Thursday, 31 October 2013

Kennet Valley Guild Exhibition

At last I have got home and sorted out the photos. For any reader who is a KV Guild member, look at the Guild website because all the photos should be there shortly. Meanwhile I will post one or two here to show the variety of work.

 Knitted, crocheted, felted, woven, you name the technique, we can do flowers in anything!

And lots of other things too in the way of bags, scarves, jackets and hats.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

La Fille du Regiment

We attended a performance of La Fille du Regiment at the Opera house here in Vienna. The production is that of Covent Garden which I had seen with Natalie Dessay who is better than today's performer. But Flores is still the hero. I saw something I have never seen before in an opera house tonight. After Flores' great aria, there was a great roar from the audience and the applause went on for more than five minutes. And it only stopped because it was clear that he was going to sing it again. And there was an even louder roar after the encore. 

Other things we did today were the photographic museum, the Vienna Ring  tram, and a lot of shopping. We also had lunch in a very posh vegetarian restaurant. The full works as though they had a Michelin star. So a successful trip. Tomorrow we return to the UK. We have 2 hours free in the morning and will probably go to the architecture museum.

I did look at some Indian textiles. Shawls in various techniques but I did not buy anything.


Yesterday we went to Schonnbrunn Palace. Lots of people there and a warm sunny day. It does not seem like late October here. We walked and walked and then went back to the hotel to rest before setting out for a vegetarian restaurant. Today we attend the opera in the evening and go shopping during the day. We might get to the photographic museum as well.

Still no solution to the slow connection and so no photos.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Der Rosenkavalier in Vienna

I would write up my day at the Guild exhibition but moving photos around on the iPad is proving difficult because the Marriott's system is so slow. So you will have to wait until I get home.

On Saturday, Madi, my granddaughter, and I set off for Vienna. Today we have done four exhibitions and an opera!!! Three of the exhibitions were in the Albertina and were Matisse and the Fauves, Russian modern art and modern Art in general. The Matisse got a bit samey after three or four rooms. There were three artists who turned into something else shortly afterwards for which they were justly famous. In the case of Braque and van Dongen, their later, more famous, work was so different that the Fauve stuff was not easily identified. But Raoul Dufy's paintings of later were developments of his Fauve work. He was unable to hide his essential cheerfulness about life!!! The Russian work belonged to Gazprom. The nicest thing was a set of photos of knitted berets being worn. These were photographed from the back and were printed at three times life size. Mounted side by side, they looked like barrel cacti. The last exhibition in the Albertina contained a number of Richters.

Then we visited the Mozart house. They have a problem because they do not own much that is relevant to Mozart, a couple of autograph letters and a letter appointing him as court musician. So they fill the space with Goethe and his colour theory which is interesting but not relevant.

The Opera House is very large and has three rings of boxes with two galleries of the gods above that. Lots of marble statuary and gold paint. And a very good performance with Renee Fleming as the Countess. Sold out. Nothing else to say except that there is still music inside my head.

Tomorrow we do Schonbrunn Palace. The biggest problem is finding places to eat for Mafi who is vegetarian. So tomorrow we are going to try a recommended vegetarian restaurant.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Double Weave Samples

The Voyager has been warped up and I have woven a small set of samples on it.

Five in fact. Two of separate cloths, two tubes and one with a join down one selvedge. On the loom there is a stitched double cloth and the start of a warp and weft interchange sample. So I am all ready to weave samples at the Guild Exhibition tomorrow. I will take lots of photos and post a few when I get back.

Now I must go and lay out clothes to pack for tomorrow ready for going to Vienna on Saturday. I remembered to go out this afternoon and buy a black sweater and an airline bag which is a replacement for a scruffy canvas shoulder object with American Airlines written on it. A freeby from 30 years ago when an airline was an airline, by gad. The shoulder strap disintegrated on me 18 months ago and I have not been happy without it. It is for the iPad, magazines and books to read and shoving last minute presents in it bought in airports. It is much posher than the airline bag but I wonder if it will last 30 years.

Talking of lots of years, last night I had dinner in a Cheltenham hotel to celebrate a friend's election to the Royal Academy of Engineers. People I had not seen for years were there, including one I met first 40 years ago. I can remember his marriage and meeting his young son who is now studying string theory for his PhD. He himself is an eminent professor in London now. The group was a collection of academics and business people with one thing in common. We all worked on the same kind of scientific spacecraft! Because of looking after Michael, I have dropped out of the engineering/physics world and do not keep up. On the drive home at midnight I decided I ought to. I might subscribe to Scientific American as a start. I don't read the journal sent to me by the Electrical Engineering lot (rather boring but then I was always halfway between physics and engineering) but I do read with great care the Journal of Royal Academy of Engineering. Oddly enough I recently had a missive from the Institute of Physics wanting me to take part in some shenanigans which I declined.

I am halfway through reading Penelope Lively's new book 'Ammonites and Leaping Fish' which is about growing old, well sort of. The combination of these two events is unsettling. Do I have to stay at home and do textiles? Suddenly I have itchy feet. Perhaps I should relocate to Arizona and run a diner in the desert.

A long time ago, British Aerospace sent me to SouthWest America, in particular to Arizona. I was enchanted, the desert was in flower. I scandalised the Company management when I got home and they asked how I got on. I think they were thinking of  'have you brought a contract home'. I said 'God has promised me that, if I am very good, when I die, I can go live in Arizona'. An enormous number of people still quote that back at me. Actually I did bring a contract home.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


I spent a blissful two hours in the bookbinding class, ironing the wrinkles out of some pages! With a very special electric iron for paper! I have managed to repair all the pages that were torn. In fact I brought everything home and continued working on the three books until all the damaged pages were mended. Next I shall put the endpapers on two books. Not on the Webster because that has lovely red marbled paper from the Victorian era. It is a bit scuffed but I think it is better to use that than replace it.

I have completed all the framing and hung the pictures. Finding a space was difficult but they are all up. I have resolved to stop buying works of art, pictures and ceramics. 

I realised a few days ago that I have a course to give in ten days, most of which time I shall spend in Vienna. And I had said I would bring a multicoloured warp along for the students to practise warp and weft interchange. Well nothing had been done, not even a decision as to yarn type. It is now warped up in 2/6 cotton and ready to go. I am killing two birds here as I will take it to the Guild exhibition on Friday to demo on. I have also written a PowerPoint presentation on Double Weave. Why is it that an old presentation is so useless when you look to reuse it? The samples have been collected together, mine and other people's as well as suitable books. I think I have covered most requirements.

Pioneer Loom

This is a view from above of the Pioneer loom. The front and back beams pull out and there are hooks every inch across the edge of the aprons. This makes it possible to warp up, thread and sley in one action since each thread can be dropped into its heddle and its dent. The photo shows the reed with its cap on for weaving but the reed itself has no top.

This is a different view of the heddles showing that they are fixed only at the bottom and have no tops. You will note that the warp is spread which is because the heddles 'walk' away from the centre. The handbook mentions this and says the heddles should be pushed back into place which is not easy until you get the knack. It needs doing after every inch of weaving, say 20 throws. All in all, an unusual loom with a lot of time needed to get used to it. There seems no point in using it UNLESS you are are going to rethread and/or resley while weaving because weaving is very slow.  Although I intend to use it for resleying, I would be wary of rethreading. The Complex Weavers 2014 entry is clearly not going to be woven on this loom! But I ahev come up with a plan for using the Megado.

Yesterday I went to the print class and cut two lino blocks out of the eleven needed for Sir Ptarick Spens. Next time I will practise printing on the press. The tutor is very keen that Hot Pressed paper is used but I may not be able to print the poem on such paper so we are agreed that the first thing to do is just to print on all the suitable kinds of paper I can find in the house. The fall back position is that I print the lino cuts on the correct paper, scan them into the computer and print that but the effect will not be so good. One thing I have realised is that mentally I had decided that Sir Patrick Spens would be a hardback but bound in Japanese style. That makes a big difference to the print layout are I need folded paper. I am wondering about a one section book.

Malvern had three glaziers until recently where I could get picture frames glassed but one went bust, one abandonned doing picture framing and the third uses too thick glass. So I took four frames to Leamington Spa over the weekend and had them properly done. I finished off two pictures last night and am about to finish off the other two. At last the nice piece of gold work bought in Kuala Lumpur is framed!! Now all I need to do is find somewhere to hang the pictures. The other pictures are an interesting selection, an ink drawing by Michael which is tiny but lovely, a print from the Brussels Print Museum  and a photo from the Blue Mountains in Australia. Trouble is that I cannot say the framing project is completed because I have one more frame which was not quite ready for glassing last week. That one frame is for a rather nice batik of fishes, again from Kuala Lumpur which I miss visiting.

Today is bookbinding day. I am repairing three books for Derek, my son-in-law. One has the spine present but hanging by a thread and unusable, the other two had no spines at all. So I charged Derek with getting pictures of the spines in good condition for me. He sent them within 24 hours. He got them by looking on ebay to see if any were for sale and using the photos there! I would never have thought of that.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Unspecified Ones

I have discovered that the Unspecified Ones responsible for the current traffic chaos are working on a Flood Alleviation Scheme which is sorely needed in Leamington Spa. The river Leam is about 200 metres away and has got very close to Anne's house several times recently. It has flooded seriously here about four times in the last few years. Not that that makes me feel any better about the traffic.

I have been working on the Pioneer and thinking about it. Wendy Morris is right about thin threads. Even with a 2/10 cotton, the threads jump out of their heddles so I have to check before every weft throw. And the warp needs to be kept at very high tension to keep most of the threads from jumping out. I actually had a broken thread in the warp due to the tension, never before in my experience.

The first conclusion is that a thicker thread should be used. I am not a great fan of 2/6 cotton but maybe I have to use that. 2/20 cotton is my style currently. My original idea was to use the loom with its ability to resley as a kind of limited fan reed, that is, just in one section of the warp. Certainly I would not want to rethread as I think it would be difficult to get right. When I post a photo of the loom, you will see that there is a forest of half heddles present and it is difficult to work what is going on. I speak from the experience of correcting two threading errors.

The problem that I see with resleying on the hoof is that changes would have to be made every 2 to 4 weft throws. In order to make changes, I would have to slack off the tension enough to move the threads around the reed, taking care not to let the threads jump out of the heddles at the same time. The more I think about it, the more I think that the only good solution is to have the threads I want to move loose, that is not tied to the back beam, and separately weighted. In which case, I would just have to lift up that thread enough to move it in the reed. Of course, taking care not to let the thread jump out of the heddle. 

So I have to cut off the current warp and replace with a 2/6 warp where some threads are weighted separately. The back beam is going to be a mess of film canisters. 

My original intention was to weave a piece of fabric on the Pioneer for entry into the Complex Weavers Exhibition for 2014 but I have abandoned that. Early this morning I was in favour of abandoning the loom too but no, I think I will try again. Nothing like actually using a piece of equipment to find its limitations! 

In any case, I have just realised that I need to warp up the Voyager pronto to a) take to demonstrate at the Guild Exhibition next Friday, b) let the students use the week after when I run a course on double weave. The students could be just using a 4 shaft loom and I intend to warp up a warp and weft interchange draft for them all to have a go on. YSo the Pioneer will have to wait. And unless I have an inspiration very quickly, I will not be entering anything for Complex Weavers. The closing date is November 18th.

On the other hand, the Convergence yardage entry 'Ebb and Flow' is not due until January 2014 and I have already decided what to do. The draft is ready and it uses the silk warp already on the Megado. I just have to finish off the yardage for my waistcoat first. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Leamington Spa is not my favourite place

Not at the moment anyway. For the last six months they (unspecified who) have been digging up a main road just along from my daughter, Anne, in Leamington Spa and have had a major cross roads blocked. Yesterday I came over to look after Alex and Madi for the weekend while parents go to Venice. The unspecified ones chose to move on a bit today and have blocked off two additional major junctions which are close to the first one. The result is gridlock in the city and it takes a lot of extra time to get anywhere. Since I only have two functions here, taxi cab and food provider, I am a wreck. Anyway it is worse than that.

Yesterday was crisis evening. I arrived to find that Anne and Derek's flight had been cancelled by British Airways and they spent a frantic hour trying to get on another flight so instead of a civilised departure from Ruth at Heathrow, they were leaving Stansted at 0630 hours. I have had a call from them -- in Saint Mark's Square outside Florians to say they were happy.

Which was more than I was. I taxied Alex to swimming on Thursday evening and the Saab Dashboard had a weird symbol. On consulting the manual, it means Engine fault- see to it at once. I drove home very carefully. This morning I set out for a garage which was a saga in itself but eventually managed to get it looked at, diagnosed and repaired. So now I am somewhat poorer but definitely happier.

Somehow I have managed to warp up the Pioneer which is a saga to itself and is definitely weird. I have no means of transferring photos with me but will post some as soon as I get home. There are a lot of pluses in the process. Basically you warp up directly on to the loom and you can do this for warps of several yards. I have put on 1.5 metres of 2/10 cotton. Wendy Morris told me that 24 to the inch was as much as you could use without threads jumping out of their slots. My sample is only six inches wide and I have woven a few inches. I will start playing with it tomorrow.

This is just to cheer me up. Two icecreams at Florians in April 2013. One for Debbie and one for me.


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

People - and Things

Last weekend I was at Steeple Ashton where Wiltshire Guild has its HQ. I was there to teach Woven Shibori. It all went with only one hitch. I had forgotten there was an error in one of the drafts and one poor weaver thought she had something looking very odd and it did. The error was in the lift plan and I managed to work out what was wrong so that was embarrassing but not disastrous. We dyed all the samples with Procion MX and one sample was untied. It was okay so I breathed a sigh.
Then I picked up Kirsten Froberg  on my way home past Swindon station and we spent a happy two days discussing weaving topics. She had an appointment with a robemaker in Pershore (just down the road from Malvern) on Monday so I drove her over and stayed to listen. Very interesting. If you have just been appointed Vice-Chancellor of University X, you order your robe from him. So the place is full of black velvet, red and yellow silk, ermine, hat moulds for tricornes and so on. Fabulous ribbon, heavy gold motifs - - indeed everything that a textile nerd finds attractive. Kerstin has a photo which I am hoping she will email to me.
If that was not enough, the robemaker took us into Pershore Abbey and showed us the embroidered copes and altar cloths which were stored away. Quite breath-taking.

It was raining hard so we went Beckford Silk Mill and looked around. Then home to steak and kidney pie. Today we walked on the Malvern Hills before she caught a train to Gatwick on her way home.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dyeing Yarn

Two skeins dyed yesterday

Three balls of yarn injected with dye. These take impossibly long to dry so, wet or not, I wound them back into skeins yesterday and this morning they are dry.

And here they are. This evening I will turn them all into little skeins and finish off the boxes.

I went to the bookbinding class in the morning and have started on repairing three old dictionaries, doing them in parallel. Bookbinding is all about hanging about waiting so I need to have several things running in parallel. I reduced all three books to the textblock and removed the glue on their spines. Next week. I shall repair the pages which are not bad. One book needs nothing, one has something wrong with one section and the last has the front two pages in a real mess.

Robin arrived after the class and we spent the afternoon framing pictures. I stripped down an existing one, cleaned it up carefully and reassembled it. Then stripped down another one, threw away the picture (faded beyond belief) and cut a new mountboard for one of Michael's pictures. it was reassembled and both were hung. I use the downstairs toilet as a crammed gallery. A long time ago, I installed a museum style hanging system in there which makes it dead easy to change pictures around. So three works by me have been removed and will be disposed of.  Today I have two frames to make and another existing frame to deal with. These are much more important pictures and will be hung in the studio. Robin has equally busy although he got very cross. I have a cutter to make the bevelled inner edges in mountboards and he got the bevel round the wrong way on the same piece of board - twice. So he gave up and had a beer.

I am also hoping to clean up the room upstairs this morning. I can't even walk across the room at the moment.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Chelsea Physic Garden

Saturday was Kennet Valley Guild day and so it was busy, busy. Noone has lynched me yet - I can't think why. After that, I drove to Ruth's house  and watched while she and Robin tried doing one of the recipes (for sea bass) which we got at the Hibiscus day. It worked although it took two of them a lot of running around to produce four plates of fish. I am having a return match today as Robin is on his way here to frame a lot of pictures and I am going to do the pork recipe.

On Sunday we went into London and looked at the Antique Textile Fair in Chelsea Old Town Hall. Much more interesting than the one in Manchester in March. There was a French dealer there selling a small piece of quilting which was Indian 17th century and he wanted a lot of money for it. He also had a large piece of French flowered silk which was 18th century and even more expensive. Lots of lovely things. I bought an obi for £10.00. It is badly marked but it looks like mould and I think I might try to clean it.

Then we went round to the Chelsea Physic Garden and took a garden tour which was very good. It was a warm cloudless day, nore like summer than October.

Due to Robin's arrival, I cleaned up the studio yesterday and sorted out all the little skeins I have made up into boxes. These are for sale at the forthcoming Guild exhibition. The paper boxes were made by Chris Fletcher and are lovely - so much so that I don't want to write a price on them or indeed stick a label on. I was given some handspun wool to use in these boxes and, after sorting out what I had already, I decided what colours to dye the handspun - and got up at 6 am to do the dying. So it is coming up to 8 o'clock and the steaming just about finished!! I will post some pictures when the yarn is dry.

Bookbinding starts up today. I have three Victorian books from my son-in-law, Derek, to repair.

Friday, 4 October 2013

More Books Bound

Two books made using the same marbled paper. The right hand one has endpapers of the same marbled paper from Venice as the left hand one's cover. The picture of Venice on the right is by me!! These are fine but I am not sure about the one with mulberry bark paper. I have sewn it but the paper is very fragile and some sheets are very flimsy whereas a couple are much thicker and are okay. It is currently being pressed. Also the book does not have as many pages as I like. But what I do have cost me $50 in Samarkand.  I have to put the Atlas cloth onto paper for the cover which I hope to do today.
Last night as I was going to bed, I realised that I had not selected endpapers for the mulberry bark book so inspected the stash and did not like anything. So I thought of what was typical of Central Asia and the answer was roses. I hunted out all the photos I had taken of roses, chose these two and spent an hour creating this patterned paper which is very flamboyant and will scream at the cover. It will do nicely. The women in Samarkand did not bother much about matching colours - as long as it was loud, it was okay. The pink rose is from Samarkand. The bunch of red roses are from Cappadocia. Oh and I got to bed after midnight.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Cleaning Up

At last I have got to the end of paperwork so today I can do what I want - which is bookbinding. I have another textbook sewn and will finish that today and I have torn and folded the mulberry bark paper from Samarkand. This, being handmade, had deckled edges and I wanted to avoid a straight cut so I used a ruler set acros the centre of the sheet and passed a paintbrush loaded with water down the ruler's edge, then carefully tore the edge through the wet paper. It worked a treat and the edges match the original ones. I had to wait till the paper had dried before folding but the textblock is ready to be pressed now.

I have acquired several books in the last few days. The Midlands Region of the Society of Book-binders is having an internal competition to bind a Japanese book and is prepared to sell copies of the textblock to 'outsiders'. So I have bought two copies. It is properly done on very thin paper with two prints to each page. The pages will be folded and the fold goes at the fore edge. I fancy binding this and will have fun designing the covers. I still have not used some paper printed in gold and bought in Kyoto.  It is to have a box too. The Society itself is having a free-for-all in 2014, binding a book called ' Sweet Thames, Run Softly' by Robert Gibbins. It is illustrated with his own woodcuts which are lovely. The idea is that anyone who wants can bind a copy and enter it at the 2014 Conference. There is no judging. I am not a Book Designer and I am sure there will be superb designs on show but why not do what I can do, which will be to design as piece of fabric for the cover. I am sure there will lots bound in leather. That's is beyond me. The book itself is very good and I read it is two sittings.

The other book I have acquired is something I have wanted since 1981. I was ill that year and could not work for several months. I borrowed a very early copy of Ruskin's The Stones of Venice from Gloucester Library, three volumes bound in leather and worked my way through it. Over the years, I have looked at second hand copies but they were either abridged, missing the illustrations or too expensive. Yesterday at Aardvark Books, I asked if they had a copy and they produced two. One abridged and the other a Folio Society version of 2001 in a case - complete. I bought it for £20.00!!

I have been clearing out in what is known as the Fax room, although we have not had a Fax machine for several years. The shelves need to be taken down before the builder starts in on doing something about the damp in that room. The shelves on that side go to the ceiling and were Michael's province and I had no idea what was there. So after 2.5 years, I found all sorts of strange things. A whole lot of tools for making stringed instruments (I know a good home for them), stones for sharpening tools (I need them), innumerable fancy drills, far too many power extension leads, and more cable ties than I will ever use. Oh and lots of internet connections which will go to a good home. So the shelves look quite bare now and at least I know what is there. One day soon I must do the same to the cellar.  Another 2.5 years?


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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.