Thursday, 1 April 2021

An article and book reviews.

 Little Looms has just published their Summer 2021 edition:  Easy Weaving with Little Looms

Last year, I was contacted by the editor to write a small piece about weaving narrow bands.  

I have a short article in this edition called Narrow bands Skilful Hands on pages 16 to 20.  

I took a picture of a range of patterned bands to accompany the article.

Here is a version of one picture which starts the article. 

  The magazine print or digital version can be purchased from 

Long Thread Media  also publish Handwoven magazine

A new book about tablet weaving.  

I have received these details from a friend although I have not seen the book.

Tablet Woven Treasures : Archaeological Bands from the Finnish Iron Age by Maikki Karisto and Mervi Pasanen.  It is published by Salakirjat. It does not yet show on Amazon but it looks fascinating.

I have found the link to the publisher. They seem to ship world-wide and accept Paypal payments.

Two book recommendations.  

In 2016, I attended the Third International Conference on Braiding in Tacoma, USA .  I wrote an article for the publication connected to the workshop that I would be teaching.  I had become interested in finding a method to accurately describe the forms of the motifs, the pattern elements on woven patterned bands.  Up until then there had been no systematic analysis of band patterns.   

Symmetry and rhythmical ordering are common features of pattern design. A classification of pattern design was outlined by Washburn, D.K. & Crowe, D. W (1988) in their book: Symmetries of Culture: Theory and Practice of Plan Pattern Analysis. Their book gives a structure for analysing decorated textiles and other plane surface patterns. I have adapted the analysis so that it can be applied to patterns of woven bands. I used this fascinating book to put together an easily accessible way of describing pattern design elements

There are three basic design principles: the shape of the pattern element, the order of the pattern element and the transformation of the pattern element. 

Foulkes, S J (2016) Craft, Individuality and Design, Pp 115 - 120. in  Braids, Bands & Beyond - Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Braiding  ed R Spady ISBN 978-0-9573127-1-5, The Braid Society. Pages 115-120 This can be purchased from the Braid Society.

Symmetries of Culture book has been recently reprinted in paperback by Dover publications--just in case you or your weaving colleagues would like an inexpensive copy. I am not sure when the reprint will be available. 

Here is the review on Dover books. 'This ground breaking collaboration between an anthropologist and a mathematician constitutes both a collection of symmetrical pattern designs from many cultures and a monograph on pattern design and the classification of symmetrical patterns. Intended for art historians, anthropologists, classical archaeologists, and others interested in the study of material culture, it can also serve as a reference and inspiration for the use of symmetrical patterns in art and design.'

Here is one of my charts about the transformation of shapes. I analysed a Latvian belt from Nīca which has 19 pattern threads. Looking at one of the many motifs, I found that the weaver had transformed the motif in a number of ways.  This was a delight to analyse although very time consuming as there are over 2,200 picks with no simple pattern repeats.  A number of basic motifs are manipulated to appear in 3 other ways of orientation. The weaver seems to delight in varying the order and orientation of these motifs in a playful way.  

An example of transformations used in the Nīca belt motifs. 

The Nīca belt demonstrates that it is possible to repeat one motif, to flip the motif, to weave the negative version of the motif and to weave a flipped negative. It is an amazing piece of weaving. 

My full article is in the Proceedings. Here is the reference:  

Foulkes, S J (2016) Craft, Individuality and Design, Pp 115 - 120. in  Braids, Bands & Beyond - Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Braiding  ed R Spady ISBN 978-0-9573127-1-5, The Braid Society. Pages 115-120 This can be purchased from the Braid Society and is available in the USA.

My second recommendation is this wonderful book which was published at the end of last year.  I had ordered the book many months previously but publication had been delayed. It was worth waiting for. 

Weaving of Nomads in Iran Warp-faced Bands and Related Textiles by Fred Mushkat, Lois Beck and Dareshuri  2020  Published by London: Hali Publications Ltd.  ISBN 9781898113805  396 pages

It is a large hardback book with beautiful illustrations. Each band has a two page spread.  There is a full page picture of the band and on the other page, a close-up  and details about the band. For copyright reasons I cannot reproduce any of them here but the publishers interviewed Fred Muskat and you can see some of the illustrations. 

Link to Hali

The book  is expensive and very heavy but any band weaver interested in band weaving history will be fascinated.  As the foreword explains ' Almost without exception, the women and girls of Iran's nomadic tribes were competent or accomplished weavers.' ( page 12) They produced everything that their nomadic lifestyle required and 'enriched it aesthetically.' The history outlined in the book and the recording of the traditional patterns is an important contribution to the knowledge of traditional weaving in the neglected form of narrow patterned bands. 

A glorious celebration of the skills of weavers.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes  April 2021

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