Thursday, June 2, 2011

Class has started and almost finished!

Wonder where I have been? Well I am into week 7 of my two ID courses.  It seems like a long time ago since I signed up and wondered if I could actually pull this off.  How time flies. It is exciting and scary at the same time but an amazing amount of work and hard work at that.  I am trying not to mix the two courses up, almost like three course as one is kinda split in two, but it is hard when I am thinking about a design and how it will all come together.  Mondays class is Fabrics and Window Treatments.  I love fabrics so I am into it. 

The first week we learned all about the natural and synthetic nature of fabrics and that exercise continued into the second week. We also got an assignment due week five where we had to pick up enough fabric samples (each person received two types to gather) and then provide the information on same and a 3x3 sample to be distributed to the whole class. There are about 16-17 people in the class so we should have a  nice book of 32-34 fabric types when we are all finished.  My assignment was Brocade and Tweed. Now I am quite confident with these two fabrics as they have been in my life for a very, very long time.  But what do I really know specifically about what they are made of, the weight of them, the weave of them, characteristics and the pros and cons?  I know brocade is used for upholstery and drapery and tweed is a wool based cloth used for clothing and upholstery.  Mainly men's jackets, suits an hats. I had a lovely tweed suit with a rust velvet collar and the skirt had three pleats in the back that kind of kicked up when I walked and I loved my Mod days. Upholstery, well I have heard Glasgow's Blytheswood Square Hotel used a lot of finger weight tweed in their renovations and new look.  About 9000 metres. I will go look this up and be better informed. This is off the top of my head so let's see what I learn from this assignment.

For my first assignment I contacted the Harris Tweed Shop on the Isle of Harris.  How could I have a tweed assignment and not produce a piece of Harris Tweed from my homeland in that lovely lovat herringbone weave.  I must say they were the most friendly and helpful folks and in the end although late for the assignment they sent approximately 20 pieces about 4x4.  I delivered them in any event and I am so happy that I have this piece in my sample book.  I also bought the book on Marion Campbell's Life on Harris and it is very interesting as it is all about how she raised her own sheep to get the best fibres/ yarn and in the end produce a very special Harris tweed fabric.  She also dyed the fabric using the local lichen etc., for colour. She won all sorts of awards from the age of 16 years old throughout her weaving life. Thanks to the folks at The Harris Tweed Shop for their kindness and generosity.  The fabric is exquisite - now my old school pals would be laughing their heads off at that comment. Who would have thought it!

I have added a part at the end on tweed so far.

For the fabrics class the final project is on taking a floor plan that was given to us and coming up with a style for the windows in same. Then cover the windows throughout the house in either drapery (soft) or blinds & shutters ( hard).

I have since picked up my fabrics and they are gorgeous...but do they fit with the style and overall plan. I have chosen a French Country style and in so doing I believe my fabrics will be very upscale.  I have a self coloured cotton brocade for the living room area that is topped with an Indienne type fabric. It looks like brocade or embroidered cloth, heavy and highly patterned in floral type design.  This will make for a yellow mustard coloured side drapery and a very colourful valance that has coordinating colours as well as the French blues on an off white background.  I will post the sample boards when finished.

The Lighting and Accessories class is on Thursdays.  When I think on fabrics I think on accessories and can be off on a tangent in a second or even less.  I need to keep those two separate. To make it more complicated the lighting class has been broken into two sections and the fist one is Accessories.  The final project for the accessories class was on week 6 and I was not too pleased with my effort.  I did work hard  but I had some problems. The project included three pieces of furniture (well you need something to put the stuff on) all in a style you pick and have not done before.  So Art Deco it was.  Then you need to draw all three pieces and accessorize them.  Drawing them on velum was okay but lots of graphite when I was done and trying to blend the colours.  I get the results tonight and will post the sample boards- all three. Crossing my fingers and toes.

So here is what I learned about Tweed.

The most famous ( that I know of ) is Harris Tweed made of  Scottish wool.  It is Scottish in origin and handwoven on the Scottish islands (Isle of Harris).  Well that is a good start and not foreign to me at all.
What is foreign is that it started as a "twill/ tweels" which defines the pattern.  A London merchant misinterpreted the writing and assumed it was Tweed which was familiar in the textile industry as the the river Tweed flowed through the textile areas of Scotland ( a wee story there for a the cold night by the fire). 

Crustose Lichen- Wikipedia
Harris tweed has some flecks of colour that were achieved through the use of "lichen" dyes.  Lichen being the plant that grows wild in some of the most  rugged parts of the world.  It does contain a pigment that was extracted in purple and red colour for dyeing fabrics.  Now it makes sense that they would use this for dyeing in the islands as the place has some beautiful lichen specimens on the mountains or as ground cover.
The "tweed" has been protected by an act of parliament limiting the use of the Orb's trade mark to the Outer Hebrides (Isle of Lewis etc)

From wikipedia I found that "Twill" is a type of  weave that has a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs by passing the weft thread over one or more warp threads and then under two or more warp threads and so on, with a "step" or offset between rows to create the characteristic diagonal pattern. Because of this structure, twills generally drape well.

So you can see the twill runs in a diagonal pattern and when reversed creates a herringbone pattern...which is fabulous in the Harris lovat green.

Life is beautiful when working with fabrics and their colours and textures and anything that brings me back to my beloved Scotland if only for a moment or two.

1 comment:

Starry-eyed stitcher said...

Wow, Margaret, you know so much!

I can tell that no matter how hard you are working, you are just loving every minute of it. I really wish you well for these final weeeks.

My brother-in-law buys and wears vintage original Harris tweed jackets. They are remarkedly inexpensive! Irene xxx