Sunday, 20 August 2017

Oxford Today

Today has been eventful. It started at 7 am and by 8 we were on our way to Heathrow, Terminal 2. Dorothy is off to Brittany for a week's quilting with her favourite  person, Rayna Gilman. Actually I think highly of herself.  Anyway Dorothy was collecting Rayna from a US flight, and escorting her to City airport in London where they successfully left for Brittany. I was quite jealous when I left her because it sounds like a nice place. But I, on the other hand, Zigzagged round London and drove to Oxford. The objective was to view the Designer Bookbinders international exhibition which is very high indeed. Every entry of about 70 is immaculately crafted and some of the techniques used are awe-inspiring. A very international set of competitors. Only the UK has a society of this sort and I have seen their exhibitions where 50% were from the USA.

This is one of my favorites. I splurged on a copy of the catalogue which has high class colour photos of every entry. I took some photos but they are bedevilled by reflections and shadows as you can see in the above photo.

There was an extra. The Bodleian is having an exhibition entitled 'Bodleian Treasures'. I'll say! Handel's conducting/working score of The Messiah in his handwriting. One of Yates poems handwritten and amended by Yates. Huge books with panting of tropical birds. Illustrated mediaeval manuscripts  and - -  a First Folio of Shakespeare's plays. All in one small room. It was very subdued lighting and there was a guard prowling about all the time.

I took a load of photos of Oxford which is swamped with tourists who all seemed to be 16 and noisy.

Friday, 18 August 2017


I spent yesterday in London. First I visited the Balenciaga exhibition at the Victoria and Albert. Really good and most of the exhibits were from the V and A's own collection! What they are doing with 30  or 40 Balenciaga outfits I cannot work out but there it is. Very tailored and very attractive. I was surprised to recognise what must be the original of a hat I loved when I was 20. A skull cap fitting close to the head and made of maroon feathers. The original was of emerald green feathers. There was also a frock of which I had an 'inspired by' street version. And I remember buying a Vogue pattern and making what was definitely a constructed dress with a very odd ballooning skirt held up by tapes to the waist.

I also visited Watersons and investigated the books on photography. I was very good, I did not buy a single book. Then it was off to dinner with an old (working) friend - at The Athenaeum. Magnificent inside. They have a double staircase and upstairs where one takes coffee, there is an enormous room with a carpet woven to fit. And the food was first rate. Well any place that serves potted shrimps gets an A* from me. I was a bit worried that this was a men only place and women were on sufferance but No. They allowed women members in more than 20 years ago. And I saw a few. The ones I saw looked like they could rule the world and still have time over for some knitting and gossip.     

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Duke Bluebeard's Castle

It takes me a long time to design a book. Actually making it only takes a week over two. It can take me between one and two years to complete a design. This time I have excelled myself. It is three years since I bought an unbound text of the libretto of Duke Bluebeard's Castle complete with illustrations (rather fine). I have been down several dead ends and eventually put it aside. At the conference last week I was struck by several thoughts and have come home, measured everything up, worked out how to make it and completed the artwork in Photoshop.

The black border has been added just for this blog to show up the cover. The book itself is a very odd size, at 27.5 cm wide by 37.5 cm high. I will print this out on A3 canvas in three sections, front, back and spine. Then it will be bound in a double cover - -  and when it is all done, I will paint on  the canvas - blood red! from one of the doors on the back so that the blood runs over the spine and on to the front. I also need to paint on in grey for tears (You see I know the libretto well!!) I jib at trying to add four queens but I might try. I intend to make coloured paper cut outs

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Afternoon Tea

Burghfield WI is 100 this year and they have been planning celebrations for 3 years. This culminated in a do for only WI members (and their hangers-on). This was a very grand occasion held in the Long Gallery of Englefield Castle. Lots of hats and everyone dressed proper. We had an opportunity to walk round the gardens which are magnificent. We have been here for 2 years and this is our first visit. It will not be our last. I am still looking for a tree to photograph and am thinking of going back in the next week or so.

The garden is flourishing, beams and sweet peas doing well still. The courgettes are doing rather too well. Anyone want an 8 inch diameter courgette?

And here is the picture which you have all been waiting for - well I have. This year's zinnias

And a fine pot of French marigolds

I ought to be doing some warp installation. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, 7 August 2017


I have tidied up, wound a warp and dealt with my mail today and that is about it except - - Iceland. I have always wanted to go to Iceland - for 30 or more years since a friend went and described it very enthusiastically. On Sunday my daughter, Ruth, was round for lunch and we were discussing photography. She has recently bought an online course and is getting on well with it. I happened to say that in a photographic magazine I had seen ads for a photography course in Iceland and was startled by the response I got from Ruth. I got swept up in this and ended up today booking two places in a photography course in North Iceland in January. It is going to be cold and there will not be much light but I think that the trip will be great.  I am already reviewing my  cold weather clothes. I still have all the stuff from the Silk Route trip. I even have a spectacular pair of fur-lined waterproof boots. This is going to be the trip of a lifetime.

Oh and I have given up on the TC2. I had too much fun at the Bookbinders conference and I did buy two skins, one teal, one royal blue. The thing about buying a skin is that they are natural and therefore flawed. I had eight skins out to compare before buying.

I leave you with a couple of photos from the International Bookbinding exhibition for 2017.

 The trouble with putting books in glass cases is that any photos of the contents have reflections included. I know of no solution to this problem. But the two photos show the range of books included.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Bookbinding conference

I am attending the biennial Bookbinders conference in Keele University and having a great time. I am almost tempted to leave now, rush home and start out making hinged boxes, covering books with parchment, applying the lovely endpapers I have just bought and generally having a good time. I have also solved a bookbinding problem. I bought a text block from a private press two years ago. I have had a go at designing the covers for it but failed because the book is a very odd size, sort of portrait A3 but taller and narrower. This means I do not have any material to cover it with. I have plenty of bookcloth but I do not want that. I want a natural linen which I have over printed. But my printer will not do bigger than A3. And sitting in the lecture hall today, I saw the solution!!

The lecturers here have 75 minutes each. Some of them just lecture, some do demos. If you go into the hall and equipment is laid out on tables, the lecturer wears an apron and a man with a video camera is present, you know you are into ' now measure the inside dimensions! ' and the lecturer will be waving a steel ruler. It has all been great fun.

And the suppliers exhibition has been great fun too. I intend to buy some leather but I have not got round to that yet. I have bought three lots of endpapers and a length of linen for reinforcing spines. I will probably buy some special glue as well.

I know quite a few people and was talking to a bookbinding friend from Malvern.  Now she grows alpine plants including auriculas and wins prizes at national shows. She bookbinds of course but she also is an enthusiastic silver smith. So I asked her how she managed all this and she spends from September to December bookbinding, from January to April silversmithing and the rest of the year looking after her plants. I was rendered a bit speechless by this. But have been wondering if I could do the same. How would it go? I have booked into a linocut course for autumn --- so august to December bookbinding and Lino cuts. December to march weaving, April to July gardening. No, I do not think that would work for me! But it is true that on occasions when I have done two or three weeks steady bookbinding, I have got a lot done and got quite good at the end,

Talking of quite good, the Bookbinders international competition is on exhibition here. Some of the stuff is fabulous. Some is mediocre and not well done. My trouble is that I do not think of starting till too late. I think I will try to have a couple completed by the end of 2018.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Scarves for the Guild Exhibition

The Guild is having an exhibition in Newbury Museum for the whole of September and the organisers have issued instructions. Three instructions affect me
1) At the major UK  exhibition in 2016, the Guild put in a collection of bookmarks. Somehow I ended up in charge of these and have to mount them on foam board, to which end I sallied into Reading on Sunday and bought a big enough sheet of foamboard. I have yet to do the mounting. and type a list.
2) A handbag made from 4CDW in cotton. Rather nice I think. But it is all made up so nothing to do there
3) A rainbow wall of scarves. I have woven a rainbow one (shown here) and finished a blue one yesterday.
The warp is a very pale lavender. the weft is a cotton and linen boucle which has been space dyed in pale shades of blue. I overdyed it darker and have used the two shades of blue to weave Fibonacci stripes.

All I need to do now is attached labels.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

An Existentialistic Crisis

A few years ago, I was accused of having an existentialist crisis which was me collaring anyone who would listen and pouring out my worries. I cannot for the life of me remember what the crisis was or how it was resolved. Anyway the current one centres on whether or not to buy a TC2.

Today my nephew came round (he knows about buildings. He used to build airports. These days he builds stores.)  He inspected the house for possible sites and suitable temperature ranges. Unless we can control the garage temperature, the garage is out. Any where upstairs we need to spread the load and it is impossible to house the pump unit without having the builders in. All in all a sorry tale.

And a friend has written to me asking a load of questions about the TC2. Really concentrating on what do I get out of having a TC2. The answer is I am not sure. Especially since the TC2 software seems to do most of the hard work of drafting.

Last night I had a dream. Now this is relevant. And rather startling. I was been talked to by my sister and Rosie Price and various other friends and they were all getting on to me about the TC2. I turned away and said I would do something else in stead, like writing a book and it would be different. I would take a design I had already completed and repeat the weave in three other yarns of different thickness but the same colours. And behold the book was in my hands full of wonderful photos doing just what I said. At which interesting point I woke up. Now I am not sure the book will get written but is this a way of giving me a major project for the rest of my life. I do not think I am buying the TC2. The upheaval would be tremendous.

And on a more cheerful note, the camera club has set three challenges, one of which is Machinery. The idea has exercised me for a month but this morning I took a lot of pictures of Dorothy sewing up her current quilt.

Now to find for the other two challenges.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Weaving Day

Yesterday I went to an office in Bracknell and saw a photographic exhibition. Beautifully laid out, each photo was several foot across. All done by professionals and technically perfect. I thought about a third were wonderful. The rest was me - - I did not like them and in most cases said 'So?' As one judge at the local camera said 'where is the story?'

Today I drove over to Newbury and looked at the local camera club exhibition. A mistake after yesterday's excellence. Then I went off to the Guild's Weaving Study Day for this month. Lots of people with their looms and lots of gossip. I discovered all sorts of things I had forgotten Like I need my entries for the 2017 Exhibition to be delivered in 2 weeks. And I have a scarf to complete and the bookmarks to mount. I will start by trying to find a big sheet of foam board. Dorothy says there are some in the garage.

I meant to take a photo in the garden for this blog but high winds and lashing rain discouraged me. The zinnias look good and so do the sweet peas and the crop of French beans is threatening to overwhelm us.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


I have a project to weave some velvet. Since this is a new one on me, I decided to weave a project from Deb Essen's book on Supplementary warps. And I have spent all day fighting with it. First I used some velvet rods I have by me but the results were poor - tracked down to the rods being too small. A hasty dash into Reading got me three of everything they had with a cross-section not more than 6mm on a side - four different cross-sections.. The next trial made the yarn pull out. Tracked down to the track for the cutting knife being too deep. Fortunately I had something more suitable and at last!!!

Showing the rods in place before slitting the warp yarn I cannot say I like the effect but I will be trying again on my project. I shall set about that tomorrow.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

I have done very little in the last two days. We had a visitor all the week and I delivered her to the local station on Saturday while Dorothy went to Cambridge to see an old friend. I did nothing all day, except some gardening and reading books on photographs. Today I spent the morning dealing with paperwork like taxing the car and organising Anne's birthday. Anne has had an accident, fell off a horse and cracked a rib. So feeling sorry for herself.

The zinnias are out and I am running out twice a day to gloat.

But I have not said that our trellis of sweet peas and French beans has done very well indeed. I noted last autumn that the Royal Horticultural Society had completed trials on French beans and they voted a variety called Cobra as the very best. So I planted Cobra this year and it has done magnificently. The taste is really good and the crop is enormous. We are deep freezing two thirds of the crop. As for the sweet peas, last year they were fine but I attended Hampton Court Flower Show  in 2016 and came across a nursery selling sweet pea seeds and the colours were good, dark rather than wishy washy. So I sowed these in November in the greenhouse and worried about them all winter. We are swamped by sweet peas. And have taken to giving them to neighbours. And the colours are great 
A zinnia, the first of the crop

And a few sweet peas.

Tomorrow we are off to Hilliers arboretum to show Dorothy the Centennial border. Photos will be taken 

And I have done some weaving.

Thursday, 20 July 2017


Some months ago I volunteered to help out at the National Needlework Archive south of Newbury. I cannot embroider and am not to be trusted with a needle near their great conservation work 'The Country Wife' which is an enormous hanging made for the WI in 1951 (I think). What I can do and what is very unpopular with everyone else is entering up everyone's notes on computer files. It is not that demanding but does require attention. The notes are handwritten in pencil and are not always easy to decipher/ There is nothing for it but to put a best guess and put (sp?) after the word. I think I am catching up. There are over 60 sections each with its corresponding file and I can update 2 or 3 files per visit which is about once a week. I can see I am going to be doing this until after Christmas.

I left at ten this morning and so had time to finish the sleying on the Deb Essen velvet project. I need to tidy up and tie on which I ought to get done in a day or two.

I am still  thinking about the TC2. Today Dorothy and I played a game of what else could you buy for that amount and would you (buy it)? A world cruise - forget it, I can think of think of nothing less entertaining, Trip to Antartica? - forget that. A Maserati? I am too old to fold up properly to get in a sports car. You should have asked 40 years ago.  A conservatory? I have a greenhouse already. (By the way my tomatoes are doing really well and the zinnas are showing colour).  I could buy a Schacht - now there is a good suggestion. And with that thought, I will leave you.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Vyne

The Vyne is a Tudor house about 20 minutes drive from here and we visited it this morning. It now belongs to the National Trust who decided some years ago that they had to repair the roof and save up for it. Today It is encased in scaffolding and visitors can take a lift up (very industrial lift clearly intended primarily for materials) and walk round on a gangway and watching people working. Today they were beatintg sheets of lead into shape and sealing the junctions between roofs with the lead.
From this viewpoint you can see how complicated the roof is!! The house is not really open but the gardens are georgeous with a Tudor brick summerhouse and a very large walled garden where they sweet peas are doing much better than mine - and I thought mine were good.
I would not mind one like this in my garden.

I have finished a project!! Making a shirt from some nice batik fabric (bought at Convergence 2008) eked out with some plain green. This has been on the list for years.

Now to finish warping up the Kombo.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Still Thinking

I have consulted with various members of the family. They all say much the same. You have to take the decision yourself. But my son-in-law, Robin, asked the critical question. If you spend that much money on this loom, you will want to work on it all the time. Are you going to give up bookbinding and Lino cuts? Well I ask you. You cannot be serious!! So I am still undecided. 

I have been fighting with Picasa, the web album which Google bought and then abandoned. I have discovered how to transfer photos out of Picasa and into a folder under Dropbox. So I have done people, discovering ancient photos of New Year family do's. and most of holidays and trips to Stately homes. I am nearly finished on 'holidays'! I do have a load of garden plants to do. I find it difficult to feel they are worth the effort of transferring to my desktop. So I have decided to transfer only high class photos. 

In amongst all this, I have finished a shirt in various batik patterns today. I have the buttons and will get the buttonholes done first thing tomorrow.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

TC2 Course

It was hard work for three days, not physically but mentally. I thought I was a Photoshop expert but not for weaving. So we practiced all sorts of techniques and I am not sure I will remember them all. I have not made my mind up one way or the other about buying one. I have sent for a cost and my nephew. He is chief engineer for a group including Currys and PC World and knows about floor loading etc. My second problem is where to site it in the house and what to do about the pump. Cally Booker has her eye on the Megado so that would be its future sorted. And the TC2 could take the Megado's position. Questions are would the floor take the weight and where does the pump get sited. It must be reasonably close but not in the same room as it is noisy. There is also the small matter of the cost. My Scottish heart is jibbing a bit.

 The Tc2 in Belinda's (very nice) studio. It is the same height as I am to a cm. I am five foot five.
The weaver stands at the left.
My sample weaves. The section at the top is me practising with a three colour image.
Belinda's studio

The only thing that spoilt the course was driving back on Friday. I started from just north of Dundee at 0645 and staggered into our house at 1715. There had been road works on the M6 and I was shattered. I am too old for that kind of driving. So today I am catching up very slowly.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Getting ready

Tomorrow I drive north, a long way north, to Banchory where Belinda Rose lives. I am staying with Carly Booker on Monday. She lives South of Belinda by 90 minutes driving. The reason is that I am on my way to a three day course on the TC1  if it is not the TC2.  This is to show me how the loom works and if I want to buy one. It has almost come down to  do I want a TC1 or a Columbia. The problem is that while I can get the Columbia into the garage in the sense there is space for it. But how? Would I finish up hiring a crane like Tracey and her Jacquard loom? I will let you know how I get on!

I am hoping to get out and about in Banchory with my camera. I have several projects on in photography. Top of the list is to put together a portfolio about Burghfield Common. Well, as I said, I am going to have a six months rest from weaving.

Saturday, 8 July 2017


Those of you who have read this blog for a long time will know I am an opera lover. But recently I have not been much - until the last week! I have been to three! Firstly we watched Turandot in the telly as done on the Sydney docks. All the effort went into creating a spectacle. The arena was so big and the cameras so far away that little figures pranced about a distant stage and it was difficult to deduce what was going on. and they pruned one of my favourite arias. The singers were so so. 

Then on Thursday I went to see the new Glyndebourne opera, Hamlet, but in film. A lot of blood in the last ten minutes. Not a bundle of laughs. It was brilliantly sung. And very well produced. The critics said it was wonderful and would still be in the repertory in fifty years. I disagree but there you are.

And now to today. Dorothy and I took a train to London and went to a matinee of Turandot in Covent Garden. And discovered Sydney had thrown out more than I remembered. And Covent Garden was a great performance. The only drawback was that Turandot's high notes were squawky.  But a great time was had by both of us. And we had crepes for lunch which added to the general feeling of satisfaction.

The mundane side of life is very mundane. For some years, I have wanted to sort out my photos on the computer. The problem is Picasa which was bought by Google and then closed down. My problem that I need to check what is on Picasa and not on by computers. After several hours of work I discovered how to copy albums from Picasa to my desk top. I still have a lot to do but I have transferred all the really important.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Scarves (Various)

I finished off the rainbow scarf on a silk warp and took it into the Guild's Show and Tell on Saturday. Spent the day gossiping which is one of the advantages of not being Chairman. I had a great time.
The photo background is not very suitable and has swallowed up the blue. I started the next scarf which has a weft of a boucle cotton and linen mix. I have no record of where this came from but it has clearly been dyed in an array of light blue shades. I have overdyed two balls  of the yarn a darker (solid) blue.
The originals are the balls in the foreground. I will create a few stripes of darker blue amongst the mainly lighter yarn.

I have also wound 6 warps today. My next project which  I have a deadline for, is velvet about which I know nothing. I did acquire velvet rods a year or so ago but I need to start. Some months ago I bought Deb Essen's book which contains a section on velvet. The book (available from Interweave) is not what I expected. It is a set of projects, one of which is velvet. I read this with care twice last week and decided that rather than set out to adapt it to my requirements, I would start by carrying out her velvet project. Hence the 6 warps, one for ground and five for the pattern (velvet). So I selected suitable yarns, roughly corresponding with the author's, wound the warp and wound it on. This did require that I dismantle the Louet Kombo. It was last used with a fan reed and has to be unscrewed and re assembled for normal use. It is now all set for threading up tomorrow.

  The above is our monarda. Last summer it was half the dimensions. This year it is five foot and has been in flower for three weeks. It will go on until September.

And for those of you who follow this blog regularly, the zinnias are coming on very nicely.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Driving round Britain

Yesterday I drove to Leamington Spa by way of Worcester which is far from direct but my accountant works in Worcester and I had an appointment with him. He said several things of interest and I ended up at Anne's house in time for her to give me last minute instructions. Then they were off to Glastonbury while I prepared to drive Alex to a party.  But the postcode was wrong and we ended up in the countryside with nothing visible but fields and cows. So we were both miffed and went home.

Today I drove back to Malvern to see people and fight with banks. All of the battles were won -- by me. Then I drove to Castlemorton Common where I inspected the black poplars. These are centuries old and were pollarded for many of those centuries. Now they have thickened trunks which have rotting bits, in other words, very interesting. But a number have died. I was delighted to see that someone has planted twelve small black poplar trees. They are now about ten foot high. Whereas old ones are 40 to 50 foot high. I took a large number of photos.


This evening taxi drive was okay in that I got Alex to his swimming class and home again without incident.

I have been thinking. I am keen to do some Lino cuts and have some good ideas for two or three colour prints. The truth is that I have gone off weaving. It is a lot of effort to warp up the Megado. For what? In 2006, I suddenly went off antenna design. No new problems. I had done everything before. Boring. So I was not too bothered when I retired two years later. I suspect the same is happening with weaving. I know what I create a draft for is going to work, so why bother. I can see trouble ahead here!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Freya Jones

Today I drove over to Wendover (in the Chilterns east of here). I will pass over the drive which was plagued by closed roads and single track roads. The objective was to join a friend and her daughter and go round some of Buckinghamshire Open Studios. Well I am jealous. How can they manage a wonderful show when West Berkshire cannot? There was a bookbinder (mostly Japanese style but a few Coptic style), several jewellers, glassblowers, metal workers, textile people (yes really). And some painters, printers, makers of textile pictures. About 10 in an old poultry barn!! and a lot were in a church but some were in individual studios. Great stuff. I bought cards and Christmas presents.

The biggest find was Freya Jones who had a shop, full of spinning and weaving materials and tools. For examples, Toika raddles in various sizes, Venne cotton, Maurice Brussard bamboo, both for weaving. I have never seen Brussard in Europe before. He is Canadian - and good. Colours lovely. I was very tempted. And lots of spun and unspun materials.

Top, a wall of boxes. Lower, space dyed by Freya herself. She also weaves on an Ashford rigid heddle. Scarves mostly. She has a good colour sense and goes in for weaving with multi-coloured knobbly yarn.

Details are Unit 1, Layby Farm, Old Risborough Road, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP22 5XJ.

I resisted the temptation to buy some of the bamboo but the others bought what I thought were Christmas presents but back in Wendover, this turned out to be them buying for themselves. And there was I feeling virtuous!

One good thing about visiting that sort of exhibition is that my mind is buzzing with ideas. What if I did that? Or maybe it would be better in red and grey? Or - - - -

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Dress making

Life has been very exciting over the past few days. I went to the Social gathering at Moulsford on Thursday and managed to wind a warp of light mauve 30/2 silk, five metres long. I have had a three shaft warp on the Meyer and decided to resley it from 36 epic to 24 epi. I wove one scarve with the altered warp and intend to tie on the silk warp. The use of a fine silk warp with a much thicker weft, will produce a fabric whose colour is dominated by the weft and I have some very suitable wool. The objective is to provide scarves for the Guild exhibition in September this year. The organisers want a rainbow wall of scarves. I have enough of a fine Swedish wool which has been spaced dyed.see photo.
Bobbins of space dyed wool. All bobbins are numbered and have to be used in reverse order.
 I have already made one such scarve with some of the same wool yarn but a different colour way. Black/charcoal/white/red but actually there was very little red. I do not know what I am going to do with this. It is very drab. The Moulsford meeting managed to provide good company and lots of gossip, harmless of course.

Anyway I intend to take the Meyer loom  and my warp to Leamington Spa next week when I look after Alex and the house while Anne and Derek go to Glastonbury. I ask you, at their age!! My main function is as taxi driver!

But back to now. I set off for Malvern on Friday morning for a round of appointments and visits. But ending up turning round and getting back home by 10 o'clock. I had been sick all the way. Collapsed into bed with a very high temperature and left poor Dorothy to ring everyone up and cancel everything. So now I am trying to reinstate everything.

But I made good use of the extra two days I suddenly had free. So I took to dressmaking. A top out of Dorothy 's printed cotton and a shirt out of a pile of printed batik fabric bought at Tampa Bay Convergence which was 2008! I have been doing gardening before 10 o'clock because it is too hot later. The garden looks and better.

New top. Looks a bit unironed after being worn for two hot days.

Bramble flowers are very pretty.

Monday, 12 June 2017

More Tidying up

I suspect this blog is going to ramble a bit. It cannot be interesting for anyone to read a list of completed jobs! So what I want to talk about is photography. This is changing from something I do to record completed textiles into something closer to an obsession. The countryside I drive through or train through, I see it in terms of potential photographs. Crop the right hand side? A bit more sky? A lot more sky? No sky? And the White Balance? Buildings in the city? The same.

I have now done enough courses that taking the photo is a dawdle but composition is where I fail. Although I have suddenly realised that my very best photos are of wildlife! In one article I read today, the author said that once you knew your camera backwards, you would slowly come to realise what topics you liked best. Basically my likes are trees and markets with lots of people. All this photographing foreign parts is actually rather boring when I look at them back at home. And I know it is composition I am bad at. Another thing I have learnt from my many online courses is that the answer is not to buy another, even more expensive, lens but to keep at it with what you have got already. Although I admit to buying a few, cheap, items. A bean bag, a polariser. 

An interesting fact. I have been doing online courses with Craftsy, several in fact, concentrating on landscapes. There were three I found most useful. Two were ever so good at the technicalities and showed you how to get their effects. These were both men and their landscapes, although okay, did not have the Wow factor. The third was a woman, not so good about the technical side but her photos, oh boy, did they have the Wow factor. I have learnt a lot just looking at her photos. And I intend to rewatch this course next week.

Why am I doing this? I suspect it is because I find drawing and painting too difficult, that is photography is a substitute for art. My hands are no longer steady enough for drawing and painting. I can see me going on to a remote control for the camera in another few years.

So what have I actually done in the last few days? Lots of gardening, a euphemism for weeding on my knees. Finished a scarf, which has not come out as I expected. The warp is a fine white cotton, slewed at 24epi, should be 35 to 40 for a balanced weave. The weft was a fine Swedish yarn but a lot thicker than the warp. It was space dyed and in a ball when I bought it in Stockholm. I misjudged it. Although space dyed, it is black, charcoal, grey and a teeny bit of red so it is a very sombre scarf. Definitely a man's scarf. Started making a cotton top with some lovely created by Dorothy. I have ironed the pattern pieces and cut out all the parts. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

No Dorothy

I have managed to complete a lot of jobs, although they are a bit boring, like accounts.

Yesterday I turned out my studio, putting cones away in the right drawer, collected a lot of stuff to get rid off. Today was a busy day. I have volunteered to help out at the National Needlework Archive. I am transferring handwritten notes to the computer and scanning in hand drawings. A number of people there so coffee and lunch are very sociable. Then to my music class where we listened to 19th century opera. Rather nice to sit through six excerpts of one's favourite operas. 

Ruth and Anne trying on things at Bicester Village

And a handsome iris from last Saturday.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

A Busy Saturday

I have had a busy day. I got up at six to see Dorothy off to Scotland where she is visiting all her friends. Then I spent san hour and a half potting up seedlings. Left them all soaking outside the greenhouse. Then to Salisbury to the first lesson from Lori Sauer. I am rebinding a book of 1897 by Ruskin. I bought the book half repaired at a bookbinders sale, not because I wanted to finish the rebinding but beacause I wanted the book! I wanted to rebinding in leather which I am not good at and so this morning was spent, practising paring leather. Then I drove to Wisley gardens to see a Show by the British Iris Society. Not very good and not much of it. After which I took my prepared list of plants I wanted to buy to the garden centre and tracked down a lot of them. I can see I will have to get up early again tomorrow morning.


Our garden at 0630 am
 And a very nice iris at Wisley.

Tomorrow I am off to Bicester village with my daughters. Then on Monday. I will return to work by turning out the studio.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

More Wall

We have seen lots of Wall, walked beside lots of Wall and done two spectacular museums. The Roman Army Museum is quite small but very good with lots of recreations. The other was Vindolanda which is overrun by excavators and archaeologists. While we were there, one of them found a shoe. The museum has thousands of shoes and probably more important, thousands of writing tablets. Bits of wood which have been preserved in the boggy ground. And they contain all sorts of info from 'I am sending you two pairs of socks'.  to posh invites to a birthday party. And there is the best part of a large dinner service which arrived broken and was thrown in a ditch unused. Very beautiful. It must have been for the CO and I bet his wife cursed.

In amongst this we have stayed at really luxurious B and Bs and the standard of food has been high. The standard of my walking has not been so good and I had to abandon the walk on Sunday when I saw what I was supposed to tackle next. I knew I could not make it up that steep hill. Has not stopped me walking several miles a day though.

  Entrance to fort strongroom where the soldier's pay was stored.

Sparrow building a nest 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Hadrian's Wall

Ruth and Robin drove me up north from Reading to Carlisle yesterday. It took all day. Anne and her family were leaving home later in the day and did not arrive until 10 pm whereas we arrived at 5pm. Lovely dinner at a rather nice family hotel. This morning we were off before 9am and the luggage was obviously collected and taken to our next stop because it was waiting for us when we arrived in the evening.

No bits of stonework to specify the Wall for several hours of walking but then all of a sudden was the first sight of Hadrian's wall.

 After that, lots and lots of steep hills and Roman stonework.  I am not too good going up hills these days (just getting old) and so I slowed the group pace a lot. We ended up by walking 12 miles and my muscles were beginning to complain at the end. 
 A major fort just off the wall itself. Lots of sheep and cattle around
 And this is what the surrounding country side looks like. Lots of bog plants so must be very boggy, so no cereal cultivation. Just sheep and cows for beef.

Went to the local pub, the Milecastle Inn, which is totally isolated on the moors. Food terrific,place packed out.

Tomorrow we are only walking five miles.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Chelsea Flower Show

First the weaving. I have woven 2 metres of the stuff and made myself sick in the process. So it was just as well I had a visit to Chelsea Flower Show for today organised months ago. Anne and Dorothy came with me and Anne caused a lot of head turning.
by wearing her hat which I call Tallulah Bankhead and she calls Carmen Miranda.

We did not care much for the Show Gardens, altogether too many painted  steel beams and sheets. But the Pavilion was its usual magnificent self.
 A particularly fine bonsai
 No idea what these are but nice.
 A rose on David Austin's stand
 Who would have guessed there were so many colours of potatos

A tuk-tuk decorated with fresh flowers. Five horticultural colleges were given a tuk-tuk each and had to decorate it. So there were five of which I thought this was the best but the judges gave the Gold Medal to someone else.

Other info. We all had a good time and were exhausted at the end. Dorothy who is very keen on the Underground said 'That's a good idea' when I said we should take a taxi back to Waterloo Station. It has to be said that the most interesting - and most beautiful - things in the Show were two photographic exhibitions. The first was run by the RHS and the photos were blown up to a lrge size. The other was startling. We came across a small display of about eight photos of seed pods. They were jewels or abstract art, I don't know which. I found myself saying These are lovely to a young lady, only to discover she was the photographer so naturally we continued the conversation!! The reason why they look jewel-like is that there are no shadows because she uses a light tent so loads of diffused ambient light. And the photography is impeccable. She is going a publish a book containing these but she reckons it will be in 2019. Her name is Anna Laurent and she can be found at

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Getting somewhere

I have been weaving steadily after some time removing errors. And I really did not like the colours when woven so after a lot of practise runs and twisting of threads together, I settled on a dark brown cottolin for both patterns. But of course I only have 250 gms of that. So much consultation with William Hall and Co. I ought to get the yarn on Wednesday but I have enough to weave my required three yards or very close to it. So it seems like I might meet the deadline of June 1st.

I find it quite wearing trying to weave a metre a day. I managed 0.75 metres yesterday and will probably manage that today too.

Since I have done nothing else but weave, there is nothing else to report. We did have an interesting artist visiting us. He talked about his college day where his tutors used to hand out three words and they had to make a work of art from the,. His were fabric, plaster and weaving. The interesting thing is of course this is what Kennet Valley Guild calls Blackjack. Our three topics are weave, and two restrictions like do it in black and white or use mohair. Interesting.

Friday, 19 May 2017

More Cheerful.

This blog is for readers over 65 years old.

Lately there has been a TV ad with a song attached about boots. This has been bothering me for some days and I woke up at five one morning, having a eureka moment and remembering some more words. So I looked it up on the website and it was 'These boots are meant for walking' sung by Nancy Sinatra in 1966. That was a good decade for me and very exciting. At the end of it, I had given up academia and become a commercial engineer, much more fun. It was seeing Nancy in thigh high black boots that triggered memories. I had those! And A-line dresses in solid colours. No pattern any where. We owned a very elderly Mini but had risen to a Cortina at the end of the decade. You try getting two toddlers, their belongings and a pushchair in a 1959 Mini. (Yes ours was built in August 1959, the first month of Minis).  

Michael wrote two books on computing which became best sellers. They were translated into lots of  languages which meant lots of money. Hence the change from a Mini to a Cortina.
As I said, a good decade for us.

Fed Up, Browned Off and Gritting my Teeth

I have at last got the warp sleyed and tied on - and the crossing errors corrected. The draft (unreasonably complicated) is ready. I freely admit that I do not like the colours now I see the whole pattern. Dorothy likes the back much more that the front. I spent some time late last night searching for a suitable yarn to replace the brown silk noil but could not find enough of anything that would be an improvement so have decided to grit my teeth and go with the original colour plan.

You have probably realised that no photos have been shown recently. As with Cally Booker. We are both doing a piece to be included in the Complex Weavers book and there are strict rules about no prior publication. I am not at all clear on whether blogs count as publication but better safe than sorry. (There are too many clich├ęs in this blog). I will take the woven length to Guild when completed (if ever) so some people will see it.

The 'fed up browned off' state is me this morning realising that I have still have to weave the damn thing. I have today to myself so should get somewhere, even if it is only to decide to terminate the project.

Two lovely prospects. One, I am going to Chelsea Flower Show next Tuesday with Anne and Dorothy. Two, I have been watching the irises which grow along the Kennet and Avon Canal. When I was there on Monday there were a few flowers out and lots to come. Dorothy says that elsewhere in the neighbourhood, there are banks of them. So I might knock off to do a bit of photography this afternoon.

And on the topic of photography, I have discovered the pleasures of courses run by Craftsy. I have nearly completed all the lessons on 'Landscape Photography'. I eventually, after several lessons, found the materials list. All I can say is that I do not think my accountant would stand for me buying all the gear the tutor thinks you ought to have. And I would certainly have to abandon any thought of foreign travel for a year or two.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

More Progress

The threading is going well. I should be done tomorrow. Just hope there are not too many errors. In between bouts of threading up, I have planted all the plants we bought earlier this week. There has been a fair amount of rain in the last few days and the newly planted plants should be okay. Annuals have planted out.


And lots of PCIs. These were all brought from Malvern. I specified to the estate agent that I reserved the right to take any plants I wanted plus all the irises!

The other good news that I had an email from Lori Sauer saying she had a place on her regular bookbinding class and did I want it? The answer has been an enthusiastic YES. I am going to concentrate on binding in leather. I have done a little but I need practise to get more confident. I have a couple books all ready to bind. The course is in Salisbury so it is a fair step from here but the classes are on Saturday soThe other course I have signed up for is one run by the Designer Bookbinders with Mark Cockram. He is very famous and I keep wondering if I am going to get shouted at for incompetence. Once I get past the deadline for Complex Weavers and the Open Studios, I will be a lot happier. Lately life has returned to what it was like when I had a company and got up at six to get a good start on the day. One of my customers used to get into work at six and got the shock of his life when I rang him at six once to ask a technical question.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Threading Up

The deadline for submission to the Complex Weavers Book is approaching faster than I want.I have the warps on and am threading up which is spread over 16 shafts. And it is very complicated. I can manage 120 threads (half a pattern) in an hour which is slow for me. I keep checking the last threading. The house being open for Open Studios does not help and I am off to Hadrian's Wall before June 1st (the deadline for the CW book). So my life is parcelled out according to a timetable. This morning I was up at six to thread up and did half a pattern. I am off to Wokingham later and the gardeners are here and need attention but I will get back in there this afternoon and do another half pattern. Seven patterns in all and I must finish by Monday. I have allowed a day for looking for errors and then it is weave, weave, weave. I must be bonkers.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Progress on the Megado warp

It has taken some time to wind the ten yard warp onto the Megado. I started putting the first warp on the sectional warp beam. Not quite according to Crocker. It took from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning. Then I started on the second warp which went on to the second plain warp beam. Finished just after lunch. So ready to start threading up tomorrow morning. And what, I hear my critical friends say, did you do with the rest of the afternoon?  The answer is had a filling at the dentist and spent the rest of the afternoon waiting for my face to unfreeze.


We bought these on Monday. They need planting.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Warp done

In between opening the studio, I managed to finish winding the  warp for Complex Weavers. The deadline is June 1st and yes I know it is only a few weeks away. I am busily cancelling appointments and outings!!

Here is the warp or rather here are the warps. two of them.

The yellow one is cotton ( what I think of as the top cloth) and the multi-coloured one is bamboo (the lower cloth). But of course they interchange - frequently.  I do not think I have used pure bamboo before. It has a lovely soft feel which will be wasted on curtains which is what this fabric is going to end up as. We have a drafty house and need a door curtain.

Other than that, it is more Open Studios today but not for two hours so I am going to pot up my lupin seedlings and plant the French beans. I have bought some auriculas which need potting up but no suitable compost so that is tomorrow's job. Some are in flower and they are lovely.


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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.