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Casa dos Artesans – Ribeira Sacra

Holiday cottage in rural Galicia (sleeps 2 - 5). Experience spectacular scenery, rural life, wine, art and Spanish craft. Learn basketry or textile weaving on holiday or visit the nearby craft workshops. "Lovely furnishings, colours ... and comfy beds" (client comment).
                       

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Advice on loom weaving courses, books and buying a loom

katherine taylor 500  pix

Louet table loom: Looms like this require a minimum of 24 – 35 hours tuition to enable you to set it up and weave simple fabrics.

Today I received this message from a Chilean lady who had bought a 4-pedal floor loom but without knowing how to use it…

“Recently I have really wanted to learn to weave on a loom and I´ve bought two looms, each with 4 pedals, from a Chilean craftsman.  I´ve read on your blog about the importance of choosing a loom….  but I´ve begun at the end!  Now I´ve bought the looms I really want to be able to get good use out of them.   But I´ve only had 4 hours of tuition.  As I don´t know anything about weaving, it´s really very little ….”

Having a floor loom without knowing how to use it is a bit like having a small plane without knowing how to fly it!

My reader goes on to ask me for advice, and I replied as I always do to this kind of inquiry.  I don´t advise anyone to buy a loom (unless it´s a rigid heddle loom) without doing a course first!  

 

Buying a loom and the other necessary equipment can be costly so it is best to learn first and know that you´re going to enjoy weaving.

Speaking personally I have invested almost every year since I began weaving in 2000 in improving my weaving and designing skills.  I have travelled 12 hours to do a course in Barcelona and travelled to the UK, and, where necessary, paid for one-to-one tuition in particular areas, learning with professionals such as master weaver Lotte Dalgaard.  I think it´s really important, as a beginner, to have a good first experience of weaving – with a properly trained teacher.

000 tejedoras españolas con lotte dalgaard al final curso

Loom weaving – an activity for life

Weaving is far more versatile than crochet or knitting and you can make anything from gossamer light linen for light headscarves to heavier fabrics for upholstery or rugs.  There are so many techniques to learn that you will never exhaust your curiosity to learn more.

Learning to weave from books

Of course there ARE books for beginner weavers, although I still think any new weaver will get more out of them after doing a beginners´ course.  So, for my Chilean reader, here´s a couple of recommendations….

If you read English then I would recommend all the weaving books by Peggy Osterkamp.  She is the best author I know for explaining technical information in a simple and easy-to-understand way.  She even has a d.v.d. now, which could be well worth trying as an alternative to a book.  But expect to spend several days in total on your first weave project.  It´s not something you can master in an afternoon.

In Castillian Spanish there is very little literature about loom weaving.  But you do have one that is pretty comprehensive and what´s more, you can download it free.

Neither of the books I´ve recommended are that inspiring visually – it´s not their objective (Ninette Frederiksen´s book was written in the 1980s and stylistically it shows.  But they are meant to teach you the technical side of weaving – how your loom works and how to put the yarns onto it so you can weave them.  I have not seen Peggy Ostercamp´s video but on the strength of her books I would think it would be worth trying.

Weave courses

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Fabric samples made by a group of pupils on a 5-day linen weaving course for beginners which I usually organise annually from my studio in the picturesque village where I live in the mountains of north Spain.

My recommendation for beginners is that they opt for 24 – 35 hours tuition to learn just the basics of setting up the loom and weaving basic fabrics on it.  The courses run at my studio, Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in  north Spain, for example, are intensive and last 3 – 5 days (see the section of the textiles naturales blog for next course dates).  A course enables the beginner weaver to set up their loom and weave simply fabric.  And yes, after this it is possible to take a table loom home with you after the course, and and start weaving simple fabrics on your own at home, because several pupils have done this…. and are still weaving years later!

Knowing how the loom works and how to set it up is one thing.  But I guess, like my blog reader in Latin America, you want to weave not because you´re passionate about becoming a weave technician but because you want to create beautiful woven cloth.

Weaving beautiful cloth

The simplest of fabrics can be very beautiful.  Plainweave is the simplest weave that all beginners learn and which is woven 80% of the time by industry.  It is also extremely versatile.  So you can weave fabrics knowing just the basics.

When you want to progress and design something more complex or original you will need to think about learning some weave theory.

Weave Theory

BlanketsEasterlyDetail
To design complex, original fabrics l ike this one, by Eleanor Pritchard (UK) requires professional level training including weave theory and design skills.

Weave theory starts with understanding more about the structures of woven cloth and how they can be represented on paper.  Most weave books cover the basics.  At Anna Champeney Estudio Textil we offer a 2-day weekend course with excercises that you can practice with.  Weave theory allows you to understand more about how woven cloth is made instead of simply following formulas blindly.   Even if you don´t want to go on to design your own original woven fabrics you will find that a basic understanding of the graphic representation of weave enables you to use pattern books and weave magazines such as Handwoven, to try out more complex patterns.

How to design your hand-woven fabrics

Designing your own original weave projects requires different knowledge areas to those of setting up a loom and weaving simple fabric.  Design requires a knowledge of cloth drafting (representing a woven cloth on paper), and an understanding of the 6 principle elements of weave design and the way they work together:

  1. Yarn and its qualities
  2. The spacing of yarn on the loom and during weaving (warp and weft density)
  3. Woven cloth structure
  4. Colour
  5. Cloth finishing

In English there are some excellent books for understanding about weave theory and design.  Ann Sutton´s excellent book “The Structure of Weaving” and ” Mastering Weave Structures” by Sharon Alderman.

However you decide to learn to weave I wish you the best of luck and hope you´ll enjoy weaving beautiful fabrics for years to come.

How I learned to weave – by Anna Champeney

Hoy os pongo este mensaje que recibí hoy de una mujer chilena que tiene muchas ganas para aprender a tejer en telar….

“Recientemente me nació un deseo incontrolable por dedicarme a la técnica del telar, y he adquirido 2 telares de 4 pedales confeccionados por un artesano chileno. he leído en su página web: la importancia en la elección del telar, pero yo comencé desde el final. Como ya los compré debo tratar de sacarles el máximo provecho. Sólo recibí una instrucción de 4 horas. Para no saber nada de telar, obviamente es muy poco para mí”

No me sorprende que está con dificultades !Es un poco como tener un coche o avioneta … pero sin recibir formación de piloto!

Me pide consejos para aprender a tejer en telar de bajo lizo a base de libros.  Le he respondido como siempre en casos parecidos;  no aconsejo a nadie intentar a tejer en telares (excepto telares muy sencillos, como los telares llamados rígidos) de bajo lizo sin realizar un curso presencial con alguien experimentado.

Y más, es recomendable realizar un curso antes de invertir lo que puede ser bastante dinero en la compra de un telar.

Hablando personalmente he invertido en cursos de formación cada año, desde que empecé a tejer en el año 2000.  He asistido en cursos de principiante, cursos monográficos, cursos teóricos y cursos de diseño.  Creo que para aprender la técnica básica, ganas muchísimo aprendiendo directamente de alguien, porque te ahorrarás muchos líos y no te desanimarás.

000 tejedoras españolas con lotte dalgaard al final curso
8 tejedoras profesionales españolas aprendiendo la técnica de collapse weave (tejidos plisados) con Lotte Dalgaard (izq)., maestra tejedora danesa, en Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, Galicia)

El tejido en telar – una actividad para acompañarte durante toda la vida

El tejido en telar de bajo lizo es una actividad creativa realmente fantástica y mucho más versátil que el ganchillo o tejido con agujas.  Puedes tejer desde tejidos superfinos hasta alfombras gruesas, cortinas de lino o tejidos clásicos de pata de gallo, para chaquetas o abrigos.

Pero no es nada obvio como usar la máquina de tejer y hace falta prepararlo bien con los hilos.  Piénsalo así  - si realmente fuera tan fácil, habría un montón de revistas a la venta con proyectos para tejer en telar.  Pues, no he visto ninguna revista en librerías dedicado al tejido en telar.  Por algó será…..

Aprender a tejer con libros

Para mi lectora chilena, voy a hablar de los mejores libros que conozco para tejer.

Si sabes entender el inglés, pues, tienes un montón de literatura sobre el tema.  La autora preferida mía sobre temas técnicos de tejer en telar es Peggy Osterkamp y tiene una gama de libros y incluso un dvd para principiantes.  Realmente tiene un talento especial en explicar – y simplificar – el tema.  Los dibujos en sus libros son excelentes y puede ser que compensa comprar algún libro suyo simplemente por los dibujos.  Sigo diciendo, no obstante, que un libro para principiantes te ayudará más una vez que has realizado un curso básico.  No conozco personalmente el d.v.d. pero podría ser también una buena manera para aprender.

En la lengua castellana casi no existe bibliografía sobre el tejido en telar para principiantes.  Pero tienes uno que se puede descargar online -

Neither of the books I´ve recommended are that inspiring visually – it´s not their objective (Ninette Frederiksen´s book was written in the 1980s and stylistically it shows.  But they are meant to teach you the technical side of weaving – how your loom works and how to put the yarns onto it so you can weave them.  I have not seen Peggy Ostercamp´s video but on the strength of her books I would think it would be worth trying.

Weave courses

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Fabrics made by a group of pupils on a 5-day linen weaving course for beginners at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in the mountains of north Spain.

My recommendation for beginners is that they opt for 24 – 35 hours tuition to learn just the basics of setting up the loom and weaving basic fabrics on it.  The courses run at my studio, Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in  north Spain, for example, are intensive and last 3 – 5 days (see the section of the textiles naturales blog for next course dates).  A course enables the beginner weaver to set up their loom and weave simply fabric.  And yes, after this it is possible to take a table loom home with you after the course, and and start weaving simple fabrics on your own at home, because several pupils have done this…. and are still weaving years later!

Knowing how the loom works and how to set it up is one thing.  But I guess, like my blog reader in Latin America, you want to weave not because you´re passionate about becoming a weave technician but because you want to create beautiful woven cloth.

Weaving beautiful cloth

The simplest of fabrics can be very beautiful.  Plainweave is the simplest weave that all beginners learn and which is woven 80% of the time by industry.  It is also extremely versatile.  So you can weave fabrics knowing just the basics.

When you want to progress and design something more complex or original you will need to think about learning some weave theory.

Weave Theory

BlanketsEasterlyDetail
To design complex, original fabrics l ike this one, by Eleanor Pritchard (UK) requires professional level training including weave theory and design skills.

Weave theory starts with understanding more about the structures of woven cloth and how they can be represented on paper.  Most weave books cover the basics.  At Anna Champeney Estudio Textil we offer a 2-day weekend course with excercises that you can practice with.  Weave theory allows you to understand more about how woven cloth is made instead of simply following formulas blindly.   Even if you don´t want to go on to design your own original woven fabrics you will find that a basic understanding of the graphic representation of weave enables you to use pattern books and weave magazines such as Handwoven, to try out more complex patterns.

How to design your hand-woven fabrics

Designing your own original weave projects requires different knowledge areas to those of setting up a loom and weaving simple fabric.  Design requires a knowledge of cloth drafting (representing a woven cloth on paper), and an understanding of the 6 principle elements of weave design and the way they work together:

  1. Yarn and its qualities
  2. The spacing of yarn on the loom and during weaving (warp and weft density)
  3. Woven cloth structure
  4. Colour
  5. Cloth finishing

In English there are some excellent books for understanding about weave theory and design.  Ann Sutton´s excellent book “The Structure of Weaving” and ” Mastering Weave Structures” by Sharon Alderman.

Good luck, and keep a look out for our weave courses for beginners and for those with more experience.  We offer intensive courses and one-to-one tuition.

How I learned to weave – by Anna Champeney

Cómo aprendí a tejer por Anna Champeney

 

 

 

 

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Gathering weld (Reseda luteola) for natural dyeing course in northwest Spain

harvested weld in Galicia SpainBundle of locally-harvested weld (Reseda luteola) being carried to Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Galicia, northwest Spain, for dyeing wool and linen.   

Natural Dye Course – 28 / 29 July 2012

If you´re interestesd in sources of natural colour for textile design and yarn craft this course is for you!  You´ll have the chance to test out this weld to dye soft lambswool yarn with gorgeous shades of yellow and green.  On the course you will also be using the high quality European cochineal from Lanzarote, obtained directly from local farmers!

Cost:  125€

Where:  Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, Cristosende, 32765 A Teixeira, Ourense (nearest airport Santiago de Compostela / A Coruña) Spain.   About 5 hours drive from Madrid.  About 45 minutes drive from Ourense train station and 35 minutes from Monforte de Lemos train station.

Reserve me a place!

 

weld and dyer

The flowering spikes are used for more yellow dyes, the stems give greener hues

green weld

Linen dyed green with weld (scarf design by Anna Champeney Estudio Textil)

 

 

 

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Natural dyes are the colour of choice for Spanish textile designers Anna Champeney and Marta Bahillo

Eco-friendly fabrics from Spain



berberis barberry bark

Barberry bark, one source of local and natural colour at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil (April 2012)



Barberry bark, madder root, dried cochineal and walnut husks are all sources of natural colour used to create the textiles at the weave studio of textile designer Anna Champeney in north Spain.  The studio´s collections include limited edition double-weave linens, double-sided scarves in richly-coloured silk and wool, and a range of linen and wool textiles for interiors, including cushions, storage bags and decorative wall-dividers.   The designs vary with each collection but what unites all these textiles is the rich and harmonious use of natural colour.

The reality is that the colours produced by natural dyes are different to most synthetic dyes today because the complex formulas of natural plant dyes  - a single plant may contain several dyes which combine to produce a particularly rich or subtle colour – are usually too expensive to produce in the context of industrial textile production.



natural dyed textiles by Anna Champeney

Anna Champeney textile collection 2011-12 - waffle weave scarves in silk and wool with natural dyes



This makes natural dyes the ideal choice for certain designers and specialist artisans who seek to produce a high-end product and who also care about the way that textiles are made today and the impact on the natural world.

“I started working with natural dyes as it seemed the obvious choice given the location of the textile studio in rural north Spain where there was an abundance of natural dyestuffs.   Of course, I was also interested in making a more organic or natural product.  For me this meant sourcing dyestuffs as locally as possible, using processes which were efficient, with little waste, and avoiding chrome as a fixative ” commented Champeney.



hand-dyeing gives woven textiles a special touch

Drying yarns dyed with lichen, gorse, indigo and madder at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in north Spain



The quality of the colours produced was also a factor.  “As a textile designer and craft weaver you often find yourself limited by the commercial colour ranges.   By dyeing my own colours I can achieve incredibly varied and subtle colour blends which lend a special quality to the finished textiles.  This gives me a certain freedom which industrial designers simply do not have”.

Marta Bahillo – Spanish knit designer – opts for natural dyes



Marta Bahillo discovers the world of natural dyes

Marta Bahillo, Spansh knit designer, discovers the subtle colours of natural dyes



Marta Bahillo, a young Spanish knit designer is also moving in this direction which was why she decided to spend time at AC Estudio Texil for some intensive colour tuition.

Working with natural dyes for the first time was nothing short of a revelation for this designer, whose working practice up until now always involved off-the-peg synthetically-coloured yarns. “I really feel the course has changed me because I see colour in a different way now”, commented Bahillo, “I can see subtle changes in tone which I didn´t notice before”.   Moreover, Bahillo was particularly struck by the sheer variety and richness of the colours obtained using natural dyes.  In the context of her work as a knit designer Bahillo sees definite advantages in  being able to have a greater control over the final result. Working directly with the dyes gives her a far greater creative involvement in the process, leading her to comment “As a textile designer I feel more confident than before”.

Natural Dyes and Fashion

But what about the dictates of fashion which result in certain colours dominating the market every year.  Is it important for these new designers to look at colour forecasts for fashion?  Champeney thinks not. My clients tend to have a confidence in their own sense of style and colour and choose colourways which suit them rather than to follow the dictates of  the fashion industry.  They may combine my textiles with clothing from branded fashion but their style is definitely an individual style which is unique to them.  The challenge for independent designers or makers not to follow fashion but to make textiles which are so distinctive and beautiful that each piece becomes a personal classic in its own right”.

More information:

  • Inquiries about Anna Champeney Estudio Textil´s limited edition textile collections – please contact the studio.
  • Textilesnaturales hopes to feature Marta Bahillo again in a future feature.


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