Archive for the ‘Bergman loom’ Category

I have been rather caught up with fibre matters recently and somehow have put off writing for longer than intended. I have just finished a set of towels  two for my daughter who wanted grey and pale blue, and finally three for us which I will not end up giving away as presents!  They are all pure 2 ply linen woven in a  traditional Swedish Drall from the 8-shaft Pattern book. I photographed them straight of the loom and they have not been hemmed or finished.

Apart from weaving I have been spinning some Cheviot tops to knit a cardigan. I have discovered that it is more difficult to spin than raw fleece as it slips through my fingers too fast!  I have almost spun a kilo and during that time have improved but the first skeins are thicker than I intended. I wanted to knit a classic lace cable cardigan from Lace Styles edt Allen and Budd, but found my tension was too thick and I didn’t like the texture at all. Over spun and overplied. I have wasted 8 oz but will use it for something else (like weaving!)

Unfortunately now I don’t think I will have enough to knit the cardigan but I will have to order some more tops or find another pattern with less cables and fiddly bits. The latest yarn is coming out approx 4 ply/DK at 13 wpi. It feels a lot woolier and softer.

The spinning made me yearn for more colour. I have enjoyed natural dyes but wanted to try Acid Dyes as I would be able to play around with mixing and experimenting at will rather than hunting for plants.

My daughter gave me a starter pack from Kemtex which included the Primary colours Red, Blue and Yellow plus Jade and Brown (though I havn’t tried the last two yet.)

 I bought two great books for the dyeing novice and collected pots, jats and measuring cups and spoons in readiness.

These are the books which I bought and which have  helped me to understand colour mixing. I can appreciate the need to measure everything and to keep accurate records so that colours can be repeated BUT I got carried away and started dyeing small quantities of yarn completely mesmerised by how easy it is….though much much more tricky to repeat


It felt like a mysterious world of alchemy and I was cautious due to my difficulty with precision and patience. I want the end result too much. Weaving and spinning are really helping me to enjoy the process i.e. warping and carding. rather than feeling these are chores to be got through to enjoy the real business!!!

Here are my results. It is not a real colour wheel and even now I can’t remember what colour   came from what….but I have got the basic principles and will calculate properly next time. It’s  just so exciting to realise that I can create whatever I want…including the elusive duck egg blue, which failed to appear this time!!!!!! and which my daughter-in-law eventually (when I have found it) wants together with a brown to weave into a window seat cushion.

As a  result of my dyeing experiments I have 3 pots of dye mixed in the primary colours all made up and sitting on a kitchen shelf. I have been mixing small amounts, dyeing some fleece and spinning and blending. I am at the early stages but my heart fluttered with anticipation when I produced this!!!

The blue is definitely of the duck egg variety!! Stupidly I didn’t record how I got there  but it was an unlikely mix of a mauvy purple (which involves red and blue!) and some yellow which found the blue and greenified it all !! I know that’s not good enough but its given me confidence. I think I learn by trial and error or perhaps just by my mistakes!

As an aside we went to Dungeness last week, a cold and desolate spot which harbours migrating birds, a mini steam railway and a hideous nuclear power station, and where Derek Jarman the film director used to live. The wind was howling and blowing masses of lichen around. It grows profusely here, so I gathered a bagful, bought it home and sampled a little for dye.

I had hoped it would be green or blue but the yellow ochre shade is interesting and I will use it.

Once I have recovered from my excitement I want to think about a weaving project using all this colour  in a creative and purposeful way. I haven’t woven much handspun and would like to produce something a little more even and less home made looking than I am spinning at present (that sounds daft but I know what I mean!) So I think it will be more productive to dye some purchased undyed yarn until I progress in the spinning stakes!

What shall I weave next? This is a pathetic dilemma . Is it a question of being spoilt for choice or are there logical paths to follow? I am not weaving to sell I don’t have to concern myself with the market. It is not Christmas so I don’t need to make gifts. I have a new wider loom. I have a stash of 2 ply linen. I have some dyed handspun. I don’t feel justified in ordering more and more yarn , weaving is an expensive interest!!! The linen asks to be made into towels, tablecloths, place mats and garments. The problem is that I don’t really need or use some of these things. So then I start telling myself the importance of heirlooms etc!!  I love Swedish  weaving. I love Malin Selander and I was given a second hand copy of her book Weaving Patterns.. There are evocative memories for me of contemporary design of the late 50s and 60s

This pattern caught my eye, It is a tablecloth which is recommended for the oblong table! Just the job. I have the linen. I have the loom. I have decided……..

.I spend a lot of time reading other peoples blogs, weavers, spinners, designers, and really admire the ones who are more like artists with their use of colour, often using the camera and photographic images to inspire. I have rather enviously seen how weavers in the US seem to have a much wider access to yarn stores than we do here. I also feel limited by budget, not by anyone else but myself. I sense that weaving and spinning have the air of an  addictive behaviour and I must feed my habit wisely and not be profligate. I understand the healthy balance of finding commercial outlets to do this but I do not believe there is a profitable market here for the things I am making  at the moment.

 I am still exploring  new techniques and learning so much as I go.Improving my spinning skills, and finding that I can make coloured yarn opens up possibilities which will not require vast amounts of money. I feel more self reliant. I just wish I had discovered weaving  or it had discovered me a long time ago .

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I have been following weaving blogs but instead of feeling inspired I have been feeling more and more inhibited. I have found that I have been putting off writing a post and had a sense of falling out of the loop. So today I am taking myself in hand and taking an objective stand. Enough ennui and lack of self belief.

I think I am experiencing a reality check. I have had the excitement of discovering I can weave, the amazement of seeing patterns appear as if by magic. I have struggled with my impatience, learnt to take time with each stage (still difficult as I want to get on with the weaving bit!!) But I am dissatisfied with where I’m at. I have become caught in a ‘copying the books’ trap. I was telling myself that it was necessary to get to grips with the language of weaving and important to try out different threadings and treadlings. This is all all true but am I just avoiding  sitting  down, concentrating and working  out something truly my own? 

I have made use of the library at my local guild. It is well stocked with weaving and spinning classics.I have recently borrowed Mary Black’s “The Key to Weaving” and E. Worst’s “Foot Power Loom Weaving.”  He has a wonderful stock of traditional patterns including pages of Overshot and examples of traditional linen weaves which look wonderful. I have ordered second hand copies through Alibris as both are out of print.

There are some comments in Mary Black which have made me think. I am weaving some Overshot place mats at the moment. I have taken the design from the  book  published by Interweave  “Overshot is Hot”, which is why  I feel personally addressed by the following about Overshot:

” Of all the weaves,this one seems to have the greatest appeal to new weavers and as a consequence has probably been more abused than any other.

“Fortunately, present-day weavers have a keener appreciation of design and use their weaving knowledge with greater discrimination and effectivness.”

That statement contains some personal truths for me and has made me think. I have been fascinated by Overshot, at first finding it fussy and old-fashioned, but then getting absorbed in the connection with weavers past and the intricate swirls and blocks. Though I have not attempted to create my own design and haven’t really fathomed out how it all works. There is so much existing material that it is quite difficult to be adventurous. Are my table mats which are copied from a book being ‘discriminating and effective’ ? I have chosen my own colour scheme , ecru and black and actually I like what I am weaving. They look good with plain white everyday china. They are rather fussy but as long as the china is plain I think that’s OK. I would appreciate any comments as I am not sorrounded with friends making helpful criticisms


I am repeating the central pattern three times instead of the once shown in the book  (does that count for originality!!!) as my prototype mat shrunk an inch each way and I want them larger than the place setting. The joke is we hardly ever use table cloths let alone mats but theres always a first time for civilization to hit. I am hoping to get four out of the warp…..the dining room table won’t fit more people anyway!!



I have been analysing my best china, which my mother passed on to me recently. Its pink Spode and needs a plain weave mat with some surface texture. I also have some pink and blue Royal Doulton. It comes out at Christmas and the rare occasions when we entertain.



 This is a pudding dish in Spode Camilla. I wish it was blue Spode but never mind. I think it needs a deep pinky red textured weave. There are 12 of everything all sitting in the back of a kitchen cupboard. Enough for 12 for dinner and 12 for afternoon tea !!!!!! I don’t envisage weaving place mats for 12. Where would they all sit anyway?



                                                            I also have a smaller set of Royal Douton which is also mainly pink but has some deep blue and a green mixed in…



I have to now accept that the creative process has started and just needs some thought, experiment and time to develop a pleasing weave. It will not be Overshot but possibly a Swedish lace. I have recently played around with a sample piece using one of Ann Dixon’s patterns and found it makes a lovely fabric





This is Swedish lace, it would look a little better if not whipped out of a bag where its been folded up  for a few days and was pressed. It is actually very pretty.





 Its funny  that I started writing this with heavy heart and here I am planning something new and feel quite turned on by it. I am interested in a Russian psychologist called Vygotsky (1896-1934) He promoted an experimental method in which the tool used is the result. So here I am researching my lack of creative energy and attempting to define what I need to get moving. In the process of analysis (i.e. writing this post) I have found myself rekindled, planning future projects, using personal imagination, and feeling a lot better!!!

The sun is shining and I have just wandered out to the garden with my camera. The spring  flowers look wonderful. The colours are dynamic. Thought I might share them with you.


I am going to a weekend weaving workshop this Saturday, so with one thing and another I am back on track.

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