Monday, 28 June 2010

The Weekend

The trip to Spetchley Gardens on Saturday went off very well. We had time to visit the swamp cypress with its multiple knees sticking out of the water. The only slight defect wa that the cafe only does drinks and cake and I was counting on a ham roll for lunch. So we had cake for lunch. Laura and Tom (the eldest grandson) appeared in the late afternoon and we had a substantial dinner in the evening.

On Sunday morning, we did a large number of odd jobs which I cannot manage on my own. These were

1) thin the fruit on the peach tree. This requires a ladder and it is better with someone else around to dial 999 if needed.
2) get Tom to drill holes in Michael's wall to put up a shelf on which to display caladiums.
3) Supply everyone with coffee, tea, biscuits etc. By this time Anne and her family had arrived

4) Have Derek (son-in-law) stand at the top of the step ladder holding 'Frijoles Creek Remembered' above his head so I could see if it hung straight before parcelling it up for Convergence. It does.
5) crawl round the floor to pin up Anne's new outfit. It has to be shortened by 1.5 inches by next Saturday.

By this time it was midday and all eight of us went to the Cottage in the Woods for lunch. It is very high on the hills and has spectacular views across the Vale of Evesham. So we sat outside for drinks and then went inside. A good time was had by all. Michael survived well but retired at 1600 hours and slept for several hours.

Now I must go and get on with my white silk jacket.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Liz Brooke-Ward

Yesterday I went over to Nature in Art to see the residential textile artist for this week, Liz Brooke-Ward. She was very busy dealing with queries and conversations. She displayed several of her pieces, based on fungi and lichens, but also some sketch books and I spent some time looking through these. Most of them were spiral bound in landscape format but she had sewn extra length on to the pages so they were much wider than usual. The most intriguing was an A5 portrait sketch-book done in black paper and cased-in (hard-back). It was covered in cloth which had been dyed at the same time as some of the contents. This must mean she did the covers after the book had been completed. Unlike the other books, this had a contents list and numbered pages, obviously added at the end of the work. Much more formal than the other books. Interesting. It was clearly a lot of extra work.

She was working on one of her green/blue lichen series (when she got the chance!).

There was a good textile exhibition on called 'Design for Life'. I shall be taking Dorothy to see that next week when she is here and so will talk about it then. But very interesting for the set-up.

This weekend will get underway shortly. We have my grandson and his girl-friend arriving today to stay overnight. There is a huge family Sunday lunch up at 'The Cottage in the Woods'.  Today I am being very brave and taking Michael to Spetchley Gardens. It will be a hot day and I must take a hat. I keep wondering if pushing a wheelchair round a garden in the heat is a 'good thing'. Well it will be a good thing for Michael.

I am progressing with my white jacket for next Saturday. The body is put together, including the applied ribbon. This morning I will put on the collar.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Frijoles Creek Remembered

So I had better come clean too.

In the early 80s I attended a conference at Los Alamos. There were about 50 people of whom 6 or 7 were British. The rest were American. It was a very intensive hardworking conference and the organisers gave us Wednesday afternoon off. A local offered to show us round Bandolier National Park and we went past the blasted forests with their 'DANGER' signs through a flat bleak brown landscape all at 7000 ft if it wasn't 8000 ft. Until we suddenly dived into a valley, a cleft in the landscape where houses has been cut into the cliffs and the Frijoles Creek gurgled through a green valley with aspens and grass and meadow flowers. So that's how I remember Frijoles Creek, a place of enchantment in the middle of nastiness. The colours were shades of blue and green, the occasional flash of something brighter and through it all, the water of the creek curling and twisting. There was no-one there but us.

So there are 14 colours of 90/2 silk in the warp, shades of green and blue with some black, the shadows and some flashes of red.  The colours are not random but carefully placed.  I started by painting stripes and ended by modelling the lot in Fibreworks. I matched every colour in RGB and then created those colours in a Fibreworks palette, then  placed them in blocks, then individualy selected the colour of every thread.  The weft is all silver grey. 90/2 silk. The draft is an advancing twill with 8 warp repeats of 172 ends each. The colours do not repeat  with the warp pattern across the warp. There is no repeating pattern in the weft but there is a 'unit' which is used with its mirror in a random number of repeats. The creek gurgling.

So there you are. 3 and a half yards weighs 6 ozs.

And I have no idea what I am going to do with it when it comes home.

Cally's Convergence Entry

Cally Booker has published a blog on her entry for Convergence 2010 yardage. Quite awesome. The 3-D-ness is quite astounding.  I have seen Daryl Lancaster's entry and Lillian Wgipple's (120/2 silk) and am feelingd epressed and inadequate.
Never mind, here's my garden

Clematis Armandii BEFORE
AFTER. Two windows have surfaced!! And the calladiums are visible

Thursday, 24 June 2010


There are a lot of clematis(es?) in our garden. I showed Markham's Purple through the office window. This is a much better plant all round 'The Vagabond' which is by our front door.
The flowers are six to seven inches across. I do like them opulent and vulgar - and single, not double.

We have a range of clematis running from armandii, the thug, which flowers in January through to herbaceous ones which flower until late August. The thug is particularly thuggish this year and will have to be hacked back by someone on a ladder. So it will be done tomorrow. I will take before and after pictures.

I have sewn up one handspun cushion and felted the other two. When they are dried and round a cushion, I will take some photos. This morning's job is to tidy up in what is called the music room (it once had a piano in it). Michael wants to go back to water colours and my projects have expanded to occupy all available (and unavailable) space. So this needs re-organising by coffee time. So far I have wound a skein of dyed wool into balls and put away the skein and ball winders. If I am honest, all I have done so far is shift a lot of stuff on to the upstairs floor. And that was looking quite tidy too! I see I still have not put away the textiles I took to the London Guild.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Binding Alice

At last Alice in Wonderland is bound. The graphics (by Michael) have been printed on high grade photo paper on an Inkjet and covered with a sheet of acetate. Each graphic was mounted on 1mm grey board. Two sheets of grey board were then cut with windows and black buckram used over all.

This is a view of the rather nice end-papers.

 The book is only 140 by 110 mm. I spent the rest of the afternoon  at the class folding the other two books I have and they are more like 200 by 150 mm which will be much easier to cover. The books are Pinocchio and Christmas Carol. The cover for Pinocchio will be a photo of grand-daughter Maddie who does a marionette dance. We have a video but I want a high resolution photo. In general appearance, it will be like Alice but there will only be a graphic on the front cover. I am thinking of doing Christmas Carol in leather but that is next term's project. I need to get to grips with leather binding anyway so will practice a few sample pieces first. One more class before we break up for summer. I shall miss it. I have signed up for a one-day class  at the Tech in Orthodox binding (sort of Coptic) in August. I just hope they get enough takers and don't cancel.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Devore Leaves (2)

This is the sample for devore with the freezer paper ironed on. The warp (horizontal in the photo) is Texere's 2-ply wool where the warp was wound in 3 sections, plaited tightly and spaced dyed in brown, orange and yellow. The weft was 2ply merino acid dyed yellow and tencel dyed sage green using Procion MX dyes. The pattern was drawn on the freezer paper, cut out and then the paper ironed on to the sample  which is 12 by 14 inches. The Fibre Etch was painted onto the cut out sections, dried overnight and then ironed to burn out the tencel. I wrapped a piece of aluminium foil round the iron base while ironing.

It took 20 minutes of ironing to burn out the tencel and the smell was horrible. Definitely a windows-open activity. I set the iron on wool to start with but put it up to cotton in the end. There is no sign that the wool has been scorched. After rubbing out the fragments of tencel, it was washed and hung up to dry. 

This photo was taken against the window where the pattern and the colours shows up nicely.  So devore works with these yarns. My only reservation is the colour of the tencel. I would like the background to be darker. Wendy Morris of Handweavers Studio has sent me some samples of their green tencel and I will order the dark green today.

Monday, 21 June 2010

4 hole Binding

The book with felted covers has morphed into the above which is much more elegant. The contents are blue lokta paper plus blue mulberry paper. The outer cover is red Canson on 2mm greyboard with Japanese Yazen paper on the cover's inside and on the front cover where the Japanese would have put a title strip. Rabbits in white and gold prancing all over the paper - the Japanese think rabbits are lucky.

Today I had to take the car to have its air-conditioning fixed. The garage gave me a replacement car but that meant four trips up and down the motorway through Worcester to Droitwich.  At the end of the afternoon, I dropped by Hobbycrafts in Droitwich to pick up some more lokta paper. There was none. I did also want to buy some more Yazen paper, yes I got it at Hobbycrafts! But the price has increased from 90p for an A4 sheet to £1.70 a sheet so I passed on that. I have sourced some lokta (Great Art) and am happy about that. But I must find a source of Yazen. I could do with  some larger sheets anyway. 

I spent a long time ironing the devore sample today and it worked very nicely. The cloth has been washed and is drying now. I will report further tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The view from the office window. Clematis to the left is Markham's Purple, to the right is Freckles - but it flowers in February. On the desk are two uncompleted sudokus, the paperwork for my Convergence entry and the Wake Robin paper. 

The Convergence piece is ready, nylon organza applied to the top and hemmed to give a 3 inch deep pocket for suspension, the bottom hand hemmed. The first time for a long time I have basted a hem before hand sewing!! Then ironed, rolled over two cardboard cylinders and put into a stout cylinder. Tomorrow I will call DHL and discuss shipping.

I was going to apply a fused lining to my white silk before cutting  the coat out but the iron has become impossible. I know I have misused it by ironing all sorts of strange things, paints glue etc without due care. So I have ordered a new one from John Lewis and will keep the current one for ironing paint glue etc!! The iron will not come till Wednesday so I will do some odd jobs today.

Starting by wheeling Michael outside for coffeee as it is a glorious day.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Visit to London

Yesterday, I went to London with Rosie Price to visit the Renaissance drawings exhibition at the British Museum.  Took over 2 hours to go round. The exhibition was not very crowded and i noticed that the people who came in with us were still around us at the end. In other words, the viewers were all enthiusiasts for drawing. What can I say about? If you are a drawing fiend, you have to go. It is difficult to pick one to be 'my favorite', so I won't. I bought a copy of the book which has all the drawings in it. Nominally because Michael asked me to but I need to go through  it again today to fix them in my mind.

I had expected the show to be in the upstairs print room but they had put it in the old Reading Room. It was well annotated and the captions were very informative. If the drawing had been used as a basis for a subsequent painting, a small print of the painting was  shown. There were also two or three albums of drawings which had been intended as a resource.

Afterwards, we had tomato soup in the atrium and decided against going to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. I certainly did not want to lose the 'flavour' of the drawings by overlaying my mind with the Summer Exhibition. Rosie needed to buy a lilac-coloured artificial flower to go with her mother-of-the-bridegroom outfit so I was introduced to the delights of Berwick Street. I love haberdashers and these were wonderful. Ribbon, buttons, buckles, hair pieces.  We also took in some silk shops as I wanted to buy some printed crepe-de-chine. We found some fabric which would have been suitable but I baulked at paying £89 a meter. We then went to a wonderful shop off Edgware Road which had printed crepe-de-chine in a big way. Only this time I looked at the price first - at £113 a metre, I abandoned the idea. The shop is fabulous, stacked high up the walls. Wonderful laces, feathered cloaks(!!), exotic prints. We retired to a coffee shop called Bake and Cake which was an odd mixture of baklava and high-class French patesserie. Tea and baklava were in order. I realised on the train coming home at 5 o'clock, that, in all this shopping, neither of us had bought anything in the way of flowers or fabric! I bought some baklava to take home to Michael and that was it.

Perhaps because it was Friday evening, the train was packed. It was standing room only until Kingham.

I have decided to take the felt covers off the recent book and re-use the inside. On Thursday I had an exchange of emails with the person responsible for receiving the Convergence yardage exhibits. So I need to strengthen the top with bondaweb and organza, as for 'Reflections', and make a casement. I also decided I would need to hand-stitch the lower edge. Apparently the lower edge hangs free and the fabric will be visible from both sides.

 That is today's job along with finding some packing materials. It does not need to be in the States until July 1st but I would like to get it ready.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Test Book with Felt Covers (2)

The felt book is to be bound in Japanese style, that is, with a stab binding. Here are the papers for the contents, folded, tied and with the four holes ready for the stab binding.

Here are two reinforcing pieces for the spine, one for the back and one for the front. They have been cut from 2mm grey board and covered with cotton. The holes for the stab binding are ready.

This is one 'felted' cover. This is not nearly so felted as the handspun cushion fabric which should be easier to deal with. I have applied a piece of the same cotton as the spine pieces to the fore edge.

This is it finished. The thread for the binding was black Como silk from Handweaver's Studio.

A view of the inside. What have I learnt? That spine reinforcement is essential. That the felted blanket fabric moved every which way and was difficult to sew. I only hope the other felted fabric is better. That I don't like the cotton applied to the fore edge. It was done crudely but even so. 

The whole idea was to see if it could be done. And I think the answer is maybe. The fabric has got to be a lot solider than this was so I can cut the edges straight. You will notice that, in the end, there was no decoration on the fabric. The silk paint seeped through to the back and the transfer dyes were not strong enough. I was advised that needle felting would come through to the back as well. I need to think about all this. The Como silk worked well for the stab binding. So at least there was something positive!!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Notebook with Felt covers

I came across this site this morning  which shows Notebook with felt covers The quilting must show on the back of the cover but, if it were in coloured thread, it would look okay and be acceptable. It is not quite what I want  but it has given me an IDEA. I will try it out this evening.

Monday, 14 June 2010

More Samples from Felted Handspun

No, this is not from the handspun cushions but it is part of the project.

On Saturday I went to London to talk to the London Guild about silk and I took a book to read in the train - Shereen LaPlantz  'Cover to Cover' which is a wonderful book on bookbinding. In reading this, it occurred to me that I could use the felted samples from the handspun cushions as covers for a book.  But I would like to decorate them. I could get two sets of covers out of what I have so I did not want to waste any of it on trying out techniques of decoration. I remembered that I did a handspun blanket a few years ago and there was a piece left over. This was one of my least successful projects. It was woven using only grey handspun but I space-dyed half of it with indigo. The weaving just looked bitty - look at the background of the fabric in the photo. I found a nice felted piece of this about a foot square and cut it into quarters. I did a zigzag round the edge of one square with multicoloured machine embroidery thread to make sure it does not fray. Then I fused a backing on to some space dyed cotton and cut out shapes to apply (see triangles). Not too easy but probably manageable but - -  there has to be stitching on the other side. I had been thinking in terms of applique lettering but I really do not like the idea of the stitching appearing on the other side. I could cover it after decoration with a piece of cotton which would have to be hand sewn on.  Hmmh!! What else can I do? I could use  transfer printing where the  paint is put on sheets of paper, dried then cut into shapes and applied to the fabric with a hot iron. That is the orange square with the dark surround. Then there are silk paints, also fixed with a hot iron and the fat lines in red are they. So transfer paints and silk paints work and do not show through to the back. Tomorrow I will try another square with more complicated shapes in transfer dyes.

I also cut off a cushion, zigzagged the edges, washed it and put it through the drier for 20 minutes. It came out more felted and shrunk than I expected. Perhaps this is because it is much bigger and heavier and therefore gets thrown about more. Also the front has shrunk more than the back. That was something I did not check with the samples. The surface is fluffier too. It is drying now.

Added later. Of course there is always needle felting. Would that come through the felt? Better try it out.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Samples from Handspun Cushions

Here are the two samples of Handspun  where Sample 1was handwashed and air dried and Sample 2 was handwashed and dried in the washing machine for 15 minutes. The extra shrinkage in Sample 2 is very obvious

Then I washed Sample 1 again and put it in the drier for 30 minutes. There is no  extra shrinkage in Sample 1, So I shall risk a cushion at 30 minutes.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Handspun Cushions (6)

I did the repairs needed on the cushion fabric, without cutting it up. I then ran 2 rows of zig-zag stitching round the tube where the third cushion ended and the sample began and cut between the rows. The small tube was then zigzagged twice in the centre of front and  of the back and cut apart so I have two samples, each including half a front and half a back. This is because the back is the same yarn through-out but the front is a lot of different yarns. These two samples were measured (9 by 20 inches). Both were dumped into water at 51 degrees with Woolite added and thoroughly thumped with a wooden spoon. The water was very dirty at the end. They were  left for 30 minutes, rinsed in water just a little cooler and wrung out. Sample  1 was laid out on a towel. Sample 2 went into the washing machine on the synthetics drying cycle for 15 minutes. It came out beautifully felted - and yes, I have done this before, There is no way you can get a finger nail between adjacent threads and it has shrunk by about 12.5% overall. Sample 1 has shrunk a bit, probably less than 5%.  They are still damp but I will scan them together when dry to show the difference when finished. They are both laid out on a towel and I will deal with the three cushion covers on Sunday. I doubt if I can put all three in the machine at the same time.

I have packed up all the samples for tomorrow's lecture on Silk and decided not to take the Fan reed as it is heavy and too big to fit in the small wheeled case I am taking. I did think of taking 'Reflections' which has come back from Mansfield but that is wrapped round two cardboard cylinders and is also too long for the case. So they will have to make do with photos.

All in all a good day.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Handspun cushions (5)

Not a good photo. These marbled papers arrived today - bought from someone in Canada via etsy. The ribbon also arrived so that is everything delivered.

The three cushions of handspun are finished and off the loom along with a substantial sample which I will cut off and test for felting. I can get four pieces out of it and can treat each one differently.

Linda Scurr suggested I make a list of UFOs (nice phrase that), decide on priorities and then do one UFO, one new project until done. I don't know about that. I can add new projects faster than the speed of light. What I have done is to prioritise and may get some projects finished in the next ten days. I have doen a good job upstairs. The floor is visible and the drawers are filled and labelled. I still have three empty drawers!

Handspun Cushions (4)

I have finished the second cushion of handspun. I replaced the central white section with grey in the weft and it looks fine. I have worked out what to do colour-wise with the third and it looks as though I will have a bit of warp left over. I shall weave up to the very end and use that piece for the initial felting trials. I have decided I would like to try a felt cover to a book and can use the trial piece up.

Yesterday I had a great clear out upstairs where all the textile-y stuff is stored. We took a very nice cupboard downstairs for Michael's room to store all the medical things in. As a result there were piles of blankets and sheets on the floor! They have been found a home which has displaced a lot of yarn and fabric. But I went round to FOCUS in the afternoon and bought three sets of plastic drawers and everything is now off the floor and into drawers. I even have four empty drawers. I was a bit horrified at how many incomplete projects there are upstairs. For a couple of weeks, I think there has to be a rule 'NO NEW PROJECTS' while I try to complete a few things.

Pity because I wanted to start on the caladium leaves. I have ordered some more yarn from William Hall to make a much longer warp because I would like  to paint a sample with silk paints. And I can see a use for the fabric as book covers

Yesterday at bookbinding I made progress with binding Alice In Wonderland. I have got everything ready for making the cover and will put it all together next week. I took a piece of scrap sycamore into class and tried lettering on it. Gold leaf lettering is put on by having a letter on a long handle which you heat up and apply to the book spine or whatever through the gold foil. My original idea was to use the heated-up lettering tools to burn into the wood. I could get a good indentation but no burning. Some else pointed out that I could just use black foil. And it worked!All I have to do now is to learn how to get the lettering aligned.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Handspun Cushions (3)

This is approaching the end of the first cushion of handspun. The back is plain Jacob. The problem for the second cushion, which I knew from the start, is that I cannot do the same colour way again because I don't have enough white. I do have enough Jacob in a pale grey and will use that. For the third cushion, there is not enough of any coloured yarn and so I will do that plain Jacob on both sides. I decided against a fringe at each end of the cushion. I will turn in the ends and machine stitch them.

Velma Bolyard's papers have arrived and are very interesting. Paper made of daylilies, of rhubarb! Michael has practised lettering on scraps of handmade paper left from other projects and we have agreed what we are going to do. I have also practised drawing wake robins (trilliums in UK-speak as they aren't native here). I have been wondering if I can put lettering on sycamore covers by burning in. I will have to ask Angela Sutton, my tutor, what she feels about it.

The other novelty (for me) is that I bought a pair of shoes on the net and they came today.  They fit perfectly. I cannot get out these days to anywhere decent (Cheltenham for instance) to go shopping and was desperate for a new pair of loafers. My daughter, Ruth, encouraged me to order them at the weekend. In a way, she has the same problem in that she wants to buy UK style shoes and Kuala Lumpur is way too expensive. So she (and the rest of the family order things on-line and they get delivered here. Books, handbags, shoes, exercise dumb-bells - - - - all turn up here.

Monday, 7 June 2010


I did not like the double weave draft for caladium leaves and so have gone back to 3 in 1 and 1 and 3 twills. After a lot of playing about, I ended up with this. It will not be woven in 60/2 silk as the motifs would come out too small. I propose to use 2/12 cotton of which I have all the right colours and enough of each anyway. It has ended up as a sort of colour gamp. So onwards with the handspun cushions on the Megado. I can't wait to get started on this. And what am I going to do with the fabric? One piece 18 inches square will go into the Midlands Textile Forum's exhibition at Birmingham Botanical Gardens this September. The rest will be used as book covers.

The other happening which has induced cheer is that the V&A library has succeeded where the British Library has failed. I have wanted to get a copy of an article on Donsu in Japan and the BL has a copy. However they have been moving  their belongings for the last year and will not give a firm date for accessing it. So after two rejected applications and being told not to reapply until the autumn, I got onto a major library website and discovered the Bodleian and the V&A hold copies. Well the Bodleian thought it did until it looked and they haven't. The V&A has clearly gone to the bother of looking at the article and I received an email this morning saying I could have a photocopy in black and white for so much but colour (and there are four coloured pages) would cost extra. They want £11.80 for the colour version. This is a great deal cheaper than me going to London for a day. So I said yes please. Imagine someone has actually seen this article!!!
The fabric is finished, washed, ironed and hung up at the end of the corridor. Lynn suggested I should use it as a table runner and keep looking at it till I think of something to do with it. This serves the same function.   Thank you, Lynn.

This weekend was spent tidying up the talks I am giving to the London Guild next Saturday. They did not need so much doing to them as I remembered. But I have to deal with the problems of the samples. Last time I did a talk on 'Silk', I went by car. London means train. And some of my samples are 15 yards of kimono silk wrapped on stout cardboard cylinders. Way too heavy to take by train. So am I going to cut a length off?  I flatly refuse to cut into the patola sari length or the red silk and gold sari length. And the Tunisian curtain material is firstly very heavy and secondly carefully patterned over the length so I will wreck it if I cut a piece off. I can see a halfday spent upstairs with the 'Collection'. I have made a list of desirable samples.

I have warped up the Voyager with the chained and space dyed warp from Mary Jarvis (thanks Mary). It looks good. Now to see if Tencel+ merino in the weft gives the effect I am looking for. I want to get a scarf out of 2.5 metres of warp. So I am intending to cut it off after weaving 10 inches and see what the devore procedure does. It is supposed to be autumn leaves.

No reason to think that it will work. There are a number of questions which Anne Field says can only be answered by sampling such as sett. Not to mention that weft wool is the same size as the warp but the Tencel is thicker. And I do wonder after doing wraps if sage green was the right colour to dye it. Maybe brown?

So I am making a dent in my Project list. Although I forgot two very important jobs. 'Frijoles Creek Remembered' has to be sent off to Convergence and I want to finish a coat of white silk (woven by me) by July 4th when various bits of the family are going to Glyndebourne to see 'Cosi Fan Tutte' . I had given up the coat because it wants a trim and thought I might weave one but this deadline is too good to miss so I trawled the web for nice ribbon. I finished up with 4 yards of Suzani flowers from Laura Foster Nicholson. I loved the Morning Glory but not the colour of the background and the poppies are wonderful but it looks like it is intended to be used horizontally whereas I want it vertical.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Quilting Show at Hanley Swan

Yesterday Ruth and I nipped out to Hanley Swan Village Hall where Region 11 of the Quilters Guild was having its annual exhibition. The standard was very high. There were a few sales tables including one who sold Tanzanian fabrics.  The saleslady said that the pieces should be washed to get rid of excess dye. Hence the above photo showing five 'fat quarters' hung up on the garage line. These are intended for covering books. I also washed the fan reed silk and inspected the drying bark - getting there but it will be another day or two. I intend to do some thicker bits next.

I found a video on the web showing how to paste paper to fabric for book covers. It looks good to me and I intend to have a big session in the garage doing just that.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Fan Reed (7)

The Fan Reed fabric is finished and off the loom. This is a scan showing that I can do it without errors. The secret is to ratchet up the tension until you feel that everything is going to go PING at any minute. The basic problem is that there is no guiding wooden rail at the bottom of the reed to help the shuttle stay on the straight and narrow.

I only have 45 inches in length and still have not decided what to do with the fabric. There has been a lot of family discussion on this. Suggestions are

- the front of a jacket. I don't like the idea.
- a cushion. There is enough fabric for that. No-one else likes that idea, only me.
- machine embroider over it or collage it and use it as a wall hanging. I am not enthusiastic.

So I have settled for washing and ironing it!

Since Ruth is here this weekend and can give me a hand with furniture removal, the Louet Kombo was dismantled, moved upstairs and rebuilt. The new table has been moved into place in Michael's room and looks very nice.

I have started on warping up the devore project on the Voyager. I will move it on to the new table tomorrow and work on it there.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Birch Bark (2)

I had a look at the birch bark after 24 hours of clamping. Quite nicely flattened but still very wet. I blotted the excess off with household tissue but don't like the idea of sandwiching that in the clamp for fear it sticks onto the bark when the bark dries out. I have reclamped the bark . It may be several days before it is completely dry. I will look at it every day. I don't know why I did not think of using this technique for bookbinding instead of four bricks. The pressure must be far higher.

My table came yesterday and is in the garage. So I spent some time weaving on the Fan reed. The result was 15 inches of impeccable cloth. I hope I can keep it up. The secret is to screw up the warp tension as hard as possible and to wind on after two inches of weaving. I am now hoping I can finish by Sunday and get Ruth to help me shift everything round. Some of today will have to be spent thinking about meals for the weekend and buying the ingredients. Since Michael has not been well, we have survived this week on what is in the house /freezer. It turns out it was all just a reaction to antibiotics.

I have ordered some smashing marbled paper through etsy from mymarbledpapers.

I am making up some ivory silk (woven by me) into a coat and decided I need some high class wide ribbon to trim it. A lot of the last two days has been spent searching the web - with no success. I remembered vaguely coming across an American weaver who did Jacquard ribbon. And sure enough there she was with a wonderful collection of ribbon. So I have ordered 4 yards of ribbon as well. Her name is Laura Foster Nicholson. Well worth gawping at.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Malvern Common in Summer

The hills from Malvern Common on June 2nd at about 1930 hours. Long shadows.
Looking away from the hills across the Vale of Evesham towards the Cotswolds (upper right). What you see is the shadow of the hills (Worcester Beacon to be precise) leaving the clumps of trees in sun shine. My road runs up the hill behind the trees. We live much further up the hill.
This is what the Common itself is like. Vegetation flourishing! And rabbits too. They come out morning and evening in the copse by the stream. I am told that a polecat lives there which is good. I am against rabbits anywhere near my garden. But they are on the other side of the Common and there are too many dogs on the Common for them to venture far from the copse. 

The birch bark was nicely softened by 2000 hours so I clamped it between two old shelves clad in melamine, using 4 G-clamps. I think I shall leave it until tomorrow to inspect. I might leave it clamped up until it is completely dry.

Went into Worcester yesterday (halfterm for bookbinding class) to have a hair cut and investigate 'The Cotton Reel'. It used to be a tiny shop crammed full of quilting stuff with the owner sitting in the middle quilting! They have moved two doors up to an old bank. It is larger, still crammed with goodies (and customers). And the owner is still quilting between looking after the customers. She has cut off the back half of the shop, put in 8 or 10 tables and classes are run there. There was one on when I was there and there seem to be 3 or 4 day classes each week. A sensible way to use the space. The owner strikes me as quite shrewd. There is nothing like a busy shop to bring in yet more customers.

Ruth is back from Kuala Lumpur today and comes to us for the weekend tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Birch Bark

I asked if anyone knew of a website selling birch bark. Kirsten replied with a Swedish website who sell in lots of one kilo. It is quite expensive and a kilo is a lot. So I asked my sister who walks her dog in a forest near Longforgan (Dundee) if there were any decayed birches there and she said yes some had come down in the winter gales. So this morning a box arrived - see photo for contents. This varies between small pieces two inches or so across and quite thin to some large pieces which are at least 0.25 inch thick. The ideal thickness should be an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch although a quarter should be usable

Here are some small pieces of bark soaking in warm water. I will look at them in eight hours and, if they are soft enough, I will press them between two  old melamine shelves clamped together with G-clamps.

The box also contained a lot of pieces of Dorothy's dyed cotton. Each is multiple colours and I was looking to machine embroider or possibly collage some and use it on book covers.

I started out by thinking I might entitle this blog 'Screams of Rage'. All my fine plans for installing a table and getting on with sewing and bookbinding soon have been upended by my forgetting something quite trivial - that the Louet Kombo came into that room in bits and will not go out assembled. So after half an hour's toying with various impossible plans, I have decided that I need to finish the Fan Reed weaving where it is now, then dismantle it. So I tied the warp up again yesterday and started weaving. 

The handspun is also tied on but I must not be deflected from the Fan Reed weaving.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

New Projects (4)

I have made progress on two projects This is a photo of the handspun warp for cushions. The tying on at the breast beam has to be finished but that will be done today.

I have also finished the Margaret Roach Wheeler weaving, cut it off, washed it and ironed it dry. It has come up well although there is a glaring error in the section intended for the back which ought to be repairable. There was not enough warp left to weave any extra samples and I used the last bit of warp to weave tabby as I think this  cloth would look good as a book cover.

I have also wound off the skeins of dyed Tencel and dyed 60/2 silk onto spools. I think I need to wind the lemon dyed merino into balls if I am to weave Tencel + merino. I have re-read Anne Field's book on Devore and find I am quite safe to use a wool only warp with a Tencel and wool weft. She talks about sett but not for the case when the yarn in the warp will not be affected by the devore process. Myself, I think it will have to be set at less ends per inch than I would use for a just-wool fabric. I think I will do some wraps just to check.

On the subject of cloth book covers, the procedure is to paste the cloth to paper and use that as the cover. The paper should be fairly thin. I was taught to use newsprint (before printing of course). Using the paper has the advantage that you can square up the fabric nicely and then treat it as one for the book binding. I was told to use paste for this and i have done up to now but last week I used PVA and a thin paper. It was a serious mistake. The PVA has come through the cloth and stained it badly. Fortunately, this was intended as a trial and I have not lost too much cloth.  But, when the table comes, I will try another piece of the same cloth (printed cotton) with paste. I was given a recipe for paste which involved boiling up flour and water. This keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge but the problem is that you have to make a minimum quantity and remember you need it 24 hours in advance so I have bought some paste in powder form and can make this up in very small quantities. It only needs a few minutes before it is ready. I can't wait for this table to arrive. I will move the Louet Kombo plus Fan Reed out tomorrow.


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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.