Wednesday, 1 January 2020

The Eternal Knot

There are many interpretations of the Eternal Knot.

It is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism.

It represents the intertwining of wisdom and compassion.

Giving a gift of the endless knot is said to make an auspicious connection between the giver and recipient. It represents eternal love and friendship and the linking of past and present.

I have woven some lovely silk bookmarks using this ancient symbol. They make very special presents.

The Eternal Knot is used in Chinese fabrics. Here are two examples. 

Can you see the difference in the knots? One is a mirror image of the other. The crossing points for the circle shapes are different. 

Here is an example.  I bought this brooch in France. I have taken a photograph with the brooch reflected in a mirror. You see how the image differs from the actual brooch.  The reflected cross over point is different.

The brooch and its reflection

Other examples of the Eternal Knot.  This picture shows a pavement in a Chinese garden.

Here are two small jewellery pendants.

I wove a narrow silk band for the brooch.

Here is the pattern so that you can weave your own Eternal Knot.

pattern chart for the Eternal Knot with 21 pattern threads.
This pattern has 21 pattern threads.

If you are using a standard heddle, remember that the centre pattern thread should be threaded through a hole. For the first pick at the bottom of the chart you should raise your heddle.

If you are using an inkle loom then the centre pattern thread should be a heddled thread. The heddled threads should be on the top layer when you start to weave.

Happy Weaving

An Inspirational Wall Hanging

When I first gained the luxury of a dedicated weaving room 20 years ago, I wanted something inspirational to hang on the wall.  I saw a lovely silk hanging in a cafe in a converted old mill in Lancashire. It celebrated the past history of the mill and I thought that I would love a smaller version. I contacted the maker and we worked together to make a picture.  Here it is, although it has faded a little over time.

Illustrated are all the implements for weaving as well as weave patterns.  I also wanted some sayings on it.  I used the one she had used on the original hanging which is a quote from Longfellow.

'As the weaver plied the shuttle wove she too the mystic rhyme,
And the smith his iron measures, hammered to the anvil's chime,
Praising God whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy bloom,
In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.'

A close up of the top of the hanging.

The quote  in the centre is from Virgil.

'As each has set up the loom, so shall follow the labour and fortune of it.'

The final quote is from Pliny the Younger.

'Create something and perfect it and it will be yours forever.'

This final quote I used in my Schiffer book, Weaving Patterned Bands, utilising a slightly different translation.

I love this hanging and it is a constant delight.

Happy New Year to you all.

Susan J Foulkes

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Weaving for Christmas

Making Christmas tree decorations from woven narrow bands.

Three Christmas tree decorations.


You will need
a narrow woven band
9 beads and two small beads.

First weave a narrow band approximately 45 cm in length.

You can adjust the length of the 'branches' of the tree as you make the band rather than deciding the length before you start. Different sizes of bead will also alter the overall length of band required.

Step by step instructions

Equipment needed

1.  You will need:
 a length of woven band, two sizes of bead, scissors, long needle, thread.

measuring and placing a dot on the fabric

2.  Make a small fold at one end of the band. Measure along the band and place a dot with a pen at these intervals.

7 cm, 6.5 cm, 5.5 cm, 4 cm, 4.5 cm, 4 cm, 3 cm, 2.5 cm

the bottom of the tree decoration

3.  Fold the band. take the needle and thread through the first dot and then through the folded end of the band. Thread the needle through the larger bead and then the smaller bead. 

The first two beads in place

4.  Take the thread through the layers of the woven band and the two beads. Then thread the needle through the larger bead and back through the band.  This secures the bottom of the tree decoration.

Fastening the yarn with a secure knot.

5. Now fasten the yarn securely.

Adding more beads

6.  Take the needle through the third large bead, then the next dot on the band and finally the next bead.

7.  Continue until you reach the final bead.  Thread a small bead as well at the top of the tree.

Securing the top.

8.  Secure the top beads in the same way as the bottom two beads by taking the thread back through the larger bead.

Finishing the top 

9.  Take the thread back through the top two beads.

10.  Make a loop and tie securely.  This is the hanging loop for the tree decoration.

11. Finally, trim the thread. Trim the woven band.  Use Fray Check to stop the band unravelling.
The decoration is finished.

Seasons Greetings to everyone and best wishes for a peaceful New Year.

Susan J Foulkes  December 2019

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Braids 2019

I have just returned from Braids 2019 in Japan.  It was a wonderful conference with amazing and creative people.  I tried to write daily posts on my Facebook page so do check it out if you want to see some of the activities that took place.

The Conference Proceedings and the Exhibition catalogue are wonderful. The Conference Proceedings will be available on the Braid Society web page once everyone is back and sorted.

The exhibition was one of the most interesting and beautifully displayed I have seen. The exhibition was open all week and was inside an old school for the children of Samurai. This traditional house was an elegant backdrop for all of the craft examples on display.

The Sukodo

One of the interlinking rooms

I have not yet had time to fully unpack all my things from Japan.  I managed to buy a couple of examples of traditional belts as well as a number of examples of sanada-himo bands.

  I will be writing a more comprehensive blog about Japan later.

At Braids 2019, I taught a workshop about weaving messages on narrow bands. I used the double slotted heddle with 9 pattern slots but the lettering can be done on an inkle loom as well.

Some of my wonderful class concentrating very hard. 

New Book
This is my new book published with Blurb and available as an ebook for IPad or Kindle devices.

new book 

This book gives the patterns for letters and an alphabet for use with 9 pattern threads. It is designed for weavers who have already tried pick up band weaving on the double slotted heddle, the standard heddle or an inkle loom and who do not need the basic instructions.  There are 36 pages in full colour.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes  November 2019

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Weaving and book binding

The Braid Society has an annual swap. The challenge has a theme and members of the Braid Society send in six samples mounted on a card to the organiser. This means that you receive 5 samples from other members which is always a thrill.  Different techniques and different colour combinations make the package seem like a miniature Aladdin's cave when it arrives. All full members can join in so some samples travel a long way.

This year the challenge was to make a 'Tie for a treasured Book'. The idea came about when members were chatting about lovely handmade books and felt that they would have been even better had they been tied with a nice braid rather than something that looked like 'string'.

When the challenge was announced I was busy preparing a display of my work for the exhibition at Braids 2019.  I was making my own hand made book which was to be tied with a handwoven silk band.

Here is a description of my woven band.

Warp: 2/60 red silk used double;  2/60 dark red silk used quadruple.
Weft:   2/60 red silk used double.
Madeira gold:  4 threads together.
Weave structure: Warp faced plain weave
Total number of warp ends: 39

Weave chart


red 2/60 silk                4       7         1                       1                     1          7            4
(used doubled)
dark red 2/60 silk            3                                                                                 3
(used quadrupled)

Madiera gold thread                  1         2 doubled       2 doubled          1

The band is 0.7 cm in width.

The Book of Samples: All the World in One Craft

I made a book of samples for my exhibition at the Fourth International braids conference in Iga Japan in October 2019.

Here is the book with the woven band.

All the World in One Craft with woven tie band
The problem with having a book as one of my exhibits is that it cannot be handled which means that visitors cannot see the contents.  I made another copy of the book but without the woven samples.  I photographed all the samples and  bound them into a small book which everyone could read.

As the conference is in Japan, I thought that it would be fitting if I used a Japanese binding.

This is one of the books that I bought when I took a series of classes about book-binding.  It is published by Wetherall originally in 1986 and my edition is 2003. Of course nowadays there is so much information on the internet and lots of YouTube videos.

The binding that I chose is called Kangxi binding.  It has a pattern of stitching over the corner pieces of the book cover. This gives extra support to the corners and gives it a more elegant finish than a simpler binding.

This is the front of the book. It has a hard cover and the inside pages are printed examples of the actual samples in the display book.  I made an additional loop at the top left hand side so that the book can be fastened to the display table for people to read it.

Book with photographs of the samples and drawdowns

One page of the boooklet

Workshop Booklets.

I made two workshop booklets for participants. The first booklet was longer so I thought that I would use the binding you can see pictured on the Japanese Book Binding book cover.  Yes, it was time consuming to do but I thought that the end result was lovely and very appropriate.

I used red cottolin for the thread to match the border that I put on the cover. The pages were printed on one side of A4 and then folded. I put them in my bookpress to ensure that they were flat. There were six pages in all. Once flattened, I carefully stacked them in the correct order. I made a template for the holes which you can see on the yellow card.

I have a Japanese spiral hole punch which has various attachments for different size holes. Four holes are needed for this binding.

Once the four holes are punched, the sewing can begin. The booklet is placed so that the inside edge is over the edge of the table so that I can take the needle through easily.

Here is the finished result.  Thirteen booklets bound and ready for use.  By the time that you read this the booklets will have been used.

Booklets bound for the workshop
Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes October 2019

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Shoe laces and decoration

In the early 70's I read a wonderful book called  the Narrow Road to the Deep North. It was written by a Buddhist monk.  Bashō made a challenging journey on foot through Japan in the late 17th century.  It is interspersed with haikus.

On one occasion he was given new sandals.  They had blue laces which reminded him of iris flowers. He wrote this haiku which caught my imagination at the time and I have always remembered it.

The Haiku.

It looked as if
Iris flowers had bloomed
On my feet
Sandals laced in blue

I decided to make some shoe laces and designed my own sanada-himo band. 

Warp ends: 34 ends of 16/2 cotton.

Warp Order

Purple           2               5                  3
Pale purple                 3                  3
Lilac                        3                  3
Pale blue              3                  3
White                3                 3

Weft: Purple

drawdown of the weave pattern

I am indebted to the web site Inkled Pink for the suggestion about securing the lace ends.
do check out this lovely web site.

 I had not heard of the term 'aglet'. I found that I could buy aglets on-line and made a pair of laces.

A: Unbound end. The end of the band needs to be bound.

B: The ends are bound with a purple thread.

C: Once the end is bound, the aglet, the narrow plastic tube is put onto the bound portion.

D:  Once this is in place, it is is ironed to shrink the plastic so that it is a tight fit.

Here are the finished laces.

a pair of warp-faced weave shoe laces

I also decided to weave another set of shoe laces with a flower pattern.  This pattern is in my latest book published be Schiffer Press- Weaving patterned bands - how to create and design with 5, 7, and 9 pattern threads.

The pattern is 9:8 on page 81.

These shoe laces are part of my display at the Braids conference in Iga Japan in October 2019.

 I also decorated a new pair of flipflops with a woven band.

original flip flops
I bought these flipflops as they had an iris pattern on the insole - although it cannot be seen when being worn.

I designed a woven band in 16/2 Swedish cotton to match the colour of the flip flops.

Design for a woven band in 16/2 cotton
There are 43 warp ends.

close up of the woven band

Sewing on the band

I carefully sewed the bands onto the strap.

The finished embellishment on my flip flops.

I think that it gives my flip flops a personal touch  and I can think of irises every time I glance down at them.

I was particularly thrilled to find out that Bashō came from Iga in Japan.

A Lovely Inkle Belt

This is a dramatic cotton inkle belt woven by Anne, a founder member of the Durham Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers.  She allowed me to post these pictures.

I love the two owls in macrame to finish each end.  Here is a close-up.

Close up showing the front and back of the owls.

Anne is very creative and she always finds some fascinating variation to add to her weaving.

Reflections about craft

Last month, the Durham Guild had a weaving open day. Two members, new to weaving brought their looms to warp and start weaving. One member, Averil, brought her new Ashford knitters loom.  She was helped by Jane but she warped up rapidly although she had only unwrapped her new loom the previous evening. 

Another member, Barbara,  had an old two shaft loom with metal heddles. She had brought the loom to a previous meeting and made the warp and wound it on to the back beam. On this occasion, she was finishing threading the heddles and the sleying the reed. Of course other members were around to help and advise these two new weavers.

The warp on the second loom was wool and once it was tied on to the front beam, it was clear that it was rather sticky. The weave was plain weave on two shafts. I went over to see how she was getting along. For a new weaver we wanted to make sure that her first weaving experience was positive.

Three of us looked at the warp and checked the sleying.  Yes, here were a couple of threads that had been crossed in the dents. She retied the warp and we all ran our hands over the ends to check that the warp ends were at an even tension. This is a skill which you can only gain through practice. For silk, thrumming the ends helps to separate them and we tried that as well. 

The first few picks using waste yarn proved difficult as the shed was not clear enough when the shafts were raised and lowered. She had to physically push some of the warp ends apart. I suggested moving the cross sticks at the back of the loom over the back beam. There was now a greater space between the warp behind the heddles and the back beam. This did not fully solve the difficulty.

Another solution would be to resley the whole warp so that the ends were slightly further apart. Time consuming but as a last resort it might be the answer. However, the warp and weft seemed to weave together comfortably. The problem was clearing the shed when the shafts were raised and lowered. 

The solution was to make a shed, put the weft through and then change to the next shed before beating. The act of pushing the beater back to the heddles cleared the shed more effectively. A couple of ends were still a bit tricky but it worked!  We watched as she wove a few more picks and one of us wrote down the instructions carefully so she would remember what to do when she got home. 

Barbara's loom
I still remember my very first piece of weaving.  I was so proud of it and I was hooked! Happy weaving Barbara.

I have been reading another book about craft. 'The case for working with your hands or why office work is bad for us and fixing things is good' by Mathew Crawford. It struck me that in working through the problem of this sticky warp illustrates a part of the nature of craft knowledge. Crawford talks about the tacit integration of sensual knowledge. which refers to understanding of how things work which is built up through experience of working with different materials.
Knowing and doing are related.  Craft skills cannot be analysed so completely that they can be passed on as a series of rules or precepts - or as Crawford says practical knowledge is not completely formalised or rule based. We know more than we can say. It was through discussion and trying out ideas that the three of us came up with a workable solution to this sticky warp.

He also quotes two philosophers. Anaxagoras wrote that 'It is by having hands that man is the most intelligent of animals.'  Merely looking at something is not enough as Heidegger points out ..'handling, using, and taking care of things which has its own kind of knowledge.' 


'The case for working with your hands or why office work is bad for us and fixing things is good' by Mathew Crawford. 2009, Penguin Books
A fascinating book although the motor mechanical 'ethos' is sometimes a bit too 'masculine'.

Happy weaving.

Susan J Foulkes  October 2019