Thursday, 28 November 2013

A List of Things To do

No, not textiles but places to visit. This has come about as a result of my travel insurer making ominous noises. It is only a few years until they will refuse to insure me. So what do I want to do before I have to stop?

Attend Milan opera
Walk the Camino de Compostela (organised for 2014)
Walk Hadrian's Wall (organised for 2015)
Visit Manaus opera house ( I have asked a tour company about this and included two other items, seeing textiles in South America and taking a tango class in Buenos Aires)
Visit HongKong
Visit Bali
Go back to Japan
Visit Yellowstone
Go back to Arizona
Attend a complete Ring cycle at Bayreuth

Can I get through that lot in three years?Hmmm?

I have promised to take Madi to South America but I would rather go in a group than by ourselves.

I am sitting in Anne's kitchen, waiting for 0830 when the traffic has died down and I can drive home. Discussing Anne's new job with the National Grid. So every time there is an outage, we can all blame her.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

An Exhibition at Compton Verney

I managed to weave to the end of the piece of donsu on the Megado. Not that it is really donsu since I created the draft. I have not cut it off as there are two or three broken threads which I want to sort out before starting on the samples for Convergence. 

Other things done today were mostly concerned with the new spare room. I have sorted out the boxes of fabric and labelled all the boxes. I have far more fabric than is sensible. 

After lunch I visited Compton Verney Art Gallery on the way to Leamington Spa where I am minding the children. There were two exhibitions I saw at Compton Verney. The first was a collection of prints from the British Museum to do with animals. Not quite what I had expected. Durer's rhinoceros was there but also several political cartoons by Cruikshank and Gilray with eminent people as animals. A lot of historical explanation. Along with this was an exhibition of an animal alphabet which had been commissioned by the Gallery. Very good, well mostly. A few were poor but most were high class. I was disappointed that the Gallery shop sold nothing of the alphabet. 

So there we are. I get the evening to myself here. So a bit of thought would be a good idea.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

At Last, A Bit Of Weaving!

It was my intention to weave yesterday but it never happened. Instead people turned up at the door to do things, see if the new spare room is okay, deliver things (several times), inspect a tree. It needs to come down - and that involved extra work for me because we live in a Conservation Area and I had to check with the Council whether I need planning permission. And I do and please take lots of photos as a record. And two men from the Council will inspect the tree. The time this has all happened, the tree will have fallen down. It has honey fungus and the bottom two feet of the trunk is badly rotted. One high wind and it might come down. Oh well. Trouble - and expense. It is by the way a large eucalyptus, over 40 foot high.

When I was thinking of going to bed, I got sidetracked on the Overshot drafts. I dyed some silk for this on Sunday and will warp up as soon as the skeins are totally dry. They were dry this morning and I have carefully washed them in Woolite and hung them up.

I went to bed past midnight, having sorted out the draft. I wanted to have two stripes of different overshot and to get that both overshot patterns have to be turned. So the two above are (left) Mary Ann Ostrander and (right) Johann Schleelinein No 120 both from Marguerite Porter Davison's book. In the first draft I did, I did not match up the two patterns carefully enough. This time, the weft repeat for the right one is 60 and the left one is 30 throws and it looks okay. So the repeat for weaving is 60 throws. Tedious. There will a lot more plain weave. I only put in enough to show up that I had it right. Each pattern needs 6 shafts and this project will be woven on my 12 shaft Meyer. 

This morning, I started the day by weaving for an hour on the Megado.  It is coming along. I am wevaing with 30/2 silk and so it is not growing at a great rate. But I reckon that if I weave for an hour and do something else for an hour, I might get it finished by Thursday.,

Monday, 25 November 2013

Endpapers and an Acid Dyeing Class

On Saturday I attended a class on endpapers run by the local branch of the Society of Bookbinders. I always feel a bit of a fraud when I attend such classes because I am not a professional bookbinder. I think it is because I am scared of leather binding! Anyway the course was great - and very timely because it covered library binding which is what you use when you have a hefty book.  And I am repairing three such at the moment. I was just about to add the endpapers but will see if I can do library bindings instead.

I got home at 1630 and set to preparing for Sunday when I was running an acid dyeing class for Kennet Valley Guild. This involved making up new lots of dye solution. The class was very successful. I had a larger class than I like and so had asked one of the most expert if she would be an assistant and that worked beautifully. So thank you Marie FitzSimmons. Most people were dyeing fibre or yarns. But two or three were dyeing silk scarves.

 These were very successful. My only part in it was showing them how to clamp the scarves. I managed to dye a couple of skeins myself but these are still in the car which is not yet unpacked.

I have a great feeling of freedom today. I have no more commitments until the end of January. The household needs some attention. Today I shall deal with paperwork which I have not touched for more than two weeks. I hope to get some weaving done on the Megado as well. It is time I got on with the sampling needed for the Convergence yardage submission. This is going to be fun. Even more so because I am going to put a bound book into the Society of Bookbinders challenge in 2014 and have come up with a design which uses some of the Convergence yardage!!  It is a set book challenge (everyone binds the same book) and I suppose a lot of the other bound books will be in leather (see above for my thoughts on binding in leather). There is a website (Sweet Thames Website) where the problem of designs are being discussed. Well, what I do best is binding a book in fabric so I will do that. I may stencil on to the fabric. It is not needed until next April but I am far enough ahead with the design to see it in my mind's eye. I might even use some of the Japanese gold foil on paper yarn I have stored away. As you know it takes me two years to do a book from the moment of inception. Six months is definitely marginal.

Which reminds me that the College has had some of my books on display since July 2013 and does not want to give them back - the Inspectors are due in December and they want my books to stay on display. Which is all very well but I do get anxious. One is the Omar Khayyam I rebound in stencilled and painted fabric and I would like it back. I have another Omar Khayyam to rebind. My sister was left a 1920s version with etchings and paintings by Frank Brandwyn. I am furiously jealous but have agreed to rebind it. The textblock and covers are okay but someone/thing has eaten the spine cover.
It spent years in Malawi.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Getting On with Things

I see it is some days since I blogged last. A lot has happened. I started out at 0730 from Dundee and drove home on Tuesday taking in a Committee meeting of the local Bookbinding group on the way. Arrived home at 1730. The new spare room has been completed, new lights, new decor, white and two shades of pink and, on Wednesday, a lot more tidying up was carried out. I managed to clear up the garage (see below for reasons) and take the garbage to the tip and the charity shop. Thursday I had a firm in to clean the carpet in the new spare room. It has not been cleaned since it was put down 20 years ago, mostly because there was too much in the room. The room is totally clear at the moment. They also did the stairs.  I ordered new beds last week and will call them today to see when they can deliver next week.

Somewhere in all of this I wove off the rest of the double weave warp on the Voyager. It is narrow but I would like to turn it into a carpet bag like the one Cally Booker made at the Association Summer School in August this year.

On Friday, I went up to London, met a few friends and went to two exhibitions. One was Paul Klee at the Tate Modern. I found this very informative but very disappointing. There were a huge number of pictures arranged in chronological order which was the informative bit. But my favorites, the ones based on North Africa, were not present. He changed his style every 2 or 3 years and it is the North African paintings I like.

After which we went to the Victoria and Albert to see the Chinese scroll painting which were out of this world. I could have stayed for hours. Very well selected running from painted Buddhist banners of 950 AD or so from Dun Huang (been there, done that) to lengthy scrolls in black ink. There was a lovely one of dragons with detailed swirls of cloud. Black and white and grey four-colour double weave? We were all bowled over.

After a cup of tea, two of the party went back to Paddington to go home and Marie and I departed to Shepherds to buy sheets of  Chiyogami, mull, Japanese book fasteners and so on.

Today I am going to a one-day class on Endpapers run by the local Bookbinders group. Tomorrow I am running an acid dyeing class at Kennet Valley Guild and must lay everything out in the garage ready for an early start tomorrow. I may have to make up some new dye solutions so have better go and start. The garage is going to be very cold and I will do it in the kitchen this evening with lots of plastic laid down.

Monday, 18 November 2013

More in Dundee

I have not seen much of Dundee on this visit. On Saturday I gave a talk on Far Eastern Textile Techniques. Judging from the number of questions and the number of people crowding round the tables at the tables to examine the samples, it went okay. Then on Sunday I gave a class on Japanese style bookbinding. I ended up with 14 students which is too many. But they all went home with one finished book and a second one, nearly finished.

Today was spent reloading my car and shopping. The shopping was particularly useful as I do not go shopping much these days. The time  was mostly spent in Dunelm, a household linen shop where I bought everything needed to equip the new spare room. Fitted sheets, pillows, duvets. Dorothy is going to make me two matching scrap quilts. I will have to make the curtains to hide the piles of plastic crates which contain fabric. But, surprise, surprise, I have two curtains woven for my daughter, Ruth, for her house ten years ago. She no longer has that house and I have the curtains. So I will remake them. 

I am hoping that the rewiring, new lights and painting will be done by now. Tomorrow I go home, taking in a Society of Bookbinders committee meeting on the way! 

I am glad to see the end of November approaching. I knew  it would be hard going with so much teaching. I said to my daughter , Anne, that my problem was that I never wrote a day into my diary for preparation of the talk/course. And she replied that I should write in two days. True, oh queen but too late for this session. The upshot is that I have done hardly any work for me in the last three months. December is free. Yippee!! You can look forward to me getting lots of projects finished. I have had a Good Idea but it requires deciding on the yarn, which I hope I can find in my stash, winding it all into skeins of a specific size, dyeing it at a Guild acid dyeing day next Sunday and warping up. It is not something I have ever done before and I think it is going to be quite special. Watch this space.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Now in Dundee

I drove up to Dundee on Tuesday and got here rather late. Wednesday was spent walking the dogs and applying paper to fabric. I am running a class on Japanese style bookbinding on Sunday and have to back the fabric for 13 students. It is a bigger class than I like but that is due to pressure at this end rather than my wishes. I did six pieces on Wednesday, took them off the boards this morning and did another eight. Now I have just discovered there are 14 students and have to stop this. I just have not brought enough materials for 14.

Yesterday Dorothy and I went into Edinburgh and visited two exhibitions. The first was in the National Library of Scotland. It was on miniature books. One of them was less than one mm square!! They supplied magnifying glasses. A beautiful little bookcase with tiny books each containing a Shakespeare play. Some are bound in leather. No photos were allowed but I managed to buy a poster which is very informative. After that we visited a Kabuki print exhibition at Museum. This did have an illustrated catalogue to buy.

All these prints have NEVER been published. I did not know that the Scottish Museum has a very large collection of Japanese prints. I must return and look into this. After that, we had a first rate Indian meal and then went to see Don Giovanni done by Scottish Opera. Very good.

This was all in the vicinity of the Old Quad which is the heart of the University. So I inspected the site of the Mathematics Department, now Geography. And I was so taken by all of this that I persuaded Dorothy to take a small diversion and check on the Natural Philosophy Department (Physics to non-Scots). The building is still there and still part of the University but that department has moved out of town. It is a dark grey large building in Scottish baronial style built as a fever hospital. Robert Louis Stevenson had a stay there before he did Travels with a Donkey. All very full of memories. It is sixty years exactly since I went up to University. I did enjoy my years there. The pavement between the Nat Phil Dept and the Old Quad has a groove in it where I trekked back and forth to the caff.

The other thing that has happened is that I am now kitted out for the family game of Murder Mystery at New Year. We went round to an antiques centre and I bought a velvet wrap, a black beaded clutch bag, a 1920 s bandeau in blue velvet and a cigarette box. Everything 1920s. Very satisfactory - especially since I can see me using the velvet wrap a lot.

Tomorrow I am lecturing on Far Eastern Textiles. Not very restful.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Working Harder than Ever

On Wednesday I drove to Egham (Ruth's house) and stayed the night in preparation for attending Bonnie Inouye's course in London on Thursday. The course was quite mind-bending and we all had trouble keeping up with the lecturer! However she covered a lot of ground  about Turned Tied Weaves plus a few other goodies thrown in. I shall take her handout with my notes to Leamington Spa today where I am looking after a grandson. I hope to expand on the notes as I read through everything.

In the evenings, Christmas and New Year were discussed. To be honest I had forgotten about Christmas and have done nothing about it, not even a thought about Christmas presents. Ruth and Robin were more interested in the food and the planning was all ready. Charlotte, my eldest grand-daughter, has taken to organising things and had written a plan. With her and Ruth and Anne (who is the world's most assiduous organiser) there is no point in me getting involved, except of course when I feel strongly about their decisions! It all ended up at Majestics (a wine store) where I spent a lot of money buying wines for a wine tasting that has been set up. I have a huge to-do list which was generated by Ruth. Oh well.

I drove home on Friday morning and got here at 0815 am. Did a huge amount of small jobs, realised I need to do the accounts for the Midlands Textile Forum which has become this morning's job, went down to the local furniture and bought two beds, two mattresses and a chest of drawers for the upstairs office which is well on the way to being a spare bedroom. Next week, the new lighting and power sockets are installed and the room is decorated.  I also got everything ready for goign to Dundee where I am teaching Japanese bookbinding. So there is a huge pile of stuff in the hall ready to be packed in the car.

And what have I done in the way of textiles? I have been weaving off what is left on the Voyager of a garish double weave. I am using a grey cotton as the weft to tone it all down.

The Voyager and a garish warp. You can see the effect of using the grey weft quite clearly.  The reason for this photo was that the Guild needs a few photo of looms. I am hoping to use the fabric to make a bag like the one Cally Booker made at the Association Summer School in August - see here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Back to Weaving

Yesterday was entirely devoted to paperwork - except for 2.5 hours spent doing the Print class in lino cuts. The good news is that, when I tried printing the lino cuts for Sir Ptrick Spens on all the different sorts of paper I have in the house, the print is respectable on all of them and especially good on Bockingford Inkjet which I wanted to use. So I need to cut the other 11 lino blocks and decide the most efficient way to printing the text. I spent most of the time practising the printing yesterday which was time well spent.  I have not yet decided whether to use a sewn Japanese binding or a single folio pamphlet. I can see big advantages in a Japanese binding. The Bockingford is 180 gsm which means it is thick when folded. It is also easier to print since I need only print on one side. I can lino print on the other. Whereas if I make a folio, it will need to be printed on both sides.

Today I had bookbinding and did a second sewing on two of the three books. This is needed to put tapes on the spine. I will add the endpapers before I go again.

The rest of the day was my own. And I spent it weaving, half time on the Megado and half on the remnant of the double weave warp I have on the Voyager. There are so many games you can play on Warp and Weft Interchange on Double Weave. What I have settled for is a single shuttle in mid grey in order to calm the colours down. And it is looking good. I will take a photo tomorrow when it is daylight. Thursday I am going to London to a day course given by Bonnie Inouye. I am looking forward. There is always something to get your teeth into with Bonnie. The title of the  course is Turn the Tied.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Another Double Weave Sample

Another set of Double Weave samples. From left to right, stitched double cloth, Warp and Weft interchange (simple), Warp and Weft Interchange (complicated). And yes there is an error in the last one.

I got through all the items from the Kennet Valley Guild meeting on Saturday - emails flying out to everyone concerned and then tidied the contents of my car away. A bit of filing left to do and then (maybe, fingers crossed) I can weave on the Megado.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Teaching Double Weave

I have been teaching Double Weave today and am not a happy bunny. I asked and was told 'treat them as beginners' and planned the program accordingly. But not true. Everyone had some knowledge of double weave. I had no fall back plan - which I should have had. But a fall back plan might have been difficult since they were all warped up for a fairly straight forward set of exercises on two cloth fabric. They must have thought it was all a waste of time and I am quite off teaching weaving at the moment. I have been analysing my teaching. Firstly the Woven Shibori course is fairly novel anywhere and some of the class were not too sure what Shibori was.  So it was all new to them. Secondly yes I teach weaving to Kennet Valley Guild but I know all the weavers individually and, in any case, they do not hesitate to tell me exactly what they want.  (A good thing too). By the way we are doing Overshot in spring 2014. That will be fun since some plan to weave it in fine silk and soem want to get isolated overhsot patterns in a sea of plain weave.

In running other courses, acid dyeing, Japanese bookbinding, it does not matter whether they are knowledgeable or not, the purpose of the course is for all the students to go home with stuff ready for a textile project or a completed book or books. So I am happy about those courses. Anyway I have done those two courses so often that a fallback plan comes naturally.

I think the moral of today's course is that teaching a basic technique to an unknown group is not a good idea since you do not know what they know already. The only positive aspect is that I have 1.5 metres of loudly coloured warp on the Voyager with which to do Warp-and-Weft Interchange. It is loudly coloured because I was using up some yarn. It was okay for samples but I think toning it down is  needed. Black? White?


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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.