Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Exploring colour and band weaving (2)

In my book, The Art of band Weaving, I described a way of designing colour stripes for bands.

Using a colour strip from the photograph.

I enjoy experimenting with colour. I thought that I would use my own method to design a stripe pattern for a woven band from this picture.

View across Framwellgate Bridge near my home.

I isolated a strip from the photograph.  This can be done at any angle. The resulting colour strip I took is here.

colour strip from photograph
The colours of the restaurant and the greenery with the autumn leaves combined with the grey stonework of the bridge are striking.

The range of cottons to match the colours in the strip.

1.  Here is my first attempt to combine these colours into a band design

There are  61 warp ends using 16/2 cotton.

Here is the woven band. This is the first design.

2.  I decided to vary the design by omitting one of the yellow stripes in the centre. I think that the second design is more dramatic. There are 56 warp ends in this band.

3.  For the third design I removed the brown stripes and made the yellow stripe in the centre smaller. There are 54 warp ends in this band.

4. I thought that I would look at an asymmetrical design. Here is the drawdown with 37 warp ends.

Which design do you prefer?

This was a very informative exercise.  I love designing bands as I can play with colour and make combinations easily.

Happy Weaving.  Enjoy exploring colour and designing your own bands.

Susan J Foulkes  August 2017

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Exploring Colour and band weaving (1)

Exploring Colour Combinations.

I completed a very interesting course called the Power of Colour with FutureLearn.   I learned how to use some digital tools for analysing colour in an image.  There are three free tools which you can use. I took a picture of a view near where I live.  I uploaded it into the three programmes to see the range of colours:  ColorExplorer,  TinEye Labs and  Pictaculous.  You can try these programmes for yourself.

You need to make sure that the image is of a small number of pixels for the programmes to work.

Here is my photograph.

Photograph across Framwellgate Bridge Durham City, UK


The first analysis is from ColorExplorer at  http://www.colorexplorer.com/

I uploaded my photograph and this is the colour analysis.

TinEye Labs.

The second analysis is from TinEye Labs. at http://labs.tineye.com/


The third analysis is from Pictaculous at http://www.pictaculous.com/

It is interesting to compare the three types of analysis from the same photograph.  Why not try it for yourself.

As a tool for interior design I can see that it would be very useful.

The four colours from Pitaculous matched to 16/2 Swedish cotton.

First Idea.

I used the four colours to design my first band. There are 61 warp ends. i used 16/2 Swedish cotton used double to make a wider band.  the weft is 6/2 cotton in grey which is nearly the same colour as the grey 16/2 cotton at the edges of the band.

My first idea

The woven band

Second Idea.

After weaving, I decided that I did not like the single red stripe. I left the single green stripe.  There are 58 warp ends.

The woven band

Third Idea.

For band 3 I thought that I would leave the colours in stripes minimising the overlap of colours.

graph for asymmetrical band

Four colour band 3.  I like this version.

So three variations using just four colours.

I would probably not have chosen this particular combination of colours from my photograph but it has been fascinating to see what could be done with them.

I feel that these colour analysis tools would be of more use to interior designers.  It was fun to play with them. I feel that I would probably have found these colours anyway by my own method of taking a strip across the photograph.  I will show you how to do this in my next blog.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes  August 2017

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Workshop at the Old Kennels in June

Workshop June 2017
The Old Kennels

The Old Kennels - the conservatory and the gazebo.
Thursday 15th June and Friday 16th June 2017

This two day workshop on Swedish Band Weaving provided the opportunity for a small group to learn how to weave patterned bands using a double slotted heddle and backstrap. The Old Kennels prides itself on organising courses which have a small groups of participants so that tutors can tailor the workshop for individual needs and skills.My workshop has nine participants and filled very quickly.

Day One

  • Learned how to set up a backstrap and rigid heddle in a good weaving position.
  • Start to weave a selection of heart and flower patterns or knots and meanders.
  • Started a band neatly.
  • Learned how to add in a new weft thread.
  • Gained a good understanding of the pattern draft and weave structure.
  • Examined a range of different woven bands from Sweden.

Day Two

  • Opportunity to weave more patterns of choice.
  • Learn how to make a warp and thread the heddle.
  • Learned how to finish a band neatly.
  • Examined different ways of finishing bands such as decorative tassels and knots.
  • Learned about lettering and started to weave a letter.
  • Learned how to design a decorative border.

The setting is idyllic and the weather was very hot indeed. We started the workshop in the conservatory but soon moved outside to the gazebo.

Inside the conservatory
One of the delights of the Old Kennels are the alpacas and the cats.

Unfortunately, it was too hot for the alpacas to stay outside.  However, Christine managed to take this lovely photograph.

Some of the newly shorn alpacas.

One cat in particular liked to feel part of the workshop. Sylvester was quite a character.  He would leap onto the work table and find the place where he would be most in the way.  He then would fall instantly asleep!  He was the most restful cat I have known.

The best place to sleep

All the heddles were ready warped so that the group could begin quickly.  I demonstrated how to start the woven band and the first few picks.  Then everyone could have a go.

Demonstrating the start of the band.

We had a break and then on return it was to find Sylvester stretched out as usual.

An even better place to sleep

The booklet to accompany the workshop gives lots of patterns for hearts and flowers.  We started with hearts but everyone soon moved on to the pattern of their choice.

Following the pattern.

The first two hearts
Lunch was amazing.  I am pleased that we were only there for two days as the food was plentiful and very very tempting.

After lunch and for the following day, we moved outside. Having the opportunity to work outside was great.  The gazebo offered shade from the sun but was also cool.

working outside in the gazebo

On the second day, Christine started to weave letters and produced quite a long piece.  Unfortunately I was so busy I did not have time to take many photographs and it was soon time for the workshop to end.

A sample of work at the end of the first day.

I managed to get together pieces of work from day one. People who had never tried this type of weaving before managed to complete many designs.

Looking through the brochure made me keen to try an attend a workshop next year.

Take a look at some of the wide variety of courses that they provide at this lovely venue.
The Old Kennels at  http://theoldkennels.co.uk/

The Old Kennels,
Devon, EX14 4RW
tel. 01823 681138

Thank you to all the participants and to Christine for sending me some of her photographs.  I hope that you all had as much fun as I did.

Online Band Weaving Workshop with the Braid Society

 October 2017

Do check out the details for the online workshop in October.  The details are on the home page of my blog.

My travels around the Baltic region have shown me the colourful heritage in many countries. I would like to share some of the lovely patterns with you in this online workshop.

The workshop will be spread over three weeks and will be open to anyone who has joined the Yahoo group, Braids and Bands. All the patterns will have 13 pattern threads.

If you are a member of the Braid Society, there will be a fourth week with more complex patterns.  Do think about joining the Braid Society.

Happy Weaving

Susan J Foulkes July 2017

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Chinese Whispers and Beamish Open Air Museum.

After being inspired by The Quilters Guild project of the same name a few years ago, Durham Guild decided to produce work for this exhibition beginning in December 2015 when 12 members of the guild signed up to produce 12 images using fibres and/or yarn.

The task was simple enough…..”A completed textile of 30 x 30 cm to fit a frame of 50 x 50 cm, based on a photograph of the preceding piece within 6 weeks –  sending a photograph on to the next volunteer in line” The really hard part was not talking about the work for over one year!  The unveiling of all the entries was a very moving occasion. No-one had any idea of what to expect. The links between one picture and the next are shown in the captions to each of the items.  This challenge was so inspiring.

The results are stunning and the exhibition is a great testimony to the skills of the Guild members.

Do go to the Guild site at
 https://dgswd.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/fabulous-exhibition-chinese-whispers/   where you can see close ups of all of the items and a full description written by the members who produced them. The year long creative journey is very moving.

The Heritage Centre is near Durham Cathedral and is a busy tourist centre.

Durham Guild also has a Facebook site here:  https://www.facebook.com/Durhamguild/

Durham Guild at Beamish Open Air Museum.

The display moved on to Beamish Museum for the three days the Guild was demonstrating traditional skills.The Durham Guild of Spinners Weaver and Dyers had volunteered to dress up and demonstrate at Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham.  I had never done anything like this before and it was so much fun!.
We were given the Band Hall  for the exhibition and demonstrating.

Here is a sample of the wonderful response to the Chinese Whispers challenge but do visit the wordpress site for a full viewing.

Part of the Chinese Whispers display.  The miners banner on the wall shows the Big Meeting.

Just to give you a background to the museum here is the web link.  http://www.beamish.org.uk/

The Band Hall was hung with banners from the mining villages. These banners are still treasured by the villages in Durham and are proudly displayed in the amazing processions for the Durham Miners Gala held every year in July. The next Gala, the 133rd,  is on July 8th.  The bands start playing in the processions and as one of the routes is very close to where I live we can hear them in the house.  I love going to the Gala Field later in the day. http://www.durhamminers.org/gala

I had not visited Beamish for a number of years and I was amazed at the variety of activities on offer.

Our role for three days was to demonstrate the traditional skills of weaving and spinning.  I took along my little box loom to do some patterned band weaving. We all had to dress in costumes issued by the costume department of the museum.  It was great fun dressing up!

Dressed in costume at Beamish Open Air Museum

The day was punctuated by rumbling and clattering from the road outside the hall. There is a trolley bus for people to ride around the museum.  A horse drawn cart and steam engine also went past at regular intervals.

The steam engine

The traditional horse drawn cart

We settled in for the day. 

Some of our spinners
I was amazed at the number of visitors from abroad.  This is not so surprising really as I always visit this type of museum when on holiday.

The first wave of visitors
One table was set up with small peg looms so that children and adults could have a go.  This was very popular.  Crafts can be taught even if there is no common language.

My small band loom with a Sami band.
I took several warped heddles and managed to use weave two complete warps during the day.  The picture here is from my third warp.  It is a Sami band pattern from Kautokeino in Norway from the end of the 19th century. The pattern is from a small booklet printed, I think, in 1946 which contains patterns for 8 bands. All of the patterns are from original bands woven in the second half of the nineteenth century. This was very kindly sent to me by a Guild member who knows how much I love Sami band weaving.  Thank you.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes

Thursday, 15 June 2017

More handtowels on four shafts.

Delicate handtowels on four shafts

The pattern for these handtowels is known as 2 fold Ms and Os.

This pattern is from the wonderful book  Margarite P Davison  A Handweaver's Pattern Book on page 56. This book was first published in 1944 and was the first book about weaving that I bought. My copy is old and well used and used to be in the library at Edge Hill Teacher Training College. When I trained s a teacher, crafts were still considered important and I remember in my college large floor looms in the corridor as well as in the craft room.

Here is the weave drawdown for the pattern for these handtowels.

You can see how the Ms and Os are outlined in blocks of three by the blue warp and weft.  The weave structure makes these towels shrink in the wash but although they appear very delicate they are excellent for drying hands.

Warp and Weft

Total number of warp ends is 572
Width at reed  59.75 cm   23.5 inches
Warp sett is 24 ppi          12 reed with 2 ends per dent
Weft sett is 30 ppi

The warp  is 16/2 cotton and the weft is 16/1 linen in two colours blue and white. I use Swedish cotton and linen made by the same company so that the colours for the different yarns are the same.

Colour order for border  

white  10       10      8     8     10
blue          2         4     2     4        2

then the pattern threading is as follows

white  22
blue          2           18 repeats    then 22 white.  The order for the border is now reversed.


I use 12 rows in plain weave - for this threading true plain weave is not possible.  Then weave approx 1.5 inches in pattern to fold over to form the hem.

Weaving the towels. 

I made enough warp for three long handtowels.  

Tying the warp onto the front beam

This is a two shuttle weave using the 16/1 linen

close up of the weave structure on the loom
The weave structure is quite open as you can see from the photograph.  The weft sett is 30 ppi.  It is important to weave the design square even though the warp sett is only 24 epi.

 This photograph shows one end of the first towel.  I have woven extra blocks in white linen for the hem.  The coloured thick thread is the division between this towel and the next I am weaving. After I have taken the finished weaving off the loom, I cut each towel at the place where I used the thicker yarn.  I always turn up the hem and iron it as soon as possible after cutting the towels apart. I pin, then tack the hems in place before sewing them on the machine.


I always machine hem the towels before washing so the measurements include the hem.

                        before washing                               after washing
length              80 cm   31.5 inches                         65 cm   29.75 inches
width                58 cm  23 inches                            53 cm    21 inches

Close up after washing
Here you can see how the design puckers up creating a lovely surface texture. There is some shrinkage.

I washed two handtowels by hand and the third in the washing machine.  I wondered whether there would be any difference in the shrinkage.  The measurements were the same.  However, there was an odd difference which I was not expecting.  The hand washed towel was slightly yellow.

Two towels, one handwashed and one machine washed.
I first thought that it was the machine washed towel and that there had been  a slight colour issue in the wash but it is definitely the handwashed towel that is not white.  The effect might be difficult to see in the photograph. I have no idea why this should have happened.

Of course I also wove a tag for hanging the towels.  Here is the pattern.

Draft for hanging tags.
I used 16/1 linen for the pattern.  There are 47 warp ends.  The width of the tag is  13 mm.

Linen hanging tag on the hem
I like to sew the hanging tag along the hem.  It is very firmly attached.

Two handtowels

This is a lovely light hand towel but excellent for drying hands.  It would make a pretty guest towel.

Susan J Foulkes