Friday, 15 April 2016

Inspiration green

Over the next year in my blog, I am going to explore colour.  I am starting with green.  This is a colour I like, but I was surprised at how little I have used it.

I took these photographs last year in Botanic Gardens at Durham University. Nature has such a variety of greens.

Spring in the Botanic Gardens in Durham City.

What does the colour green mean to you?

Spring, nature, growth, balance, rebirth, youth, fertility, soothing, good luck, health, freedom and hope  ... meanings abound. 

Meanings are dependent upon culture, time period, context and viewpoint of the individual person.

There is a fascinating article in the latest Journal Costume, from the Costume Society (Vol. 50, no.1, January 2016).

In 1773, the Swedish Royal Patriotic Society set a competition for the best essay on the topic of the advantages and disadvantages of a national dress. There are seventy three essays in the archives which make for an intriguing insight into the way clothes, colour and dress were viewed in Sweden in the late 18th century.  One of the aspects is the use and meaning of colour. 

The article shows that from the authors of the various essays a loose hierarchy of colour emerges according to social hierarchy. High ranking colours which therefore could be used by people in the highest social category are 'white, red, purple, blue and to a certain extent black and shades of brown.' The middling social classes were assigned the greens; moss-green, olive -green and olive brown and light-grey, steel-blue and yellow. Grey is considered the colour of the peasantry. One very common suggestion is that the peasantry should be forbidden to use imported colours and should only use colours that they could make themselves from lichen, leaves etc.

The Green Man

Green has other connotations.  In Durham Cathedral there are 24 wooden carvings of the Green Man in the cloisters, which were rebuilt in 1398 - 1406.  Here is one of them - a rather cheerful looking face.

There is a photographic overview of a number of Green Man images in UK churches in this article:
 A Medieval Foliate Heads: A Photographic Study of Green Men and Green Beasts in Britain
Tina Negus: Folklore, Vol. 114, No. 2 (Aug., 2003), pp. 247-261

Green man in the cloisters in Durham Cathedral
The description Green Man is interesting as it first appeared in 1939 when Lady Raglan wrote an influential article in the Journal of the Folklore Society about these unusual carvings which she saw in her local church.  She tried to demonstrate that the green man is a relic of pagan worship. She was incorrect but she named this figure The Green Man. This evocative name aroused widespread interest in the carvings.

The green man appears in Romanesque churches. Here it is the symbol of the wily devil spinning his traps to ensnare the pilgrim. It is rarely green and not always a man. However, by naming him, she opened up this enigmatic figure to a wider public. Symbols remain the same but meanings can alter over time.  The Green Man is potent example of this tendency.

Another Green man in Durham Cathedral surrounded by leaves.
The image of a figure surrounded by leaves is old. Indeed, the Roman sea god Oceanus is sometimes depicted as having hair and beard of seaweed. Here are some examples of the green man from some of our holidays in France looking at Romanesque churches. I have posted more of our photographs on one of my Pinterest boards.

Autun, France 

Chauvigny, France

St Martin d'Ainay, Lyons, France

With the present day association of green with concern for the environment, the Green Man now has a new lease of symbolic life as a symbol of the Green Movement.

An Exhibition about Green.

Last month I visited the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester which had a small exhibition entitled Green - historic and contemporary textiles with an environmental edge.
Their description for the exhibition stated, 'Many cultures associate the colour green with nature and nature's attributes, including growth, fertility and rebirth.'

For me the exhibition was rather disappointing.  There was little information about the textiles nor the symbolism of the colour green. It was frustrating to see old textiles in green and no discussion about whether this colour was used often or rarely.  Why was green chosen? Was it symbolic?

Green, the history of a color by Michel Pastoureau published by Princeton University Press in 2001
I had just bought this book which is a cheerful wander though the history of the uses and meanings of the colour green. It is a engrossing reflection on the history of green and gives information about how green has been and is used in the West.

Michel says that since the First World War, studies in the West which asked adults 'what is your favourite colour?' have consistently found that blue is the most chosen colour at about 40 - 50%, followed by green at about 15 -20% and then red at 12 - 15%, white, black and yellow are between 3 and 6%.

However, liking and use are not necessarily connected. It made me reflect on how I use the colour.  If asked, I would say that I liked green but I was surprised to find that I have not woven many items with green as the dominant element. Searching through my weaving records I found very few examples of green. Here are two items that I have woven using green.

A Green Silk Scarf.

I have a favourite wide silk scarf which I wove to go with a special outfit. Here is the drawdown for the pattern.

32 shaft weave

close up of first motifs.

The stole was woven on 32 shafts.  I wanted to use the full capabilities of my wonderful loom which I had just bought.  I designed a shape which looked leaf like and made the pattern swirl.

The silk is 2/60 silk used double sett at 36 epi. The warp is dark green silk and the weft is emerald green.  The leaves are emerald green on a dark green background on one side of the scarf and dark green on an emerald background on the other side.

The length of the stole is  86 inches and the width is 18 inches

Silk scarf
Silk needs movement and light to bring out its shine and shimmer. A static photograph simply does not do it justice. 

On the same warp, I wove another large scarf for an exhibition.  Unfortunately, it did not sell so has been put away in my store of unsold textiles.

Green silk scarf showing how light alters the look of the pattern.

The drawdown
close up of weave structure
For this scarf the silk in the warp and weft is the same colour. The pattern effect is produced by 3/1 and 1/3 twill sections. The silk shines in the light but when it is worn the silk shimmers.

Here is a very special commission which I found very fulfilling.  This was woven on my first floor loom, an 8 shaft Toika countermarche.

Weaving silk cloth for a chasuble.

About ten years ago,  I wove this silk material which had a lot of green.  I was asked by a local vicar to weave material for a chasuble.  He had been searching for a garment but was unhappy with the synthetic yarns and finish of the chasubles which were available.  He showed me some commercially produced material to indicate the type of pattern he wanted to produce a unique garment for the church.

He wanted the colours to shade across the garment from yellow to green but with yellow predominating. Green is the colour used throughout the liturgical year and is symbolic as a reminder of God's provision for our daily needs.  It is used for ferial or ordinary times. (Another meaning dependent upon context and belief). We discussed the pattern and effect that he wanted and I came back with some ideas. This is the result.

The 2/60  silk used to make the warps. Seven green shades and four yellow shades. 

Actual warps.
The silk is a 2/60 silk used double.  This enabled the colour sequence to be more finely graded across the warp.  The greens, however, were a stronger element in the design so some shading within the colour groups was used.  Two dyed yarns were used to increase the shading quality of the green stripes.  Warp length was 31 feet. This enabled me to weave a short sample and cut it off the loom to check that the pattern, colour and effect were correct.

            Colour of spun silk and the width of the warp stripe in inches

1. Dark green and emerald                       2.25 inches
2. Emerald                                                2
3. Emerald & shade C4031                      2
4. C4031                                                  1.5
5. C4031 & Dark dyed  silk                   1
6. Dark dyed  silk                                    1
7. Dark dyed  silk & light dyed silk        1
8. Light dyed silk                                     1
9. Light dyed silk & lime                        1
10. Lime                                                 1.5
11. Lime & pale lime                              1.5
12. Pale lime                                           1.5
13. Pale lime & shade  C4020                2
14. C4020                                                1.25
15. C4020 & pale yellow                        1.25
16. Pale yellow                                        1.5
17. Pale yellow & straw                          1
18. Straw                                                 2
19. Straw & primula                               1.5
20. Primula                                              2.5

Using the silk doubled enabled me to shade the colours across the warp by combining colours together.  Two yarns of different shades were used in a group then one group of a single colour.
The total number of warp ends was 1210.  Width at reed: 30.25 inches.  Reed 10 epi sleyed at 4 ends per dent.

I decided to keep accurate records of weaving this precious cloth. Here is the timing for making the cloth.  This was a very interesting exercise.

Timings when making the cloth.

Time in hours
Setting up the loom for the weave pattern
Dyeing yarns
2 days
After dyeing, winding the skeins of yarn into cones
Making the warp on the warping frame
Putting the warp onto the loom
Winding the warp onto the back beam with help
Taking off the raddle and tying the ends
Threading the 1210 warp ends through the heddles
Threading the groups of warp ends through the reed
Tying onto front beam, checking and correcting any mistakes and weaving a sample
35.5 hours plus two days for the dyeing

Correcting tension & retying onto front beam
Weaving the cloth
29.25 hours

Taking cloth off the loom and securing the warp ends Washing and ironing the cloth
4 hours

Total amount of time
68.75 hours plus two days

Here is the weave drawdown.  It was woven on eight shafts  sett at 40 epi.

Weave drawdown for material.

On the loom, the cloth looked wonderful.  The weft was 2/60 spun silk used double in old gold.

cloth on the loom.

The cloth was handsewn by a skilled friend.  Here is her description of the process. 

Handsewing the cloth to make the chasuble.

The cloth in its woven form was 23 feet long and 28 inches wide. To be able to produce the chasuble the cloth had to be cut into lengths sufficiently long enough to join together from which the garment could be cut. My main concern was the ease in which the cloth would fray; therefore it was important to plan each stage of production so as to highlight any problems prior to working on the cloth.

The initial ‘pattern’ for the garment came from an existing chasuble; from this I could gain the width and length of the garment and also the shaping of the hem and the neck.

I produced 2 Toile’s (muslin patterns) to reproduce different shoulder shaping and neck openings. Any alterations could now be made here whilst being fitted on Stewart. We also discussed the choice of lining material and the colour. The colour was important, as this would be clearly seen when the chasuble was in use.

I was now ready to cut ! As the material had been woven in graded colours, we need to have the dark green on the outside edge and the gold in the centre. Once the right length had been found, I ironed on narrow interfacing and cut over this, so sealing the edge. The original chasuble was now laid on the cloth to gain the shaping of the hem. After cutting again iron on facing was used to seal the cut edge, then hand ‘felled’ into place.

To gain the shoulder and neck shaping the toile pattern was place on the cloth, cut and sewn accordingly. The neck facing was produced from the surplus material, as this was dark green it became a feature to the lighter colour of the neck opening.

All that was left to do was to line the chasuble. As the width of the lining material was fortunately as wide as the now constructed chasuble, all that was needed was to use the toile again to cut out the neck shaping and attach this to the hem of the neck facing.

The chasuble and its lining were now ironed and left to hang before pinning the lining to the hem of the chasuble. The only way to attach the two was by hand ‘felling’ them. This proved to be a long task taking over 5 hours to hand sew. The chasuble was again pressed for finishing.

The majority of the time taken to produce the chasuble was taken up in the preparation; this was vital so no mistakes were made. I kept no record of the overall time taken but feel this may well be in excess of 50 hours.

From the remaining material I have been able to produce a lectern cover. This was relatively straight forward, taking the pattern from an existing one. The straight piece of material had to be stiffened with interfacing then lined to finish. Total time taken for this was only 2 hours.

Although I have a working knowledge of tailoring, making the chasuble proved to be quite a challenge working with hand woven silk for use in such an important garment.  by Sue Davies.

Stewart wearing the chasuble in the parish church of St Paul the Apostle, Hunwick, County Durham.
Silk has such beauty and shimmers when brought to life with light and movement.  This chasuble is now an heirloom for the church.

Happy weaving  
and a happy Spring season      

Next post:
My next post in May will be about the colours of the rainbow.  Do follow my blog to get the notification of the latest post.

Susan J Foulkes  April 2016

Friday, 1 April 2016

Durham Guild Open Day for spinning

Using a spinning wheel

Our Open Day for Spinning was a chance for us to demonstrate and teach.
Drop spindle spinning

One visitor was Hannah, a skilled spinner who loves all things to do with textiles.  She showed her considerable skills by using a spinning wheel with which she was not familiar.  Her spun yarn is very fine and even.
Hannah spinning expertly
a very fine yarn

More spinning
But not every one spins, so several members brought their looms.

Jane has an Ashford Knitters Loom on which she is weaving a leno scarf.
Leno lace weaver
Her yarn is a crepe vintage and it will be very interesting to see the final scarf.

Yarn from New Mexico
She loves her Ashford loom and brought along a selection of the scarves that she has woven. These two scarves were from yarn brought in a charity shop.  The yarn came from Hope, New Mexico and has a lovely feel.

Even plain weave can produce some wonderful effects.  Look at this clasped weft scarf with the wavy pattern.It is really unusual.

The wavy line is produced by the 'clasped weft' technique.
Douglas loves tartan and brought his four shaft table loom to finish threading his latest piece. He only weaves tartans and is a knowledgeable specialist.

Threading takes time and patience.
Hannah's mum and her unique crocheted blanket.

Hannah's mum was crocheting a beautifully designed blanket.  The inspiration was Seaham harbour and beach.  The colours and pattern are lovely and this unique design is for two special friends who appreciate the love and care which goes into handmade articles.

A tapestry piece.
The Guild has many other skills as well.  Here is a tapestry piece.

The Guild had a busy day and we enjoyed meeting new people interested in craft.

Weaving Open Day.

Durham Guild Weaving Open Day on Saturday 15th October 2016

Our next open day is about Weaving and is on Saturday October 15th in St Oswald's Institute. Put it in your diary.

There will be a number of looms ready warped and plenty of people on hand to help.  Do come along.

I will be bringing my backstrap and a number of heddles ready warped for anyone to try. One loom I will be bringing is my Swedish Band Loom. This was the first loom that I bought once I became hooked on weaving.

My first loom

Weave a friendship bracelet.

To see this loom in action go to my YouTube video:  Five Ways of Weaving Narrow Bands

I will warp up this loom so that visitors can have a go and weave a friendship bracelet.

I am researching friendship bracelets at the moment and should have a good supply of examples to show. Here is my first idea which I wove on my Swedish band loom.

drawdown for friendship bracelet
This band is woven in 16/2 Swedish cotton used double using four colours.  The weft is a blue cottolin yarn.  There are 35 warp ends in total.  The band is 1.4 cm in width.

Close up of woven band

To finish the bracelet, the warp ends were plaited.  At one end, I divided the warp ends into two groups and plaited them separately.  The ends were whipped to finish.

At the other end, I divided the warp ends into two groups but only plaited them for a short length.  I then overlapped the two groups and plaited them as one.  This gave a loop at one end for fastening the bracelet.  Here is the result.

Friendship bracelet

I love the effect of a wavy stripes.

To see the another Swedish loom in action at Skansen, the open air museum in Stockholm, go to Slöjda med Skansen: Bandvävning

Next post:

My next post in April will be about the colour green.  Do follow my blog to get updates.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes April 2016