Monday, 30 November 2009

Silk Double Cloth

I still have a piece of  double cloth on the Voyager which is white silk with squares of dyed silk in various bright colours. I went back to that last night to finish a sample to be washed. I think it is a little stiff as double cloth with warp and weft interchange can be and I would like a softer feel and drape. So I will re-sley it if it does not soften up in the (hand) wash.

You will notice that the second coloured square from the top looks different. It is. I transferred the shaft lists to a post-it note  and stuck it on the Voyager to speed things up - and I copied it wrong, didn't I? It is corrected in the top square.  Quite a nice effect, though

In weaving along, I discovered two nasty facts. The Voyager is very small and there is not much space at the back, so I had put the replacement threads for the abandoned lurex warp on weights, two at a time. This is a mistake as, in three cases, one thread has become  much slacker than the other. I will replace each of these weights with two weights. A nuisance because the Voyager is so small that the weights have to be adjusted every time the cloth is wound on.

The other nasty and startling fact is that the draw-in is tremendous at 260 mm in the reed to 235 mm off the loom. As a by-product, the edge threads are beginning to look fuzzy. I am not keen on a temple with silk but I think I have to try. After all, the warp silk is 8/2 and should be able to take it.

Sunday, 29 November 2009


This is Book 4 bound in light blue bookcloth with two rectangles of fabric appliqued to front and back.
I have been experimenting with taking photos of books. Previously my books were much the same front and back, so a photo could be taken with a book lying on a desk. The recent books have been different back and front and I have been experimenting. I have been reading (re-reading, reading over and over again) '500 Handmade books' selected by Steve Miller (Lark Books, 2008, ISBN 1-57990-877-2). This was one of the books bought at the MTF Symposium a few weeks ago. There is at least one photo of every book. And one way of photographing is as shown here. Another way is to make two identical books and take a photo of the two together. But that is going too far.
The last book has its cover made and is, at this moment, being pressed in the cellar workshop. So far it looks good.

Yesterday was the Kennet Valley Guild Christmas party to which I took Michael. He asked what would be happening as we drove there. 'A lot of eating and gossiping and several exhibitions' I replied which turned out to be no exaggeration. A lovely collection of Christmas baubles and another one of completed projects based on yarn or fibre dyed by the maker. Stunning scarves in silk and in wool using a chained and space dyed warp with acid dyes as well as socks knitted with space dyed yarn. There were some staggering jumpers and a rug in handspun in natural dyes by one Mary Knipple. Her colours have not a hint of sludge about them, clear fresh yellows and reds. I could not get over the colours and asked Mary about her work. 'I always use alum as a mordant, nothing else' was the reply. And there was an awful lot of lovely food.

I have been good this morning, found all the Christmas presents, wrapped them up in nice paper and worked out what I have left to get. Not a lot. I do have a habit of buying nice things during the year and found one or two things I had forgotten. On the downside, I know that I bought some lovely fabric and cannot find it. Cue for funny story.
P:- 'I have lost that nice Swiss fabric I bought'
M:- 'How?'

I was quite indignant about that. 'How?'. 'How do I know?'

Now I shall get on with my jacket.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Donsu (2)

What's this? It came in a parcel yesterday.

Oh, it's my gold thread from Japan!! It is paper gold thread. A sheet of paper about 40 inches long and 24 inches wide has had gold leaf applied . It is then slit into sections each about 1 mm wide but the slits stop 1 inch in from each end so that the threads are held together tidily. This can be used as the warp for Naganishiki which Linda Bowden weaves (superb, stunning, gorgeous and very slow) or you can do what I am going to do with the thread which is to weave donsu (Polychrome damask) with the gold thread as weft.

Here is a picture of Linda Bowden's loom. You can see the  warp clearly and the lease and pickup sticks. This photo was taken by me at  a class at Tampa Bay Convergence 2008.  And the final weaving is amazing. I wish she had a blog or a web site so that you could look at more of her work. If you could only see it. Apart from anything else, it is flawless weaving.  You can see this thread used in  Kinran.

And now back to now. Bookbinding and dress-making call.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Things I would like to do

The last few days have been full of 'doing things'. Even the textile side of my life is in tidying up mode.

Weavetech has mentioned   an On-line Exhibition of Tapestries by a Korean artist, Inyul Heo,  The works are based mostly on Tidelands and are very dramatic - not to mention technically gifted. I look wistfully at tapestries like these and think if only I could guarantee another 50 years of active life! Braiding has the same effect on me. I am very taken with takedai (the picture is of work about two inches wide by Rosie Price) but I have so far resisted the attraction. The equipment is quite large - about the footprint of a small loom on a stand and  there are already too many looms in this house. Besides there is a lot of weaving I have not explored yet. Although you could argue that takedai is just diagonal weaving.

And on the subject of  saying 'No, I have enough to do', we attended a lecture by Jackie Hall on Japanese Embroidery last night. There was an audience of about 50 and most of them seemed to be embroiderers with a few Japanese embroiderers among them. She gave a description of each of the 10 levels you were expected to pass before setting out to teach. It sounded as if it takes 5 years minimum to do that. She had lots of stunning photos. Here is a link to more pictures of  Japanese Embroidery in the UK. This link was kindly provided by Jane who has yet more pictures on her own blog.

Our bookbinding class has finished until January 2010. I spent a lot of time on Monday and Tuesday bookbinding at home, trying to get to the stage where I could finish off two more books on Wednesday afternoon. It did not work out that way because of my stupidity. One of the pieces of cloth for a cover was not quite big enough so I spent time trimming the boards 1mm at a time and still could not get them to fit. Our tutor suggested that I would do better to cover the book in a  nice colour of book cloth, cut out the front and back from my fabric a little smaller than the book and apply these panels to the book. I am following her advice with a pale blue book cloth. So currently need to finish off the book inside. Yet another partially complete project.

I have also got round to getting on with my jacket. I bought some wonderful dark dark blue fabric (Linton tweed) a year ago to make a jacket. The squares are two inches on a side so there is the small matter of matching up the fabric across seams. One of my favourite people, Gill Arnold, has taught me how to do this and yesterday, I cut out the body sections and fused black fusible lining to those parts. Today I will start on the sewing up.

That will be after our monthly visit to Worcester Royal infirmary for Michael to have a transfusion. Once parked (which is very exciting and bad for my heart), it is all very restful. Quite strange really. There are usually 4 to 6 people being done in a large room with huge amount of window so it is full of light. The transfusees(?) get very comfy reclining chairs (the escorts get kitchen chairs) and there is a young nurse whose sole function seems to be supplying everyone with hot drinks and chocolate biscuits at 30 minute intervals. There are magazines and books to read but I shall be reading The Woven Pixel. The medical work is all done by two or three sisters and all the staff are very cheerful. The oddest thing about the two rooms (one to wait in, one to be done in) are the pictures. The ones in the main room are all Vettrianos - six of them! The waiting room has a motley collection of pictures which look to be presents from patients done by the patients themselves so there is a small tapestry, a couple of cross-stitch pictures, two or three watercolours, some calligraphy. I gather Michael is on this transfusion stuff for the long haul so maybe he should give them a picture. He is very good at water colours.

Oh and I hung the Vale of Evesham and Pears and Apples on the stairway and have nearly finished a total re-organisation of the library. By throwing out unwanted work conference proceedings and shifting box files around, we managed to get 6 empty shelves in the office. So the personal book collection has infiltrated the office. All the art books have been moved. I was astonished to find they occupied four of the six shelves. I will move the gardening books through next and then we can rearrange the main set of shelves, all 80 of them, each 30 inches long.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Progress on New Project

I have finished the Christmas cards. The weft contains lots of lurex and sari silk with lurex in it and glitter in most of the yarn!  I did over 40 and they are all addressed, ready to go.

We have been away for the weekend in Leamington Spa. At least Michael stayed there. I went off by train with my youngest daughter, Anne, and her daughter, Maddie aged 10, and we met my other grand-daughter, Charlotte,  who is coming up to 17, in London on the first floor of Harvey Nicks!!! Well, where else would you take a fashionista like our Charlotte? So we inspected everything in H N's, had a late breakfast on the fifth floor and adjourned to Burberrys which is across the road. This was for me to find a new winter coat. The last one was bought in MaxMara in Dijon 8 or 9 years ago and is thread bare.  I was rescued by Charlotte in Burberrys. All the trench coats were only in sizes 8 and 10 and I was about to leave in despair when Charlotte suggested gently that they might have larger sizes in the stock room. Which turned out to be true. You select the style you want and they go and fetch the right size!!! And a size 16 fitted perfectly so happiness all round. We then adjourned to Harrods to have a good Lebanese lunch and Anne bought a jacket. Along the way, we acquired several more parcels and bags including presents for the menfolk.

On the train and in any spare time I had, I considered the problem of sorting out colours for the new project. On Friday last, I cut a set of 3 inch squares of watercolour paper and coloured each with the pastel I had matched to my yarn. It became apparent that this was a waste of time and I was not going to get anywhere using that technique. I wondered about cutting the 3 inch square up into much narrower strips but rejected that idea too.

So when we got home today, I took each cone of silk and matched the RGB colour using Photoshop, wrote down all the numbers and then set up these colours in Fibreworks. The result is below. The weft is entirely silver grey. The whole width of 25 inches is shown and it has the effect I am looking for. The draft shown is just a 32 shaft twill but in reality is very complicated.

Now to put a sectional warp with all these 10 colours in it! But first I must do some work towards my bookbinding class on Wednesday as I want to finish two books then. I need to do some dress making as well. Then there are buns to be baked for Kennet Valley Guild's Christmas thrash next Saturday. Just as well I have retired.

Michael bought The Woven Pixel  as my Christmas present and it arrived last Friday. Lots of good stuff in there. I am allowed to read it before hand but it has to be handed back on Christmas Eve - preferably in a clean state. It is going to need some attention.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Vale Of Evesham V (2)

 The separate weavings have been tidied up. Fringes have been trimmed and the pieces stuck on to black mount board with double sided sellotape. Before doing that,  I spent some time arranging and rearranging the six pieces but, in the end, put them on to two separate pieces of mountboard. The Vale of Evesham V is shown on the left. I have a lot of foam board in the garage used at past exhibitions and no longer needed. I cut up one sheet and backed the mount board with it. The sandwich is very lightweight but quite stiff and will stop the mount board curling.

The apples and pears are below.

So that is a project completed.

I did start another project this evening but came to a halt rapidly. I had woven a piece of cloth in the summer to make Christmas cards from. Tonight I located everything, thoroughly ironed the cloth and it looked fine. Then I spread out everything on the dining room table and started applying double sided sellotape to the cards. Not enough!! I ran out after one card.  I toyed with the idea of setting out in the car to trawl Malvern for double sided sellotape but decided that at 0830 pm, they would all be shut. Oh well.

The Xmas card cloth was woven at the end of a long warp using some grey 60/2 silk as warp  and the weft was some beautiful dyed 20/2 tencel from Just Our Yarn in a broken twill. (I made a smashing waistcoat out of that). The cards are also done in broken twill but in coloured stripes, using up every scrap of exuberant yarn I could find in my stash. There is fancy knitting yarn, some viscose ribbon (pale green) and some sari yarn (the grey and black). There is a scrap of chenille as well. Hence the thorough ironing needed. There are sets of stripes of the right length for the cards with 6 weft throws of mid-brown cotton between each set to make the cloth easier to cut up. Each set will get me five cards. Well that's tomorrow spoken for.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Thinking about Pictures

Today was bookbinding day and I sewed an A4 book together, made from handmade papers folded last week. I glued two cloth covers to paper. One worked and one didn't. So half an hour before closing time, there I was tearing the backing paper off. I had fused a dress lining to the material before sticking this to the paper, with the idea of protecting the outside from paste stains and giving the cloth some body.  This has always worked in the past but did not on this piece of cloth which is rather loosely woven. I took off the 'fusible' lining and put the cloth straight to the paper - which has gone on nicely and there are no stains.

Next week is the last day this term (Tutor is off to the Southern Hemisphere) so I aim to do a lot before next Wednesday.

I have been following   Alice Schlein's blog in which she talks about her TC-1. Why am I struggling to make pictures using the Megado when it can be done so much more easily using a TC-1? Well, it is big investment, I haven't exhausted the possibilities of the Megado for doing what it does well - yardage and where would we put a TC-1? Husband says 'you would have to get rid of the Megado?. I don't think so but I will think a lot before trying out more Vale of Evesham type weaving. It is quite a struggle and often does not work. For every one that I am halfway happy with, there are two or three which were ditched after an inch is woven or discarded when completed. Is this sensible? I ask myself.

Joke of the week. I am not at all keen on rodents. We once owned a mediaeval house which had rats - and, when they were gone, mice moved in. Timber-framed buildings are full of air holes to the outside world. Anything in the nature of scratching in the current attic or cellar is now greeted with alarm. So husband sits down for his morning coffee and says 'What have you done with all the mice?' and wonders why his wife turns ashen. I mentally reviewed the precints - house, garage, cellars, attic and don't recall seeing any signs of mice. So I ask and the answer is my husband was talking about the spare computer mice which I had tidied up some months ago and he wanted back. Talk about a fit of the vapours!!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Vale Of Evesham V

I have tidied up the individual elements of the latest Vale of Evesham. This means ironing everything which had a painted warp to set the paint, tucking in any odd ends, embroidering stamens on the flowers. I visited a good Art shop in Studley today and came away with some black mount board to back everything with.

Winter Orchard - white warp, dark brown weft.

Spring Orchard - white warp, orange and pink weft. It all looked rather samey so I embroidered stamens in gold thread and half way through decided that was a bit samey too. So the gold ones are dotted about and I found some Oliver Twist space dyed silk thread to do the rest with.

Summer Orchard - white warp, dark brown tree trunks, two shades of green in the weft for the leaves. Pale green only for the grass between the trees. Possibly the most successful of the lot.

Autumn Orchard. Plums on a white warp with two shades of purple. One thread was solid dark purple, the other space dyed light purple and white

Instead of plums you could have apples. The pale brown ones in the middle are my favourite Egremont Russets. The warp has been painted in swirls of dark green and red. Not sure I like this one.

Or pears. This warp was also painted in swirls of green and two different colours have been used in the weft for each row of pears. These have worked better than the apples.

So I think the Pears and the Summer Orchard have worked best. Tomorrow I will mount everything up.

Monday, 16 November 2009

A New Project

I have three inches to go on the Megado and then it all comes off, making way for the next project. I should have started this earlier. I have a picture in my mind  and have bought some more colours of Uppinghams silk. By the way, they say this is 70/2 NM. I don't believe it. I think it is 90/2. I went to the bother of measuring out a fixed length and weighing it. And if you think a weighing machine can't be accurate enough, think again. Mine is accurate to +/- 0.1 gm. This works out at 60epi. Anyway I have all the colours I want but this will not be a striped but a blended warp.

The problem is how to translate what is in my mind to a colour chart for warping up. I have matched the colours of our Sennelier soft pastels to each cone. You can see some small scraps of card with writing on next to each cone. We could not match everything so the missing ones have been ordered. I will make a 3 inch square of each colour on paper and carefully position these. When I have something I like, I will photograph it and also make up a 25 inch by 3 inch full version. None of this is going to happen till the new pastels arrive so I will process the current weaving on the Megado. I should have started on this earlier - like 4 weeks ago.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Japanese Embroidery

We went to the Gallery, Nature in Art, today. This is at Twigworth, a little north of Gloucester and is a slightly odd place. I am entitled to say that - we are Friends. It has artworks based on nature which run from Japanese drawings/woodblock prints/paintings to David Shepherd's elephants. Lots of sculpture, ceramics, even bookbinding on occasion. They had an exhibition of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in spring 2009, the first time that show has ever been outside London. And it is not all animals.

Anyway the expedition today was because they have Japanese embroideries done in the UK on show for 2 weeks and this weekend they had two practitioners, Barbara Wright and Jackie Hall, demonstrating. No photography was allowed which means you will have to look at samples such as Michelle Ellender. The item shown there was in the exhibition as a Level 1!! There was an example from everyone of the 10 levels. By the time you got to 6, the brain was reeling. Level 4 was a stunning embroidery of 8 kumihimo braids in grey, white, pink and maroon and one maroon tassels. Imagine embroidering a picture of a kumihimo braid!! Later there was a picture of pansies done in flat and twisted threads of silk of varying thicknesses (Kathy Read). There must have been 30 or so embroideries on show.

The technique seems to be called nihon shishu and is carried out on silk fabric with silk and metallic threads. Various types of fabric are used. Some have metallic threads wefts, one was goose eye twill but most were a tabby in heavy silk. I spotted two which had been dyed with careful blending of colours.  I cannot find much on the web with photos by these named individuals which is a pity.

We have signed up for a lecture by Jackie Hall next week so I will report further then


We have had a quince tree in our garden for 20 or so years. It is planted against 6 ft high wall, has white, a little pinkish, flowers in profusion in spring. Each flower is 2 inches across and, each autumn, it has a huge crop of fruit. Two months ago, the tree keeled over so that the trunk was nearly horizontal.  On investigation, the tree had come away from the wall because all the ties had rusted through but most of its roots were still intact and so I took a command decision, to leave it as it was until the fruit ripened in November. I stripped the fruit from the tree ten days ago and the gardener cut back the top growth , upended the tree and strapped it more securely to the wall, using nylon rope. It had not even dropped any leaves since it fell over so I am hoping that it will be okay next year. It has been given buckets and buckets of home made compost and rotted leaves just to show I love it still.

The picture shows a few fruit on their way from the garage to the kitchen. I do give away a lot of fruit but even so, each quince weighs in at about a pound and there is a limit to the amount of quince jelly we want and friends we have!. So I have two recipes which work well.

The first is a lamb tajine where you add fried slices of quince twenty minutes before the end of cookling. 2 quinces for 4 people. This is also a good trick with a guinea fowl casserole.

But the best recipe is slightly startling.

Turn on the oven to 180 degrees. Take 2 quinces, wash to get rid of the indumentum on the skin, remove the hard core and slice up. Put the slices into a casserole dish, add 3 heaped tablespoonfuls of sugar and spread over the slices, pour over 200 ml of whipping or double cream. Put in the oven for 50-60 minutes. This is really too much for two people but okay for three. Mean for four.

Two extra points
1) if the quince has mottled brownish flesh, don't worry, it has not gone bad. If it is soft and thoroughly brown, throw it out.
2) don't even think of using any milk or single cream, it curdles and is horrid.

I got up early this morning and woven another piece of double stitched cloth. I have two more to go.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Midlands Textile Forum

I have spent the day in Birmingham at the Midlands Textile Forum's Annual Symposium. We had a lecture from Michael Brennan-Wood who talked about his life as an artist-maker. I saw his exhibition at the Stroud Festival in summer this year and it all made much more sense when I heard him talk about all the years of work and development ideas that went before.

He worked from  Suzani designs but done in real flowers!!! All the flowers had their stems removed but are 3D objects because of the depth of the flower heads.  He did 38 arrangements which were all photographed and printed at 1.2 m square and all 38 ended up on the walls of a cancer hospital in York.  He has photos of these on his website.

He developed this idea over the next few years, replacing the live flower heads by embroidered circles which he moved upwards from the back plane, again giving depth and then developed this further into domes of embroidered circles which were supported by thin wires from the centre. These were what I saw at the Stroud Exhibition.  A development of these arrangements of circles was installed at the new Colston Hall in Bristol.

Another development strand was based on early lace in the Whitworth Museum.

Nice quote from him 'She who lives the longest has the most fabric'

Later in the day we had a lecture from Henrietta Lockhart who is a curator at the Birmingham Museums. She has been researching Birmingham tailors and tailoresses. The Museum has a number of examples from 1880 to 1910 made in Edgbaston (did you know tennis was invented in Edgbaston in 1870s?) which is an affluent suburb of Birmingham. Also of course in Birmingham itself. We saw lots of photos of the garments. Women wore a boned corset even for tennis!!

The MTF Open Exhibition was also on show.  Annette Lucas  does embroidery of derelict buildings and her submission was a line drawing (in black thread) of a Greek column emerging from a white and pink froth of chiffon and net. I always like her work. It is very delicate. There was a sunset done in various orange/red/black threads, stitched and over-stitched by Margaret Fairhead. There was an embroidery (hand stitched) of a Bluebell Wood seen through the glazing bars of a window by Jennifer Hall. This was fantastic. My first thought was that it was a stunning piece of weaving but, by approaching my nose to the surface, I could see that it was just solid stitching. The colour gradation was wonderful. There were lots of other items but these were my favorites.

Of course, I managed to spend a lot of money. Chrome Yellow were there, selling textile books. I don't know where they source their books but I have been so disapppointed in Watersons recently. I ended up with two large plastic bags full of books and a large bill. Several are books full of colour books but a few are on textiles.  I bought some postcards of his flower Suzanis from Michael Brennan-Wood and a brooch which he has signed! I will not be wearing it. I have decided to mount it on a black velvet background and put it on the wall.

Birmingham is having Xmas-itis in the shape of a German Christmas market from Frankfurt. The stalls were full of marzipan stollen, german bread, wooden toys and stalls selling mulled wine. The streets were packed as were the trains. But I got a seat coming home and slept after a very exciting day. Did I say we were at the surgery at 0820 to have a swine flu jab? Then I caught the train at 0910.

No photos today. I get worried about copyright. So you will have to pursue the photos throguh the website.

I ought to be weaving but that pile of new books calls and I think I will spend the rest of the evening checking on my purchases.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Binding Books

I have been to my bookbinding class today and am a happy bunny. In the past years, I have been to several 5 day courses at West Dean College to do bookbinding and have mended books and made books. I did make some books which were bound with my own weaving. But it was always double cloth and I quite fancied trying with a thinner/finer cloth.

Being a retired lady now (as of October 2009), I decided I could go to the local Technical College in Malvern to do book binding so I go every Wednesday afternoon. It is wonderful. We have a wonderful tutor, one Angela Sutton, (do look at her web site), a lively class and all the tools, clamps, presses that you need to do bookbinding.
In September I went to West Dean to do a three day course on Block Printing Fabric and produced five pieces of cloth which were suitable for book binding.

This is one, printed and over printed and with copper foil rectangles which are also  overprinted with the same pattern.

And here are two more.  The top one is big enough for an A4 book and I have spent all afternoon, tearing and cutting handmade paper to make a sketch book for that fabric to cover.  I have an A5 book all sewn and ready for the second piece of fabric. I doubt if I will get more than these two finished this year and I want to do a leather book next term.
I did bring home today two completed books which are below.

I do love marbled paper. In fact I love paper. As I was tearing up the handmade paper today, I was saying to myself. "I remember that shop - Philadelphia. The only bright spot in our trip to an Exhibition there. Oh and this sheet came from a lovely shop in the Hague. I bought two glorious notebooks there and a sheet of paper with cocktails in rows all over it"   There is not enough of it to act as end papers. I did use up some with flowers on it and also cats, making two notebooks for my grand children and using the paper on the outside

The other cheering news is that I did a tiny piece of weaving with 16/2s cotton on a handheld loom. It was then painted with SEKA Paint. Ironed at the hottest setting and washed. Colour Fast!! So my plans for a weaving with Michael's enamels have not run into trouble - yet. I have ordered up the 12/2s unmercerised cotton in the colours I need from William Hall and a friend is going to pick them up this weekend.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Annuals VI

The top picture shows Annuals VI off the loom. It is 21 inches long as shown.  The picture below shows the woven fabric after the machine embroidery of grasses and seed heads has been added to Autumn and the flowers have been sewn on to Summer with metallic gold thread.
This shows the whole thing assembled on its five inch perspex cube. The viewpoint is looking at Summer and Autumn.
This one shows Spring and Summer.  And that is the end of the Annuals series.I have started on the Fruit and, after some trials, have finished a square of apples. I have painted the warp for pears and will complete that tonight.
I have also worked out what to do about the triple cloth for the enamels. I have decided to do it in 12/2s cotton and have ordered some from Halls.

This last weekend we had Priscilla Lowry  at the Kennet Valley Guild to give a talk (The WoW Factor) and two courses (One on Knitting Silk and one on Spinning Silk. The talk was very interesting - what does a juror look for at a juried exhibition. Something different, something that stands out. Something that has been designed. Definitely food for thought there. She is a first rate teacher and one very knowledgeable lady .

Last Thursday Michael and I squeezed in a visit to an Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham dealing with Art Materials. We had booked for a half day course on pastels with Tim Fisher and that was very informative. I learnt such a lot. We were used a paper new to me - basically high class sandpaper!!! Not something where you blend with your fingers.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Using Enamelled Tiles

I have been exercised about colours and how to deal with the new project of a weaving which includes Michael's enamels. I have carried a trial on Photoshop which has been helpful.
First of all I drew a grid on white foam board and laid out the enamels as I wanted them. Each enamel is 70 mm square and I an going to make the pockets at least 75 mm square. Maybe 80 mm would be better.

I had quite a job with Photoshop because the 'white' of the board is not white but patchy due to undulations and lighting.  A first trial only put black round each enamel and that is much better than a white surround. Then I filled in the other squares with bright colours and did not like it at all.

So I used the eye dropper in Photoshop to pick up colours from the enamels and filled the squares artistically with those colours. This is a great improvement. Now all I have to do is decide how to get those colours. I don't know if SEKA silk paints will work on cotton and I will have to try that out. It will still be a case of trials and samples if the paint does take.

The colours above are much darker than they really are.

I can see a way of painting the warp if I go to four cloths not three. It is definitely a job for the Megado and this is going to eat shafts. If it is tabby and three cloths, I need 12 shafts. If it is tabby and four cloths, I need 16. I was thinking that a complete goose eye twill in each coloured box would be nice but that will take 24 shafts.

I will need to do experiments but I only have enough tiles for the final version.  There are three slightly longer tiles which I can use and Michael has agreed to paint a set of 'tiles' on thick paper.

I have finished the Vale of Evesham series. Number IV has gone to the Midlands Textile Forum (MTF) Annual Exhibition in Birmingham. Annuals VI is finished and off the Megado - no more of that either. I have painted the next bit of warp in green and red and it is drying at this moment. We are going to have apples and pears next. But everything has to be off that loom by Sunday 15th November as I have a major project which is late in starting!!

I got the train to Birmingham to deliver  Vale IV to the MTF and had plenty of time to read John Becker's Pattern and Loom. This is available from

Just download it. The author has examined many early Chinese weavings and replicated them. The book is a very scholarly work - full of drafts and photos of early weavings and his versions of them. Very good indeed, even if not for the average weaver to try out!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Vale of Evesham IV

This is Vale of Evesham IV with various improvements. Although it cannot be seen in this photo, I have got the transitions between sides better. Mostly by running the same colour over the join.

Winter and Spring
This is much as before but the edge is better. I have dyed another lot of flowers so I have three shades of pink and the original off-white. The cordons and their branches are woven in several shades of brown and green now.

Spring and Summer
In this, I continued with the pale green weft round the corner and up to the trunk of the first cordon.

Summer and Autumn
You can see the pale green weft from Spring on the extreme left. On the right of Summer (leaves), there are small paler purple plums (the unripe plums suggested by Linda Scurr- thank you, Linda) which have been embroidered on. Autumn with plums all over is not changed.

I feel I have exhausted this vein. No doubt, I could do another one and it might be better executed and maybe I will have an inspiration for improvement. So I will wait and see.

But I had a very good thought for improving the Annuals. I have woven a single side to try it out and it was satisfactory as Nero Wolfe would say. I have also dyed more material for flowers. So I must awa' to the Megado to do a wee bit o' weaving.

Which reminds me of when I worked at Aberdeen University Physics Dept. A typical remark at coffee would be 'Well, I must awa' and do a few wee summies'.  Said wee summies would usually take a week or two and fill a lot of paper. I could never quite get used to that.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Plasticine Flowers and Cushions

My cushions have gone to Kuala Lumpur!! My eldest daughter, Ruth,  was was here from KL over the weekend, took one look at these cushions in the sitting room and said  'Where did you get those?' and then, when I explained that I had woven them, said 'Can I have them?'. They have gone to her new garden room where I think they will be happy. They are 20 inches square and have a central opening at the back with Velcro as a closure.

They were woven earlier this year on eight shafts with a green/brown warp in 2/10 cotton and the genesis is interesting. It is a work based on a photograph.

The Kennet Valley Guild did this first in 2008. We asked an artistic member (Ros Wilson) of the Guild to provide a photograph, her choice, which we could all use as inspiration for a textile work. In 2008 it was  a mediaeval brick wall. That caused some fun. This year, it was the artwork of plasticine flowers seen above.

I started by weaving rows of different colours of flowers using the draft shown. The pattern was woven in odds and ends of yarn, all thicker than the warp and it was okay but  a bit dull. So I added petals cut from dyed cotton pinched from my sister's stash, blanket stitched these to the weaving and added machine embroidered stamens to get the results you see. The point being that the collaged flowers are much larger than the woven ones.

There was a third cushion which has also gone to KL but I never took its photo as it was a disaster area which I did point out to Ruth. The weft pattern yarn was one skein of silk chenille which was variegated in red, purple and dark purple. When woven up, it looked lovely and I was very pleased with it. I put it aside for a week but, when I picked it up to do the flower collages, I found it had 'wormed'. I was horrified. I have done a chenille car-rug in the past and that worked fine. It has been through the washing machine and still looks good. The only difference I can see, is that the car rug was chenille weft only but the cushion had 2/10 cotton in it as well for the back. Or maybe it was the effect of using silk chenille which the car rug is not. The effect is to produce little loops of yarn. Not that many, maybe 10 over the whole cushion and Ruth did not care. So it has gone to a new home too. 

What is interesting in these exercises is how people go about extracting ideas from such a photograph. One person isolated a small area of the photo with several interesting flowers on it and then needle felted a similar set of flowers in the same colours on to a tea cosy.  Someone else took a vertical slice of the photo and extracted the colours from it, then turned that into knitting. Quite amazing the versatility of the human mind. The guild does have a whole day set aside to do this so that everyone can look at everything and find out how the ideas were extracted.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Gold Challenge 2005

I thought it would be nice to remind myself of what the 12 pockets held in the KV Guild entry for the Gold Challenge in 2005. I remember going to pick up all the pieces from Chris Fletcher and being astonished to be handed a shoe box full of these beautiful miniatures. Each had to fit into a pocket 1.75 by 2.5 inches. It was really difficult to get the tiny tapestry loom into the pocket!

A New Project

Last week was taken up with three lengthy visits to Worcester Royal Infirmary and two to our local GP. Lots of waiting time which can be used to think. I had an idea!! My husband has done some classes in enamelling and we have a number of his samples on square copper plates about 10 cm square.  I have been thinking about these for two years. Must be something I can do with them. My idea was triggered by a picture in Val Holmes' book on Machine Embroidery which I borrowed from my sister though I see it has my niece's name, Cally Booker, written on the flyleaf. I wonder if she knows I have it. I was reading this book while husband was having an MRI scan. Val Holmes showed some embroidery which was attached to squares of raku-fired tiles  with holes in them to which the cloth could be sewn.  Val Holmes attached her tiles together using metal wire. They were probably quite heavy. The enamelled tiles are also quite heavy. My thought was some form of double or multiple weave.

Some years ago, three of us did an entry for the Association of WSD's birthday, the Gold Challenge. It is about A4 size and is double cloth with 12 pockets, each pocket holding an example of textile treatment. There are knitting needles and a ball of wool, some tapestry, dyed fibre , a weaving, all in dolls house proportion. Chris Fletcher and Linda Scurr did all of these. All I did was the double cloth and tucking the miniatures in each pocket. Fine silk (60/2 NM) was used for the front cloth and 2/6 cotton for the back.

If I did a similar straight double cloth and put a tile in each pocket, I don't believe the weaving would stand the weight. So suppose I make it a chequerboard with a tile in every alternate pocket and use (say) a 30/2 silk as the front cloth over the tiles but have three cloths and bring one to the front in the non-tile squares. If I used warp and weft interchange, the cloth would be really strong. So I would have

Cloth A 30/2 silk set at about 20 to the inch - this will need experiment.
Cloth B 2/10 cotton
Cloth C 2/10 cotton.

The cloths go, in order from the front, Cloth A, Cloth B and Cloth C  under a tile
In the other squares, they go Cloth C, Cloth A and B

That should make it a stout cloth and secure the silk threads.

In addition, I could warp up in stripes of colour in Cloth C and have something like a colour gamp in the non-tile squares.  Or how about painting that warp on the loom? I don't know if cotton will take my SEKA silk paints. Cloth B would be white to show off the tiles - or black?
Experimentation is called. I only have a limited number of tiles so the first experiment will have to use squares of card. And can I get away with doing this on the 8-shaft Louet Kombo or do I need more shafts? I can't see why I need more than 6 shafts if each cloth is tabby.

I am still weaving the Vale of Evesham (up to number 4) on the Megado. Linda Scurr has suggested that I need some unripe plums among the leaves on Side 3, Summer. Thank you Linda. I will implement that idea. It has to be done this week.

I had thought I could not develop the Annuals any further but two versions have been staring at me in the sitting room. I do not like the Autumn side with falling petals so am going to replace it with a design of seedheads. To which end I went to the Autumn Quilt Show to get some more colours of machine embroidery thread. Pretty much a washout. The Spring one is twice as big and has people like ArtVanGo and Ario not to mention a fantastic stall selling Japanese fabrics. Nothing like that last week, and no nice glossy thread. Quilters apparently use only cotton. Bah!


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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.