A week of social weaving for weavers of all skill levels.
Come for a day or come for a couple of days, or even, come for the whole week.
Book your accommodation at the beautiful Remhoogte Mountain lodge.
A week of social weaving for weavers of all skill levels.
Come for a day or come for a couple of days, or even, come for the whole week.
Book your accommodation at the beautiful Remhoogte Mountain lodge.
I think that we can all agree that this Winter has been a PROPER Winter! Even here in the beautiful, balmy Lowveld, the temperature dipped below our comfort levels and saw us wearing jeans and sweaters and sometimes even more. This time last year we were already in an out of the swimming pool multiple times a day, but not so this year. In fact we haven’t even dipped a tentative toe into the water because we know that it is still going to be way too cold!
The welcome arrival of Spring also means that my next workshop at the beautiful Crafter’s Lodge is just around the corner – my first trip for some months – and I am so looking forward to it! Not that my time at home has been wasted mind you. I have been hard at it, finishing up the Block Weave and Profiles section on the Patreon page, closely followed by the Rep Weave and the Ponchonotaponcho for the Rigid Heddle weavers.
My current study is Honeycomb and deflected weft structures, also for the Patreon page. It is a structure that works equally well in both disciplines, and has surprised me by showing me that there are some variations which are quite easy and simple to produce on a Rigid Heddle loom, that require more than my normal eight shafts on a harness loom!
For me it is quite a luxury to just have the opportunity to play and experiment at the loom. The above images were all woven on an eight shaft loom, and this morning, I have spend my time translating them for the Rigid Heddle. With a couple of pick-up sticks and some patience, pretty much anything is possible on a RH, and it never ceases to surprise me how versatile this little loom can be.
Honeycomb is a fascinating weave structure which really does ‘ bend the square’. (It also bent my brain a bit this morning, but that’s beside the point)! It consists of alternating areas of plain weave and floats. In the areas where there are floats, the weft packs down into the space, whereas in the plain weave areas, the weft is allowed to build up. These alternating areas of floats and plain weave are then outlined in a heavy weft thread which automatically follows the ups and downs created by the little cells of plain weave. The result can be quite striking.
Add some colour into the mix and the results can be nothing short of jaw-dropping!
For this piece, I used the Ashford 5/2 Mercerised cotton in a 15 dent heddle. I love the way that the colours ‘pop’ against the Black ground cloth.
My morning was productive , creative and comfortable, sitting at my loom on the deck with my back in the Spring sunshine. It was made even more special by the arrival of a “business” of banded Mongooses – and yes, believe it or not, “business” is the collective noun for Mongooses – and Mongooses is the correct plural! They never fail to bring a smile to my face as they scurry about looking for any tasty little morsel that will feed their frenetic energy levels.
The next two weeks are going to fly by. The idea of teaching a workshop face to face for the first time in some months is definitely something to look forward to, and then there’s always the view from my loom to return to when it’s done. Today is one of those days when I count my blessings and realize just how lucky I am!
The bumpy start to my current project, has, I have to say, not really settled down – although…. and I say ‘although’ with more than a little trepidation, I feel that I might be beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Rep-weave experiment is finally starting to take shape – and, although there are some glaring discrepancies, these are not my main focus as I finally get to grips with the building blocks that go towards making up this remarkable technique.
A few months ago, I watched an interview with Lucienne Coifman, on the Handweavers Guild of America’s ‘Textiles and Tea‘ series. I was fascinated by her work, most of which, she told us is made on a 4 shaft loom (with a lot of pick-up involved…..) her words – not mine. The strength and impact of her designs really made an impression on me, and I think that part of the problem that I have had in getting to grips with my own tiny, little experiment in Rep-Weave is that I really just struggled to get my head around constructing a design that looked cohesive.
My main problem , to begin with and in retrospect, was that fact that I made my blocks too small, and the result was confusing to the eye. I think that this thinking was perhaps the result of the fact that I’m experimenting only on my 40cm table loom. It isn’t really wide enough to provide much scope, given the fact that I am using quite a thick cotton for the warp. If I had used the 5/2 cotton that I had originally planned on using, the possibilities, even on such a narrow warp would have been far greater.
However, as soon as I started to expand the length of the weft blocks the designs took on a greater impression of cohesion. The tiny little turning points in the centre of the first two drafts really seemed to draw the eye in to the design, and acted in the same way as that tiny little ‘pop’ of an unusual colour in an otherwise bland palette.
I think that my favourite design possibility of the three is the one on the right. The other two are still on the loom, and the third is yet to be woven. I hope that I have enough warp left to be able to complete it, as one of the things that I had forgotten about with Rep-Weave, is that the warp take-up is huge! Much greater than the more texturally conventional weave structures.
As usual, when I experiment on this sort of basis, i find that I have way to many ideas for the length of warp! In the light of lessons learnt ( the hard way), if I put up another narrow warp for Rep, I will definitely use a much finer cotton to allow myself more room to play around with. However, if I were to put up a warp on one of the wider looms, I think that the Cotton-On would actually be a good choice as it is of acceptable quality, easily available, and comes in a pretty good colour range
Hopefully I’ll finish off my existing warp this week, in time to photograph it and put up some pics in next weeks’post.
In the meantime – stay safe and stay warm.
…. but having said that, I didn’t realize that it had been quite such a long while!
The air of complacency that has prevailed over the past few months, has, as we all know, been shattered as we crash back into lockdown level 4. I had already decided that I was spending the Winter at home this year, and so, I’m not particularly affected by the decision, apart from the fact that my red-wine stash was perilously low even before Squirrel spoke to the nation on Sunday evening.
That aside though, I am loving being at home again for en extended period of time. It is giving me the space to think and to plan and to develop new projects and explore new techniques. Right now, I am working on some Rep-Weave, or Ripsmatta, or Warp-Rep as it is variously known. The warp rep thing is the culmination of our dive into the concept of block weaves and profile drafting that has been keeping us absorbed on the Patreon page: (remember… https://www.patreon.com/weaveatbrooklands is where you’ll find me, or you can just click on the Patreon button on my Home page). Rep weave seemed to be the logical progression after our study and a really fun way to wind things up.
Actually I cheated a little bit, by also including a little bit of a rep derivative for the Rigid Heddle weavers, as we expanded our approach to Log Cabin and ended up weaving a set of Rep based place-mats. Rep weave and log cabin actually ave many similarities – loads of differences too, but plenty of similarities – most notably the threading of the warp. In each pattern block the warp is threaded on two shafts, one colour – call it the main colour on one shaft and the second colour call it the background colour on the second shaft. The weft uses two shuttles, one carrying a thick yarn and one carrying a thin yarn, and the alternation of thick and thin, allows one warp colour to dominate and the other colour then becomes subservient. Weaving two picks, one after the other, of the thin yarn allows the other colour to be brought to the top and become the dominant colour.
It’s all quite logical really – a positive and negative effect on the two sides of the cloth, and a pattern constructed through the use of contrasting colours.
I somehow, fell into the habit of referring to the Rigid Heddle project as either Log-Rep or Rep-Cabin – no prizes for guessing where that name came from and was really pretty pleased with the results.
In all three cases above, I had a very clear idea of what I was hoping for in the end product. My warps were carefully planned, and the colours chosen with care, and yet when I put the warp up, and I saw it in colours I had chosen, they all looked awful – dark and in the case of the seaside colours, even threatening – Rather like an approaching thunderstorm in fact.
It was only when I started to weave that the colours regained some clarity, which was obviously provided by the light colour contrast in almost all the blocks. I have to say, that as I began to weave and the colours clarified, I was hugely relieved, and rather stern with myself for being so silly.
Yesterday I started making the warp for the eight shaft four block Rep-Weave study. I’m not using anything fancy – just good old Elle-Cotton on DK, which happens to suite my purpose right now – and which is easily available, even in our little tiny town. My chosen colours are a dark Teal Green, pale Dusty Pink, a nice clear purple and a bright blue. I also chose a Beige, which I later decided not to use.
Once again the warp looked awful – something like a stagnant pond with a bad case of blue/green algae, when I took it off the warping board, but improved once it was on the loom. Being able to see the definition between the colour blocks really improved the perception.
I started weaving my sample this morning, and there are several issues. Firstly, I need to re-sley the reed. I though I might be able to get away with having two ends per dent for four dents and then one per dent for two dents, but the discrepancy is glaringly obvious now that I have started to weave. The selvedges also, are proving to be ridiculously difficult to control and will need some work.
I chose to use the pink cotton as my thick weft, and now I am wondering whether it might not have been better to use the green, so i plan to sample a little bit with that too, just to see what sort of a difference it makes. The warp is around 4m or a bit longer, so I have plenty of room to experiment, which is the whole object of the exercise, and of course I will keep udating on my progress.
Rep is not a new structure to me, but it is a long time since I have done any, and each time I come back to it, I find myself excited by it all over again. The texture is super, and the possiblilities almost endless. I have the feeling that this might once again be a case of the warp being too short and the ideas too long!
Till the next time.
This morning I woke up with that feeling that life is not quite complete….. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. We’ve seen our pets in this mood too – they move from one place to another, put their heads up, sniff the wind and move again, never quite settling long enough to relax, or indeed allow us to relax. Well, that is how I feel this morning…. poor Michael – perhaps I should warn him that it’s going to be one of those days!
It has been a really busy month – a trip to the Smelly City to do my distribution, multiple posts and little videos for Patreon, ZOOM calls with my weaving buddies, ordering some gorgeous cottons from Be Inspired for a new project and long walks in the wilderness areas of my estate, as well as the usual nitty-gritty of domestic bliss. Yet, in spite of all the activity, it feels very definitely as though something is missing. This morning I worked out what it is – I am severely lacking in loom time!
“How can this be?” I hear you ask – ” that’s all she does – in fact it’s what she does. How can she not be doing what she does?”….. Well the answer is simple, and I know that it has happened to all of us. The chores and the routine and the mundane take over, and before you know it they RULE your life!
There is more than one reason for this paradigm shift in our lives. In my life I can most definitely think of two without even blinking an eye. The first is that someone has to do it…… this, as every woman who is reading this post will know, is because it is inbred in women that the home must come first. After all if I don’t make the bed who’s going to make the bed? I’ve tried to make it a rule in our house that the last person out of the bed makes the bed – HA! What the person who shares the bed hasn’t worked out yet is that if that were the case and we stuck to the rule, I would be up with the lark every morning of my life and accomplish that much more…….
The second is that what I do – in terms of weaving that is, has to be classified as pleasure, not work, and I was taught from a very young age that you are only allowed to play when the chores are done.
So, with the lockdown and the extended time I’ve had at home one would think that the weaving productivity must have sky-rocketed. Well, “One” thinks wrong, but the bed is made and the house is more or less in order and even some basic maintenance is being attended to, and slowly, insidiously the chores and the desk have taken over my life and my Loom with the View is very neglected.
The on-line aspect of my life has also impacted on my weaving time. I love teaching weaving, and am even enjoying the challenge of doing it this way, but I have to say, that the stimulation of teaching face to face is severely lacking. So is the spontaneity – the questions, which open up a whole new train of thought, and those ‘Eureka’ moments when somebody discovers a different ( and often better) way to do something, and most importantly, the laughs and the banter, are all missing in in the on-line world where things are altogether more ordered and serious, to the point where I feel that what I really need is a jolly good belly laugh. I’m beginning to take myself far too seriously!
This is why I am soooo looking forward to the arrival of a couple of weaving buddies – whoop whoop! Now that the provincial borders are open people are moving around again and over the next couple of weeks, not one, but two weaving buddies are coming to visit and I can’t wait! Before they arrive though, there has to also be some loom time. I have three looms with half woven projects on them and another project in the planning stage, so over the next couple of days, my time at my desk ( and the kitchen sink) is going to be limited and I am going to love my looms. After that I’m going to enjoy some social time and love my looms some more in the company of people who understand the difference between ‘warp’ and ‘weft’ .
What a lot to look forward to – Happy Friday!
Today I would like to share a fact about myself that most of you might not know – and to put it very simply, it is this: I don’t like change.
I don’t deal with it very well either – well, at least I didn’t use to, but I am getting better at it. Some years ago – in fact, around about the time that the iconic little book that inspired the title of this particular blog was published, I was actually a cheesemaker – ironic though this might sound. It was a business that started as a fascination, and grew and grew until it swallowed me up and one day spat me out. It was a very tough time for me and a wonderful friend gave me a copy of “Who moved my Cheese”, by I can’t remember who, and I suddenly realized a whole lot of things: change is scary, change is uncomfortable, change is also inevitable and, perhaps most importantly of all, that one needs to be adaptable. For someone who is actually very stubborn, it is this last one that I have the most trouble with.
Now, as a result of the events over the past few months, I find that the winds of change are once again blowing a gale – and not only for me, but for everyone, and isn’t that the truth? Our world has changed – some-one in China sneezed and the rest of the world got the Flu and now we have to figure out a way forward.
I have been a weaver for a loooong time now, in fact I was a weaver before I was a wife, or a Mum or a cheesemaker, but all of those things put the weaving on the backburner and it was only after someone “moved my cheese”, that I actually gave myself permission to become really serious about it. For the past years I have spent a whole lot of time away from home, on the road, teaching workshops and sharing my love of the craft and suddenly I can’t do that anymore. Not that I don’t love being at home you understand, and when Mr Bignose, pictured above, peers into my kitchen window first thing in the morning (I think he smelt the coffee), then I know that I am in the right place. However, there is one thing wrong with this picture of domestic bliss and that is that not being able to travel to teach, means that I am not earning an income.
I know I’m not the only person in this situation, and there are many, many people who are far worse off that I am, and I am pre-armed with the cheese-moving knowledge that change is ok and doesn’t have to be terrifying if one is willing to adapt. So that is what I am trying to do. I have totally kicked myself out of my comfort zone and begun embracing things like social media and technology which have always been minefields of terror for me. My on-line shop is once again ‘on-line’ and the two little Facebook groups for my weaving buddies are active and full of questions and discussion and information, and keep me well on my toes. Our bi-weekly ZOOM calls are a wonderful opportunity to catch up on what people are doing, and remind myself what they look like, BUT… the most exciting news of all is that my very own Patreon page will go live later on this month.
Called “The Weaving Diaries”, it will be a chronical of where I live, what I love, what I am working on and a whole host of weaverly information that I am currently unable to share with you in the flesh. There will also be technical studies for the harness weavers and projects for the Rigid Heddle girls, downloadable info sheets that you can print and add to a file for future reference
For me, this is HUGE!Both in terms of a change of direction and in terms of learning something new every day, but I am so excited to be doing this. Hilda from Ilona Slow Life Creations gently nudged me in this direction, although perhaps she regrets it now because I am constantly demanding her attention to fix the technological mishaps that result from my ineptitude in that field, so apologies to Hilda for that.
I am looking forward to this giving me the best of all worlds – in other words I can be at home and teach at the same time, and with your support, also earn a small income, which will, in turn, allow me to invest in more yarn to develop more projects and ideas, and so the wheel continues to turn.
So, just like the little mouse in the mythical maze, I am on the move in search of a new cheese supply and I hope you will join me and share the cheese when we get there.
I always know whether I’ve had a good week by the energy with which I tackle the chores on Saturday. If it’s been a good, busy, productive week, the energy is good and the chores are done with a good feeling – if not – well, I leave that your imagination…..
Well, I had a very good week, and the house is spick and span, just in time for the thatching company to commence work on our roof – what was I thinking???? Actually I didn’t really expect it to happen quite so soon, but the move from level 4 of lockdown to level 3 means that some people at least, can begin going back to work. Some of us on the other hand, never really stopped – it is just the medium that has changed.
I have to admit to finding the changes difficult. I didn’t realise that I was quite such a people person – perhaps I’m not really – perhaps I am just definitely NOT a technology person which makes me feel like I am more of a people person? Actually one thing that I have learnt about myself over the past few year, is that I am much more of a people person that I thought I was, and goodness knows, I am missing my weaving buddies right now!
I am astonished at how much time the Facebook groups and the ZOOM calls take out of my day, but I am even more astonished to find that I actually enjoy both. Having been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and our technologically driven world, taking years to brave Facebook and Instagram, never mind how long it took me to figure out how to send an e mail (blush)…., I now find myself dreaming dreams of a Computer driven Dobby Loom with many, many shafts! I am after all allowed to dream because I had a good week.
I all started off a little slowly, with the Geriatric Snail Mohair Doublewidth throws on my floor loom progressing so slowly that I felt I was actually going backwards – until, on Friday morning, I moved the measuring tape yet again and found that Lo and behold – the end was finally nigh! That – and the beautiful weather which was just warm enough for me to sit in my studio in comfort – spurred me on and I finally took them off the loom just before lunch-time. HOORAY – AT LAST! And I have to say that they are gorgeous – light and fluffy and cuddly and just delicious – a belated housewarming gift for my son and his girlfriend who live in the currently freezing Cape.
The little Summer bag just the right size for a baguette, a serious chunk of cheese and a bottle of wine is finished – off the loom, washed, made up and living up to my expectations – so pleased with it. The pattern is also underway and will be on the website soon. I do find writing patterns is quite a challenge – not to mention terribly time-consuming, but this was a good project and I have very positive feelings about it.
There is a silk shawl in progress on the sixteen shaft, and the threading for the eight shaft gamp for the Four or More group on Facebook is nearly there. Add two ZOOM calls into this mix, and it will surely show that I have been busy.
Right now my desk looks like this….
Which can only mean that there are new ideas in my head looking for a way out – so keep watching this space.