Sunday, 30 June 2013

RIP Lancia Flavia

For some years I have been thinking about buying an elderly Lancia Flavia. There are problems of course. Lancias rust like mad and I have not got a garage to keep it in (it was made over into a dyeing workshop some years ago) and I don't fancy keeping a car like that on the forecourt. That means renting a garage which is a pest. I have been thinking this over and almost decided to just buy one and see what happened. Until today. My grand-daughter, Madi, let it known that, should I feel I wanted company to see opera in Europe, she would be glad to oblige. So we are back to the days when Michael was alive. One of the reasons we never owned a posh car was that we spent our money on opera in Europe. I am glad to oblige. I am missing live performances. This HD stuff from the Met is all very well but it is not the same. So how about Der Rosenkavalier in Vienna for starters with Renee Fleming singing the Marschallin?

Returning to earth, here is another rose in my garden. This is a moss rose, Nuits de Young. The flowers are quite small, say 2.5 inches across. Plein de Grace, the large rambler, is starting to come out. It has maybe 100 flowers out. Tomorrow there will be thousands and I will take a picture. This rose is thug. The thorns are awful and I need to get into total protection to prune it. It is currently over 12 foot high and climbing up a conifer, not to mention swamping a six-foot trellis. I prune it every 3 years or so and it will have to be done this year.

I went over to Leamington Spa today and went for a walk with the family along the Stratford Canal, watching the narrow boats negioate the four locks at Lapworth and finishing up at a nice pub, The Boot at Lapworth, where we sat outside in the sunshine and ate a good lunch.

Yesterday I was at a meeting of the Midlands Textile Forum. We started with a long walk through a large nature reserve and then returned to a member's house to practise various textile techniques. Some people had brought their sketch books which I always find interesting. Why is it that everyone else's sketch book is so much more interesting than one's own? I did however see something that inspired a weaving draft and I must write that up tonight.

I have finished file tidying on the computers. All is now safe in that everything is on Dropbox and there are no duplicates. Another computer will be switched off tomorrow and taken out of the loop. And also tomorrow, I will weave up the rest of the spool of rust 30/2 silk and ordered enough more yarn to weave 3 yards of this design. It has worked out very well. And I plan to do some book binding as well.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Yet Another Rose

This is a species rose in the garden, very large and very spiky. I still have two more to come out.

Yesterday was a day of happenings. I have been ill for the last week and rather thought it might have to do toothache. This was confirmed at the dentist's who spent 40 minutes drilling holes in my jaw with cries of 'Mrs Foster, what HAVE you done?'. Another session looms when the current anti-biotics course is completed..

When I returned home, the computer technician appeared and it took him two hours to figure out what was wrong with the set up that it could not see the printers. Answer, you need to reset the printers to factory settings!!!! The even better bit came as he left with all the switches, cables and computer accessories which I did not want. Well 75% of them. The rest he said were out of date so they have been binned. I am rather pleased about this clearout.

After that, it was print, print, print. I have not had access to a printer since I returned from Shanghai. I have managed a major clean up of emails and answered all sorts of queries. Most of the work had to do with courses. I am running an Ikat Warping course in September, a Woven Shibori course in October and a Japanese bookbinders course in November. Two of them are completely dealt with, handouts written, everything organised. I have just started on the handout for Woven Shibori by firing an email full of questions at Wiltshire Guild. Not quite as much work as it might appear because I wrote a handout for a class held a year or two ago and that will be the starting point.

Now I come to think of it, there is a Guild acid Dyeing class in November as well.

On the textile front, I have discovered that, by getting a new cable, I can replace the current 25 year old large computer on the Megado by my laptop. So the cable has been ordered. I also ordered eight different colours of 30/2 silk from Handweaver's Studio on Wednesday and they arrived today. I should be able to get some weaving done today. I would like to get the waistcoat length finished before Thursday next week and have the warp for Dennis Walker's loom ready for that loom arrival on Saturday. He has very kindly lent me his loom for two weeks while I weave another 3 or 4 yards of fabric for my new jacket.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


The bourbon roses are out.

I even managed to sit beside the roses in the garden this morning which shows how warm it has become. I did some gardening, staking plants and young trees and pruning the tree paeonies. I missed so much this year, all the paeonies, camellias and the magnolia. It was the wrong time of year to go away for so long.
At present I am still tidying up computers which all takes a very long time. One of my problems that I have no record of the serial nos of some of the software and have had to go out and buy Acrobat again. I have a working and legal copy of Powerpoint so that has saved a lot of money. What I still need to do is rationalise the files, especially the photos between Dropbox and Web Albums. I like Web Albums (aka Picasa) because I can write comments against each photo if I want to and that is much quicker than going in Photoshop and writing text on the picture itself. But I reckon I need two days completely clear to do that and I have other things to do.
You will note the lack of comment about textiles. I am currently weaving the donsu with the textured pattern in green and gold. I am using a doubled 70/2 silk in the weft which is not perfect but I am using it up fast and I do not have enough to do a complete waistcoat. By not thinking about it for several days, I have thought of a way to use what I have woven plus another length which will be done in 30/2 silk. I have to decide what colour to get and who to get it from.

Thursday, 20 June 2013


I have finished the donsu samples for the Japanese Textile Study Group and have tried various other patterns and yarns. The result is that I am currently using a doubled thread of 90/2 silk in the weft which speeds up the weaving.
I then decided to weave enough for a waistcoat and produced a geometric design which results in more of a texture than a pattern. This is woven with a doubled weft. The other side is gold on green and also looks nice and I can't decide which side I shall use.

Here is a close up. Ignore the shadow at the lower edge.

This post is entitled Solution which means I have worked out how to get the weaving organised. The donsu is slow weaving at 60 throws per inch and I will never get it finished in time to weave the length of fabric I need for July 23rd. Also I want to weave a piece for Convergence 2014 yardage and details are not likely to be published till August. So I have arranged to borrow for two weeks a table loom which is wide enough. I only need four shafts for the fabric and it will take no time to weave. I will wind the warp before it arrives and just devote myself to it for ten days!!!
BT came along on Tuesday and installed a Wifi hub. The result is that the laptop and two other computers are all speaking to each other and to the internet. I have switched off the two Linux machines, destroyed the hard drives and taken them to the tip along with a twenty year old enormous screen. I used that monitor but have moved Michael's very nice large flat screen into my complex of computers. The office looks bare! I am getting rid of loudspeakers, USB hubs et cetera on Malvern Freecycle and some things have gone already. So I am down to two computers and a laptop from seventeen which is what I had when Michael died. I still have a very large elderly computer running the Megado but am thinking of using the laptop for that. Then I could rid of the last old computer.
I still have things to do with the computers like getting a high class acrobat program, not just the reader which costs nothing. But today's job is to assemble the Shuttle, the Guild's quarterly Newsletter. I am glad about the weaving solution. I have been weaving all this week and do not have much to show for it.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Back to Weaving

I started the weekend by making up a silk scarf. The white scarf is in 90/2 silk and has warp sections which are alternately crammed and loose in the reed. This effect can be seen in the photo above. It was woven several years ago but never used. Last year I warped up the Megado with a 140/2 silk and wove a piece for the Association of Guilds exhibition which was not submitted. When I mounted it, it was not good enough. However I had some warp left and wove a band in overshot with several colours. So on Saturday, I applied the band to the scarf by hand and it looks fine. I decided not to machine the two together but to pin it up very securely and hand sew as tidily as I can - which is not perfect but is okay.

This is a shot of my samples on the Megado - donsu. I was trying out different colours, including a gold thread which does not show up the pattern well. Neither does the grey-blue show up. The other colours show up well. You can see towards the top where I have reversed the draft. I want the flowers on the green background of the lower section but right at the top is a reversed draft which I shall use from now on. Because this is a satin, weaving the right way round, means raising most of the shafts and this is inclined to partially raise the unwanted shafts so the fabric is not perfect, though the errors are difficult to see. Much looking at the underside with a mirror.

A close- up of the donsu. Now that I have woven a bit, I need to decide what I am going to do with this. Because there is a high ppi, it is slow work and I have about 10 yards of warp left. Why did I think I needed 10 yards of fabric which is 22 inches wide? I will use some up as samples for the Japanese Textile Study Group but that will not use much. The fabric is quite solid/stiff and would make a nice waistcoat. It is unsuitable as a jacket lining but suitable as a jacket fabric. But I don't need a silk donsu jacket. It took two hours yesterday to weave six inches. That did include hunts for different yarn colours. Even assuming I could weave at 6 inches per hour, it will take me 30 hours to weave the whole length. I had better start thinking now. Three yards of fabric would make a waistcoat. I wish I knew what the convergence yardage was for 2014. Does anyone know when this will be announced?



Sunday, 16 June 2013

The garden

Possibly because of the very wet summer we had last year, everything has put on huge amounts of growth. I will swear there is 18 inches on all the trees

This is next door's tree plus clematis Montana from my window.

And this is a bourbon rose, Madam Pierre Ogier. When the builder put in the new window in the studio, he insisted all the shrubs in the border under the window be totally removed. I was going to just replace them and then thought no, I can do something different which was bourbon roses which I love. Move aside Central Asia I can do better than you! The rose bushes are covered with flower buds so you will be shown more of them shortly.

And these are two newly purchased bougainvilleas. They are not to be potted up for two weeks and must settle into the environment. I realise I probably cannot keep them over winter but have decided that I like them and if I planted petunias, they would not last the winter either.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Book rest

In Khiva, western side of Uzbekistan, I told of the carved doors and pillars. In a local shop, we found book rests

This was one of the most complicated and appears to be carved from a single piece of wood

And it can be adjusted in angle. I was told there were seven positions.


I can get four. Oh well, maybe with practise. It is about eight inches front to back and could take a substantial book.

Now off to draw my jacket pattern onto heavier paper ready for my class on Monday. I am looking forward to this. The day will be spent practising Chanel jacket techniques. I am going on a three day course in July to make the jacket itself. I only have 2 metres of fabric and must weave some more ASAP. That is next on the Megado when the donsu is finished.


Thursday, 13 June 2013


Both carpets have now turned and have been installed.

Here is the silk one - note the swags of red and white flowers.

And here is the wool one which is larger, heavier and a darker blue. But note the sprays of red and white flowers !! I must like this design!

Last night I attended a private view in Henley of the Berkshire guild's exhibition which is on until June 18th at the Old Fire Station Gallery. I met up with lots of Kennet Valley Guild members there and had a good gossip, culminating in supper in a Henleyrestaurant. The exhibition was very varied white weaving, inning and dyeing well represented.

Most of these items are of natural wool.

I thought the black and white tapestry very elegant. By zooming in you out to be able to see the fine detail in the white section.


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A few more photos

As you might expect from me,I acquire paper of various sorts on my travels. I have already posted a photo of the notebook with locks from Cappadocia. Below are photos of

Marbled paper from Venice
A concertina book about 1930 from China two views. The cover is grey patterned damask
Some beautiful handmade paper from Shanghai one red and one white, both printed with gold and a very odd size. 12 inches by 50 inches. I will have to cut this up to use it

There is also some mulberry paper but it looks rather ordinary. I propose to make this into a notebook with the Central Asia coloured Ikat on the cover.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Ikat and Shibori

The weather is dry but overcast which is good for taking photos of fabrics out of doors.

This is Ikat with a cotton warp which is tie dyed and a fine silk white weft. It is woven in 5 and 1 twill so the other side is very muted. The warp would be sett ( by me) at 30-35 epi for the warp yarn thickness whereas it is actually set at 60 epi, meaning it is a warp faced fabric. This type of fabric is called atlas by the Uzbekistan people.

Here is another length of atlas.

And this is what we think of as Central Asian colours!!! I do not care for these colour combinations.

And this is a spectacular piece of shibori I bought in Dun Huang. The stall had five pieces of which this was the best. I tried to discover where it had been made because it is like Okinawan shibori - but not quite. It mostly uses lines of stitching. I got the impression she was saying it was old and certainly it had been used and is staining. I will ave a go at washing it. When I asked our guide what he thought of it, he said, without hesitation, that it was old and second hand and the technique used to be employed in Dun Huang but not any more. So there we are. Whatever its provenance, it is very good.

The photo shows half the cloth. It is really tablecloth size and I shall use it that way.


Back to normal - more or less

Yesterday I went into London to the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. I have not attended it for about 40 years and it has changed a bit. It has not got as many sentimental watercolour landscapes as I expected but the styles are very mixed which takes a bit of getting used to. I rather like quite a few of the prints but laid off buying them as I have enough stuff on the walls already. Then Ruth and I went to the Queen's Gallery and saw an exhibition of paintings 1550 to 1700 which were chosen to illustrate changes in fashion. The conversation went, 'OMG, that's here?' as we inspected van Dykes and Rembrandts.

I did manage to do a bit of textile work. Before I went off to Central Asia, I wove two bags in double weave. On Saturday I tidied these up and lined them with cotton which I printed some time ago.

Another view

The second bag.

I am still suffering from jet lag so I am up early. When it is light enough, I will take photos of the fabrics I have brought back and post them. One big shock was experienced at Anne's on Saturday. I had been told that a rug had arrived with her and assumed it was the Turkish one but no, it is the Bokhara silk rug which is just as gorgeous as I remember. It arrived a week after I bought it. Now it is six weeks since I bought the Turkish one, so where is it ?


Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Here am I on the 5 th June in an aircraft 90 minutes out from Heathrow. No luck in publishing blogs yet but will do so as soon as I reach Englefield Green ( Ruth and Robin). My thoughts on the trip

I could have done without the Aral Sea and the Southern Silk Route. Nothing added to my knowledge there and it was very uncomfortable. More of Krygzistan would have been good and more gardens in China would have been very good. Especially in Suzhou. Somehow the Silk a route got lost after Uzbekistan. More about caravanserai in China would have been good. Instead we got too much about the desert. We did not get as much about textiles as I expected and also of the group of 12, only Debbie and myself were really interested in them.

Other items were the food. Particularly in China. We ate a lot of vegetarian food in China and it was mostly very good. Only two meals in China were mediocre. Of special merit were the dishes of aubergines. No two were alike and we had one which I am sure used plum sauce. The other dishes which were favourites with the group was one of French beans and chilies, and one which had chopped up fragments of vegetable plus peanuts. The food in the other countries was of the same type although the bread, when fresh, was best in Turkey.


Today was a great day although Mr Visa must be wondering what I am to.! We took a taxi to the Textile Market and everyone ended up ordering a garment to wear - except Debbie who ordered two jackets and a suit. I ordered a black wool jacket lined with red brocade - very nice. I also managed to buy some braid for a jacket I will be making when I get back home. Then Debbie and I walked to a market. I don't think we ended up where we should have done because there was not a tourist in sight. What was in sight were haberdashers, fabric stalls, vegetables and fruit all mixed up and mostly on tables or on the road.

We bought some very silk and admired the peaches. Then took a taxi and walked down Nanking Road, buying scissors, knives, handmade paper and books on the way. We came across an art shop where we visited their gallery. The scroll paintings were fabulous but I would need to sell my house to buy one. Worth the visit and ended the day nicely. We got back to the hotel on foot and I did not feel tired. I tell you all I am fitter than I have been for years. The question is how to keep it up when back home.


We took the bullet train to Nanjing and were bussed out to a museum, only to find it was an old palace and not the Nanjing Museum. So we bussed across Nanjing ( pop 8 million) and found the construction site ŷof the museum which was closed in 2012 for rebuilding. A deal of angry discussion then took place since the itinerary was settled ages ago and someone should have noted this. So we were dumped in the bazaar area and wandered about. Debbie and I found a likely looking restaurant - full of Chinese having lunch - and joined them. The best aubergines dish yet!!, and lots of delicious green tea.

The city is full of waterways and there are lots of houseboats.

We walked into a shop selling ceramics and were bowled over. The photo is of their larger items, mostly 10 to 12 inches high. I did buy an ikebana vase in earthenware and a wooden stand for it. Debbie splashed out and bought a celadon green incense burner of porcelain. It had some wonderful works of art. So this partially assuaged the anger caused by the museum debacle. Only everyone is very anxious about tomorrow now. We are driving to Suchow which is a long way.

Suzhou on our last day

June 4th was the last day. On the fifth we all go home. So it was nice that Suzhou turned out special. It is a two hour bus ride from Shanghai and first we went to No 1 Silk Factory where we saw yet more silk worms chomping their way to becoming cocoons and yet more cocoons being unreeled. I think I understand the process now! Then we saw jaguar looms four of them. The main production has been moved out of the city so we did not see that. We were then let loose in the shop. I was interested in yardage but the brocade from the jacquard looms was not of pleasant designs nor was the simpler silk fabric. We have seen much better designed fabric further West. But I did buy two metres of an ivory/black geometric design to be a lining for the Chanel jacket I will be making in July. After the silk factory we went to a very unChinese cafe for lunch where we ate good pizza and drank first rate coffee. And then to the highlight of the day which was one of the gardens of Suzhou. Superb. I cannot think why more gardens were not included in the trip. This is the only one but it is rated as one of four best in China.

It is quite small but every square foot is used sometimes twice. You have a window out of courtyard into a second courtyard which has a window showing another bit of garden beyond. Very three dimensional - and a wonderful collection of bonsai. The photos below give a flavour of this wonderful place.

Later we made it to the silk museum where we saw five drawlooms in operation, including one which gad a draw boy on top manipulating the strings controlling the pattern heddles. The weaver only throws the shuttle, the draw boy does all the difficult work. I intend to write this all up on my as- yet-unstarted website!


Xian has a mosque but it is not at all like any other mosque I have seen! It is built like a pagoda and the decoration is flowers and birds and dragons. The minaret is no more than a high pagoda, nothing tower-like about it. Lotuses growing in basins of water and centuries old bonsai.

There was a lively market around the mosque. Some of it was tourist tat but mostly it was for the locals who were all eating on the hoof. Lots of strange food for sale. Afterwards we visited the White Goose pagoda. A whole room telling the life story of Buddha - in jade of various colours. And another doing the same in carved wood - spectacular.

But we were pushed for time and I did not get to see the document display which is based in documents brought back from India to set up Buddhism correctly in China. Then it was off to another Emperor's tomb, complete with an army of servants. This is only one third life size and nothing so extensive as the Terracotta Warriors, nothing like so touristy either. The layout was first rate and we had a good guide. Much superior to the Terracotta Warriors in my opinion.

Then to the airport for a flight to SHanghai, arriving at hotel at 1030. Today ( Sunday) we are having a day off to do what we like. This is the first such day we have had in the whole trip and the group is scattering in all directions. A group of us are heading for the Fabric Market, some are off to see the pandas at the zoo, some are going to the Bund. We meet again at 0700pm for dinner and to compare purchases.

Internet is not functioning here - again!!!


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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.