Monday, 10 February 2014

Weaving and a friend

My very good friend who lives in Somerset took me to a lovely leather factory shop in Street. She knows my love of colour and texture and knew just where to take me for a bit of browsing.

There was a wonderful range of brightly coloured leather off-cuts left over from making handbags, gloves and coats. The range of colour and finish was fantastic and I was able to rummage in a large bin to find a good variety of types of leather finishes and suppleness. I now have a bag lurking in my stash. I'm not sure when and how I will use it - though I do have one or two thoughts, perhaps to be followed up once my exhibition deadline for the end of March is past.

It was also possible to buy fine strips of leather by the meter in a range of colours. This I knew I could find an immediate use for and bought a good length of it. Here, I've added two strips to my woven piece along with the next bands of colour to give a change of texture. I'm also hoping that the greater rigidity of the leather will help to give some support when I finish the piece off and twist it into 3D.

This photo also shows something of how I work. For this kind of weaving, I break the rules. I don't always weave steadily up the warp but go back and add in extra passes of weft when I feel the need. I may also unpick and then fill in. I also use a wide range of different threads and yarns and change the colours often. I think of it as painting in yarn.

With all this going on, I find I usually need to use the hooked upholstery needle with a large eye shown in the photo rather than a bobbin. This allows me greater flexibility and also lets me add in those extra passes of weft if I feel the need.

When I start, I weave a wooden batten through the warps in one direction to give a shed which I can pass through easily. On the return, I have to pick each warp thread individually and it is then that the upholstery needle comes into its own.

I'm sure the purists would not approve at all - but I like the flexibility of this sort of approach and it allows me to work intuitively and freely - vital for me.


  1. How brilliant that the leather strip is such a good match! I am intrigued to see this piece grow.

  2. Excellent - what are rules anyway if not to be broken! I'm not surprised you were tempted by the leather - few more evocative smells or textures.

  3. As a non-weaver, I find this all very intriguing!! And how lovely of your friend to take you to such a magical place!! And to know that you have a little stash of gem pieces to add to your work....I'd say, except for all that water, that it was a very successful visit!

  4. Thanks to you all for your comments. How great it is to have good friends who know what excites! The leather strip is being well used and the piece is growing. I've now got to the impatient to see the end stage ...

  5. I'm impatient, too … it looks marvellous and isn't there an old adage that 'rules' were meant to be broken ? Love the leather addition !

  6. VMT - I think I'm at my happiest when (gently) breaking rules.
    The rest of my leather haul is awaiting ideas, though I do have a few thoughts already ... such wonderful colours!

  7. Would love to know where this shop is, it sounds very exciting, I don't live that far from Street.
    I think breaking the rules is part of the fun.

    1. This is a factory shop - Owen Barry at the Tanyard. The address is No 3 The Tanyard, Leigh Road, Street, Somerset. BA16 0HD. It's not all that easy to find as it's part of a small business park and up some metal steps - but well worth a visit, especially if you're a great collector of offcuts of anything, as I am. My friend knows me well! Good Luck ...


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