Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Weaving in Ireland

I promised that I would do another blog about my trip to Ireland. My previous blog showed the start of my journey. Click here to read it.

We stayed in Galway, an attractive and interesting city. It will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020. Having been to Liverpool in the UK  and Umea in Sweden when they were Capitals of Culture, I can recommend a visit in 2020 to Galway.  We hope to visit Aarhus in Denmark this year as they are the Capital of Culture in 2017.

The camp site site was in an idyllic spot overlooking Galway Bay.  We stayed for 6 days and the weather was mostly fine. One night there was a storm with 60 -70 mph winds coming straight towards us.  Fortunately our motor home is sturdy and so the movement in the wind was not too violent.

Overlooking Galway Bay - an idyllic view. 

We took a second trip to Inishmore from  Ros a' Mhíl.  The bus journey to the harbour was a good way to see the countryside and takes nearly an hour.  On the way we passed the entrance to Spiddel Craft Village.  Unfortunately the bus did not stop but it looks like a place to visit next time we go to Ireland.

Spiddel Craft Village from the bus.


The ferry to Inishmore was very efficient and it was a smooth journey.  I wanted to visit the craft shops to see if there were any criosanna for sale.  Kilmurvey Craft Village is another popular tourist stop. We cycled out to Kilmurvey and I visited every craft centre there but no-one had any crios for sale. There were only two outlets that said they would normally stock them but as it was the end of the season, they had none left.

Kilmurvey craft Village
The cycle ride was exciting and the leisurely pace meant that we could appreciate the beauty and the scenery of the island.

At Kilronen, there were a few craft shops but no-one here sold crios. However, there was a lovely selection of wool and of course plenty of Aran sweaters. We went for a long walk up to the black fort.

The famous Aran Sweater Market in Kilronen.

A colourful wall of wool.


However, Galway was lovely to explore and here I  found O'Maille on the High Street.  This is an absolute must to visit if you like traditional crafts of knitting, weaving and spinning.
Here is the web site.

'Slow is Good'.

I had a long conversation with Anne Ó Máille, seen in my photograph.  Everything for sale in the shop is made in the traditional way. Yes, she did have some criosanna for sale which had been hand woven on Inis Oirr.

Anne Ó Máille holding the crios I bought.

She was a fountain of information and stories.  The Aran sweaters for sale in the shop are woven in a traditional way without a pattern.  Her supply of knitters who are skilled enough to weave like this is dwindling but their work is superb.

The shop has been established for some time.  This link gives further details about her knitters.

The photograph on the wall shows some of the cast and director of The Quiet Man, a film made on location at Ashford castle in 1951.  All the costumes were made of tweed supplied and tailored by the shop. (see the web site for further details).

close up of the photograph showing John Wayne
I bought a crios but also some lovely delicately coloured sock yarn  This was a relatively new line for the shop but she was keen to encourage quality Irish yarn. As Anne emphasized 'Slow is good'. She wanted to encourage quality goods made with care.

I bought a pack of four colours of sock weight yarn from mixed mountain fleece.

I contacted the spinner about his wool as I wondered whether it would be suitable for weaving.

Diamuid was most helpful and told me a bit about the background to his company, S Twist Wool.

His introduction to the world of yarn started when he first learnt to weave after leaving school.  He spent a year in Stroud, Gloucestershire learning under a weaver there. His company,  S Twist Wool produces yarn for knitters.

The wool is collected from local farmers in the Kilkenny / Tipperary region and is washed using a natural fermentation method. This ensures that no harmful chemicals are used. All the washing is done by hand and the wool is dried in the open air.
Mindful of a carbon footprint, all of the natural dyes are gathered locally.  Making a decision about which dyes to use was made after extensive testing and hundreds of samples.  Finally, three local dyes were found which are fast enough to be offered. A lot of the experimentation centred around low-energy dyeing methods, such as solar and fermentation dyeing.

The colours of the sock yarn I bought are lovely and delicate. It was difficult to choose which colour pack to buy. I also bought a crios in the shop. When I got home I decided to weave my own design using this lovely coloured wool.

One skein has been wound ready for warp making.
It has been a long time since I wound yarn into balls from skeins.

The yarn is now ready for making the warp. 

I needed to weave a sample and make a warp long enough for a belt.  I was not sure how much yarn I would need, particularly as the white is used both for the warp and weft. Fortunately I had enough white to finish the belt.

Weave Chart

weave chart for the crios using four colours of wool.

The weave chart shows the colour order for threading. This chart is set up for two shafts and plain weave. I used 6 shafts to weave plain weave so that I could spread the warp to reduce the amount of friction on the warp ends.

There are 54 warp ends. I wove a short sample at 16 epi but the weave structure was too open.  The crios I bought is warp dominant.  I increased the sett to 20 epi and this made the woven fabric similar to the belt that I had purchased.

I wove the belt on my Louet table loom using six shafts.

weaving on the table loom.
The shuttle is on of my favourites and was hand made by Gunnar Karro. His shuttles and heddles are a real delight to handle.

close up of shuttle and fabric. 

Here is a picture of the finished belt.

It is 185 cm in length. The width is 6 cm  The crios that I bought in Galway is 175 cm in length and the width is 4.5 cm.
The wool is lovely to handle and I enjoyed the challenge of designing and weaving a belt.

There will be a further blog about Ireland in the future. There was so much to see, do and enjoy.

I have just finished a lovely book about the Aran Islands - it covers geology, archaeology, history, folklore, cartography, flora and fauna and history and more! It is Stones of Aran, Pilgrimage by Tim Robinson. He uses place names to recover stories of Aran in a discursive ramble around the perimeter of the island. It was first published in 1976 and I bought a second hand copy.

Happy weaving and happy reading.

Susan J Foulkes February 2017

1 comment:

  1. Sue - thank you! I'm off to Ireland shortly, touring in my campervan and will be looking for some crois patterns to weave on my inklette loom on those inevitable 'soft' days when it's too wet wet to venture far from the van. Just added O'Maille to the itinerary, my wife is a knitter so plenty there for both of us.


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