Hello everyone and welcome back to the Weft Blown Blog and hello to all of you who have discovered Weft Blown over the past few months.
This blog has been in hibernation over the past few months as we've been so busy keeping up with day-to-day running of Weft Blown that we've not had time to post.
However, things are now settled down now with my husband Rob jumping onto Team Weft Blown full-time and this blog can be brought back to life.
So, I thought it'd be good to use this blog mainly for my handwoven textiles and the process behind weaving them and starting with where my inspiration comes from.
A long time ago at the very end of the last century (1999 to be precise) I finished my Masters degree in Applied Meteorology and started working immediately at the Met Office as a trainee Weather Forecaster. Getting onto the trainee scheme was tough and somehow I managed to get through, even after stumbling on a question about how tornadoes formed.
I joined 25 others on the Observing, then the Initial and Advanced Forecasting courses and after 14 months of training I finally became a qualified weather forecaster.
My on the job training was at Glasgow Weather Centre and I then worked at Birmingham and Manchester Weather Centres when I qualified.
I wasn't on TV but I did do the forecasts for aviation, power and gas companies, council gritting, newspapers, radio, and various other things. It was a great job and I loved having access to satellite images, radar data, weather observation data, and other information at my fingertips thanks to the access we had.
Due to a lot of reasons I decided to leave the Met Office after a couple of brief years and after bouncing around jobs and becoming self-employed I finally settled down and created Weft Blown.
Over the past couple of months I've been thinking a lot about my weaving and how I feel it's gotten away from where I wanted it to go a couple of years ago. My aim was to weave the weather but also try and explain about how the weather has formed to create the textures and the colours that I use in my weaving. However, I feel that the in-depth side of it hasn't really happened how I would like it to and I want to be able to push that side forward, and in doing so it should develop and expand my own weaving designs.
I really want to push myself more in what I'm weaving and get back into weather again as I miss studying about meteorological processes and analysing satellite imagery and data.
So, what I'm planning to do over the next couple of months is take a step back and start researching areas that have been in my head for a while that I want to develop. This includes the structure of warm and cold fronts in weather systems, the observational codes that are used worldwide for weather records, and also looking at satellite images that correspond to the photos that I've taken on the ground and tie-up why the clouds have formed and the processes behind it.
I had already joined the Complex Weavers last year but not had a proper chance to properly look at what the weavers do until now. In their latest Journal there is a brilliant article by Theo Wright on weaving Sine waves which has really got me thinking of how would meteorological mathematical formulae work in weave.
I've also dug out my old textbooks, Met Office training books, and reading a book about how meteorology evolved in the Victorian age. I'm actually looking forward to studying things again and try and re-awaken my brain again.
I've no idea where this meteorological journey in weave is going to take me, and in a way that's really exciting me as I feel I need a change and want to look at new ways of working and weaving.
My aim is to keep this blog fairly regularly updated with what I'm researching and working on and through it I'll show you how my design and weave process works so you can gain more of an idea of how my handwoven textiles are created.
As usual its been busy at Weft Blown HQ as I have been working away on orders for lots of new stockists. I'm happy to say that all orders are complete for now and it's been great fun to work with such a lovely range of galleries and shops.
The orders have been varied and it's been fun creating bespoke items for some of my stockists.
Argyll Mountains for Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre
Beach Textile Art for Highland Natural Accents
Ingleborough Moor for Finestra Gallery
I've really enjoyed weaving these pieces as it's great to weave new shapes, colours and textures that are linked in with these stockists local areas. It's also been interesting in how easy these shapes can be used for many other locations too.
I've also been able to use my handspun yarn again which I haven't used for a while. My spinning mojo had disappeared for a while but it has come back after being able to play with our Louët demo wheels. I've grown rather attached to the 5 spoke double treat S10 Concept as it's so lovely to spin on. It's the only one that hasn't returned to the studio so think that says something.
To complete some of these bespoke pieces I needed to create specific yarns. Again, hardship of having all the Louët things in the studio I played with the Blending Board to make rolags. I've never used a blending board before and to be honest I didn't see the point as I had the drum carder. After 20 minutes of playing I'm now converted as with the Blending Board you can make very cool striped rolags, be more precise in what you're adding in, and still make lovely fluff that is a joy to spin especially with the Art Yarn flyer.
All the fibre out ready to blend
Packing the fibre onto the board using the brush
Fibre building up on the board
Using the sticks to make the roles
I love my blending board
Getting back into spinning and making art yarn has helped to rejuvenate my creative side and I'm now ready to play at working on lots of new designs using lots of new yarn.
I am a strong believer in supporting independent yarn dyers and yarn producers, as well as supporting British wool in this country. So at Edinburgh Yarn Festival I did a spot of buying purely for research and development purposes. I want to widen my range of scarves and cowls and look at doing more one off designs that will be exclusive to buy directly from Weft Blown. Also, on a purely fun level, it means I can keep playing with different designs and yarns so it helps to keep me fuelled creatively.
My EYF 2016 yarn haul that includes yarns from Blacker Yarns, The Border Tart, Ripples Craft, Whistlebare Yarns, Buffalo Wool Co, fibre from John Arbon, and then purely personal yarn kit purchases from Kate Davies and Midwinter Yarns.
The colour palette is fairly obvious as it's still with the sky and landscape themes, but there are tonal differences from what I've used before. Plus, the base yarns are completely different in most cases and I can't wait to see how they weave up.
I have also bought some lovely hand-dyed yarn from Queen of Purls too but shamefully there is no photo of this. They are a lovely blue and sand shaded Dorset Horn yarn.
All of the new yarn has been sitting nicely in a basket since entering the studio to make me think about what it's going to turn into.
I've got a couple of ideas based on some photos I've take over the past few months.
I'm wanting to do a lot more work using texture and pattern as I now have the chance to play more with the 12 shafts on my Delta floor loom and I feel I haven't explored enough with what I can do with it.
This has resulted in yet more playtime and today I've been setting up the Jane table loom to play with Deflected Double Weave for the first time. So far it's great fun and I'm already getting ideas of what I can do with it and how I can get it to play with other structures.
Where the playing will take me I'm not quite sure yet, but I am enjoying being able to properly explore new designs and try to yet again bring the weather into my handwoven cloth.
Well then, Edinburgh Yarn Festival has been and gone and was indeed a lot of fun. There was also a declaration at the very end of the last blog post that promised a follow up blog post on how it all went. Well Ange is far too busy weaving like a demon at the moment so the honour has passed to me - Mr Weft Blown - this time for my inaugural blog post. I cannot argue really since I did volunteer to get involved with helping run some of the bits and pieces at Weft Blown HQ!
This is me! - Rob aka Mr Weft Blown aka Weft Beard
So, if you will excuse me, I will start by sketching out how I have arrived at this point. Firstly, being married to a yarn fanatic eventually resulted in me giving in and I did a bit of table loom weaving last year. I have to say I "got" weaving almost straight away; the delight in seeing your changes in to the shaft configuration magically transformed into the pattern of the fabric slowly emerging. I like the rhythm and flow of the process. Next, when Ange mentioned that she was looking into stocking Louet products the wannabe entrepreneur in me thought this sounded exciting stuff and was keen to get involved.
This then all led to EYF, where I assisted Ange on the Weft Blown stand. In preparation for EYF I got busy spinning on our new Louet wheels. Now, I have had a go at spinning in the dim and distant past but quite frankly I was more than rusty. Good job I live with an excellent spinning tutor then! It is a steep learning curve but I am hopefully moving into the "vaguely competent spinner" category. This of course allows me to understand our products in detail and therefore be of some use to Ange other than just a simple bearded weaving roadie!
EYF was a fantastic experience. Totally energising and great to be immersed with all these people following their passion. I came away just wanting more. Plus, the Weft Blown boss also rewarded me for my efforts with some very nice socks from the Buffalo Wool Company.
Spinners busy on our stand at EYF
So, after a little time recovering it has been back to work and we are now very pleased to be able to announce that the Weft Blown online store is now officially up and running selling Louet spinning wheels, table looms, hand and drum carders and all the associated spinning, weaving and carding bits and bobs you would expect. We can also supply the range of Louet floor looms but hopefully you will understand that we can't hold these in stock and will need these looms to be ordered from the Louet factory on an individual basis.
The Louet wheel family getting settled into their new home!
So why has Weft Blown become a Louet supplier? Well, a pretty major reason is because we were so impressed by the build quality, craftmanship and general loveliness of Ange's Delta floor loom which was bought last Autumn. We think that Louet equipment is not only well built but elegantly designed in both appearance and also function. We also think that they represent very good value products for the weavers and spinners out there.
Ange's Louët Delta Floor Loom and Louët weaving bench
Basically, we want Weft Blown to be your one-stop-shop for all Louet products. We believe we have very competitive prices and are endeavouring to keep as much of the range in stock as is possible at any one time. If anything is out of stock it can be pre-ordered through the site and will then be on that week's factory order. Shipping rates are based on package volumetric weight and are clearly displayed on your order as you proceed to the Check Out. You can of course also opt to collect in person from our studio if you live in or are passing through the area.
Floor looms, being the more unique and hefty beasts that they are, can be ordered through our online contact form prior to confirmation of specific shipping rates, payment method and delivery timescales. Floor loom prices shown on our website are the actual sale price and not just an indicative guide price as some other websites display them.
As a working teaching and production weaving studio we will usually have numerous Louet wheels and looms built up and available for you to try out. So if you are in our part of the world and interested in a Louet product then please do get in touch with us to come and give the wheels or table looms a test-drive. You can also use Louët wheels and table looms at Ange's classes too.
Now, Weft Blown will be at both the Royal Highland Show and Galloway Country Fair this coming summer where Ange will be selling her weather-inspired handwoven range. And we are very excited to also announce that in September we will be off to Yarndale in Skipton. More on Yarndale to come closer to the time, but if you are going too we will be happy to take advance orders on any Louet items so that you can collect from our stand. We will also be happy to take payments in installments in advance if you prefer to spread out the cost - please contact us if you would like to place an order in this way.
Now, I should really get off this computer and back to upping my spinning skills. Before doing that I have to say that although still a bit clumsy and inconsistent in my spinning, I have really taken to our demonstration S80 Olivia wheel to work with. The more traditional-style turned wood appearance is a bit different from the other contemporary-looking wheels in the Louet range, but whatever your tastes in wheel style the Olivia is just totally effortless to treadle! Perhaps worth a look if you are thinking about a new wheel?.........
The very lovely S80 Olivia wheel
For those of you that have read my last blog post you my remember that I said that I was heading off to Scotlands Trade Fair at the end of January.
After a lot of hard work and stress I got there and it went fantastically well.
I am now making new stock for stockists across Scotland and one in England, and there are one or two rather exciting things in the pipeline too.
So, it's been very crazy busy at Weft Blown HQ as I've been busy getting these orders organised and also getting my new designs set-up too which include these new cushions, scarves and cowl.
They will be in stock from April in my shop and online so do watch out for them.
As well as getting all the things woven over the past couple of months I've also been sorting out a new venture for Weft Blown as I am now a supplier of Louët spinning wheels and looms.
My first spinning wheel was a second hand Louët S10 and it was great to learn on as it was so easy to use. Over the past few years I've also had a Louët Junior Drum Carder and Bobbin winder and then at the end of last year I got my brand new Louët Delta floor loom.
Having used them over time I've been very impressed with the build quality of Louët but also of how they have been designed to make it easier for the user to spin or weave on. It's for this reason that I decided to become a dealer.
To help with adding another string to my business bow, my husband Rob is now helping out with the Louët side of things. He has already done a little bit of weaving and has now learned to spin too, even if his perfectionist ways makes him get frustrated with it at times. It's great to have him help out now as I feel the pressure has lifted off a bit of having to run everything myself and means I can now talk to him about looms and wheels and he's starting to understand it all.
So, this means that what I'm bringing with me to my stand at Edinburgh Yarn Festival is a bit changed from last year. I will still be bringing a selection of my handwoven products to show, including my clouds and badges. I'll also be more than happy to talk to anyone about the weaving and spinning classes that I run.
Rob is coming to help out this year too as we're bringing our new range of Louët wheels and looms. We've not got the full range of wheels and table looms as we're still waiting on parts of our order to come.
We will have:
a Louët Klik table loom warped up that you can have a play on
the Louët S10 Concept Spinning Wheel which is fab to spin on and we're bringing the double treadle 3 spoke and 5 spoke wheels with Irish and Scotch Tension
a Louët S17 Spinning Wheel
the Louët Victoria S95 beech and S96 oak model which are very cute and dinky
Louët Classic and Louët Junior Standard Drumcarders with their cute spinning animals on the drums
You'll be able to have a shot on any of these wheels and if you order any Louët product at the show but we don't have it in stock we will ship it to you with free delivery afterwards (this applies to all products apart from floor looms due to the nature of their delivery).
Rob and I want to make sure that anyone who wants to have a go on these wheels and loom get a chance so we will have them out on the stall and just ask us if you want to have a try on them. We'll have fibre and yarn ready to go too. Also, if you want to talk to us about any of the other Louët products including floor looms then just ask.
The other reason I'm really excited about EYF is getting the chance to meet everyone and squish lots of yarn. I've already bought yarn in the past from quite a few of the vendors for weaving, including Old Maiden Aunt yarns, Midwinter Yarns, Jamiesons of Shetland, Blacker Yarns, New Lanark, Wollmeise, Whistlebare Yarns and the new Buchaille Yarn by Kate Davies. I'm really looking forward to seeing them all again.
This year I will be making a bee-line for Ripples Craft not just to see the lovely Helen and my weaving friend Dorothy but to eye up some yarn for future projects.
I can't wait to see The Border Tarts lovely indigo dyed yarns which I'd love to see how they weave up.
Easyknits is another one of my favourites and I use their yarn for knitting but I think their gradient packs of yarn will be great for weaving with too.
John Arbons Paint by Numbers range is also another I want to have a closer look at this year as I didn't get the chance to properly last year.
Buffalo Wool Co will be another stop as how can anyone resist the chance to see what buffalo yarn is like, especially if they've got their mini skeins.
Finally, I can't wait to see my old EYF friend Once A Sheep as she'll have with her the new Ashford Sample-It rigid heddle loom and the new Vari-Dent rigid heddle reeds which do look a lot of fun.
I will also be checking out all the other stalls and it doesn't mean that any of the ones that I haven't mentioned aren't of interest as they create great yarns that are great for weaving with.
If you're at EYF and want any help on what yarns to weave with then do stop by my stand and I'm always happy to have a chat about yarns and weaving.
Our stand is F4 and we're next to the Tour of British Fleece which looks like a great project all about spinning and working with British Fleece.
So do come along and say hi and I promise to be back to blog afterwards how it all went.
Hello again and many apologies for the long gap between blog posts.
Things have been rather busy at Weft Blown HQ with getting ready for Christmas fairs, being ill, and getting inspired by weather.
As you may have noticed the website has changed again. I've switched over to a whole new web hosting thing called Shopify, which I have to say has made having an online shop far easier as it instantly matches into what's in the studio. The only downside is that moving my blog to the new system hasn't been easy and the older posts do need to have images added back in which I'll do over the next month or so. Also, to those that had subscribed I do hope you can subscribe again. Nothing to do with websites and blog transfers seems easy but I hope that you all like the new look.
The past few months have been great and I've been up to Glasgow for a couple of fairs which were great and it was lovely to meet so many new people that hadn't seen my work before.
The other big change at Weft Blown has been the addition of my first brand new to me floor loom, my Louet Delta called who is now called Storm.
I have to say that I have been nothing apart from impressed by the service from Louet. My Delta came in several boxes, including one of the biggest boxes ever.
The only downside was it's arrival coincided with me getting shingles. I don't recommend anyone getting shingles as it's rotten and I was floored for a week. The biggest downside to it was that I got it in my left upper arm and shoulder. As a weaver and knitter this really wasn't good as it meant that I lost a lot of power in my left arm which has taken a while to get back.
A week after falling ill though I did get back into the studio and managed to build my loom with my dodgy shoulder and eventually she looked like this.
The build quality is fantastic, even with having to put all the parts together myself. For a loom that is still fully manual there are a few very cunning modern twists to the old design of a countermarch loom that really change how it weaves. It's such an improvement on my old loom that she is already cutting down on my set-up and weaving time to make her a very valuable addition to my studio.
My Delta loom is a 12 shaft 14 treadle loom. For those of you that are not weavers this means I have more uppy downy bits on my loom to make cooler patterns than before. For the weavers, having the extra 4 shafts from my last loom makes a big difference as it means I can do more block patterns and also just weave more complex designs than before in an easier way. The tie-up is also far easier and means I can change patterns while a warp is on the loom, again something I couldn't have done before.
Having Storm my new loom has also reignited by weaving juices and I have got my weaving design mojo back. I am now able to explore more weaving techniques that I dipped into at college and the one thing that I've really been wanting to explore for a long time is Collapse Weave.
As I am always looking up at the sky and the changes in the cloud and light, I've been wanting to explore more how to create more texture of the sky into my handwoven cloth.
I've delved back into my archive of photos from the past year and have dug out these as my new inspiration sources for scarves.
The subtle texture in the clouds in these images fascinates me and I want to translate that flow between the cloud and the sky into a scarf.
I've experimented with the basic structure using Shetland yarn with over twisted yarn. The second sample worked and here's the results.
I have dabbled in collapse weave at college and this time I've managed to create the crinkly structure in a more controlled way.
So, I am currently threading up Storm in some lovely Old Maiden Aunt yarn mixed with some Jamiesons of Shetland yarn to create a textured scarf imitating the sunsets above. Fingers crossed it'll work.
The new scarves and new cushion designs will be launched at Scotlands Trade Fair which is on from 24-26 January 2016. This is the first time I'm doing a trade fair and it's a tad daunting but hopefully it might lead to my work being sold in more places across the country. If you are going then do pop by my stand on LG8 to say hi.
I'll be back soon to let you know how it's gone and how the new scarves and cushions look.
During the summer the lovely Estelle at Midwinter Yarns got in touch with me to ask if I could weave a sample for them for their stand at shows using their Lithuanian Linen. This was very good timing as I had that day just been drooling over their linen Sweet Peas packs that they had […]
The post How to Weave with Lithuanian Linen from Midwinter Yarns appeared first on Weft Blown.
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