Way back in July, a friend and I travelled up to the Big Smoke to attend a book launch at The Constant Knitter. The book, Little Loom Weaving, is the culmination of a year’s hard work by contemporary textile designer, maker and handweaver, Fiona Daly.
Based in South-east London Fiona grew up here in Ireland and completed her Honours Degree in Textile Design at the National College of Art & Design in 2009. Since leaving college, Fiona has honed her skills and her CV includes time spent training and gaining experience in places that would leave other weavers green with envy.
Known for creating bespoke handwoven tapestries, Fiona combines her handwoven cloth with her screen-printed sheep illustrations, which she sells online and at specialist craft fairs. It was at one of these fairs, that Fiona was approached by the publishers Quarto and asked if she would be interested in creating a book on weaving.
I own more than my fair share of books about weaving, not surprising to any of you that have seen an episode of the podcast filmed in my office. I’m also an active member of the Handweavers Guild of Cork through which I’ve been lucky enough to learn a thing or two about weaving. Hands up, quite a lot of it goes right over my head, but I understand the basics and would know where to look if I wanted to find out something. So, if I were to be completely honest, I was a little sceptical that Little Loom Weaving would be of interest. By that I mean, I would have still reviewed Fiona’s book honestly, without bias, but I hadn’t really expected to learn anything new. (Too honest? Perhaps, but I’m a speak as I find kinda gal)
Back to the book.
Little Loom Weaving is fantastic! Fiona has compiled all the techniques and information you need to know to start weaving. The information is incredibly accessible, laid out in a clear, easy to read format, the book is a wonderful resource for complete beginners and beyond.
Opening with an introduction to its author, Little Loom Weaving is split into three chapters. Fiona welcomes us to weaving in Chapter One, with a brief look at the history of the craft and a breakdown of the essentials required and how to plan your project. I particularly love ‘Meet the Materials’, a section given over to looking at the different fibres and how their characteristics will affect the cloth produced. Each of the six fibres Fiona looks at; Wool, Cotton, Linen, Bamboo, Angora and Nettle include useful information about their origin and their properties. A beautifully photographed swatch accompanies each description as does a close-up shot, so you can better see the weave.
The second chapter of the book is given over solely to Handweaving Techniques, with step-by-step photographs to make it easier to follow. Traditional rug making techniques like Rya, Soumak and Looping are covered as is a detailed look at the structure of weaving. Personally, I find Fiona’s use of photographs and charts to explain how to weave cloth in patterns like Twill or Herringbone much easier to understand than some I’ve seen.
The detailed section on Edging Techniques and Finishing includes much of the information barely covered in some similar books. Fiona has included five different edging techniques, where many would only include one and necessitate further research.
In the final chapter, The Projects, Fiona has developed five different items for you to create using the techniques from the book. Continuing with the clear style of the book, each includes a list of tools and materials required plus a breakdown of how to dress your loom. Step-by-step instructions include photographs and charts ensuring your success.
I’m more than happy to recommend Fiona’s book, which although written for frame/tapestry weaving includes a lot of information and techniques used in other forms of weaving like Rigid Heddle for example.
Published by Quarto, Little Loom Weaving costs £15 and should be available from all good bookshops. You could also pick up a copy from Fiona’s website if you’re stopping by to purchase one of the looms she recommends for starting out.
Fiona has also very kindly offered to giveaway a copy of her book to one lucky Olann and reader.
To be in with a chance of winning the copy of Little Loom Weaving, we’d like you to answer the following question.
Which is your favourite breed of sheep and why?
The giveaway is open to everyone and we’ll announce the winner on Saturday 10th November.