Monday 17 March 2008

Designing Woven Fabrics

I'm borrowing my title today from Janet Phillips' new book, just published by Natural Time Out Publications. My copy, a new from the press, signed, first edition arrived yesterday morning.

Janet has been a professional handweaver for 30 years. She started out with a 1st class honours degree in Woven Textile Design from the Scottish College of Textiles, worked in industry as a designer, and was working as a freelance textile designer when her first book "The Weaver's Book of Fabric Design" was published by Batsford in 1983.

Janet's first book is very good, regarded as a standard reference by handweavers in the U.K. even 25 years on.

Her second book is exactly what I had hoped when I placed my pre-publication order. This is the book which is going to by by my side as I move from exploring weave structures to designing fabric. It's based not just on Janet's knowledge of weaving, but also her knowledge from many years of teaching handweaving. She explains things in her own way and is very thorough and careful in her writing. She doesn't talk down to the reader, nor does she assume any more than a basic ability to warp up and weave and four shafts to play with. The back cover says she "has a deep commitment to teaching others" - that really comes across in the style of writing and presentation.

Part 1 is all about weaving a multiple section sample blanket that demonstrates how different twill threadings work with different treadlings. She writes about all the sections first, in some detail. She takes you right through to how to finish the blanket when you take it off the loom.

Part 2 Design Criteria and Part 3 Designs, build on what is learnt from the sample blanket. It teaches you to look at the samples, think about them, plan and weave a project based on the samples using different yarns and colours (her examples are stunning). One thing that really impressed me was a section about dyeing and over-dyeing. She takes a yarn that is already dyed and then over-dyes to get related shades or complex effects. I realise I have hardly started to explore the possiblities of yarn dyeing. Also, I have hardly started to think about fabric design.

So when shall I place my order for the yarn for the sample blanket? I'm keen to get on with this project. Looking around I have about 18" of a twill sample warp to use up on the loom. I have a box of assorted colours of 2/12 mercerised cotton, and was thinking of winding a warp to explore doubleweave. I was planning a project weaving some simple mats in predominantly yellow mercerised cotton for one for my sisters. I have a little problem to sort with my loom aprons and tension.

I'm not sure what the order for doing things is going to be, I like having choices and possibilities lined up, I guess you'll just have to watch this space to see where I go!

Designing Woven Fabrics, Janet Phillips, pub. Natural Time Out Publications 2008,ISBN 978-0-9957620-0-0
(Follow this link for more details of Janet and her work or to purchase the book.)

The introduction to this book ends "I look forward to seeing cloths designed by weavers based on my ideas that are original, individual and which bring out their own personalities through the very essence of a woven fabric". Me too, hopefully from my own loom!!!"


Peg in South Carolina said...

Oh, gotta have.......And when is this book going to be available in the U.S.? I have her first book and think it is wonderful. Perhaps i will just break down and order it from England. I am so glad that there is a book finally out designed to help a beginner with learning how to design.

Leigh said...

Dorothy, thank you for this! Like Peg, this is one I gotta have too!

kas said...

I bought Janet's book from her website. From the US, it's quite expensive but definitely worth the cost. I've been looking for a clear understanding of the design process and this book is clear, understandable. I can't wait to get to the sampler! Now if only someone could tell me whether 5/2 cotton will work just as well as 2/6!

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Dorothy said...

I have removed three spam comments today. This blog and any comments are monitored daily so that I can find any spam that gets through Bloggers filters.