Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Bark Again

This is the piece of bark complete with tiny beads sewn on. The beads are quite glittery and look much better in reality. The glitter does not show up well in the photo.

That was about the only piece of textile I touched yesterday. The day was devoted to paperwork and accounts. Today I have to go and fight with Barclays Bank who have been telling lots of people that I am dead. This has two effects (apart from depressing me). The first is that they have returned all money to my pension providers so there's no money coming in and the second is that the said pension providers have been writing to my executors offering condolences and demanding to see my death certificate.

A telephone call resulted in a man called Richard (sounded very Indian to me) who did not/could not help. I rather think I may be changing my bank. However the first thing to do is to get them to cancel the fact that I am dead. I could do without this. One death in the family is quite enough.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Newbury Coat Re-enactment (2)

This is a scan of the 'DO NOT DISTURB' notice from our hotel in Brussels. I particularly like the idea of sitting in  the lotus position and drinking a glass of wine. If I sat in the lotus position, I would get stuck and would not be able to get to the door anyway.

Last weekend, I stayed with Rosie in Reading and we reviewed/revised the plans for weaving the Newbury Coat. What the Guild spun at the meeting and I have woven up is too fine so Rosie ended up spinning a yarn of the right thickness and I wound a length of it round a piece of card to show the spinners what we were aiming for (actually 49 pieces of card).

Then on Sunday we went to Henley Farmer's market where Linda Scurr spun, Rosie braided and I loaded lots of cardboard octagons with yarn (150 of them!!). I also had a look round Henley. It's a nice, if upmarket, place. Houses are very expensive. 

They were having an Open Studio weekend and we saw an exhibition of painting etc and a wool shop with an exhibition of textiles including Linda's felt pictures of cats and zebras. I bought some wool/silk yarn space dyed in green and a handbag from the exhibition. And I do not intend to use it myself. It is just perfect for a certain birthday.

Today is a Bank Holiday and it is raining. So it is a good opportunity to clear up. Last week there was so much going on that the house is full of dumped piles of stuff.  I have decided to try and rescue the warp on the Voyager. Tomorrow a firm is coming to clean some of the carpets (it will smell horrible) and I shall retire into the front room (which is not being done) and carry out a rescue operation. 

The other job for today is to review/revise the project list. Various projects appeared out of nowhere and took priority but they are all finished now.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Progress - Slow

On Wednesday I was in Cambridge listening to lectures on radio-astronomy - an old friend has died and this was a celebration of his life. A long drive there and back. On Thursday I drove for five hours in getting my car to the Saab garage in Droitwich, having it serviced and MOT'd and negotiating nasty road works on both trips. Terrible waste of time.

But today I went to my class at Bourneville and peace reigned. I have done a piece based on bark and yes the piece is not rectangular.  Advice from the class was to add some beads (very small) to add texture. So I dropped into Hobbycraft on the way home. I have also started on a calico shopper for my daughter with dark purple Tall Bearded irises on both sides. Coming on nicely and I hope to do some more this evening.

The Woven Shibori Handout has been circulated and emails are coming in fast saying 'Yes please I will do the Monk's Belt'. The class is only two weeks away and my poor Voyager is in pieces while still being warped up. I thought I would be clever and shift some heddles between shafts while it was still warped up. Now I have a heap of stuff on the table. I am not decided yet whether it is less effort to try to rescue the situation without the need to warp up again or not. But it has to be done next week.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Woven Shibori (3)

This is an Overshot sample where two slightly different drafts have been used with the same threading.

The Monk's Belt sample was shown previously

This is the BRONSON example, halfway through the tying up process. The photos say Monk's Belt but it was Bronson.

Both samples tied up. The use of a mercercised cotton for the pattern threads made the tying up process easy as it slipped through the weaving quite happily.

These samples were dyed using Catherine Ellis's instructions  (her book 'Woven Shibori'') for Procion Mx. The colour used was red-brown. It took about 1.5 hours in all although I did not have to be present for all of the last hour.

I sat outside in the sunshine at the end and removed all the tying threads. This photo was taken with the dyed samples on the patio table. They are still damp and presumably the red-brown will be lighter when dry.

I think I prefer the Bronson especially P1.

I have used up the remnants of the dye bath of some tie-dyed cotton which has come out nicely. The bath still seems to be alive so I am wondered about another few bits of cotton!!


Ruth and Anne and I went to Brussels for the weekend. There was a great deal of good eating (see photo). We did not have a poor meal out. Mind you, Anne ran this like an Army Exercise.

She had a plan, more or less like this

1310 finish lunch
1330 reach Musee Chalcographie
1430 leave Musee Chalcographie, enter Magritte Museum
1630 leave Musee Magritte and so on.
Except that the other two parties revolted and wanted tea at 1600 - hence the cakes.

And of course there was shopping. one handbag each. Mine is the middle one and cost a fraction of the other two. 

Apart from chocolate, that was all I bought so I came home with things, the others could not fit into their luggage, packed into mine.

The Musee Chalcographie (Prints) has to be experienced to be believed. Anne and I have known about this place for years. The trouble was they do not open at the weekend and they hardly open during the week and for the last few years they have been closed for refurbishment. This time we were determined to get in and determination is what it takes. Firstly you ring the bell and are let in (door opens automatically). Then you wander round the marble halls (noone around) until you get to the Stamp Collection and ring another bell. Eventually some one comes (after about 10 minutes) and you explain what you want. And are escorted down five flights of stairs to - itself!!! Which is not at all what we expected. We had expected a whole lot of prints neatly framed and hung in a discrete gallery. What we got was a large room with many, many great leather books each labelled with what it contained like 'Flemish landscapes 17th century'. And the prints were in folders. There were examples from 17th to 21 st century - and lots of them. And you could buy a print!! Because they owned the plates!!  So Anne bought 2 and I  bought one - a modern landscape - see photo below and we would both have bought more except - wait for it - cash only!! even though it was quite a bit of money. We were there for quite a long time. When it was over, we had to walk back up five flights of stairs. There was no-one else round and I am not surprised. Anne felt they needed a lecture on marketing because it is one fabulous place.

That was Friday dealt with. We did see the Magritte Museum too. Saturday was Art Nouveau day and I have hundreds of photos. I will show you just one.

It was a good weekend. Yesterday (Monday) was spent sorting out computers and I managed  to run the problem  cases I needed to. The runs were very long -f rom 10am Monday to 5 am Tuesday. The results have been processed and emailed out.

Last night I finished the loose ends off in the sample for the Newbury Coat. It does not look much better. I also rethreaded the Voyager with a pattern for woven shibori based on overshot - and wove off my samples. There are two 20 inch samples with the pattern threads all tied up, ready to be dyed and that is what I am off to do now.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Woven Shibori

Kennet Valley Guild is having a day on Woven Shibori in mid-June. I realised two days ago that I needed to write the handout containing drafts asap so that everyone else could warp up in time. I have bought the yarn for everyone (2/12 cotton unmercerised plain) and some participants will want to wind a warp  at the next Guild meeting which is June 4th.

So I spent Tuesday writing the handout and creating ten drafts on Fibreworks. By the end of the day I had finished the write up, printed off one copy and warped up the Voyager with four yards of yarn. I chose to do a Bronson lace version first and have used two slightly different liftplans as you can see from above. This is 20 inches long by 12 inches wide.  Now I am going to re-thread with an Overshot draft and weave two slightly different liftplans on that. Then I will tighten up the pattern threads (green above) and dye them with Procion dye. I reckon that will not take long.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Newbury Coat Sample

Monday morning I wove the rest of the sample for the Newbury Coat. All the ends are the 'not-yet sewn-in' tails from broken warp threads. Quite depressing although the selvedges are good. I will sit down and weave in all the ends tomorrow night when my daughter is here.

Weaving this sample has proved useful in that we have come up with more actions/checking/rules which will need to be followed on June 25/26th. It took me 2.5 hours to weave about 30 inches which is far too slow so we must have no broken ends and also get the yarn spun such that we can use 8 epi. I had to use 16 epi because the yarn was much thinner than expected. We could double up the yarn.

I suddenly remembered yesterday that the editor of the Shuttle (me) needed to get the file in to the printers this week so panic ensued as I pestered people for input. Everyone was very good and I am only lacking one article which is due on Friday. Everything else is ready except for the photos and I can see to those this evening. I have all the photos. I just need to select what I am going to use and put captions on. Heaves sigh of relief.

The computers need looking at today so that has take priority but I will wind a warp for Woven Shibori first. After all it is just 7 am. I will start on the machines after breakfast.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Flower Cakes

At the Spring Gardening Show on Saturday, we went into the Flora Art section. Over done, Most of them were 6 ft tall and have lots of bits of ironwork involved. Not something for the home, more for a hotel lobby.  Not many people looking at them.

But against the wall was a row of tables and something small which there was a big crowd round. And this is a photo of the First Prize entry which is a 'chocolate cake' made of real flowers and leaves. and definitely not edible Even the little curls of chocolate round the base are actually dried and rolled up leaves. And there are two more photos below.

I forgot to take my camera. These photos were taken on a mobile (!!!) by Robert Long, emailed to my daughter, Anne, who processed them and emailed them back!! Worth the effort though.

This is another prize winner. Everyone was leaving with a smile on their face. What higher praise can you give?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Spring Gardening Show

The Royal Horticultural Society (Chelsea Flower Show and so on) also runs a four day show at the Three counties Showground about a mile from where I live. This was on last week and some friends came over so that we could spend Saturday there. I insisted on getting there at 9 o'clock because by 11 it is hopelessly crowded - and I was right!! We ended up by buying two fold-up plastic trolleys to put our purchases in!! Well, a clematis in a large pot with a bamboo cane sticking out the top is not an easy thing to carry around!  I wanted to buy four shrubs to replace ones lost last winter. One was a callistemon (red flowered bottle-brush shrub) and the second was a tender myrtle so we were asking for trouble there. But I also lost two hardy fuschias. I only bought one replacement which was yet another tree paeony - at least I know they thrive in this garden and did not mind the cold winter. So I still need some more shrubs. I will try to get to our local nursery this week. 

Anne and family came to lunch today so we had a large lunch party with the guests and then we walked on the common.

I did get up early this morning and write up the notes to go with the samples to Complex Weavers Fine Threads Study Group. My contribution is the Tencel woven on the Megado. They want 43 copies!!!! I managed to print out all the copies before breakfast. Then when everyone had gone home, I ironed the Tencel sample, cut it up with a roller cutter, and used archival double-sided tape to stick the  sample to the notes. It is all parcelled up and ready to be posted tomorrow.

Tomorrow I must attempt to deal with my computer problems. Tonight I am about to return to the Newbury Coat weaving.

Thursday, 12 May 2011


First I would like to thank everyone who has sent their condolences and expressed good wishes. I am touched by the amount of sympathy and good wishes I have received. I still find it very difficult to talk to strangers. When I went to the Stroud Festival day of talks, I could not bring myself to speak to anyone. Although the emotions and reactions all seem very peculiar - and rather selfish, it seems that I am not experiencing any thing that other people don't. So I am not 'peculiar' just rather normal.

Some of life is strange. Yesterday I went into Worcester (20 minutes drive) to have a hair cut. I realised when I came out of the hairdressers that I did not have to rush home to relieve a carer - something which had become part of my life.  I could, for example, browse the shelves of Waterstones. And I did, bought all sorts of oddments, then went to The Cotton Reel which is a Quilters' Shop and bough 7 or 8 toning colours in each of blue, grey/black and red-black. Later this month Dorothy, my sister, and I are doing an on-line course 'Inspired to Design' by Elizabeth Barton (see here). It is really a quilters course but only the last lesson is about a quilt and I shall avoid/change that. I have a great respect for Elizabeth Barton. In her blog, she asks all sorts of uncomfortable questions like 'Why am I doing this?', 'What am I hoping to achieve?'. I first saw her work at the Festival of Quilts -  ruined factories by a canal, complete with oil slick on the water. I am looking forward to the course.

You are saying well how is the weaving going. It is not going anywhere. Yesterday afternoon I went back to bookbinding. Got on nicely with two books. I hope to finish 'Christmas Carol' next week and I might even finish my new DayBook. Then Anne, my daughter came to stay the night and then today I have been working as in earning money designing antennas. Only the computer refused to fire up and I failed to install the program on a second computer. After an abortive morning and lunch, I decided to have another try with the original computer and this time it fired up. So it is all working but none of my programs will read the files I have been sent so I had to ask for replacements. These have come, I can read them but have a  set of queries about them which have been emailed out. 

Interestingly when I was having coffee this morning and feeling gloomy about work, someone quite different rang and said 'You remember the project which - - -  Well it's come back. You interested?'. Yes I am. I might just go back to work.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Newbury Coat Re-enactment

I have run into all sorts of trouble with weaving the handspun, most of which is due to me not checking on things! I should have done a wrap! but I just accepted ' This is woven at 8 epi'. I thought the yarn looked a bit thin. When I came to start weaving, I got 50 ppi!!!!! A wrap, when done at last, said 20 epi so I resleyed to 16 epi. The yarn I used at the start to get 50 ppi was thin and, when I changed to someone else's spinning which was in the next lot of yarn, the cloth  was nicely balanced. I attribute the yarn being much thinner than expected to the fact that the Guild has been doing a lot in the Longest Thread contest in the past few years.  Anyway cloth is now being produced. It has to be said that it is not easy weaving. The warp is disintegrating and I have a cloth covered in pins where new warp threads have been put in. However this weaving is being done for two reasons

1) to have a representative piece of cloth to full and get final dimensions
2) to go through the process ahead of 25/26th June and check on procedures. One addition to the processing is to name an 'inspector of handspun' who will choose which bobbins of handspun can be used in the warp and lay aside anything that looks a bit loose for weft.

I have lived with this coat for so long that I wonder if I have ever written down here what the Guild is up to.

In Newbury, in  June 1811, a local landowner bet a local mill-owner 1000 guineas (a very great deal of money then) that he and his mill could go from sheep to a coat on his (the landowner's) back in one day. The mill owner won his bet and the coat is still around to prove it. A re-actment was done in 1991by Kennet Valley Guild in a time of 12 hours 36 minutes and 26 seconds. It was decided (not sure who by but certainly not the Guild) to do it again in 2011 as it is 200 years since the original date. The event is to be held in the Newbury Corn Exchange. So now you know and expect to hear a lot about it in the next 6 weeks. If you are around, please visit us. See this article for more details.

It is a logistics nightmare. To do the test run last Saturday, there were 19 spinners and 7 or 8 weavers winding the warp. There will be 40 spinners on the day

My biggest headache at the moment is getting two large floor looms warped up with ghost warps into the Corn Exchange. It has to be done with a ghost warp already installed and then  the true warp can be tied on to save time. We have to weave about 3 yards of cloth on each loom. Then the cloth has to be washed and waulked to felt it, dyed in an indigo vat, mangled then dried. and then made up. All the sewing is by hand , of course. We are splitting this across two days, 10-4 each day. The real problem is drying the cloth after it has been dyed (indigo vat). It will be mangled and put on tenterhooks but is going to take some time. I would love it if it could be left to dry over night but I doubt we will have got to that stage by 4 pm. Of course, in 1811 they did the event on one day - no worrying about staff in the Corn Exchange having to be paid overtime if it was done in a true 12 hours.

Today I am going back to the Bookbinding class.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Over the Weekend

I spent Saturday and Sunday away from here. On Saturday Kennet Valley Guild was practising for the Newbury Coat Re-enactment (June 25/26 at Newbury Corn Exchange). 19 spinners managed to produce 800 gms of spun yarn in a short time and the weavers wound a warp from some of it. I now have this at home and will start putting it on the Megado today. I don't think it will be easy as the yarn is sometimes quite tightly spun. The idea is to weave a typical length. It will be the same width as the final cloth but about 2.5 yards long rather than 3.5 yards. The intention is to finish the cloth as it will be done on the day and see what the shrinkage is like.

I spent yesterday evening, replacing tie-on cords on the Megado's sectional warp beam.  I followed the instructions faithfully several years ago when  I set up the loom but the cords stop well short of the back of the castle. I have always thought they could be longer because, if you are only using shafts 1 to 4, you could get another 12 inches closer to the fell-line. Anyway the cords are all now lengthened by 12 inches.

On Sunday I attended a day of talks at the Stroud Textile Festival. The talks were billed as weavers and technology. All five speakers have moved away from weaving only. For instance Ptolemy Mann who weaves wonderfully coloured ikat pieces also does a lot of work as a colour consultant for architects and has designed the internal and external colour schemes for several hospitals. Laura Thomas  embeds yarn and weavings (particularly Leno weave) in acrylic blocks. She has recently done 'stained glass windows' for a museum by embedding yarns in glass. Asha Thompson has developed a method of weaving metallic yarns into fabric which has be used as inter-connects for electronics. Given my background in electrical engineering, I found this is really fascinating. One interesting fact is that (I am guessing) they were all under 40.

In between times I have managed to continue with the tidying up program. I managed to clear up the garage on Friday so that I can now consider a dyeing session. When I have time for it that is. I have to weave some woven shibori immediately the Newbury Coat cloth is finished. And I will have to dye that fabric so maybe it won't be too late before I get the dye pots out.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Two Burmese Pieces

I have done some tidying up. I got the Tencel scarf off to the States and spent some time sorting out shelves. I did manage to finish the haori. I need to get a photo of it with me inside. Today we are dyeing at the Bourneville class so I have reviewed projects and realised that I need various bits of fabric dyed in grey and/or brown so have collected them together.

I had a wonderful present this week from my Burmese friend who has been to visit his parents. He brought back two lengths of fabric for me - having asked exactly where they were made because he knew I would ask that immediately!

This one is woven by the Karen Hill People who are on the borders of Burma/Laos/Thailand. He brought me one two years ago which is similar in weaving techniques but the patterns are quite different and much smaller scale. That one is in green and black.

This piece is from the far North of Burma, next door to Nagaland (India) This is a length of fabric with embroidery on it. To me it looks Indian and like a skirt length. A close-up of the embroidery is shown below. The colours of the embroidery are very carefully chosen and are white and blue. Lovely.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Deadlines Met

Yesterday morning I got all the samples off to the States yesterday for the Complex Weavers Study Group on Tied Weaves. Then I settled down to stitching in all the ends in the four pieces of Tencel. I have ended up with three scarves and a 2 yard-plus length, all 12 inches wide. When these were pressed and photographed, I found I liked the first one best. After washing, it hardly shrank in length but went down to 11 inches in width.

This morning at 0630 I was pressing it to finish the drying. An hour or two later it was wrapped up ready for posting.

But I have yet to tell you of the events of yesterday afternoon. This scarf is being submitted to Just Our Yarns in the States for an Exhibition and the closing date is tomorrow. When I went to register, the website had no facilities for anyone who lived outside North America!! It doesn't say that in the rules! So I emailed them querying this and, an hour or two later, it was open to anyone anywhere (well more or less). So I registered. But it does mean they don't have any other submissions from outside North America yet.

I have been working on and off on a textile piece about Africa and did a bit more last night. I have taken to pinning work in progress up at the end of  the corridor to think about what to do next.

Today I spent in a Study Day at Birmingham Botanic Gardens. A lovely hot day and lots to see, draw and photograph. This was with the Bourneville class. 

The next few days had better be spent tidying up. I still have all the stuff I brought home from  the Pop-Up weekend scattered around the house.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Two Haloes and a Eureka Moment

The first halo is for getting up at 6am on Sunday and clearing the logjam of letters, bills and papers which have been piling up since before I went to Dundee. By 9 o'clock, everything was filed, letters had been written, cheques had been signed and I have a list of people to be phoned first thing on Tuesday after  Bank Holiday Monday. 

I then went to Stroud, to the Textile Festival and listened to Sue Hiley Harris giving a lecture. It is very interesting to hear about teh inspiration and methods of an artist but I wish she had not given up weaving in silk (see her silk jacket here). Now she is a sculptor working in paper yarn and hemp.

I went round all the exhibitions which were open. Notable items were enamelled and etched metal sheets from Jessica Turrell especially her Script Series  and from  Corinne Gradis who works in mixed media. Both very much worth a look.  The Subscriptions Rooms in the middle of town had an exhibition by the SouthWest Textile Group (sounds similar to the Midlands Textile Forum. This had two or three pieces by each of a number of artists. Very much a mixture. Some really nice shibori (arashi) and a wonderful piece in organdie by Carole Griffin - not a good photo but good enough to give an impression.

Irena Boobyer did this piece of shibori (arashi - pole wrapping.

On my way home, I was thinking about weft yarns for the latest lot of caladium leaves. I had tried a pastelly dyed cotton - just looked white, and pink lurex which was quite nice but not space dyed. I suddenly thought 'Well, I don't have to use cotton. Do I have any wool or silk space dyed in brighter colours?' and then the Eureka Moment. I space dyed some bright red for Multicoloured Warp 2 (the one in wool and silk) and I have a lot left. And it worked!!

The secret is that the yarn was dyed in small lengths, one to four inches, round the skein so there is a lot of variation.

And the other halo? Well I got home from Stroud at teatime and set to with the aim of finishing the warp before I went to bed - and I did. So today I cut off the piece I need for samples and finished all the ends neatly, then zigzag stitched everywhere and cut it. The write up is finished, printed and the samples are pasted in. Tomorrow they get couriered to the States.

So what have I left to do? Well plenty. There are a lot of lengths of fabric littered around the house. I must deal with the Tencel lengths next. To be honest, I could do with a rest from weaving and might just go and do something else this evening.


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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.