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Jane Austen’s House collaboration

A creative collaboration between Whitchurch Silk Mill and Jane Austen’s House.

Inspired by the colours and collections of Jane Austen’s House, our team here are weaving something very special, with work starting in November 2023 through to September 2024!

You can see our ribbon designs, alongside the inspiration from the house here.

Confirmed weaving dates*

Weds 3 July, Thurs 4 July. Tues 16 – Fri 19 July. Tues 23 – Sat 27 July.

*Please note we are an operational visitor attraction and these dates are subject to change at short notice.

November 2023 – Our Weaver Tacklers are currently busy winding 1,214 bobbins for the ground warp of our silk ribbons. Each bobbin will contain at least 1,200 yards worth of silk thread. We estimate the winding phase will take around 4 weeks of production time, winding 6 days per week.

The next step is warping. This will begin in January 2024. There will be eleven creel changes during this process, it will take approximately three weeks.

In 2023, Silk Ribbon Weaving was listed as a critically endangered craft and added to the Red List by the Heritage Craft Association. There are currently only four silk ribbon weavers in the UK, with Whitchurch Silk Mill employing one of them.

In the past our silk ribbons have featured in many well known films and television shows including Sense & Sensibility, Titanic and many more.

Whitchurch Silk ribbons, woven in 2020.

January 2024 – our Weaver Tacklers are busy winding the ground warp for the silk ribbons. This will take approximately two weeks.

February 2024 – The ground warp (pictured below) of the ribbons has now been wound and ‘beamed off’ by our Weaver Tacklers.

The warp for the satin stripes on the ribbons is still to be wound. More bobbins of silk need to be wound before this phase of production takes place. Bobbin winding commences again on Tuesday 13th February in preparation before warping starts again at the end of February. Keep an eye on our Instagram for confirmed dates as these are subject to change – @whitchurchsilkmill

March

The satins warp (pictured below) has been wound and ‘beamed off’, ready to go into the loom. This warp will form the satin stripes that you see in the ribbons design above.

Now that warping is complete, any bobbins with silk left on them will be back wound. This is a process used to transfer the silk from several bobbins to one; it frees up our bobbins and avoids any wasted silk.

The next stage of the process will be hand twisting both warps into the loom. Unique to Whitchurch Silk Mill, the only place in the UK still using this traditional silk weaving technique. Our Weaver Tacklers will hand twist 7,732 ends on silk onto a previous warp. Once this is complete, the warps will be pulled through and tied on.

June 2024

Our weavers have been busy putting the final ends into the warp. After the hand twisting is complete, the warp is pulled through into the loom. During this process up to 200 threads may get broken and and need to be put back into place. Despite this, it is still considered a quicker process then re-threading the whole warp.

Once this is complete, the weaving can begin. Our weavers will begin ‘settling’ the loom, weaving all the repaired threads in and tweaking until the cloth is weaving perfectly. A colour blanket is now being woven, this is stripes of different colour weft choices. The colour blanket will be reviewed by our Commercial Director and Heritage Weaving Manager before the final colour choices are made.

The weaving of the ribbons will commence in early July through until September. Come back with your annual pass to see this part of the process!

Follow @janeaustenshouse @whitchurchsilkmill @whitchurchsilk for updates on the project or VISIT the Mill to see the project in production. We also welcome pre-booked GROUPS of between 10 & 50.

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