Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Getting better - probably

I see it is some weeks since I blogged. Well I have been taken up with being ill. Things went being bad and eventually my GP got fed up and said `Hospital. Now. Let's see if they can work out  what`s wrong with you.`  And I got an ambulance and all! Anyway They got very excited and decided it was a brain problem so I got shot to the head of the queue and my brain was scanned. Unfortunately there is nothing wrong with my brain. So they decided that it had to be one of the many drugs I take. And there sent me home saying `stop all drugs`. And I think they are right because have had two days of normality (except for feeling a bit feeble). Monday Dorothy and I went to Wisley and Tuesday we went to Kew. Today I seem to have spent the morning potting up plants. WE have a greenhouse full of tomato plants now and I have actually done some weeding.

Not much weaving has happened but I am definitely thinking about it. I have developed a dreadful memory which is bothering me and Dorothy. But maybe that will recover a bit.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Better News

The rather startling news out of the CT scan was `There is absolutely nothing wrong inside. Absolutely clean` so I have to go through the whole thing again next week while they take tissue samples but they have prescribed a drug which will put a stop to everything. So there is much to be cheerful about.

The garden is blooming. I am frantically potting seedlings up and trying to find places in the garden for flourishing seedlings. This morning I found room for a wigwam of bamboo stakes in the front garden and planted out my sweet pea seedlings. I still have a load of seedings in the greenhouse to pot up. Man-yana!

 In spite of the need for gardening, I have done a lot of weaving and bookbinding. I am creating a fold out book of the Owl and the Pussycat. I started by intending to use linocuts to illustrate it but have ended up with photos. Not at all sure about this. But I have decided to finish it off and then look at it carefully. I am certain I will want to recreate it.

And in the meantime, the garden !

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Not doing a lot

Now I must confess I have been ill since before lockdown and after several talks with my GP, I have been referred to Royal Berks Hospital and have an emergency appointment for a  CT scan on Tuesday. The hospital thinks the worst but I am not so sure. However at least I have been put on the emergency list for treatment. The countdown to the CT scan is horrendous  and everything I am allowed to eat today and tomorrow is laid down. I am going to be very hungry by Tuesday afternoon.

The only thing I have done recently is to watch webinars by Nigel Forster on photographing landscapes. He is very much my style and I am pleased. I got very little out of my year`s course with the Canadian which has now finished. But if I am fit enough I will go on a course with Nigel. One result of his webinars is that I bought a  wide angle Nikkor lens. But I have yet to try it out.

Not much else has been accomplished. I have done no weaving or book binding for the last two weeks. I have managed to keep up with gardening. Lots of little plants in the greenhouse and quite a few need planting out in the garden which is very colourful.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Still surviving

I am still here although I have an emergency appointment at Royal Berkshire hospital for an ongoing condition. It does not bode well and I am a bit scared. I have been through this thirty years ago and scared me then. But I have not been able to do much lately as I get hardly any sleep.

To change the topic completely, on the Tate website there are a few How-to videos, most are on painting (How to paint like Turner) but there is also `How to weave like Anni Albers`. Very do. She is working on a floor loom, four shafts I think and wizzes through designing, warping up and weaving in a few minutes. I cannot think who the video is aimed at. It is too fast for a new weaver, an experienced weaver would know all that. I was interested in the draft but that was never mentioned. To encourage someone to take up weaving? do you think?

In the meantime, I have gone round the garden with the macro les on the Nikon and got some nice photos.

It is very early for the peony as it is for many other flowers this year. My overwintered geraniums are madly flowering and have had to be shifted outside and the auriculas are flowering well too.


Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Surviving the Lockdown

The garden has been getting attention and Jerry has been running around outside - helping.

Sitting on the top step and clearly in charge. He loves to doze in the sunshine. The dogs are getting as much walking as we are allowed. Most of the family keep in touch with the phone. Apart from that Dorothy and I are engaged in craft activities, weaving and bookbinding for me, painting for Dorothy. I have been tidying up and have found all sorts of useful stuff.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020


Progress has been made on several fronts and backwards in one important topic.

Firstly the little wood next door to us has burst into spring with the best show of bluebells I have seen here and the anemones are doing their usual showing off. We walk the dogs there. The wood is a bit of an oddity because there are various entries from our estate but all of them hidden and no general access from any road and so very few people are ever there and a code of behaviour has been adopted. If you see someone else, you put your dog on a lead and retire into the bushes by 15/20 feet until the others have passed. But that rarely happens.

I have been bookbinding and have finished a rather nice notebook. I bought 6 text blocks before lockdown and intend to do one a week. I have stacks of endpapers and cloth prepared for use as book covers. This one, for my grand niece who is 12, is shown below.

and last  I have been weaving the space dyed silk warp. Very slow until I remembered that I had two ski shuttles. The problem with a boat shuttle is that I do not get much yarn on a bobbin and a stick shuttle is quite short so needs manoeuvring through the shed. But the ski shuttle works and has speeded things up no end.

I am not very keen on the idea of a jacket in this fabric but will reserve the final decision until it has been washed. It would make a lovely baby blanket and I do have a great grandchild due in August. But a silk baby blanket is not good for machine washing in very hot water. I have been considering whether overdying would be a good idea. Indigo? What other colour would work?

And the backwards project? We have terrible trouble with  internet on our desk tops. Not with ipads in the rest of the house but the computer room is a long way from the WIFI input with brick walls between. It is very difficult to watch an online class in daytime. I have tried all sorts of solutions and none of them are any good. I now know more about the WIFI signal than I did but it is not helping. I feel really upset about this. 15 years ago I owned a software firm and earnt money out of Fortran programs. Now, I am quite ignorant and it upsets me.

Friday, 10 April 2020

The Garden is flourishing

The garden has been transformed in the last fortnight. You would think it was summertime. And the greenhouse is full of little plants liking life very much. And needing watering every day. I must set up our summer irrigation system. Anyway - here are a few photos.

In order from the top
pink lily flowered tulip
our garden steps
apple blossom

And the auriculas are coming out as well.

I have decided to sign up for a photo critique. Ten photos have been despatched. I await with anxiety the comments. And I have done a lot of tidying up. The garden shed has been partially done. It needs a lot more attention than I bargained for. But the greenhouse has been tidied and the dirty pots nearly all washed ready for re-use.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020


Last week I was tidying up my hard drive and came across a nice draft blog about Corfe Castle. Never published so I pressed the Publish key and it went out - with that day`s date on it. The draft dated from our holiday last summer in Dorset and did not mean that we had taken a day out from imprisonment to drive to Dorset and back. But because it was dated last week, a lot of friends are very upset. I apologize and assure everyone that I have been at our house in Berkshire  for the last several weeks and look like being here for lots of weeks forward as well. The dogs are very fed up and I spend time throwing the ball for Jerry in the garden. He has learned how to bring the ball back so we both get a lot of exercise.

I have nearly finished warping up the space dyed warp. And I have finished the album which now contains my lino cuts.

But mostly we have been exercised by the poor Wifi signal we are getting at the moment.. It is sometimes so poor that it is non-existent. I have been reading up on the web how Wifi operates and am slowly improving our system. But I suspect that a lot of the problem is just local overload.

I think I shall go away and warp up some more. At least there is something to show at the end.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Another Project Finished

I have been making and album to put my linocuts in. Problems have stemmed from its size which is slightly bigger than A3 and that mean I had to create endpapers from scratch as standard paper is not big enough. Oh well I will know bigger next time.

The cover is done in a linen bookcloth (rather nice and I wish I had bought more of it) with a recessed area in which to insert the lino cut. Lots of empty pages left, by design and should see me out!!!

The other area I have worked on is the spaced dyed silk. Here it is just before threading up in a straight draw on 8 shafts.

More rainbow than I intended. In fact this is so unlike my original ideas that I think I will dye another warp to achieve it. Next time it will be space dyed wool dyed in acid dyes.

I came across a draft blog this morning dating from 2019 (August) at Corfe Castle and just pressed the Publish key. I have had someone point out that I ought not to be going to Corfe Castle at this time. Quite right and my fault for not reading the draft for a date. Anyway that blog  is now deleted and you can all be sure I have been safely in  this house in Burghfield Common for several weeks.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

A Project finished

I set up a warp on the Meyer which was based on an 18th c draft altered by me. And it is finished. There never was much warp so, regarded as a scarf, it is rather short at about 1.20m. I like my scarves to be longer than 1.5m. Anyway the pattern is okay. I have tidied up and found more things to rearrange. But the next job, which will be lengthy, is to put the silk space dyed warp on the Schacht.  I am also getting on with book binding and have done a load of weeding this morning. My son-in-law says he has turned out their utility room and it did need it but I cannot imagine where he has put everything. I would have thought a trip to the tip was called for.

The only other thing of note is the tale of the abutilon. I like abutilons. I first saw them in full bloom in a Cotswold garden, about 15 ft high, pyramidal in shape and covered with lilac or white blooms about 3 inches across. I really fell for them and managed to lay my hand on some seed which turned into plants (too many) so all my Malvern friends had an abutilon in their garden. But they are short lived. Less than 10 years despite their size. When I moved to Reading five years ago. I got some more seedlings going but I promised Dorothy I would dig it up when 7 or 8 years old as she thought it would be a bit big for our garden. Last year, it got to 7 foot and had a few lilac flowers. Oh it flowers in May. Well first of all it has shot up over the last winter to 9 or 10 foot now. But what is more, it is flowering. Now!! and it is covered with flower buds. So I said to D that next year I would have it out and she said Oh no need for that, it seems to be getting along fine. Well I never!!!! Let us not argue!! I can look forward to a few years of abutilon pleasure.

Added later. I forgot. Last night (Friday) I watched the first of Covent Garden's free offerings to the public. Peter and the Wolf as a ballet. Done by the youngsters of the Covent Garden school. First rate!! It seems to be available for the next week. Next Friday they are doing Cosi Fan Tutte. I am looking forward to that. Lots of similar institutions are making similar offerings but none so good as Covent Gardens. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Lots of Dyeing

Given that I am confined to the house, I have done a lot.

Firstly I have finished the deflected double weave from Melanie Venes. See photo below.

Secondly I have woven some of the 18th c draft. It is on 11 shafts and on a table loom with a repeat of 16 weft throws. That is a pest, asking for errors which I have got but nice all the same. Big problem is that I used a two colour warp and I get only one showing up nicely, depending on whether the weft is lighter or darker than the warp.
The biggest project has been space dyeing a silk warp. I wound a warp from each ball of a Debbie Bliss cream silk- ten warps in all. And decided to use Procion dyes not acid.  See photos.

First red was applied to 5 warps, then after an hour, blue was applied. The other five warps were dyed, blue first, then red. The dyes leaked from one place to another and the result is not the tidy dyeing sequence I had planned but I do have ten multicolored warps in toning colours. I shall put these on the Schacht as soon as they are completely dry. The green comes about because the silk is Cornish cream colored, that is, a lot of yellow in it.

We are surviving the lock down. We walk the dogs in the local woods at 0630 am.  and try to get another short walk in later in the day. We have a small wood beside our house and our own gate into it. It has been a sea of mud recently but we thought it might be okay after the last few days of sunshine. And it was. That will make life easier for us.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Battening Down the Hatches

We have been making sure we have all the materials we need to keep from going stir crazy in the next three or four months. Not so fussed about toilet rolls and hand sanitiser. My sister, Dorothy, gets supplies from a medical supplies (she was a GP all her working life) so  we have lots of the right stuff already. I found I was short of yeast though and went into Sainsbury to bu some. I was staggered to see that the many shelves normally full of flour held one pack only. Do not tell me the world is going to make its own bread. I do not believe you. I, on the other hand, have a bread maker and 90% of the bread we eat comes out of the bread maker. We both have a weakness for a certain sort of Sainsburys bread which they were well stocked with.

Everything I might have visited/attended in the next 3/4 months has been cancelled and refunds are following into my bank account. Oh well. The way things are going, there might be horrendous financial follow-ons after this is all over.

So what have we got planned. Dorothy plans to make some quilts which she has been brooding over. I have just finished warping up the Meyer with a pattern from Jeremiah Fielding`s book (only 'adjusted') and will probably start weaving today. The Megado needs a steady amount of attention and I aim to set about dyeing a whole load of silk. A month or so ago I wound all the silk (9 balls of Debbie Bliss silk) into 9 separate warps. Each will be dyed differently. And I hope for a jacket out of the fabric.

The original Jeremiah draft in its modern version is shown below along with my version of it.

Original Modern Draft

My draft (one unit)

Showing a few repeats

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Megado Sorted

Dorothy has pointed out to me that I never reported on the end of the Megado problem. A quote was indeed forthcoming from Louet. It was very large indeed. A substantial fraction of the cost of a new Megado. So Alan suggested he have a go at repairing it and came and fetched it one Monday. It was returned the following Sunday - working!!!!!. Apparently at some point in its life a repair had been done in the control box and the solder had given up with age. So he cleaned it up and replaced the solder and VOILA - one working Megado. I wove about six inches, wound on and discovered, to my grief that I had tied the warp on very badly so attempted to repair it and made the warp tension worse. I cut off the newly woven section, pulled through all the faulty threads, tied on again (VERY CAREFULLY) and wove a section again, then wound on. All is well. How stupid can you be! Quite is the answer if you are me!!

And he charged less than 10% of Louet's quote.

I also ought to say that my sick days seem to be behind us. I was sick for the day on average, one day in six or seven. The medication was changed. Not only do I not have sick days but I am much more energetic. I have completed all sorts of deadlines. I even found time and energy to go and clean up in the garden today. It feels good to have joined the human race again!

The Meyer - Problems

I have just had a very odd experience which took 24 hours to resolve. Later this month I am going to stay with my daughter and thought I would take my small loom, the 12 shaft Meyer, to occupy myself while the others were at work. So I designed a draft which used Bateman on 8 shafts, wound the warp for it and dug the Meyer out of its cupboard. I was quite shocked. It had a white and blue wool warp on it already and about 8 inches was woven in a  complicated pattern. I remember nothing about this and between us (Dorothy and me) we could not even remember when it was done - except that it was some time ago. I investigated  the threading - complex and on 8 shafts. No notes on it anywhere. In the end I tried tabby which looks okay but rather dull to weave. There is by the way quite a length of unwoven warp on the loom. So I retired for the night. Got up this morning determined to sort this out and eventually found the threading plus the rest of the draft in Melanie Venes handout of Autumn 2018!! And then remembered. Melanie came to do a two day course at the Guild and I did a sample draft from her selection of Deflected Double Weaves but I did not like what I had chosen and, when I got home, I cut off the sample, re-threaded with another draft and started out - and instead of starting a new entry in my notes, I wrote a few cryptic remarks in pencil on Melanie's handout!!!!. So all is now well. The only problem that I have now is that the weft is brown wool quite thick with some thinner blue. And I can see me running out of brown. Some where in the house is some more brown. I would not have started weaving with those colours unless I had enough yarn.

And on the topic of photos, our garden is showing signs of life. So I have been out with the camera.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

More on the Megado

I got round to opening up the box of electronics on the Megado. Inspection showed that it was surprisingly undusty and that the capacitors in the power supply were okay. I am not expert enough to carry out more tests so I consulted with Alan at Handweavers Studio and it was clear that lots of testing would be required. It also turned out that buying a completely new box was nothing like as expensive as I expected and that would have some definite advantages. So Alan is going to get a formal quote from Louet. But this is clearly going to take some weeks to get the Megado up and running again. So I am getting on with the red cashmere scarf I described in my last blog. Warp is wound. And when I have finished a spot of framing photos, I will install the warp on the Schacht.

I have finished binding `Amusements in Mathematics. It is shown below.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Megado, Megado

Last time I blogged, I was saying that the Megado was about to be brought into use. The last time I wove on it was October 2018. Since then I was ill for 6 months, then took some more months to get better while coping with getting the Jeremiah Fielding book printed and on the market. Well, the Megado does not work. It was quite adamant about this. It does not work. My first thought was the device to get a serial port speaking to a modern day computer. And I got in an expert but he thought that bit was fine. So I turned to the unthinkable - the Louet itself. And suddenly realised that when I switched it on, there was no satisfying loud Clunk. Eventually, after consulting Cally Booker, I called Handweavers Studio and talked to Alan who was most helpful. So I have to take off the side of the relay box and check the power supply. After all, I bought it in 2004 so it is a bit elderly. I can manage this operation/inspection myself BUT on Thursday I managed to turn my ankle (excoriating) and have been limping about the house with a wrapped up ankle. But it was not serious and I will be fit enough to uncover the works tomorrow. So all in all, an eventful few days.

Because it is clear that I will not be working on the Megado for a week or two, I am working on a new project on the Schacht. I am taking the opportunity to use some of my stash. This time 2 skeins of  cashmere from Just Our Yarns, space dyed in red and dark red. I am doing a variant  of a Bateman weave.

So now I need to wind the warp!

I am also about finished binding another book for The Bookbinders annual do in July. Called `Amusements in Mathematics`. And when that is done I shall start on a Coptic Book and a book, as yet undefined or designed but to hold one print of each lino-cut I have done in the last few years.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Starting back on the Megado

I have caught with lots of deadlines recently and gone back to bookbinding classes with Lori Sauer where I am enjoying myself enormously. I managed to finish the binding of Curlew Coast when at Lori`s. This is a book written by Judith Ellis about East Anglia. She wrote `Two Points East`  and my binding of that book was one of those exhibited all over Norfolk last summer. For the cover of this one, I managed to get two photos of curlews from an RSPB warden and processed them in Photoshop, then printed it on canvas and bound the book.

But more important, someone at the bookbinding class said she was into Coptic books after seeing mine and she was just about to start on a new one. At which point, I remembered that years ago, I had obtained from a furniture maker three sets of wooden covers for Coptic books, all A5 size and all gorgeous black walnut. So this Wednesday, I start on a Coptic book. I have prepared the paper (130 gsm) for the text block (A2 cartridge paper under the spare room bed!!!!!). If you detect an air of glee, you would be right.

So what else? Well I decided that I could do with some cards for notes and thank you letters and so on. I found a nice suitable lino block for a card of caladium leaves and practised last Friday. This week, I will have solved the registration problem and we will set out to print 20 or so.

And what about the Megado? It is all ready to go but I need to see to the IT side of things. Tomorrow is laid aside for that. I have a lot of other ideas for weaving. I listened to a talk by Sue Hiley Harris last Saturday and it did spark a number of ideas. I will be warping up the Meyer to do some experiments.

The new website is coming along nicely. Next week I think it will be up and running.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Cars, illness and the Megado

I have been ill which as removed two weeks of my life - generalised bug going about according to my GP. And the car behaved very badly and had to be taken into the nearest garage where they changed the spark plugs but aroused alarm and despondency by saying you must take it into the nearest Ford garage because we think your (automatic) gearbox may need replacing. so I was in fear and  trepidation about the bill. However when the car was collected, the service man said `Oh that`s a common fault with Bmaxes, no trouble at all to fix`. It was delivered back at 1600 hours with a bill for £105.00. Was I relieved!!!!! Since then I have driven to Malvern and back and it ran without any funny behaviour, and very smoothly as it usually is.

What that, being ill and trying deliver all the text for the new website, there has not been much time for anything although I did go to a Linocut class and start on a new project - a row of beach huts on the Dorset coast. I have however tied on the Megado double warp and it is ready for weaving which I hope to start tomorrow. I also took the Megado`s photo for the website. It is so big it has always been difficult to photograph but this time I needed the photo so I stood on chairs, knelt on chairs, moved furniture and yarn and achieved one in the end (see below) It is not wonderful but it will do.
And just to keep you up to date, a photo of Jerry and me in our garden


Blog Archive

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.