On Saturday and Sunday the 13th and 14th June, it will be the third Follow the Thread event at Helmshore Mills Textile Museum! I shall, of course, be there again, demonstrating weaving and selling Estonian yarns, batts and pencil roving.....together with lots of other textile enthusiasts, including knitters, crocheters, spinners, embroiderers and others. There will also be alpacas to admire and opportunities to try your hand at a number of wonderful textile crafts.
I have just returned from a wonderful week in France, where I took part in a 3-day weaving workshop led by Marian Stubenitsky, based on her book "Weaving with Echo and Iris".
We focused on 8-shaft designs using network drafting to devise a threading in four colours, trying out a range of tie ups and lift sequences to create a variety of single and double layer fabrics, each one of which showed iridescence in a different way.
It was a fascinating, challenging and above all enjoyable few days in a beautiful Dordogne setting-with a great teacher and a group of like-minded weavers. Oh and not forgetting the excellent food and accommodation provided by our hosts, Gail and Mike Smith!
Well, it should be getting warmer but today there is a bitterly cold wind. In an attempt to brighten things up, I have some 16-shaft twill throws on the loom, in Estonian wool. The warp is red and I will use a different colour for the weft in each throw, together with a contrasting twill design for each throw. I wanted to add a contemporary twist by using some bright colour combinations.
On Sunday April 12th I will be at the Knit and Stitch show at the Rheged centre in Penrith so I had better get weaving!
I have not seen pencil roving like this for sale in the UK before! When I have visited the yarn factory in Estonia I have seen these beautiful multicoloured rolls of what looks like unspun knitting yarn and wondered what they were used for. Well, it seems one can use them in almost any textile craft there is, and they are widely used in the Baltic countries. Basically, the roll consists of a pencil thin length of washed, dyed, carded wool. The wool can then be rolled up into a ball, as in the photos, and knitted or crocheted as it is, or can be combined with a ready-spun yarn and knitted or crocheted, or used in all sorts of felt making, both wet and needle felting, to add fine detail. Moreover, the roving can be spun on a spinning wheel, again singly or in combination with other fibres and/or yarns to create original yarns, and used in the weft for weaving and tapestry weaving. So in effect it would seem to be a highly versatile item! I am starting to put together some samples which I hope to incorporate into my work and my teaching, and will be demonstrating its use whenever I get an opportunity. It is available in a wide range of single and mixed colours.
Well, now I have decided to investigate the feasibility and possibility of publishing a magazine aimed predominantly at UK weavers and English-speaking weavers around Europe. There really is not anything available which contains weaving projects using yarns, materials and equipment widely available in the UK.
The Journal is certainly a fine publication for weavers, spinners and dyers but does not often contain projects and guidance for weavers.
Handwoven magazine has its merits but the ads are all for sellers in America or Canada and the yarns used in projects are often incompatible with those we use here in the UK-or at least, the terminology used to describe them often differs from the familiar usage over this side of the pond.
So, I am looking into it-I am putting out feelers, speaking with self-publishers and weavers-if any of you have thoughts, ideas or words of warning on this issue, please do let me know!
Where has January gone???
I have been weaving samples for some new cushions, preparing for the forthcoming Waddow Weekend of Weaving next month and generally finishing off items for an Online Guild workshop-UFO's, or "Unfinished Objects"-a great idea for a new year project before embarking on new ventures.
So, here is a picture of my newly finished socks, including a nice shot of Tess's paw-she would not move out of the way-what a poser.
Exciting things planned for this year:
On February 7th I will be teaching another felt making workshop at Bridie's shop, Fine Yarns in Horwich. It is fully booked with a waiting list, and another date will soon be decided upon. This time, we shall be making a three-dimensional felt bowl.
My application is in for Woolfest, and I should hear in couple of weeks whether or not I have been selected this year.
20th-22nd of February is the Waddow Weekend! I can't wait! A reunion of last year's group together with a few new faces.
In May I am off to take part in the Weaving with Echo and Iridescence workshop with Marian Stubenitsky in the Dordogne for a week-well, somebody has to do it you know....
It will be the third Follow the Thread textiles event at Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in July and there are a couple of other workshop opportunities in the pipeline over the summer.
In September I take over the tutoring of the Loom Weaving course at Alston Hall. Scary but exciting!
Lots of other plans too, plus my usual weaving classes in the weaving shed.
I feel like a really bad penpal who is only just getting in touch after a long silence!!
It has been so busy, what with teaching, events and family crises that I have barely had time to weave recently, let alone update my blog.
But here at last is a photo of one of my latest creations-a deflected double weave scarf in wool and cotton, fresh from the loom.
This Sunday, December 7th, is the Victorian Christmas Fair at Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, and this year I am donating all my proceeds to Northern Greyhound Rescue. We have had our beautiful rescue greyhound, Tess, for 2 years now, and can't imagine life without her. This organisation does a fabulous job but are always in need of donations and volunteers.
Don't forget it's Yarndale this weekend if you can get to Skipton-just click on the badge on this blog homepage to go straight to the Yarndale website.
As well as my usual yarns and wool batts, I will be taking these fine wool scarves, handwoven in a 16 shaft herringbone design. I really must get that new camera-or a new phone with a better camera on it!
On Saturday 4th October I shall be running an introductory workshop in making felt fabric from wool fibres, at Fine Yarns wool shop in Horwich, near Bolton. Places are limited, so for more information ring Bridie on 07846 164589 or email me via this blog.
Had a great time again at Woolfest-wonderful to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and put some faces to names! Many thanks to my team of helpers-Pat, Alice and Louise-especially for being such stars at packing up time on Saturday! We were up and away while others were still scratching their heads! Roll on next year!
I have been busy on the computer adding lots of new shades in the Estonian wool batts to my Online Shop! There is now a great deal more choice of colours in this beautiful product, which is ideal for all types of wet and dry felt making as well as for spinning on a drop spindle or spinning wheel. Here is just a selection to whet your appetite.
I will shortly be adding my new range of colours in the 8/3 and 8/2 wool yarns, so keep a look out for these.
My lovely friend Bridie has just opened a brand new wool shop in Horwich, so I just had to pop down and wish her well in her new venture. Photos are a bit blurred as taken on my phone. But all looking fabulous!
Huge apologies to anyone who has been trying to buy any wool or yarn from my website recently-a customer has just alerted me to the fact that it is impossible to proceed to Checkout-I thought things were quiet- so if you would like to order anything just email me and I will process the order that way. I hope to get things sorted out as soon as possible! Grrrrrrr
Well, the weekend is over and my head is slowly ceasing to spin. Lovely to meet up with weaving friends and make new ones too. I thoroughly enjoyed every exhausting minute of it and have already booked Waddow Hall for a return visit at the same time next year. Quite an assortment of looms, projects, colour schemes and personalities, all rubbing along well together. Roll on next February!
I have been preparing a short talk for during this weekends workshop in Clitheroe, and just wanted to share some of the photos I have just rediscovered. Taken in 2008 during our visit to the Centre for Traditional Textiles in Cusco and to two remote weaving communities in the surrounding area, Chinchero and Pitumarca, under the care and guidance of Nilda Callanaupa. Happy days and glorious memories.
It's been a hectic few weeks....the horsehair weaving is finished, a shipment of beautiful new wool batts and yarn has arrived (and the website needs updating) and I have been doing lots of teaching.
Below are 2 photos of a scarf designed and woven by Jen, who came for a day of weaving after her husband bought her a day of tuition with me as a Christmas present!
We had a lovely day and the resulting scarf is a wonderful example of what a complete beginner can achieve!
Next on the agenda is the Wonderful Weekend of Weaving at Waddow which takes place this weekend in Clitheroe.
I am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones as we indulge our passion for weaving in scenic surroundings.
Then I need to update the website with details of all the lovely new stock!
The first warp length is now off the loom-a 6.3m length and a sample length and I am so pleased with how it looks! It's remarkable how soft and "fluid" the resulting fabric is and there is a definite lustre to the horsehair. The next two 15.5m warp bundles are wound and chained and ready to be beamed!
My online Shop is undergoing a facelift-well major surgery actually. It will be much easier for customers to use and for me to maintain, and I am hoping to stock a wider range of exciting woolly products.
For the time being nothing has changed, but watch this space!
I have finally started on a huge weaving commission for June of Salt after waiting weeks for the cotton yarn to arrive! The warp is crammed and spaced randomly threaded cotton and viscose and the weft is.....horsehair! This makes the weaving extremely slow, as each bundle of horsehair weft must be placed in the shed and positioned by hand! I invented a gadget to help with this, ably constructed by husband Joe. The gadget grasps the group of wefts and holds them together inside an aluminium tube which then acts as a shuttle to pull them across the shed before releasing them in position.
It is painstaking work but the results are stunning!