Friday, 1 June 2018

Derbyshire Guild Workshop

This is my fourth visit to the Derbyshire Guild.

This time the focus was on Knots & Meanders and lettering. All participants received the booklet with pattern charts for the 13 double slotted heddle. 
Everyone started with the same pattern. For some people, a complex pattern was more interesting.

 I wanted to add another dimension for the Guild members who were now more experienced band weavers. I have been working on letters and numbers for 13 pattern threads. You can see the piece of weaving I completed for the Guild.

Letters and numbers with 13 pattern threads are difficult to design.  It is almost impossible to get a crisp outline but even with the feathered effect, the letters can easily be read. I shared my designs with the Guild and many of them decided to write their own messages.

Tips for weaving letters. 

Dealing with long floats on the reverse of the band.

Between words there will be long floats on the reverse side of the band.  There are two main ways to deal with this. If you look at my name at the end of the blog, you will see that I have used a simple connecting pattern to divide the words which will avoid too many long floats.

There is another trick to tie down long floats which is quite useful.

Using the Baltic threading, the graphs have dots to indicate whether the heddle should be raised or lowered.  There are two rules for design.

For a pattern to weave correctly on the surface:

  1. The pattern floats must start and end on a dotted square.
  2. A single pattern thread on the surface must be on a dotted square. 
So, if you put a single pattern thread on an undotted square, it will not appear clearly on the surface. When designing the words for weaving, look for the spaces between words. You can add a single pattern thread onto an undotted square which will have the effect of tying down the long floats between words.

Here is an example. For the Derbyshire Guild letters, there are 7 picks in between the letters E and G.

E and G with 7 picks in between
Can you see the two faint black threads in between the two letters? These are pattern threads on an undotted square.

Reverse of E and G showing the long floats.

If you look carefully, you will see that two of the floats are tied down.

Here is the graph for the two letters and the 7 pick space in between.  I used only two tie down threads as an example but more can be added. A single pattern thread not on a dotted square will be partially concealed.

A sample graph for you to try. 

Here is the graph for 2018.  The graph is for a band with 13 pattern threads. The numbers usually take 9 picks. The spaces between the numbers is always 3 picks. Each number will always start on a dotted square( an odd numbered row when the heddle is lifted).

Using a Stoorstalka double slotted heddle for 13 pattern threads, weaving letters is easy.

Here are some pictures of Guild members with their backstraps.

Some members said that it was easier to weave letters rather than patterns because letters are easily recognisable shapes.

Look at the lovely hand carved shuttle in this picture. James had an impressive range of shuttles all hand made.  This shuttle has a toucans head for doing the pick up.  The decoration has been burnt onto the wood. This skill was taught by another Guild member.  Derbyshire Guild members are multi-talented.

Here is the completed name.

I had a wonderful day with the Guild.  I learned about Norwegian runic inscriptions in Stave churches ( I will definitely go on holiday to see them!), saw some lovely hand carved woodwork and met some lovely people.  My one regret is that I did not have longer to chat with everyone. Thank you for inviting me and additional thanks to those who allowed me to photograph their work for my blog.

Here is the chart for the word HAPPY.

Here is the complete alphabet. It took me a long time to devise as each letter had to be checked that it looked alright once woven.

All letters start and end on an odd numbered row. The heddle is lifted on odd numbered rows.   It is easier to weave if you transfer the letters you need onto a blank weave chart like the HAPPY chart given above.

There are three spaces in between each letter.

It is much easier to weave letters using the double slotted heddle than on an inkle loom.

Happy Weaving

 June 2018

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Bath Mat in double weave

I wanted a hand woven bath mat for my bathroom. The tiles have a black and white pattern of squares so a double weave mat in white and black would be perfect.

The Drawdown 

Drawdown showing one side of the mat in the double weave structure

This is a two shuttle weave. The weft is alternately white and black.

Drawdown showing the other side of the mat in the double weave structure

The warp is threaded alternately black and white and is woven with two shuttles alternating black and white. The colour order for the weft is not shown on the second drawdown.

Warp and weft: 3/2 cotton in black and white. I used a unmercerised cotton 3/2 cotton which is very absorbent.

Sett: cotton  3/2 sett at 10 epi

It is a double warp therefore 20 ends per inch. Make the warp with two ends, one black and one white.

It is always difficult to weave exact squares in double weave. I wove the same number of picks as the warp. The squares looked square on the loom but after washing they became oblongs.

As you can see, the pattern is a white border then a black block, white strip, black block, white strip, black block then border.
The warp is made using white and black threads alternately. To make the first set of 16 black and 16 white, take the black and white ends together and make 16 of these double warp ends. These are threaded alternately. For the second group of 60 black and 60 white, take a white and black thread together and make 60 of these double warp ends. Continue until the full warp is made.
i use a warping frame and when i warp with two ends together, I make sure that the two ends are ekpt apart on my fingers as i pass the ends around the pegs. Try to ensure the ends do not twist around each other when making the warp;.

black  16  60  12  60  12  60  16
white   16  60  12  60  12  60  16

Total number of warp ends:  236

The border on each side has 16 black and 16 white ends
The blocks have  60 black and 60 white ends.ends
The white strips have  12 black and 12 white ends

Side with black oblongs

Side with white oblongs

Mat turned so that you can see both sides. 
Finished size of the mat after washing. 

Length: 31.5 inches (80 cm)
Width: 19.5 inches (49.5 cm)

I was very pleased with the mat once it was off the loom. It sits on the tiled floor without slipping and looks really effective with the black and white tiles.

Of course, it also goes very well with the handtowels I wove last month.

In 2000 - 2001, I studied at Bradford for my HNC in Handwoven Textile Design.  One of the assignments was to explore architecture as a source for inspiration and produce a range of items.  I looked back at my files and found my samples of double weave.  I used them to design the bath mat. 

They were in response to the Casa Battlo in Barcelona. This is my picture of the internal stairwell.  I was fascinated by the way in which Gaudi had used shading to bring the light down into the stairwell. The tiles shaded upwards so that the top of the stairwell is darker blue and resembles the sky when looking up.  The bottom of the stairwell is white to reflect the light.

Top of stairwell

Here are my original two samples of double weave. I used five shades of blue 16/2 cotton.

Nowadays you can go on a virtual tour.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes May 2018

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Handtowel in linen and tow linen

Black and White

Here is a lovely hand towel that I wove for my black and white bathroom. It is made from linen and tow linen.  Tow linen is a cheaper alternative for linen but is very 'hairy'. This makes it very absorbent for towels, but be warned, it sheds for the first few washes.

Beware: A lot of colour comes out in the wash so I suggest washing it by hand for the first few times.

The towel is so pretty.

Close up of the linen and tow warp. 

It is difficult to show in a photograph but the warp in the centre of the towel alternates between 24 ends of black tow linen no 6  and 12 doubled ends of 16/2 black linen.

The 16/2 linen has a shine but the tow linen gives a matt finish.  I like the way that alternating the black stripes in the centre shine against the matt black.

The white stripes are 12 doubled threads of white linen. The weft is 6 tow linen in black. Tow linen is very 'hairy' and is not as strong as ordinary linen. The borders on each side start with the warp of 8 doubled ends of black linen.  This makes the selvedge strong.

There are four stripes of white on each side. In the centre the sequence is carried on with black linen stripes

Weaving details

Warp: black tow linen 6 and 16/2 linen in black and white.
Weft: black tow linen no 6

Warp sequence

Black 16/2 linen used double   8d                                                      12d                                         
Black no 6 tow linen                     24        24        24        24        24       24  now reverse the sequence     
White 16/2 linen used double            12d      12d      12d      12d                       

Total number of warp ends = 364

For the hems at each end I wove 12 picks using black 16/2 line singly.  This makes the hem less bulky when turned down.

The drawdown 

drawdown for hand towels

I have coloured the drawdown to make the pattern easier to see. The turquoise stripe at each side is the selvedge. The 8 warp ends are doubled 16/2 linen in black because tow linen would not be strong enough for the edge of the towel.

The weft is black tow linen. The white stripes at each side of the towel are in doubled 16/2 white linen. In the centre of the towel, the stripes continue in doubled 16/2 black linen and black tow linen. If you look at the close up picture you can see the black linen stripes.  They have a sheen to them which stands out against the tow linen stripes.

Hanging tag

I made a hanging tag for the towel. I designed two variations.

Two variations for the hanging tag.
 I felt that the predominantly white tag provided a better contrast. here it is on the towel.

white and black hanging tag on the hand towel

Warp and Weft

The hanging tag used white and black 16/2 linen.
There are 40 warp ends. The weft is white 16/2 linen

The band width is 15mm.

Reversing the colours gives an interesting variation but I preferred the predominately white band for the hand towels.

I enjoyed weaving this towel and it co-ordinates with the bathroom tiles.

Next month I will be posting the instructions for the black and white bath mat that I wove to co-ordinate with the handtowels and the bathroom.

Susan J Foulkes April 2018

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Hair Braiding at the Weave Fair in Växjö 2017

There were many lovely stands at the Weave Fair. I met Nina Sparr who is an accomplished hair braider. I saw her a few years ago at the Weave Fair in Borås where I took this picture.

Weave Fair in Borås 2011

At the 2017 Weave Fair in Växjö, Nina was again demonstrating and had beautiful examples of her work for sale.

Weave Fair in Växjö, 2017

Concentration is needed to weave such fine hair.

Here is a close up of the underneath of the braiding stool.

It was wonderful to see how the hair is made into such pretty objects. I made a short video on my phone to show the braiding process. I have uploaded it to my Facebook page.

Hair heart

Here is the pretty heart shape which I bought. It is very small and the pound coin will help with scale.

Hair heart and one pound coin

Nina lives in Våmhus, Sweden which has a long tradition of hair work. The Våmhus Tourist Organisation has established hair work as an important part of the cultural heritage of the village. During the summer holidays, demonstrations and classes are held so that these craft skills can be passed on to a wider audience.

In Tacoma in 2016, there was a lecture by Anna Sparr entitled Making Hair Work. Her lecture is in the Conference Proceedings page 79 -82.  Anna is a textile conservator at Frederiksberg Castle in Denmark and was originally from Sweden. The history of hair braiding and the imporatnce to the local economy in the 19th century is fascinating. The 'hair girls' of  Våmhus travelled all over Europe to earn money for their village. Thye travelled widely in small groups; Hamburg, Dublin, St Petersberg, Edinburgh, London, Copenhagen, Lubeck, Magdeburg, Berlin, Vyborg, Oslo,even Moscow. These travelling workers left their small village at the end of a harvest returning at midsummer the following year. An amazing story showing enterprise and courage!

Braids, Bands & Beyond - Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Braiding
The Braid Society ed R Spady 2016    ISBN 978-0-9573127-1-5

Available from the Braid Society

If you want to buy a coy, here is the link:

Postscript and coffee break.

In Scandinavia, I became a great fan of cinnamon and cardamon buns. Another Swedish bakery has opend in London which I can recommend to anyone who wants a real taste of Scandinavia.
Fabrique in Earlham Street London

Yes, very tempting!

Susan J Foulkes  March 2018

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Sámi Tartan and shawls

This lovely cushion is made by Stoorstalka.  The colours are delightful and it brightens up the room. It is very comfortable.

A beautiful cushion from Stoorstalka

Tartan as a fabric has travelled around the world, not least because of the entrepreneurial spirit of Scottish men. On our travels in Finland, we discovered in 1820 James Finlayson established a cotton mill because he recognised the potential of the fast flowing river.  We started to notice the number of times in the history of places we visited the importance of Scottish immigrants.

Close up of the material

A postcard from the Stoorstalka shop shows the delightful shawls which look just the thing to wear in such cold weather. Shawls are such a practical and yet decorative item. Their brightness is very visible in northern climes when sunlight is very low in the winter.  I think it is a shame that scarves have taken their place.

Bright cheerful shawls

Addition to post

I have had some beautiful pictures sent tome by a friend who is cruising the Norwegian coast.  here is a great picture of a Sami shawl.


First Nation and Métis women across Canada also took to wearing tartan shawls which were worn up until the 1950's. The wearing of shawls was also very meaningful in other ways. With a shawl, you can lift it up to hide or conceal your face which can indicate a willingness or unwillingness to communicate. Shyness, modesty and concealment can all be conveyed with a simple gesture of the shawl. With the lower part of the face concealed behind the shawl, eyes alone can communicate and can show emotion surprisingly well.
Look at this web site for a picture of the tartan shawl being worn by a Métis woman.

The Aran Islands

Inishmaan in the 1940's
The women of the Aran islands off the coast of Ireland, also appreciated the bright tartan patterns. The black and white photograph cannot show us the colours of the tartan but the pattern is clear. Tartan travels everywhere.


In the wonderful textile museum in Prato, Italy  which I visited last year, had a book about tartan which was written to accompany an exhibition in 2004 (See my blog entry for June 1st 2017). The booklet is called, 'Tartan: the Romantic Tradition - Plaid, a fabric and a cultural identity.'

The exhibition was 'a gesture of gratitude towards a textile design that accompanied, from the mid 18th century, the destiny and success of our industry and thus of our company'. They describe the long and intense bond which grew up over the decades between a fabric and a distance culture:

 'The tartan is a reference point in western taste and for the aesthetics of all time.'

Tartan is everywhere.  


This week in my Sunday newspaper, The Observer,  there is an article by Morwenna Ferrier about tartan with the headline;

 'Loud proud and rebellious: tartan is back as designers celebrate the spirit of punk.' 

It seems that fashion has appropriated the tartan yet again, with labels such as' Balenciaga to rising star Loverboy.' The article finishes with this:

'Wilton believes that the resurgence in popularity of tartan reflects something deeper than a designer's heritage, or even a colour scheme. "It represents rebellious youth but, at times of uncertainty, people want to feel like they belong. Tartan is a good visual identifier - and provides a sort of security."
The Observer, 11.02.18 pages 16 - 17.
You can read the article here: 

Tartan is back.

Susan J Foulkes Feb 2018

Monday, 1 January 2018

Cataloguing the World 3: The Inkle Loom.

Do you remember this image from my previous bog about inkle looms from January 2017 .  Whilst on holiday in Finland in September we visited Turku, the old capital of Finland.
Turku castle was restored after the war and is a must see sight for anyone visiting the town. 

Turku Castle, Finland

The dining tableau.

In one room, the displays were captivating. The centre of the room had a tableau of mannequins in period costume. The information was extensive. Displays around the room had various artefacts relating to costume. One had this picture as a backdrop.
I did not expect to see an enlarged picture of the inkle loom.

It is from Le Livre de bonnes moeurs de Jacques Legrand which dates to the 15th century. The probable date is 1490.

The close up gives the detail of how the weaving is threaded around the posts.  Unfortunately as the weaving has not started, the process is unclear

Inkle looms now come in various shapes and sizes.  There is a wonderful variety available, particularly in the USA.

In this upright model the weaver has a good view of the woven band. 

Double sided looms are also popular.  The pegs will not bend in use and the whole loom is very stable.

This one is illustrated in the Estonian band weaving book. Again with a removable side, the pegs will stay level and will not warp.

This crescent shape is so elegant.

You can even make one out of a cardboard box!

Another home made loom. 

This loom was made by Margaret Parker and her husband out of waste water pipes.

They made it following the instructions in the link to an Interweave Press booklet on band weaving, but it was difficult to understand how to get the two sheds. The geometry of the loom, the path taken by the warp and the position of the heddle and shed sticks seemed to make this impossible. They made some modifications: .

- made the heddles at least twice as long which means there is  nowhere on the loom which can be used as a former for  making them.
- tied the shed rod firmly once we had got it in place.
- use hand manipulation to get the two sheds

Although it seems bow shaped it works well. As it is not as rigid as a wooden inkle loom it can become a bit skew whiff (or wonky!) with use but it is easy to straighten it all out again from time to time and make it all the angles sit at 90 degrees. This does not seem to affect the tension across the width of the weaving.
Inkle looms are expensive, so this cheap alternative is ideal for someone who would like to try this craft. York and District Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers have planned an informal workshop for people interested to make their own from this plan.

Floor inkle looms

I have a floor inkle loom given to me by a friend.  It is not in the best of conditions but it works. The earliest floor inkle I have found is from Scotland.  It is dated 1688. My floor inkle loom has a sliding peg in the centre collumn so that the tension can be altered.

A Scottish floor inkle loom dated 1688

Floor inkles also come in a variety of shapes. Some give the opportunity to make very long band indeed. This is being used for tablet weaving but is also designed for inkle weaving.

This lovely floor Cendrel inkle by Leclerc looms is an updated and very practical design  What I particularly like is the fact that it can be used as a warping frame as well.

The Cendrel floor inkle loom and warping frame

These two versions are very attractive and allow for a very long warp. They look very stable and there is plenty of room for the weaver's legs. 

Here are two Swedish band looms which give the weaver the choice to weave as an inkle loom with heddles or with two shafts to make the sheds. 

This is my Swedish band loom with my own handy brackets for warping.

Finally, I found a picture of this tape loom.  It is not an inkle loom but has two rigid heddles operated by foot treadles.

It is a fascinating version of a tape loom from the Landis Valley Farm Museum, a museum that documents Pennsylvania German culture and history. This museum looks wonderful and I would love to visit it.

I was particularly interested in this unusual design because of the picture in the frontispiece of a book from 1524.

This is a page from the  Ein new Modelbuch by Johann Schönsperger the Younger (German, active 1510–30) and dates to 1524. You can see the large loom on the bottom right of the engraving which shows a woman weaving a narrow band using a rigid heddle. Examine the original image here:

She appears to have two pedals to use but there is no connection between the pedals and the rigid heddle. I suspect that the artist was depicting an early version of the loom from the museum in America.

Tablet weaving

Of course there are also some very creative designs for tablet weaving.

A table tablet loom with a very long warp.

An elegant design for a short warp.

This looks very stable and ornate with the horses head carving.

A magnificent tablet loom which looks as though it should have been used by the Vikings.

This is a very interesting variation.  This design allows for the warp ends to be untwisted when weaving with tablets.  The warp can be as long as will pack onto the warp beam at the front.

A big thank you all the Museums, Universities and Galleries who are taking the time to digitise their collections and to Pinterest for providing a way for people with similar interests to share their finds.

Happy New Year to everyone.  Enjoy your weaving.
Susan J Foulkes January 2018