Looking for change ringing weavers???

In a comment Trapunto wrote “And my question would be, how many bellringing weavers are there??”.

Well, there’s me. There’s Anthea in the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of NSW. The guild meets in the church hall behind St Paul’s Burwood (a suburb of Sydney), which has bells. Anthea heard the bells one day and went up the tower to see what it was all about.

There’s been an article in Handwoven which I came upon by chance – “Oranges & Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clement’s”, Pauline Drake, September/October 2000, pp. 32-34. The author used the simplest change ringing method (or pattern), plain hunt, to select stripe colours. However on checking I find she learnt about ringing from a book.

There’s a draft on handweaving.net with the note “I have a cousin who is an enthusiastic change-ringer. This is one of several patterns I’ve worked on as a gift for her and her “happy ringers.””

I’ve also found a project exhibited at Liverpool Cathedral UK in 2008 – an artist worked with ringers and “weaving technicians” to produce banners depicting bellringing methods.

So I haven’t discovered a lot, although I’m still convinced about similarities:

  • An attraction to patterns and permutations.
  • A love of process, not instant results.
  • A somewhat unusual interest – although something most people know a bit about (or think they do).
  • A wealth of jargon with very specific meanings, some of which is used rather differently in “mainstream” language.
  • A lot of underlying theory that can enrich the experience, but you don’t have to know to get along.
  • A certain level of dexterity required and some physical demands.
  • With both I try for an “alert rhythm” – physically repetitive motions that benefit from constant fine-tuning, plus following a pattern where your mind can drift a bit but with the risk  of undesirable results.

The major difference I can think of is that weaving is solitary while change bellringing is done in teams (one per bell – or one person per two bells with handbells).

bristol_bookmarkMy overshot experiment is finished. I first described it here. I was working on my four shaft table loom, so had four blocks possible.

Without getting too distracted by ringing theory, on the left is the beginning of Bristol Surprise Major (diagram created in the online method database). The bells start by ringing once in turn, highest note to lowest. Then we ring again in a different order according to set patterns or methods. The path of the treble (bell with highest note) is shown in red. The path of the 4th bell of the eight is shown in blue – and the same path is traced in the bookmark I wove.  It’s repeated because I wanted some width and also to experiment with creating a visual break with limited blocks (any pattern of the black weft is hidden by the black warp).

bristol_summerandwinterIt’s more a novelty thing – I don’t have a lot of use currently for such heavy fabric (cottolin sett at 48 epi). I’m now interested in the possibilities of summer and winter – especially given my big loom has 24 shafts to play with. Initial experiments in my weaving software (Fiberworks PCW) gives this possibility for the beginning of the path of the 4th bell in bristol major.

bristol_sandw_trebleIf I juggle with three shuttles this could be possible – the path of the treble in red as well as the 4ths place bell in blue.

Maybe fun for teatowels . Step two is lots of sampling and playing in fiberworks – for a start this is the back view and I’ll probably have to flip things around to avoid getting a mirror image. Plus all the treadling options to explore – Leigh has some wonderful posts on Summer and Winter, including this one.

Step one is finishing the undulating twill  currently on the loom – more on that another day.

2 Responses to “Looking for change ringing weavers???”


  1. 1 Trapunto January 13, 2009 at 6:04 am

    I think these would be *very* nice tea towels–especially as presents for other change ringers!

    Reading your list, it occurs to me that another similarity is the whiff of the ecclesiastical that clings to both pursuits (churches are the most likely places to find either bells or handwoven cloth in use). Or maybe just an innate sense that it is worthwhile to preserve a no-longer-well-known craft from falling into disuse, which goes along with your “unusual interest” item. I’ve noticed that when I tell people I weave, the response is tends to be either, “What a fantastic thing to be able to do! Of course you would want to do that!” or “Huh?”–but not much in between. No amount of explaining the history or the process or the product really affects the “Huh?” people; it just make *me* seem the more crazily obsessed–although they are usually very nice about it!


  1. 1 Muttaburrasaurus Delight Major « Fibres of Being Trackback on January 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm

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