Spirit of Damselfly (completed)

… so to the completion of Sprit of Damselfly.  In late autumn last year I put aside time and settled into my weaving. Conversations with my client and a deeper sense of understanding of the essence of the weave had helped me know the structure and sett of the piece. The warp was to be random using fibonacci sequence as I painted the colours on.  It was a joy to make. I also decided to weave the weft with blue bamboo over the ‘painted’ warp to give a consistent yet random feel. World it work?   Knowing that a settled and clear stretch of days was needed for rhythm and form to be consistent I began.  Winding the warps, threading from the back of the loom and then into steady days of weaving.  Into December and I was finished in time to send it for a surprise Christmas present.  I know it was received well and I am delighted.

© sue orton 2018



Spirit of Damselfly 2017 (a beginning)

A request for a commission  came to me last Autumn from the partner of a gifted poet who had admired my South Downs Tweed. My creative ideas had unconsciously started when she sent me a poem ‘Damselfly’ which I had been pondering.  ….The process of designing started with a conversation and a wondering … and my notes record ideas and snippets …”damselfly, water, sea, rivers” ….”Spring summer, appreciate the lift of energy,”…”strong rich colours teal, lighter blue, olive greens..” … colours that expand into the bright edge of themselves… ” So my exploring, experimentation and mood board began … and as I looked and pondered my yarn palette grew too. A mix of merino wool and bamboo perhaps…?  After a few weeks I decided a point threading would be fun to explore and so using fibonacci numbers to help randomise the warp I painted a warp and went ahead with an experimental cloth to send to my client for her perusal…..

© sue orton 2018

Do I take commissions…. yes.

In 2017 I was asked if I took commissions and I was unsure so. Here is my response…
A commission …… the process of weaving for me, is to walk, to be outside, to find some inspiration photographs, pictures, writing or some thing that intrigues me, moves me, to ponder and to wonder….… then to sketch, to explore shapes and ideas without knowing the form, colour or structure of a piece, until it ‘emerges’ out of my sketch books over time.  Once I settle on the feel of a piece,  I play with colour, with yarn and with weave structure, make a short warp and sample some ideas on my small loom to see if it works.

Then, when I’m happy I design a warp, wind it and then put it onto my loom before weaving and then finishing it.  Sounds simple but it’s a bit more complex than that.  The stages I go through are: sketching and designing; developing a colour pallet; selecting yarn; exploring and finalising a weave structure; winding a warp of 500-600 threads, dressing the loom – taking the warp from the carousel to the back beam; threading and treadle setting; weaving, washing and finishing a test section usually 20 cm; adjusting the set as needed or not: weaving full length of about 2 m,  and then finishing.  This usually takes me a couple of months. The summer and winter are good weaving times as I’m not doing so much learning coaching. In the autumn and spring, weaving is punctuated with coaching during each term.

In December I finished a commission; post to follow this.

© sue orton

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

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

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

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

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