Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Colour Inspiration

If your looking for colour inspiration, take a look at this beautiful blog: Kris's Color Stipes

Beautiful colour stripes inspired by the bloggers life and fabulous textiles.  Well worth a scroll down the whole page!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Places to buy Pure Tinctoria Extracts

You can buy Pure Tinctoria Dyes from the following places:

Eco-Haberdashery Shop
Unit 1.10 OXO Tower Wharf, facing the river.
Opening hours: 12pm-6pm, Tues-Sat.

Jane Deane
Duchy Square Centre For Creativity
Tavistock Road
PL20 6QF

Tel: 01822 612338

We will be having a stockist in the Netherlands soon, so watch this space!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Selected to exhibit at Maison & Objet

I've been selected to exhibit at L'Espace, part of Maison & Objet, in Paris. Six members of Design Factory have been selected and are being sponsored by Atelier d'Art de France, their version of the Crafts Council, so it's quite an honour. UKTI have also given use some funding, so it will be a great experience and partly paid for.

I can't tell you how excited I am!

Creative Spinning in Kent

Last week end I was invited, by Kent Guild of Spinners, Dyers and Weavers, to tutor a Creative Spinning workshop.

This annual members event runs from 11.15am to 3.30pm so there wasn't a lot of time for them to get their heads round Creative Spinning using an image as a source of inspiration.

Here are a few photographs of what can be achieved in so short a length of time!

Inspiration ranged from photographs of gardens;

Images from gardening magazines;

Images from the front of greetings cards;

And images from other magazines.

All in all the results were spectacular and all the members who took part felt they'd learnt a great deal about new techniques and how to interpret images into beautiful, inspirational yarns.

By the way, I drove down on the Friday evening, so as to be fresh for the start of the workshop, and stayed with Kent Guild member Valerie Selden and her husband John. They run a lovely B & B in the village of Mersham, called Glebe Place and if you're looking for a place to stop on the way to France or to explore Kent then try their hospitality!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

100% More Success

Hi all

I've been back about 3 weeks from 100% Design. It was a huge success this year, loads of contacts which I've been following up, and I got an order.

Here's an image of part of my stand, sadly the image of the lovely linen and wool window panel got another image save over, so I can't show it to you. But I'm taking all my pieces to a professional photographer at the end of the month. Hilary Shedel photographed all my "Anthurium" collection and swatches from previous projects so I know they will be great. She has had a lot of high profile clients and her specialism is dance!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stop Press - Week-end Weaving Course

Hi all

I'm running a rigid heddle (Knitters Loom) weaving course this coming Week-end at Willington Old School, where I run my Monday evening class.

Over the two days of Saturday17 and Sunday 18 October, from 10am to 4pm, you will learn to make warps and weave on a rigid heddle loom, which is ideal for those who want to dip their toe into the Weaving Adventure! On the Saturday you will learn to quick warping method to warp the loom and weave a scarf and on Sunday you will learn to make a warp before warping, use that warp to warp the loom and try one of a number of different finger manipulated weaves to make a second scarf or a sash or a table runner!

The price for the week-end includes tuition, use of equipment, all materials, refreshments and lunch and is £120. I have two spare places, so if you are interested in booking a place or would like to know more, please contact me at the following website: If you leave me your telephone number I will ring you back to answer your question or take your booking.

The images show some of the things that can be made on a rigid heddle loom, to whet your appetite.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Are Designers Influenced by Art?

There was a post on the Textile Designers Group of LinkedIn recently asking whether designers are influenced by art and artist which got me thinking.

I love art and, in particular, brightly coloured pieces! I met an artist at Banks Mill Studio's last year, Deborah Allitt, who's work is really beautiful, big, bright, bold and colourful. She uses texture in her work, too, which was also a big draw for me and she's allowed me to use one of her pieces as inspiration for a new collection, which I'll be working on after 100% Design.

So, in the LinkedIn post, apparently, some design studio's don't allow their designers out into the Art Galleries to be inspired by art during their working week, even for an afternoon during an "Art Week", for example. But, to me, that isn't necessary, you can be influenced by art in all manner of ways, for example, on my iGoogle page I have several "Art of the Day" widgets which I find very inspiring, today's Van Gogh piece was "A Young Scheveningen Women Knitting" which I've never seen and is really beautiful, soft greys and blues, sensitively painted. It would be great to use as a collection, as one of the current trends for A/W 2011 is dark inky blues!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why would any one want fabric from a bespoke hand weaver?!

Well, I know a lot of perspective clients ask this question before they even ask to see my work and I can understand their concerns, after all a piece of hand woven fabric is really quite expensive compared to fabric from a retailer who's fabrics are mass produced and repeatable, even though they are beautiful!

So, what can I offer that's different?
Well here's what!

  • My fabrics are designed exclusively for you. For example, one of your prize possessions can be used as the design source to ensure that the collection or piece woven by me will sit comfortably in your home and no one else will have anything like it!
  • I will only use hand weaving methods that industry can't emulate. I can manipulate my yarns and weaves in ways that industry can only dream about! My designs can be current and cutting edge as a result.
  • Top quality yarns, sourced in the UK or Europe, that haven't had to travel thousands of miles from the Far East, are my preferred choice, but I can use yarns that you specify, again ensuring something totally unique for you.
  • You will have access to my sketchbooks and mood boards at all stages, enabling you to feel totally informed.
  • I will present a set of woven swatches for you to choose from before I start to weave you collection or piece of work.

In short, you will have a collection or piece of work that not only reflects your self and your life style, but will have a little bit of me in it, and after all I'm an award winning textile designer!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update on Longdraw Spinning

I've just completed two bobbins of singles yarn spun as I was shown at the workshop run by the Guild of Longdraw Spinners at the Derbyshire Guild a couple of Saturdays ago.

I spun part of a beautiful Portland fleece which has loads of crimp, which I hope you can see here. Being very fine and crimpy, I realised, as I was spinning, that I might just have a few problems with this method of spinning as it has a tendency to stretch the fibres and I felt that I might just have a problem with the crimp wanting to relax once plyed and off the bobbin.

You will see from this image just what I mean! I have seen worse, but there is a fair degree of relaxing of the crimp that causes the yarn to be rather unruly, to say the least!

Once I realised what was happening, and remembering how Margaret Stove described how she relaxed the crimp before allowing any twist into the drafted fibres, I began to modify my spinning technique. If you don't know this technique, Margarets book is "Merino - Handspining, Dyeing and Working with Merino and Superfine Wools", ISBN 0-7090-4711-8.

Although this isn't a good image, you will see that the plyed yarn, at the top, is not wanting to relax and crimp up again.

So what have I learnt! Well, this method of longdraw is not to be used with very fine, crimpy fleece. Rather, is should be spun using Margaret Stoves method, only allowing the twist into the drafted fibres once the crimp is relaxed. I will try a small sample using my usual longdraw technique, where I prepare the fibres into rolags first and see if that produces a smoother less unruly yarn. I'll let you know anon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Guild of Longdraw Spinners

On Saturday I went to my guild for a lovely workshop with the Guild of Longdraw Spinners. Three lovely ladies, including the Chair, Pam, gave an interesting talk on how the guild formed, followed by a very informative workshop on longdraw spinning.

I've been using the longdraw method for quite a few years, mostly with very short fibres, silk noils, cotton, downland fleece, etc., where I prepared small tightish rolags before spinning. However, we were shown how to spin directly from fleece using the longdraw method, so this was something new to me. Pam was very passionate about longdraw and so was an excellent teacher and started by showing us how to twist a lock of fleece before drafting by hand without our wheel! This gave everyone the confidence to add the wheel into the "mix".

By the afternoon we were all spinning with the longdraw method and Pam and her collegues showed us how to us her "Tool Box" to improve our technique! By the time I left the workshop at 4pm I'd just about spun a whole bobbin of my lovely soft Portland fleece, now I've just got to knuckle down and finish spinning the rest of it! Using longdraw of course.

Two things Pam said was that longdraw was quicker than semi-worsted spinning because you get an arms length of fleece at a time which is quicker, but I would dispute that, as you have to ensure you have enought twist in the arms length before allowing the yarn to be pulled on to the bobbin. Her other note was that you should spin "in the grease" for best results. I'm afraid I'm not an advocate of that, I feel you get better results from washing as any dirt, etc., is not trapped in the yarn and is cleaner as a result. She did say, however, that each to there own and there is no right way or wrong way to spin and I do, whole heartedly, agree with that!

If you've always been a little afaid of longdraw spinning, do attend Pam's workshop, it will really give you confidence to have a good go at it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I've not had much time to post just recently, I've been busy at the week-ends for the last month and preparing for them during the week.

At the end of May I was invited by the York and District Guild to tutor a "Backstrap Weaving Workshop" at Coberhill just north of Scarborough. I had a lovely time, the weather was perfect, although we spent it in doors most of the time, the accommodation and food at Coberhill was good and the people on the course were a delight! When I find my camera I'll post some images!

The following Saturday I was in Amersham talking to the Buckinghamshire Guild about "Creative Spinning". After a terribly rainy start to the journey it ended in sunshine and a rewarding talk to the guild. Another lovely group of people.

Last week-end was our Guild Open Day. Beautiful weather brought out a lot of people and we all had a great time, not least because two of the husbands served the tea and coffee and the wonderful lunch we had all contributed to, leaving us plenty of time to spin, natter and shop with Vicky Smedley of MoBears, Janet Phillips of The Threashing Barn and Michael Williams with his wonderful drop spindles and spinning, weaving and lace making tools, amongst others.

This coming Saturday, I'm off to talk to the Oxford Guild on the Saturday afternoon and tutor a workshop on the Sunday. The talk is about how Jane Deane and I approached the Book and the workshop is "Creative Spinning". I really love what I do and enjoy passing on skills, ideas and encouraging creativity.

Then it's Woolfest! Woo Hoo! It's hard work, but so, so enjoyable and give everyone a great chance to catch up with old and new friends in the spinning, weaving and dyeing world. I for one am looking forward to the buzz of the two days and the Tatty Pot supper and Spin In.

See you there!

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Mini Mill in Derbyshire Dales


I've just been to visit a wonderful new Mini Mill near Sudbury in the south of the Derbyshire Dales. It's actually just off the A50 near the Ashbourne turn off (A515) and a stones throw from the Museum of Childhood.

Karen and Dave Griffiths set it up in April after several months of training in Wales and what's so great it they have very small minimums. Actually as little as a fleece! So if you've got a great fleece that you don't have time to prepare then Karen is your man! In practice, it's obviously worth getting much more processed, but Karen is keen to provide a service for anyone that she will process just one fleece. Take a look at there prices, by following the link above, which I think are very reasonable indeed.

Pattern Design

I've just found this wonderful resource:
It's all about vintage patterns and sewing using vintage patterns. But what I really like is that it can be used to produce contemporary garments too. I was very impressed with the detail about how to make a calico pattern and how to adapt it by altering dart positions and how to make tucks etc. I've not done this for over 30 years, so it's wonderful to be reminded of how to do it. It's certainly a site I'll be going back to!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bella Award

I've been awarded a Bella Award for my blog, which is quite exciting for me, as I've never been given a blog award before.

Deb from Herbal Heaven has made the award. Her site is full of wonderful information on all aspects of herbs!

So now I've to nominate 5 blogs for the Bella Award, so here they are:

Growing Colour Tyfu Lliw -This is Helen Melvin's blog about growing dye plants and how she uses them in her work as a felt artist. Helen is a lovely modest person, who's work and practice I'm in awe of.

Jenny Dean's Wild Colour
- Jenny has been dyeing with natural dyes for as long as I can remember and what Jenny doesn't know isn't worth knowing! Her wealth of knowledge is huge and am very grateful for all the help she has given me through her books.

Curious Weaver - is a blog by Kaz Madigan from Australia. She is a very innovative and knowledgable weaver who is really great at passing on her skills.

A History of Colour by Deb Bamford (The Mulburry Dyer) is another fascinating blog. Deb, a re-enactor, is very passionate about Medival dyeing and another hugely knowledgable dyer.

Leighs Fiber Journal - Leigh is a very generous weaver and spinner who's blog is full of ideas and tips and is a great resourse for all new weavers.

The Rules Of This Award:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

Pass the award to 5 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I've just been updating some notes for a week-end workshop I'm tutoring near Scarborough in a couple of weeks time. I decided I'd add some photographs to replace the black and white sketches I previously used. As these first images are about making warps I thought it might be a good idea to add them to the blog.

On the left you will see the whole warp, 72", wound on the warping posts which I found on Ebay! They are super little posts, very sturdy and enable me to warp in a small area, ideal for workshops. I don't usually make two crosses, but for this project I needed two.
This next image shows the thread used to count the cross. After every ten ends I over-lap the thread at the cross and you will see in the image that I've counted 4 bundles of 10, then I had 9 ends to finish with.

You will also see the guide string I use. This has a loop at one end which goes over the first post of the warping board, a knot at the desired length, in this instance 72", and a longish tail to wrap round the last post on the board. I can then determine which is the best route on the board to take the warp for it's desired length.

As I had an odd number of ends, 49 in total for this project, I had to tie the last end to the post on the board, just disappearing out of shot on the first image!

Rhubarb and Custard Update!

Well I've finally managed to take a photograph of my Rhubarb and Custard scarf and here it is.
I can't give you the pattern for this one as it's copyright, but it's knitted on the diagonal.

I spun the Shetland fibres by taking alternate staple lengths of each colour, red lac and marigold. I didn't want precise staples so that I got a good mix of red lac with red lac and marigold with marigold and red lac with marigold when I plied the two singles.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Summer School

Jane and I have still not heard whether or not our Creative Spinning Course will be running at Summer School this year. We suspect it won't, but have to wait until the end of this month!
It's very sad it's not likely to run, as we've had several people contact us at Fairs and at Jane's Studio, who really wanted it to run, but have been transfered to their second choice.

We have to remain philosophical! We were selected. We didn't change our brief, (as I understand some of the other selected tutors did, when asked to supply information of advertising). And offered to share the tutor's fee between us.

I suspect the poor convenor was coerced into doing the job, as it must be a thankless task, but I hope I'll be able to take Pure Tinctoria dyes to the Summer School Trade Fair instead.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rhubarb and Custard!

Hi, do you remember the hanks of wool yarn and Shetland tops I dyed at the end of last month, well I've spun up the 2% Red Lac (Rhine-M) and the 2% Marigold (Ambrosia) and here is the result.

I'm really delighted with the hank which is pun on my Jumbo flyer. I took staple lengths of each colour, alternating each colour as I spun. The staple lengths weren't accurately weighed as I wanted some overlap of the colours.

I'm going to knit it into a diagonal scarf, from a pattern I was shown in The Hague at Dineke's workshop last month, which I'm hoping will give me some subtle diagonal stripes. If I have any left I might just get out my Knitters Loom and weave a narrow scarf, too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shetland Tops in Natural Dyes

Well I've spun up one of the Shetland tops I dyed at the demo on Saturday. (Tops 6)

I spun it on Monday and have been knitting a lovely spiral scarf that I was shown in The Hague.

This is the pattern:
Cast on 20 stitches
K one row
*Slip the 1st st, K 8, Yfwd, sl 1 P wise, Turn
P to end (10 st)
Sl 1st st, K 6, Yfwd, sl 1 P wise, Turn
P to end (8st)
Sl 1st st, K 4, yfwd, sl 1 P wise, Turn
P to end (6 st)
Sl 1st st, K 4, (pick up loop under next st and k together with that st, K 1) repeat once, Pick up next loop and k with st. P to end
Repeat from * until desired length is achieved, cast off and secure ends.

It's a really easy and can be knitted in any yarn with any needles! Thanks to Dineke of De Spinners who showed me how!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hi all

on Saturday I was invited to the above event in Derbyshire. In the morning I did a natural dye extracts demonstration and produced the lovely hanks and tops you can see on the right.
The hanks were 95% Blue Face Leicester with a 5% nylon binder and the tops were Shetland.
From the right:
Hank 1 - an immersion bath of Lodhra Bark (Amber-L).
Hank 2 - I painted this one with Annatto (Amazon) and Red Lac (Rhine-M).
Tops 1 - an immersion bath of a mix of Annatto and Red Lac.
Hank 3 - painted with Madder (Indus), Acacia Gum (Caspian) and Kamala (Basant).
Tops 2 - I painted this one with Madder (Indus), AcaciaGum (Caspian) and Myrobalan (Kango).
Tops 3 - this lovely baby pink was an immersion bath of 2% Red Lac (Rhine-M).
Tops 4 - a lovely soft lemon yellow from a 2% immersion bath of Marigold (Ambrosia).
Tops 5 - this is a baby alpaca and bleached tussah silk top painted with Madder (Indus) and Myrobalan (Kango) .
Hank 4 - painted with Madder (Indus), Myrobalan (Kango) and Rhubarb Root (Desert).
Tops 6 - painted with Annatto and Red Lac.

In the afternoon I tutored a Design for the Terrified Master Class. Altogether a very enjoyable day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Having posted yesterday, it got me thinking about design!

I love designing! Wow, that's a very broad statement, isn't it. But it's true. I spent many years "designing" my weaving, embroidery, knitting, crochet, etc., but in the most part all the things I produced ended up in the loft or at the back of a cupboard, simply because the ideas or design hadn't been thought through sufficiently and as a result I was rather disappointed with the finished article. Sometimes I didn't even finish what I was making. I bet one or two of you have felt like this!

It has taken a while for my design skills to sink in, having taken a couple of courses in design for the penny to finally drop and realise that there really isn't a magic formula to design. To me, it's not a matter of being able to draw and paint, but simply collecting ideas, based round some form of inspiration, and working through these ideas, looking at colour, shape and texture. Then using the ideas to sample, sample and sample! This can apply to any form of craft, be it weaving, spinning or even dyeing. It's the work put in before producing the actual article that makes the article special.

I'm sorry this has turned into one of those boring blogs, without pictures! You can see what I'm like, how shallow I am, if I only read blogs with picture! But I do hope it has given some of you food for thought and give a design course a go. With the right tutors everyone can design!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Design for Creative Spinners

Hi all

Jane Deane and I have just heard that there are still places on the Design for Creative Spinners course at the National Association of Guilds Summer School in August.

As you know Jane and I are passionate about design, but realise that many people are frightened by it, so we aim, on this course, to dispel some myths! We both maintain that if you can colour in and scribble, you can design and we will show you some simple ways to explore this to help you produce some stunning yarns from a favourite image.

On the right you will see an image of a page of one of my sketchbooks. Although it looks like I've painted a lovely water colour, it's actually an enlargement of the small image which I coloured in!

So if you feel that you are painting or drawing challenged or are stuck in a rut with your spinning, now is your chance to find out a few simple secrets that will revolutionise your spinning and help you to become a yarn designer!

For more information please download the Summer School Brochure here.
And by the way, you don't have to be a guild member to be able to attend!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Festive Runner Article

Last November I was approached by the Textile Directory to write and article about weaving a Festive Table Runner to appear in the December issue of their Newletter.

For one reason or another, I couldn't find the article when it appeared, but I found it today, 2 months after it was published! Better late than never.

So if you missed it, you can find it here and maybe buy the yarn from Colinette here. Then you can weave your own runner, on a simple rigid heddle loom, in time for next Christmas or another for another occasion, if green and red are not your colours! Colinette yarns are very forgiving if you are new to weaving and produce some stunning results, as seen on the righ. This simple scarf used Wigwam and Firecracker.

While you are on the Textile Directory website, have a good browse, it's packed full of useful articles and information about anything to do with textiles.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Attaching your warp bouts to your back beam!

Hi all

At last I've time to post the image of how I tie my warp bouts to my back beam.

First of all, those of you who asked for information on how your smooth back beam could be made to take the ties. Well, here is how it's done on my loom, a Louet Octado. You see the stainless steel rod that is loosely attached to my back beam by Texolv cord. The cord is cut into small sections which are screwed to the back beam and the rod is then threaded through these tapes across the back beam.

You will notice that I've attached a very long loop of strong yarn to the rod opposite each section of the beam. All I did was cut a length of thread twice the length from the bar on the back beam to the back of the heddles. I tied it the ends together, threaded each one over the rod and put the loop end through the knot end to secure it to the rod.

Now I make my bouts and secure the cross with bag twist ties and thread the long loop through the end of the bout near the cross. Here you can see the loop through the bout.

I now let the bout drop, but keep hold of the loop and, putting my hand through the loop, I pull the the bout right through the loop. The bout is now trapped in the loop and you can wind it onto the beam as you can see in my post on warping.

This image shows the bout trapped at the end of the loop, just before I put the "cross keeper" round the cross and spread it on the mini raddle.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009 - European Year of Creativity and Innovation

I've just heard that this year is European Year of Creativity and Innovation, which is really wonderful. The objectives of the year can be found here: Goals of the Year
In summery:
  • Fostering creativity in all age groups via education.
  • Maintaining engagement in adulthood.
  • cultural diversity as creativity.
  • Expression through ICT.
  • Ensuring the maths and sciences promote innovation.
  • Developing innovation along with entrepreneurship.
  • Innovation as a route to sustainability.
  • Innovation in the public and private sectors.
I found out about it via the Arts Derbyshire Newletter, so I hope that it is being promoted widely. We, in the creative industries, find it very difficult to get across to "Joe Public" what we are about and why our products are not as cheap as on the High Street. If this engages the general public to take part in some form of creativity they may realise that we invest a huge amount of time in what we do. Lets also hope that creative engagement in schools will also generate a new level of understanding of creativity in the future.
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