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How to make linen buttons by hand – Warp and Weft Exhibition Catalogue – 100% linen bathtowels on the loom

HOW TO MAKE LINEN BUTTONS BY HAND (traditional Galician method from north Spain)

At last, here is the blog post I promised several weeks ago about how to make the charming buttons from linen yarn that were used in my region of Spain – Galicia – for traditional linen shirts and other garments.  They are easy to make and, unlike some other hand-made buttons, you don´t need any rings or moulds.


Make 10 wraps around a paper tube with linen yarn


Remove yarn with care. The wraps become the button core which you wrap with the same linen yarn

3 wrapping the button

Continue wrapping the button until you fill in the hole


Use the "tail" of the linen to fasten the button to the fabric

Thanks to Montse Rivera of A Mouga shop in Santiago de Compostela for sharing her knowledge with textilesnaturales.

WHAT´S NEW AT AC ESTUDIO TEXTIL – New 100% linen bath towels

100% linen bath towels made on looms at AC Estudio Textil New towel design with decorative border (AC Estudio Textil)
Woven Textile Design AC Estudio Textil Checking the weave with a magnifying glass is part of the way we work
New limited edition bath towels for christmas will be on sale in our new online shop –  opening 5 November 2010 – so watch this space.

WARP + WEFT Textile Exhibition Catalogue

warp and weft catalogue

  • Contemporary Woven Textiles – 11 September – 30 October 2010
  • Oriel Myrddin Gallery, Wales

It´s not often that you come across an exhibition devoted exclusively to loom-woven textiles and it´s a real pleasure to find the subject written about in such a knowledgeable way in the exhibition catalogue.  Perhaps this is not surprising, given the fact that the exhibition was curated by British weaver, Laura Thomas, in collaboration with Oriel Myrddin Gallery.

Dr Jessica Hemmings (Associate Director, Centre for Visual and Cultural Studies, Edinburgh College of Art) divides the work on display into two basic types in her essay – textiles informed by “experiments with the very structure of weaving” and textiles of containment – whether literally – as in the case of Japanese company NUNO whose textiles contain feathers in pockets, or Priti Veja who uses fibre-optic yarn within the cloth – or as vehicles for images or meaning.   In fact there are 14 weavers represented in the exhibition, including Ainsley Hillard, Ann Sutton, Peter Collingwood, Ann Richards and Reiko Sudo (Nuno).    Not everyone will be able to make it to Wales, although the exhibition will also be travelling to Bury St Edmunds (visit the Oriel Myrddin Gallery website for tour dates).  Still, reading the exhibition catalogue has confirmed what I already suspected, even here in my very rural hamlet – weaving is surely one of the most challenging crafts today and one of the least well understood owing to a certain “cognitive barrier” which results when most people are so separated from the physical reality of making cloth on a loom –  You can see someone weave on a loom without really understanding at all how the loom works or how pattern and cloth structure are related.    It is clear, however, that weavers, galleries, weave teaching bodies and bodies responsible for craft development and promotion have a lot of work to do to close this cognitive gap, which is a pre-requisite if the true value of woven textiles is to be This catalogue goes some way to explaining the beautiful mystery of the art of weaving cloth on a loom and suggests that to make a living today at hand-weaving today you need to explore, experiment and develop your own particular style and way of working.

You can obtain a copy of the catalogue by post from Oriel Myrddin Gallery (£15) but Laura Thomas´ own blog and her warp and weft blog are also very useful for finding out about what is going on in the world of contemporary woven textiles in the UK.

Collapse weave course with Lotte Dalgaard in Galicia Spain – Basketry Fair in Salt (Girona) – New Craft Courses – Spanish crafts online

fabric sample woven by Anna Champeney during collapse weave course with Lotte Dalgaard in Galicia Spain September 2010The five day intensive course with Danish master weaver Lotte Dalgaard (19 – 23 September 2010, held in Anna Champeney Textile Studio in Galicia, Spain) has just come to an end and I, together with my 6 Spanish colleagues (all professional weavers) are now able to start to digest the huge amount of information that Lotte generously shared with us.  Lotte has build up a huge amount of technical expertise and creative energy during the 12 years that she has focused on working with what she calls active yarns.  These fine supertwisted yarns or elastic yarns work with more stable yarns to form fantastic and high quality pleated and crinkled texiles.  Lotte has used these magical principles of textile design which are often termed “collapse weave” – to design beautiful scarves and exclusive one-off garments which are sold either in the best Danish, and Swedish craft fairs or via an exclusive craft shop in north Copenhagen.

During the course students set up 7 looms with some of Lotte´s own designs for 4 and 6 shafts in both single and double weave.  Lotte taught the Danish back-to-front technique for setting up the looms using a raddle (quite new for those used to the so-called American technique which is front-to-back).

Classic Lotte Dalgaard collapse scarf design on loom and after finishingAt first, some course students were not convinced by the Danish method and felt that the raddle technique was laborious and time-consuming compared to the more familiar front-to-back method.  But during the course they realized that, although this method is suitable for some kinds of projects, it is really not a suitable warping technique for using very fine, sticky or – in this case – super twisted or elastic yarns.  The front-to-back warping method will result in many broken warp threads whereas the Danish technique which uses a raddle is far gentler on the warp threads and enables the warp to be transferred more easily under tension.

With so much weaving experience behind her Lotte was able to pass on all sorts of very handy tips – from how to wind a perfect warp on a warping mill with the difficult high-twist threads which threaten to twizzle together to form corkscrew twists, to a quick method for sleying the raddle (with the reed placed horizontally infront of the shafts, instead of in its normal vertical position).  We also learned a simple and effective way to strengthen fine warp threads on the loom – brushing a solution of water boiled with linseed (1 teaspoon of flax seed and 2 small cups of water).  We learned that the gentlest way to to beat a pick of weaving into place with a delicate, sticky or very fine warp is to beat twice  – firstly on an open shed and then on a closed shed, again to avoid breakages in the warp.  We also had the chance to weave double weave cloth with intersections between layers as well as a second project with stitching points to unite both layers.

Lotte Dalgaard wet finishes the magical textiles with her group of Spanish weavers in th course run at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Galicia, SpainOf course the most dramatic part of the course was the wet finishing – washing in very hot water of 60ºC or more (to remove the steam finish of some of the yarns) and watching how the textiles magically shrank and formed pleats, folds and crinkles in the water, sometimes in a matter of seconds.  But this was also the easy part and we realized that the real work involved is in the preparation of the warp and the loom.  You will note that Lotte avoids the term collapse weave and prefers to talk of “magical materials” to create pleated and crinkled fabrics.  During the course had a chance to handle allsorts of amazing samples from her fabric collection and – what a privilege – to try on some of her exclusive garments which are made with frilled collars or waists or scalloped edges which are all formed as an integral part of the cloth itself, rather than by cutting and joining separate pieces of cloth.

From a personal viewpoint, the course with Lotte removed all fears I had previously of using fine linen singles as warp (17/1 nm for example) as well as combining fine linen with hightwisted wool in the warp which are rightly regarded as difficult to work with.  And of course, the fabulous crinkled fabrics which result are of such a high quality and so unusual, that I feel very excited about the prospect of incorporating this new knowledge to develop new designs myself. It was also good to know that the Louet table looms I use for teaching in the Textile Studio could cope with the fine yarns and warp densities of about 12 ends per cm (30 epi).

Another really positive outcome of the course was the result of being able to meet other professional weavers in Spain.  As there is no national association or weavers´ guild, and virtually no national conferences or summer schools, it is very rare to meet colleagues in Spain so it was a really rich experience to be able to get to know other weavers and exchange experiences and pool our knowledge and resources.  Hand-weaving at a professional level, as in all European countries today, is experiencing many difficulties.

It´s not widely known that hand-woven textiles today can only really compete with industrial textiles at the very highest end – which means weaving very special, luxurious, one-off accessories or garments aimed at the most exclusive clients who are looking for something really special.  This means that most professional hand-weavers struggle at every level – to design work of a high enough standard to compete with the best of industrial textile design, to buy yarns of sufficient quality and variety which are rarely available to hand-weavers in small enough quantities (we can´t buy the minimum order of 1000s of kilos of yarn that most yarn companies impose), and then to actually connect with the elusive clients who are looking for really distinctive, high quality textiles.  As such, professional hand-weavers need to be not only great designers and excellent technicians and weavers, but also experienced marketing and sales executives and have experience in packaging and presentation.  Courses such as Lotte´s help to raise standards and also to help us to take more risks – make textiles which are more complex, more daring, more distinctive, more time-consuming to make – because at the end of the day, these are the items which keep their value and have a market (even if it is difficult to access).  Making cheap, quick work or compromising on the quality of our materials may be tempting – but at the end of the day it is a grave mistake, lowering the prestige of the sector generally and not selling well anyway!

double weave collapse fabric cloth on 6 shaft design with stitching pointsIt just remains for me to say thank you Lotte, and thank you to all my other co-students, for such a fantastic and stimulating week.  And of course to the Galician Craft and Design Foundation who sponsored the coruse.  And I hope that as a result, over the winter, I will be able to incorporate what I have learned into my own work, spend some weeks in developing new designs, and be able to offer my clients some really new, unusual, and original textiles from the studio in 2011!

You can make a mushroom picking basket in a day coursse with Spanish basketmaker Lluis Grau

Basketry holidays and courses with Lluis Grau, specialist basketmaker in Spain

Mushroom Basket Course in September with Lluis Grau, specialist Spanish basketmaker – Well done to all those who made beautiful mushroom-picking baskets in Lluis´ course earlier in September.  All we need now is rain so the mushrooms can grow but so far the weather is still fine, sunny and dry here in Galicia,  north Spain.  More information about our craft courses.

German Saíz, fotógrafo de Casa y Campo

Entre bastidores - como se realizan los reportajes para la revista Casa y Campo

Behind the scenes with Casa y Campo magazine

Casa y Campo is the Spanish equivalent of Country Living magazine in the UK and in September 2010 Monica Corredera, one of the magazine´s feature writers and the talented photographer, German Saíz, spent a couple of days with us in the craft studios.  We hope that the two features about our baskets and textiles will be out later this year.  Here you can see a little of the some of the “behind-the-scenes” work which goes into the quality articles produced for this magazine, which is a leader in Spain for promoting a country style in homes and interiors, as well as promoting Spanish designers and craftspeople living in rural areas.


Basket Fair in Salt, Girona  2 – 3 October 2010.

Basketry stall of Lluis Grau in the International Basketry Fair in Salt, Girona, Spain, held every first weekend of Octuber every year

Rare split wood baskets from Spain by Lluis Grau, specialist basketmaker

Every year Lluis Grau, my partner, and I have a stall at this international basketmaking fair held in the suburb of Salt, in Girona.  So make a note in your diary of this, one of the largest and most dynamic basketmaking fairs in Spain, which is always held in the first weekend of October.  Even if you can´t make it this year you can come in 2011.  There are budget flights between the attractive city of Girona and the UK from Stanstead airport (and possibly from other airports although I haven´t checked).

Complete weave course in October (in Spanish) – There is still one place available on the one-week complete weave course here the textile studio between the 11 – 15 October so if you are a complete beginner or have some experience and want to try a new project from scratch do contact me.  There are also places on the one-day Calculations for Weavers course on the 10th of October.

Montse Rivera con botones de lino tradicionales de GaliciaTraditional Galician hand-made linen buttons. Monica Rivera, who specializes in making traditional textiles for folk dance groups here in Galicia, north Spain, was a recent weave and natural dyeing pupil of mine, but she also taught me how to make the charming hand-made linen buttons that were used to embellish traditional hand-woven and hand-sewn linen shirts.  In a future blog post I´ll show you how she makes these buttons, and give you more information about Monica´s craft shop in Santiago de Compostela.

Fine Linen Yarns by Post – Next week I´m visiting some of my yarn suppliers in Catalunya to order more linen yarn and am hoping to be able to buy some unusually fine water retted linen singles yarn of very high quality, which are either 40/1 or 44/1 nm.  This yarn was originally made for making the highest quality of linen handkerchiefs in Spain but is no longer made, as the Spanish textile industry no longer makes this kind of textile.  If you would like to try some of this yarn contact me for more information about price.  It is available in bobbins of about 175g and a single bobbin will probably last for years.  I have tried it as weft in a collapse weave scarf sample and it worked beautifully, giving a very fine result.  Contact me for more information about buying this yarn.

Autumn Craft Courses in the Ribeira Sacra, north Spain and August roundup

August is nearly over in north Spain and despite the continuing heat it is difficult not to start to think about autumn.  Many of our neighbours will be thinking about the grape harvest here in Cristosende September.  But in the Cristosende craft workshops – despite their idyllically tranquil position at the end of the hamlet – we are looking ahead to several busy months ahead with Spanish craft courses, craft projects and visits programmed right up to the end of November.  In this post you can see a selection of photos taken in the craft workshops this past month, newly-made textiles, as well as what´s on for autumn here in the craft studios in the Ribeira Sacra.


Many thanks to those of you who came to the workshops, bought or commissioned work, or came for a guided workshop tour.  Of course, we welcome guided visits and inquiries during the rest of the year, but please phone us first to arrange a time that is suitable for us and for you.   In the meantime, here are some photos of some of the events here this August –

la representación gráfica del tejido es un conocimiento importante para la tejeduría manual en telarTextile Design and Analysis Course in August 2010

Well done to Begoña and Rosa – you worked hard to understand how to interpret and use the graphic representation of woven textiles in this intensive 10 hour course.    Hopefully you will now be able to use books with pattern drafts with more confidence.  Mastering weaving drafts does require a bit of practice but I always work on the draft on paper before setting up a loom with a new threading.  Really, for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of woven textiles and start designing original work for themselves this knowledge is really vital.

fulares seleccionados para Suave, exposición internacional de accesorios textilesAnna Champeney Estudio Textil textiles selected for 2 international textile exhibitions

The bi-ennial exhibition of textile accessories organized by the Asociación de Creadores Textiles de Madrid, which opens in Costa Rica in September will include two pieces of work designed and woven at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Ourense, north Spain.  The work will also be on exhibition in 2011 in Madrid (on the grapevine we hear that the venue is going to be Madrid´s Textile Museum – but it´s best to visit the website nearer the time.   Anna says “for anyone interested in exhibiting their textile work, Suave is useful exhibition to submit work to, as it has an international jury so you can be sure that if your work is selected it will be exhibited alongside quality work because an international panel of judges decide whose work is accepted.  As with most exhibition selection, the quality of your photographs is very important- as they will be the visual basis on which selection is made in 2012, the next date for the exhibition.  Be aware that in Spain it is not un-common for exhibitions organisers to charge exhibitors a fee to cover exhibition costs, not just post and packing”.

Natural Dyeing course for Beginners August 2010.

marga y evaMadder, logwood and onion were the dyes of choice during  during the fairly intensive 2-day Introductory course with Marga, Lourdes, Tania and Eva.  The deep purples and blues from logwood were gorgeous, and Tania managed to dye a single skein with no fewer than 5 colours.  Working together we managed to achieve no fewer than 34 different tones from just 4 dye plants, including Marga´s experiment with Maria Luisa (lemon verbena), growing at the edge of the outdoor patio where we did some of the dyeing.  And yes, it does act as a natural dye although we haven´t tried it out for fastness.   If you would like to do a natural dyeing course with us in 2011 then contact us or re-visit the blog around christmas time when our 2011 course programme will be up.

una madeja con 5 colores diferentes

agarradera con tintes naturales

Summer Craft Activies for Kids

jovenes tejedoras tejen el primer tejido en telarines de albergueríaInés, Sofia and Elena from Alberguería (Luinta), were just some of the kids who came with their parents on the guided workshop visit around the craft workshops this August – and their visit included trying out a table loom for themselves.  Well done girls – you did very well – and see you again soon for a willow fish making course or some felt ball making in the not-too-distant future.


As well as hosting a masterclass course with Danish weaver, Lotte Dalgaard in September and working on some autumn designs and exciting new kit projects – to be unveiled soon – we are offering some new courses in the autumn-winter period.   We will also be working on our programme for 2011 so if you would like to see a particular course offered at a particular time in 2011 now is the time to get in touch and suggest it to us.

Just off the loom – Zingy man´s scarf with natural dyes

bufanda para hombre de tejido gofre en lana con tintes naturalesThe zingy, spicy colour combination of this one-of-a-kind man´s scarf in 100% natural wool is particularly pleasing.  The scarf would make an ideal christmas present for a special friend, partner or family member.  It measures 27cm x 170cm (excluding fringes) and has been woven in warm waffle weave.   As with all the textiles from AC Textile Studio, the beauty of the colours is due to the use of natural dyes which are extracted at the studio itself.    Hand-wash at 30ºC.   The scarf is a one-of-a-kind, (although another similar, shorter, women´s version is currently also available) and costs 75€. Inquire about purchasing this scarf.

Mushroom basket course 21 – 22  September 2010

cursos de cestería con lluis grau en galiciaIf you have been wanting to try basketry for some time now this is an ideal opportunity to make your first basket, all ready for picking wild mushrooms later in the autumn.  Some regions of Spain have already banned the use of plastic bags for collecting mushrooms and in fact baskets have always been a better option – allowing the mushroom spores to fall through the basket structure to seed next year´s mushroom harvest.  Collecting mushrooms in a basket also means that they don´t get squashed.  Let´s see if in Galicia we can promote better mushroom-picking habits with the adoption of baskets too!

Complete Weaving Course for Beginners 11 – 15 October 2010

curso de tejeduría manual en telar en diciembre 2010In this intensive 5-day course you will learn to prepare a Louet table loom from scratch and weave samples and a finished piece of work.   This course is ideal for beginners and for those with limited experience or confidence who wish to work on a loom project from scratch and prepare the loom.

Spain´s December Bank Holiday 2010 – Short breaks in Galicia with creative craft courses and special offers

Treat yourself this Puente de la Constitución to a short creative craft break in Galicia.  Our rustic cottage, awarded themact quality mark,  with its two spacious double rooms and central heating, is available for rent and the craft workshops are just 30 metres away.

Casa dos Artesans (casa vacacional) en la Ribeira Sacra Galicia

Casa dos Artesans holiday cottage is ideal for 2 - 5 people looking for a traffic and tv-free holiday in a peaceful village setting with stunning natural scenery in north Spain. Casa dos Artesans specialises in holiday craft activities both for adults and children, in fabric weaving, basketry and natural dyeing, all taught by professionals.

balcón privado en Casa dos Artesans en Agosto 2010Here we offer you two holiday activities – an introduction to loom weaving and a beginners´ basketry course.  So you can try both our crafts over the holiday period.  You will be surprised at what you can make – with no previous experience – and if you sign up to both courses we´ll give you a discount of 20€. Contact us for more details.