Monday, 12 September 2016

'Threads in Time', The National Exhibition at Killerton House, Devon 8th - 18th September 2016

Threads in Time

Items on display at the exhibition are from members of Guilds around the UK and of course the online Guild. All items encompass at least of of the crafts of weaving, spinning or dyeing.  All the items have been selected anonymously by a panel of expert selectors. 

Killerton House in Devon.

I submitted two items for the exhibition and was delighted to find that both items were accepted.  In fact Durham Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers had  several  items selected for inclusion.

My items are a red silk kimono and a guitar strap.

The Red Silk Happi Coat.

I wove the material for this jacket using 2/60 silk used double. The sett is 40 epi.

The main part of the jacket was woven using 24 shafts

Here is the weave draft.

The collar was woven in 3/1 and 1/3 broken twill in blocks using 16 shafts.

Here is the weave draft

Guitar Strap

This photograph of a lava flow is the inspiration for the design of the strap.  I called the design 'Earth Shock.'

The guitar strap is woven in Rowan Cotton glace in six colours.  The weave structure is warp faced plain weave with a pick up pattern in black using 13 pattern threads.

The buckles and leather ends are from Annie McHale. Her blog is simply wonderful.  She designs beautiful woven bands.  See her blog at:

I bought the guitar strap ends from her as they do not seem to be available in the UK.  They are a very high quality product. The guitar strap kit includes quality leather tabs with holes and slits for attachment to the instrument and one black plastic slide buckle for making the strap adjustable. If ordering from the UK, remember that there will be an additional tax to pay at this end.

She also provides a useful video showing how to assemble the buckles onto the woven band.

I met Annie at the Braid Society International Conference in Tacoma. Here she is with some of her beautiful guitar straps. Of course I was tempted to buy more of her guitar strap kits to bring home.

Annies beautiful guitar straps

Futurelearn Course

I must pass on some information about a course I am taking in October.  It is called the Power of Colour and is a course offered by FutureLearn.  You can find out more details about the course at this link:

The course runs for four weeks and is for anyone who is interested in the topic.  Here is what the organisers say about the aims of the course.

 'We hope you’ll finish the course inspired and ready to express yourself confidently through your colour choices; presenting your work, your world and yourself with colourful and creative originality!'

Futurelearn course are all FREE!  Anyone with access to the internet can enrol wherever you live around the world.

I have taken a few course with FutureLearn.  The course about the poet Robert Burns presented by the University of Glasgow was simple amazing.  I can recommend FutureLearn to anyone who is interested in the world around them. The courses cover language learning, history, philosophy, design, film making, health, science, law, literature, psychology, teaching, archaeolology .......... There is something for everyone.  Explore the  list of current courses and I am sure you will find something.

The Power of Colour covers an area in which I  have always felt less confident.  I am looking forward to understanding the role of colour and its use in greater detail.

Susan J Foulkes   September 2016

Just an extra note.  The tartan which I have been trying to identify has been sourced by Peter MacDonald. Check out the update on my April 2015 blog entry.  Thank you Peter.  

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Cushion Cover inspired by Bart van der Leck

I decided that I needed another cushion cover to go with the one which was inspired by Malevich. See my post for November 2014 

A couple of years ago, we visited the Netherlands to tour art galleries and in the Kroger Muller Gallery, amongst others, there were some interesting paintings by Bart van der Leck.  Bart van der Leck was a Dutch painter and  designer. Along with Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian he founded the De Stijl art movement in Amsterdam in 1917. De Stijl means the Style and was also the name of an influential magazine founded by Theo van Doesburg.

This painting attracted me and I thought would be suitable as a design to use.

I used the picture to make a pattern to see if it would be suitable.  I cut up coloured paper strips and arranged them onto a sheet of paper the size of the cushion cover.

Then I wove a number of self coloured bands to cut up to use for the design.

Single colour bands to use for the appliqued cushion cover.

I needed bands in yellow, red, blue and black. I wove a number of bands in different widths.

Cushion cover and paper pattern. 
Here is the finished cushion in place.  I am not altogether satisfied with my interpretation of the design.  I  feel that the design is too cluttered on the cushion.  it would have been improved by adapting the design and restricting it to fewer strips of colour.

So this cover is not as good as I would have liked but has given me further ideas on how to design this type of cover more successfully.

I was thrilled to see my article in the latest Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers.  I visited the Russian Museum of Ethnology in St Petersburg and was amazed at their beautiful collection of folk dress and artefacts. The article describes some of the collection and also shows a couple of the belts that I wove once I returned home.  The Lithuanian belt made the back cover of the issue.

Here is the list of contents for the Autumn 2016 edition number 259.  The Journal has fascinating articles with lovely colour pictures.  It is now available as an online edition.

And here is the back cover with the belt that I wove.

Happy weaving.

After September, I have decided to limit my blog to one entry per month so I can concentrate on my weaving.

Susan J Foulkes September 2016

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Braids, Bands and Beyond 2016, Tacoma USA

The Conference proceedings has articles by every tutor. My article: Craft, Individuality and Design was used during my workshop to show examples of bands from the Baltic region.

The Conference Proceedings are available to purchase from the Braid Society. 

The International Conference in Tacoma was inspiring. The campus at the University of Puget Sound was so beautiful and peaceful and manicured!

Some participants came to take one type of craft, others tried new crafts.
The University of Puget Sound: Reach for the heights!

The week started with a WOW factor.  The first lecture by Carol James outlined her love of the sprang technique and how she came to reproduce the military sash of George Washington.

Carol showing us some of the samples she has made. 

Patterned band weaving workshop

I taught for two days about weaving patterned bands using the double slotted heddle. I had an enthusiastic class of 15 who showed considerable ability in learning to weave using a back strap. What is so enjoyable about teaching is that I always learn so much from my class.
One class member, Karen, had a brilliant idea for the band width checker which I show here.

Band width checkers can be made different widths to suit the band you are weaving.
Use graph paper and draw coloured lines.  Cut out the widths that you want and lay them onto laminating film.

Put the film through the laminator and then you have a selection of checkers to use.

The transparent nature of the film makes them particularly useful.

Thank you Karen.

Pam brought in her box loom which was lovely.  Wood is so warm and smooth to the touch,

Pam's box loom

Here is a close up of some patterns.

I demonstrated weaving and also a quick way of making full tassels and whipping the ends. West Country whipping, from the Ashley Book of Knots, is going to become very popular.

I had brought a number of samples of belts from different countries around the Baltic for everyone to see and touch.  I even wore one of my Leilvardes belts to the evening meal at the end of the week.

I showed them a picture of the wonderful band woven by Barbro Wallin, author of the book, Moraband.  I had visited her when I was last in Sweden and she sent me this picture of a 4 metre band she had woven with no pattern repeats.  A work of art! The class were very impressed.

Band woven by Barbro Wallin

At the end of two days the class had woven a considerable length of band.  Each band is the story of their weaving journey.

An amazing display of work.

On Wednesday, the conference went on visits to various museums.  If you look on the Facebook site for Braids and Bands you will see a lovely short video of the Burke museum.

This museum had some amazing artefacts and had arranged for a student to show and talk about a selection of braided and woven items.
The Burke Museum

The outside of the museum had the legend  Discover, Examine, Uncover Celebrate which seemed a good description of what we were doing at the conference. I was very interested in the North West Coast Indian Art.  I first came across this in the wonderful early book by Frank Boas called Primitive Art. I treated myself to another book from the museum by Bill Holm on Northwest Coast Indian Art: and analysis of form. Something to savour now that I am home.

I was thrilled to find that there were two programmes on the BBC about this in August. Called: Masters of the Pacific Coast: The Tribes of the American NorthWest, it covered the history of the Tribes and their treatment by the authorities in the 20th Century.  Dr Jago Cooper from the British Museum was an authoritative and interesting presenter. Here is the link:

You can view some clips from the programmes.

Indian Cultural Center

We had lunch at the Indian Cultural Center which had stunning views over the bay. It was a perfect place to have out lunch.

Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Centre

 A wonderful place to have our lunch.

The Seattle Art museum

The Seattle Art museum was our afternoon stop.

Seattle Art Museum an art deco building
One of the elegant art deco features in the building

There was a special exhibition of indigo and of gold so we were treated to some fabulous textiles.  I am very interested in the Ainu robes so I was particularly pleased to find two on display. When I visit Japan in three years time, I want to travel to the Ainu area so that I can see these wonderful robes in greater detail. they are all different and the patterns relate to the person for whom it is made.

Ainu robe in museum

I took two classes on Thursday and Friday.

The first was Modern Macrame bands - which I soon thought of as macho macrame. Carol Wang was a lively and accomplished teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed being a learner for a change.

I made a bracelet and learned to tie a Chinese knot.  I was very pleased as I had been trying to learn how to tie this knot from a book and failed. Carol made it all very clear.

My first Chinese knot!

The final day, I learned about Sanado-himo bands from Tamaki which was shown in my previous blog.

The whole week was inspirational.  There were two lectures by Roderick Owen; one about Peruvian Headband braids and the second the story of his interest in braiding.

Tadashi Uozumi talked about Kunihimo composite materials.

Anna Sparr showed us how hair braiding was important to the Swedish economy of one village in Sweden.

A fascinating trip was undertaken by Katia Johansen,through the braids on costumes in the Royal Danish Collection. This well illustrated talk showed some of the many expensive braided adornments on these outstanding costumes. This showed us details which would not usually be available for members of the public.

Kim Davis explained the intricacies of early bobbin lace.
Even if the topic was outside of your field of interest it was still worth while attending. I found that there were surprising facts in some of the talks which related to my own area of interest which were highly significant.

If you want to see  more about the conference go to the Facebook page for Braids and Bands. here is the link.

Finally, here is a pattern for weaving a backstrap. If you like to use a backstrap, it is fun to weave your own.

Weaving a backstrap in linen.

Sunna heddle, backstrap and Gepha shuttleWeaving a backstrap.

This backstrap is made of linen.

Warp Yarn: Finnish linen 4 in blue.  16/2 Swedish linen in red and white used double for each warp end.   Two strands of this yarn is thicker than the Finnish 4 linen.

Weft yarn: Finnish 4 linen in blue.
85 warp ends                          Ends per inch:  36                          
Width = approx. 2.25 inches    9 reed with 4 ends per dent
I woven this backstrap on my loom but they could also be woven using a rigid heddle or on an inkle loom. With linen you will need to beat firmly.

drawdown for backstrap.

Weaving tips for weaving on a four shaft loom.

  • When making the warp be very careful to eliminate and knots in the yarn.  The warp ends are packed closely together.  If there is a knot in the yarn, it will abrade whilst weaving.  
  • Weave at a reasonably high tension.
  • The warp ends are threaded for plain weave.  Use as many shafts as you can.  If you use four shafts the warp ends can stick together.  I have woven on 4 and 8 shafts and 8 shafts is preferable.
  • When weaving, take the shuttle into the shed and beat with the side of the shuttle.  Take the shuttle through   Beat very firmly.

Weaving a tag for the backstrap.

I also made a tag for the backstrap on my standard heddle.

drawdown for woven tag. 

32 warp ends in total.           Yarn: 6/2 cotton.              Weft: blue

Blue       8                                             8
Red             4      1      1      1      1
White              1      1      1     1      4

Happy Weaving.

Susan J Foulkes  August 2016

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Sanada-Himo bands

In July, I attended a workshop in Tacoma, USA run by my friend,Tamaki.  She has researched the lovely woven bands from Japan called Sanada-himo. These are used in present day Japan for wrapping very special presents and parcels.  They are also used to fasten the boxes that contain the equipment for the Japanese tea ceremony.

The woven bands are a warp faced plain weave with the weft being thicker than the warp threads. The traditional material is cotton. They were not just very practical. The patterns are made with beautiful muted colours.

Originally, the colours were obtained from 70 different plant species, such as brown from the skin of the Japanese chestnut, yellow from Cape jasmine, red from safflower and purple from gromwell root.
Commercially woven bands still retain the lovely muted colours of natural dyes.

The article by Tamaki  Takagi in the proceedings for the Braids 2016 Conference describes the historical background to these lovely woven bands which she has researched.   Buy a copy of the proceedings which contains many other fascinating articles.

The Conference Proceedings are an excellent record of the variety of workshops and lectures given at the Conference.

Copies are available to buy from the Braid Society once they arrive into the UK.

The Conference Proceedings

An excellent book.

Workshop on Sanada-Himo Woven Bands at Tacoma July 2016.

Here are some photographs of the Sanada-Himo workshop that I attended in Tacoma in July.

set of equipment
Tying on the warp

ready to start weaving

Historically, these ribbons were used as decorative ties for suits of armor, scrolls and even kimonos. They are now more commonly used as packaging ties for the elegant wooden boxes used to store the ceramics used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Nowadays, Sanada-Himo bands are used for other purposes.  Here is a video which shows the bands wrapped around bicycle handlebars.

The YouTube video is called 
Samurai Bar Tape 


In Japan, cherished items are customarily stored in purpose-made wooden boxes including the valuable items for tea ceremony.  If the ceramic has a long history, several layers of boxes several boxes are used:  an inner storage box (uchibako), middle storage box (nakabako), and outer storage box (sotobako). The storage boxes for tea implements often have inscriptions which indicate the maker and owner.

Chabako (茶箱, literally "tea box[es]") are the special lidded boxes containing tea bowl, tea caddy, tea scoop and other equipment used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.  The "Rikyū model" is of plain paulownia wood and may be large or small. Tea boxes are ususally made of wood, and may be lacquered and decorated, or left untreated.

They are tied with a Sanada-himo band.

YouTube Videos and blogs.

Here is a YouTube video showing how to tie a bow on a wooden box.

  How to tie a wooden box (tomobako) for Japanese ceramics

Here is aother blog which shows how to tie a Sanada-Himo ribbon around a box.  Sanadahimo (Japanese Close-woven Samurai Ribbon)

Of course there are other ways of tying decorative knots with stiff cords so I thought that I would share this video:

Mizuhiki: The Art of Tying Paper Cords - JVT 2009-03

If you want to try another type of wrapping, there is an interesting YouTube video which shows how.

Tsuka-Maki. Basic ito wrapping tutorial.

There are many different ways of tying bands around a box.  Here is another example.

I hope that you have enjoyed finding out more about Japanese Sanada-Himo bands.
Tamaki presented the history of Sanada-Himo bands and showed us how to tie a box.  I am now weaving my own at home.

Here it is.  I am using the lovely bamboo heddle from Tamaki and the shuttle from Don Betterley.

My Sanada-himo band.

If you want to find out more, do buy a copy of the Conference proceedings. The article by Tamaki is fascinating and it is probably the first time that this topic has been covered.

Check out my Pinterest board to see more examples of Sanada-Himo bands and videos.

Susan J Foulkes August 2016

Friday, 15 July 2016

Celtic Art

Last December, I went to the British Museum exhibition 'Celts: Art and Identity'. It is a fabulous exhibition and is now in Edinburgh.     On the web site you can view some of the wonderful items in the exhibition.  I was particularly fascinated by the Gunderstrup Cauldron; an object that I had seen many times in books and at last, I could view the real thing.

The book accompanying the exhibition is comprehensive beautifully illustrated.

Celts Art and Identity: ISBN 978 0 7141 2835 1
Here is the back of the cover.

I have been interested in Celtic art for many years.  Many years ago, I fulfilled a long standing wish to go to Dublin and see the Book of Kells.  This wonderful book can now be viewed online.  .  Here is the link.

There is a special IPad app which can be purchased which has the entire manuscript in high definition.

Close up of the beautiful knot pattern in the Book of Kells.

 While I was in Dublin,  I bought a book about how to construct these wonderful Celtic swirling patterns.

This book was first published in 1951.  At the back of the book there are a number of pictures of items made in the 'Celtic' style.  One of them is a rug.

The Celtic Hunting Rug, designed by George Bain

The black and white photograph does not do justice to the complex design.  It was made by Messr.Qualyle and Tranter in Kidderminster. I thought that I recognised it. My Aunt had one in her bedroom and I inherited it when she died. 

Here it is.

The Celtic Hunting Rug

The centre pattern of the Celtic Hunting Rug

Isn't it wonderful. I love the swirling, sinuous patterns. It has pride of place in the centre of my lounge.

Celtic swirling patterns are very evocative. The interlaced patterns appear in many different art forms

Stone Carvings

This is the base of a cross from 800 CE in the Great North Museum in Newcastle. 
This base of a cross is highly unusual in that the name of the maker is carved onto it. 

 Book covers

In Durham Cathedral there is the shrine of St Cuthert.  St Cuthberts Gospel is the oldest intact European book.  It was made in the 8th century and is a copy of the Gospel of St John. When his coffin was raised in the year 1104, the monks saw a book of the gospels lying at the head of the board. This precious book is now in the British Library in London. 
For a short time, it was on display in Durham as part of a book exhibition.  It was lovely to see it returned to the place where it was found.

Here is a image of the binding. Click here to see the British Library details.

St Johns Gospel. The oldest intact European book from Durham.

Look at the beautifully designed leather cover.  The scroll work is lovely.

Ivory Carving

Knot and meander patterns were also carved in wood, bone and ivory.  Here is a lovely example from the Lewis Chess set.  They were probably made in Norway between 1150 and  1200.

Ivory knot pattern on one side of a King piece from the Lewis chess set. 

Do check out my Pinterest board on Knots and Meanders.

Weaving Knots and Meanders.

I enjoy translating knot and meander patterns into weaving drafts.  Knots and meanders occur so frequently in weave patterns. 

Here are two variations of interlacing.  One pattern gives the illusion that there are separate threads interlacing with each other.  The second pattern is more like a grid. The graphs for the two patterns show the difference in construction. 

Shading can be use to enhance the pattern.  Here the blue is lightest in the centre of the band and shades outwards to the darker colour.

Interlaced knot pattern.

Interlaced knot patterns occur in many cultures.  There are many variations of this motif in the Sámi tradition from Norway in Kautokeino.  This book is out of print but gives several variations.

Haugen, A (1987) Samisk Husfild I Finnmark, Oslo, Norsk Folkemuseum
ISBN 82-529-1073-4

Here is the band pattern for a single interlaced knot.  I am weaving this pattern on the YouTube video:
 Using the Sunna heddle to weave patterned bands.  There are 16 picks for the pattern repeat. Note that pick 16 has no pattern threads showing on the top of the band. Raise the heddle on the odd numbered picks and lower the heddle on the even numbered picks.  On the Sunna heddle there is a maximum number of border threads.

Here is a chart showing the threading if you are using a standard heddle or an inkle loom. The hole is for heddled threads on an inkle loom and the long slot is for the unheddled warp yarns. It is important to remember that the centre pattern thread is always threaded through the centre hole in the standard heddle - or is a heddled warp yarn on the inkle loom. Start threading in the cnetre and work outwards.

There are two background threads in between each pattern thread. This threading is also known as the Baltic threading as it is common to many countries.

Here the weft travels over two warp threads then under two warp threads. The base structure of this band is a variation of panama or basket weave. The background threads are threaded alternately through a hole and a slot on either side of a pattern thread. If the pattern thread is threaded through a hole, the background thread on either side of it is threaded through a slot.

The border threads have a different weave structure.  They are threaded alternately through a slot and hole and so weave warp faced plain weave.  You can have as many border threads as you like.

Threading chart for a standard heddle or an inkle loom.

For this pattern the knot motif is repeated with a blank pick in between each motif.  It is possible to design your own connecting pattern.

Chart for interlaced knot pattern
I hope you enjoy trying this traditional pattern.

My previous blog has been very popular and I have received many interesting replies to my questions.  I will be following up the information and publishing another blog on the subject of medieval and modern equipment later in the year.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes July 2016