Wednesday, 26 April 2017

More on Milos

Walking a lot each day and taking huge numbers of photos which I shall prune severely when back home. At the moment I am transferring only a few to the iPad each day. I have to choose six each day and then e erroneous discusses everyone else's' six. I am not. So sure about all this. I find I have enough of white with blue trim fishing villages. It was more fun at an opencast mine which is still working. 



With the occasional village.

Yesterday we were in a village with a very ancient church. Of course I was the one who asked if the church if the church was ever open to visitors. The effective reply, it is nice and we found some marvellous icons inside. 16thcentury apparently.
 And then there are beaches and little harbours.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Milos is hard work

We go for 7or 8 hours a day,arrive back at our studios exhausted and grubby. The first was incredibly cold and I had not taken enough warm clothes. I am learning a lot and taking a lot of photos. Only a fraction are any good.  We have visited early Christian catacombs, a Roman theatre, an open cast mine and quite enough quaint Greek fishing villages.




So there you are. The weather has got warmer and I got a bit sunburnt today. The food is excellent and I am learning a lot from the others in the group.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Athens day 2

I had a personal guided tour of Athens today starting at 1000 and ending at 1500. No lunch and we would not have had a break at all if I had not declared an immediate requirement for coffee. And all we did the Acropolis and its museum. The textiley bit comes at the end of this blog.

So firstly the Acropolis is on top of a hill and we walked up. Secondly two cruise ships were in port and the place was full of buses and their contents. I had not realised how much space there was at the top so there was lots to see. And also the top is the biggest stone mason's yard you will ever see, complete with cranes and narrow gauge railways for shunting about vast lumps of marble.


And then there are the buildings

In the museum. These are copies and then the real thing


And the Parthenon itself, full of scaffolding and cranes.

We walked down the hill past another few little temples, an odeon and a theatre to the museum. This is a magnificent modern building which holds only  items from the Acropolis

A lot of these were excavated onsite. So loads of black and red pottery because weddings were celebrated up here and offerings to the gods made. One of the startling objects on show was a pile of spindle whorls. No photos were allowed in the display of originals but I bought a postcard and then discovered the shop had life size replicas so bought five. There are going to be five lucky spinners.


There are exactly the replica designs in that pile of antiques.

The really big surprise was among the statues. You can clearly see on these which are originals that there is paint on them. A lot of work has gone into identifying the colours and retrieving the patterns and several of the statues have a copy next to them painted up as they would have been when new. The paints were minerals, lapis lazuli, cornelian and so on. So to the interesting bit. When the women are painted, they are wearing two garments. One goes to the floor and the other over the top and belted at the waist. Each garment is decorated with what could easily be an inkle or tablet woven band. The guide was not at all knowledgeable about what yarn was used. But if you told me the clothes were of fine linen with wool braids applied I would believe you. Most, well all, of my questions were unanswered. When I got back to the hotel, I could find loads of images of the painted statues on the web. There were three samples in the museum where someone had woven part of the braid but there was no sample of the background. I have found one book devoted to the museum and its contents and will get that when I get home. It is said to be prolifically illustrated. My guide said she had attended a lecture where a loom photo was shown and from her description it was a vertical loom. I am beginning to wonder if I should write to the museum curators.

After all that and walking a lot, I was very tired and returned to the hotel. It was 1530 and definitely time for lunch which was moussaka - very good - with a view of the Parthenon. I have to go to bed early because I am being collected for the airport at 0530.

Thursday, 20 April 2017


The way I can tell it is Athens, is that,if I step out on to my balcony, I can see the Acropolis in the setting sun. See below. Tomorrow I get to visit it. Tonight I am too tired to appreciate it.

Up very early this morning and off to Heathrow. It was Terminal 2which I have not visited since they rebuilt it. Very posh, it has a Heston Blumenthal restaurant, and loads of couture shops. Air Aegean was a bit disconcerting. The staff  just talked Greek. A four hour flight then 40 km into Athens which is very spread out. Apparently in the 1970s, someone put up a tower block. Everyone was horrified and it is now illegal to have more than five floors. So a very spread out city.

I have a personalised walking tour organised for will report tomorrow evening.
I have worked very hard over the last few days. The Open Studios stuff is all hung up or laid out and the studio is tidy. I shall be glad when the Open Studios is over, end May. It has been a lot of work.

I have spent the last hour trying to get photos from my iPad into the blog and failing completely. It is a very new iPad and there has to be a way of doing this.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Working Hard

I leave for Greece on Thursday morning and the Open Studios starts the day after I get back. This bad piece of planning means I have to have everything ready for the Open Studios before I go. So today I warped up the Meyer 12 shaft so as to have something on a loom to show visitors. Not very exciting just some 20/2 cotton in a 3 shaft twill. All the planning was not helped by having the entire local family (10 in all) to lunch on Sunday. The big advantage is that we have enough food for the rest of the week!!!!

So have I done anything interesting. Well I have been trying to design a book cover for a rather nice unbound book I bought from a private press two years ago. It is the libretto of Duke Blue Beard's  Castle. And it has magnificent prints illustrating the text. That is part of the problem. The other is the book is a very odd size. About A3 landscape but taller and narrower. The other problem is whether there should be anything on the cover at all since it is well illustrated alreay and I could not match the style. So here are two trials, neither of which I like - or think appropriate.

Both covers are front, back and spine. There is so far no title on the spine. I do not like either. The top one is based on doors in Indian Palaces and I like it a lot less than the second one but not enough. I had hoped to submit this this summer to the Bookbinders but I am abandoning that idea. More thought and brooding is required.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Nothing on any loom

There is nothing on any of my three looms. I need to think about winding a long warp and am procrastinating. This topic seems to be everywhere this week. Tien Chui has identified procrastination as being caused by a problem which you do not want to face. Oh well! Might as well confess. The next Megado warp is 12 yards long double cloth 40 inches wide and of 2 colours in each face . But one yarn is actually a mixture of six different colours. I have not started winding a warp yet. I would like to have it done by next Thursday when I leave for a Greek island.

I am going on a photography course in Milos with Jacqui Hirst. And having two days in Athens to start. So I have spent time finding out if my camera when in Greece is covered by our household insurance. It is.

Most of my time lately has been spent getting ready for Berkshire Open Studios, sewing on labels, making cards from my linocuts, deciding what to submit for the exhibition which is at Greenham Common Art  Centre starting 29th April till May 21st. I might point out that I get back from Greece late on April 28th!
Market at Wokingham. My favorite stall

Buying apples
Signs of spring are everywhere. A baby rowan tree. Two foot now. It will be 20 foot high in a few years and covered with rowans in autumn.

Thursday, 6 April 2017


The effort put into the garden is paying off this springtime.
The front garden. The back garden is not so good but is coming on. However the auricula theatre is back in use.
And my auriculas are having problems with vine weevils. So much reading of instructions on packets.

On other fronts, I have got the fan reed piece finished and the Louet Kombo cleared for trials on velvet.

I spent some time taking 'artistic' photos of the piece. This is in an attempt to improve the photos I send in to exhibitions. The problem with fan reed piece is that it needs to be shown as a length so that warp can be seen.

Monday, 3 April 2017


A lot has happened in the last week, since I returned from India. Probably the thing that affects my life most is that my term of office (4 years)  as Guild Chairman (Weavers, Spinners and Dyers) ended on Saturday with the election of a new Chairman. So last week was spent printing off copies of reports, 2016 AGM minutes, AGM agendas and so on, not to mention writing a chairman's report to read at the AGM. This was in the morning. In the afternoon the Guild had a talk from Cally Booker (last year's Chairman of Complex Weavers). That appealed to a lot of people and she was swamped by people rushing to the front to talk to her when she stopped her talk.

Lots of other stuff got dealt with during the week. I downloaded all my photos of India and stuck them in file folders and looked them over. There were about 1050 phots when downloaded and I deleted a couple of hundred for being out of focus, spoilt by getting something else in, unfoccussed because things/people rushed across the scene. Most of the remainder are okay but need dealing with one at a time. What is interesting is that I reckon the photos of Sarojini Market are best. And this has lead me to realise that the photos I have taken of markets all over the world are best or at least the most memorable of my photos.

I remember in photos
- the market at Kyoto
- the markets at Samarkand, Istanbul, Shanghai, where few sellers had a stall  and they just spread a cloth on the tarmac. There were other markets on the Silk Route, the Fergana Valley for instance where they sold seven different qualities of sultanas
- the market in Holland where the Bosch exhibition was, notable for cheese and bread
- Lake Como
- Sarojini market

I have become expert in taking photos of people without them realising. Which has made me decide that I do not like posed photos. But I could add photos of Thomas Keating Limited where people had been told to ignore me and in any case  were too busy looking after machinery to pay any attention to what I was doing. So people going about their lives. That is an enormous discovery.

I finished my bomber jacket of blue/brown tweed and have worn it a lot. I have started on the last length of warp using the fan reed. It took me a weave of 6 inches to remember how to weave it. I must write up notes on this. Today I started in earnest again and wove about 40 cm. I should be finished this week.

I have also done a lot of gardening, weeding, tying up climbers, planting small plants. I have been hardening off some of my seedlings ready for planting out in the next few days.

Oh and I nearly forgot, since Cally was staying with us, we all went to London on Thursday and saw the Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain and the Raushenberg at Tate Modern. Big argument about the Raushenberg. The others thought he was terrible but I am not so sure. It is so different from Hockney that doing them on the same day was a mistake. I wonder what everyone would have thought if we had done the Hockney second.

No photos today! But I will take some in the garden tomorrow. It is looking good.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Sarojini Market

I referred to Sarojini Market in my last post but did not add any photos so here they are.

I went up to Birmingham on Sunday to teach screen printing to Bookbinders. The class was held in the Midlands Arts Centre which was heaving. There is a large park, a large café, two or three art exhibitions, classes on everywhere. The one in the room opposite was Life drawing. And families everywhere. Quite a place. The draw back is that hiring a room for a class is very expensive and I doubt if we will go there again. Nevertheless nice. Oh and the class went off well.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

A screen printing class

We got back from India on Monday evening and have endured four days of jet lag. I feel better today although I have run a screen printing course for bookbinders in Birmingham today. I have dropped in to Anne this evening and will drive home tomorrow. I tried to teach too many techniques today. I should have put all the materials for one technique into one crate. The students must have thought I was mad because I seem to spend a lot of time looking for things. Organisation was needed.

Going back to Delhi, we spent Sunday first at the Museum of Modern Art which was very good. No nonsense about Hockney or Warhol as in Japan, just lots of great Indian paintings. Then. Dorothy took me to Sarojini Market. Which was great. I took a t of photographs and I think they are the most interesting of the trip.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

India 19/03/17

This blog contains nothing about textiles but is about my family history. So you have been warned.

Life has been hectic for the last two days. Yesterday we walked up to the Mall from our hotel in Shimla. In theory it is flat. In practise that is a euphemism for not so mountainous as elsewhere. A mile walk took 40 minutes rather than 20 and we actually walked 4.6 miles and up more flights of stairs in the Municipal offices. In other words Shimla suffers from a serious case of verticality. For instance, a signpost says Police Station  and points uphill but the signpost says, not miles but 160 steps!!!

The reason why we were in the Muncipal offices was that my family lived in India since the Mutiny and ended up owning a house in Shimla. My granny lived there along with her two sisters in the 1940s and we used to visit in the summer time. I knew what it looked like and that it was on Jakhu Peak. I thought that, with an owner's name, someone might be able to identify the house. I did not expect that the house would still exist since there was a lot of land round the house and there are blocks of flats everywhere in Shimla. So we set about the Council offices which consists of half a dozen blocks of four storeys and we first looked for the planning department who sent us to the Deputy Mayor's building where someone sent us the Commissioner (MC) - top floor on another block. They do not believe in lifts! At this point, our luck turned. The commissioner could not help us but he had a friend who could and rang him up. I had a long talk to him and really he could not help without a house name or number. Which we did not know. So I thanked every one and one of the assistants followed me and said that I was wrong about the house being knocked down because a conservation order had been slapped on Jakhu in the 1940s and it was not allowed to knock any building down. Why did I not go and look?

In the afternoon, we got a car and driver from the hotel and found what we think is it. See below.
So two happy bunnies! But the drive round Jakhu was horrendous. Zigzag roads which needed a three point turn at every bend.

There was a catch to the day. We had flown from Delhi to Chandigarh and that airport had closed the airport on Sunday and our flight was cancelled. Great kafuffle with Cox and Kings and we ended up with air tickets for today instead of tomorrow and now have an extra day in Delhi on Sunday. We are now back in the Leela Palace. Fortunately we had done the most important things in Shimla and can do the rest by email.

The weather was beautiful coming down from the mountains and I got a lot of photos see below.
It is the white one.

The landscape round Shimla.

Friday, 17 March 2017

India 17/03/17

Yesterday was spent getting from Delhi to Shimla which is in the mountains at 7000 ft. So  taxi toairport, plane to Chandigarh (so far so good), car to Shimla, afourhour drive . It was motorway for the first 30 minutes then a two lane road which is being upgraded to a four lane highway all while there are cars, lorries and motorbikes trying to get somewhere. A nightmare but our driver did not seem concerned. We stopped for lunch and had very good vegetable curries. It cost £8 between  the two of us! I

The hills are incredibly steep. I took a lot of photos but it was raining and there was a lot of distortion. The best are below. We are staying in the Oberon Cecil which is 150 years old though it seems very modern so I guess it has been rebuilt. Very posh. The staff are a bit snooty whereas the Leela Palace in Delhi which is just as grand had very friendly staff.   It cannot be that we arescruffily dressed because the rest of the guests are just the same as us.  Anyway they have given us a suite which consists two large rooms and several minor ones. The devastation on the bed has to be seen to be believable see below.

Today we are off to see if we can track down our family home.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

India 15/3/17

We are now back in Delhi, having left the train at 0730 am. Back at the Leela Palace and then out with the guide Sanjay to do Old Delhi. Since there are just two of us and he took me round New Delhi a week ago, we got on like a house on fire. He suggested a wide variety of things we could do and see and we chose right! We had a fabulous morning. I will ignore everything except two items. We visited a Gundwara, a Sikh temple. This one was in Old Delhi. Firstly shoes and socks off, wash your feet and hands in running water, then into the prayer hall. Loads of people praying No tourists (except us).  They all donated a little into a large box. I contributed too and noted that most of the notes were 20 rupees. The box was removed as full three times while we were there, say ten minutes. So what happens to the money? One third goes to feeding the poor, one third to supporting orphans and one third to the hospital, doctors and nurses on site. We saw the entrance to the hospital with a continuous stream of people going in. But the biggest shock was the feeding arrangements which were right next to the prayer hall. They feed 30,000 people every day. Anyone can come. They ask only that people volunteer to do a little work like washing up, sweeping floors. We walked through the kitchens. Vats of curry on open flames, cooked rice by the ton, volunteers rolling out chapatis and naan bread, three people cooking bread over an open fire and then into the dining room. Enormous and spotlessly clean. I was more than impressed, I was bowled over. And they did not mind photography so I have loads. See below. I do not expect others to be impressed but the whole charitable side of the Sikhs was new to me. Our guide was shocked that I was so ignorant and said that Sikh teaching including charity.

After this we walked through the wedding streets. Narrow lanes with gold and silver ornaments, Sarcee said, turban material in gold and silver materials. Then to the spice market. We were taken to the guide's favourite shop and he had trouble prying me away from every shop we passed. But the one he chose was good and I spent a lot of money. They had Rose Tea which I have not seen since I was in Uzbekistan.  We spent a lot of time there and then went back to the hotel and had lunch. Delicious samosas and icecream. As Dorothy says, I could get used to this leave of care.

We are having dinner with a Doctor friend of Dorothy's.

Monday, 13 March 2017

India 13/03/17

Just after breakfast and I have tidied up. Yesterday we were at Jaisalmer where there is a large fort on top of a hill. Like everywhere else but not like because there is a whole township inside the walls including a highly decorated Jain temple. The stonework is magnificent. These houses are where the Silk Route merchants lived with houses to match their wealth. In the town below there are many more such houses called havelis.

After viewing that and the odd lake we went off for a camel ride. Dorothy and I opted for a camel cart     Which is less uncomfortable than a camel. But just as scary.

See photos below.

When in the fort, there were several stalls selling wood blocks. Many are new but the stall holder assured me that I had bought vintage ones. I do not know what he means by vintage but they looked well used. They are perfect for one of my projects and I can stop worrying about that.

The train is currently sitting in Jodhpur Station and we will go out for yet another Palace. Today is a festival day Holi, where everyone throws colours around. The staff have issued us with white clothes to put on and are very anxious that we do not get our own clothes coloured. Let us see!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

India 11/03/17

i think it is Saturday and we have done far too many palaces. Apart from that, I am having a terrible time getting photos into blogs. The last blog took me four hours which is too long. The problem is that I have two methods of writing. One can access iPhoto but shuts itself down after a very short time without saving it. The other is well behaved but cannot access iPhoto. So I was writing text in one and adding photos with the other. But it would insist on shutting there may be a dearth of photos from now on.

Yesterday we went looking for tigers. One was spotted about 100 yards away and all traffic stopped and excited Indian cries were heard. He decided to leave. I am not surprised. We saw a lot of deer and wild boar and so on. Later that day we did an ancient fort and palace. Today we did Udiapur which has a lovely station all decorated inside and out. But I must. Say I am nearly all palaces out and I am taking photos of people now. The critical bit is getting full frontal without them realising what I am up to.

Apart that, Dorothy is very excited about somethings we have seen as the basis for her Art Quilts and I am exercised about a jacquard loom. I keep producing designs which are too complicated even for a 32 shaft loom. I may review the situation after I have finished weaving the yardage for Complex Weavers. I am dreading warp that up.

Friday, 10 March 2017

India 090317

First we toured the Cottage Crafts Museum. I fell in with a weaver sitting by his drawloom in the textiles gallery. I ended up by getting an escorted tour of that gallery and was taught as bout the different weaving styles from each region. I must have inspected 100 saris. It was all great fun and very informative. Then we visited the National Museum and looked at a large number of  miniature painting sorted by region and age. Lots of different styles and I liked Rajasthan 17th century. Taxiing about the city showed a lot of lorries. So here is one!

Eventually we returned to the hotel and were taxied round to the Palace on Wheels. I had not realised that I would be addressed as Maharani! Anyway it is good and this is the place to show photos of the train.


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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.