Thursday, 9 July 2015

What is on my loom in July.

July has been a very busy month but I have managed to do some complex weaving.  I wanted make a special gift so I wove another version of the Ravenna silk block damask pattern.  Do look at my blog for September 2014 for more details about Roman block damasks. Click here for the link. Roman Block Damasks

My previous scarves have all been woven with 60/2 silk so that the pattern blocks are small.  This time I wanted something a little more dramatic so I wove the pattern with 30/2 silk at 36 epi.

The pattern repeat is much larger and looks amazing from a distance.  I used ivory and a gold silk so that it would look like the Ravenna mosaic.

The Ravenna mosaic silk on my loom.

Off the loom I make the tassels using the braid twister shown in a previous blog.

Using the braid twister to make the tassels.

To finish a woven silk cloth.

Once the tassels are complete, I will then wash the silk.  This is a delicate process.

I put a small amount of liquid soap in a bowl of warm water. I agitate the water and then add the silk material.  I lift and dip the material several times and gently squeeze it.  

I leave the silk in the water for about 10 minutes.  Lift and squeeze again and then take it out..
Now the silk is ready for rinsing.  To ensure that all the soap is removed from the silk, I add a very small amount of clear vinegar to the next bowl of warm rinsing water.  The material is lifted and dipped several times.  I take it out and then rinse it again in a fresh bowl of warm water with no vinegar.  The vinegar is only used on the next to last rinse.

Once it is thoroughly rinsed, I roll the silk in a towel to get rid of the excess water.  The material can be left to dry slightly by hanging it carefully on a clothes rack.

I iron the silk using a steam iron on the silk setting.  For this silk which does not have a raised pattern, I press it on a hard surface.  I have a marble pastry board which I only use for ironing. This helps to bring out the shine of the silk.  Do not rub silk or it will lose its lustre. 

The tassels can be pressed flat and any final adjustment to the length can be made. I find that getting tassels all exactly the same length is difficult.  If anyone has any tips to share do let me know. 

I store my silk scarves rolled around a cardboard tube lined with tissue paper.  In this way they do not crease and look fresh when I want to wear it. Folded silk shows the fold lines. 

Band Loom

On my band loom, I have a narrow band in 16/2 linen.  I love cooking and my apron straps have worn so I thought that I would weave a new set.

The warp colour order is as follows:

White          10     8         8      10
Buirgundy        2      26      2

The band is 2.3 cms in width.    Here is a close up of the band.

Close up of the band

Using a standard heddle.

You can also weave this type of band with a standard heddle.

Stoorstalka have a new YouTube video showing the technique.

Introduction to band weaving with STOORSTĂ…LKA Band weaving kit Small

Click here to view it.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes July 2015

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Durham Guild Exhibition: Looking Back, Going Forward

I belong to the Durham Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers.  In July 2015, we are holding an exhibition in the Galilee Chapel in Durham Cathedral.  This is a prestigious venue and we are thrilled that we have been granted space for our exhibition.

Last year was the Guilds 35th year. Everyone thought that it would be wonderful to celebrate the event.  It was decided that an exhibition of work would be a good way of advertising what we do and hopefully attract new members.  Durham Cathedral offered us the Galilee Chapel for July this year.

This is wonderful timing as the Magna Carta exhibition is in Durham University Palace Green Library from June-August and many visitors are expected.

Our Guild exhibition is more modest.  The title Looking Back, Going Forward for our exhibition reflects our past and also celebrates our future as a Guild.

I decided to submit two pieces for the exhibition.  The first is a blue wool scarf.  It is the first item that I wove.  It is small and not particularly well designed but when it came off the loom I was so proud!  I had created cloth!

From that moment on I was hooked.  Weaving became my passion.  My only regret is not finding out earlier as there seems to be a lifetimes worth of things to discover about this amazing craft.

The second item is a scarf that I wove this year.  I hand dyed the silk and designed the pattern carefully to echo the patterns and colours of a set of shells.  Far more complex but still as rewarding. Look at my previous two posts for details about this textured silk scarf.

I was asked to submit my Handfasting Bands which were displayed in the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers exhibition last year.  I described these bands in my first blog post.This exhibition is held biennially.

On Thursday  2nd July we set up the exhibition.

Durham Cathedral

The Galilee Chapel at the west end.

Exhibition being organised.  There were lots of items still to be displayed.
When we arrived in the Cathedral, the prospect of displaying all the work seem a huge task.  Angela is very experienced in putting up exhibitions and she soon organised her helpers.  We all took charge of various tasks, even the humble one of cleaning all the display cabinets.

We unpacked all the items and then sorted them by colour and theme.  The coats, scarves, rugs jewellery, spun wool samples and dye samples were then distributed to the various display cabinets and boards. There were also covered chairs and stools.  This stool by Douglas, is covered with the Durham tartan.

The work of the Guild looks both back and forward.

Cloth Seals

One fascinating exhibit is a collection of lead medieval cloth seals. These were found by Gary who whose hobby of diving has now led him to studying for a PhD. His topic is A cultural, scientific and technical study of the Durham lead cloth seal collection AD1450-1820.  Diving in the river Wear he has found many artefacts and the cloth seals are rewriting the story of medieval textiles in Durham. He has recovered 266 cloth seals amognst other items.   Below the Cathedral is the Fulling Mill where he has been doing underwater archaeology.

Click on this link to one of his reports.  Medieval and post medieval artefacts from the River Wear.

Here is the Fulling mill below the cathedral.

Durham cathedral and Fulling mill.

A fascinating book about medieval textiles and the economy is:
Textiles and the Medieval Economy: production, trade and consumption of textiles 8th - 16th centuries edited by Angela Ling Huang and Carsten Jahnke 2015 by Oxbow Books.

In the evening, myself and Angela gave a talk to the Durham Guild about our trip to Sweden and the Weave Fair in Umea last September.

It was lovely to share the wonderful time that we both had.   In Mora, I had the opportunity to meet Barbro Wallin the author of the beautifully produced book Moraband.

Part of the display of bands and books from the Baltic region
She contacted me later to show a band she had woven with 97 motifs. It is 5.4 metres in length. The photograph of her band is on the table. It took her two weeks to weave.

Today I have been helping to stewarding the exhibition.  I took my small loom which was a focus of interest for children.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes July 2015