Thursday, 28 February 2013


I have woven 6 yards of what I suppose is really tweed. I managed to do more than a yard a day when all the ski shuttles were brought into play. Given that it is sleyed at 9 epi, you would have thought I could have managed more per day but the problem was having five loaded ski shuttles in use all the time. Every four picks, the shuttle had to be changed and the yarns had to be straightened out.  Last night, it was hemmed on the loom, cut off behind the knots and all the ends mended. There were not very many of them. A tribute to the way the yarn was spun and plied, I suppose, but I had not a single broken/bust/disintegrated warp thread. One interesting fact is that it was 36 inches in the reed but 33 inches off the loom - even though I used a temple. I want a final width of 30 inches and it still has to be finished. That is next Monday's job when Linda and I are going to put it in my bath and walk on it. I wove to within three inches of the knots.
I am attending a camera class at the local Technical College and took the tweed outside for a phot session. I have ended up with four halfway decent photos - but we decided these should not be published.
I have gone back to the Quigley on the Voyager. The Kennet Valley Guild Challenge for the March meeting on Saturday is 'Chocolate' and my scarf is called 'Belgian Chocolate, White and Milk'. So I want to finish this by Friday night!!
In the stash, I found a large quantity of Shetland 2-ply from Handweavers Studio bought many years ago. The photo does not really do it justice as there is a different pattern on the back. When it comes off the loom, I will try to take a more artistic photo.
After Saturday, I will tie on the Bourrette silk warps to the ghost warp on the Megado and paint the warp. I have a photo of Castlemorton Common I want to base this weaving on.  The Thermofax I am going to use on the woven cloth  has arrived. I am looking forward to this as I have not done anything like this for ages.  Note that I said warps. I intend to weave two warps side by side at the same time. This will make sure that I have colours aligned across the two warps. I have not done this before but can't see any problems (I bet there are though).
One other point, someone said to me that I seemed to be forever weaving and what about the dusting? Well it gets done but I don't find it very interesting and so assume that noone else does either!  Recently I did turn out the hall cupboard which contains large quantities of yarn and I was horrified at the stuff in there which I will never use. So that is going to the Guild meeting on Saturday. I intend to do the same to the contents of the window seat soon.
And just in case you were wondering, my face has healed up completely. I have taken some of the spotlights out and will put them back when they are needed. I wear my visored cap for weaving under these arc lights!!!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Still Sunburnt

It is taking a long time for my skin to get better but it is definitely improving. People greet me with 'Have you been using a tanning bed?  - which shows you what I look like. I stayed away from the Megado under the lights all last week but I did warp up the Voyager and have woven a fair bit on that - wearing a visored cap which says DIAMOND on it. My grand-daughter still thinks this is hysterically funny. But it works. Yesterday(Saturday) I went back to the Megado plus visored cap and did a couple of hours weaving. I have borrowed four ski shuttles and progress should be faster. I can't remember the last time I worked with five shuttles!! The problem is that the weft colour changes every four picks and it is waste of handspun, not to mention mending time, to break the yarn at each change so all the yarn is being taken (tidily) up the right hand selvedge. To keep everything under control, I put the not-in-use shuttles on top of the castle and clip all the yarns together using a clothes peg which is tied firmly to the castle. This is a great improvement.
Other things this week? I went into Redditch hospital (NHS nice and friendly) to have my gullet inspected again. They were checking that the medication worked  and it has done. So they want to see me again in two years.  But it did wipe out two whole days of  the week.
Today I must finish off the Hockney changes. The Hockney was mounted on three stout wooden frames which proved to be a pest for storage and transport. Only one or two people had cars big enough to transport them. So it was decided (by Rosie Price) that they should be taken off the frames, have the backs tidied up and a hanging sleeve installed. Then  they could all be rolled up, put into one bag and stored/transported much more easily. I volunteered to do one of the three and it has to be finished for next Saturday. I have hand stitched down both sides, installed Velcro on the bottom edge and hand stitched that into place. Just the sleeve at the top to do.
Well, can't hang around here gossiping.   

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Severe Case of Sunburn

The weather is cold, temperatures are around 0 to 5 Centigrade. And yet I am plastering my face with creams to deal with 'sunburn'. This has been caused by sitting at the Megado for hours under the blazing halogen lights. Yes, it is nice and bright around the Megado but I can't have this. So I have re-angled all the spot lights and propose to wear a visored cap when I weave. The cap has been acquired from my grand-daughter who thinks it is very funny. The other solution is weave only during the day when there is plenty of day light. I tried that yesterday and it worked. I have never heard of anyone being afflicted this way. I would be interested in hearing of anyone else who has met this problem.
I am getting along with the handspun weaving on the Megado and it is looking good. But it is clearly not going to be finished for another week or two. There are other weaving projects I must complete in the next  few weeks and so I took the ikat off the Voyager because it is not good enough.I thought I had got the warp all nicely squared up but obviously not. I will try again in June when all the deadlines have been met.
I have rewarped the Voyager with 2/20 cotton to do some Tied Weave samples for the Complex Weavers Tied Weaves Study group. I have decided to study Quigley weaves this year. I read all I could find about them which is not a lot. And I created lots of fancy drafts but they all suffered from having floats which were too long. So I have settled on something less artistically challenging  where the floats are respectable at 5 threads in a warp set at 30epi.
And then of course there is weaving to be done for the Midlands Textile Forum.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Handspun Weaving Under Way

Yesterday (Friday) Linda Scurr came over and we wound on 7 yards of handspun which had been tied to the ghost warp. No problems at all. The wounds inflicted by the Newbury Coat are still raw in my pysche and I was frightened that we would have similar problems. Of course, the yarn for the Newbury Coat was singles and spun by all levels of spinners and the current yarn is plied by an expert spinner sohardly any problems at all.   One knot came undone while we were weaving and, after the final tying on, I found one error of crossed threads. Which is all good. It is weaving up at 9.5 or 10 ppi while the warp is sett to 9 epi. So no point in any sett adjustments. We don't have enough yarn to complete the weaving although I have enough to keep me going for a bit but then I will have to wait till next Saturday when Linda brings me the rest of the yarn.
In the meantime, I spent some time considering what I was going to do with the silk bourrette warp - in detail. This is going to be Pat's interpretation of the Malvern Hills as seen from Castlemorton Common in winter. I will paint the warp when it is on the loom  and stencil it when it comes off with a drawing of the famous pollarded black poplars. I sorted that out last night and it has gone off to be turned into a Thermofax screen.
The other thing I have done is to try knitting a fish from binder twine - I don't recommend it. There is no give in the twine and it is hard work. This took me nearly an hour to knit!
What else? Well I have been given a lovely present - an orange tree. I hope it survives in the sitting room. There is plenty of light as it is by a Southfacing  window but it might be too near a radiator.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ghost Warp Tied On


This is the first section of handspun on the warping mill. It is one complete colour pattern and there are seven of these. Each is 6.5 yards long.
And this is the same section tied on to the ghost warp. The lease sticks are in place and, at the bottom of the photo, a piece of wood is visible. This was made (to my design) for the Newbury Coat. I once watched a professional in a factory mill, tying on a new warp. I reckon he did one tie every two seconds and I believe the speed was because both threads were under tension. So I designed two hefty pieces of wood which are clamped together with the new warp between them. It applies the same tension to all threads. Two were made, one for each loom, and I managed to acquire one clamp at the end of proceedings. I have a board which fits between the Megado reed and its breast beam on which all the equipment rests.
Here the warp tying is completed. The warp has been checked and six threads put on Shafts 5 and 6 for the tabby selvedges. It awaits a helper (Linda Scurr whose handspun it is)  to wind the warp on and get on with weaving. That is happening on Friday.
In the meantime, this morning I turned out the hall cupboards which contain my holdings of cotton, cottolin and silk yarn. And I found all sorts of things which I will never use. I seem to be on the receiving of deceased textile artists stash these days. I presume that is where a large bagful of cotton and rayon knitting yarn came from. I certainly would never have bought it. I will take it to the next Guild meeting. However three cones of oatmeal coloured bourrette silk (17/3Nm)
was greeted with cries of joy and were turned into a warp this evening. I have plans to do some pieces for a Midlands Textile Forum exhibition at Craven Arms and had thought that, if I could find some silk of right thickness, I could tie it to the ghost warp when the handspun is woven up and resley it. The bourrette should be 20 epi compared with 9 epi for the handspun and so the width should be about 16inches. I am not allowed to have a width of more than 8 inches in this exhibition so I will weave two pieces side by side at the same time. This has enormous advantages because I want to paint the warp so I have several 8 inch strips hanging down forming a view of the Malvern Hills from Castle Morton Common. . Having two pieces side by side for painting will make for continuity. I would like to include the pollarded black poplars. I am wondering about turning my photos, or maybe drawings of the poplars into a ThermoFax screen. The first thing to do is to paint a picture of what I am intending to weave.
Now for something very different. For some years, I have been aware that I did not know enough about using my Canon camera which is very portable. So I have been attending classes at the local Technical College. My camera is definitely bottom of the league. Everyone else has lenses and a rucksack to carry everything they need for the camera with them. However I have learnt a lot about photography - and lots about my camera. I have even found the manual and read it! This photo is of a glass chess set. Taken in the evening classroom - with all the lights turned off and the only light coming from a few computer screens dotted about a large room. Not bad for the cheapest camera on the block. On Aperture mode with 800ASA if you must know. I don't know if the photos above of the ghost warp look better to anyone else but they were not taken using Point-and-Shoot as I used to do. I have discovered how to deal with White Balance!!! What is more interesting is that I decided at the beginning of the course that, if the higher class cameras were much better than my Canon, I would consider buying a new one for the forthcoming Central Asia trip. I didn't want to because they are so much heavier. Well now, I have discovered that the facilities are pretty good, I will not be changing it. 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Away Weekend

I have been away for the weekend - but it has all been textiles.

I had a good day on Friday in that I finished a project on the Megado - see above and stripped down the Megado and cleaned it up. Kennet Valley Guild has an  ongoing project for the weavers which is to weave an item inspired by a painting by Richter. I used the triple cloth warp which I had   on the Megado for Michael's enamels. I rewrote the draft and added a lot of green - not sure that there was green in the original but it showed up as green on printer when I printed out a blown up version.

Having cleaned up the Megado, I turned to Linda Scurr's handspun yarn and all the skeins became balls (see above). It was clear when I handled the yarn that it was too thick to make a fitted waistcoat from. On Saturday, Rosie Price and I persuaded Linda that what she really wanted was a winter cape - for which  the material will be ideal. So it is a dogstooth pattern which is 2 and 2 twill with stripes in warp and weft. I looked up yardage required for a short cape last night and decided that 6 yards of 30+ inches would be okay. The reason for 30+ is that I am not sure how much it will shrink so I am putting on 38 inches which should be plenty for draw-in and shrinkage. I will be using a temple.

On Saturday I was at the Guild weaving class. Some of the class have their projects warped up and are weaving away - all very special.  The rest of the class was heads down, threading up.  They are all being very ambitious - and it is all working out well. After the class I stayed with Rosie Price overnight and, apart from Guild gossiping, we examined some of her stash. She has some hemp yarn she intends to be a jacket. And she has spun lots of skeins of multicoloured toning silk. Just one or two skeins of each. She can't use it all in that project - it would look too bitty. But it's all lovely yarn.
Sunday I went to Aldbourne to a meeting of the Braid Society and did finger weaving. When I got home, I wound the cotton ghost warp for the Megado and then installed it. It is all ready to thread up and I want to finish that today. If I get on with it, I might get some of the handspun wound into warps as well. Some of the handspun is springier than the rest and I am worried about tension so Linda will come and help wind the warp on later this week.
So back to the Megado.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Finished Four Colour DW

On the left is a composite photo of both sides of the Kennet Valley 4 colour Double Weave. There is about a metre of it which I intend to turn into a handbag. The colour difference is  real and I have not decided which side to use - or what pattern! I have a bag pattern in a book which is nearly what I want but seems a little more complicated than I like. I have looked at patterns on the web but see nothing remotely as good. Oh well. I will just have to make up this grand pattern. The fabric reminds me of a Turkish carpet. So I may use the darker side.
I would perfer to have a 4 colour double weave on the Megado. Lifting all the shafts is very tiring.
The KV loom has been tidied up and the warp tied on again, ready for giving to the next user on Saturday. I have the Voyager ready for weaving some more ikat but have realised that the Richter pieces have to be shown at the beginning of March so I will do that next.
This morning, the studio was turned out, carpet hoovered, things put away, projects examined and listed. I found a number of stencilled/printed pieces which I no longer want and must get rid of. I also found a lovely length of woven silk (120/2) which I had forgotten about. So I ended up making a list of all projects awaiting attention. I am not listing them here but in OUTLOOK. I had also forgotten that I bought some lovely Moorish style tiles in Spain. They had never even been unwrapped!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Public at West Brom

Above is a photo of The Public at West Bromwich. West Bromwich is NW of Birmingham and was very industrial.  For those readers who live outside the West Midlands, I should explain that it is a controversial Arts Centre/Gallery/Theatre/you name it and it is in the very centre of West Bromwich. When it was unveiled a few years ago, there was an uproar. The locals thought it was a waste of money and no-one in the architectural world had a good word to say for it. The inside is even more magnificent (from which adjective, you can gather my views on it). The inside is impossible to photograph,  curves everywhere. When I walked in, I saw a ramp and thought it went to first floor. After a few minutes, I thought, 'it doesn't go anywhere'. Nor it does, you just look down on the main entrance hall from it.
Monday afternoon and it was bitterly cold with a biting wind- and The Public was very busy. I have been thinking about why it is such a success and I think that it is because no-one can be frightened of a  building with odd windows and painted pink. Most modern Arts Centres are all glass and four-square and look like posh business buildings.  Amongst all the things going on, there was a group t in teh entrance hall teaching others to braid their hair!
 I was there to pick up my exhibits from the Midlands Textile Forum Exhibition that has just finished - and to attend an MTF meeting. The exhibition went off very well and we were meeting to discuss the next few exhibitions which are

Craven Arms Discovery Centre, 11th May to 4th June 2013
Needle Forge Mill Museum, Redditch, 6th to 21st July
Ardvaark Books, Brampton Bryan (near Hereford) 16th to 29th Sept 2013
Nature in Art, Twigworth (near Gloucester) 8th to 21st April 2014.

I intend to do some special weaving for the Craven Arms one which has the title ' Stretching Boundaries' . I intend to weave these on the NorthWest loom and had better get on with it!

So first to finish the current project which is weaving a length for me on one of the 12 shaft looms - the rhubarb one. The warp is rhubarb pink and green. The lowest sample has  a fine maroon wool and a yellow 16/2 cotton. The next is maroon wool and mid-blue cotton and the top one is maroon wool and silver-grey 16/2 cotton.   I like the last one best and am making good progress with weaving a length. I have done several repeats and it does look good.  I intend to make a bag out of it.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

More on the 12 shaft Looms

Yesterday I talked to Kennet Valley Guild about 'Textile Techiques in the Far East', complete with lots of samples of fabric. It was  a bit long at just over an hour but they didn't boo!! What with one thing and another, I finished up bringing both 12 shaft looms home. This morning, I pulled out 4 yards of warp on the Meyer and rewound it because it was a mess. I think I was not quite used to checking the ratchet on the two advancing wheels every time I changed anything. They are made of wood and do not engage well. Metal ones would have been better. The warp has gone back on quite well and I tidied up the error (one) and resleyed a section of the warp. Then I  wove a sample a few inches long which looks fine. The Meyer has a lot of defects. A new one to me is that the bottom of the levers controlling  the shafts is only a smidgeon above the top of the reed so I have to hold the reed forward with one hand while I change the levers with the other hand. It does slow things up a lot.
I am currently weaving my own sample length on the Guild's clunky 12-shaft (but I have come to appreciate it). I have started by experimenting with colours and am not satisfied yet.

 Here are the knitted fishes pegged to the trellis outside. The one at the top has been painted with PVA and it is quite stiff. I think this may be an advantage but, for now, they are to get wet, snowed on and (possibly) sunburnt. I shall takie photos every month. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Net Full of (Knitted) Fishes

In April 2014, the Midlands Textile Forum is holding an exhibition at Nature in Art, near Gloucester. The director is very keen to have some of the work exhibited outside in their gardens. I might say they already have a huge permanent exhibition in the garden, dogs made from old tractor parts, mythic insects (large) made from recycled metal. Having promised that his wishes  would be met, I started wondering what I could do. I have woven a flag from acrylic yarn. This was 5 by 4 feet and has survived a number of years without showing any change. I fancy weaving a spider's web in amongst the trees but that would have to be at the last minute. I intend to go round to the Resource Exchange next Thursday and see if they have any suitable material - binder twine anyone?

When I was in Dundee at New Year, my sister, Dorothy, was having a clear-out and came across some netting of black cord with a two inch mesh and the thought  'fishes in a net' popped into my head. And then instead of weaving, how about knitting fishes? So I asked at Guild  if anyone knew where I could find a pattern for fishes and Chris Wright said she could create one. And here are two fishes knitted by me from her pattern. Thank you Chris. The yarn is 100% acrylic and I propose to peg these up in the garden and see how they survive. I have knitted another one but, following Alice Schlein's method of making fabric into book covers, it is currently plastered with PVA on one side. When dry I will do the other side and put that outside as well. The big advantage of knitting is that I can knit and watch TV at the same time!!

This is all triggered off by Linda Scurr, Rosie Price and myself viewing a textile outside in the Welsh National Arboretum. Admittedly it was in October and the exhibits had been there for some months. They had not worn well. 

I will probably weave something from acrylic yarn too but I am mulling over what to make out of the fabric. I wonder about another flag.

I have warped up the Voyager with my ikat warp and woven  a foot or so. I have got too much irregularity in my warps. The warp was wound on a straight run to minimise any changes in warp length and I carefully tied the warp when dyed into one inch bouts. This was done very tightly before putting the warp on the back beam.  I thought it was squared up nicely where I started but it is not squared up at the front of the warp. It remains to be seen whether it gets better as I weave more.

Bookbinding class again this week. I spent the time putting endpapers into three books. I have gone back to the Jules Verne books and dealt with the end papers. I printed out the whirlpool on the laserjet at maximum size and then took it to our local printer who blew it up by 30% and printed it on A3 paper 100 gsm. Very satisfactory


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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.