Monday, 4 June 2018

Black and white bag

I have been meaning to write this blog for a while now. I see that I started weaving it in Feb 2017.

Each year in Norwich, at the Forum - the public space including the marvellous library- there is ‘Maker’s Month’. This is a makers delight as all manner of voluntary organisations plus some others show the public what they do and encourage people to take part. In previous y ears the 4 Norfolk Guilds of weavers, spinners and dyers have been there for one of these weeks. It is very tiring but lovely to show others what we do. 

It was at this event last year that I took my 8 shaft Katie loom, which is portable. I very much wanted to have something interesting on it to show what can be achieved on a shaft loom, compared to a rigid heddle which I also had with me. What tempted me to Weaving was a workshop where I wove a herringbone pattern on an already set up loom. I wove about 8” and managed to turn the strip into a little evening bag. 

Image of evening bag

I thought the herringbone pattern would be a nice interesting weave for demonstrating at maker’s month. I spent long time and practice pieces to decide on the yarn to use. In the end I constructed my own multiple strands  ‘yarn’ to use as the fancy yarn. This contained thread that I bought at Linton Tweeds.(1) The base yarn was from a mixed cone which was in my stash and from which I had knitted a suit many years ago. 

I used 6 shafts, the honeycomb pattern used 4and I used the other 2 to do a plain weave selvedge which would make any stitching easier. 

Image of the weave. 

So I had a length of material that reminded me greatly of Little Moreton Hall, the National Trust  property in Cheshire. It is a very black and white building and the leaded window reminded me of the honeycomb weave. Little Moreton Hall  was our nearest and best ‘tea shop’ when we lived in Cheshire and where as a member of Alsager Guild of Weavers, Spinners And Dyers I had many pleasant memories of our exhibitions there. 

Image of honeycomb windows  

So I decided I would make a Little Moreton Hall Bag. 

Photo of Little Moreton Hall

I used linen for the sides  and base. I washed the fabric in quite hot water so as to shrink the Shetland Wool warp threads and make the honeycomb more prominent. I then backed this with interfacing to give more structure. Inspired by the lichen on the roof of the hall I decided to get yellow leather handles. I was delighted when these arrived (2)

Now for the lining. I wished to dye this and unusually for me decided to use acid dyes - so I could get a good match to the handles. So trials took place and then I dyed a length of silk from Bollington in Cheshire. When we lived there I used to visit a mill once a year - I think in November when they had an open weekend and the most glorious lengths of silk could be bought from bins and end of rolls. (see post of 1Feb12) where you can see lining in my coat from the same place). However, whilst there I always searched out lengths of samples because of the plain white / natural coloured silk between the sample prints. It was one of these I retrieved from my stash to dye yellow to provide the lining for this bag. 

So now the bag had an outer shell, handle and lining. I was very pleased with it.

But, to my perfectionist self it was not finished. It needed braid over the join of the lining and  the outer shell. I initially tried this out with some matching commercial braid, but this jarred. 

I decided I would make some on my inklette (small Inkle) loom. I needed an exact match for the colours so decided if I used some  embroidery cotton then I would get a good choice of colours. So I took the bag with its lining to a stand in the  wonderful haberdashery shop in Diss,  called Albright of Diss. I selected the exact colours I wanted. Fortunately I had worked out how much I needed as there is very little length in those skeins in terms of weaving. So the braid was woven and stitched  in place.

 I added some vintage buttons, I guessed in use it would be good  to know which I intended to be the front and which the back of the bag. 

Finished bag 

The result is a bag I absolutely love. It started with wanting to weave something that looked interesting and as each stage was completed, I decided on the next. This is so against the way I usually work, when I have a picture of the finished item or garment in my mind. So this has been a lot more organic and I liked the journey as much as the product. 

(1) Linton Tweeds have some fancy yarns, they are known as producers  of superb fabrics. They have been weaving  for over 100 years and supply many luxury brands, think Chanel etc. If you are going up the M6 by Carlisle a diversion to the retail centre is a real treat - and there is a tea room. They also supply fabrics online and yarns, such as I have used in this bag. 

(2) Bag Handles From

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