Twining

Yesterday my local Spinners Weavers and Dyers group ran a workshop with Mary Crabb, making fabulous little baskets and pods using a traditional basket weaving technique, twining. Traditionally this is used with willow and yarn but we were a bit more textile focussed (naturally 🙂 ) so gravitated towards using yarns throughout.

In the morning we started by working in the round, as with most things, getting started was the tricky bit but after that, the rhythmic weaving in and out became quite hypnotic. These are a few of the “creatures” we made:

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This one I particularly liked, I think Janine Rees made it:

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And this was my little offering, all of these pieces were only 2-3 inches across:

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In the afternoon we moved onto a different technique for the base, ironically this is my favourite part of the little vase I made but is the bit you are least likely to see:

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These are the group’s creations mid construction (I don’t think anyone managed to complete their second piece before we had to leave but Mary very generously let us take extra materials home so we could finish our pieces at our leisure):

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This is my finished piece, the tension went a little bit wonky around the middle of the bulb but I’m still really pleased with it, I would like to make this again on a larger scale:

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Feeling inspired by the workshop, I started to make a felt bowl with the intention of twining fibres in and out of slits made in the sides. I really love this blue slubby yarn but it just doesn’t look right on this pod, it’s a bit too thick. It will be replaced with some hemp yarns I have just ordered, I am thinking 2 or three sets of twining spaced out unevenly across the slits…

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I hadn’t realised what it was called when I made these pieces a couple of years ago but I have used twining with felt before, it’s funny how things come full circle…

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Weaving by the Sea and Some Lichen

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, I have just returned from 2 wonderful weeks in northern Spain. The first week was spent with Tim Johnson on a (“basket”) weaving course, aptly named weaving by the sea. I put basket in quotes as that was probably the one thing I didn’t make. I went with the intention of learning Tim’s methods so I could interpret his methods into textiles and mixed media pieces. The 7 and 9 stand braiding was really interesting but is very slow, I expect I will make some fabric bowls using it but don’t expect it to be commercially viable to make these professionally.

The second half of the week was spent on freeform or chaos weaving which I loved and can see myself using some of the willow stored in my garden to make some mixed media sculptures. Tim was an amazing teacher, he is incredibly knowledgeable and keen to share what he knows. His fine art background brought a different flavour and an unexpected freedom to what we made under his tutelage, he was very keen that we move away from making functional objects and experiment with different forms.
Here are a couple of photos I took during the course but more can be found (including a few of me ;o/) by following the weaving by the sea link above.

Mr TB joined me for the second week which we spent touring northern Spain and walking in the Catalonian National Park, AigĂĽestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, according to Wikipedia this translates to “The winding streams and lakes of St. Maurice”. We certainly followed a stream for most of our trip so this seems quite apt. The views in the park were absolutely stunning and so varied. In the space of just 7 km (about 4 miles) we found ourselves walking through woodland, along the banks of a stream, across pastures, sitting by a huge serene lake and always with mountains providing a majestic backdrop.


Even with all this beauty on such a grand scale, it was some lichen growing on a tree trunk that caught my creative attention and this is what I have been working on since we returned.

I like the lichens and the tassely bits but think I might repeat this piece with the bark represented using strips of cut-away resist.


Carding Fleeces in the Sunshine

The UK weather is about to take a turn for the worse with the remnants of hurricane Bertha heading our way tomorrow so I have been making the most of the sunshine over the last couple of days and carding my White-faced Woodland (WFW) and Jacob fleeces outside.

I have been making a few rolags to try on my new drop spindle too:

And I made a felt sample from the WFW:

This is quite a coarse, hairy wool, definitely not a good choice for scarves but has lots of potential for slippers and handbags. Its shrinkage rate was 40%.

Those of you on the Felting and Fibre Studio Forum may recall I was looking to join a felt-making or other textile group a few months back and I think I may have found one through the International Feltmakers Association. It’s not particularly close (they meet in a village hall an hour’s drive away) but I am hopeful it will be worth the effort and they only meet once per month. Their next meeting is tomorrow – wish me luck!

With my City and Guilds course nearing an end I have also taken the plunge and signed up to a couple of workshops in addition to a 1-week contemporary weaving course I signed up to in May. Fiona Duthie’s Surface Design workshop starts at the start of September and runs for 6 weeks, then I have Karoliina Arvilommi‘s workshop in the middle of September and Tim Johnson’s weaving workshop at the end of the month. I am hoping that I can use Tim’s techniques to incorporate felt and textiles into some contemporary basket weaving. September is already shaping up to be a busy month! Exciting times 🙂