Thursday, 29 September 2011

Hiatus on weaving

So the loom looks ready to make some towels on but beginning of September I suffered a stroke and to date am not strong enough to weave. It will come though as I am very determined to continue this learning and following in the steps of the Quantock Weavers. Now I can only look at it with longing and do my exercises to strengthen my muscles. Dreams,.....

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Teatowels - 1

On the smaller Ashford table loom I have woven waffle weave tea towels. Some people might wonder why one would ever attempt to make tea towels when they are available at very low cost commercially produced but apart from being very satisfying to use something practical that has been handmade, this was the way all our tea towels were made in the past. The finished fabric is a lot thicker and airier than commercial tea towels and you can use colours that coordinate with your kitchen or china.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sample blanket

Having managed to warp the loom with a 9.5 yard warp there is plenty of scope to experiment with twill patterns on a variety of themes.

Janet Phillips' book ' Designing Woven Fabrics' provides a template for a sample blanket with clear explanations and the aim for this project is to get used to using the pedals to move the shafts ( a transition for me as I have only used my hands to move leavers on the table loom) as well as working with a floor loom and getting to know same.

The warping and threading took a long time, simply because the shafts were all over the place and the task was awkward to me. It looked a mess  but eventually I found a way to balance the lease sticks on the shafts and take each thread as it came along.

Warping requires patience and I am quite happy to give this task the attention it deserves.Best not to do this when you are tired or frustrated as it requires a more zen atmosphere while guiding the threads through the heddles.

Weaving requires me to learn a new ancient set of words too which as a linguist is fascinating.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Quantock Weavers Loom

In February 2011, thanks to Janet Phillips I was offered a pile of firewood which could possible be a loom with no guarantees that it would work. After borrowing a big truck and strong arms the pile of pieces arrived and I painstakingly tried to work out which end was which. Worse for me as there was no plan and I had no idea what type of loom it was.  It now stands some 6 feet by 6 feet and can weave cloth up to 130cm width and endless length. With Janet's help, the loom has now been restored and is in working order.

The reason why this loom is so significant to the area is because it was especially made for Miss Norah Biddulph by Gunnar Anderson in about 1933, in Sweden and imported to England by her. She and Miss Emily Dickenson formed the Quantock Weavers and lived in Over Stowey. The Quantock Weavers were at the forefront of the resurrection of handweaving in Britain in the 1950’s, as I understand it, and instrumental in the establishment of the National Association of Guilds for Weavers,Dyers and Spinners in the UK. Some of Miss Biddulph’s weaving can be seen in the shape of an altar frontal at Wells Cathedral.

After some research I found out that the loom was created to Mr Anderson’s design and as little has changed I was able to order some specific spare parts from the Glimakra Vavstolfabric in the small town of Glimakra in the south of Sweden.

The loom has its provenance stenciled indelibly upon it as it was labeled with the address when it was transported on the Great Western Railway. So you can see that this loom is a piece, albeit a very small piece and a specialized one of local history and it is nice to be able to give it a home in Stogumber.

Loom number 8 has been lovingly called ‘ Norah’ in Miss Biddulph’s memory and was probably one of a series of looms in her workshop. This loom seems to have been destined to weave  all types of twill fabric in all its variations. It may take me a long time to follow in Miss Biddulphs footsteps while loom number 8 teaches me but it is a loom to be respected and I am glad I am its custodian.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Weaving in the Quantocks

Its about weaving a life in the Quantocks. Weaving has been in the background for many years and although I heard its call, I was not in a position to follow that impulse.
This journal will plot the course of my weaving experiences and frustrations and act as a log to refer to later on in my apprenticeship.