Friday 31 December 2010

New Year's Eve 2010

I celebrated the end of 2010 by going to the Victoria and Albert today and seeing two exhibitions. I nearly did not make it. Having carefully arranged care for Michael from 0830 to 1900 hours. I arrived at Malvern station to be told that the 0858 was the first London train to go this week - and it was cancelled!!!! Normally there are four by 0858. I could not afford to waste an hour or more waiting around for the next train and, after checking Swindon was running normally, drove at high speed to Swindon - took less than an hour. I ended up in London earlier than I would have done if I had got on a Malvern train at 0858.

Anyway to the important things - The Ballet Russes and Chinese Imperial Robes. The Ballet Russes was very interesting. I knew Picasso had designed a complete ballet including the back cloth. I don 't care much for his large lady period but there you are. I did not know that Matisse had done one - very nice too. Matisse said afterwards of Diaghilev 'He is very clever but he's mad.' And refused to have anything to do with him ever again. 

There was also a back cloth for the city in the Firebird - gorgeous and lots and lots of costumes. Interestingly, the costumes were all made of sumptuous materials. Silk and velvet abstract shapes appliqued to heavy silk and couched down with real gold thread. A bunch of fantastic ikat Central Asian coats - bought in the St Petersburg market in 1912.  

Several screens showed ballet clips. For instance  one showed a section of The Rites of Spring done as a reproduction of the original, costumes, backcloth and all while the other was by Pina Bausch all in either white or black - loose shifts. I preferred the second. Though I am reminded that I saw a performance in London (Covent Garden? Sadlers Wells) in the late 50s. That was vaguely based on the original but certainly not close. 

I have made lots and lots of notes although what I am going to do with them I don't know. I have bought the Exhibition book and perhaps I will go through my notes and attach Post-it notes to the book.  I spent ages going round this exhibition.

Then on to Imperial Chinese Robes. The garments seem very large and must have swamped the wearers. Most were very heavily embroidered but not to my taste - except for the lengths of fabric which were in the Imperial Storehouse and had never been used. The most beautiful brocades. This one is called Plum Blossom and Cracked Ice.

I was wilting by this time but climbed up to the Textile rooms and looked at the modern Japanese fabrics. There was a small display of Nuno fabrics.

After that I went home, suffering from severe gallery-itis. I must read the two books I have bought soon to reinforce what is in my mind.

Train  and car journeys are quite productive for me. I have good ideas and always carry a notebook. Several solutions to upcoming projects presented themselves. But more of that tomorrow.

We celebrated New Year's Eve by watching a DVD of Der Fleidermaus in the Munich production. 

Thursday 30 December 2010

Hardworking Grand-daughter

Madi came round yesterday and worked hard. First we made two trips to the dump to clear accumulated rubbish from the garage and cellar. Then we tidied up in the cellar - generating more rubbish for the dump and put it in the garage. Then she cleaned all the kitchen drawers and some of the kitchen cupboards. I did a heap of ironing while the cleaning was going on.  In the evening, I just slept!!

Today I have been book binding. The bookblock for Pinocchio is completed and the cover  has been made up. This time I printed on the inkjet on Photo Glossy II paper and the definition is very good.

On Christmas Carol, I have been trying to decide what technique to use for the cover. One thing I have realised is that, if I do any form of applique, the inner fabric has to be the full size of the cover. Otherwise I will have nasty problems when I come to pasting bank paper on the back. The other technique is using disperse dyes which does not have that problem.

The text was the first trials of using the ThermoFax screen  - not very good and not acceptable but okay for practising techniques. From left to right

1) Reverse applique on cotton fabric dyed with Procion MX - more or less small hand stitches
2) Reverse applique on same fabric, Zigzag stitch used. The paper template is still obvious.
3) Dark blue disperse dye ironed on. Okay but where did the faint pink and yellow come from?

No 3 has the advantage of being just one piece of fabric. The jury is out on this. First I need to print the title again. I printed it through a second screen first time around and I think I have lost definition.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Japanese Sample Books

I managed to complete the final two sample books in Japanese style and the wrap around case, the Maru Chitsu. The sample books are sewn in four different patterns. From left to right, Four-hole, Kang-xi, Hemp-leaf, Tortoise-shell. The Maru Chitsu is covered in cloth which has been pasted onto bank paper.

This is the inside of the case when opened out. The lining paper is mulberry paper dyed blue and it is quite variegated. You can see the bone clasps at the left hand end. One of them is just visible on the right of the case in the top photograph.

So what shall I do tomorrow? Madi is coming over to help me clear up the cellar and I doubt if any project will be completed but I might have a review of where I have got to  in binding Pinocchio. I found the end papers for it this morning. They were very badly done so I will have to find a replacement.

Finishing Projects

Michael is fairly well at the moment and no hospital visits are currently organised. There are no classes, either for me to take or to run. I have tidied out the room upstairs with Robin's help. 'Why do you keep all those suitcases in here? Why don't you put them in the cellar?' Because I never thought of it, that's why. We did start proceedings by clearing three long shelves in the cellar so I have spare space there. The garage gets cold and damp in the winter but the cellar contains the boiler and has been noticeably warm in the recent cold weather. So various large things like suitcases and a rigid heddle loom are now down there. Robin was very helpful in his remarks except for ' Why do you keep all these boxes full of stuff?' Referring to my yarn stash. How dare he! I did realise that one effect of weaving, textiling and bookbinding is that there are three separate stashes! And they are all in the same room - with a little overspill into the stairway. At least the floor can be seen now.

He did comment on the plastic boxes, each containing one project, littered around upstairs. So I decided that I would have a blitz and finish one project per day until New Year. Of course I have to select projects which only require one day's work on them. So here is the first, done on Boxing Day. All done in Mola work. It is intended as a first pass and I have learnt various things from it. The green cotton fabric was dyed by me  - space dyed Procion MX - and is a bit too pale. Also the fabric is too fine as the backing layers of the Mola work are visible through it. I made the gilet reversible because I found a nice piece of dyed cotton in the stash. I had trouble with making up this gilet because I mis-remembered how to reverse the fabric and had to unpick it after I had trimmed the seams. The result is that I did not check the appearance carefully enough and by the time I had realised various flaws, I had top-stitched the edges. It is a sample for the Creative Textiles class and I shall certainly wear it. The class starts up again on 7th January.

On the morning of December 27th,  this was a length of  washed and pressed fabric. It was started at Margaret Roach Wheeler's class in Mahotan Weaving in May 2010.  The weave is Summer and Winter and was finished in a few weeks .Yesterday, I got out Margaret's instructions for making up and made it up. The yarn is 12/2 cotton and I felt that any cut edge had to be bound so there is lavish use of black bias binding inside. It pulls on over the head and stops just below the waist. Ideal for wearing over a sweater.

Apart from stripping and washing bed clothes today, I should be able to complete  the other Japanese sample books. I might be able to make a start on the cover for the four sample books but I doubt if I have the time to finish it. But no doubt tomorrow! 

I am still generating a list of projects which must be finished.  And then there is the list of projects not even started which needed to be completed some time in 2011. I am trying hard to amalgamate some of these.

Monday 27 December 2010

Christmas Day

So here is Michael and the Christmas table. All the presents have been unwrapped and Michael took a lot of photos of the various members of the family which are very good - more portraits than anything else.

The other end of the table three minutes later!! Robin and Ruth standing up serving out the soup he made. The main course was Suffolk ham and all the trimmings. All the young ones are on the other side of the table. 

A jacket from Sarawak given to me by Robin and Ruth. Gorgeous - A mixture of inkle loom, backstrap, ikat and braids!! Not to mention the Chinese coins used as buttons. The back view is just as spectacular -see below.

I cleaned up the room upstairs - studio is too grand a word for it. And resolved to try to finish a project a day for the next week. Will report further tomorrow.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Very Belated

These photos say it all. We celebrated being married for 50 years on 23rd December. Neither of us can remember why we got married two days before Christmas although the family seem to think the date was definitely peculiar. I am sure there must have been a good reason! My eldest daughter insisted I dig out the wedding albums. They were all very taken with the bridemaids' outfits - which are I admit very 1960s. Imagine, dark burgundy taffeta. Taffeta was very popular in those days.

And here is Michael at the celebration lunch in his best silk shirt.

This is a batik done by our grandson, Chris for the occasion.  We shall treasure this. Note the text message!!

Of course we celebrated Christmas as well but a description of that can wait till tomorrow. As can my resolutions. No point in waiting for the New Year.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Multicolour Warp 1

Multicoloured Warp 1 has been made up into 3 cushions. The backs are a plain dark brown and the fastening is across the middle of the back with Velcro.

I have been investigating diversified plain weave. I was very taken with Tien Chiu's version  which has plum blossom. So I looked it up on the web and ended up by discovering that I already have a book about this. It formed bedtime reading last night. Calladium leaves ,anyone? I am partway through sewing the lining for the gilet. I might get it finished to wear over Christmas.

The road outside is littered with abandoned cars slewed across the road - not helpful at all. I have a lot of shopping to do and inspected the road this afternoon. Even the 4x4s are taking the hill cautiously. I decided to be a coward and go shopping tomorrow when there are others around to come too.

The Kuala Lumpur contingent made it into Heathrow - one of the few planes allowed in. They are currently in London and proposing to drive up tomorrow. Much telephone discussion about routes and what to do if the last 200 yards is impossible. Fortunately the way they are coming in there is a car park off the road on the Common where they can take refuge.

I have made cardamom icecream today and gingerbread. I supposed I ought to tidy up but I remain to be convinced that we will have anyone here over the next few days.

There may be a gap in blogs until December 26th. We (the younger members of the family) have the tree and the house to decorate, while I have  to hang up the cards. We have an ample supply of glass baubles and embroidered animals for the tree but last year the garlands were falling apart so I have invested in a whole lot of new ones. The Christmas tree is a plastic one bought more than 25 years ago and still okay.

Monday 20 December 2010

More Mola Work

Recent life has dominated by working round the weather.

On Friday we got to Cheltenham and back for Michael's radio therapy in less than 3 hours!! Mind you the ambulance was over 90 minutes late. So the exercise took a lot longer than 3 houts if you count waiting time. Saturday morning I got the car out and did various small but essential jobs around Malvern. Sunday we cowered inside and admire the garden from the window.  Today (Monday) there is no more snow but the temperature is -7  and there are hardly any vehicles on the road. This morning's carers said the main roads were fine so I went to the Post office with all the Christmas cards and the final lot of parcels. We wrote all the cards and wrapped all the parcels over the weekend. 

What else have I done? Quite a lot. The cushion material was thoroughly examined using  jeweller's eyeglasses (aka headband binoculars)  and any repairs carried out. I bought the backing material and Velcro last week so should be able to finish them off by Wednesday.

I have made and carried out some command decisions about the gilet I am making for the Bourneville class on Creative Textiles. A previous photo showed the motif of three calladium leaves worked on a dark green mottled cotton and I have dyed some cotton pale green with Procion MX dyes for the gilet itself. The pattern pieces have been cut out. When I came to consider applying said motif to the pale green cotton, I realised that, if I zigzag stitched over the existing outline which is in a variegated thread, it would lose a lot if I oversewed even in the same variegated thread. So I decided to start again and treat the existing piece as a sample.  The creases are in the backing felt and yes there is a bloodstain on the edge but I reckon it will be behind the bias binding. I have found some lovely hand-dyed cotton in the fabric stash which I shall use as lining. My current thoughts, since the lining is so beautiful is to make the gilet reversible but I am troubled by what to use as an edging or should I do without I will make up both parts first and then re-consider.

Given the cold and the need to do something about Christmas meals, I have put off Summer and Winter samples for a week as well as the dyeing in violet.

Added later. We hear that Worcester had 15inches of snow overnight and has ground to a halt. Worcester is seven miles away from us. The motorways, M5 and M42, are down to a single lane and some exits are closed. And the Kuala Lumpur lot phoned us from a stopover in Dubai saying they expected to take off for Heathrow in one hour (1000 hours our time). We have not heard further so they must be on their way - but Heathrow is shut.  Interesting.

Friday 17 December 2010

More on Progress

Progress is being made. I have bought a paisley pattern wood block from Rayna Gillman which I will share with my sister, Dorothy. I have space dyed the wool/silk skeins shown tied up yesterday. It has come out well except for an unexpected bit of green dye!! The skein was tied up with raffia and some of the raffia was dyed green. I assumed this was some kind of Procion dyeand would not be a problem. But I was wrong. The green is very faint and I can live with it. I have wound another set of warps and tied them together. I might get them dyed this morning and also some of the as-yet-undyed skeins. We are not off to Cheltenham Hospital until 1130 - if we're lucky. It has snowed a little and is very cold but the roads look passable. Cars are buzzing up and down the hill at their normal speeds.

I rushed out yesterday and bought cotton upholstery fabric to make up cushions for Ruth using the multicoloured warp. I have no intention of going anywhere over the weekend when it is forecast to snow like mad.  Perhaps I will manage to finish a project or two.

My problem is that I can think of attractive projects much much faster than I can carry them out. I suddenly thought of how to weave a concertina book with painted warps. It is mentally designed. And it can be done on the Kombo so I have tied on the Summer and Winter warp again and started on my S&W samples. They will not take long.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Dyeing Skeins and Cloth

This is one of the dyed skeins of wool/silk prepared for the next stage of dyeing. There are three identical warps, each of 40m threads and 5.5 metres long. These were tied together tightly at each end, then folded in three. I tied up sections with raffia and will dye it with deep violet acid dye today.

I also space dyed a length of calico pale green with Procion MX. My first attempt was far too pale a green so I overdyed it.

This was all done yesterday evening - mainly because I was so enraged at the world and the NHS in particular. Michael went to Cheltenham Hospital for radiotherapy treatment in the morning and everything went wrong. The ambulance was nearly two hours late, the first bit of the treatment was okay but then we had to wait 90 minutes instead of the promised 20 for the next bit. When he did go in (again 20 minutes at the most), they could not treat him and, after mucking about for  another hour, we were taken home. Have to go back on Friday. Apart from the fact that he was in a wheelchair for seven hours when he is not supposed to be in it for more than 2 or 3 hours and he was totally exhausted, Friday is his day for going to the hospice which he looks forward to. And there is the small matter of me who can't go to her Bourneville class for the Christmas party or have lunch out with a friend. The immediate effect was a raft of telephone calls and emails, cancelling/re-arranging everything. I suppose my only consolation is that we are forecast to have heavy snow tonight and maybe we would have got nowhere anyway.

I ought not to complain but it is getting very difficult to leave the house. And quite difficult to do anything textiley. Not to mention being permanently tired.

Oh well I think I might get the next 30 minutes to myself so I will go and wind some more warps.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Warping Up

These are the three skeins of wool/silk I dyed in the kitchen in the bad weather last week.  Various strengths of violet acid dye were used. I will start winding the warps today. I intend to wind each skein into 4 identical warps , strap them together, fold into three and tie up with raffia. Then they will be dyed with full strength acid dye, again violet. This is going to be interesting.

The warp is based on one of those done at the creative Development course in late October.
I have some nice skeins of Alchemy yarns which are the perfect colours to go with the acid dyed violet skeins.
I showed a sample piece of Mola work derived from a screen print a day or two ago. This is the final version on a calico shopping bag. Both sides are the same. I cut the bottom layer of fabric large and then use Bondaweb round the edges when the stitching was finished, to anchor it on  the inside of the bag. You can see its dark shadow round the motif. I wondered about sewing the piece of fabric on round the edges but decided I did not like the idea of having the stitching visible on the outside.

This is a motif based on calladium leaves for the front of a gilet. I quite like it on the dark green background but I think I will apply just the motif to the gilet. Originally I was going to make the gilet out of plain calico but I am turning against this idea and am asking myself what I have in the fabric stash which is a bit better than that. I could always dye the calico. I have a roll of Japanese fabric which is silver on pale blue. I wonder.

I intend to embroider the motif before deciding on the gilet fabric. I still have the other front to do as well as the back.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Christmas Cards

I finished weaving the Christmas cards yesterday and got the warp cut off and tidied up. I assembled 10 of the cards, wrote them up and sealed them yesterday  but did the rest today. All written and addressed, the last parcels wrapped in coloured paper and then brown paper. Everything ready for a massive onslaught on the Post Office at 9 o'clock tomorrow.

It was only this morning that I realised that it was not immediately obvious which way to open the card so I hunted round the house and found a stamp saying 'Season's Greetings' plus four different colours of ink pad (I wonder what they were bought for?). That solved the problem. There were over 50 cards this year. I also found time to go to Marks and Spencers and buy some more (the last) Christmas presents and some clothes for my two-day old great-niece, Ruby Iona, who lives in Glasgow. 

And in the last hour I have started Mola Work on the calico bag I have screen printed.  Can't think of any thing else I have done today but I do feel as though I have worked a lot.

Saturday 11 December 2010

This is one of the printings from Friday with some Mola work done on it. It needs more careful trimming of the fabric edges. I had four layers of fabric in all but could have operated with just three because the top layer has got two colours on it to start with, cream and orange/red. The blue and lavender were dyed by me but the green/brown is quilting fabric bought in Tampa Bay in 2008.

I have printed the same motif on both sides of a calico bag but I don't know if I can do Mola work  there because it may be difficult to sew the layers in place. I will try this tomorrow.

Since I do not sleep well, I have taken to rising at 6am or before and doing a couple hours of textile work - recently it has been weaving the Christmas cards which are now finished. Tomorrow I must assemble them all.

Friday 10 December 2010

Screen Printing at Bourneville

Michael came home on Wednesday positively roaring with energy. The Hospice Doctor went through all his medication and threw out a lot of stuff. I don't know whether the blood transfusion or fewer drugs have caused it but he has his sense of taste back. Lack of taste meant that he did not enjoy food at all. Now he ios asking for second helpings!!!

Yesterday I went to Worcester to get a haircut and took in the Worcester Resource Exchange - Santa Claus was definitely an unseen presence as I got some wonderful stuff, felt, substantial webbing in various colours, just the thing for bag handles and some nicely finished heavy pieces of wood to use as pressing boards. Not to mention acrylic paints, inks and high class brushes.

Today I went to Bourneville and did some screen printing. When I got home, I spent some time trying to work out while this was so much more productive and enjoyable than screen printing in the NEC course last August. I think it is partly that we are not pushed for time and that Annette provides so much in the way of different materials, everything from organza to heavy duty upholstery fabric by way of felt so all the students work on a motif, trying it out as background texture, as isolated motifs, on all these different fabrics. You can see this from what the photo on the left which shows a screen print done from a small doily of paper!! I did a lot of these. One piece of cloth shows isolated motifs, the other shows a background texture made up from many overprintings in differente colours.

This is another motif - sort of Sonya de Launay. Again I have several variants of this and intend to add Mola work as soon as I can get to a sewing machine.

Progress on the Christmas cards is good. I have only a few more to do. I have parcelled up everything which needs to go the post tomorrow. I must write a few more cards - especially those going abroad and get them off tomorrow as well.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

The current multicoloured warp on the Megado has made it to within 2 inches of the knots in the ghost warp. Here is it with the seam on the end showing.  The reed is at the top. The fabric is now cut off and I have to do minor repairs which I can do sitting by Michael's bedside. 

I had thought of putting on the  warp for the Tencel curtain but decided against this as the ghost warp was designed for a thicker yarn and, if I re-sleyed to what I need for a 2/20 Tencel , the fabric would be too narrow. So I shall brave the garage and see if it is possible to do any dyeing.

I have nearly finished tying on the new Summer and Winter warp on the Louet Kombo. Another half hour will see it finished this morning.

Michael went into St Richards Hospice yesterday for a blood transfusion. They decided to spread it out over two days so kept him in. Which is why I managed to get so much done yesterday. In the evening, braving my memories after the debacle of The Tales of Hoffman, I watched The Halfway House. A black and white film of 1944 made by Ealing Studios, it is described as a horror film on the web - which it is not. A very odd sort of ghost story perhaps. Anyway my memory was right this time. It was as good as I remembered. I recommend it to your attention.

Mind you, you won't find it on Amazon. My son-in-law managed to get a DVD of it from somewhere.

My sister, Dorothy, and I had a long conversation about the films of our youth after my outburst about the Tales of Hoffman, She remembers the Barcarolle vividly. She thinks we saw it at the Cameo (Edinburgh).

Tuesday 7 December 2010

I am SOOOO Upset

This is the tale of the destruction of memory!

My daughter, Anne, lent us their compendium of Powell and Pressburger films so that we could watch Battle on the River Plate (no complaints there) and we have watched one or two others. Last night we watched The Tales of Hoffman. I love this opera and have seen it performed lots of times. But the film version (made in 1951) was the first opera I ever saw. It was in Edinburgh in the early 50s. So last night we watched it again. I was upset!! The stagings were as I remember, the puppet doll, Olympia and the Venetian scenes but the singing was awful and a lot of singing has been junked and a lot of the plot has been changed. Mind you, Robert Helpmann is wonderful - but Hoffman is dreadful - far too 'pretty'. A lot of it is dubbed.

Is it better to go over the past or leave it alone? What this upsetness shows is that I have changed. In the 1950s, I was an ignorant teenager who had never been to an opera and images from the film are with me still.  Interesting that these remembered images are accurate. But today we have been to see opera all over the world (Zurich, Munich, Strasbourg, even the New York Met as well as lots in the UK) and my standards for singing are higher. I don't like the style of staging now . Everything has been sacrificed to the staging and the ballet sequences. I don't like the style of singing now - although the Barcarolle is as I remember. Does this just say something about my ability to remember? Was I not sufficiently interested in the music and singing in those days  for it to penetrate the recesses of the brain and be laid down in the internal filing system? In the colourless world,of the early 1950s, was it the staging that impressed me?

Interestingly as I switched it all off, two District Nurses turned up to treat Michael and neither of them had heard of The Tales of Hoffman - or Powell and Pressburger either.

I had already decided not to watch 'The Red Shoes' in case I had mis-remembered it. Let me live with my imagined memories. I have been wondering about going back to look at my secondary school, Boroughmuir, in Edinburgh but maybe not now. I have changed and I hear it has changed too. 

Monday 6 December 2010

How to Move a Totem Pole

I have been meaning to note this info for some weeks.

Google Reader provides a collection of blogs that it thinks I might be interested in. Some of them are definitely 'I wonder what I have done to deserve this one' but others are fantastic. There is one by Ellen Carrlee which deals with Ethnographic Conservation in Alaska.

She is amazingly versatile and the engineer in me really appreciated the blog on 'How to Move a Totem Pole' - without damaging it. It seemed to involve using every piece of heavy duty transportation in the State of Alaska! And I recognised the problems of unwieldy objects being lifted by cranes and cherry pickers - been there, done that, made a mess of it. Did I ever tell you about taking a radome aloft on a cherry-picker and deciding at the highest point that two of us were likely to be blown off the top clutching this radome which was very expensive?

Go read.

Some Progress

I was looking out Christmas presents among my Japanese books and decided that this one would be appropriate. The keen eyed among you will note that the stitching has been redone. In stitching the original, I ran out of thread and omitted one stitch and had to tie the ends on the outside (which I don't like) so this one has been done 'properly'.

When finished, it had the honour of being the first in the new book press. All the books intended for presents are okay except one where the covers are curved. I will put that one in the press later today. If it can't be sorted, I will have to rethink that one.

This is an 8-shaft Summer and Winter on the Louet Kombo for Christmas cards. The pattern weft is lurex which looks much better in reality than this photo especially the silver. The red is not so striking and I shall try gold lurex next. This is a rethreaded warp from the table mats but there was not much warp left. So I am going to tie on a new warp which will be plain blue and not multicoloured. I am halfway through winding the warp - 6 metres long. The Christmas cards should take up about another 1.5 metres and then I shall do Summer and Winter samples on the rest. In case you are wondering, the motifs are glass baubles for a Christmas tree.

Tomorrow Michael will be out all day and I intend to have a blitz on textiles. I wonder what what will happen to stop me!! Today we are going to see his consultant in Worcester Royal which means an early start. I have given up on the NHS transport - which is atrocious and we use Matt the Taxi (Access Taxis to the rest of the world) who has a taxi equipped for wheel chair access.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Just Winter, No Summer Involved

Friday morning was spent in a series of expeditions around Malvern getting hold of household oddments. I bought a lovely warm pair of ankle boots which are waterproof (Gore-tex) and a new pair of sheepskin slippers. The last pair were at least 10 years old. 

I also acquired a power extension lead so that my new Anglepoise can operate on the desk upstairs. I have shifted all the bookbinding materials upstairs and can now work up there. I finished off the Wake Robin Coptic book.  I have three Japanese style books to finish off as Christmas presents.
To help me with bookbinding, I am now the proud owner of a book press. which dismayed me with its size and weight when it arrived. Even the delivery man complained but then he had come through snow to get it to us. I got Anne to help me carry it upstairs and install it. 

And the family are giving me other bits and pieces of equipment for Christmas.

I have finishing warping up on the Christmas cards and intend to weave a bit today. Not much has happened lately on the Megado although I have decided that I can't do any dyeing in our unheated garage until the weather gets better. I have decided to go back to the Tencel warp and redesign it to fit on the current ghost warp.

Yesterday we had some old friends round for the day which was very pleasant.

Tomorrow Michael sees his consultant about the bone scan results. I fear the worst. And on Tuesday he is having an urgent blood transfusion. He is having this at St Richards hospice (run by the McMillan Trust) so he will be ever so well looked after. They made it plain that they didn't want me so I can see a lot being done on Tuesday. Alternatively I could just catch up on sleep!

Rayna Gillman has a reference to a very interesting blog on juried exhibitions by Terry Jarrard-Dimond - definitely worth reading.

Friday 3 December 2010

Summer and Winter

This is the first (sample) table mat in Summer and Winter on 5 shafts. Partway through weaving the patterned section, I changed my mind and the right hand half is the what is on the second (submitted) table mat. It was posted two days ago and I forgot to take a photo before it went.

It is of cottolin and has been an interesting exercise. I have attended two classes with Margaret Roach Wheeler who uses Summer and Winter and thought it was about time I did some drafts myself. The first attempts were no good at all and I clearly had not understood about tied weaves. Eventually (after two tries) it worked. The table mat has come out as I hoped. I have just rethreaded the rest of the warp on to 8 shafts to weave Christmas cards. There is not enough warp left so I am going to use it as a ghost warp when I have woven most of it off. That way I can go straight in to sampling for the Complex Weavers Tied Weaves Study Group after finishing the Christmas cards.

The photo shows what I have done with the handmade paper from Wake Robin Paper Mill. The book is 11 cm square and is made from 11cm strips cut from everyone of the papers. Each small sheet was folded in half which gave me 4 pages. They were bound individually which was not a good idea but I did want all the pages from one paper together. Then each page was treated. On the first page is written what the paper is made from, the second page is block printed with printing ink, the third page is a stencil of a wake robin (American for trillium) using Paintstix and the fourth page has been stamped with letters using acrylic paint.  Given the variation in colour of the papers, most of them take  this treatment quite well. A few are pretty transparent and the acrylic and Paintstix show through. This little book provides me with a record of how each paper behaves.

The weather has been atrocious and driving conditions on the Malvern Hills is interesting. The car gracefully travelled skated 20 yards  down hill on Wednesday and at a speed of about 5mph hit another car. Fortunately for her (unfortunately for me) she had a caravan tow bar! So my number plate is seriously dented but she had no damage. It took me 45 minutes to complete a journey that normally takes 5 minutes. I have chickened out of going to Creative Textiles class in Bournville this morning and also out of going to a class on braiding run by Rod Owen on Sunday. The idea of driving over the Cotswolds fills me with horror. 

The forecast is for much more snow to come and so I will spend the whole of this morning dealing with a large number of small jobs like going to the bank and the tip. I need a new pair of boots for one thing. I have a carer coming in anyway because of the Bournville class. 

It is all very depressing. Add to that, that Michael has been unwell in several different ways at the same time and hours are spent each day getting hold of medics and attending them when they turn up.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

A Weekend at a Spa

I have not blogged for several days. This was done last Friday - printing on fabric at Bourneville. Dorothy gave me a bag full of foam letters to use in printing. I did try these last August but failed. They looked very blotchy. Since I am managing to print with blocks at Bourneville, I thought I would try again with the letters- and it worked. The secret is applying the paint. If I apply the paint with a brush or a roller, I get paint down  the edges of the letters which smudges when printed. The secret is to spread the paint very thin but evenly on a plate and use the plate as a stamp pad. The paint has to be re-spread after each use. I used the back of a spoon for that. The same phrase has been used over and over as I have a book project in mind and wanted to check that this technique will work for the cover fabric. There is going to be an artist's book exhibition next year in our local library.

This fabric has been printed and over-printed with a piece of string glued down to a piece of card. It did not survive having the paint washed off but is obviously a useful technique.
This Friday we are going to do screen printing.

From Bourneville, I drove straight to Springs which is near Ashby-dela-Zouche and met up with my daughters, Ruth and Anne for a spa weekend. The weather turned cold overnight on Friday but we were busy indoors doing aquarobics, Fitball and Tai Chi, not to mention massages and thalassotherapy (salt water pool with sprays built in). Oh and a bit of gossiping too.

Here are Ruth and Anne relaxing after their exertions.

And Anne is showing off some very fancy nail work!

A fountain in the grounds of Springs. There were some ducks walking about on the frozen surface of the water and looking very unhappy.

And a very nice pot inside Springs.

I reached home before dark on Sunday. Yesterday (Monday) I finished off the second table mat which looks much better. It was washed late last night and I hope to get it in the post today. It has snowed some more overnight but only an inch or so. I intend to get to Cheltenham today to finish my Christmas shopping. I am working on the principle that, if the carer for Michael can get here this afternoon then I can get to Cheltenham and back.

Anne asked me what my plans for a power cut were. After a bit of discussion, I have bought two new hot-water bottles and put Michael on the vulnerable register at npower. You read lots of tales of woe about utilities but the npower telephonist could not have been more helpful. The cupboard is stocked with UHT milk, bread flour and dried yeast and there is bread in the freezer.

I have done a bit more weaving on the Megado but it is very slow as I have to clear the shed for each weft. Only about six inches left of warp though.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Feeling Better - or - Getting Things Finished

This was a few pieces of fabric  from the block printing exercises done last week at the Creative Textiles' class. My samples seem to be all printed in shades of purple and red. I did not realise it at the time although it might have been laziness and just using up any pots of paint that were lying around. 

Annette suggested that we should bring everything done so far this term tomorrow and consider layering techniques and we ought to do some at home. I did not feel up to much earlier in the week but I did consider the two artists I have been allotted, Annette has given us each two artists to write an appreciation of. Mine were John  Rocha and Albert Moore. John Rocha is he of '24 shades of black' and Albert Moore you can be forgiven not knowing. Think Lord Leighton only a bit sombre. Actually his still lifes of flowers are great but you can keep the maidens.  

 Today I dug out all the things to take tomorrow and decided to do something about one of the block printed pieces (Top left above). I added a bigger fish in Mola work. A bit of velvet dyed grey and pink for the body and orange poplin for the fins.

I am also sewing up a Coptic Book containing the sample handmade papers from Wake Robin Mill in the States. The interesting thing is that the papers have a definite smell (I am not good at smells). They seem tobacco-y. Not cigarette, not cigars but the smell of tobacco leaves in a drying shed.

And speaking of handmade paper, I have received the most fabulous (slightly early) Christmas present from my sister, Dorothy - a kit for making handmade paper. I am itching to get at it but I will be good!!!

I have finished weaving a sample table mat, It has been hemmed, measured, handwashed and measured, ironed and measured. It is within specification which is 36 by 46 cm (+/- 1 cm) excluding any fringes. Mine is 37 by 45 cm but I can't use it because I don't quite like the pattern and changed it halfway through 'just to see'. The second pattern is better  so I will weave another one.

Tomorrow I am going on from the class in Bourneville to Springs Spa which is at Ashby-de-la-Zouche to meet my daughters for a weekend there. Usually I spend a lot of time in the pool but I still have a cold so will have to be careful. I did wonder about going over to Uppingham but gave up the idea when I realised it would take the best part of 3 hours aller-et-retour. However there is a largescale Hobbycraft at Tamworth and I shall take that in! I have a list from Michael already.

Monday 22 November 2010


Yesterday was spent putting things away or trying to find new (tidy) places for them) - and brewing up a vicious head cold. After not sleeping at all well last night, I tottered out of bed this morning feeling wretched but there was no going back to bed for me. Michael had a whole body bone scan today. This involved being injected with radio active material, waiting three hours and then having a gamma ray camera crawl all over you.

This left me with a lot of time to pass which was spent sniffing and watching the hospital at work. Worcester Royal is a big hospital and it has a huge glass block as its front entrance which everyone passes through. Cowering in a one corner is a Costa Coffee which is pretty big but dwarfed by its surroundings.  Do you realise that no-one dresses up to go hospital? All ages and conditions pass through those double doors and no-one but no-one looks smart. They all look anxious whether they are going home or coming in. Few people come by themselves and there is more hand-holding than I have seen for a long time. A middleaged daughter holding her father's hand, a young mother with a stroppy eight-year-old son. She starts to yell at him, remembers something, bits her lip, turns her head away. A very old lady in a wheelchair comforts a middle-aged man (her son) who is crying. Couples (young, old, very old) hold hands. The only people who look happy are from the maternity unit, ecstatic young men carrying bags while she carries the new  baby.

Now I am home, I am still sniffing and unlikely to do anything useful this evening. I feel so poorly that that does not even worry me. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Proper Japanese Bookbinding

Today I attended a one-day class on Japanese bookbinding run by the Society of Bookbinders. The class was given by Kathy Abbott and was proper - including the making of paper string to hold the text block together. The text block was made of Shoji which is 43gsm Japanese paper. There was no stiffening cover but decorative paper was glued to the text block and the edges folded in, then sewn. Two patterns of sewing are shown, a plain four hole pattern and Kang-xi which is a more ornamental four hole pattern. I have all the materials to make a hemp pattern and a tortoise pattern in the cover paper so I will have a matching set of four books which I will then wrap in a stiffened cover which does have boards in it.

The class took place in the ARK, which is the church hall at Alvechurch. It won the prize for Ecclesiastical architecture in 2007 and is rather splendid. (Photo taken from their website) Light wood everywhere inside. There was a children's dancing class on downstairs in the hall with high windows. We were upstairs and the window to the right illuminated that room along with windows giving out to the other side of the Ark. The church is to the right of the photo and there is an entrance from the Ark straight into the church.

Tomorrow I must try to tidy up!! There are piles of stuff from different projects and I must either finish the project or put the stuff away. At the moment, the house resembles an archeological dig.


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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.