2011 – What Next?

At the start of the new year and as I gradually feel more settled here in our new home, I have begun to ask myself what I plan to do with any free time I may have and which new craft projects I’d like to embark on. I have to admit that there are times when I find it difficult to motivate myself to start dyeing again. I don’t produce items for sale and, with the exception of yarns dyed for my own personal projects, most of my dyeing is done as experiments for whatever article or book I am working on currently. As I still have so many naturally-dyed yarns waiting to be used, I feel reluctant to add even more to my stock, especially when I recall how much I gave away when we moved.

My main interest has for some time been the textile traditions of the past and I am working on some more Anglo-Saxon style dyeing experiments. I realise this is a very loose description, as what I have been doing is considering the colour range that might have been available to ordinary people living during the Anglo-Saxon period, particularly those who may not have had access to alum mordants. So I shall be writing more about this at a later date.

I have also decided that it is about time I learned some new skills, as well as trying to improve some old ones. As I am so interested in the textile skills of the past, I plan to teach myself card (or tablet) weaving and with that in mind I’ve purchased a book to guide me through the processes involved. I also hope to improve my spindle-spinning and my naalbinding techniques. As an added encouragement, for Christmas my friend Chris Dobson, who shares my interest in ancient textile techniques, sent me some lovely wooden weaving tablets, together with a shuttle and a beater, and also a bone naalbinding needle.  So, having committed my intentions to print in this post, and with the equipment I need ready at hand, perhaps this will give me the incentive I need to get started. Indeed, as the photos below show, I have actually managed to thread my tablets ready for weaving, using blue and tan yarns dyed with woad. Now I must follow the next pages of instruction and actually do some weaving! (Thank you, Chris, for getting me started!)

Of course, when the weather improves we shall begin to make some changes here in the garden, probably starting with two new beds for herbs and dye plants and we also plan to plant some roses. I do miss my old garden, especially when I think of all the hellebores and bulbs that will soon be flowering there. But I have already noticed some bulbs beginning to emerge from the ground here and we have created some spaces for hellebores too, so eventually this new garden should hopefully bring as much pleasure into our lives as did our garden in Shefford.

On a personal note, our daughter is expecting her second child in early March, so I am also knitting one or two items for the baby. As these will use up only a tiny part of my yarn stock, I suspect I may also need to embark on other knitting projects – perhaps more cushions? – as the year progresses.

Tablet weaving set up on our old Italian fruitwood chest

Tablet weaving set up on our old Italian fruitwood chest









A closer view of the tablets threaded ready for weaving

A closer view of the tablets threaded ready for weaving

9 replies
  1. mjm
    mjm says:

    I can wait to see what you do in the coming year. I don’t weave but I have a sister who does and she has sent me some of the most beautiful cloth that she has woven on her loom. I love the textures and patterns.
    I have just gotten your revised and updated book Wild Color and can’t wait for spring to come so I can embark on new experiments of my own with your book to guide me.

  2. Helen Melvin
    Helen Melvin says:

    Hi that is a a lovely series of adventures you will be going on and of course I shall be watching to see the results of the anglo saxon dyeing with great interest.:) best wishes and how lovely to be becoming a granny again soon. Helen

  3. Caroline
    Caroline says:

    That is an amazing chest in the photo behind the warp! Congratulations for having weathered the move and accompanying changes. Congratulations also to you and your family for the new baby. Tablet weaving is also on my list of things to learn this year (along with tatting and backstrap weaving) so I hope you’ll keep us posted about your progress.

  4. Evie Arnott
    Evie Arnott says:

    Happy New Year Jenny. Conratulations too on being a Gran in waiting. I can’t wait to see the results of your tablet weaving. I too enjoy historical methods of weaving, dyeing, and knitting and also am learning how to tablet weave but am unsure of what the outcome will be like, I will give it a go anyway. Will be interested in your next update.

  5. Maggie Stearn
    Maggie Stearn says:

    Happy New Year.
    Weaving eh! Never thought the day would come. Well done Chris.
    I think our traditional crafts may well be seeing an upsurge in interest. Certainly plenty are interested in rigid heddle weaving at the moment. One of the new guild members is interested in natural dyeing and dyes all the yarns for her weaving – she was bought a loom for christmas.
    Are you warping your tablets altogether in a continuous warp or seperately?

    • Jenny Dean
      Jenny Dean says:

      I don’t think I’m quite ready for a continuous warp, Maggie! So I’ve warped each tablet up separately. And you are right – I’m amazed at myself for embarking on weaving.

  6. Kathyinozarks
    Kathyinozarks says:

    Oh, I am anxious to see how your card weaving goes-have never tried that. are you planning on writing a book perhaps about the anglo-saxon period of dyeing-I found your information in previous posts, so interesting to read-and would definately try it.

    • jennydean.co.uk
      jennydean.co.uk says:

      Thanks for your comments, Kathy. I’ll post more on the tablet weaving when I have done enough to show!
      I intend to post more on the Anglo-Saxon dyeing experiments too but at present I don’t seem to have much time for myself.

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