Our ‘Coventry Blue’ will be revealed during Heritage Open Days
If you’ve been along to one of our Open Days this year, or follow us online, you will have spotted our 10 year anniversary weaving project, to create a new version of the famous ‘Coventry Blue’ woven cloth.
Throughout this year, visitors to The Weaver’s House have contributed to this hands-on weaving project, run by the Weavers’ Workshop. We’re excited that the cloth that has been woven by many people during this year will be cut from the loom at 11am on Sunday 10 September during Heritage Open Days. As we unfurl the cloth, it will be the very first opportunity to see how it turned out – so if you’ve had a go, pop along and see the completed cloth that you have been part of!
Sara from the Weavers’ Workshop explained the background to the project:
“In medieval times, when the house was built, Coventry was a centre for the weaving trade and the city was best known for its fine blue cloth, “Coventry Blue”. Our project used Coventry Blue as a starting point and was intended to give visitors an opportunity to see the magic of the woad dyeing process and have a go at ‘hands on’ loom weaving, to see for themselves what weaving entails.”
“We began with woad dyeing the wool on the first Weaver’s House Open Day of the year. The wool was then put on a warping mill to create the correct lengths of yarn needed to warp up a portable table loom, all this before cloth weaving could start. The Weavers’ Workshop wonder whether this is the first sample of “Coventry Blue” cloth woven in the city in 450 years. As no one really knows what the original Coventry Blue looked like or the processes involved in its making, it’s our very own 21st century interpretation!”
The loom has also been out and about at events including the Lunt Roman Festival to give even more people an opportunity to weave a little bit of The Weaver’s House history. After the cutting ceremony, the piece of cloth will be displayed at the house as part of the Spon Spun Art Trail which runs from 12 – 4pm on Sunday 10 September. There will be further opportunities to see the cloth in the future.
Five facts about the famous historical ‘Coventry Blue’:
- The fine blue cloth was dyed and woven in Coventry and exported to the continent.
- The blue colour was derived from woad, an unpromising looking green plant related to the cabbage family. Woad is a vat dye and requires a complex chemical process to create the conditions in which cloth can be dyed blue.
- No one knows what colour the historical Coventry Blue looked like as no samples have ever been identified or dye recipe discovered.
- The woad dye was imported from the south of France as the sunny climate ensured a higher concentration of blue dyestuff in the plant.
- Coventry Blue cloth was highly sought after due to the non-fading quality of its blue colour and is believed to be the basis of the phrase True as Coventry Blue or True Blue meaning steadfastness.
The completion of the weaving project rounds off a highly successful year for us – we’ve had large numbers of visitors enjoying our Open Days season including memorable days celebrating Easter, May Day and our 10th anniversary – but it’s not over yet!
For the first time ever, we’ll be open on the Friday of Heritage Open Days with a ‘Reduced’ Open Day on 8 September (there’s no refreshments or demonstrations, but a great opportunity to have a quieter look around the house and talk to guides).
Then we have Open Days on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September with refreshments supplied by The Heritage Pantry (formerly The Heritage Cake Company) alongside spinning and weaving. Please note that the solar (upstairs room containing the loom) will not be open for Heritage Open Days.
Opening times are 10am – 4pm. Admission is free and no booking is necessary. These are our last Open Days this year, so we hope to see you there!
Have you tried making Coventry Blue cloth? Get in touch!
Main pic: Ingrid from Weavers’ Workshop