Thursday, 26 February 2015


I have never been keen on ballets like Giselle or Swan Lake, all tutus and languishing. But in the 1970s, Michael and I used to attend the Edinburgh Festival. My parents lived there and were only too happy to look after our daughters. And once we attended a performance of jazz ballet which was an eye opener. Roll on several decades to Malvern where the Theatre Complex has modern dance performances surprisingly often. And last night was the annual treat - the Richard Alston Dance Company. The arena was packed. You need to buy tickets as soon as booking opens which is two or three months in advance. The audience is a real cross-section from 9 to 90 and both sexes. And very enthusiastic. Mind you - justified.  So a real treat.
And I kept wondering about a length of silk with red streaks everywhere. And the Children of Lir got more detail. Double cloth is silk. Once layer white tabby, the other dark grey/blue undulating twill. Or should it be 4CDW in white and grey/blue? It's coming. I cannot see it yet but it is just round the corner. What I need now is a long train journey.
I have decided that the jerkin needs dark grey corduroy and have sent for some. And in the meantime, I have buckled down and started tying on the worsted warp to the ghost warp. It will take some time as there are 2200 threads I have to stand, slightly bent over to do it. So it is 30 minutes tying and 30 minutes doing something else. I will be lucky to be finished by Sunday.

While talking about dance, does any American reader of this blog know of an American Dance Company that does the Aaron Copeland Ballets? I would go to a lot of trouble to see a performance. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Daryl Lancaster

I have been a fan of Daryl Lancaster (see her blog here) fan years, well since Convergence in Denver. At that Convergence, I signed up for a conducted tour of the fashion show with her and it was an eye-opener. She was so knowledgeable about turning handwovens into garments. So I have kept a close eye on her since then.
A few weeks ago, I came across a reference to a forthcoming webinar by her (Handwoven Yardage and Sewing Tips) and signed up for it. It was run last night and was very good. I have never done one of these before and had expected to see her in person but no, one still photo of her at the beginning and we were into a Powerpoint presentation with her voice explaining things. I rate it as very good. She covered dimensions of yardage, sett, selvedge and so on. A bargain at $20.00. And there are another four to follow!
I got one thing out of it immediately. Last week I bought a sewing pattern for a zipped up jerkin. When I laid it out on the fabric, the fabric is not wide enough. No way I could do it. But after Daryl's webinar, I looked out some other fabric to see if I could find anything suitable to piece in. I have some that will do and one which is perfect but there is only a scrap of it. Could I cut up a scarf? Daryl made a dress out of scarves. I am off to rummage through the boxes of fabric again. And would someone mind telling me why I have 5 yards of black velvet devore?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

More on Dillington Hall

Front view of Dillington Hall

Back view showing croquet lawn
And there are all the correct attributes of a gentleman's country residence, cedar trees, an arboretum - and even a very large magnolia grandiflora growing against the front aspect, on the extreme right in the top photo.

I had a bad night last night. The classes went on until after 10 and I then collapsed into bed but woke at 4 am with all the music going round in my head.

Now home again and realising I did not take enough notes. I have bought two books from amazon  which I hope will remind me everything I did not note.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Bach at Dillington Hall

This weekend is a new experience for me. I have relied on Michael for fifty years to tell me what is what in music. When he died, I slowly realised my tastes were quite different. I did not mind his taste in music (Hadyn quartets) but I did not choose it myself. It took me several years to realise that the only Bach CDs we owned were ones I had bought. And there were not many of them. A few of instrumental  music, the Christmas Oratorio and that was about it. So by consulting the BBC archives of Building a library, I acquired a few more but got stuck on the cantatas. Then I bought Castle in Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner. 

And now I am at a Manor House in deepest Somerset on a Bach Weekend. And as an extra treat, I have just attended a harpsichord recital. The trouble is I used to play one before my hands gave up and now all this familiar music is rumbling about in my head. 

In another thirty minutes, it will be off to hear another lecture on Bach. All very intellectual. I am just about keeping up. Seven lectures each of at least ninety minutes!

I should say the Manor House is splendid, honey coloured sandstone, built in the early seventeenth century. Complete with camellias in flower and a magnolia grandiflora and a croquet lawn. Food is distinctly moreish. Photos have been taken but I have not brought the transfer mechanism. 

But I have thought about textiles. I am thinking about the Children of Lir and wondering if I could make and print Lino cuts, scan them into Photoshop, turn them into Thermofaxes and screen print a warp. Kennet Valley guild is having a big exhibition thei autumn and the theme is boxes. I have one in Perspex and could wrap the Children of Lir round it. Mull over it a bit longer.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Progress - of sorts

I see that it is more than a week since I last blogged. I have decided that the wool and silk piece is a warm wrap so I have finished the ends tidily and washed and pressed it. If I decide to cut it up then no harm has been done. I have wound the warp of blue and brown worsted for the reversible tweed and have prepared for tying on to the ghost warp. I have also checked the threading - several crossed threads. Interesting my errors usually are crossed threads not mis-threadings.
Bookbinding has been done. Both volumes of Mallory are now finished and need the titles adding to the spine. This is not something I do myself. Gold leaf is all very well but my problem is getting the lettering straight. And I have got a long way with the mid-Victorian book for Chris Fletcher. I am hoping to have it finished in the next two weeks.
I have also been very brave. If you want to give the edges of a text block a nice flat surface, you can use a guillotine which is a very specialised tool and I have no access to one, or you can use a plow.  Now I do not like plows. My previous experience was that you were very lucky if the textblock  ended up without deep gouges. One copy of Sir Patrick Spens was put together very badly. It was the last of five and all the first four were fine. So I took a deep breathe and plowed the bad one - and it finished up looking good with no plowed gouges. Maybe I have improved!
I have been turning out the cellars. The problem with having a house with cellars and attics is that you keep everything on the grounds that it might come in handy some day. After 30 years, there is a lot of 'stuff' around and I have been clearing out. Yesterday I cleaned out one of the cellars and found a box containing about 500 large green plant labels. I swear I have never seen this before. Inside the house, there is a bag with white plant labels in it which is all I can ever recall using. So I put the green ones on the local freecycle website and it was collected by an enthusiastic lady this morning.  I do approve of that website. I have a garage full of 'stuff' now, some of it designated for the local hospice shop and some of it for the local tip.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Wool and Silk Fabric Finished

The Wool and Silk Fabric is off the loom. It is 1.55m long and 48 cm wide and is very soft but quite thick. I do not know what to do with it. I have enough waistcoats and the Aland Island fabric will be transformed into a jerkin with a front zip and knitted sleeves and I intend to make a waistcoat out of velvet space dyed by me.  Oh well!
Most of the afternoon has been occupied with fighting with my Google website. The problem was how to add photos to the Weaving Gallery. When I did work it out, I made notes in EVERNOTE which is becoming a handy bag for all sorts of notes. It has taken me three lines to describe the events but it took hours.
This morning, the second volume of Mallory was clad in leather. When it dries, there are some details to be completed, like pasting in the endpapers. So I have turned my attention to the next project which is a library binding for a book of 1850 which belongs to Chris Fletcher. Quite a bit has been completed. It will not take anything like  the same time to complete as the Mallory.
I had thought of the next project following on from Sir Patrick Spens to be a book on the Children of Lir. I have been reading the tale in various versions and it does not provide me with any inspiration for a book. Instead I am toying with a Perspex box covered with fabric with each side showing a woven aspect of the tale. I can see this taking some time to mature!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Twisted, Tied and Dyed Warp


The yarns was wound into three identical warps of 60 threads each. These were twisted together and then bound with a thin string and space dyed. The blue yarn was dyed for use as more warp while the lavender was dyed as weft. The yarn is 50:50 silk and merino from Winghams Wools.

Here is the warp on the loom with several inches of weaving completed. The threading was a point twill and the liftplan gives a goose eye twill. It is 24 inches in width.

I have also completed one copy of Sir Patrick Spens. I did one last year and gave it away as a Christmas present. This one is much better.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Pleated Samples in Tencel

Before Christmas, I finished off a pleated scarf in Tencel on the Louet Kombo. There was about a metre of warp left and I decided to do some samples, to see if I could get them looking better and to experiment with the width of pleat.
This is better done. You need to take great care when adjusting the tension to take up the pleat slack. I do not care much for the wide pleats which have a total width of two inches. The smaller ones are nicer in my opinion. I have taken the samples off the loom and tidied everything up. My next job will be weave a very simple scarf of space dyed wool and silk. You might wonder what has happened to the Megado. It is waiting. I am bored by the slow progress and decided to do a couple of quick projects. I will be done with the scarf in two or three days and will go back to the Megado then.
I have glued up one copy of Sir Patrick Spens but it lacks a cover which I shall do today. It is bitterly cold and my feet are cold even inside the house which is centrally heated. Outside it is much worse. So everyone in Malvern is busily cancelling everything. It gives me lots of time to complete projects.
On Saturday evening I went to see a production from the New York Met of the Tales of Hoffman. Very well done as you might expect and I speak as one who has seen a lot of different productions, starting with one at the Edinburgh Festival in the early fifties. BUT, and it is a large but, I had an odd experience. The last act is set in Venice. The lead female was in a pink crinoline and piled high white wig - and all the time I kept seeing a previous production where the music was just as marvellous but the lead female wore a black bodysuit with an emerald green transparent cloak. I just did not like the costumes and the set-up compared with the previous one. It does not make any difference to the music of the Barcarolle going round in my head two days later. And I cannot remember where I saw the previous production. I do wonder whether it was a filmed version because there was magic.


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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.