Sunday, 9 December 2018

Weaving for Christmas

This year I decided to weave some designs to make my own Christmas cards.

Drawdown without tabby

This design is an overshot pattern.  This drawdown does not show the tabby.

Christmas tree design

Here is the drawn down with tabby inserted.

Drawdown with tabby
This pattern uses 8 shafts. Use a floating selvedge to catch in the threads at the side.


I used 2/20 cotton for the background and tabby

The green is three strands of embroidery cotton and the yellow is some gold yarn I found in my sewing box.

On the drawdown,  the blue indicates the white tabby. If I had used white on the drawdown, it would have been difficult to see the pattern.

On the loom.

Here is the weaving on the loom.

I also wove some snowflakes in silver.

Snowflake design

Here is the drawdown with the tabby inserted.

Drawdown with the tabby weft

The drawdown shows the snowflake in yellow and the tabby and background in blue.

snowflake on the loom

I wove each design in groups of two. The plain weave section before and after enabled a hem to be sewn to keep the weaving from unravelling.  I left space of unwoven warp in between each piece.

Off the loom, the strip of weaving showed reed marks.  These did become less after a day or two but I decided to wash some of the pieces.  The loom marks disappeared.

I hemmed each piece of weaving at the top and bottom.

Christmas Cards

Here are 6 of the Christmas cards on display. I cut two slits into the front of the card and threaded the weaving through top and bottom. For the inside of the card I printed messages on plain white paper.

Yes, they did take a long time to plan and weave.

Decorations for the Christmas Tree

If you  want a quicker project for Christmas, what about weaving some Christmas decorations for your tree.

My friend Nancy in the States sent me some lovely woven hangings for my tree.

Christmas tree decoration
Here is one of them. It is just under 4 inches in length and sparkles in the Christmas lights.
Thank you Nancy for a lovely present.

There was a lovely article in the Guardian recently about Advent Calendars.

'In simpler times, the thrill of Advent calendars involved finding a picture of a Christmas tree or holly sprig hidden behind the cardboard door. But then the tradition was hijacked by upmarket retailers, and you came to expect a craft gin miniature, artisan cheese or mindfulness tips. This year, though, traditionalists are fighting back.'

The article was about crafting your own calendar.  A kit is available but it would be so easy to make your own; for example, a  hanging mobile of little bags each with a number and containing simple things. It does not have to be expensive or complicated.

It is so easy to click and buy but so much more satisfying to make and give.

with very best wishes to everyone for this festive time. 

Susan J Foulkes December 2018


I belong to Durham Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers.  One of our wonderful members has just written this blog for the web site.  I would like to share it.

Craft is a wonderful way to bring people together - old and young - experienced and learners.  Soo reflects on two Guild events.  Do read it - and share. 

'It was simply the happiest of days'. 

I have just been reading Theo Moorman's book 'Weaving as an Art Form'. She has a lovely quote at the beginning.

'..what constitutes the dignity of a craft is that it creates a fellowship, that it binds men together...'

Another Postscript

This year I taught two workshops at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford about Sami band weaving.  Sharon attended one of the workshops and sent me this lovely photograph of bands she has woven.

Coffee bags made by Sharon with handwoven ties. 

She makes coffee bags out of leather and wove the beautiful straps to tie the top.  She tells me that she really enjoyed the workshop. The look of these wonderful woven bands shows that she has learned all the skills needed. They are so colourful.
Thank you Sharon for letting me share this photograph.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes December 2018

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Hakata-ori textiles


19 November 2018 – 31 January 2019

In November I went to see an exhibition at the Embassy of Japan in London. There is one room filled with beautiful examples of weaving. I had not heard of the Hakata-ori before and I was delighted to be introduced to another woven belt design.

Two handweavers were mentioned. Ogawa Zenzaburo and his son Kisaburo Zenzaburo.

If you have time, do go and visit this lovely exhibition.

'Protecting the heritage and customs of the past whilst preparing for the future is essential for any traditional craft to prosper in modern times.'

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed but I have searched the web so that you can see some of these lovely woven pieces.

The stripes separating the pattern stripes are also important. There are two main designs; nakagomochi and ryogomochi

Hakata-ori are wide warp faced belts woven in a very fine silk thread. The colours and patterns are traditional and have particular meanings. Go-shiki Kenjo   go-shiki means five colours and Kenjo means a gift for the emperor.
Righteousness: purple is a noble colour and represents repose and grace.
Benevolence: green is the colours of spring and represents calmness, tranquillity and peace.
Courtesy: red represents true sincerity and symbolises happiness and wealth
Wisdom: navy is a powerful and dignified colour and represents confidence.
Trust: yellow is the colour of earth.
Here is an example of the Go-shiko Kenjo design.

Go-shiki Kenjo: A close up of a belt showing the traditional patterns and stripes.

This foundation promotes Japanese traditional culture and has an interesting page about this type of weaving.

Two YouTube videos

Here is a YouTube video with more information.

This video shows hakata-ori being woven in a college.

Susan J Foulkes December 2018

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Weaving bands with 9 pattern threads

The Sunna double slotted heddle with 9 pattern slots.

The Sunna double slotted heddle with 9 pattern slots.

Threading Chart

Here is the treading chart for 9 pattern threads. You can have up to 12 border threads on each side.

Threading chart for 9 pattern threads.

A pattern for a bookmark

This pattern is for 9 pattern threads and makes a lovely bookmark. There are 46 picks in the pattern repeat.

There are 43 patterns in my book for 9 pattern threads. This pattern is not in my book. Now you have an additional pattern to try.

I made many bookmarks in this pattern and distributed them to outlets selling my book.

Here is a picture of some of the bookmarks that I wove.

Using different colours for the pattern threads and the border threads makes lovely variations.

Here are six further ideas for making different effects.

6 colour combinations
The top band uses 16/2 linen for the background and border threads. The pattern thread is red double knitting wool.

The next band uses 16/2 cotton used double for the background and border threads. The pattern thread is red four ply knitting wool.

The third band uses 4 ply sock yarn for the background and border threads. The pattern thread is a double four ply sock yarn.

The fourth band uses 4 ply sock yarn for the background and border threads. The pattern thread is a double four ply sock yarn.

The fifth band uses red 6/2 cotton for the background and border threads. The pattern thread is a double black 6/2 cotton yarn.

The sixth band uses 4 ply sock yarn for the background and border threads. The pattern thread is a double four ply sock yarn.

Coloured borders can enhance the design.

Remember there is plenty of help on line. here is the link to my YouTube video Weaving bands with 5 pattern threads.

A traditional pattern. 

Here is a lovely traditional pattern. This lovely pattern is not in my book.  

A Lithuanian pattern

I saw this pattern when I was on holiday in Lithuania last year. There are 9 pattern threads.

close up of woven band.
My workshop for the Braid Society in October used this pattern as an example of how to transfer a pattern to a pattern chart. If you look at the pattern you should be able to transfer it to a weaving chart. 

Using a Sunna double slotted heddle with 9 pattern threads.

The double slotted heddle is available in smaller sizes of 5, 7 and 9 shorter slots for patterns threads. These heddles can be used with a back strap, in a box loom or on a larger inkle loom.

I have used the Sunna double slotted heddle for 9 pattern threads on my inkle loom.

Using an inkle loom with a 9 pattern slot heddle.

Using the 9 pattern slot Sunna heddle on an inkle loom.

To use the heddle on an inkle loom, you will need to check that it will fit.  The 9 Sunna heddle is 7 inches wide and 5.5 inches in height. (17.5 x 14 cm).

  1. First measure the length of the warp that you want by winding a thread around the path it will take on the inkle loom.  Add on about 4 inches for tying it on.
  2. Make the warp and thread it through the double slotted heddle.
  3. The warp should then be wound around the inkle loom with the two ends of the warp at the front of the loom. It is important that the warp is spread evenly when wrapping it around the inkle loom pegs.
  4. The warp ends need to be tied together so that it can move freely around the loom.  It is important the the tension is even across the warp ends.
  5. Adjust the final tension on the inkle loom.  You are now ready to start weaving.

Knot the two ends of the warp.

     Here is a close up of the knot tying the two ends of the warp together.

Here is the pattern draft for 9 pattern threads.  The coloured squares show the pattern threads that should appear on the surface of the woven band. 

When raising or lowering the heddle, the pattern threads remain in a line in the centre of the shed.  The tip of the shuttle is used to pick up the correct pattern threads to appear on the surface of the band. 

The heddle should be raised on the even numbered picks and lowered on the odd numbered picks. There are 22 picks for the pattern repeat.

Here is the woven band showing the two sides.  

The weaving side of the band.

The underside of the band.

Using a standard heddle or an inkle loom.

Here is the threading chart for a standard heddle or an inkle loom and 9 pattern threads.

Threading for a standard heddle or inkle loom.

For an inkle loom, the heddled threads are indicated by the hole and the unheddled threads by the slot. Note that the centre pattern thread is always threaded through the centre hole in the heddle.
When you raise the heddle, the centre pattern thread (and pattern threads 1, 3 and 9) will appear on the surface.  When using the pattern draft, you may have to bring up a pattern thread from the bottom layer or push down a pattern thread from the top layer to weave the pattern.  See my YouTube video: Weaving narrow warp faced bands.

Threading a 13 slot heddle for weaving a 9 pattern band

I have been asked to show the threading for weaving a 9 pattern thread band on a 13 Sunna heddle. i would not recommend using fewer than 9 pattern threads on the 13 pattern slot heddle.  It becomes harder to keep an even width.

 P indicates the pattern threads which are always at least double the thickness of the background and border threads. B indicates a border or background thread.

The background threads in the centre of the band are threaded in two slots then two holes.  The weave structure is half basket weave.
The border threads are threaded alternately in long slots and holes. The weave structure is plain weave.

Now look at the how the 13 pattern slots can be used for 9 pattern threads.

Threading a 13 pattern slot heddle for 9 pattern threads.

Look at the threading for the 13 Sunna double slotted heddle. Only half the threading is given.
Pattern thread 5 is the centre of the band and is threaded into the centre pattern slot.  The threading needs to be completed on the right side.  Two pattern slots on each side are empty: four in all.

The background threads in the centre of the band are threaded in two slots then two holes.  The weave structure is half basket weave.

The border threads are threaded alternately in long slots and holes. The weave structure is plain weave. However, a couple of long slots and holes must be left empty.  It is important to keep the border threading as plain weave.  The border threads must go alternately into a long slot and hole. Look at the threading diagram above and you can see that the border threads are in the correct order. To do this, a long slot and a hole must be left empty.

Weaving the band.

Using a 13 double slot heddle to weave a band with 9 pattern threads means that the threads are not as close together in the heddle on the border as they would normally be. When weaving pay particular attention to the band and make sure that the weft is pulled in tightly enough.  The warp threads have a tendency to pull the band open where there are gaps in the threading.

So, it is possible, but a little more care needs to be taken in the weaving and, of course the threading should be correct.

Happy weaving.

Using a Four Shaft Loom

You can also weave patterned bands on a four shaft loom.

Here is the threading for a 9 pattern thread band.

threading for a four shaft loom
Note that the centre pattern thread is on shaft four.  The background and border threads are threaded alternately through shafts 1 and 2. the border can be as wide as you like.

The order is important. In the centre of the band the background threads will weave half basket weave. In the border area the threads will weave plain weave.

The sett will depend upon the threads that you use. Sampling is the only way to find out what sett is correct.

In order to make the pick up you will need to view my YouTube video: The Lielvārde belt: weaving motifs. Here is the link.

This remarkable belt has 33 pattern threads.  If you have never woven a patterned band on a loom before, do start with something simple like using 9 pattern threads. Once you have understood the technique, you can use more pattern threads.

My book has many patterns for you to try.

My latest book has been published by Schiffer and is available from bookshops and Amazon.

'Narrow bands woven in colorful patterns are a centuries-old part of Baltic craft tradition. The double slotted heddle makes patterned band weaving quicker to learn and easier to do, and this is the first book that offers beginners instructions for using it. The craft doesn't involve bulky equipment―all you need can be stored in a shoe box! Learn how to weave these beautiful bands step by step, from the simple 5 pattern threads to the more complex 7 and 9 patterns. Color photographs illustrate the instructions for learning to weave.

More than 140 patterns are included, along with principles for planning your own unique designs for contemporary uses such as straps, belts, bracelets, and even handfasting bands. The breathtaking range of colorful bands woven in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Norway are explored and offer additional inspiration.'

You can order this book on Amazon and from the Book Depository UK.

In the USA, it is available from The Woolery who are based in Frankfort, Kentucky:

I was asked by the team at Woolery to write a blog. Here it is.

The Braid Society is an excellent forum for sharing ideas and getting help with techniques.  Do check out their web site for information on how to join.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes November 2018

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Braid Society Exhibition, Workshop and AGM

The AGM for the Braid Society was held in the Gateway Education Centre in Shrewsbury.

Gateway Education Centre in Shrewsbury

This Arts Centre is also hosting an exhibition of members work.  I have put a short video on my Facebook page but here are some close up photographs of some of the exhibits. If you can get to the exhibition, you will find a fascinating range of work from 3D hangings to practical garments made with a variety of techniques.

display in the window at the entrance. 

exhibition room
The exhibition room is beautifully lit and the exhibits looked stunning in this setting. A lot of work had been put in to set up this display of items by members of the Braid Society.

The vibrant jacket - I want one!

Close up of jacket by Jaquie Carey
The jacket is a splash of colour. I remember seeing the work in progress for this garment.  It took many many hours of work.

Bridget's carpet slippers and Ian's archery strap.
These comfortable carpet slippers are made with carpet wool on an inkle loom. The archery strap is tablet woven.

The Return of the Owl by Anne Dyer .

Two of my woven crios 

The Workshop

 On Friday, I ran a workshop where participants could learn to weave and to design pattern with 9 pattern threads.

The heddle is a specially designed double slotted heddle with shorter lots for 9 pattern threads. It can be also be used to weave patterns with 7 and 5 pattern threads.
The 9 pattern slot heddle is an ideal way for beginners to learn to weave patterned bands.  Even if you are experienced, this heddle is an excellent way to introduce non-weavers to the delights of producing creative woven bands.
Why not teach someone else to weave?

ready warped heddles
Here are eight of the warps I made for the workshop.  I decided to use bright colours which were inspired by volcanic lava flow. One end of the warp is tied tightly and a loop fixed around the warp. This loop is attached to the G-clamp on the table.

setting up the room

a Shacht cricket loom
 Two participants used their own small rigid heddle looms. These are ideal with the narrow 9 pattern thread heddle.

A comfortable weaving position.
 A comfortable weaving position is important.  Kay found it easier to sit on the floor.

Concentrating hard
Most participants used a g-clamp on the table to attach their warp. In the afternoon, everyone tried design work and then had the option of weaving their own design or following a pattern.  By the end of the day, the work produced was wonderful.

Talk: My Takadai Journey to the third level and beyond.

After the AGM, Jennie Parry gave an inspirational talk.

Setting up for the talk

Jennie provided some beautiful items for us to examine. As you can see, her pieces are three dimensional and move. Hearing about her creative weaving journey was a real inspiration for all of us.

Some of the wonderful samples Jennie provided.

The takadai

Strands: the Journal of the Braid Society

Finally, the latest edition of Strands, the Journal of the Braid Society was available. If you are not a member  of the Braid Society, it is worth joining for the Journal with its range of expertise shown in the various articles each year and access to a a group of lively craft minded individuals with a range of interests.

The Braid Society is easy to join. Here is the web address so that you can check out the details.

Susan J Foulkes November 2018

Here is the address of my Facebook page so that you can see the short video.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Witney and the Witney Blanket - the Canadian connection

In September I visited Oxfordshire and we had a day out in Witney.  I had forgotten that there is a weaving connection. I was delighted to find a couple of museums and plenty of people who were willing to spend time discussing the weaving heritage of the area.

Here is a useful web site

It is full of information and links to other sites.

Witney and District Museum

The first place we visited was the Witney and District Musem. This delightful locally run museum was crammed with memorabilia from the town. The local blanket industry was a revelation to me as I was unaware of how extensive it had been. I can remember Witney blankets from my youth. Before the days of duvets, sheets and blankets made for the time consuming task of bed making.  Blankets were so heavy!

Here is one of the museum displays.

The curator kindly took out the advertising plaque from the display case so that I could see it more clearly.  It shows a North American trapper wearing a capote coat made from a Witney blanket.

The item that particularly intrigued me was the patterned belt.

close up of the patterned belt

My interest in patterned belts was aroused.  I had not seen this type of belt before.  If anyone has more information about it I would love to find out more.

blanket showing the four lines

This close up shows a Witney blanket.  The lines are called 'points'. The number of lines on the blanket was used as an exchange rate for those people trading skins.  For example, a blanket with four points would have been worth the same as four beaver skins.
Later on the number of points was used to show the size or weight of the blanket.
The word 'point' may have been derived from the French word empointer which means to stitch or to embroider. The points are darned into the blanket near to one end.

The usual bands of colours were black, yellow, red and green and were known as the headings. The surface of the blanket was raised so that it became thicker and more about to trap air.

It was difficult to get away from this delightful museum. Run by volunteers, it is a tribute to the interest felt by local people in their heritage.

The Blanket Hall

The High Street has many fascinating buildings if you are interested in architecture. The Blanket Hall is a must-see. It also has a great tea room. For more pictures and information go to
Facebook page:   @theblankethall

The Blanket hall on the High Street, Witney

At the start of the 18th century, the Company of Witney Blanket Weavers set it up as their meeting place. All of the weavers sent blankets to the Hudson Bay Company. For over 100 years point blankets were sent to North America.

This little booklet told the story of the Witney Point Blanket

This is a view of the upstairs landing.  Note the blanket coat.  The temptation was too great.

I could not resist trying it on.  I was very surprised at the weight of the material.  It would have been very warm in inhospitable environments.

The Great Room where the company of weavers used to meet was lovely and had a number of items laid out on the table.

close up of the table display

sample book

The sample book was intriguing but no touching.  My fingers itched to turn the pages!

The Cotswolds Woollen Weavers.

Outside of Witney there is a small village, Filkins, which houses the Cotswolds Woollen Weavers. This is a commercial outlet but well worth the visit. It has a shop, coffee shop (very important!) a museum and a design studio.
the weaving store room 
This astonishing jumble of equipment is a relic of the thriving weaving industry.  It was an education rummaging through the items piled up on tables, the floor and in boxes. 

Upstairs the weaving record books are on display. Shelves and shelves of them! I wished I could have opened some of them and examined the samples from the old weaving industry.  One of the books was open. 

Here is one page of the open book. 

I can recommend Witney as a place to visit if you are interested in the history of weaving. 

Susan J Foulkes

October 2018


In the Guardian Newspaper recently (20th September 2018) there was a display of photographs by Edward S Curtis which were due to be auctioned in New York in October. One picture was a Piegan lodge interior taken in 191. It is picture number 9 out of the 20 on the Guardian page.  The three  Native Americans are seated on the ground and there appears to be a pile of blankets on the floor as well. I could make out one stripe so they could be Witney blankets.