In a recent copy of the Observer Magazine, I found an interesting article about four young weavers. Each one has brought a modern twist to the craft as well as manage to make a living from their weaving.
I have written a very brief summary of each weaver but have included their websites if you wish to see examples of their work.
Maria Sigma (mariasigma.com)
Maria’s zero-waste textiles use undyed, British Wool, alpaca, linen and recycled cotton, which are woven into cushions, rugs, upholstered stools and garments. They are either woven as one-off or limited edition designs.
Hannah Robson (hannah-robson.com)
Hannah creates sculptural artworks on her loom in a most unconventional way. With materials such as horsehair, metal, paper and monofilament nylon, which she scavenges from a variety of sources, she weaves them to begin with but then allows them to break free before returning them to the formality of the loom.
Jo Elbourne (jorobynelbourne.com)
With braided cotton, Jo wraps geometric patterns on to her furniture pieces, which are not intended for everyday use. She uses soft colours together with either red or black to give a strong contrast in the design and uses synthetic dyes to create an interesting colour palette.
Christabel Balfour ( christabelbalfour.com)
Christabel uses two old looms to weave her rugs and wall-hangings in wool, cotton and linen. Her abstract designs are taken from nature using simple imagery and calm colours when weaving.
Several of our members were involved in Remembrance Day activities in 2018, contributing to some amazing displays. Two that have received a lot of attention were at Hertford and Great Dunmow.
At Hertford, local crafters (including members of The Secret Society of Hertford Crafters, school children, people in care homes and other local volunteers) made 15,000 poppies and hand-stitched them to camouflage netting.
The result was draped from Hertford Castle - simply stunning and very moving. This display made national and local headlines - read more on the BBC website and on the Hertfordshire Mercury site.
As well as the knitted flowers, the crafters made a wreath made up of 352 poppies - one for every Hertford serviceman who died in the conflict and a mini-wreath for each of the 31 graves from World War One in the county.
All funds raised from the installation will go towards The Royal British Legion.
In Great Dunmow, Poppies adorned sites all around the town center, ensuring that everyone remembered the fallen. The Dunmow Knit and Natter group came up with the idea more than a year in advance. They had anonymously yarn-bombed the town previously, but this time they went public with the blessing of the British Legion, who were delighted with the idea. The British Legion also mentioned it to other branches of the British Legion to spread the idea. As the Knit and Natter group attended meetings it became apparent that the project take more than just the 9 people to complete. At this point, they involved the town, through parish magazines, BBC Radio Essex, local yarn shops (Lloydwaters, Sconch), the WI, local retirement homes and family and friends throughout the world. Knitted and crocheted poppies arrived from Australia, Ireland, Washington State USA as well as Norfolk and London. They ended up with over 8,000 poppies, which were attached to camouflage netting, garden netting, wreathes, sticks and garlands and the crowning glory 'Cyril' the unknown soldier. This were displayed at all the local churches, by Doctors Pond, the Fire Station and along the High Street. They added brooch backs to some poppies and sold them in aid of the British Legion. Once the display was taken down the poppies were washed and dried and then sold at Christmas fairs as garlands, wreathes, stem poppies or broaches with all proceeds going to the British Legion.
See more pictures at the Dunmow Broadcast site.
The British Museum recently announced they have developed new techniques to discover how ancient Egyptians used dyes on a child's sock.
Their non-invasive techniques have established which dyes were used: madder, woad and weld. Also how people of this period used double and sequential dyeing and weaving, and twisting fibres, to make a myriad of colours.
Read more in The Guardian here: www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/oct/04/imaging-tool-unravels-secrets-of-childs-sock-from-ancient-egypt
I always try to visit the Exhibitions at the Knitting and Stitching Show and usually find something, which draws my attention.
This year it was a series of ‘drawings’ of old ladies. On closer examination, I realized that they were of one lady, the mother of the artist, Jenni Dutton, and that they were stitched not drawn at all.
Each portrait in the series was a reproduction of a photo of her mother, starting when she was a girl. The earlier ones were in black and white but those of the older version were in colour. Each stitch was about one cm in length and looked like a fine pencil line. I took a close-up photo to show the quality of the technique.
I can’t remember when I first heard about Shetland Wool Week but each year when I saw reports on various media, it became more and more enticing. It also seemed fraught with difficulties because you need to book your flights and accommodation months before the programme is made available, just before bookings open in May. What if none of the workshops, talks or tours appeal? As it happened, I was encouraged to go for it by Frankie, a friend from Cambridge guild who had worked out the logistics for me and her daughter, Katie. I spent hours researching the tutors, the venues and the bus/ferry services and then had a frantic time online trying to get my chosen workshops before they sold out. I was lucky and got into most of them which resulted in a wonderful 8 days, busy with workshops and talks. The weather was far better than I expected and, although it did rain, I missed most of the showers whilst in classes but enjoyed the magnificent rainbows when I stepped outside!
For the weaving enthusiasts among us, there are some fascinating videos on Vimeo by Allan Brown showing how to extract fibres from nettles and then the results of weaving with them.
Thanks to Audrey for finding these.
This is the story of the Spinner from Deba. I happened across this story at a viewpoint on the way to Deba in Northern Spain. It actually has very little to do with spinning, but does involve a spinner and shows some pictures of her spinning.
The ancient Basque culture is rich in traditions, myths and legends. One of the most popular legends is that of ‘The Spinner’ a beautiful and dramatic story of love. Possibly somewhere between reality and fiction.
The story takes place in Deba around the year 1500, and gets its name from the excessive affection for the old craft of spinning of one of the lead characters, Andra Madalen, lady of the historic Zubelzu house.
They say that the kind lady lived with her daughter Katalintxu. Her husband and the majority of the males of the house had died in the bloody and prolonged war that the sailors of the Basque ports waged against the French.
The warm summer sunshine was already in evidence as we arrived at Bucklers Hall Farm for our eagerly awaited dye day. The chairs had already been arranged beneath the trees for protection. Michele, as ever so well organised, had prepared a wet area in the shade of a small barn. She had packaged up a range of silk and cotton samples plus some scarves for those brave souls, who were planning a project as well.
For the first time, I encountered home-made mordants:
Alum: aluminium foil immersed in a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar for 3 weeks.
Iron: rusty nails in the 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar for a year.
Copper: a piece of copper pipe in the 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar for a year.
The mordant was then diluted for use.
We each had four samples of either silk or cotton or both.
Patchwork weaving is a term used by the team at WeaveKnitIt.co.uk to describe their use of fabric made on pin looms: combining the units into larger pieces in a similar way to piecing together fabric in traditional patchwork. The results are stunning, often reminiscent of tweeds.
We met the Weaveknitit team at the Waltham Abbey Wool Fair in January this year and I was so inspired by their results that I took the opportunity of a trip to Derbyshire to take a workshop with them in their lovely studio in Ambergate. Here I learned to use square and triangle looms and had a chance to see more of their work.
The Association’s 2018 Conference, organised by the Guilds in Region G (London and Northern Home Counties), was on the theme of “Then and Now”. Its aim was to look at the origins of craft and artisan production in Britain, tracing forwards through revivals to the latest resurgence of interest, and how past practice affects the present.
This was the 14th Biennial Conference organised by the National Association. On alternate years the AGM is held in London. I have enjoyed all the Conferences I have attended and, also, the AGMs (although I have not always gone to the actual AGM). This year I undertook to be our Guild’s official delegate so did, indeed, attend the Meeting.
Kents Hill is a cut above some of the other venues I have visited, most of which have been at colleges with the usual student accommodation. This year the rooms had complimentary toiletries, tea/coffee making facilities and TV: such luxury. The food was also excellent and the whole complex linked by covered walkways.
The first of the five lectures on the Friday evening was given by Dr Susanna Harris, Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow and Dr Mark Knight, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge on The Bronze Age Fabrics of Must Farm. The settlement of Must Farm provides a remarkable window into the fabrics people made in Bronze Age Britain, around 900 BC. The two speakers presented the site and ongoing research into the rich evidence for plant fibre fabrics made by weaving and twining. The talk was just fascinating!
We are a group who enjoy learning and improving our skills and are genuinely interested in sharing these skills with each other and any one who would like to join us.