Sunday, December 18, 2011

Colour and Weave

About a year ago I had a small group of beginner weavers who wanted to move on with their rigid heddle weaving.  One of them was Jane Cowan, who has recently sent me a picture of her lovely rug, woven for her daughter on her rigid heddle loom.
Jane wanted to know it there was a book that could help her design different "patterns" on her rigid heddle.  After seeing this beautiful piece of weaving I suggested "Colour and Weave Design - A practical reference book" by Ann Sutton.  It's out of print now, but there are one or two second hand copies available and worth having in your library if you can get hold of one.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tip of the month - December 2011

I've been teaching quite a few rigid heddle workshops and courses recently,  mostly to new weavers, so I wanted to start a "tips" section on this blog in the hope it will be useful to all weavers, not just "newbies".
This month I had some lovely new people who had purchased new rigid heddle looms, could warp with the quick warping method and were getting along just fine.   One thing I did notice, though, was how they pack the warp at the beginning!  Some of the manufacturers suggest packing with card!  Such a lot of precious warp is wasted with this method, so I've been showing my students how to pack the start of the warp, to get the gaps filled quickly.
There are two types of packing I use, one is old thrums (the ends (threads) that's left at the end of a warp) which is something new weavers seldom have, and the other is long strips of fabric.
Even with a small square or rectangle of fabric you can cut long strips.
Take your fabric and cut 1" strips across the width, but not quite all the way across (see the image on the left).  This will give you a long strip which you can then use as your packing.

Fold the beginning of your strip so that it's just wider than your warp width and place in the shed.  Change your shed and from the same side of the warp, fold another section of your strip of fabric and place in this shed.
Beat each section of packing as you go and continue to add the packing until you find that the gaps between the bundles of warp ends are closed.

You will find with this method that the gaps close fairly quickly and that you waste much less warp.

Another nice thing is that the packing can remain in the warp until the cloth is finished and when you want to remove if, all you need to do is pull the first  the first piece of the strip and it all unravels nicely!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November Colour Palette

This  month's colour palette is featuring Autumn colour, but not in the traditional sense.

I wonder why I like these colours for November?  Are they a palette that you would choose?
How would you use these colours?

Lots of questions, but lets not let our brains vegetate over winter (and that manic season that will soon be upon us!)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

New Niddy Noddy!

We've got a few new niddy noddy's for sale on our online shop
They are the most beautifully hand made niddy noddy's we've come across and are the creation of Nick Gant in Devon.

The Dam, which takes 1 metre per turn, is priced at £20 and the Lamb, a sample niddy noddy, is £15.  They will both be available from 14 November, so put the date in your diary, ready to order!

Left: The Dam in use.

Left: The Dam, in "flat pack" mode!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sneak Peak 3

Here's my collage of the fungi I'm using for a tapestry workshop on Saturday.  Collage is a good way to introduce texture into your design process and starts to give you the feel of a textile.
With the colour and pencil textural studies you begin to feel closer to your design and ideas will now start to flow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sneak Peak 2

Not my usual style of painting, here, in oil pastel this time, but gave a better feel for the colours, still more work to do!

Beginning to get ideas for the tapestries and the woven shibori.  The tweed, well I love tweed, so that won't be too difficult, so more of that later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sneak Peak 1

You will probably recognise this image from the Colour Palette for October.  I selected an area of the image and cut it because I wanted to show the overlapping shapes of the fungi and the lovely ferns.

This is for three projects I'm working on...

To start, I'm designing a range of tapestries for a workshop I'm tutoring for Melbourne Arts Festival on Saturday 29 October.  We will be designing and weaving a small tapestry in a day.

I've registered for the Sketchbook Project 2012 and have chosen Stitches and Fold which has filled up already!  There's still time to sign up before the deadline of 31 October 2011, although you won't be able to pick Stitches and Folds.  This image immediately spoke folds, and I want to explore woven shibori and double cloth.

Finally, the colours are really really autumnal and would lend themselves to a beautiful tweed or suiting fabric, which I love designing, so that will be explored later.

On the left is a quick colour study in water colour and a rough textural sketch in pencil and charcoal.

So now you've seen my latest project I'll pop off and work on a collage next.

Watch this space...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Colour Palette of the Month - October!

While I was looking through my image collection for this months inspiration I came across this image which was "snapped" in August, when we were exploring out new area.  During a walk we came across an old tree that had been blown over in the wind and in the hole where the roots had been a lot of bracket fungi were growing.

I was really taken with the autumnal colours, even in August, and the fern just set off the browns, yellows and ochres.

These colours are very "tweed" like and I could see this as a coat fabric with the lime green fern colour as an accent with lime green accessories!  What do you all think?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Colour Palette of the Month - September

I'm afraid I missed last month, with our move, I completely forgot to post the palette I'd selected, so here it is now, for September!

The photograph was actually taken way back in March on our annual teaching visit to The Netherlands. The second part of the trip was down in Zeeland near Zierikzee where we had chance to visit the local beach.  It was a beautiful sunny, but blustery day and the beach was glinting in the sun, throwing shades of blue and terracotta between the stark white shells.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Wool Week

Yes, it’s Wool Week, where we celebrate everything wool and the most interesting thing on the new this morning was the increase in the value of wool!
Since foot and mouth in 2001 the number of sheep have declined and as a result the value of the fleece have increased.  Most British wool is sent to the Wool Board and is destined for carpets, which is such a shame, as that leave very little for British craftsmen and designers like me.  I want British wool, we have the greatest and best range of sheep breeds and wool in the world which enables us to use the right wool for the right fabric.
I know someone who breeds a fabulous breed, the Bowmont, in Devon which rivals the best Merino and the whole clip is sold to make fine British base layer clothing for the active industry!  We need more of this fabulous breed here in the UK, so that more fleece is available.
The same person, organised the Exmoor Fleece Fair and I’m told by a textile designer friend that there was the most fabulous Exmoor Horn/Merino cross sheep who’s fleece was to die for and reputed to have a micro count close to 18, although it’s not been tested yet!   The organiser said that farmers where shocked that people were prepared to pay an extremely good premium for a quality fleece…  Yes, there are lots of us out there who want quality British fleece for fashion and interiors fabrics and most of us know quality when we see it!

Wool cushions
If you’re one of those people who believe that wool is coarse and itchy, then you’ve not tried Merino base layer underwear!  Take a look at the Campaign for Wool page and read about the benefits of wool.  The variety of wool is truly amazing from the softest to the coarsest, from the most lustrous to the dullest, and everything in between, there really is the most wonderful variety and you should find a breed or cross breed that is suitable for your needs.  We just need the farmers to produce the wool we want!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Creative Spinning at Alston Hall

I've just spent a very enjoyable week-end at Alston Hall with members of Bradford and District, Bowland and Craven Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.  There were other guilds represented, too, and in my group there was a lady from as far away as East Sussex!

I had been tutoring a Creative Spinning workshop with consisted of 15 people including one man and a lady of 92, who was quite remarkable.  The week-end began with a wonderful meal provided by Alston Hall, followed by a group welcome, before heading off into our groups for an introduction.

Saturday began with a little light design work until lunch, consisting of colour studies, textural studies and collage before I'd let them try any spinning techniques.  After much hesitation and in some cases, sheer terror, everyone settled down to work and by tea time on Sunday had produced a huge amount of work and were starting to get the design bug.

Below are just a few images of the work that was completed, to see the full range take a look at the Creative Spinning Blog

Friday, July 01, 2011

Colour Palette of the Month - July!

Last September I took my youngest up to Aberdeen University and we stopped by the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park.  What an amazing afternoon we spent there and I spent most of that time photographing the plants and flowers.
This months inspiration is one of the many beautiful flowers.
I absolutely adore this colour palette and think it might find it’s way into my new fabric collection to be launched in October.  What do you think?
By the way, can any of you identify the flower?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stratford Upon Avon - June 2011

On Friday 10 June, I drove down to Stratford upon Avon to talk about Design for the Terrified followed by a Creative Spinning Workshop on the Saturday.  I was made very welcome by Gwenda, who was to be my host for the week-end, and who then took me to the local collage where the Guild meets.
There was a good turn out by members of the Guild, for the talk, and even a couple of guests from the Birmingham Guild who had attended a Creative Spinning Workshop there, last year.
As a result of the talk, Chris from Birmingham, brought her picture with design notes which had been inspired by my talk.

Chris's design notes

On the Saturday the weather was very mixed, sunshine and heavy showers, but inside the College everything was sunny, including some of the lovely images that were brought to the workshop as inspiration!  Everyone worked really hard, produced some lovely yarns and tried out some new fancy yarn techniques.  The images below show the results of the day.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Colour Palette of the Month - June!

I know this is an early spring picture but it's so beautiful I couldn't resist using it for the June colour palette, particularly as one or two people thought the April picture was rather dull for a Spring palette.

In March, three colleagues and I were lucky enough to teach a couple of workshops in The Netherlands and between workshops we went to Delft.  These vivid tulips and anemones were in a flower shop we passed and we couldn't resist buying them.

What I love about this picture is the contrast in colours and the rich depth.  The anemone was slightly more purple than is shown here, but even then it's really gorgeous.

So what would I do with these colours?  Maybe a stipe pattern for a rug or set of place mats and table runner.

How would you use these colours?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Learn your ABC with a Passionate Weaver!

B is for......

Books!  I don't know about anyone else, but I can't do without them.  I tend to use them as a resource for trying new techniques, problem solving (there's always an answer somewhere on the bookshelf) and as source of inspiration (often travel, gardening or art books).

I've always got a note book in my bag, as well as a small sketchbook, pen, 2B pencil, rubber, sharpener and very small water colour kit as well as my trusty camera!

Novels are my bedtime reading, not crime, though.  I can happily drift off to sleep mid-paragraph.

How about you?  Do yo have a favourite weaving book?  Spinning, what's your book of choice?  How about your favourite dyeing book, natural or synthetic (dyes, that is!)?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Learn your ABC with a Passionate Weaver!

A is for Anthurium, that waxy flower grown throughout the world and, in particular, Hawaii.
I first discovered them when I was looking for inspiration for my final project at Bradford College in 2004. The resulting designs and products I’ve woven as a result of the anthurium inspiration have brought me continued recognition.
This little colour palette, that I worked for a yarn I designed for Yarnmaker magazine, features one of my favourite colours.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Spinning and Weaving in the Modern World

Recently, I've been re-evaluating my practice, not just what I do, but also, how I do it.  I came into spinning and weaving towards the end of the "hippy" era and I've worked really hard over the last 40+ years to raise the perception of those two crafts as genuine "Master Crafts".  So many people expect them to have a roughness about them, expecting them to have a "homespun" feel, not perfect.

When I was learning my craft, weaving in particular, I also learnt the history of weaving which included the Medieval Guild System.  All weavers started out as an apprentice to a Master Weaver, then served up to 25 years as a Journeyman, working all over the country, and Europe, with other Master Weavers, before finally becoming a Master Weaver themselves when they presented their masterpiece to their appropriate guild.  I feel I've served my apprenticeship, gaining my GCE 'O' and 'A' Levels way back in the early 70's and since then I've attended numerous coures with other well established weaver all over the UK.  I now feel I'm a Master Weaver in my own right having gained two awards from the Bradford Textile Society!

Similarly, I first experienced spinning while at school so as to understand yarn construction for my weaving.  I've served under numerous spinning tutors such as Sue Hiley-Harris and Jenny Parry over the last 35 years and, again, feel I understand sufficient technicalities of spinning to be able to construct most types of yarn.  Yes, I can spin beautiful smoothly spun and plied yarns, but choose to spin brightly coloured textured yarn, Art Yarn to most new spinners, but fancy yarn to me!  Oh, and I understand exactly how they are spun, using the irregularities in preparation, spinning and plying to produce texture where and when I want it.

So why is it that my hand weaving is perceived to be machine woven?  Why can't beautifully hand woven fabrics be accepted in the Craft world along side the likes of broken crockery re-assembled in the most odd way which represent the best of modern craft!  I don't want my fabrics to be rough and ready proudly showing the mistakes to authenticate that it's hand woven, I've worked to hard and long to be a Master Weaver to let my standards slip just to show it's hand made.

Nor do I want to wear a mob cap and shawl to show that I'm a spinner!  Yes, the mob cap and shawl has it's place to bring history alive, but I spin in a modern world and want to attract the next generation to spinning.  After all, knitters don't sit in a shawl at their Knit and Natter Groups, they sit in cafes and tea shops, on buses and at stations, knitting gorgeous yarns, often hand spun and hand dyed, into fabulous garments.

Even though I'm just back from ISEND (International Symposium and Exhibition on Natural Dyes) and intend to dye all my yarns, fibres or fabrics with natural dyes, I'm not a "hippy", alternative living person, wearing recycled sludge coloured clothes.  My colours are bright and clear and full of life and I fully embrace sustainability, but again I live in a modern world!  Fashion and interiors can also embrace sustainability without looking grubby and dull, embracing the Slow Cloth Movement.  Most of the participants who exhibited at ISEND, including the traders, all had contemporary fabrics to show, the fabulous fabrics from The Weavers Studio are a case in point.

So what am I trying to say here in all this ramble?   I may be nearer 60 than 50, but I'm a modern woman and, therefore, a modern weaver and spinner.  I dream of a world where we all wear beautifully designed hand spun, hand dyed and hand woven fabrics that will last a lifetime and be cherished as modern heirlooms.  Sadly, that's not going to happen, but, we should all be promoting sustainability, which includes spinning, weaving and natural dyeing, and we should all embrace the Slow Cloth Movement.  So think twice when you pop into one of those "fast fashion" shops.  Think, how long will this garment last?  Who spun, dyed and wove it?  Were they paid a proper wage?  Did the company practice sustainability during production?

I'd love to hear your comments?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Colour Palette of the Month - May!

Last month I picked an image of a building in The Hague that made me think of rugs for my colour palette inspiration.  However, one or two people thought it was a bit dull for a Spring palette.

This month I've picked a beautiful cornflower image.  I snapped the cornflowers in Rochfort sur Mar while I was on the Wednesday morning excursion at ISEND.

I hope you like it.  Let me know what you think, does it work for you?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Colour Palette of the Month - April!

Last month Jane Deane, Amanda Hannaford, Helen Melvin and I were in The Hague for a workshop.  It was arranged by Dineke de With, who lives in Leidschendam just north of the city.  We were making our way to catch the tram into The Hague when we came across this building which immediately made Jane and I think "Rug"!

I was tempted to rotate the image of the building 90 degrees, laying it on it's side, more reminiscent of a rug, but resisted.  Would you have rotated it?  I'd be interested to know.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Colour & Weave in The Hague

After two successful workshops over the last 2 years, Jane Deane, Amanda Hannaford and I were invited back to The Hague with a new tutor, Helen Melvin.

My workshop was Colour and Weave on rigid heddle, or 4 and 8 shaft looms, using plain weave with light and dark warp and weft threads to produce patterns.  I showed how to design colour and weave patterns on paper and how to substitute warps of different colours and textures to add impact to the woven swatches.
Here you can see everyone busy weaving their swatches.

Looms ranged from rigid heddle looms.....

to 8 shaft looms.

Here you can see some warp ends that have been substituted for a different colour and texture.

Here a student is weaving her own colour and weave swatch that she had designed on paper.

All the workshops were very successful and we have all been invited back next year.  My workshop on 17 and 18 March 2012 will be The Theo Moorman Technique.  I'm really looking forward to returning to Dineke's Studio, De Spinners.

Helena Hernmarck väver Tabula Rasa på Alice Lund Textiliers ateljé 2010

A lovely YouTube video of weaving a tapestry.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Colour Palette of the Month - March!

I was given this image by Wendy Freebourne, a talented knitware designer from Bath.

The colours are so warm and rich that I couldn't resist using them for this months colour palette.

So what dye extracts would you use for this palette?

I'd give the following extracts a try, from the top:
Black - indigo and an iron modifier.
Khaki green - kamala and a light dip in indigo.
Rust - sappenwood.
Beige - cutch.
Buff - himalayan rhubarb with a copper modifier.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Murano Glass Tea Light Cushions Finished!

I've finished and delivered the last two cushions of the Murano Glass Tea Light project.  I'm so pleased with the results and so is my client.  I had to dye all the yarn myself and had the silk soaking for nearly a week so that they took the dye without being patchy.

This is a close-up of the fabric with the gold spun silk.

Here is the completed cushion with the gold spun silk.

This image is of the fabric with the yellow spun silk detail.

Here is the completed cushion with the yellow spun silk woven detail.

For details of the design, dyeing and weaving, you will have to wait for Simply Design, the new book by Jane Deane and me.  It will be out by the end of the year.
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