Coventry Blue Finally Comes to Coventry

After a lot of blood, sweat and almost tears the Weavers’ Workshop are proud to announce the start of their Coventry Blue Pop Up weaving project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening of Coventry’s historic Weaver’s House to the public in July 2007.

The Weaver’s House tells the story of Coventry’s medieval woollen industry and what the life of an artisan weaver would have been like in 1540.

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Coventry was famous at that time, for it’s fine woven blue cloth based on wool yarn dyed using imported woad from the continent, which was woven on broad looms and exported back to the continent.

The artisan weaver living in the Weaver’s House would not have produced cloth of this quality on his narrow loom but would have formed an important part of the weaving industry in the area at that time, producing un-dyed cloth destined to be made into work clothes for local people.

The pop up weaving project is an opportunity for members of the public to have a go at weaving a piece of Coventry blue cloth on a small scale using a 4 shaft table loom which has been warped up with woad dyed wool hand dyed by The Weavers’ Workshop, using ready spun wool sourced from Cheviot sheep.

Warping up the loom prior to weaving has been a logistical challenge and is by far the most labour intensive process of the weaving process, when a lot can go wrong – mis-threading the loom inevitably results in an imperfect weave – hence the involvement of blood, sweat and tears to make sure the warp threads are in their rightful places and all goes to plan!

The Weavers’ Workshop are very excited to be weaving their own version of Coventry Blue cloth (no one knows what shade the original Coventry Blue was) and giving members of the public an opportunity for a hands on experience of weaving.

The loom will ‘pop up’ at The Weaver’s House Open Days during 2017 and the Lunt Roman festival at Baginton on the 15th and 16th July 2017.

Open Days

Tactile Textiles

The Weavers’ Workshop went out and about last weekend, exhibiting their wares and skills at the Tactile Textiles event at FARGO, Coventry’s creative village.

We were one of a number of textile groups and individuals showcasing and demonstrating a variety of crafts with opportunities to purchase kits and equipment. From Jo’s beautiful stumpwork family tree, the Weavers and Spinners lovely samples of all things wool, made using a variety of techniques such as felting, spinning, weaving and knitting, Jane Cobbett’s patchwork corner and the very popular Broad Street silk painting corner where many took the opportunity to test their painting skills and use of colour, visitors had a chance to witness a wide variety of textile crafts.

(Silk Painting)

FARGO’s shops also offered a variety of interesting handcrafted items for sale including unusual home made chutneys and jams, many made from locally produced produce – something different for Mother’s Day or a birthday. I’m looking forward to trying aubergine chutney and hot pineapple relish!

Sunday brought the Pod’s repair cafe event into the Urban cafe – lovely vegan soup, foccacia bread and cake fired the creative spirit and while items to repair were thin on the ground – there were plenty of knitters and crocheters to make items for the caravan cosy or themselves.

It was great to see so many traditional making skills thriving in the city, offering a vital anti-dote to the stresses and strains of modern life.

The Weavers’ Workshop offers introductions to simple weaving techniques using weaving sticks and peg looms and all are welcome to drop in on a Monday or a Thursday morning between 10.00 am and 12.30 pm to have a go for the modest cost of £3 which includes refreshments.

Our membership package costing £20 per year opens the door to learning more advanced weaving techniques such as tapestry and loom weaving as well as sharing inspiration and ideas with other members.

Dyeing with Woad

The Woad plant (Isatis tinctoria) has been famous as a source of blue pigment for several thousand years.

Its main use is as a dye for wool and other fabrics. The pigment is extracted from the dark blue-green spinach-like leaves of the woad plant that is a close relative of spinach and other brassicas.

Here is Sarah showing the weavers the technique of dyeing wool.
Beautiful Coventry Blues.