaving Pattern Editor

Here is the band on my Swedish band loom.

The Crios from the Aran islands

At the beginning of the workshop and on my blog, I mentioned the red sash of Tutankhamun.

This lovely example of a single colour crios was sent to me by Sue. It is 184 cms in length excluding the fringes.  It was very dramatic when worn. I have been researching the crios from the Aran islands for a number of years. If anyone has any information or better still a picture of an old crios, I would love to see it. There is still so much more to find out.

Red crios from Sue C. 
When I visited Dublin I was fortunate to see a 1936 painting which depicted a crios.  The artist painted the crios in such a way that I thought that it would be possible to analyses the pattern and a weave a copy.

Close up of painted crios.  
This is a close up of a small part of the crios.  It depicts the front where it overlaps so two bands can be seen, one behind the other. Knowing how crios patterns are made enabled me to analyse the picture.

Close up of the crios from the 1930's painting.
Here is my analysis of the crios.  Of course, it is only an interpretation but I like the pattern.
crios pattern from painting.

Here is the crios I wove using 4 ply sock yarn which gave me the range of colours I needed.

Warp ends: 52

Width: 54 mm

The final woven crios.

A Peruvian variation

The coloured cottons used for the bookmark

I thought that I would weave another variation of the Peruvian inspired band using 16/2 cotton.

Here is my variation of the Peruvian inspired design using 16/2 Swedish cotton.
There are 37 warp ends of 16/2 cotton.
The width of the bookmark is 10 mm.

For the central section I used three warp ends of each colour.  This gives a lovely graded colour variation in the finished band.

Here is a close up of the finished bookmark.

I made several bookmarks and a lanyard from this band.

Happy Weaving.  I do hope that you have enjoyed these three blogs about weaving simple narrow bands.

Susan J Foulkes May 2020.