Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dovecot Studios Exhibition

On Monday I drove to Handweavers Studio in the middle of London to pick up a loom. That statement hids a multitude of sorrows. The first problem was getting away from Malvern and across the Severn. After an hour or so I was still within three miles of home having given up on going North and knowing that going South was under water. There is no where to go East as there are no bridges in that direction. So I went West and got involved in a very large traffic snarl up - possibly because that it the only way into England!! The bit of the journey I was not looking forward was in London itself but that was no problem at all. Neither was getting through the middle of London to fetch up at Ruth's house. It had taken from 0845 to 1340 to do a journey which ought to take two and a half hours. The loom was duly loaded at Handweavers Studio  and is now back here - by way of Compton Verney.

I drove up from Ruth's to the Gallery on Tuesday morning and met up with soem members of Kennet Valley Guild to see the tapestry exhibition. We hit it lucky - there was a conducted tour at midday and it was very good. So after that and lunch we did teh exhibition again and then the Folk Art galleries, then tea, then home. It was a great day out and I learnt so much more by having the tour. By the way as we walked into the Gallery we met four members of Berkshire Guild doing the same as us. 

I got home to find the above waiting. It is one piece from a Popup book - an early Christmas present. The flower arrangement is 12 inches across! The book is intended to be used as though each set piece was a flower arrangement - you can see the basketwork background. There are six different flower arrangements in th beook. All very clever. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Fancy Labels


At the Bourneville class on Friday, we made Christmas present labels out of fabric. These are the finished five I made. I added more ribbon when I got home . Lashings of Bondaweb used!! I have as a result looked at the Christmas present list and realised that I have dealt with the family and just need to consider all the friends. So I must inspect what is in the upstairs cupboard.

After the Friday Class, I went round to Sarah Cage's house. She is trying to reduce the pile of 'stuff' from her mother's stash. As I said to her as I left, 'I have 2 plastic bags stuffed full and it has not made for much reduction in the pile'. When I got it home, I decided I would do a good job if I washed and ironed everything. I have a length of lining to wash and iron but the rest has all been done. So a good job done.

I have been playing with Quigley drafts for the Complex Weavers Tied Weaves Study Group. I do not yet have the original document but I do have something which has a few drafts and photos.  I can get the cloth to look like the photos but am worried about excessive floats on the back. I can't see where I have made an error but I must have. somewhere. Worry! Worry!

This weekend I have to myself and have dealt with the post, the accounts, the emails. General feeling of burnished halo. Now I must nip out and get a few more ingredients for the mincemeat. At least I don't have to go far today and deal with the floods. The bridge at Upton is under water - well it does go over the Severn. What is very agitating is that the M50 is closed because of flooding. Closed!! In all my years in Malvern, I have never known the M50 closed for flooding. Life is very serious. Tomorrow I will have to go North to pick up the motorway to go South to London.  

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Abacus

I have just read an extremely interesting book The History of the Abacus by J Pullan. It is very odd the way one thing leads to another. I was reading a history of the Moors in Spain - after being in Spain. There was an odd paragraph at the end of the book about Arabic numerals and Roman numerals and a remark that the Exchequer in London was so called because they used a chequered cloth on a table as an abacus. What?? So I delved in Wikipedia and sure enough, they used to order up a new table cloth for the Exchequer twice a year (!!!) and it was said that the cloth looked like a chess board hence the name. We are talking 13th to 16th century here. Well nothing said in Wikipedia or any where else on the web actually told me how this worked. So I looked up Amazon and ended up with one book - by J Pullan. In Amazon's curious way, it cost 0.89p plus £2.80 postage. I thought I could afford that as a gamble - and it is a wonderful book. I now know how it worked. He deals with the history going back a long way.

The Darius Vase above shows someone manipulating the counters on the table before him with his right hand and writing the answer down in thing looking remarkably like an Ipad in his left hand. This is dated 330 BC. Quite extraordinary.

It is just as well there is something to cheer me up. My session on drafting today ran in choppy waters over explaining huck. I shall have to write a much longer explanation and see if I can do better.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Study Day at the Ashmolean, Oxford

The Ashmolean Museum is currently holding an exhibition of Meiji Textiles and ran a Study session there today which I attended. There were 12 people and it was held 'behind the scenes'. We were issued with gloves and a pencil and had all other bags etc confiscated. We were allowed to take photographs. The pieces we were introduced to were, of course, not those on exhibition but are from the same period. Most were embroidered but  a  few were woven or stencilled/dyed (yuzen). This is a fukusa (gift wrapping cloth) in silk with the light coloured cloth stencil led and the other parts of the motif embroidered in silk.




There were two pattern books which had samples stencilled on to paper. These patterns look like katazome where the stencil is used to put a pattern of rice resist onto the cloth which is then indigo dyed. All the patterns in both books looked like they were indigo dyed.
This piece is woven silk. The back is woven too and not left with a mass of long floats. Could it be woven on a Jacquard loom or was it done on a drawloom? Very attractive either way. This was about the only woven piece in the  11 pieces we were shown.











 This is part of a large embroidered hanging. The bird eating an insect is about 2 inches square. Beautifully done. But the panel is too twee in its entirety for my taste and that is true of much of the exhibition. A lot of the exhibition was made by Japanese workers for the Western market which may account for the degradation from earlier textile work. 

I had an exciting time with travel. It was bucketing with rain first thing and my train to Oxford was cancelled so I decided to drive to Oxford which took about 2 hours. All okay except that I got very wet getting from the car park to the Museum and then back again. On the way  home across the back lanes of the Cotswolds, I had to turn round in a narrow lane and return to Stow because the river was so high that it was too dangerous. Indeed I could not have tried it if I wanted to because a Mini was parked in the middle of this mostly under water. The owner and various people were standing around in the rain discussing what was to be done. So I drove home a longer way through Evesham which had the advantage of passing my favorite farm shop.

So if you are only interested in weaving, I would not bother with this exhibition and, as I said above, the designs are slightly twee. There is however a wonderful exhibition of Edward Lear.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Trial by (Rock) Music

Grandmothers should not  be taken to rock concerts even when their grandsons are singing. Too loud (Why aren't they all deaf?) The balance was dreadful - I was brought up to believe that a vocalist and the accompanying instruments should be a partnership, neither should dominate. In this concert, all the instruments played as loud as they could. Two hours with my fingers in my ears. Bah!!

That was Sunday. On Monday I had lunch with some old friends near Malmesbury and went for a walk in Westonbirt Arboretum afterwards.
  The maples were all over but there was still a lot of autumn colour - including this gingko tree.

Came back home and got to grips with the drafting session for next Saturday.  I put in a bit of time and left it. At 10pm I had a thought and took the presentation up again. I surfaced at 0130 which is a bit late for me and then stayed in bed until 10 this morning. I am not sure that it was a good idea but I have an awful lot of the work completed.

I have not done any weaving or textile work for what seems like weeks. And there will not be much opportunity to do any until Sunday. On Monday I am driving to London to pick up a new loom from Wendy Morris. Now I know bought a 12 shaft only a few months ago but this one is totally different.

My mind works rather oddly and I am quite liable to have an idea out of the blue and then I have to work out how to accomplish it. This idea was definitely of the technically difficult sort. Eventually I remembered that Wendy Morris had once bought a very odd loom from NorthWest looms which might be just the thing. Not at that time knowing the name of the maker, I asked Wendy - who turned out to be thinking of getting rid of hers!!So I am picking it up next Monday. It is apparently quite heavy so I have to drive into the middle of London to fetch it. At some point I need to decide what to do with the new 12 shaft loom. Trouble is, I have a use in mind for it with a class for the New Year, probably for several months. I don't want to get rid of it but I need to think of somewhere to store it. I will then have five looms. Megado, Kombo, Voyager and the two new ones and only the Megado and the Kombo have 'homes'. I am also storing the Guild's 12 shaft loom - needed for the same project in the New Year. Not my project. I am going to warp up both 12 shafts with a four colour double weave and let the 'improvers' loose on the two looms. I did this with one loom at the beginning of 2012 with Diversified Plain Weave and I could only get enough warp length on to allow every one a maximum of 30 inches. This time, they will get 2 yards each.

Going back to my Malmesbury friends who knew Michael through work, I told them about discovering that Michael had worked on the great Aircraft Control program - which I never knew until after his death and told them of the stories I was told when I inquired about this of Michael's work friends. Yesterday it turned out that they knew about this and made a great speech about how first rate Michael was and how much very high class work he had done in software. Some very flattering things were said. I never knew! Of course I knew he was very bright and it took many years for me to face the fact that there was nothing I could do that he could not do better if he put his mind to it. Fortunately he was a very tactful person. I remember a very strange meeting many years ago when a young man connected with work came round and I realised that the conversation was very peculiar - almost as if they were sizing each other up. Then I realised that the young man was as bright as Michael and suddenly I could no longer understand the conversation. They were off - somewhere else in the world of ideas. It must have been a very lonely life.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Eric Ravilious

I had a great treat yesterday, a Study Day at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Eric Ravilious. I have always liked his work and must have started about 40 years ago. In those days you could buy the Wedgwood china he designed - not from Wedgwood itself who stopped producing it in the 50s or 60s but from a replacement china shop near Manchester. So I own a Travel teaset. Later I bought a Coronation mug and a coffee pot  from Christies. My first foray into the world of auctions.  And of course I have lots of prints including a a complete reprint of the Submarine set done some years ago.  And I have bought every book that has been printed about him. I fear I found another three in the V and A shop!! But I got 10% off for being at the Study Day.

But  I learnt a great deal about him in the five lectures and thought it was a very good day. Good value for £35.00.

 This is Newhaven Harbour. Look him up on wikipaedia if you want to know more. When I get home I will post photos of the china I have.

Today I am with Ruth - and also have Alex and Maddie with me so they all went to Windsor castle while I was at the V &A and  liked it a lot. Today I think we are off to the Savile Gardens.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Studio Bling (2)

So here is a cushion with a sequinned elephant on it from Burma (courtesy of Dr Soe Min Tun!) and adding to the general blingness of the studio window seat. I have started having my breakfast there.
















And here is a cock printed on cotton (courtesy of Linda Scurr who knows that I like chickens and cocks).



















And here's a view of some of the window seat omitted the fan reed cushion on the right and three Lee's Surrender cushions on teh left. These are (l to r)
Katazome (done by me)
Mola work from Guatemala
Printed cock
Sequinned elephant
Multiple ribbons (made by me)
songket from Kuala Lumpur

And that's the studio finished.

I also finished the pink scarf and repaired a cookery book belonging to my daughter, Anne. Very odd. It is a newish hardback with properly sewn signatures and the text block is nearly two inches thick so it is heavy. But there are no tapes and no mull and rather thin end paper so the endpapers have torn away. I removed the brown paper on the spine, scraped as much glue off as possible, plastered the spine with PVA, added three tapes and mull and then considered the endpapers. I opted for some strange Malaysian paper I have which is cotton fabric bonded to paper which is thick and strong. No need to do anything about the covers and spine. At the moment, the whole book is glued and assembled and sitting under weights. I shall take it over to Anne today. 

Other news this week is that I made wholemeal bread, the first for over two years. Not quite as nice as it should but soooo much better than anything I can buy here. I intend to keep the bread making  up and no doubt the taste will be back to normal in a few weeks. The other good news is that a bookseller came yesterday and looked over the huge pile of music Michael left even though 4 foot of it has gone to the Viola Da Gamba Society. He inspected every item and I was astonished when he took most of it. I have a pile to go to V Da G Society next week and a few miniature scores left (he took 75% of them). The result of all this is that I have a cheque to bank today and an empty 6  foot metal cupboard. By the end of next week, all the music books and music will be gone and then I have to set about selling some stuff on ebay. I have already put a book on Amazon to see how that works.


I need to consider what I am going to do at Bourneville tomorrow. We are supposed to be stencilling. What am I doing next? 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Lichfield Cathedral

The pictures above are from postcards and are copyright to the Cathedral.
Yesterday I had to pick up some papers from Lichfield so I visited Lichfield Cathedral. The fact that it was cold, raining and grey made no difference to my cheerfulness after my visit. It is a little known cathedral and yet it must be one of the oldest in the country. The first one was built in the 8th century by St Chad and the two pages shown above are from the Cathedral's greatest treasure, St Chad's Gospels which are also 8th century and were probably ordered by St Chad himself. The book which is about 20 inches by 18 has the honour of being the oldest church book still in ritual use. New vicars have to swear on it and it is carried round the Cathedral twice a year in procession. The Vikings had a go at the Cathedral in the 9th century - hence the shattered angel which is 8th century. The Viking axe marks can be seen on the right hand side. Anyone who has read the Brother Cadfael stories will have read of the Bishop of Lichfield who had oversight of Shrewsbury. It was then and still is an enormous diocese, so big that the Bishop has three subsidiary bishops to help out! 

It is an odd place in that it is very large and has a huge end window but the feeling of not one of 'I am the greatest and you should be overawed'. The feeling is more one of ' why don't you sit down and rest' Which reminds me that the Bishop and others sitting near the altar have very modern armchair seating in some fruit wood with leather seats and it does look very comfy.

The other thing in the Cathedral which they don't bother telling anyone about is a fantastic collection of commissioned modern silver church plate. The earliest piece I could find was 1906 which was a pair of vases with Art Nouveau twining foliage and flowers in relief. But the more recent pieces are very avant-garde. I don't know of another place which has a collection like that. They are of course for use in the services, not just to look at. Most have the names of the donor attached. I have this vision of a Dean or similar who bore down on wealthy parishioners with a glint in his eye and the parishioner sighing and reaching for his/her chequebook! All in all an interesting place.

I am not a religious person but two religious places cheer me up, one is Lichfield Cathedral and the other is St Paulin's in Trier. Now St Paulin was designed and built by my hero, Balthazar Neumann, the great German Baroque architect. St Paulin is quite unlike anything else he did (and believe you me, I have inspected everything he ever did, even when it was a ruined wall or two). When you go in, the first thing that strikes you is the light. There are tall windows down both sides set in very thick side walls with rebates (revets?) and between the windows are half pillars, rather plain. The windows have clear glass and the walls are painted white and you look up and up and up and the tops of the columns blossom into half attached stone urns filled with pink roses and covered in putti (small children with wings). Some are in mid flight, some hanging on to the edge of the urn with one hand or clinging on to the roses  or falling off the urn. Above the ceiling is magnificently painted - but it is nothing like so much fun as the urns of roses.

I do not have any photos of the urns. I must go back to Trier. Oh well, I digress. Better go and deal with the Guild Newsletter.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

And another project finished!!

This scarf was woven on the leftover warp from Stacey Harvey-Brown's course last month. It is stitched double cloth with one side cotton and the other shrinkable wool. The idea was to shrink the wool and get texture, only I had already space-dyed the wool warp and it did not shrink (presumably it said, 'Been there, done that'). But the weft shrank so I got folds in one direction. There was a lot of warp left at the end of the course and also a lot of the space dyed warp, so I rewrote the draft and wove the scarf you see on the left, using teh space dyed wool as weft. The woolly back can also be seen and it is all rather pleasing. Oddly enough the reason for the baby pink (not my colour at all) is that I inherited a lot of baby pink cotton  and thought I would use some up but the combination of the pink cotton and the space dyed (purple, blue, red) wool is effective.









I gave the second lecture about drafting yesterday. Everyone turned up for a second bout of punishment and one student (Jenny Smith) even turned up having done her homework - and woven the result!! A very nice piece of repp weave in dark blue and white. It has made me think. I was talking yesterday aboue 'Unique' threadings which are ones where you can only use one tie-up to get anything sensible. And  said it paid to put on a warp where you could use several different treadlings. I have heard of someone who has not changed her threading for 20 years. She just ties on a new warp. Clearly if you are a production weaver, this is sensible. Though I might get very bored!! B ut this is really the reason why I have been playing with Diversified Plain Weave for the last couple of years. Because you can keep generating nice patterns. And I was quite disappointed when I got to the end of the warp. I don't like to think of tying on a new DPW warp though. 

The house was littered with things that needed putting away and I have resolved to tidy up at teh end of a project. I got up early this morning and tidied up the lot.  Now I must go and look at the cellar as a man is coming to inspect Michael's sheet music this week.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Another Project Completed

The Bourneville class was cancelled because the tutor is ill. Which left me wondering what I ought to do today. I considered a haori made from spoace dyed cotton and even looked out suitable cotton last night. This morning I decided to abandon this project. It sounds too awful to wear. And if I won't wear it, why should anyone else. So that is deleted from the project list. 

Instead I finished the scarf woven on the remaining warp from the Wokefield Park course. The fringes need to be done and the scarf needs to be checked over for errors which I shall do this evening.

Earlier this year I wove what I called Art Deco patterns using Diversified Plain Weave. I always intended to turn this into a bag and that was done today. I used all the squared pattern and most of the circles although there was not much of the circles anyway. The pocket lining and the lining inside was made from spaced dyed cotton in green and purple. The ribbon is from the USA and was bought to trim a white silk jacket but I bought more than I needed so had just enough to trim the handles (of black cotton) here.










When Gavin Davidge, the furniture maker, delivered my paperchest, I asked him if he ever had any off-cuts which I could make into the wooden covers of Coptic books and showed him what I had done before. The answer was yes, he had some bits which he has now cut and planed to the right dimensions. This afternoon, I collected three sets of book covers from him, all of black walnut. He recommends finishing them with beeswax. I did not finish the previous set and worry about stains. So I will try to polish one pair.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Where does TIME go to?

I got home on Monday. On Tuesday, I did a large number of small jobs, visiting the lawyer, sorting out someone to look at the cupboard full of sheet and bound music, ordering up prescriptions. I also went out for an Italian meal and then on to see Brecht's Mother courage. I have seen this several times but the production was astounding. Set in the near future 2022-2036. Incredible. Lots to think about.

Today, I cleaned out the garage which is now declared finished. In addition,  I have a room full of shelves laden with Lever Arch files. Anyone who knows me knows I file everything in Lever Arch files. The problem is that I can no longer read what the titles say about the contents, even with my glasses on. So I relabelled them all in VERY LARGE BLACK PRINT and I can now see what I have!!

I did start out on a new textile project only to abandon it an hour later! I thought that I would make a haori out of a kimono roll of bingata style fabric I have. This I would line with some cotton which has been space dyed. I used John Marshall's book to calculate out the sizes of the pieces I needed and, as he suggests, drew these out to scale on graph paper. Very sensible of him because I then realised that kimono rolls are designed for petite Japanese ladies (it is 14 inches wide) and not great big clumping Europeans who are five foot six. I cannot use the bingata without seaming the haori  in unusual places and I think it would look awful. So project abandoned. I am now thinking of making an unlined haori out of the space dyed fabric.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Andalucia - Ronda

On Saturday we ducked out of going to Seville as thunderstorms were forecast for the whole day and everyone else came home soaked. We pottered into Anteqera to see the museum and were delighted. It is in an old palace with a wonderful courtyard and the antiquities are displayed in rooms around the courtyard. There is a new four storied building at the back where all sorts of other treasures are displayed. But first the historic exhibits. There are several displays relating to the dolmens (2000 BC) including flint arrow heads and axes, and painted pottery. But the most impressive display is of Roman items. Cases of glass flasks, mostly whole, mosaics from villas, painted stucco from villa walls, some first class inscriptions in wonderfully clear fonts, sacrofagi - and The Ephebe. This is a life size bronze statue of a young male and it is very good indeed. The upper floors are mostly paintings but they have a Treasury which is really a bank vault! In there they show and keep the jewellery belonging to three Madonnas (three different churches) which the statues wear when paraded round town. The jewellry was very ornate, emeralds, rubies, diamonds. All very interesting.

After spending a long time there, we walked back to the hotel in the sunshine - not thunderstorms! In the evening there was a flamenco display which was not what I expected. I had thought of it as being like the tango but it is much more a display dance than that. At least what we saw was.

Today we went to Ronda in the mountains which is one of the white towns. Mostly on a plateau surrounded by a gorge over which there were three bridges, Roman, Arab and New (1750). The town is very pretty and nice to walk round which we did happily until 1300 when the wind got up and the rain came in. After that we had a very long Spanish lunch and came home! 


The Arab bridge at Ronda seen from the New bridge which crosses much higher up. The Roman bridge is round the corner to the right.
All the houses in Ronda have to be white washed once a year and have the wrought iron painted. This is a typical first floor balcony of wrought iron.




















We were taken into  a private house which had a wonderful Moorish garden (but by this time it was too stormy for photos). But they had a good vase in the patio.




















This book of ancient music was laid out in Ronda cathedral. I wonder if they sing from it. It seems unlikely.

As Dorothy saus there has been a dearth of textiles on this trip but just to show I have not been idle


Based on tiles in the hotel. This is four designs put together.  But I do not like this particular arra ngement and I have more complicated arrangements in mind!! I have a huge list of 'Jobs to be done at home' and am looking forward to getting home.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Andalucia - Cordoba

The Roman bridge at Cordoba with the mosque/cathedral at the far side.They cleaned the bridge a year or so ago and it is difficult to believe that it is nearly two millenia old.
The Jewish quarter, a maze of little streets and a lot of tourists. Not surprising when you see the flowers everywhere hung on whitewashed walls.

This is the mosque which has been converted into a cathedral. This is what you come to Cordoba for. Absolutely stunning and artistically wrecked by the insensitive insertion of a Baroque cathedral in the middle.
The mihrab - decorated by Byzantine craftsmen.

It is difficult to express how beautiful the mosque is - even with hordes of tourists.Photos do not do it justice. It is said that the pillars and the overhead arches were intended to represent an oasis of palm trees. You do have teh feeling of being immersed in a peaceful forest. A video might capture that feeling but a photo is static and can't do it.

After visiting the mosque with a guide, we were free to do what we wanted for a couple of hours.We walked all over the Jewish quarter again and then found the city centre where we sat at a cafe in the sunshine and commented on the passersby. Conclusion Spanish women are very elegant and their style is not that of the UK. 

We should be at Seville today but opted out. There have been thunderstorms there since midnight. They are forecast for the whole of today along with 10 cms of rain. I can do without that. So I am writing things up, making lists of jobs I need to do at home and will continue designing drafts based on Moorish tiles.


Friday, 2 November 2012

Andalucia- Anteqera

This photo is pieced together from several photos of a tiled floor in the hotel. Each tile has four squares on it. They are copies of antique tiles.













This is how they are laid out with a singlelton at the crossing. Very weavable and I have created a draft based on one of the squares. Question is, can I create more and wevae several in piece of fabric. I think I can if I work in liftplan as I have to for the Megado anyway.









Yesterday a friend of Dorothy's came to visit and we wandered around Anteqera. We had lunch at  a recommended restaurant. It was really good and, in keeping with the tradition of this blog, I thought I would show you the puddings - all very Spanish, I am assured.

Yesterday was All Saints Day and so a holiday. Very few shops, churches or museums open so we walked round the town and admired the architecture. Today we are off to Cordoba.

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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.