Thursday, 19 October 2017

Throwing Plates

I realise that my blog is a bit boring at the moment. I cannot weave on the Megado - I am waiting for yarn to arrive and I must weave on the Kombo which you know about. I must because I must take it apart and move it at the end of November, actually by 20th November. So I dare not do anything on the Meyer. I will reserve that for the three weeks when I cannot get into the studio!! It is not that the work will take that long but that we need to have two lots of workmen in and that is what their calendars allow.

So I will cheer you all up by retailing the story of yesterday. On my photography course, there was an exercise to take freeze frame photos of something breakable. So I visited the Theale charity shop and bought a dozen plates. At first Dorothy threw them out of an upstairs window but that was too violent. So she stood on a chair on the patio and threw them while I took multiple photos. Here is one.
I got four sets of photos before running out of plates. And now have a bucket full of shards for the bottoms of pots. My one regret is that I did not take a photo of Doro6thy standing on a chair and throwing a plate on the ground with all her might!!!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Go back to sleep!!

This photo below is of Iris Unguicularis.

and it did not ought to be in flower now!! It is supposed to flower in February/March. I brought five plants from Malvern with me. (The description in the Sales notice said 'The seller reserves the right to take any or all of the irises in the garden'). Three went into a tiny border, fully exposed, at the front of the house and two in the back. This iris takes a long time settle down and you cannot bank on any flowers for 2 or 3 years after planting. They had been in place in Malvern for many years and they usually managed two or three flowers each plant per year. Here last winter (their second) all the plants flowered with a lot of blooms. And here they are showing as many flowers at once as I had altogether in some winters in Malvern. I might add that the other two plants have flowered just as well. Each flower is about three inches across. I gloat. But they do look nicer in February when there is snow.

I decided that the Tencel warp was not well enough wound on and cut off the two metres I have woven, pulled out the warp and rewound it very carefully. I am having trouble with the shafts which seem to move up and down relative to each other quite a lot -  enough to cause missed warp threads. Well back to weaving.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Basis of Current Tencel Weave

I have been weaving samples from a collection of late 18th century drafts. They are not really patterned but textured. A four shaft example  that I did had a ribbed effect on the back and you can see why from the draft. There are long weft floats and these will make the warp threads bunch up on the back.

The sample was done in white warp and weft and 20/2 yarn..
The above is a photo of the back of the sample. My thought was to weave using a space dyed Tencel  which has a long repeat and that means if you used it for warp, you would get weft stripes, albeit narrow. I thought that would look horrid and is the reason I still have this lovely yarn (From Just Our Yarns in the USA). I could not think of what to do to preserve the lovely colours. This way of using it so the colour is in the warp seemed to be the answer.
You can see the dark blue cotton weft between the coloured warp stripes.

Thursday, 12 October 2017


I am getting on very slowly with life, mostly due to the course in photography I am doing at OCA. The latest hiccup has been a requirement to photograph a landscape. Landscapes from any vantage point are rare around Reading. In fact the countryside is very flat. And what is not flat is densely wooded. So I have been traipsing about the countryside looking for suitable viewpoints and then discovering I needed a remote control and buying one and learning how to use it. And driving around Newbury and not finding a good view where I could park. In the end I found a site close to home at Aldermaston Village. All very satisfactory. Well. maybe not but it is what they are going to get!!

At another site, a layby in Brimpton, the notable thing was the cows. They rushed up to see what I was doing and watched me closely. It is a bit disconcerting to have all those heads moving together when you move the tripod from one end of the layby to the other.
On the weaving front, I am getting on with the space dyed Tencel which I am still enthusiastic about. I have several jobs I must complete but this is the most urgent as I must move this loom, the Louet Kombo, out of the studio by the third week of November at the very latest. I am making no attempt to move anything at all out yet. I prefer to do it all at once. At the very worst, I can send for the family to come and help!

But now I must put in some preparation for the first of this term's bookbinding classes on Saturday. I am rebinding a copy of Ruskin's 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture' in leather. It was originally on boards but with a school badge embossed on the front. Apart from the covers being off when I got the book, I do not want the badge so black leather and gold lettering it is. It will take me three weeks to do.

Friday, 6 October 2017

A Traumatic Few Days

I am surprised I am still vertical. Recording things as they happened this week. On Monday I had a man round to design a fitted unit in the studio to use the space better. The design is great. I had vaguely taken on board that I would need to clear some stuff away but sort of envisaged piling it in corners as the new units only take up only wall. Not a bit of it. Everything has to go somewhere else. And waving a hand at the Megado, he added 'And that will have to go'. I made it plain that the Megado was a fixture and his men would have to work round it. A concession by me was saying I would remove the electronic unit from it. While he was busy drawing up the units, there was a loud bang , followed by the removal of power from the top floor. That bit was easy to deal with since we now  have modern trigger switches. But the death of the desktop was another matter. So Wednesday saw me in Reading buying a new one. And Thursday saw it activated. Things have improved a lot. It took two and a half hours to get it functioning. But another 24 hours for Dropbox to transfer all the files. However they are all there - except one  and the hard disk from the old one can be searched for that.

What else? Well I have posted a load of photographic exercises on my course but am having trouble with the current one. You can imagine me clutching tripod and camera at sunset and tramping through long grass to find a suitable view point. The vew was not very good and the photos were poor so I will have to spend the weekend sorting that out. I am running slow and the College has written me an email saying so.  I did go to Germany and 'waste' two weeks at the beginning.

What else? I never said that the book on Fan Reeds has been published and I have a copy sent to me by the American publishers. Today a second copy arrived from Manchester. This threw me and I rang them. They tell me it is a review copy and it is free. Who I am supposed to be reviewing it for, I do not know. Unless I hear to the contrary, it will be someone's Christmas present. I have written a few pages of it.

   Oh and one last thing - very important. I have ordered a Schacht Mighty Wolf with all the bells and whistles as recommended by Rosie Price. But I have asked that it not be delivered until the first week of January. I do not want another large object cluttering the house up until the new units are installed. Anyone want a Louet Kombo with loads of extras plus a fan reed attachment? Going cheap. Quite old but still very functional. Oddly enough not buying a TC-2 makes one feel quite rich! Hence new unoits and a Schacht. My only excuse is that I have wanted one since I saw one at Barbara Walker's class for weavers many years ago. It was owned by Suzy Gough. Last time I spoke to her, she still had it.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Weaving Space Dyed Tencel

The Tencel is set at 30 epi and weaving on a table loom is slooow. But I am getting there

The photo does not show the texture. The vertical lines (Tencel warp) are raised slightly giving a ribbed effect in texture. The weft is a 30/2 'indigo' cotton.

On Saturday, Ruth and I set out on a great expedition. We went to the Sewing Bee exhibition at EXCEL in the Docklands. The journey took 3 hours each way!!! When I arrived at EXCEL, I was grumbling about the journey time. When I left, it was a different story. It was a really good exhibition. Loads of high class exhibitors and we spent a lot of money. But then we found exactly what we wanted. It is a much smaller show than is held in the NEC but then a lot of exhibitors there are just dross. So happy.

And on Sunday Dorothy and I went to the Wokingham Art Trail. And this knocks Berkshire Open Studios out of the ring. We only got round three venues but they were all great. And I ended up borrowing money from Dorothy to buy Christmas presents. Really high class. Gloria Pitt, a local weaver, was there with her ethereal scarves.  A great treat all round.

Today Dorothy has gone to visit a friend and I am tidying up and finishing odd jobs. You know the kind of thing. I cannot take any photos of samples until I have cut some card windows and I cannot do that because I have a repaired book drying on the cutting mat. I need to cut out card to make a cover for the repaired book but I cannot get in to do that until the book has dried either. Oh well. Time for lunch.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Warping Up

It occurred to me that I have not posted photos of weaving for a long time. There is a reason -  because 90% of what I have been doing recently (last 6 months) is for various books to be published and you are not allowed to publish such data. So I have done a lot - but it is all finished and I can show pictures again. The one below is my warping up on the Kombo using the valet set in the ceiling. I have now got to the stage of threading and it is very slow. it is very fine thread.
And yes the warp is weighted with a plastic milk carton two thirds full of water.

Today I drove to Leamington Spa by way of Chesterton Mill.

And yes it was very grey.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Back to Normality

Well, more or less. I have wound a warp of 20/2 space dyed Tencel, bought at Tampa Bay Convergence. At long last I have found a draft worthy of it. Nothing to show yet except one warp being wound.

The garden is in fine shape. The sweet peas are over but not the French beans or the tomatoes. I grew three different lots of rudbeckia and they are all in flower now. The third lot are not to my taste. The flowers are half the size of those in the photos and are white with a red flash at the centre - and lots of flowers on a plant. I like them flamboyant.

And last but first in my list are the zinnias.

I tidied up my studio this morning. You can actually see the floor! And I started on tying the Megado warp on. It was cut off so I could take photos. But I need the Megado to do something else, not the Tencel piece which will be woven on the Louet Kombo. So it is back to weaving with a vengeance. Nothing like a lot of bus journeys staring out of the window and thinking!!!

Saturday, 9 September 2017


We had a concert in the morning then I went round the city centre being a nuisance with a camera.

The ceiling of Thomaskirche where Bach worked.

Not a church, not the main University building and yes it is finished!

I spotted this very modern church from the bus entering Leipzig yesterday I asked the tour staff exactly where it was on the ring road so I could go back and photograph it. But no one knew what I was talking about. So after I had 'done' the city centre, I returned to the hotel and looked at Google Satellite view and it was 20 minutes walk away. So I went. Very new and rather special. The square tower is very high and has no windows to break the line. There are Large Victorian buildings all around it.


We stopped off at Sangerhausen to hear an organ recital but the rest of the day was spent being bussed around, ending up in Leipzig. Not helped by the bus driver backing into a stout metal post at the edge of the pavement. We made a detour to a bus depot and there were banging and drilling noises from the rear of the bus. And then we were off again.

As a result no photos but there will be today, I promise you. This is because we have a concert at ten and one at 2000 so in between is free. We walked about the centre last night and it is a big exuberant city with lots of very modern architecture and modern sculptures in the streets. I have seen several things I want to photograph. I will post these late afternoon. Tomorrow we go home, bus to Berlin, then flight to Heathrow. I might look for a lens I want in the airport. I looked in Heathrow on the way out but I was not sure it was the one I wanted. I found my notes on the lens later and it was and it was exactly the same cost as Wex photographic so I was right not to buy it. I was hoping to save at least a hundred pounds.

I have been thinking (always a bad thing, I hear you say). This time about weaving. It was triggered by two abstract paintings in the Bauhaus museum in Weimar

Two paintings at the Bauhaus museum. And they got me thinking about Nevinson and then as an extension, the thought 'could that be a weave'. So I have been playing with IWeaveIt on the iPad. I am very slow on this package because I use Fibreworks extensively. But slowly slowly and produce two or three drafts. What I was interested in was changing the treading so that the weft colour became more and more prominent and thus I could create sections with shaded colours. I cannot see a way of inserting graphics from the weaving software into this blog. So that will have to wait. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017


Weimar is much bigger than I expected and I managed to get quite seriously lost on my way to this evening's concert. Fortunately a kind German lady saw me peering at a map and then at the street names. She did not speak much English but I rather think she was saying 'I would not start from her if I were you' then she escorted me until we could see the church. I must say I have been on my feet for 4.5 hours today! A good concert this morning, then I looked for a baroque library. Very spectacular in pale blue and gold and no cameras. However they did allow cameras into an exhibition about the great fire of a few years ago. They showed a horrific video. Out of 150,000 books, 30,000 were totally destroyed and a lot of the rest were badly damaged.

Two examples of what is left. They have put a lot of effort in repair and there were a lot of examples where they shown a photo of the damaged book and then the actual repaired book by its side

And just so as you see a happy present day Weimar.

The market in full swing.
I also went to the Bauhaus museum which was great. But rather small. Another good concert in the evening and back to the hotel to pack. We are off to Leipzig tomorrow. 


Yesterday's concerts were very good. And then we were bussed to our hotels in Weimar. In Altendorf 200people were recommended to visit the castle museum and the museum visibly buckled at the knees. The ticket seller was frantic and the rest of the staff were very bemused. The objective was a very curious set of dolls. An 18th century princess and her ladies had made small scenes of life as lived then. There is a butcher, a hat shop, a barrel maker complete with all tools and oddments. The dolls are about six inches high. The nobility are shown playing backgammon, card games, dancing, all with the court musicians in attendance. Very interesting. 

Part of the town walls which are mostly gone.

The Rathaus - town hall

Another nice house in the great square.

Most of today is at leisure and I have a list of things to see. No point in telling you what. I will report further tomorrow

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Eisenach to Weimar

I am still in Eisenach but will shortly board a bus and end up staying tonight in Weimar. I am not a Goethe fan myself and am looking forward to moving on to Leipzig. In fact, to tell the truth, I am looking forward to going home. There are 200 people on the trip and on every occasion, you are sitting next to someone you have not met before. And I am getting life stories mixed up, I have been told so many. I skipped dinner last night. We had a large and rather nice lunch and I could not stand the noise of 120 people talking at the tops of their voices again. And in a low ceilinged room. 

But apart from my grumbles which I can work round, the music is of the highest quality, in fact it cannot be any better. After a concert by Vox Humilis, I rushed back to the hotel and put some of their CDs on my amazon wish list. I will sort them out at home. So I am glad I came for the music. I would never get two concerts a day of this quality anywhere else.

We had one concert in Muhlhausen.

An interesting graffiti in Muhlhausen.

The market in Muhlhausen

One of many decorated doorways in Muhlhausen.

I visited the Bachhaus in Eisenach. He was born here. The Museum is very good. There is a very modern bit with headphones everywhere to listen to music and this is built onto the original half timbered house. Most of the old houses here are half timbered but unlike English houses of the same materials, the timbers have a small cross section say about four inches on a side. Unlike English ones which have a basic framework of oak timber 8 to 10inches on a side. Which means they need a smaller number of timbers. When I lived in Newent, I discovered that, in mediaeval times, if you could get the roof on by nightfall, you could keep the house and the land. I always assumed that was the reason for cruck cottages where the cottage ends were formed of two great timbers put together in a triangle. This method needs fewer timbers. I have heard of a group doing that today. I would love to see  it done. Must be run like a military operation!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017


Yesterday I started the day by wandering round Dresden taking 100 photos for my first assignment in the OCA course. Not all of architecture. Half of Dresden seemed to be having breakfast at a sunny cafe and the other half were running for trams.

And the trams

And then it was the end of the organ tour and half the group was bussed off to a Berlin to catch planes. The other half, including me, were put on an express train to a Eisenach to go on another Bach trip, this time of concert music. There will be two Passions later this week. I think it was a mistake for me to do this. I want to go home and think about the organ music. By the time I have sat through ten concerts, all memories of organs will be gone. 

And I am not sure I like this tour anyway. The organ tour had 22 participants. I am in one of three hotels here and there were over 120 people at dinner last night. The noise was horrendous. Conversation was very difficult. Well I will concentrate on the music and do without dinner. I have a packet of digestive biscuits for just this occasion. 

Note the train to the extreme left up a level.
I have been thinking about the cover of Duke Bluebeard's Castle again. I am not happy about a realist cover because the style does not go with that of the prints in the actual text. So I have been messing about with the Brushes app. Not that I am very good at it.

 The triangles would be much sharper in the final version and there would be fine white lines between the triangles. On the back cover,the triangles would have flown apart. It needs trying out with pieces of cut paper.

Monday, 4 September 2017


I see the iPad has been changing my spelling all by itself. The last blog should been et cetera but veteran. In fact it has just done the same again but when I change it again, it  keeps quiet.

Dresden is a very large city and looks prosperous and elegant. Yesterday we were escorted round the palace treasury. Stuffed with gold, silver and diamonds, all way over the top. Not my style at all. However on the top floor, with no viewers, was a lovely exhibition of some of their prints and drawings. Rosie you would have loved it. Then more organs, then a posh dinner because that was our last night. Today we split up. Half the group are going home and the other half are taking the train to Eisenach to start on a week's festival of concerts devoted to Bach, and at least two concerts a day. 

I think it was a mistake on my part. I want to think about organ music and play some of the CDs I have bought but by the time I have sat through16 concerts of orchestral music, I will have forgotten about Bach and organ music.

The cathedral roof in Dresden

The main square in Altenburg

And below more Altenburg. You know how in any group of tourists, there is always one who holds the group up by lagging behind to take another interesting photograph. Well in this group, that is me. Someone said to me that I was a keen photographer. And I replied, No, obsessive. Oh well

Friday, 1 September 2017

Rotha et veteran

Today we have seen four churches, if it is not five. Anyway we have had four organ recitals. One interesting fact is that some of them are far too big for the church. There must have been some sort of rivalry between these small towns. In one tiny church, there was a sumptuous organ which would not have disgraced a cathedral. The choir can never have been heard over that. In that particular case, the organ case was magnificent but the church was very plain.

Anyway I have a few photos, well a lot really, but I am only showing you a few.

Colchicum in a graveyard

Spectacular roof. I love the little painted decorations.

An organ the right size or the church and sounding very good indeed. All the organs we have seen were built in the period 1720 to 1750 and were seriously messed up in the 19 th century. But they have all been restored since 1990 and now sound just like they did when built. Some material has had to be replaced but one or two are at least 75% original.

And just to make it clear, these photos are for the record and do not obey the rules of composition for photography. So there.

Thursday, 31 August 2017


Today we did two organs. The first one was in a tiny church and the organ was too loud. So difficult to hear. What was clear was that the noise woke the bats up. As each piece faded into silence what replaced it was the agitated twittering of bats.
The second organ was in the city church in Naumburg and it was wonderful. Bach wrote the specification for it, someone else built and Bach was asked to inspect it  or sign it off and the report he wrote as inspector still exists. We were given a copy. Firstly , it is very beautiful and secondly it sounds wonderful. One third of it is still the original  material but every new bit meets Bach's spec.  The city is gorgeous with a big area of merchants houses of the 16 and 17th centuries.

Naumbur. A merchant's house

A Naumbur street

The organ is at the other end of the church

And just o show that I can be modern too a refinery on the way home.


I made my way here yesterday, getting up at 0500 and arriving at 1645. Then we immediately set out to view the cathedral since, although we are here for three days, we are on an organ trip and have a busy schedule of visits. We had a lecture on organs last night before dinner. I have to say I slept very well last night. The journey was by way of Tegel airport, Berlin and more than three  hours in a bus.

However the architecture here is worth seeing

The cathedral

The palace

The bishop's palace. He does himself proud. And the gardens are not bad either

An unusual rose. Comes out bright orange and fades as it ages to pink and cream.  No labels!

An all this has taken my mind off photography. I am too busy!

Saturday, 26 August 2017


i have a feeling that my son-in-law would describe this blog as an existential crisis. Well, if Elizabeth Barton can write lots of blogs about the problem of abstract art when she is a renown quilter, I do not see why I cannot do the same for photography. My problem . what is photography supposed to be about?
But how did I get into photography in the first place? By deciding to enter yardage into the Conference competition. They require photos for the juried exhibition and I found this difficult. I consulted with Stacey Harvey-Brown and she said, outside under an overcast sky. But there are all sorts of other problems. You need to get the focus good over the whole length of fabric/yardage. And will a straight hanging be better than an artistic arrangement? You are only allowed to send in two photos which they expect to be the full thing and a detail. So I was driven to trying harder and ended up joining the local camera club which like all camera club goes in for competitions.

Now I can (mostly) get the technical bit right. What I am unsure of is the composition. And I have spent time and money trying to sort this out. The current crisis which makes me think of throwing it all up comes from several things happening together. I went round to have coffee with some members of the camera club and came away feeling defeated? Certainly dismayed. They do a lot of processing in Photoshop. And the results are NOT what the eye saw but what will make a good competition entry. The most I ever do is to crop the photo. In other words, I rely on getting it right through the camera. I asked whether this post processing was allowed and they said yes. It seems to me that I could stitch together several photos and enter that.

The next thing to happen was that I was in Waterstones on Thursday and bought a copy of Susan Dontag's book on photography. Now agreed the book is written in her usual elegant and well crafted prose, but she does not like photos. And the whole book is about that. We are not talking about post processing here (that is not mentioned) but the whole gamut of photography and she is very scathing about family photographs. Did you know that when a couple have children, one of the first things they do is buy a camera to record family events. But I fail to see why people should not record events. On the whole, they will use point and click and I do not see any problem with that. After all, I took a very good photo of Michael in his wheelchair in front of his favourite maple in its full autumn livery. And I still look at it from time to time.

So what is bothering me? Well what is a good photo? I except photos taken to record events, like the childrens' parties and the first flowering of a new shrub.  It needs to tell the viewer something. But what? What I have taken to doing when I see a photo I like, is ask the question Why do I like it? And often I do not know. Maybe I can appreciate a good photo without the artistic ability to identify why. 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Burghfield Allotments

I walked round to the allotments this morning and took loads of photos. Came home and processed them all. But also slightly miffed. I loved having an allotment but feel I am too old to handle it. However I got into conversation with an allotmenteer who had a find display of zinnias and discussed his plants and successes. Many and various - actually he was not boasting I could see for myself. What did surprise me was that he had two allotments and the one I saw was tiny. I could manage that. Hmmm! I can just hear what Dorothy will say to that. However the allotmenteer suggested I should get a mini Rotatiller which would avoid digging. The soil looked sandy to me and not clay as in our garden. Now I wonder.

 The allotment zinnias with dahlias raised from seed beside them. But mostly it was veg - and sunflowers. Everyone had sunflowers.


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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.