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

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   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:

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.

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.

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