Sunday, March 22, 2015

The End Is In Sight!

After a very long time, the fourth swatch is done! I really like this one, but the thread was so fine and the clasped weft took so long, I thought I would never finish it!

Swatch number 5 was fairly quick to finish. A honeycomb structure, with the green slub used to mark the top and bottom of each cell and the wild berry pink to highlight the middle of each cell.

The I moved onto one of the very first ideas I had, the horizontal rib to create blocks of colour. I wanted to use the sandalwood to show where the blocks overlapped and then shifted, but the line is too harsh. At the top of the final block of this I softened it by using clasped weft. I wish I had done this for the rest of it.

I wanted the next swatch to be bands of pointed diamonds, but I just can't get it right, so I've abandoned it for now and knocked out a swatch with bands of crepe separated with knicker elastic. Hopefully, it will pull the fabric in to make it crinkle.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Today's update is a tale of two halves. I finished swatch number 3 at the weekend, bands of satin and sateen in an ecru silk and linen mix, to mimic the ridge structure of the shell.
I continued with sateen, this time using the silk and linen mix again to start and then using three strands of 60/2 silk in different colours.
I'm using clasped weft techniques to create diagonal lines and blocks of colour, inspired by this colour study of part of the inside of the shell.
The idea is that the front of the fabric will be smooth and shiny, like the inside of the shell, whilst the reverse is matt and shows the warp threads, thus bringing the outside of the shell to mind. I'd like to claim credit, but the initial idea of the two sides of the fabric was my tutor's!
So why is this post titled "Grrrrr"? Because in nearly 4 hours of weaving I have completed 3 and 3/4  inches (less than half of it!), which doesn't compare well to those swatches that have been completed within one hour!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Swatches, Swatches!

The first two swatches are done - hurrah!
First up, a simple 4/4 twill in a green slub yarn. You can see from the bottom of the picture that I couldn't get the beat right to start with, and my diagonal lines undulated, rather than marched in nice straight lines!
Here it is in its finished state, although the lack of daylight spoils it slightly!
The second swatch is also a twill, this time a warp-faced twill using the cotton tape yarn. It wove up nice and quickly! I wanted a warp-faced twill to show off the stripes in the warp and chose the cotton tape for the weft as I liked the warmth.
So, I've made a start, but I have just over a week left to make the rest. and because I can't choose form my ideas yet, I want to make them all and then choose!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sampling is done!

So here's the March update. The samples are all done and swatches are all go here!
I finished off working through my notes; here's the honeycomb in the sandalwood linen and also some cream 4 ply 100% wool. It's had a light hand wash and line dry when it was still attached to the rest of the samples, so has pulled in a little, but the lightly beaten part in the middle hasn't really changed.
I also used the wool to do some plain weave bands to full to mimic the rib structure, but the sample needs some rougher treatment to pull it in more.

I also tried some knicker elastic, woven under slight tension! Here it is on the loom....
...and off, after hand washing.

I found some Louisa Harding Anise, a cotton tape yarn, to try to get the texture by pulling some loops out, but it flattened in the hand washing, so I'm not so keen on it.
I tried a bit of graduated colour change, here using 4 shades of 60/2 silk. I like the effect of the twill, but wonder what it might be like in the herringbone I tried before.
Can you spot the error in it? I think I must have repeated two lines in the pattern by mistake.

I also went for some more unconventional materials:
Bottom to top: barbecue skewers, strips of chamois leather and raffia...

...strips of torn brown paper and dried rose petals...

And finally string and green garden twine.

I'm not sure about any of that to be honest, but I am intrigued by the rose petals, perhaps using much narrower strips of paper or the chamois.

So now, I need to review my ideas (now got 12 or 13 and I only need 8 swatches in the collection!) and crack on. I've got less than two weeks now!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February Update

Sampling has continued here, with exploration of crepe structures inspired by the outside of the shell;

I've also exploring herringbone, both point and clear cut:

I really like the strong lines of the clear cut (on the left). I'm wondering what this would look like in silk?
I've also looked at point (below right) and clear cut (below left) diamond.
Originally I thought the slub yarn obscures the pattern, but liked the subtle effect of using the dark natural (far right) - shows up better here than in real life! However, the more I looked at it, the better I liked the slub effect. It's growing on me!
Final thing is following up from some points made in the last tutorial about the blocks formed from the ribs. First I tried the sandalwood and dark natural together for one pick alternated with the green slub and the ecru linen silk. I then switched out the ecru and just used two strands of the green slub for the alternate pick.

The next step is to wash these and see how that alters the fabric and I'm pretty much ready to produce my mega list of swatches - 10 so far and counting!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Progress So Far

My original plan to pick The Beast up was thwarted by winter weather - I didn't fancy the M62 in snow in an unfamiliar car - so college work was initially limited to a colour study and texture study.


I also blocked out 8 or 9 swatch ideas in my sketchbook, with space to put the sample pieces after they are washed and finished, to help me make the final ideas. I also tried spinning some art yarn, trapping chenille in silk and the green slub yarn in the warp to try to mimic the spots on the onside of the shell.

I then set off to Bradford a week later than planned, to pick up The Beast and also have my first tutorial. I arrived early, so I could work through some of the patterns in my college notes. First I went back to the vertical rib and tried different combinations of colours. I also used clasped weft to add blocks of lighter areas.

I also tried a variety of hopsacks and stitched hopsacks.

I also used my art yarn. I prefer the weft faced twill at the bottom to the crepe at the top.

My tutor gave me some good feed back and some more ideas, but I've got a lot of small samples to work through before I make the final decisions on the swatches to make!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Well, it's nearly a week since I returned home from Bradford and I have done...nothing. Zip. Nada.


My car has been in for repair this week and I have been driving a very nice but completely unfamiliar courtesy car, so when the snow came on Wednesday, I didn't fancy the freezing fog over the Pennines and decided not to go to Bradford to collect the Beast. This means all I have been able to do is dream ideas for swatches. I need to capture them in my sketch book before I forget them, but haven't managed to find a rhythm for the days yet. In part this was because I wanted to finish clearing the workspace where the loom would be (very time consuming) but also partly because I have travelled down to Oxfordshire and back over the last couple of days to collect my parents ready for the Strictly Live! Tour tomorrow. (When I booked the tickets, Dad hadn't had a date for his impending cataract op. He's now had it, it's not gone as smoothly as it might and he's currently not allowed to drive). I take them back straight after the show tomorrow, then come back Monday, so hopefully I can get to it then.

Until then, I'll keep dreaming in twill...

And as for tomorrow? Bring on the sequins!