Friday, 17 March 2017

Dovecot Studio Edinburgh

As promised, here's a review of the inspiring Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh.  The studios are housed in an iconic Edinburgh building which used to house the Infirmary Street Baths.  The studios house an exhibition gallery, shop, cafe and a huge workshop area that is open to public viewing at certain times so that you can watch the artists at work.

There was only one person working while I was there but there was a wonderful atmosphere walking around the gallery and looking down onto the workspace.  The large groups of cones were so inspiring and I would have loved to have scooped up the waste to use in my own weaving.  I wonder if they would have missed a cone or two?  Sadly I would have had to abseil down to snaffle one.

This tapestry above is being made for a commission to The Perse School which I think is in Cambridge.     I think the method being used is tufting where the wool is fixed into the rug by use of a pneumatic gun.  The tufts are then trimmed to length (cut pile).

At the empty looms it was possible to see the cartoons and preparations made for the tapestries.

These bunches are used to test out the colours and blends in an approximation to how they will look in a piece of work.

This exhibition piece seems particularly relevant these days.  Regrettably my phone didn't capture the maker's name.

Down the staircase was a large weaving made as a site-specific project.

I was really tired by the time I got to the studios but the visit was stimulating and well worth the effort.  If you're in Edinburgh and in any way interested in weaving or tapestry it is well worth going.  The building has its own beauty and while it hasn't been a tapestry studio for many years it has a great sense of history and is a beautiful building in its own right.  Until 1 July there is an exhibition in the gallery focussing on the apprentices of the studio.  It was interesting to see how some techniques had evolved over the decades.

The photos are all from my phone so apologies if they are not clear.

Back soon with more Edinburgh sights and a visit to the Rosslyn Chapel.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Edinburgh and Wool

We've just come back from a few days away in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.  My motive for going was to attend the Edinburgh Yarn Festival which I had found out about recently.  I lured my long suffering husband along with promises of lots of photo opportunities.  Actually he didn't take much luring and he even came to the Festival with me to act as pack-horse, but more of that in a bit.

We let the train take the strain and had a very pleasant journey up, enjoying the views of the Northumberland coast.

We caught a glimpse of the Angel of the North as we passed Newcastle and Gateshead.

We'd no sooner arrived at our hotel than we all had to troop out as the fire alarm went off.

Happily it was a false alarm but we still stood around in the cold for about quarter of an hour.

Friday found us at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, or rather, queueing to get in.  The organisation of the show was excellent and there was a good atmosphere in the queue with everyone being very patient.  I think it took about half an hour for us to get in but the queue moved steadily so it wasn't a chore.  The organisers did a great job all round.

Ironically, I went again on the Saturday, having a weekend ticket, and the queue for ticket holders was longer than the queue for non-ticket holders.  If you click on the photo above you can see the little finger post announcing the Festival.

Hubby, who has little interest in wool, amused himself taking a couple of videos,

Since I had Mr Muscle with me I bought the heaviest items on my list on Friday.  I bought an art flyer for my Louet Victoria spinning wheel and an inklette loom for making straps and narrow weaves on.

The art flyer is a different colour from the original wheel but I'm not bothered.  It is really simple to change over to this larger flyer and I think I'm going to get a lot of use out of it.  I've had a treadle with it this afternoon and it doesn't affect the stability of the wheel.  Happy, happy!

There wasn't a lot of fibre available at the Festival as it's set up with knitters in mind but John Arbon of Devon were doing a roaring trade as ever.

The cafe was extremely busy and I didn't bother fighting my way in.

Hubby very generously suggested that I go back on my own on Saturday so I gave up fairly quickly on Friday as it was very busy.  Saturday I had a lovely few hours browsing the stalls and getting way too tempted with all the beautiful yarns on offer.

Eden Cottage Yarns, Ripples Crafts, Watercolours & Lace and A Yarn Story all tempted me.

The lovely textured pack is by Añañuca and I'll enjoy either weaving or spinning it.  The mohair was a bargain at £2.50 and may get some dye added to some it.

The Threshing Barn not only sold me the Inklette loom but also tempted me with a sumptuous batt and some ribbons that will appear in some art yarns soon, to be spun on my new gadget.  I was delighted to find some Colinette bulky yarns in a shop on the way back to the hotel (as if I hadn't bought enough yarn already!).  Colinette no longer produce their beautiful yarns so once the available stocks have gone that will be it. (sad face here).

Edited to add a YouTube video of the show:

If  you're really interested there are several more on YouTube (you might want to turn the soundtrack off).

Once I'd worn myself out at the Festival on Saturday I headed back into Edinburgh to visit the Dovecot Studio and gallery.  To quote their brochure, they are "a landmark centre for contemporary art, craft and design built around a leading international tapestry studio."  I have an interest in tapestry weaving so I was keen to visit, especially as the viewing balcony was open.  I'll make a separate post of the visit so I don't bore you to death if you're not interested.  More to follow too of meanderings around Edinburgh and a visit to the Rosslyn Chapel.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

New Year, New Post

I make no apologies for my absence here.   Blogging seems to be drifting for everyone these days as social media takes over but I wanted to record some of my weaving projects in case it helps others who are struggling as I am to make the woven fabric into useful garments.   I'm not even sure how much I've spoken about weaving here but it is my avowed passion, ousting sewing and painting, although I do still dabble with some painting.  With arthritic hands and fingers, weaving is the least painful of the artistic endeavours open to me.

I recently wove a black mixed pre-wound Saori warp and it told me it wanted to be a jacket.  Much of Saori clothing is based around the kimono shape which is basically rectangles so, how hard can it be?!

The overall length of the fabric is 3.2 metres by approx 38cms.  In theory it wasn't quite enough fabric for the top I wanted to make so I had to do a bit of judicious cutting and stitching back together.  I knew all that patchwork would come in handy.

I was very good and made a cotton mock-up (toile) from a piece of sheet.  I had a Saori pattern for a t-shaped jumper but, just to be awkward I wanted mine to be like a cardigan, open at the front.  I was struggling with the actual construction and a friend of mine helped me to get to grips with that.  Added to that  a wonderful Facebook group gave me the solution to how to join the sleeves into the main body so I've had a great day today making the jacket.

I made a little model to test out how to join all the pieces together.

These two photos may not be that clear but I sewed the sections together in a set order so that the top and bottom were connected first and then the sleeve seams closed.

So, in order to get the right size pieces I had to do some cutting up.  If you're cutting woven fabric you need to stitch either side of the intended cut to stop everything unravelling.

Excuse the terrible photo but it was very sunny today.  I didn't have enough fabric to make the lower body section so I used the toile to map out how much I needed to piece to fill the gap.

It was a bit of a bodge job but actually it works well as you'll see in a minute.

The tricky part was getting the join at the underarm to work and be neat.  In the photo above the sleeve is forming the leg of the T shape.  I sewed the bodice seams first and closed the sleeve last.  There is a very useful video on YouTube that helped me get my head round this.

and also

So, how did it turn out?

I have added a pocket to the left front and I still need to sort out the fringes but it's been a long day so that's a job for tomorrow.  This has been quite a learning curve as I've never made a jacket before.  Needless to say this isn't lined as generally Saori is left unlined.

Back soon, well, hopefully sooner than 3 months!