sue orton

for inspiration, joy and untangling


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The beach

I live 100m from the beach. It’s the English Channel. It’s tidal with large expanses of beach covered then revealed twice each 24 hrs. The tide and its strand line change with the moon bringing high Spring and lower Neap tides. I walk, swim, paddle, sit; I sketch, breath, take pictures. I gather flotsam and jetsam, pick up plastic and bits; I smell, see, am buffeted, warmed, nourished by weather. I meet dogs and their walkers, fisher people and bait diggers. I collect driftwood for journey-sticks.  Here are this mornings gatherings.

© sue orton

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Peru #1 finished

I took Peru #1 off the loom yesterday: I have named this scarf Lucia after the Peruvian woman who led the rescue horse on our trek [top left in pictures below]. Her colourful clothes and hat standing out in contrast to the tree-less rocky environment. She walked and skipped easily up the 5,000m passes as I climbed steadily and slowly. Thankfully her services were not needed!

Technically I have sorted out many things through this weave, not least the complexity of tie-ing up 10 shafts to 10 pedals.  My biggest learning has been around the actual weaving, throwing the shuttle; the last bit really.  Ideally I need quiet steady hours at the loom interspersed with exercise and calm!  If I miss a day or two or get tangled in other ‘stuff’ then my weaving is not so even.

© sue orton


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the set-up

Weaving is a meditative and satisfying pleasure as you throw shuttles through the shed building colour and design. The set up however is another business all together; ten shafts, ten pedals, ten short lamms, ten long lamms all linked together with Texsolv cord and split pins. Over 500 different connections, pegs and possibilities. All parts are linked together, not any-old-how but balanced, in harmony with each other and providing an open smooth shed for each pedal tread which will not snag or cause breaks in the pattern. I have spent the last week doing this, sitting in the belly of my loom testing, checking, rethreading and testing again. But last night the last test on all 10 shafts was ok so today I’m actually weaving.

© sue orton


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design and weave structure

I have had my head into  weave structures this week exploring how to represent the vibrancy of Peru colours in the landscape. A couple of rethreads have given me insights into shape and colour. I’ve been playing with treadling too.  Samples are helping sett, drape and colour combinations. However it all seems a little small and fiddly for a 2m wrap so it’s back to the design board and going bolder!

© sue orton


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colour explorations

Colour and weaving explorations for Peru1. These pictures are from a sample made on my Louet Kombo 40 loom using just 5 of the 8 shafts. The whole process of winding a warp, threading and sleying onto the loom has been a refresher too. It feels like I’m gathering up the learnings from my Diploma again and bedding them in.  I’ve been working on designing in the tie-up too which is difficult. I have rethreaded all 8 shafts now and will be looking at new designs.

© sue orton


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weaving again

The winter was a fallow time for weaving for me.  Now inspired by a long planned trip to Peru, I am back designing again.  Creative confidence is for me a transient thing.. getting it back has been mixture of dogged persistence, encouragement from an experienced weaving buddy and just getting in my studio. I’ve spent last week wandering through Peru shapes pictures, journal entries and poetry; making potato cuts of hats, Inca shapes; browsing patterns and designs to translate into cloth. I have extended my colour palette too from Knoll Yarns.

© sue orton


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falling back in love with sound

Hearing_Love-1397951374mI have hearing aids; they are marvellous; but it’s been quite a journey falling in love with sound again.

Not hearing talk on the radio was my first sign that I wasn’t quite catching everything and I ignored it for a couple of years. Further noticing that my right and left ear were different, my GP suggested a scan, which was all clear.  Further procrastination followed, the TV was louder, home communication was increasingly comical or frustrating. I can  hear but not quite as well as before. But I didn’t want to acknowledge it.  However, last October, I had a hearing test; the recommendation, two hearing aids.  Bother. I’m not old enough!!  Memories of shouting at my mum when she refused to wear them sent me into a slough of despond this winter.  So what changed?

I researched hearing aids … the technology now is wonderful.  You can link them to your phone, your music, to podcasts even to Radio 4, wow. I started to notice lots of people wearing them and they looked fine. At home, frustration was rising and I was missing jokes and key bits of conversation.  Then, during a teaching session I realised I couldn’t hear everyone clearly. Enough.

HowtheEarHears_001I found a brilliant local audiologist who explained all about hearing loss and began. Did you know that with sound your brain is a like muscle working hard to process whatever sound it can get. Less sound = more work and it’s exhausting.  Two trial behind my ears aids were programmed for me to try.  It’s a challenging process getting used to them with everything loud and overwhelming at first including my own voice. The tiny buds linking to four microphones in my ears were uncomfortable and itchy at first.  But the bird song, clear conversation, sensational music wow… I was hearing stuff I just didn’t know I was missing.  I had surround sound again.

After 2 weeks I decided that I would get my own. They are brilliant. So I’m over it. I’m over the internalised prejudice, I’ve spat that out.  I feel happier and more relaxed too. It’s just made life fuller, more relaxed and a joy again.

Also, I can now hear birdsongs again.  Have a listen here: Bird songs and calls

© sue orton 2017