Yet Another Day in the Workshop

Bradford College was enjoying its mid-term lull in proceedings as, unlike the university next door, it observes the school-half term. By all accounts it had been pretty manic the previous week and when I arrived in the workshop there was still evidence of the work that the second year HNC students on the Woven Textile course had been doing. During my last visit I’d had the opportunity to see the Louet loom being set up for a double-weave demonstration, in fact an experiment linked to the use of some software new to the workshop, WeaveIt. Students can now acquire this American application for PC at a special (sensible) price, and judging by some of print-outs of the draft Andrea drew up last week (see the illustration in my blog of 28 October) it looks quite impressive. I include an example here.

Click the picture to view in detail

Click the picture to view in detail

The experiment/ demonstration undertaken during the 3-day weekend block course for the HNC 2nd year can be illustrated not only by this picture of the use of the two warp beams that the Louet has but by a woven example of Jenny’s.


The Two Warp Beams on the Louet Loom

The Two Warp Beams on the Louet Loom

Here are two views of the example, back and front. Notice the floats in the reverse side of the swatch. Click on each picture to view the swatches in detail.

A Swatch of Double Weave

A Swatch of Double Weave (reverse)


Double Weave Swatch (the other side)

Double Weave Swatch






You can clearly see the effect of the diamond pointing that is the result of threading the heddles in a pattern that brings together both warp yarns. Sitting beside a number of the Harris and the Jacquard looms were further swatches showing some lively and most interesting experiments with mixtures of texture. being able to look closely at some of this work, some still on the loom, is most inspiring and valuable to likes of me. There is nothing quite like getting up close to the woven piece. No matter how good the photograph there is a certain presence of the making missing.

HND 2nd Year Swatch

HND 2nd Year Swatch


HNC 2nd Year example on the loom

HNC 2nd Year example on the loom








I spent the morning, as I had done last week, working on my ‘organic’ project. I continued developing what I hope will be the second of my eight swatches. It’s an extension of a little sateen weave in lemon yellow and grass green focusing on a small piece from my fern collage. I’ve added two more sections to it, gradually darkening the yellow surface by combining first a very thin orange thread, and then a slightly thicker and darker thread woven together with the yellow. I looked for ways I could twist or ply the yellow and orange together, but nothing presented immediately as a way of doing this, so the two yarns lie side by side. But the darkening effect does work, and certainly mirrors what is currently happening to my next-door neighbour’s bunch of ferns as they change from green through orange to brown. Set into the yellow and orange there are now three different shades of green, single weft threads I have woven in, breaking into the sateen sequence by choosing a heddle not to lift by sight rather than sequence. I like the outcome of this little piece of work and realise how much it benefitted from the thought and preparation I made prior to weaving. I did, for example, make an attempt to paint a small sketch on graph paper. Again, I’m very inhibited by difficulties I have with colour mixing.

The basis of my 2nd swatch

The basis of my 2nd swatch

As the Craft Centre cafe was shut today I wandered out up the road past the university to a whole food cafe next door to Yorkshire CND’s building. I had a bowl of soup you could stand a spoon up in, and a delicious piece of date cake. On my way back I took a detour through the university campus and discovered how imaginatively the campus had been integrated into its valley setting. The university has a unique Department of Peace Studies and has recently created a Peace Garden surrounding some of the latest architecture on the campus. There’s a signature atrium which feels a little like one of the new breed of motorway service areas you now find on the M6!

I started on my fourth warp later than I’d hoped, having given time to document all that I had done in the morning and to make corrections on the warp I prepared last week. A mis-threading through the reed had been made, but wasn’t too difficult to unpick and rethread. This warp is altogether better in its overall tension than the previous two! For today’s warp I decided on a blue Glenary waxed wool yarn and a white softened Herdmans which I organise in a bunches of 20 ends – blue, white, blue and white alternate, white, blue. I have to leave a little earlier today so by 6.0pm I’m only finishing the raddling process, without too many hitches and mistakes! But again, the time here has been invaluable, and I’ve haven’t needed any assistance.

Woven with Paper! (Old OS Maps)

Woven with Paper! (Old OS Maps)

I realise I’m becoming very aware of what’s on in the textile world. At the weekend I came across a notice about Lustre 2008. This is an exciting gathering of contemporary crafts hosted by the Lakeside Centre at the University of Nottingam over next weekend (8 and 9 November). It’s clearly becoming a must-be-there date for emerging craft practitioners from the Midlands. With funding from the Arts Council and collaborative support from ‘local’ university departments the website had some impressive examples. I particularly liked the knitted work of Akiko Kingsbury, but it was the work of Barbara Massey and Helen Rogers that I loved. Their web site was brilliant! Read their piece in Country Living, especially the section on weaving with paper. This is the kind of contemporary design that has a swing about it that I find really attractive, fresh and bright. Here is a little of their artists’ statement. I particularly warmed to their words about ‘appreciating nature in an urban setting’.

Our inspiration comes from a love of colour, form and line. In our work, we blend these elements into unique and fresh combinations. We live in a busy city and appreciate all that nature has to offer in this urban setting, using the coexistence of the natural and the urban landscape to inspire our designs. Both the modern and the old inspire and inform our work. From our observations we create designs that are sophisticated and naïve at the same time. An enjoyable preliminary step in our design process is the sourcing of materials and ideas. Collections have a great appeal for us. We take photos wherever we go, often of seemingly quite mundane things. Charity shops can be a treasure trove for us. We are excited by old hand embroidered table linens or handkerchiefs, small items of exquisitely painted china, samples of old haberdashery still in their original packaging and well thumbed books. We also look to the past for inspiration for our colour palettes, and different decorative and illustrative styles. Fortunately for us this means regularly visiting museums and galleries, as well as browsing through beautifully illustrated design journals and books! 

Finally, on a wall in the workshop there’s a new display of items from the Textile Archive. One shows Peggy Osterkamp’s ‘How to make a weaver’s knot. Osterkamps is from the Pacific North West who has a great website created as a preliminary to publishing a series of books in 2009 on the European Way to weave. She’s a former assistant to Jim Alders who designed the API loom and some of her short tips (soon to be in the books) are inspired. Check it out – as they say in the USA.



One Response to “Yet Another Day in the Workshop”

  1. Louise Says:

    Really interesting reading your comments and progress on the Bradford Course. I know Barbara Massey and Helen Rogers, spotted their work on this blog… I was introduced to my course by them when I went to look round at Derby. They are great ladies and very friendly.

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