More Wool, a bit of Linen, Dobby heads and Curry

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Superquick update:
I’ve been weaving with wool; Neki needs some linen (and I’ve got shed loads of the stuff); Neki says she just “found” a random dobby head in her studio; (1. how big does your studio have to be to just have a dobby head lying around and 2. Rub it in why don’t you!); I ate too much curry on Friday night…was delicious but not a good idea. Nuf said.

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Industrial Revolution, Spinning Jenny…and Why fairies need scarves

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So, after a lot of family drama, we eventually made it over to England to visit Hannah’s great-granny Violet,  meet up university friends whom we’ve  not seen in almost 15 years, and then up to the north, to see Matt’s parents. “Too much (non-relevant) information” for a weaving blog? Well it turned out to be more of a weaving trip than I’d imagined.

To start with – “old uni friends” – Claire Silverthorne and I went to Winchester School of Art together, and became good friends. Both of us specialised in weaving, and while I always went a bit mad with colour and technicalities (give me 36 shafts and I’ll still want 2 more to put the selvedge on), Claire was the master of subtle designs and delicate colours. She can work magic with 2 colours and make it a full palet. Not to mention having had more of a clue how to use the Jacquard! Claire’s now married with two beautiful wee girls, and when we met up she returned 2 scarves I’d made a very long time ago. One (pictured here), Claire described to Poppy as “a scarve for fairies” towit Poppy repied “why do fairies need scarves?” A lesson to all of us not to get too airy-fairy in our naming policies or what we think we make! There’s always a 4 year old around to help bring you back down to earth!

And then there was the trip to Arkright’s mill, 10 minutes from my parents-in-law’s house…

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2 weeks later I get back to finish this post –
spinning jennies and water powered mills –
My parents-in-law live in Derbyshire, about 10 minutes away from Arkright’s first mills – “Masson Mill” and “Arkright’s Mill” at Cromford. If this means nothing to you, then it’s time to read up on your weaving / spinning history.
Arkright “Father of the Factory System”, for better or worse, was one of the men who changed the course of spinning/weaving history and brought it into the industrial age – to the cost of traditional weavers and spinners. There is a lot of debate if he and men like him, were forces for good or ill for spinners and weavers, but as Hemmingway said, you cannot stop an idea whose time has come – so maybe it was just that Arkright had the ideas first and it was all going to happen anyway.
Unfortunately the state of the mills right now is a bit sad, and although there are working looms, carders and other machinery to see in Masson mill they seem to only be churning out deck-chair fabric, while Arkright’s Mill is infuriating-ly a “Weaver-free” zone.  The photographs above are from Arkright’s mill (the weir, sluce gate and out buildings), and the internal photos are from Masson Mill museum – about 10 minutes away from Arkrights mill.

For a real treat on a working mill and the conditions of those who worked there “Quarrybank Mill” is excellent – but that’s another story – and day trip – entirely

I did some Googling to find out a bit more about Arkright, Cromford and Masson, and found some interesting links by more knowledgeable people than myself. 
 
http://www.arkwrightsociety.org.uk/
http://www.massonmills.co.uk/
http://www.derbyshireuk.net/mills3.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromford_Mill
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7382107@N04/3815664870/

Revolution or Evolution – but definately not involving Handwoven

Well,
something that dragged me away from feeding Hannah or singing the annoying repeat of her Fisherprice train – the latest edition of Handwoven magazine – Warning – this is a long rant!
This arrived a few days ago – if anyone from the US reads this, they’ll be thinking that’s a bit strange, I got mine last month, but as I live in Europe (which is equal to MARS, don’t you know), it takes a wee bit longer for the mag to get here…Long haul postage aside, once here you’d think I’d be delighted to sit and have a read with my afternoon tea. Mmmmmm – I flicked through it and immediately 3 things came to mind.
1. How many times can you sound excited about weaving tea-towels / dish-clothes in a calander year?
2. How many times can you take out your Olsner and find a twill or overshot and get excited about that too? (admittedly it’s not difficult to take out your Olsner and find a twill or 300, but my excitement tends to wain a bit)
3. Is tencel the only “new” yarn out there? (not so new these days actually, but I’m splitting hairs a bit here).
 
Then, to add insult to injury the feature “20 things to do with leftovers” was a question asked my yours truly to the Yahoo weavers group in April “what to do with left-overs – Thrums”. If it was just random coincidence that it then appears in Handwoven, it was also random coincidence that the idea to put thrums out for birds to use in nesting also appeared – Unfortunately the response that this can actually strangle and choke the birds didn’t make it to Handwoven – If any wee birdies die from choking on thrums, you know who to blame.
If I was any of the people who answered my question with some good suggestions, which re-appeared in Handwoven, I’d be a bit ticked off that I didn’t get any credit for providing them with content.
 
I feel like some kind of mad old biddy, to come out of my “mother-mode” back to my blog, solely for the purposes of a rant. But I have to do it, as I’ve been more and more un-impressed by Handwoven for a while now. What’s so utterly frustrating is that there is a wealth of information, motivation and new ideas out there in weavers blogs, but Handwoven just seems to churn out the same tired old formula of Olsner=(overshot/twill)/teatowels…with a bit of tencel thrown in for a “new look”.
 
The feature on 10 yarns for under 10 bucks, was interesting, but what about some ideas of what to do with them? How about “Ten weavers were given 10 yarns for under 10 bucks and had to come up with something” (like Vogue when they ask their editors or 10 random women to test cellulite cream, or some other such rubbish…but you still read about it!)
How about someone weaving with chicken wire; Someone dyeing, weaving, finishing something random, beautiful and experimental (forget purpose for the moment); Someone using their mighty 24 or 36 shaft looms for something other than (dare I say it again) Olsner; How about interviews / write ups with successful woven textile designers; How about interviews / reviews of art college weave graduate shows.
How about what news on what is happening in the world of fashion and interiors with regard to weaving: “Woven fabrics are all the rage…” or “Print is hot right now, but 60s style dogtooth has made a return to the niche market”
 
News or features on projects from around the world; Womens groups in parts of Latin America, Africa and the Stans where they are trying to gain financial independence or put their lives back together after wars and returning to traditional crafts (weaving among them), to earn money and feed their children.
 
How about some inspiration! Anything! But enough already with Olsner’s tea-towels.

I’m out of breath now, but I had to get that off my chest.

Comments and feedback are welcome. I’m sure I’ve made some enemies with this outburst – but I’m also sure that there are weavers who feel the same way too.

And there’s more…On the latest project

I should be getting off my bum and actually doing some more weaving, but I’ve managed to thread-up, reed, tie-on and get weaving in a relatively short period of time, (given that I’ve got a paying Day Job that gets in the way of weaving). I’ve made the warp long enough to weave two scarves – if I can get a bit of “Friday weaving” done, things might actually get done this weekend!

The latest Project (and the best excuse for not doing the ironing)

It’s not that I get around to doing the ironing more than once every 2 months anyway, but I’ve currently got the “Leaning Tower of Ironing” hiding in the wardrobe and after receiving a small commission on Friday evening, it’s probably going to need to be rewashed before it gets anywhere close to an iron.

So, my wee commission.
I’ve been asked to make a scarf for a lady in Ireland who is about to turn 70 and has a preference for shades of green and brown (earthly, mossy colours). I’ve spent this morning rooting through kilos of home-dyed cotton and my diminishing hoard of raw silk. The resulting hues look like “The Mournes in Yarn”, (or Cooley), but as that’s where this lady hails from, I think it will be fine.
Gold and Green on the warping frameGold and Green

See what I mean?!

Carlingford Lough from the Flagstaff - view of Mourne Mountains and Cooley Peninsula
These were taken last October, from the top of the Flagstaff, looking out onto Carlingford Lough. On the left of the lough you see the Mountains of Mourne, and on the right you see the tip of the Cooley Peninsula

Background Noise

Recently I seem to be finding a lot of references to people listening to WeaveCast whilst they are weaving, in fact I received my latest installment today which made me think about it. I have to confess, although I love listening to these, I don’t actually listen to them when I’m weaving. For about 2 years now, I’ve been listening to BBC Radio 7 online, and when I run out of things there, I move to Radio 4 and Radio Ulster (also of the BBC). I sound like some kind of ad for BBC Radio! but I’ve looked around and haven’t found anything to beat it. I never thought I’d spend my weekends and evenings listening to Agatha Christie, Tintin or Sherlock Holmes, followed by some political comedy on Radio Ulster or Radio 4, but I’m starting to think I’ve moved into “granny-dom” already, where I look forward to “Hancock’s Half Hour” on Tuesday evenings!

I feel better for saying that! I was feeling like a traitor – but what can I say…I don’t listen to WeaveCast whilst weaving, I don’t have a cat and I can’t be bothered with tie-ups or peddles (yea, I know, tantamount to heresy for a weaver).