May 2022 so far


The tea towels in the last post have been washed but still need to be hemmed. There has been much moving of stuff and rearranging looms in my studio so not much actual weaving. I have finished the double weave projects on my table loom and have a few ideas on what to do differently next time.

On my jack loom I’ve started weaving the Monk’s Belt placemats from Season 6, episode 3 of the Jane Stafford School of Weaving.


We had a fun day trying indigo dyeing at the weaving group I belong to, here’s one of the silk pieces I dyed using resists.


The latest instalment in the Rivers of London / Peter Grant series.

April Part 2


I have finished weaving the warp from Season 6 Episode 2 of Jane Stafford’s School of Weaving. I love the colours and patterns and once I get around the hemming them all I’m looking forward to using some of these tea towels in my kitchen.

Weaving continues on the double weave warp on my table loom. The warp and weft is corriedale dyed with harakeke (NZ flax) seed pods.


I purchased second hand copies of a couple of books about double weave that were offered for sale in a NZ weavers facebook group: Doubleweave on Four to Eight Shafts by Ursina Arn-Grischott and Double Weave by Palmy Weigle. They both look very interesting and am working my way through them. The latest issue of VÄV magazine arrived, I particularly liked the article “Twisted Colors”. I’m also reading Miss Pinkerton by Mary Roberts Rinehart as part of the Shedunnit book club.


Still growing and exploring, he likes playing with the hose but doesn’t enjoy baths quite so much. He had his first puppy preschool class and now we’re working on the takoto/lie down command. He is pretty good at e noho/sit especially when food is involved.

April – Part 1

The big news this month is that we have a new member of our whānau. Rufus is a Spangold Retriever, also known as an English Springer Spaniel – Golden Retriever cross. He is 10 weeks old and full of beans when he’s awake.

Consequently weaving has taken a bit of a back seat since Rufus’ arrival. Prior to that I did some dyeing for a piece I wanted to weave to enter in a local arts show at Easter. The theme of the show was Light and Shade, and while I initially toyed with weaving something in shades of grey I decided that blues appealed to me more. These skeins are 2-ply corriedale wool dyed with varying concentrations of the same dye.

Using the techniques from the 3D double weave samples I wove in February I wound a warp, put it on my loom and started experimenting. You can see my first sample below, I needed to check how it would wash up as my previous samples were woven in cotton.

The finished piece, “The Blues” can be seen below or you can see it for the next 3 weeks at the Pollok Co-op.

I was delighted and surprised to receive an email on Thursday saying I had awarded Second-equal in the show and I’m looking forward to visiting the show this weekend.

The rest of March

This month I finished weaving a cotton warp that I started weaving in February. I dyed the warp after I had wound and chained it, which produced a tie-dye effect. The weft in the photo was a 20/2 cotton from DEA yarns. Now to decide what to make with it.

I have also been continuing to explore double weave, this time using some of my harakeke-dyed yarns. I wanted to try making an accordion book, inspired by these paper ones by Byopia Press and this woven one by Kaye Sekimachi. Even though I did make a little paper model and thought I had calculated the maths correctly I did get the proportions of this one how I wanted them to be but I’m pleased with it for a first try.

More Dyeing With Plants

This summer I bought some Coreopsis Amulet seeds from Kings Seeds and grew a couple of dozen plants to dye with. I decided to try solar dyeing with some of the flowers as I haven’t used that method before. I mordanted some corriedale wool with alum and placed in a jar with water and some fresh flowers. It was surprising to see the colour start to come out of the flowers within a few hours, though I wasn’t sure that would mean the colour would go into the wool.

I left the wool brewing for just over a week, during that time I added a few more flowers and moved the wool around as there were bits that looked like they hadn’t taken much dye. I removed the yarn from the jar, shook off as much plant matter as I could, let it dry overnight and then gave it a warm hand wash. As you can see in the photo below the colour is mainly a bright rusty orange, though the colour is a bit patchy. Overall I’m happy with the results, solar dyeing seems a great low fuss dyeing process but I will have to wait until next summer to try it again.

Dyeing with Harakeke seed pods

One dye bath – many colours

I have several harakeke (phormium tenax / New Zealand flax) bushes in my garden so I was excited to find out a few years ago that you could make a dye from the seed-pods and it is a fairly simple dye to make and use. Obviously the first step is to wait until the flower stalks appear. Then you watch all the birds, especially the tui, come to feed on the flowers. Slowly the flowers disappear and the seedpods appear. The stalks are quite tall and heavy and often fall over.

You can harvest the seed-pods when they still fresh or even when they are looking quite old and dry. I have used them at various stages and you still get colour from them. I cut the seed-pods into 2 or pieces and put them in a dye bath with water and then leave them for a couple of days (or longer if I get busy) until the dye bath is starting to bubble. The dye solution does smell but I do my dyeing outside and I think it is an OK smell.

Freshly cut seed-pods and a few flowers
The dye bath after a couple of days

Originally I would leave the seed-pods loose in the water but recently I realised it would be a lot easier if I actually put them all in an old pillowcase, instead of picking out bits out of my yarn afterwards. Once I’m ready to dye, I soak the skeins of wool in some warm water with a squirt of detergent, then place them in the dye bath and gently heat it. You don’t need to mordant the yarn but you can if you want, I haven’t noticed any difference in depth of colour between mordanted and un-mordanted yarn but I also haven’t carried out any rigorous investigation. As the dye bath increases in temperature the colour obtained darkens, you can see this in the photo below on the right. The skeins of yarn were taken out at different stages of heating the dye bath, the darkest was left in the dye bath after it came to the boil.

In the dye bath
Skeins before washing

Once I’ve finished dyeing the skeins, I leave them to dry overnight before washing them in hot water with laundry detergent and then rinse until the water is clear. The dye bath can be used a few times but the colours seem to change as well as the depth. In warm weather the dye bath can grow mold but I just take scrape that off. The photo at the top of this post shows all the colours I obtained from one dye bath heated three times. Below you can see the results from each individual heating. All of these skeins are corriedale wool.

First use of dye bath
Second heating of dye bath
Final reheat

If you have access to some harakeke seed pods I recommend giving dyeing with them a go. You can dye other materials, not just wool, I have tried silk and cotton. Finally here’s photo of a vest I made from fabric woven with wool dyed with harakeke seed pods.

2022 Weaving Goals

I’m a bit wary about setting weaving goals for 2022 as the last few years have taught me that plans can go pear-shaped at any time (thanks world-wide covid epidemic). However a plan and goals do help to motivate and focus me. Nothing like writing down all the things I want to do and realising that there aren’t enough hours to do them all even with my optimistic time estimates, and then there’s the excitement of ticking off an item on my list as complete. So I have written out a plan for the year and set my goals for the month ahead, and now we’ll see how it goes.

First up is further exploration of double weave and weaving more than 2 layers. I experimented a bit with double weave last year and this year I want to dive into this more. You can see some of my 2021 weaving experiments below.

Suffrage In Stitches

2018 marked the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.  On 19 September 1893 the Electoral Act 1893 was passed, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote.  As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Suffrage in Stitches was one of the activities and events that celebrated this anniversary. The 300 metre textile work matches the length of the original petition and consists of 546 individually designed fabric panels – the same number of pages in the original petition – and tells the stories of 546 women. It was a collective effort with each person being assigned a page/sheet from the petition and they could create their panel to honour one or more of the signatories on that page or a woman who influenced them. My panel honoured my great-great-great grandmother Fanny Worsdell who signed the petition along with her daughters, Kate Alberta Worsdell, Charlotte (Lottie) Worsdell and Frances (Fanny) Alice Stevens nee Worsdell ( my great-great grandmother)

My panel for Suffrage In Stitches exhibition

Fanny Worsdell (nee Simkins), born on 16 March 1831 in Andover, Hampshire, England. She married George Worsdell in 1852 and they had ten children. In January 1875, Fanny arrived in Otago with their children; Agnes, Bess, Anne, Katie, Fanny, Edward and Lottie aboard the Wild Deer. They joined George who was a ‘Fellmonger and Dealer’.  Fanny died at her North East Valley home on 8 March 1898. Her Trust Estate, of several houses and property, was later auctioned. George died at Oamaru in 1905.

Lottie, born on 11 October 1870 attended school in Dunedin and Oamaru. She joined the Salvation Army and in 1915 married Joseph McFadden, a Blenheim widower with four children. Joseph died in 1946 and Lottie died on 24 November 1960. 

Frances (Fanny) Alice Stevens nee Worsdell and Arthur Ernest Stevens
Petition sheet 512 with Frances Alice (Fanny) Stevens’ and Kate Alberta Worsdell’s signatures. Fanny signed as Mrs A Stevens.

Frances Alice (Fanny) Worsdell was born on 26 March 1865. In 1886, she married Arthur Ernest Stevens and they had two children, Arthur and Rena. They served in the Salvation Army around New Zealand. Arthur died in 1937 and Fanny moved to Nelson where she died on 12 April 1958.  In 1951 Fanny was awarded a Plunket Society Certificate of Merit, for Outstanding Voluntary Service. 

Kate Alberta (Katie) Worsdell,was born on 28 April, 1863. She was schooled in Dunedin and never married. She was a dressmaker and music teacher. Katie lived in various towns and signed the Petition while staying with her sister Fanny in Marton. Katie died in the Wairau Hospital, Blenheim on 28 May 1947.