Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Sanada-himo bands: a useful tying technique.

In the latest edition of the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, issue 276, Winter 2020, there is an article by my friend Tamaki and I about the traditional woven band of Japan.  It is possible to buy a copy from https://journalwsd.org.uk/ 

 Researching Sanada-himo: The Traditional Japanese Woven Band. Pages 32 - 35.

These beautiful woven treasures are a delight. I have organised a couple of workshops about this type of band and made a YouTube video to accompany the workshop.

Weaving Sandahimo Cordshttps://youtu.be/vHSGt9GxUfQ

After returning from Japan last year, I received a wonderful gift.  

This beautiful bowl was an unexpected present. I had been looking for such a bowl to buy whilst I was there but did not see the type of bowl I wanted.  When I opened the parcel it was such a jolt of surprise and delight.

It is wrapped and fits inside its own box.  The box is tied with a sanda-himo band. I made a short video showing how to tie the knot,.

Tying a Sanada Himo Cord:  https://youtu.be/aO9s_ftgnbE

Here is how to tie the knot in pictures.  

 There are many other videos available about this technique of tying.  After I had made my YouTube video I found this one by Richard Milgrim. 

Richard Milgrim : Tying Sanada himo for Richard Milgrim's boxes   https://youtu.be/d-IVKOPvwt8

Richard Milgrim is an American who makes beautiful Japanese ceramics. I mentioned his TED lecture in a Facebook post recently.  

TED lecture: Peace in one's handshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-V0gm6vFQE&t=8s

In Kyoto, I visited the bookshop for a Chado school and bought this book.

It came with a very useful DVD.  I followed the instructions on how to tie the knot around the box for my beautiful bowl.  

I thought that I would use this way of tying for Christmas presents.

When I visited the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford some time ago these traditional Peruvian bands were on sale.  I bought two because I thought that the colour combinations were particularly attractive. I thought that I could use these bands to tie my gifts. 

Two Peruvian bands

The blue band has a simple pattern.  The weft is double thickness. The picture shows the back and front of the band.

Close up of blue band

The white band is an unusual asymmetrical design.

If you want to try to weave your own, here are the details. I have made a graph of the pattern for the blue band.  There are nine colours for the centre pattern on a border of blue.

Pattern Draft.

Remember: for this pattern chart, the heddle is always raised on the odd numbered picks and lowered on the even numbered picks

Look at the chart carefully. Most of the coloured warp ends float over two picks.   There are 14 picks for the pattern repeat. There are no background threads behind the pattern threads. All the warp ends are the same thickness. I used four ply sock yarn. 


Here is the warp sequence.  There are 27 warp ends in total.

6 blue, 2 dark green, 2 medium green, 2 pale green, 1 yellow, 1 white, 2 pink, 2 medium pink, 2 red, 1 burgundy, 6 blue.


The weft is a double thread: the same as the blue edges of the band. I tried weaving with a single strand of the blue but the pattern becomes more compressed.  Using a double thread for the weft makes the pattern elongated and nearer to the original.

Threading the heddle.

Thread the warp ends alternately through a hole and a slot in a standard heddle.


 You can weave without pick up and produce a warp faced band with coloured stripes. 

If you want to create the pattern then  the coloured threads need to float over two picks.  Only on picks 1, 3, 7, 9 and 13 do some of the coloured threads only appear once. On these picks there is no pick up for the single coloured squares as they will appear when the  heddle is raised.  the coloured threads The 6 blue threads on either side weave as warp faced plain weave.  The central pattern area is not pulled together as much as the blue selvedges.  

 I had to devise my own way of weaving which took a little time.  There may be a more efficient way of selecting the pattern threads but I will have to experiment with different methods to see which is best.

I have not yet made a graph for the white band.  There are fewer pattern threads so the weaving should be more straightforward.

Here is my attempt at weaving this pattern. The colours of the wool are not identical to the original Peruvian band.  I tried using a single weft yarn but the pattern did not elongate which is a feature of the Peruvian band.  A double weft is much better although the selvedges are not as neat as I would have liked.  I will need to practise with this technique.


I wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable festive season.

Susan J Foulkes Dec 2020

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Weaving overshot

On Instagram recently I was invited to list seven books which have been inspiring for my weaving.  Check out the hashtag       #myweavinglifein7books 

 A Handweaver's Pattern Book  by Marguerite P Davison was the first weaving book that I bought. I was learning to weave at a local authority weaving class and was hooked from the first time I sat in front of a loom.. 

Like all new weavers I tried many techniques. One technique, overshot, I have tried only twice. There is a pattern called Norse Kitchen on page 186 in the book.  I wove this table runner on a four shaft table loom and only made one mistake!  I was so proud of it. It is woven in cottolin. 

The runner is 18 inches wide and 54inches  in length. 

This shows the front and reverse side of the runner. 

Here is a close up of the pattern. 

Discover Color Weave-Along!

I signed up for the Discover Color Weave-Along! last week. I am weaving mug mats in overshot on 8 shafts. Five thousand weavers have also joined the workshop which is free. This is a 3-week weave-along delivered via an online course with plenty of information.    https://www.warpandweave.com/classes/discover-color/

I am using cottolin instead of 8/2 cotton sett at 18 epi.  Here is my first attempt on the loom.  I am using a double cottolin thread for the pattern weft. I have a useful shuttle which takes two bobbins. 

The first mat was woven using a doubled red cottolin yarn for the pattern thread.  I do not think that I beat hard enough. For the second mat I used a 3/2 cotton for the pattern weft.  I beat as hard as I could. 

I have cut off the two mats and have machine hemmed them. 

The workshop indicates that the mug mats should be about 8" by 8" but perhaps the cottolin is making the dimensions different. The first red mat is 6.5 inches in width and 8.25 inches in length. Examining it closely I can see that the plain weave tabby has not been beaten in hard enough. The sett is 18 epi.

For the second mat I used a 2/3 white cotton yarn and beat as firmly as I could.  The dimensions are 6.5 inches in width and 7 inches in length. 

I need to wash them to check on the final size before I weave any more. Perhaps a sett of 20 epi might be more useful. They do seem rather large for a normal sized mug. 

Here are the mats after washing.  The small mat is the old one that I use.  As you can see the new ones are very large.  They are both 5.5 inches in width. The red one is 7.5 inches and the blue and white one is now 6.25 inches in length.  Although they have shrunk they are still very large.  

The white cotton weft has produced a lovely firm pattern so I will use this again. 

For the next samples I will hem them on the loom.  This is time consuming but does make a neat edge.

Susan J Foulkes November 2020

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Weaving Tea Towels

I love weaving tea towels.  It is relaxing and they make great presents. I made these towels just before lock down and took photographs to explain how I weave. I have the time now to weave the hanging tags. 

I thought that on this blog I would show some different aspects of setting up and weaving on my Megado loom.

Materials: Warp: Cottolin in white, pale orange, deep orange, red and beige. 
                   Weft: cottolin in the same colours. 

Sett: 18 epi

Reed: 9 dent reed two ends per dent.

Warp colour order

                                                                                    Centre: reverse threading to complete
White                  26        24       24        24         24
Red                           24                                                24
Orange                                 24             
Dark orange                                    24
Pale orange                                                  24

Total number of ends : 256  This incudes 2 threads on each side for the plain weave selvedge. 


Here is the drawdown for these tea towels.  It gives a texture surface to the woven cloth. 

The pattern is on eight shafts.  I use two additional shafts for the plain weave border. If you only have eight shafts use a floating selvedge at each side. 

Making the warp - using the warping frame.

I have a useful warping frame which I hang on one of my bookshelves in my weaving room. (Sorry about the mess - I do try to tidy the shelves but .....)

After I have made a warp, I can unscrew all of the warp pegs so that the frame can be left in place until I require it again. 

For this towel I made the warp in three sections. Each section is made half inches which are divided using a thick thread. I tie a singles cross at one end. The warp is made in half inch sections. The three sections are put onto a sturdy stick. 
The three sections of warp. 

Here are the three sections of warp.  

These are transferred to the back beam by tying on the stick to the back beam.  Once in place I thread the cross sticks through the singles cross. 

The cross sticks have been placed through the singles cross. 

The stick needs to be firmly attached to the back beam so I tie it on with strong linen in at least 9 places. 
The warp is then taken through to the front of the loom and threaded through the raddle.  The sections of the raddle take half inch bouts of warp ends. 

The half inch sections of warp have been placed in the raddle. 

The three sections were tied in half inch sections during warping so the half inch sections are easy to find.  

Once all the sections are threaded through the raddle, the warp ties can be undone. 

Now the warp is ready to be wound onto the back beam.  I need my trusty assistant.

Winding the warp on the back beam

My trusty warping assistant. 

This can take some time and is a skilled job.  The cross sticks need to be pushed forward before each winding. The warp is separated on the back beam by sticks and then wide paper. 

Threading the heddles. 

The warp is wound onto the back beam. With the cross sticks in place I can start threading the heddles.  I usually start in the centre and work outwards. 

Threading the heddles. 

All the heddles are threaded. 

Tying onto the front beam

Once the heddles are threaded, the cross sticks at the back are removed. Each half inch bout is tied separately. It is very important to get the tension even across the width of the warp. I run my fingers over the warp to sense which warp ends are not at the same tension. 

I have woven a set of tea towels in this colour selection before and I liked the colours so much I though that I would weave some more. 

Starting to weave. 

Once the tension is even I can then start to weave.  In a wide warp I place a narrow stick in the first shed. Then I use some waste yarn to weave a few picks in plain weave so that the warp becomes evenly spread. 

Here is a closeup. 

Using a stretcher

Once I have woven a couple of inches, I use a stretcher (or temple). This helps to keep the weaving an even width.  

 The Weft.

It is important to put the weft across at the correct angle for the thread and pattern that is used.  Here is the weft at an angle of about 45degrees. I try to ensure that this is the same for each pick. The picture shows the orange weft going from right to left across the warp. 

For the final towel I used a beige weft.

Orange weft in the shed

Even tension a tip for the Megado loom

I am very fortunate as I have a 24 shaft Megado loom.  Winding the woven material onto the front beam is easy.  I can undo the ratchet on the back beam with my foot.  I then wind the woven part of the warp onto the front beam.  It is very important the the warp is stretched to the same tension every time it is wound on.  With the Megado loom this is easy.  The lever which winds the woven material hangs down on the right side of the loom.  I pasted a short length of tape measure onto the loom.  I know how far the lever should go each time so that the tension is the same.

Here is the lever with no tension.

Here is the lever with the correct tension for this particular warp.  I can ensure that it is in the same position after I have wound on the woven cloth onto the front beam. 

The finished tea towels.

Here are two of the finished towels. The hanging towel uses the same colours as the warp for a check.  

One towel has a single beige weft colour. This produces a check pattern but without having to change the weft colour. 

The hanging tags.

I love designing tags to match my tea towels. Here is my design.  There are 39 warp ends using the same colours of cottolin. You can just about see it on the towel on the right. 

Red             4                            3
White             2     2      2     2      
Orange               2                     
Dark orange              2                   
Pale orange                       2                     

I am also weaving a second tag for the tea towel with the beige weft.  Here it is still on my band loom. I designed a different pattern using the beige cottolin in the warp and as the weft. 

I hope that you are all enjoying weaving and keeping safe and healthy.

with very best wishes

Susan J Foulkes    October 2020

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Coal canals and cotton

Inspiration for a woven scarf for the National Exhibition

The 2020 National Exhibition was due to be  held from 5th – 20th September 2020 at Leigh Spinners Mill in Lancashire. http://leighspinnersmill.co.uk/  This exhibition has had to be cancelled due to the corona virus. Here is one item earlier in the year which designed and wove. I hoped would be accepted for the exhibition.

“Coal, Cotton, Canals”

The theme, Coal, Cotton, Canals, is the inspiration for exhibits for this exhibition.  I decided that I would like to design material which  echoes the different textures and colour of coal. 

The black is not uniform but alters with the play of light and moisture and shape of the pieces of coal.


I wondered how I could use bumpy texture in my material.

I had woven many samples of collapse weave some years ago.  I was fortunate enough to meet Anne Field who came over the the UK and put on a workshop for the Durham Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers. She was writing her book about collapse weave at the time and we had many long conversations about twist and collapse. I was honoured that she chose a couple of my own pieces of weaving to use in the book. 
Her book is wonderful.

ISBN: 978-1-877427-17-6  Published in 2008 by Willsonscott Publishing New Zealand.

I decided to weave a scarf. I set myself a personal goal of only using yarns from my stash. 

First I looked at all the cones of yarn that I had that were black or dark grey.  I wanted to use cotton as far as possible.

  • Silk adds a sheen which might be useful and I had some black and dark grey 60/2 silk. 
  • I had an enormous cone of 20/2 black cotton (why did I buy this?)  
  • I found a 72 Tex cotton/cashmere yarn that I had never used - it looked interesting in the yarn sale some years ago so I bought it! 
  • I found a black cotton? yarn which is spun with a  metallic thread in with my wool yarns. 
  • I also had some cotton/elastic yarn in black and two cones of white cotton/lycra of different thicknesses.  
  • When I was exploring collapse weave, I bought a number of overtwisted yarns from Anne Field and I still had a large cone of 52/2 overtwist merino.

So armed with this abundance, I checked Anne Fields book on collapse weave and my own notes and records of previous explorations of the effects of collapse weave.

I decide to try 3/1 and 1/3 twill as a  base structure. I made a warp of different yarns in stripes.

Sample Warp

One stripe each of 16 ends in the following yarns:
2/20 cotton, 2 ends of grey 2/60 silk, overtwisted merino,
1 end of grey 2/60 silk, metallic black cotton, overtwisted merino, metallic black cotton,
black 20/2 cotton, overtwist merino and finally black 20/2 cotton

There are ten stripes in all.

Weave Samples

I woven three samples on this warp trying different wefts.

Sample one

Weft;  overtwisted merino wool, cashmere/cotton/ elastic cotton yarn in dark green

Sample two

Weft: overtwisted merino, cashmere cotton, 2/20 cotton

Sample three

thick white cotton/lycracashmere cotton, grey elastic cotton, thin cotton lycra

Sampling is essential to see the effects of different types of yarn.

The different effects of the warp and weft were fascinating and formed the basis of my decisions about warp and weft for the final piece.  There was no collapse lengthwise. 
The white cotton lycra yarn gave a strong width wise collapse. Here is decided that this yarn should be used with no more than four picks. I did not want the white to dominate but merely indicate shine. 
I varied the number of weft picks in the main blocks to add variety and unevenness. 
I also tried using the twill only in one direction rather than changing it for the shorter blocks. Each smaple was examined to see the different effects and what would be suitable to use for the final scarf. 


Warp: black 2/20 cotton used double, black and grey silk 2/60 two ends used, metal effect yarn
400 warp ends in all. 


Cotton 16           24          16          16
Silk         16           24          24           16
Metal           16           16          24             centre: 20 then reverse sequence.

Total number of warp ends: 412

sett 20 epi  2 per dent in a 10 reed.

Weave structure 

3/1 and 1/3 twill in blocks.  The warp is threaded with different number of threads according to the type of thread used. 

Here is a picture of the final scarf. The width varies from 13 cm at the ends to 15 cm in the centre.  When stretched it measures 38 cm. Ideally, I think that it would have been better with a wider warp but the scarf is quite warm because there is a lot of bulk when it is wrapped around my neck.

And here is a close up with a small piece of coal.

Happy Weaving everyone

Susan J Foulkes

September 2020

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Hooked on Huck

I seem to be hooked on huck at the moment.

I wove a silk scarf for a friend using the same pattern as my gold silk scarf which I described in my blog for October 2017 about the online Guild Challenge.


I thought that it might be useful to describe some of my working practices when weaving. So here are a few tips for setting up the loom.

Winding on the warp.

I always use sticks for the first turn of the back beam and then change to thick paper. My husband is very adept at being the warp winder on!

Threading the warp

I tie the warp  into bouts which correspond to the pattern threading.  In this case each loosely tied bout is one half inch.

When threading the pattern, I always choose the correct number of heddles in a group. Then I thread the group - in this pattern it is 25 warp ends. This means that if I have an empty heddle  or an additional warp thread at the end of each group, I have made a mistake.

Threading the reed

Why is it that any mistake at this stage always happens in the middle of the warp and never at either side?
 I had woven a few picks when I realised that there was a reed threading mistake. I had crossed two groups of yarn in the reed. 

Tips for weaving.

Weaving a sample.

I weave a short sample and cut it off the loom.  This means that I can have a final check for any errors.

Winding the bobbin.

Wonderful cone holders
The scarf is made of 2/60 silk used double.  This means that I have to wind the bobbin with two ends of the silk yarn.  I bought a set of these very useful yarn holders at the last Weave Fair in  Vaxjo, Sweden in 2017.

 Ideal for larger cones of yarn.

Wind carefully near to the bobbin

Winding two ends of yarn together can be tricky especially with silk which creates a lot of static electricity. Here is my bobbin wider.  I hold two ends of yarn firmly between a scarp of folded paper. I hold the warp close to the bobbin and gently feed the yarn going back and forth over a short distance.  Gradually the yarn fills the bobbin. Do not overfill.

Unwanted loop of one of the strands of yarn

This is the problem I am trying to overcome when winding the thread onto the bobbin.  After a while the two ends of yarn do not come off the bobbin evenly and a loop forms. if this happens, I cut the yarn and then rejoin it to the weaving taking up the loop.

Weaving the scarf

I use a Schacht shuttle which is excellent. I also use a stretcher to help keep the edges straight.

Checking the woven length.

Before the woven cloth winds around the cloth beam, I slip a length of coloured yarn into a pick at one side.  I measure how much I have woven and make a note.

Every time the coloured thread nears the cloth beam I add another thread at the side and again make a note of how much I have woven.

Then I know how long the scarf will be at the end.

Ending the weaving

I use a thicker coloured yarn to weave a few picks in plain weave.  The weaving can be cut off the loom leaving a sufficient amount of unwoven warp ends for the fringe.

Finishing the scarf.

I make the twisted fringe before washing the scarf.  The hair braider make this process easier but it is still time consuming.

I measure each fringe and then knot it. 

Once the fringe is finished, the scarf is washed. 

Natural silk is washable, but most soaps are harmful to silk. Use a small amount of delicate wash liquid.  This silk is dyed and dye will come out in the wash. 

Washing instructions.

1. Use lukewarm water. Use a very small amount of liquid soap and dissolve thoroughly before adding the scarf. Do not rub the silk fabric, but gently agitate it in the water.
2. Put a very little amount of distilled white vinegar into the last but one rinse (no more than one teaspoonful in a bowl of water). This helps to neutralise alkaline in soap. The final rinse should always be in pure water. 
3. Once the scarf has been washed, hang up to dry.  It can be ironed on silk setting. If you store the scarf rolled up, there will be no creases.  

Once the scarf has been washed, I check the fringe length.  Any part of the fringe that is not even, I retie. I iron it and press the knots on the fringe firmly. The fringe is now trimmed.

At last, the finished scarf.

All this weaving made me want to design another scarf.

A new design.

I have two large cones of 2/60 silk in a deep pink. I wanted to design a different pattern so I came up with this smaller pattern repeat.

My new huck lace design on 10 shafts.

Scarf on the loom

Here is the scarf being woven.

I always weave a sample to check that the pattern is correct
and the sett is right for the handle of the material.

The sample has been washed and you can see that the pattern has a texture.

I was pleased with the result.

The Finished Scarf.

The finished scarf

Here is a close up of the weave pattern. 

Susan J Foulkes  July  2020