Friday 1 December 2023

Seasons Greetings 2023

I made this book some time ago but it is very useful at this season.  It is available from Blurb as a paperback book or an instant downloadable PDF file.

All profits from the sale of this book go to a charity - the British Heart Foundation.

Hans Christian Anderson, the famous Danish storyteller and author, loved to make paper cut outs to illustrate his stories whilst talking to children.  They must have been fascinated to see his large hands wield a pair of scissors to produce a cut out which illustrated his story. He is given the honour of making the first paper Christmas heart in 1860. It is displayed in the Hans Christian Anderson museum in Denmark. 

This book contains the instructions for making Christmas heart baskets. These were traditionally made of paper, filled with sweets and hung on the Christmas tree. 

I have put together 27 designs for you  to try. They can also be made in felt. 

A felt pincushion, a paper basket with sweet and a felt heart basket.

YouTube Videos

I made two YouTube videos. This is my channel.

1. How to make heart shaped paper baskets.

2. How to make heart shaped felt baskets.


Here is another idea for a Christmas present for anyone who loves craft. 

This book has just been published by Schiffer and is available on Amazon.  It is written by Anita Osterhaug, who is editor emerita of Handwoven, the largest-circulation fiber arts magazine.

It contains 25 practical projects. I was privileged to be asked by Anita to write a project for the book. Here are the contents pages so you can see the range of activities that you could try. 

This book would be an excellent present for anyone who loves crafts and likes to try new activities. 

Seasons Greetings to everyone. I hope that you have a happy holiday and a peaceful New Year.  

Susan J Foulkes   December 2023

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Inspiration for designing striped bands

 Here is an excellent YouTube video about weaving narrow bands with a backstrap.  I love the humour and the clear way everything is explained.  I have not tried weaving whilst vacuuming!

I weave most of my narrow warp-faced bands on a Swedish band loom. I thought that this month I would talk about one aspect of inspiration for designing stripes

Inspiration from paintings

My inspiration for the colour stripes on these two bands comes from Kazimir Malevich. He was  born in Kiev to Polish parents.  He was part of the Ukrainian avant-garde which was an avant-garde movement in Ukrainian art from the end of 1890s to the middle of the 1930s.  I love his work. One of my earliest blogs was about an exhibition of his work in London. 

Here is a mug decorated with one of his painting .

  I used the colour order of the stripes to design a cotton band. 

cotton band on band loom

This cotton band has 36 ends of 16/2 cotton. 
Here is the drawdown.

The warp order is
Black - 4; Blue - 2; Orange - 4; Green - 8; Black - 2; Pink - 6; White - 2; orange - 4; Yellow - 4.

I used a yellow weft so that on the black selvedge is shows as a dotted pattern along the edge.  
I like the asymmetry of the colour order. 

The second band

The second band is from another painting called the Red Army. 

Two mugs with Malevich paintings.

It has 78 warp ends of 16/2 cotton in six colours. the colour order is asymmetrical.

Here is the drawdown.

Here is the warp order.

Black  2               2              6             8                            6
Red         4                                     2                           2
Blue            4                                                4
Yellow            2       2                              6            4
Green                           10                                 6
White                                       4

Both these bands were very easy to design.  I used the colour order on the painting and tried to ensure that the width of each stripe was in a similar proportion to the original.

Another design inspiration.

Recently I went with my friend Moira to the Durham Book festival for a reading of  Cuddy by Benjamim Myers.

I thought that I would design a narrow band using this cover as an inspiration.  

I liked the design of the waves.

Here is the simple design that I made.  The colours are not straightforward as I wanted to give the feeling of merging in the colour order.  Each warp end is two strands of 16/2 cotton.  This means that I can mix colours. So for some warp ends there are two shades of blue. 

This drawdown was the starting point for making the warp of 60 doubled ends. I used two shades of yellow, two shades of green and five shades of blue.  The drawdown was a guide not definitive.

The weft was two shades of yellow 16/2 cotton. 

Weaving length approx.: 6.75 inches
Weaving width approx.. 0.75 inches
The plaited end is made with four groups of threads. Both ends are whipped using West Country Whipping.

West Country Whipping.

This way of finishing a cord or band is found in the Ashley Book of Knots. 

West Country Whipping

  1. Take a length of thread for the wrapping.
  2. Tie is around the end of the band with a simple reef knot.
  3. Turn the end of the band over and tie another reef knot so that is is close to the first.
  4. Turn the band back to the front and tie another reef knot.
This forms a neat way of wrapping the warp ends.
You can finish the ends with a double knot and feed the end back into the wrapping if you want. 

A Five-end plait

I plaited the other end. I divided the warp ends into five more of less equal groups.

Plaiting with five ends is easy. 
  1. Take the right hand group and go over the adjacent group and under the next group to the centre.
  2. Now take the left hand group and take it over the adjacent group then under the next group to the centre.
These two 'rows' form the sequence.  

Continue plaiting until you reach your desired length.

Finish by wrapping the ends using the West Country Whipping technique. 

The completed bookmark

My friend wants to try weaving so I have designed this bookmark for her. I have set the band loom so she can weave her own bookmark. It is going to be a surprise when she comes to visit next week.

Band on Swedish band loom

I have also put a narrow band onto my four shaft table loom so that she can have a go on a second type of loom.  Should be a fun morning.

Narrow band on four shaft table loom

This band is a variation of the  bands I designed for my book The Art of Simple Band Weaving. 

The three designs on page 50; bands 85, 86 and 87 

St Cuthbert and Durham

St Cuthbert stained glass window in Durham Cathedral.

I thought that you might be interested in learning about St Cuthbert.  I went up to the cathedral today to take some pictures.
The book Cuddy is about St Cuthbert (684 - 687) who was Bishop of Lindesfarne. He is buried in Durham Cathedral. His shrine was a focus of pilgrimage in the middle ages.

Notice at entrance to shrine and tomb of St Cuthbert.

His shrine is behind the altar and choir.

steps leading to the tomb and shrine

The red banner dedicated to St Cuthbert is modern.It was designed by Northumbria University academic Fiona Raeside-Elliott and embroidered by local textile artist Ruth O'Leary.
 To find out more about this lovely modern embroidery there is a YouTube video to watch. the St Cuthbert Banner.

Tomb of St Cuthbert
The Life of St Cuthbert was written by Bede ( 672 - 735) who is also buried in the cathedral.

Outside the cathedral there is a carving. It depicts a cow and two milkmaids .

This relates to a legend about how the resting place of St Cuthbert was found. One of the monks accompanying the body had a vision in which St Cuthbert told him he was to go to 'dun holm'.  They did not know where this was. Fortunately they came across a milkmaid looking for her lost cow  - or dun cow - meaning a brownish grey colour - who told them she had last seen her cow at dun holm.  

.......and so the legend was born.


Moira enjoyed her first weaving experience. She tried weaving on a four shaft table loom and on the Swedish band loom.  Once she had finished I showed her how to bind the ends.

Moira's woven band and the bookmark.

She will be coming back for another go at weaving - including disc weaving.

Susan J Foulkes November 2023

Sunday 8 October 2023

Durham Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers

Our personalised bag

 The Durham Guild had an open day on Saturday. Anyone can come in to try various activities such as spinning and weaving.  

We also had a show and tell of scarves and shawls. All the items were laid out for people to see and touch. Here are some of the pictures.

Close up of three scarves

This was one of three lace knits. 

This is my silk scarf.  I wove it some time ago but had not finished the fringing. I was able to complete quite a bit at the meeting and show the scarf as well. 

It was really fascinating to hear about each of the scarves and shawls and see the amazing range of colours and knitting techniques.  Next year the topic will be socks. 

We have a wonderful craftsman who comes to our meetings although he does not weave or spin.  He does mend items and  he is really kind and helpful.

This Saturday he was asked to look at a 100 year old Canadian spinning wheel - a production model.   

It is in a poor state of repair, but Bill is confident that he can resurrect this lovely piece of historical equipment. 

100 year old Canadian spinning wheel.

The wheel is very light and he thinks that is is probably made of Canadian cedar.  It is also badly damaged.

Close up of some of the damage to the wheel

The mechanism seems to be made of cast iron. The foot plate has not been finished when it came out of the mold. 

Cast iron foot plate

The bobbin holder is also damaged. It seems to have been made for spinning fine threads.

It will be quite a task to fettle, mend, renovate, and polish. I am looking forward to seeing the spinning wheel in its new working form in the future. 

Susan J Foulkes October 2023

Friday 1 September 2023

New Towel for Swimming


Three 'foot' towels

Several years ago I wove a towel for my husband to take when he goes swimming.  I used a black weft for the beginning and end of the towel with a light green weft for the centre section. After weekly use for three years the towel started to fray at the selvedges and one hem started to wear.  Cottolin makes an amazingly sturdy fabric but I needed to weave him a new towel. 

The centre of the old towel was not obviously worn. I thought that I would cut down the old towel into three section and hem them all round.  This made three small foot towels for standing on when in the changing room at the swimming baths.

I like the pattern.

I used two shafts for the border selvedge on the first towel. .This time I did not use a them.  The final 2 warp ends were threaded into the same heddle. I did not use a floating selvedge. I only used eight  shafts in all. 

Warp: cottolin in 3 shades of blue ( dark blue, medium blue and light blue) and beige

Weft: beige cottolin 

Sett; 30 epi  10 reed three ends per dent

Pattern repeat is 14 warp ends. 

Border: 4 diagonals Two ends in last heddle. 38 ends in beige.

13 groups stripes

beige border dk blue, light blue, dk blue, med blue, beige centre stripe dk blue then reverse colour order finishing with another beige border

Each stripe is 56 ends apart from the border sections. However, you will see from the close up of the finished towel that I made a mistake when making the warp. One of the dark blue stripes did not have enough warp ends. I was annoyed that I did not notice this at the time. It is so easy to make this type of error when making a wide warp. 

Width at reed is 26.25 inches

The towel on the loom

The finished towel

Close up of the front and reverse showing the narrower dark blue stripe

Close up of the pattern.

September 2023

Susan J Foulkes

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Collapse Weave two

A new design which is to be dyed.

Weave structure: Plain weave

Warp and weft: 2/20 silk and an overtwisted wool yarn.

Overtwisted yarn can be tricky to put onto a loom.  Once the ends are cut, the overtwist can start to run out of the yarn. At each stage I tie the groups of threads together. This keeps the overtwist in the yarn.

Winding on 

Threading through the reed
Once I have threaded the ends through the reed I  tie them loosely onto the front beam.

A close up of the weaving.

This weave is loosely woven.  The weft alternates - two picks of wool to two picks of silk.  The wool is carefully tapped into place so that there is a gap between the picks. The first silk pick is tapped into place leaving the same gap as between the two wool picks.  The second silk pick is tapped into place so that it touches the first silk pick. This could be described as cramming and spacing. 

First sample

Reed 12 reed with one end per dent for the wool and two ends per dent for the 20/2silk

Width at reed:   28 inches   77 cm

Off Loom before washing    
Width         26 inches               
Length         11.5 inches   cm                      

After washing                
Width    approx           14.5 inches              
Length    approx      8.25 inches      20.5 cm

After washing I examined the sample carefully.  I would have liked the weave to be slightly closer together after washing so I thought that I would alter the sett and weave a second sample. 

First sample after washing and the second sample on the loom. 

Second sample

Reed 8 reed with one end per dent for the wool and two ends per dent for the 2/2- silk

Width at reed  25 inches  63.5 cm
Off Loom 
before washing              
  Width     23.5 inches  59 cm      
 length     7.75 inches  19.5 cm                      

After washing  
Width  approx   12 inches  30 cms
Length  approx    5 inches  13 cm       

I decided that the second sample was better so I used this sett for the final scarf.  

Long scarf

8 reed threading 1 1 2 (silk)

Before washing
Width at reed  23.5 inches   59 cm
Length before washing  119.5 inches  302 cm 

After washing
width  approx   12.5 inches    32 cm
length approx     81 inches    206 cms

The finished scarf has a lovely soft feel and a beautiful texture.  It has 'bounce' because of the collapse weave structure. This makes it difficult to measure exactly.  The fringe at each end has to be knotted as soon as it is off the loom. 

Completed scarf before dyeing

Closeup of texture

I am intending to dye this scarf. I am afraid that it has to added to the list of things to do! My pile of UFO's (unfinished projects) is growing longer by the week.

Susan J Foulkes
August 2023