Volunteer Spotlight : Modern Day Weaving

Here at the Huguenot Museum we are very lucky to have a wonderful group of dedicated and talented volunteers that are an invaluable help in the running of the Museum. Many of our volunteers are Huguenot descendants themselves and today we have a lovely blog post written by our education and documentation volunteer Ann.

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I am a volunteer at the Huguenot Museum and a weaver. Some of my ancestors were Huguenots in the weaving industry in Saddleworth Yorkshire.

I started weaving about six years ago on a rigid heddle loom, which is a basic two shaft loom, where you are able to weave in tabby/plain weaving (the weft thread moves over and then under alternative warp threads). I find weaving stimulating and a challenge, working out lengths of warp threads, trying out different threading patterns, sorting out different yarns and setting up the loom etc. It is good to experiment with all these different elements and to form a unique piece of fabric. Weaving is the easy part and is very therapeutic and contemplative.

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On retiring, I was invited to join a group of weavers, who meet regularly in a barn in Rainham. They are all members of the Medway Spinner’s, Dyers and Weavers group which I am a member of. Here I progressed onto a 4 shaft table top loom which enables you to make a greater variety of patterns using tabby and twill lifts. The weaving group encourages you to make a sampler first so that you can try several patterns on different threadings, each threading a different colour. (Photo above)

photo 2After making several runners and scarves etc, which have made useful presents for family and friends, I progressed to cushion covers for our front room. Since then I have enjoyed making clothing fabric for myself. Care has to be taken when calculating the length of warp before starting your weaving, as I found out with the green top. I had to alter my original idea. I am able to make wider widths of fabric now as I acquired a 4 shaft counter march floor loom from ebay. The green fabric is for a jacket and I used three ski shuttles in sequence with the warp threads.

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On the table top, (photo above) 4 shaft loom I am currently making bookmarks in silk. This is the first time I have woven using silk on it’s own but thought it was a good idea to use a type of yarn as used by the Huguenots. One of these bookmarks will be entered in the Exhibition held by the Association of Spinners Dyers and Weavers in Exeter this year. The threading used spells out the words Huguenot Museum, Rochester using a special code designed by Christina Hammel (How to weave Name Drafts pg 35 Handwoven Nov/Dec 1997). Each letter of the alphabet is assigned to a different shaft in the code. I have used similar colours that decorate the museum (two shades of blue),  as the warp threads. I am also trying out several different over-shot patterns to see which I like best.

The Museum is always looking for new volunteers to help out with the reception desk and welcoming visitors. If you would be interested in volunteering at the Museum take a look here or pop in during opening hours to have a chat.