Saturday, 31 December 2016

Latest Project

Traditional Patch work

with a hint of modern

For a new grand child, Hugo, at Christmas.
I have never made anything with machine patchwork before!

Having injured my right ankle a few weeks ago it is too soon to spend time at my floor loom to complete long awaited projects, but short bursts on the sewing machine, in the warmth of our house seemed like a great way to relieve the frustration of not creating something. so with the idea of 'disappearing square' traditional patchwork blocks,  off to the fabric shop, 'Threads and Patches', I went.

I needed to choose 9 coordinating fabrics for the patchwork and two others for the main ground and elephants. I spent quite some time looking at the fabrics!
A new rotary cutter and transparent ruler made the job of cutting the squares so easy! I was pleased to have made the investment. Double sided iron on vilene made the correct placement of the elephants a breeze, but could I control my sewing machine around the curves?!!!!!
I worked on the project for three days and had made all the squares and sewn them together 3 x 5.
then I realised that I hadn't enough fabric for the edge binding, so off to another favourite shop, this time in Leighton Buzzard. They had just the thing along with the correct weight of wadding.

Only a couple of days after its completion and just before Teddy's third birthday, I took the quilt to Cranleigh. Fingers crossed! Would the family like it?
'Perfect' was the reaction and surprise at it being finished so quickly. 

My next patchwork project, I hope, will be a cot quilt for grand-daughter Martha who will be one year old 8th January 2017. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Completed Rep Runner

      I'm quite pleased with the finished runner!
     Although not originally intended to be a 'finished item' rather than a weave sample, I have woven 10 of the possible 128 motifs using this weave structure and threading and it is long enough - 80inches/200cm - to go down the middle of our dining table. Admittedly, I did choose the warp colours with this possibility in mind but the result was an unknown quantity.
      There is still some of the five yard warp left to try out a more 'freeform' design and I'm eager to get on with it. Also, I am eagerly awaiting the publication of Rosalie Neilson's 'An Exaltation of Blocks.'

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Results of Rep Course

Boy, What a great course! Rosalie Neilson - A great and generous tutor!
It was a busy 3 days, challenging and inspiring.
The motifs in the collage are some of those I have woven already.
The weave structure seems complicated at first and planning the warp means you have to get your mathematicians head on. With 128 possible design motifs to choose from the choice was difficult. Do I repeat a few and make a pattern or try as many as possible for the experience? I chose the later and the resulting length will make a great table runner.
I managed 76" in three days, eight motifs with a small motif repeated between each one, and plan to weave a couple more motifs to make it the length of our dining table.
Rosalie gave us booklets made up of some pages from her book to be published soon ('An Exaltation of Blocks') and took us through designing and creating all the 4 block design possibilities using binary. In the book will be printed design pages and transparent overlays to allow weavers to explore block designs. Those of us on the course had 8 shaft looms and could only work with 4 block designs. Weavers with 16 or more shafts and the appropriate number of treadles will discover infinite design possibilities.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Warped at Last

Sett Up and Ready to Go

     In September I am going to a weaving workshop in Devon, organised by the Devon Weaver's Workshop. I am really looking forward because I have wanted to use this weave for some years but could never be quite confident that I could get my head round the structure all by myself. I have owned a book 'Rep Weave and Beyond' by Joanne Tallarovic since 2004/5
As luck would have it I secured a place on this workshop, led by Rosalie Neilson, a great 'expert' on the weave.

     It has taken longer than I expected to warp up my table loom but hopefully all is well.
It can't be bad a weaving workshop and extra days spent in Devon.

    I wove this sampler when I was at another summer school with the Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. That workshop was organised as a 'round robin' so we got to try several different weave structures and make small samples of each.

REPP WEAVE is warp faced block weave based on the Swedish ripsmatta - 'repp mat' of which little had been published in English until the mid 1980's. At first yarns for this weren't very exciting, thick string or cotton roving but now there are yarns in many interesting colours and the weave is being used for more than rugs, towels, table mats, wall hangings and even clothing.
'The technique has been known in various cultures since early times. Excavations in Peru and Egypt have unearthed fragments dating back to the fourth century. Asians, for centuries, have used remnants as camel girths. Today in Central Asia, long, narrow, colourful bands are use to bind together sections of framework for yurts covered with felted wool.' 'Rep Weave and Beyond'

Monday, 27 June 2016

The warp and weft blog...: The London Cloth Company

The warp and weft blog...: The London Cloth Company: Film by Thomas Webster   After observing from afar for awhile with jaw-dropped admiration, I was lucky enough to hear Daniel Harris sp...



There may be a lot of others like me who hate to throw away favourite pieces of clothing that are still beautiful, don't fit any longer or have some small area of damage. Like me these may be part of your 'stash' of creative materials waiting for a new purpose.
Maybe weaving with them is one solution.

Last year, while demonstrating at 'Living Crafts' Hatfield House, I used some shibori dyed squares of silk which I wove on the remnants of a white silk warp used to demonstrate the previous year.
Visitors were eager to know what I was going to do with this length of cloth, so I quickly thought of an idea and bravely said, 'Come and see the results next year'. Unfortunately I didn't exhibit there this year, but here is the resulting garment.

I woven the green fabric from a cone of yarn that I thought was wild silk, sadly it was not, too much wool content for my sensitive skin!
Below are the silk squares that were cut into continuous strips to give the wound balls on the right.

The Finished Fabric Length:-

I have owned the large rag bag on the right for several years. It hangs in my workshop, even though it isn't particularly beautiful, a constant reminder of what can be done with fabric 'remnants

The purse, zipped tool bag, on the right, shows how not to use your cut strips!
Made from an old 70's table cloth, I was experimenting with this technique. I tore the strips of fabric and wove with them as they were. the torn edges were not too frayed but I hadn't calculated on the cloth folding inwards/inside out as I wove, so most of what shows is the wrong side of the table cloth and thus not as bright as it could have been. (Tearing does make sure your fabric strips are on the grain.) A lesson learned!

      This lined diagram shows how to cut your fabric to get as long a weft 'yarn' as possible.
If you are cutting a thin dress cotton or even printed silk, there is a way to make sure you see the right side of your fabric when it is woven in. Cut the strips a twice as wide as you might otherwise have done and then iron them, wrong sides together, wind them on your shuttle and weave.

The Next Steps

Winding on and Threading Sequence for Log Cabin

Warp wound on, still in the slots only, with just sufficient length to reach the front of your loom, begin to cut the loops in the threads and tie them, as you go, with a slip knot to prevent them being pulled out of the heddle.

Now, you need to concentrate!
Some threads have to be moved from the slots to the holes!
Here is a diagram showing where they should be moved to. If you click on it, it should get bigger!

You will notice that the warp colours alternate for a number of threads and then there are 2 of the same colour in the adjacent slot and hole. This reverses the colour sequence, so when you open a shed, i.e. lift your heddle up,  across your warp you will see stripes of one colour and then the other.
When you have completed one repeat, like the one in the diagram you warp will look similar to this next photo.
Work your way across the whole warp, tying your groups with a slip knot as before and check the sequence regularly.
When you are happy with the threading sequence, tie the left and right groups, with a single knot, to the front 'stick' or your warp. 

Then continue tying all groups.

Once they are all tied, check that the tension is equal all the way across your warp.
I find pulling the warp groups away from you helps to feel the tension of each group and get the tension equal. When you are happy, lightly tension again, going across the warp tying each group in a bow.
You are now ready to start weaving!
Wind two shuttles, one for each colour, preferably ones that are wider than your warp.

Setting up for Log Cabin on a Rigid Heddle loom

Remembering how to set up  your loom can be daunting for the first few times. Wasting precious yarns and making a mistake that takes longer to sort than finishing the whole project, are worries for new weavers.
I hope this blog helps with the setting up for this check fabric design.

This post is for all my friends at the Guild of Long Draw Spinners for whom I am leading a weaving workshop next Saturday 2nd July.
I was feeling very happy with my outdoor photoshoot but then the weather changed and I had to go inside. The photos I took indoors are no where near as good as those outside. I'm sorry, but when you have gone completely through a process like this there is no going back to take more photos. Next time I will check as I go along.

Log cabin is called a block weave and the blocks can be varied in size according to your requirements. usually woven in 2 contrasting coloured yarns the blocks are created by your threading sequence. The 'diagram', 'weave draft' below shows you across the top the order that your yarns need to end up on your loom. the squares on the far right show the order that you pass your shuttles, dark then light in turn through the 'sheds' - created when you move your heddle up then heddle down.
Log Cabin Dark Change Photo:  This Photo was uploaded by ksfiber. Find other Log Cabin Dark Change pictures and photos or upload your own with Photobucke...:

I am endeavouring to show you pictorially how you get to this stage .

'Googleing' 'Log cabin weave' will show you images of the weave structure, but as, in copying and pasting them, I have been warned of problems I cannot show you them here, Please look.

These show typical log cabin fabric woven in 2 contrasting yarns of the same thickness.

The loom I am setting up is a very old Dryad one, given to me by a school I worked at in the 70's. It has a metalex rigid heddle, the only ones available then, with a total of 12 slots and holes to the inch. I find a 4ply yarn just right for this heddle.
Most looms seems to be supplied with a 10 thread per inch heddle and this may be all you have. To create a balanced/evenly woven fabric you will need to use a yarn that wraps 20 threads, touching side by side, over one inch of ruler.
I have used both colours of  warp thread so they can be easily counted. As you can tell there is still a little room but I have no option but to thread 12 threads per inch with the only heddle I have!
The wraps sample below is DK yarn which wraps 16 thread to the inch, so an 8 dent rigid heddle would be needed.

Gather your equipment.
You will need:-
a surface long enough for your required length of warp - eg. 2 metres.
G clamp or warping post that clamps to the end of your 'table'.
Yarns, probably centre pull balls, and a container to control them.
Threading hooks
Brown paper, or something similar, for winding your warp.

I recommend marking your RH in the centre slot and either side to show where your warp threading will begin and end. Her I have marked six inches either side of centre. I leave my centre marking in permanently.
now with heddle marked and loom and yarns in place, you can begin to thread/warp up your loom.
My G clamp is centred at the opposite end of the table to my loom and yarns. The back 'legs' of the loom are hanging over the edge of the table, this keeps it in place while warping, to ensure all threads are the same length.
Each yarn is tied to the back warping stick of your loom in turn and
 each colour is threaded through your RH. Here I have threaded the pink/dark colour first, through the marked slot and the looped end placed over the G clamp.
The light colour/grey is then threaded in the same way through the next slot along and 'hung' on the G clamp. You have done this all before but probably with only one yarn at a time.
I usually take the colours in turn, so as not to forget one and keep the colour sequence correct.

In this case after alternating the colours for a way, I tried threading one colour (pink) in alternate heddle slots, it seemed quicker. Then I began to fill the empty, alternate slots with the grey. It worked well, so I took the grey to the other warp marking in alternate slots, filling in with the pink when I'd finished.

 Tie each colour off with a secure knot.

Heddle threaded, it's now time to wind the warp onto the back roller/beam.
If you need a break, either leave the warp on the G clamp or chain it. (I needed to get indoors because rain was threatening proceedings!)
I put a stick/ruler in the last loop of the chain and tightened it to secure.
The loom and warp are now safely portable.
Wind your warp with even tension onto the back of your loom, putting some quality brown paper between the layers of warp.
Now comes the tricky bit....... sequencing the colours to produce the typical log cabin check ....I'll describe it in another post.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Inspiration for Art Yarns

The next Saturday meeting of Bedfordshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers is scheduled on July 16th and the topic for the day is Spinning your own 'fancy' yarns.

With this in mind I ransacked my storage boxes to find commercial yarns, bought for inspiration as well as skeins produced at workshops over the years.

The skein of white, bottom right, and the yellow/green/orange above it, along with  the three coloured balls, second left, inspired my to spin the yarns top left of the first photo. The blue/green/brown one in the first photo is the remnants of yarn I used to knit a cosy winter 

Last year, a very generous lady, Monica, showed members of the Guild of Longdraw Spinners how she creates her 'beaded' merino wool necklaces. (Left)

The skein on the right was my attempt on the day. 
As well as making the slubby necklace yarn, we used a number of 'add ins', feathers, strips of sequins and locks of fleece.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Solar Dyeing

This is the first time I have used Picasa to create a photo collage. I hope it is easier next time!

Over the last two summers I have used flower heads and leaves from our garden, as well as some from friends' to experiment with natural dyeing.
Dyeing the traditional way with dye plants or extracts takes some time. This is perhaps a little more hit and miss but non the less interesting and exciting.
I now grow woad, the leaves of which produced the salmon fibre on the left. A pleasing result!
This summer I have collected eucalyptus leaves (top left) from around Cranleigh School's cricket pitch and I am hoping for a port wine red or rich brown .

More to come on this topic as this years 'gatherings' develop!

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Teddy's Secret Garden.

Again, it's such a long time since I have posted! I nearly forgot that I had a blog at all.

This is my latest project - a fabric collage under our handsome grandson's mid-sleeper.
He is interested in nature and watches creatures very intently, so some of his favourites are on this panel.
This  suspended cushion came first. It is a made from a patchwork or blue and green upholstery fabrics.
Coy? No, just playing hide and seek!
I have two smaller panels to make before the project is complete, one for each end, so watch this space!