Saturday, 31 August 2013

Second Day at Home

We arrived at Heathrow at 0615 am and were in Reading waiting for trains at 0830. I caught a through train and got home at 1130. After that, washing was the order of the day. Everything has been washed  and is dry, waiting to be ironed. Post needs I dealing with and shopping for food.
By this morning, I was rested and had a list of things to do. I had forgotten that I had not finished with the Meyer 12 shaft loom which still had the warp on it from the Summer School.

So I wove off the last two samples using a weft of bamboo/cotton and lambswool and put one sample through my washing machine set to 40 degrees. The second unwashed sample is on the right and the shrinkage is about 40%. I was going to put the second sample through the machine at 60 degrees but I reckon 40 is quite enough. That is enough working on that warp and I have cut it off and tidied the loom up. The next weaving project is to weave as many scarves as I can from some handspun and natural dyed woolI have in the stash. There is a lot of yarn and I am hoping to get four scarves out of the one warp but I still have the sums to do. I have decided that I have a new rule. I have to complete at least one project before I  start on a new one. So this week should see me complete a few things! After all, I am not going away until next July when I go to Sweden. The house on the Aland Islands is booked and I am looking forward to spending time before and after the holiday looking at Swedish weaving. And if Drottningholm is putting on an opera around that time, that will be a magnificent bonus.

Of course I am going to Vienna and to Antwerp before that but they do not count as they are only four days each. And we are having a great get together at New Year to celebrate my eldest daughter's 50th birthday.

I do have paperwork to do and will start on that later today.

Friday, 30 August 2013

San Camp First Day

This is a very unusual place. We flew from Joburg to Maun in Botswana and then in a tiny plane out to the desert, it broke my RAF friends rule of 'Never fly in a plane with one engine'. Rather bumpy and nothing much to see except desert - shades of the Taklamat. Very posh tents which are 1940s. With mahogany furniture and chota hasuri, it keeps reminding me of my childhood. I spent the first ten years of my married life trying to persuade Michael that he would like to get me a cup of tea and a plain biscuit in bed every morning. Anne has just pointed out that I could buy a Teasmaid for this purpose and I will do just that.

Very Small Plane

Drinks at sundown in the desert. Note the array of bottles and the canvas washhand basin with five gallon drum of water for washing. This really brought back memories.

The camp in the desert

A bat eared fox

Alex having his head used as a lookout point by a meerkat. I have loads of meerkat photos which are to be downloaded to Anne when I get home. They keep us very busy here and there has not been much time for ourselves. This morning we also saw a lioness with two cubs but she was very unfriendly and we drove away quickly. The lions here are solitary and not used to vehicles and humans as they are in Nkwali. They are also much larger. No standing twelve foot away and taking photos here!!

I slept very well. I suspect because the night is not full of anything but wind. At Nkwali there were hippos grunting a few yards away, baboons barking danger calls and all sorts of rustling noises which were very alarming especially when they sounded like elephants. Not helped by the knowledge that there were watchmen round the camp all night. Well they would not pay watchmen if they were not needed, would they?


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Joburg Airport

A last drive in the desert starting at 0730am, then a four seater Cessna for an hour. Then hours at Maun airport. The Botswanans don't believe in time keeping. Then to Joburg where we are now waiting a flight to London. So it is all over. A great deal to be said for both camps but I would not come again. Anne is determined to come back with the whole family. Me, I am looking forward to getting home to looms.

I have posted some blogs written during our stay in the desert but Google does not like one because it has a lot of photos and takes a long time to upload. I will do this tomorrow when I get home.


End of Summer School

The Summer School is over and I am back home with a huge list of things to do, mostly leading up to going to Africa next Sunday. So I inspected the clothes I want to take, putting them to be dry cleaned,washed or as is. Two loads of washing have been done and a lot of tidying up. I have not unpacked the stuff from the course as I must mend an error or two in someone else's warp. I brought it back from Guild eight days ago and would like to return it (mended, of course) before I leave.

I learnt a few new techniques at the course by Laura Thomas. False leno, a technique which involves incorprating random skips into tabby which produces a nice textured effect and a bit of fulling. The photo below shows my samples after being put through Laura's washing machine at 60 degrees. They have shrunk by 50%. The effect is rather nice and I will try this again to which end I bought some of the same lambswool as Laura uses.

The draft is of three blocks and floats of lambs wool have been created which, when washed and shrunk, pull the bamboo/cotton warp up. I like the one at the bottom best. I threw a weft of bamboo/cotton with every weft of lambs wool so that is pulled up into little loops. It feels really soft.



San Camp Fifth Day

Apart from seeing more meerkats, we went for a walk with the Bushmen in the evening and they showed us how to dig out a scorpion, how to catch birds, they made a fire from sticks, dug up bulbs from the desert to eat and to drink from. All very strange to us and we were very inquisitive about everything.

A tuber to drink from

Bushmen walking home

Some of the women

It has been incredibly hot midday but cold enough first thing to look for a sweater. This morning we spent a long time with the meerkats just observing. There were only us three as everyone else has moved on. And tomorrow we start the long journey home. Here to Maun in a little plane, Maun to Joburg, Joburg to London where we arrive at 0630 on Friday morning. I hope I can post these blogs in Joburg airport.


San Camp Third Day

Last evening we went quad biking on the salt pans. Very exciting and especially when the stars came out- Milky Way and all. There is nothing out there. No noises, no vegetation, no insects which is a plus. This morning we looked at more meerkats.

And saw a very old baobab said to be more than 5000 years old because it has started shrinking.

Livingstone carved his sign on it as he passed by. Anne and Alex went out in the heat of the day because the lioness had been sighted and saw her eating her kill. I opted out. It was too hot outside and I was very comfortable.

I have taken a lot of photos of trees here. Most look dead and are waiting for the rains but there are a number of thorny shrubs which are carrying flowers like mimosa. But note the thorns which are two to three inches long.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Nkwali Second Day

Another drive in the morning. More leopards, antelopes, birds and wart hogs. The latter two insist on moving away at high speed when humans appear so I have only limited photos.

Here is one of a bee-eater which I did manage to take. He. Is about five inches long.g

And here is a zebra. The tails are like well made braids, very regular in black and white with a black tassel at the end. I must try to get a photo.

A picture of the river crossing. We have taken to crossing a little downstream - by driving across. Unnerving. Yesterday evening we drove north up the main road to cross into the park at the main entrance. A different kind of landscape there. Rolling meadows with lots of grazing animals. One meadow had impala, warthogs, giraffes on it. When it gets dark, the driver's helper uses a powerful light to search for night animals. And we saw a couple of leopards. We watched a male leopard first as he searched for food then after 20 minutes or so, there was a ferocious snarling and a lot of movement which turned into the male chasing a female leopard up a tree. He sat at the bottom of the tree waiting for her but she was not having it. So he wandered off. After a while, she came down, had a sniff around and a hyena arrived feeling hostile at which our hero returned and the hyena retired rapidly to a great deal of snarling. All of this drama was lit up by a search light from our vehicle. I don't see why the animals ignore the light but there you are.

And I had a few textile thoughts this morning, to do with dead. white tree skeletons seen against a dark green background. I have not quite worked out how to do this yet. Weave the background and discharge it with a screen print of a tree. I will have to check but I have a feeling discharge paste rots silk. I wonder if a screen print using Seta colour would work or possibly that would run too much. Watered down acrylic paint. It sounds as though drawing is required as a start. Fortunately the current warp on the Megado is long enough for experiments. Manutex?

Off for tea now. The food is exceptional. I particularly like the salads at lunchtime. Anne and I have taken to writing down how we think the more interesting dishes are made.


Nwali First Day

The flight from London was in uneventful and tedious. We were met at Lusaka airport which we were not expecting but the man was very helpful indeed, collecting baggage, getting it onto the next plane, getting us checked in and so on. The flight to Mfuwe was on a small plane - 38 passengers and full. Then a drive of an hour to the Lodge where we arrived about 1130. On the way, there was lots to see

A village with a market

Giraffes and baboons, hippos, birds. I am not doing well on taking photos of birds. The d****** things insist on flying away. At the camp, we discovered that a safari drive was organised for us starting at 1600 hours and we saw all sorts of animals. A lion,lots of buck, even more birds and a leopard.

And elephants

Then back to the camp for dinner and collapse into bed. I forgot to mention that South Luanga park is on the opposite side of the river so we drove downstream for a couple of kilometres and crossed by what the locals call a pontoon which it is not. A pontoon to me is a wooden bridge which floats. This is a raft which is winched across by two men working very hard. After all, our vehicle is a long wheelbase Toyota Land Cruiser!,


Nkwali Fourth Day

We went to Kwasa village yesterday. Definitely startling. We went into a class room and the class stood up and sang a welcome song. I felt like saying 'Hold on a bit, we are not royalty'. Later they put on dances for us.

Dancers and drummers on the left. I managed to get close ups of all the dancers faces which have worked well.

Children in the classroom. This is about one third of the class. We saw the library - enough to make you weep. I looked through the jotters of two of the girls and I am guessing that they are two years behind the equivalent age in the UK. There are 750 children in the school and about five classrooms so they run a shift system. It must be hard work for the teachers but the teacher who showed us round was very proud of his students. A minimum of 50 per class.

We also saw the health clinic, one doctor plus one nurse for 9000 people. The nearest hospital is 60 miles away over bad roads. An interesting discussion on HIV in which he said that Zambia's effort to educate everyone about AIDS meant that the rate had really gone down and people were no longer afraid to seek help. The hospital verandah and grounds were crammed with people, all waiting for the weekly HIV van to come round and see them. I took no photos as I thought it would be rude.

We were then taken to a traditional medicine woman and, in some respects, it sounded like mumbo-jumbo. But I do wonder because some of the treatments were sheer common sense.

Part of the traditional medecine woman's pharmacy.

Making moonshine!!! We were given some to taste. It was like gin.

And we were given lunch. Corn meal cooked and really like thick corn flour and just as tasteless. Chicken (one of their scraggy bantams) and pumpkin leaves cooked with various herbs and tomatoes. Both of these were delicious.

The kitchen and the cook.

They went to a lot of trouble for us. I rather think this is a more organised chiefdom than many and I think they are out to promote tourism and get money for their facilities. Our safari camp organised this and were at pains to tell us that we could give any money as a donation for the school which would be more appreciated. And we should not go round handing out money to everyone.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Nkwali Third Day

More of the same except we were taken on a bush walk. We were surprised to find that an armed guard from the Park Department had to go with us, rifle and all. We inspected footprints and droppings and - -. The evening had a highlight which was watching elephants wade across the river. Unexpected by the guide.

The other group had a much younger baby which hung onto its mother's tail in the deep bit of the river.

You can see the nicely braided tail on the zebra here. These were of a herd of 20 or so.


Monday, 19 August 2013

In Lusaka

The journey to Heathrow was hilarious. My train was cancelled due to engineering works on the line. Well they do it on Sundays but there was no warning given. So since that route was closed, I took a train to Birmingham and it was a slow one which dived off to the NorthWest of Birmingham and entered from that direction. Malvern where I live is South of Brum. Then I took a train to Leamington Spa where Anne lives, got off, met Anne and Alex and we all took the next train to Reading and then the rail bus to Heathrow. So the journey took me more than five hours instead of less than three. Then the usual wait and then off. We were met at Lusaka which we had not expected and ushered through the formalities and into a lounge to wait for the next leg which is Lusaka to Mfuwe.

So we have not experienced anything of Zambia as we have not set foot outside the airport. Nor since any wildlife!!!


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Brighton Lanes

We went shopping in Brighton Lanes yesterday morning. These two needle felted and knitted people were in the cafe window where they always have newly knitted specials. I acquired various other odds and ends but the real treasure was 
a Far Eastern reed. I have seen things like this on looms in Cambodia. This one has fine carving as decoration on both sides and the original reed made of reeds! I found it in a junk shop labelled as 'wooden wall decoration £8.00'. I paid for it before I told them what it really was and they were slightly upset when I told I had got a bargain.

We set off from Brighton to Ruth's house in my car at 1400 hours. The journey takes 75 minutes but we arrived at 1730 because the police closed the M25. A nightmare journey. I am now home and have started on the last few jobs before I leave for Africa tomorrow, The first jopb was to make a list of urgent jobs and I have better make a start.

I do intend to blog while away but, as in China, there may be no access to the internet so the blog will be uploaded as and when I have a connection.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Billy Budd

I made several mistakes yesterday - all in timing. I had not realised what a distance I had to go so instead of arriving at Brighton at 1430 I turned up an hour later. However we got to Glyndebourne by 1645. Time enough to get a glass of champagne and wander round the garden, admiring the flowers and the people. It was a fine evening so the people having picnics were lucky. I had opted for a bought dinner since the last time we were there we had a very wet, windy and cold picnic.

But to the performance. It was first rate with Mark Padmore singing the Captain, all the singers very good and the layout magnificent as the inside ribs of a wooden ship. There were cannon to be rolled out too. And yes I did cry in the next to last scene. A wonderful performance. I have seen five or six productions of Billy Budd, maybe even more but the only one to equal this was at Birmingham with the Welsh National Opera where they had Robert Tear as Captain Vere. And a whopping great mast centre stage where the sailors shinned up and stood on the yardarms.

And now I have to return to earth. Going shopping in the Brighton Lanes this morning. Looking forward to seeing what the knitting cafe has in its window. I have seen a knitted model of the Brighton Pavilion and a working Ferris wheel! I will take a photo.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Progress towards Sunday

On Sunday I leave for 12 days on safari in Africa with the time split between South Luanga and Botswana (for meerkats for my grandson, Alex). So I have inspected suitable clothes and washed most of them. They are all ironed and laid out ready to pack. I have a list to which I am adding items as I think of them, like binoculars. Michael bought a good pair but they are heavy! I have also answered urgent letters, paid bills and gardened madly. I got round to planting the plants I bought at Hampton Court Show some weeks ago.

Today I am taking a loom back to its owner and going on to Brighton - Billy Budd at Glyndebourne this evening. I have warned my daughter that, if the production is any good, I shall weep buckets in the last act.

I have finished weaving a scarf on the Summer School warp but have not cut it off as I want to weave a substantial length in lambs wool to put through my washing machine at various settings.

Oh and I finished preparing the Guild Newsletter and it went off to the printer at 11 pm last night. Since no blog is complete without a photo and since my garden has never looked so good as it has done this year, here are some highlights of the moment.

The campsis is even better. This is the best it has ever been.

And the hibiscus ditto.
A garden pot from France with a background of two sorts of crinum, pink and white and agapanthus. The roses are having a second flowering, the hollyhocks are rampant. There is crocosmia everywhere blazing in orange and scarlet and there is an enormous crop of pears and apples. What a summer!!!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

End of Summer School

The Summer School is over and I am back home with a huge list of things to do, mostly leading up to going to Africa next Sunday. So I inspected the clothes I want to take, putting them to be dry cleaned,washed or as is. Two loads of washing have been done and a lot of tidying up. I have not unpacked the stuff from the course as I must mend an error or two in someone else's warp. I brought it back from Guild eight days ago and would like to return it (mended, of course) before  I leave.

I learnt a few new techniques at the course by Laura Thomas. False leno, a technique which involves incorprating random skips into tabby which produces a nice textured effect and a bit of fulling. The photo below shows my samples after being put through Laura's washing machine at 60 degrees. They have shrunk by 50%. The effect is rather nice and I will try this again to which end I bought some of the   same lambswool as Laura uses.

The draft is of three blocks and floats of lambs wool have been created which, when washed and shrunk, pull the bamboo/cotton warp up. I like the one at the bottom best. I threw a weft of bamboo/cotton with every weft of lambs wool so that is pulled up into little loops. It feels really soft.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

More on the Summer School

Yesterday we had a half day off and most people went to see the Welsh National Woollen Mill. Debbie and I went to the Botanic Gardens instead. It had rained hard on Sunday but was bright and sunny yesterday and we enjoyed the walled garden, the photographic exhibition and the dome. But we enjoyed the tree trunks most.

This is one of the seven or eight tree trunks. One of them had small children climbing on it. They were all immense and seem to be African. Each had an informative plaque telling the name, locale and uses but there was no overall explanation of why they were there. Anyway wonderful.

Everyone seems to be progressing steadily. I have about run out of things to do and I think I will weave a scarf tomorrow on the grounds that I might as well do something useful. Others are weaving damask linen, making bags, weaving on Inkle looms. This evening there was a Silent Auction at which I acquired a nice book on Art Deco textiles.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Still at summer school

I got ticked for implying that the KV Guild was a collection of wine-swilling play girls. We are not like that at all. Last evening was spent in helping two members decide what to weave for the rest of the week without much success. In other words, we made frivolous suggestions and they rejected them.

Yesterday I was warped up and ready to go by lunchtime. But I had brought my loom with the warp wound on as had one other person whereas everyone else had to start from scratch on an unknown loom. They are mostly 16 shaft table looms (Harris?) and quite unwieldy. So I spent the afternoon weaving a few samples from the yarn I had brought for weft. This morning the tutor is going to talk to us all about the lift plans. Three people by the way are on computer controlled AVLs with 24 shafts. I have some photos but they are for the record, not very pretty. My choice of weft yarn has so far been yucky.

Monday, 5 August 2013

At the Summer School

The Indigo vat went off well.This is the remnants of the vat used for the Newbury coat in 2011. I perked it up with more indigo and sodium hydro sulphite and lots of people went off happy. Although one person complained that it was too dark a blue! I dyed a couple of skeins myself, one cotton chenille which has turned out well. At the end of the day, I threw out what was left in the vat as I think two years is quite long enough.

Rosie brought me some fine wool as in 2/30 from the sale at the Whitchurch Sale Mill. Lovely stuff. I must use it. I have plans for a number of scarves which I want to take to an exhibition in September.

On Saturday evening Cally Booker arrived from Dundee and we spent the evening eating curry and gossiping about weaving etc. On Sunday I finished off a load of small jobs and we drove to Carmarthen by way of the Welsh Botanic Gardens. It rained all the time and the only thing we appreciated was a photographic exhibition of flowers and gardens. Then on to the Summer School where the next few hours were spent chatting, finding out where we were supposed to be and generally sorting ourselves out. There are six Kennet Valley members and Debbie Richardson managed to get us all into the same flat. Result, six people sitting around in the kitchen late in the evening, eating biscuits and drinking wine and knitting!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Ever Decreasing Circles

On Thursday I decided that I had to ignore completing my jacket and get on with preparing for teh weekend. So I warped up the Meyer with bamboo/cotton in chocolate, mint and raspberry stripes. By 11pm I had wound on about 4 metres of the warp and by 9 am on Friday, I had it completed. Threading will be done next Monday when the tutor gives me the draft.

I went into deepest Herefordshire later to look at a venue the Midlands Textile Forum is going to use. It is a large secondhand bookshop in a couple of barns in a very small village. Interesting! And intersting books too. It is called Aardvark Books.

The rest of the day was spent getting ready for a Guild Day which is today and collecting everything needed for the Association Summer School which starts tomorrow (Sunday). I had to get up early this morning because I am running an indigo vat today and needed to make up some more indigo mix ready for use this morning. A fine thing  - to be in the garage cooking up chemicals at 0630am! It is a lovely morning and I walked round the garden and realised

that the campsis is in glorious flower all over the south wall and the roof.

Here is a close up. Each flower is four inches long. And also

one of the hollyhocks is black! A red black I grant you but that is only obvioys if you peer at it closely.

This is what happens in you turn the four colour double weave in black and white in both warp and weft. It looks slightly better if red and white are used in the weft.


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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.