Friday, 1 December 2017

Inspiration Ireland

I enjoyed a fantastic holiday in Ireland in 2016 and we will be returning for another holiday next year. Researching ancestors and visiting new places is always exciting. We take lots of photographs which are also useful as inspiration for weaving.

The Aran Islands are amazing. The scenery is so different from the type of farmland that I am used to.  A small island means that every space is utilised.

Look at these pictures of the fields and stone walls from Inis Oirr.  The weather was misty which added a lovely feel to the scene.  When the clouds parted the green fields seemed to sparkle.

irregular walls

an evocative landscape

I loved the way the colours of the stonework and the fields changed as the clouds, sun and mist altered the light.  They reflected the mood of the weather.  Looking at the images afterwards I was stuck with the irregular pattern of the walls and the many shades of green.  I wondered whether I could capture this in a weaving design.

A few years ago I spent many happy months experimenting with deflected weave structures. I examined my too large yarn stash and wondered what I could use to give a feel for this wonderful landscape.

I thought of a pattern with grey silks for the borders.  It is an eight shaft design with two further shafts for plain weave selvedges. The weave is a two shuttle weave.


I used two qualities of silk, a light grey tussah silk and four strands of dark grey 2/60 spun silk to represent the walls. These outlined the green areas.  I had three shades of green silk for the grass areas and a lighter shade for the weft.

Warp: 2/20 light grey tussah silk sett at 20 epi.       2 ends per dent in a 10 dent reed.
2/60 silk used double in shades of green sett at 30 epi.       3 doubled ends per dent in a 10 dent reed. I shaded the green colours across the width of the scarf.

Weft: I used a lighter shade of green silk for the grass areas which I thought would help to meld the other greens together. This was 2 strands of 2/60 silk. For the walls, I used a grey 2/60 silk with four strands. I used two colours of grey silk hoping to provide a contrast and to reflect the changing greys of walls in the photograph.  There are 50 groups of cells.

Total number of warp ends:   500 plus and extra 8 tussah silk to balance the pattern.  508  ends in all.

Width of scarf: 18.5 inches.

close up of the scarf showing the structure

The finished scarf

Although I enjoyed the designing and weaving of this scarf I am not happy with the final look. The green silk across the warp is not shaded sufficiently and the green colours needed to be brighter.

We will be going back to Ireland and the Aran Islands next year. I loved the country and the people I met.

The ferry to the Aran Islands

The Handwoven Belt of the Aran Islands. 

The crios is part of the heritage of the Aran Islands and demonstrates the creativity of the women who devised and wove them. 

Cleas Crafts on Inis Oirr was a delight and I am looking forward to another boisterous boat ride to the island. They were very  helpful when I was researching crios weaving. I was particularly thrilled to buy a crios that had been handwoven on the island. Cathleen, the outlet manager,  showed me how to tie the crios how the crios was traditionally tied around the waist

Here is the short YouTube video:
How to tie the crios.

My latest article has appeared in the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

My article is called: The Crios: A Weaver's Quest.  It describes my research journey to Ireland and the Aran Islands to find out more about the crios.  For the article I made a YouTube video showing the different ways in which a crios can be woven. 

Here is link to my Youtube video Six Ways to Weave a Crios.

My next blog will be in the New Year.  

A Happy Christmas and a delightful festive season to everyone. 

Susan J Foulkes (December 2017)

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