Tuesday 26 July 2011

Mini Rigid Heddle

Something I wish to share with you all is a small and simple rigid heddle that I recently made. It is extremely portable and easy to use, especially when you wish to weave a band of just one or two metres. This sturdy little heddle has been carved from a slice of boxwood and given a couple of coats of hemp seed oil. I have to thank sculptor and good friend Ben for sending me several slices of this wood, which is really easy to work with, but has a fine grain and nice strength. Ben works with many mediums other than wood to produce his pieces of fine sculpture. To view his work please check out his website!

This style of rigid heddle dates back to at least the viking period when it was used for weaving narrow bands for straps and decorations on clothing. It saves time by allowing the weft threads to pass quickly through without manually weaving in and out of each warp thread. I figured such a simple idea with a deep history couldn't be too difficult to use and I was pleasantly surprised by my first result with this heddle.

In rigid heddle looms, the warp threads pass alternately through the heddle's slots and holes. When raising the heddle, half of the threads will raise (those passing through the holes), and lowering the heddle will lower the same threads. The threads passing through the heddle's slots will always remain in the same place.

You have to have your warp threads secured firmly before starting to weave. Tension is of great importance and the same tension must be applied to each of the warp threads running through the heddle. The easiest thing to do is to tie both ends of the warp threads to stakes, you could just as easily use any firm fixing to tie to. My heddle can take a maximum of 17 warp threads. For the trial (pictured above!), the warp consists of 15 threads of Wild Himalayan Nettle with a thread of Belgian Flax at either side. The weft is Hemp.

The image below shows the simple weave. You can easily see that the weft alternates over and under the warp threads. The heddle makes the passing of the weft much quicker and easier.

Friday 22 July 2011

Larmer Tree 2011

It was the first time for us to exhibit at the Larmer Tree Festival and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Held from 13th to 17th July in the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens near Salisbury, it had all one could ever want from a family festival.

Established in 1990, the Larmer Tree Festival had over 70 diverse artists spread over 6 stages. As the organisers state, it is "The perfect escape form it all" with an intimate crowd of around 4000 with over 150 workshops, street theatre, comedy club and carnival procession. With so many activities, workshops and entertainment for adults and children alike, it is easy to see why it was voted the Best UK Family Festival in 2008.

The weather was not at its best for this time of year, but I have to say that unlike many events, enjoyment was not dampened in the slightest!

Areas of particular interest were the Wood Craft area and the Lost Woods with their amazing illuminations. Workshops that were we lucky enough to find time for were weaving and didgeridoo. Maybe next year we will be fortunate to sample some of the other workshops available.

Peacocks and Peahens are just as much a part of the festival as any of the artists as a great number of them have free run of the entire site (Peacocks that is!)

A folly (second photo from top) dating back to 1880 housed a thousand paper origami cranes with a beautifully illuminated water garden near the main stage. I would strongly recommend this to anyone who has been disapointed by any UK festivals. It would have to rate as high as WOMAD (our next outing) in our book of festival experiences!

We would like to say a big thank you to all our customers at the Larmer Tree Festival as well as all the event staff and volunteers who helped make this an unforgettable experience. For more information about this annual festival, please click here!

Lounge On The Farm 2011

8th to 10th July saw Sorazora exhibit our range of natural fibres and natural dyes at Kent's Lounge On The Farm. It was our first outing to this event. It was a very large festival with several areas to visit, Sadly, all non-food stall holders were restricted to a rather sterile main stage area. We would have enjoyed the festival more in the Meadows Area as it was a little bit more relaxing and some effort had been put into decorating public spaces. 

The line-up seemed to entertain the crowd, although I had to wait until late Sunday to see a band I had heard of. Echo And The Bunnymen seemed an unusual choice as the average festival customer  would have still been in nappies when the band were at their peak. For a family festival, I have to admit that it was the first to make me feel old!! We had hoped it was an event that attracted families as opposed to just welcoming them.

Fenella (pictured above) deserves a special mention as she became a walking advertisement for Sorazora. We hope she gets many years of enjoyment out of the products she chose from our stall.

Lounge On The Farm is ideal for youngsters who want to party, but not suited to Sorazora, due to the young age of the crowd (I feel old again!). For those interested to learn more about LOTF, please visit their website by clicking here!

We would like to say a big thank you to Makiko (Pictured above) who flew in to the UK from New York to spend the week with us. We would like to apologise to her for the weather and now hope she understands why the Brits complain about weather so much. It is just a shame that her visit did not coincide with perhaps another festival. The following weekend's Larmer Tree would have given her a much better UK festival experience!

Maverick Festival 2011

Easton Farm Park was built in the late 1800s and in 1974, became the second Farm Park to open in the UK. It was within the grounds and surrounding Suffolk countryside of listed historic buildings that Maverick Festival was set. Friday 1st to 3rd July saw Sorazora exhibit at this collection of the best in roots music from both sides of the Atlantic.

The setting was beautiful and had a very family friendly atmosphere. In 2010, The Guardian newspaper voted Maverick as one of the top ten small festivals and it was very clear to us why it had been chosen. The range of musicians and performers provided something for everyone and we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the farm.

The festival was blessed with warm weather and it actually felt like summer. I just wish June to August had more weekends like this!

A campsite is provided. For those of you who don't have the luxury of a campervan and don't get on too well with guy ropes and tent pegs, there is the option of renting a tipi that will be waiting for your arrival.

For more information about Maverick Festival, please click here to view their website.