My work with the Foraged Colour project from initial ideas to final cloth
Foraged Colour is an Arts Council funded project conceived by seam member Linda Row, which began in February 2020. I was one of four textile artists; seam member Gill Hewitt , Eve Kumari and Frances Westerduin, collaborating with Linda to create unique, handmade textiles from British wool and dyed with foraged colours.
In my first post I described my intial ideas and my decision to create two lengths of fabric, one depicting woods in spring, and the other woods in autumn, all from the same warp.
As well as exploring whether my ideas would work in practice, sampling was about experimenting with British wool. Each weaver on the project had different British wool yarns to try that were new to them.
I had problems with my first sample warp, a worsted yarn, on my eight shaft countermarch loom. The warp quickly became an unmanageable fluff-ball! I tried using spray starch, but it wasn’t enough – perhaps sizing the warp would have helped? A quick search for a new warp yarn was successful, it was thicker, but thankfully, it wove well.
Based on the colours in my photos of autumn and spring trees, Linda dyed a selection of British yarns for the weft, using her store of foraged dyestuffs, and some British-grown madder, indigo and weld. I wanted to suggest the dappled light of a forest, so I experimented with contrasting 3:1, 1:3 twill and broken twill blocks. Linda loved the colour graduation for the main autumn colour way, with the contrast of a broken twill in spring greens. The path idea was jettisoned – too complicated.
I was stunned at the range of colours Linda got from madder, from orange to corals, just by adjusting the acid or alkalinity of the dye bath. However, the downside was when finishing my first samples I didn’t realise that I should use a pH neutral soap. All the madder colours became a little bit bluer and my gorgeous oranges changed to coral.
However, I still wasn’t happy. I wanted more contrast between the 3:1 and 1:3 twills – so I widened the warp ends per inch from 21 to 24, to make the cloth more weft facing. I also had to reverse the contrasting 3:1 and 1:3 twills to stop the warp thread movements, the bulges, where the two twills met.
The end of the sample warp was pure experimentation; making more textural pieces and investigating how I could use waste warp yarn.
The last step was weaving the final cloth with a strict yarn budget that was only just enough! Find out how it went in my final blog post.