We’re pleased to welcome Susan J. Foulkes to our blog for a special guest post! Susan is a weaver, instructor, and author.
Today, Susan shares some of the weaving inspiration behind her newest book, Weaving Patterned Bands: How to Create and Design With 5, 7, and 9 Pattern Threads
All the Best,
Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery crew
My name is Susan J Foulkes. As a weaver I enjoy using natural materials in my work, linen, cotton silk alpaca, cahsmere. My particular interest is in the woven folk bands of Europe. I have spent many hours with curators in museums examining their wonderful collections. I run workshops and online courses about band weaving.
I have self-published several books with blurb.com. My new book Weaving Patterned Bands: How to create and design with 5, 7, and 9 Pattern Threads has just been published by Schiffer. It has over 140 patterns with clear instructions for the beginner and enhanced design techniques for the more advanced.
When I started weaving I was curious to try as many techniques as I could. I swiftly found that some of them, such as tapestry weaving and tablet weaving, did not engage my interest, but I found myself drawn to the deceptively simple woven band patterns from Sweden. My first attempts at patterned band weaving were not successful but I felt that I needed to persevere. Like a child I started with the simplest of patterns with only five pattern threads. I wove pattern after pattern. I tried many different combinations of yarn, some successful and some not; unbleached linen pattern threads with a white cotton background proved very difficult.
However, I was hooked. Moving on to wider and more complex patterns, the variations seemed endless. The widest band I have woven has 33 pattern threads. It is the Lielvārde belt from Latvia and is one of the more celebrated of all bands because it is officially part of the Latvian Cultural Canon (See my YouTube video https://youtu.be/t9Dekjt8uog). Below I am wearing a magnificent example which I bought in Latvia.
But I was still not satisfied. I wanted to find out more about how and why bands were woven. What were they used for? These questions launched a series of travels around Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Visiting museums and speaking to curators is so rewarding. I was entranced by the variety of textiles on display, but even more enthralled by the contents of storerooms. Taking photographs enabled me to analyse the patterns to try at home.
Interest in patterned band weaving seems to have waxed and waned in popularity and when I became interested there were very few books available. I wanted to share my passion and interest so I started teaching online workshops with the Braid Society. This led to making YouTube videos to accompany the written materials that I prepared. Now my husband was not only a valued weaver’s assistant but also had to develop video making skills!
In my new book I thought that I would go back to the beginning and bring this craft within the reach of a younger audience who had never tried weaving before; to show how this is a creative craft through which individuality can shine. The curators with whom I had spent many hours poring over examples of weaving were generous with their time and also allowed me to publish some of the photographs I took. Not everyone is in a position to travel to museums and nowadays many of the larger museums have their collections on line. Museums are part of the heritage of a country and are vitally important for keeping records of crafts. Craft societies around the world keep alive older traditions and can refer to museum collections for inspiration.
I want to share my love of patterned band weaving. Enjoy your own journey of discovery through this beautiful traditional craft.
Thank you so much to Susan for her awesome guest blog post! Susan also has a special gift for you! She sent us some very special hand woven bookmarks that she wove herself and that come with a pattern card for how to make them. To enter to win one of these bookmarks visit our Instagram postand follow the instructions to enter the giveaway.
For more of Susan's awesome work check out her social media: