June 2009

It’s hard to pin-point the ideas I have at one time because, by the time I’ve finished the sample that was my way of exploring them,  my ideas have moved on.  

I will try and explain the thinking behind my first set of samples (even though some of my ideas have changed now).

Pinecones    – blocks of dark and light ( the scales being light andthe shadows in between being dark),  generally brown (oh… I know… I will add a contrast…play around with photoshop for a while…)

brightened image of pinecone scales

brightened image of pinecone scales

OK – so orange, yellow and red.  Pinecones symbolise rebirth, and winter so maybe fire colours are a good idea.  Or so the thought went at the time.

I wonder what would happen if I developed the spaced twill scarf idea, (see pinecones pinecones pinecones post for photo) using 2 warps.  I put a brown felting wool on one beam and multcoloured cotton/linen warp on the other 2nd beam.  I wanted the 2 warps to loop over each other – you know, blocks of colour and blocks of shade..

looping the warps from the 2 different beams

looping the warps from the 2 different beams


I was being driven by my aim of making mens’ winter scarves.  But I really wasn’t very happy with the result.  The fabric wasn’t very stable (maybe might have improved with a bit more rigorous washing.).   The colours and texture looked less than sophisticated.

The rest of the same warp yielded one interesting sample.  Where I had done pleats in the warp, (need the 2 beams), interesting little pockets appeared on the reverse. 

Pockets on reverse of double weave pleats.
Pockets on reverse of double weave pleats.

But all in all, I was not happy with the warp or choice of colours.  The way the warp had different stripes of colour meant that it was not easy to hide the colour, so all the samples looked similar.  The colours were too strong.  I was hoping for more subtlety in this this project (all my other projects had been described as having  ‘strong use of colour’ – not bad in itself but I wanted to prove I could do ‘subtle’ too. ) I mentally started on the design of warp 2.


my original post from yesterday gave a least one reader the impression that the Bitesize course would only run for one year and then stop.  As far as I am aware, they plan to continue it.   It has one year’s duration.  Oohh the dangers of Semantics. 

Jane (lesson learnt)

Yesterday I went to a course meeting at Bradford college as course rep for our year.  Amongst other things, progression after the HNC was discussed and their plans for Bradford HNC.

As you probably know, funding changes have meant that the HNC cannot continue in its present form.  It is likely to be replaced by 2 things.  A programme of short courses and a Foundation Degree. 

The short course would be over a one-year duration.    The idea is that people could buy into the entire year or just  one short course.  The first session would be 7 or 8 days in one stretch which would cover drawing skills, some design development and learning the basics ie, warping etc.  Over the course of the year there would be 3 lots of 3day courses- each with a different theme or technique explored.  There would also be summer school of about 5 days which would explore a more advanced technique. 

The Foundation Degree details were a little fuzzier.  It is going to be aimed at those who had already done the HNC. (and presumably those who had done the ‘bitesize’ course.).  They were looking into it being over 2 years  and although the format wasn’t really decided, they were looking at distance learning.   Modules will have Credits.  It seems probable that this won’t start until sept 2010.

 There did seem to be a bit of uncertainty about things, but the ripples from funding changes take a while to settle.

I went up to Bradford today for 2 reasons   

  • to have a tutorial with my tutor
  • to have a look at the Year 2’s final show

Wow – really impressed with the variety of work the Year 2 s have produced.  It shows how free the students are to follow their interests.  I think the fact that this is a largely distance learning course means students influence each other less and so produce work that is so startlingly different.  For example, one knitter, Liz Holmes,had produced wildly imaginative outfits for 2 foot high dolls.  Her inspiration was pheasants’ plummage.  The dolls had masks, or had strangely arresting expressions.  Very different but equally impressive was Theo Wrights woven scarf collection based on wildfowl plummage.    Is there a bird thing going on  ???

The Yorkshire Craft Centre cafe was the venue for the displays and I think this works well an attracts many more casual visitors. Overall the exhibition looked very professional.  Well done to all involved!

I am planning to write an article discribing the exhibition in more detail for the Journal of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers so more later.

My tutorial went well.  I think I was at a lull.  I tend to work in short bursts and my burst of enthusiasm had recently popped.  Life gets in the way of weaving, sometimes for weeks at a time.  We discussed my 3 swatches so far, what characteristics (pinecone wise) I was hoping to bring out, and she suggested a new threading which would work better than my current one.  Great!!  (I know in the longrun this is good but I have about 8ft of warp already threaded up with a different threading,  hey ho – I think I will weave it off as a scarf which will be one of my samples for July).   So how many weeks til the next Bradford Weekend ? Five…. hmmm.  But it is great to talk to someone about my work and I feel like I have recharged my weaving batteries.

I am going to Bradford again tomorrow for a meeting and should find out what Bradford College is planning next year to replace the HNC.  Will feed this back when I know….


Weavolution has arrived.!!!   An American based networking site for Weavers but with a UK Group.  Hooray!!  Useful and Friendly stuff should ensue…..http://www.weavolution.com/


Although my tutor would disagree, there are only a certain number of times that you can draw a pinecone.  Well… Charcoal on white paper, chalk on black paper, gouache closeup, textile collage, poster paper and paint collage.  Multi-coloured spiral collage…. You get the picture.  I am pineconed out.  collage with posterpaint



gouache pinecone detail



And where does it all lead…to the difficult task of YARN SELECTION.   Now, I don’t know why I don’t like this bit.  Perhaps because it involves spending money, taking risks, making decisions and understanding colour.  I always tend to hit a bit of inertia around this.  One project where this didn’t happen was one that was done over Christmas time.  I knew that all mail order stores would be shut for weeks and didn’t even try to get any.  I just went to my stash, did the odd bit of natural dyeing with what I had in the cupboard and bob’s your uncle…  Sorted.

Back to Pinecones. …  In my head, I’m thinking of a lightish man’s scarf.  Dark brown soft wool with bright colours revealing from the other side.  A while ago I wove a project from one of the Interweave Design Scarf and Shawl Book (I would put a link but it isn’t there on their website ).  After lots of re-warping and not much weaving I was really pleased with it.  It was a very lightweight twill scarf with spaced warp and spaced weft (that’s the not-much-weaving bit).  It slightly felted when washed which added to it’s appeal.

Twill scarf - spaced warp and weft

Twill scarf - spaced warp and weft

I thought the windows (spaced sections) would be good for the flashes of bright colour.

So now I have lots and lots of very fine brown 1 ply felting wool.  I think I might have to make several of these for Christmas presents… any use for Pinecones…. ?  well maybe.  next post soon!!