Wednesday 31 March 2010

I went round the garden this morning to cut some daffodils for the house and had a camellia inspection in passing. Francis Hanger has three flowers! So I thought it could lose one. This is the youngest of our camellias, about four years old. It has not had a lot of flowers yet. Whereas Donation (sweetie pink) and Lady McKinnon (dark red formal double) are old, gnarled, enormous and weighted down with flower buds. It is likely by next week they will be out.  As is China Clay. It has flowers which are sometimes 6 inches across. It is going to be a little later this year. 
Lady McKinnon was planted so that it would hide the compost heaps from view. It has taken a long time but it is there!! Any arguments between her and the compost heaps will results in the compost heaps losing!!!

When I had woven the fourth row for the enamels test piece, it was obvious that I was not going to get in a fifth row but I decided that artistically it needed a fifth row, so I searched in the cellar and found a block of wood 3 inches square in cross-section and 17 inches long. The surface was  a bit rough but I wrapped it in two layers of brown paper and inserted it in front of  the breast beam as shown. It is a bit of a palaver getting it in and squared up with just one person. The tension in the cloth is holding the block in place. But I have successfully woven some of the next and final section. The piece starts with the black strip of weaving which is just on the block and will be finished with a similar black strip.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Donsu (3)

I have been writing up Donsu (= polychromatic damask) for the Japanese Textile Group and examining some samples under the microscope. The photo on the left is the back (lower) and front (upper) of a modern piece I bought in 2009. It is 55 epi  and ppi and the yarn is bundles of silk filaments rather than twisted. And it is drawloom stuff. I am disappointed. It is clearly beyond the capabilities of a Megado. Oh well. 

I think it is drawloom because donsu first arrived in Japan from China about 1600 and there were no Jacquard looms then! I suspect the pieces I have were actually done on a Jacquard loom. I still have hopes that I can accomplish a simpler pattern on the Megado but I need to get to grips with The Woven Pixel. 

Life has suddenly been complicated by my deciding to ask Margaret Roach Wheeler if she minded my warping up a wider, longer warp for her class in May so that I could weave enough for a top. She very kindly sent a leaflet about what dimensions to use, suggesting a width of 18 inches.  I cannot really use the Voyager which is nominally a maximum of 15 inches but in practice is 14 inches max. Well there's the Kombo but I planned to use the fan reed on that and need to have the fan reed piece finished by early June. I want to do a new style of fabric and also make a video of operation. I certainly can't meet that date if I do the fan reed after Margaret's course. which is 7th to 9th May. Michael suggested that I do the fan reed now which gives me six weeks.  The silk  for the fan reed project has been laid out beside the warping mill for four weeks ready for winding a warp.

This morning's irritation is with Google Reader. There used to be a system where it gave a list of blogs which might be of interest and I enjoyed reading some of these. But it tells me this morning that I am not using it enough. I am surprised. I can't spend hours every day looking at blogs. What are they expecting? The trouble is that I did not bother bookmarking the ones I liked.

Monday 29 March 2010

Michael's Enamels

This shows the first two rows holding squares of painted mountboard. I was going to do 5 rows but have found that I cannot safely get one square on to the breast beam, so there may only be four rows.

NEC Exhibition

I duly went to the NEC, Birmingham yesterday. A very odd greeting. Outside the main concourse there were a dozen people clunking about, waving weapons and dressed as Star Troopers. There was no notice up to say what they were advertising. Indeed there their only function appeared to be standing with visitors to have their photo taken!! In addition, there was an 'Indiana Jones' cracking a very long whip.  I don't see that this had much connection with 'Sewing for Pleasure' and 'Embroidery and Fashion' which is what I had come to see.

The two combined were smaller than the 'Sewing for Pleasure' I attended two years ago. I guess the recession is responsible. There were nothing as many fabric stands as last time. However there were old favourites, Oliver Twists - where I had a commission from my sister, Dorothy  and managed to find some thick, strong cotton for myself. I want this for Japanese binding. I also, at last, managed to find some Guterman buttonhole twist - sold as Top Stitch - for the same purpose. That was at Barnyarns. Art Van Go and Ario were also there. I recently bought some Bondaweb on the net and was surprised at how little I got for my money (In pounds sterling, 3.75 plus 2.50 postage). I bought some from Ario - I got six times as much area for 3.50 Pounds sterling. I now have enough to see me through for some time!!

When I was in Tampa Bay in 2008, Dorothy took a group of us to a quilting shop - printed cotton heaven. I bought enough of one fabric to make two shirts which were very successful but I also bought some smaller bits which have been sitting around waiting for inspiration. I rather fancied making a shirt of a plain colour with patterned collar cuffs and front band but needed a plain cotton - I got it yesterday. I am pleased with the combination and am inspired to get on making it. I also saw Gill Arnold  at her stand, wearing a fantastic fitted jacket of creamy Linton Tweed trimmed with black. She had a red jacket on show with a red/yellow silk trim and an asymmetric collar. 
Design Matters were there in person. Several of the items they have discussed on Design  Matters TV were there, including a quilt based on black cotton treated with bleach and some portrait quilts. There were a lot of stands of Colleges offering Textile courses and several stands of artists showing pieces for sale. Slightly odd since most people attending would be thinking of making things rather than buying finished items. These stands did not appear to be attended. One or two were where they were courses and smaller items for sale. The economics of having a stand must be quite a headache.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Michael painted this with gouache on mountboard. South of France? Frontage at Nice?

And here is the mount board cut up into 70 mm squares ready for insertion in a practice piece of weaving. This is beginning to turn out like I imagined. Recently I have been very pleased to find that my pieces of weaving are coming out like I imagined. This was particularly true of the silk for Convergence and 'Reflections'.

The weaving for the enamels will be completed this week and I shall probably warp up the dyed Tencel on the Megado immedaitely. I need to warp up the Voyager with 2/12 cotton for Margaret Roach Wheeler's course and I need to warp up the Kombo with the fan reed as I have promised myself to make a video of its operation and also I need more samples for a lecture in June to the London Guild. The silk I am going to use is lurid colours of silk dyed by me. I am going to include a few threads of a dark coloured silk at the wiggliest part of the weaving to outline the shapes. I have no idea what I am going to do with the fabric. The scale is too large to make clothing from. You are stuck with cushions and curtains. Possibly it would work with a gilet. Even a waistcoat would not do because it would have darts in it. A floor length skirt?

I have bought some unbound books from Volcano Arts in the States (courtesy of Alice Schlein. One is Alice in Wonderland and I 'persuaded' Michael that he needs to paint me something suitable to put on the cover.  There have been lengthy discussions on what technique to use. And what to include. He is thinking Japanese style. I pointed out that he could use whatever technique he wanted and we could scan it and print it. The reason being that handling (say) a cover with pastel on it, even if sprayed, would give it a very long life. But he has discovered some kind of spray on varnish so he might use that.

Yesterday was the last day of the 2010 weaving course. Everyone is getting on well. One or two talking about buying a loom for themselves. The Guild has table looms it loans out to beginners. We are going to have a recap day at a Guild meeting in May where everyone brings in their weaving and we discuss any problems.

Friday 26 March 2010

Finishing 'Reflections'

 Jane Dunnewold of Art Cloth Studios has a nice tutorial on how to hang 'Art Cloths' on her website. I know Reflections is not an Art Cloth (note the capitals)  but it does need hanging and no instructions have been supplied by the Exhibition organisers.  She (JD) is very against using dowel rod and for using wood or perspex with a rectangular
cross-section. It should be cut a quarter of an inch shorter than the width  of the cloth and  have an eye inserted in the each end. Monofilament can be used to hang the cloth. This method has the advantage over dowelling that there are eyes to anchor the support thread. To roll it for posting,  insert the support rod in its pocket, fold the fabric  in half lengthwise and put in a cardboard cylinder. Put a second cardboard cylinder up against the first and roll up.

You end up with a nice tidy roll with the yardage ends on the outside which means they are not digging into the fabric.

So there we are. But not quite finished. It needs to be ironed again before posting which cannot be done until after April 1st.

Coptic Book 2

Here are the covers prepared for Coptic Book 2. The inside cover paper is handmade paper with flowers in it. The cover paper came from Fibrecrafts but I rather think the handmade 'flowers' paper came from Hobbycraft. This weekend I am having a day out at the NEC visiting the Stitching for Pleasure show (and taking in the Hobbies Show at the same time). One of the entries on my shopping list is paper. Others are buttonhole twist (and Oliver Twist's stand if present), button stands, cotton fabric. And books.

These are the paper sheets for the inside of Coptic Book 2, all folded, edges trimmed and pressed. Each signature has a reinforcing fold of handmade paper, four inches wide which gives a two inch edge on each side. This is going to be a good book to glue pictures into.

These jobs were all done yesterday and now I am waiting for a book on Coptic Binding to arrive. I want to do one of the fancier sorts of stitching.

Today is textile day. I have revamped the draft for Michael's enamels and it all looks good. I have a sample piece which will go in the bin when it comes off the loom. Next I want to weave a proper sample with Michael's painted mount board cut up into 70 mm squares.

I have ironed 'Reflections' and bondawebbed the nylon organza to 4.5 inches at the top, turned it over and hemmed, hemmed the bottom and now I need to saw my piece of wood to the right length. But I think I am stopping for tea first.

Thursday 25 March 2010

This is my caladium nursed through the winter and unfurling its first leaf. The pot is full of leaf spikes but they are very dark red so take a bit of seeing. 

At yesterday's bookbinding, I started on another Coptic binding. The paper is all folded , cut and trimmed and I spent a happy 30 minutes at home examining my paper stash. I have found some good paper (dark red with gold squiggles) for the cover and some nice handmade paper with flowers embedded in it for the inside of the cover. Angela, the tutor, brought in two American books by Keith Smith on binding without glue which includes a lot on Coptic binding. So I spent a good part of the afternoon reading these. Enough methods to keep me busy for some time. In the evening I started to re-read 500 Handmade books.

 Alice Schlein  has a lot to answer for. She is currently weaving pages of birds to bind! I  have her blog bookmarked and find myself quite disappointed when it is about weaving on her TC-1 rather than book binding!  As  a result of her blog, I have had a hunt through my plastic crate of samples for anything I have woven that I could use as a cover. The other blog I appreciate is that of Velma Bolyard who makes paper and binds books.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Dealing with'Reflections'

I tried out strengthening 'Reflections' this morning. I cut a rectangle from the original 1 metre  sample and used Bondaweb to apply a piece of nylon organza to the silk. The purpley weave folded over on the left is the fabric front while the blue stuff on the right is lined with organza. It works! It makes the material stiffer without affecting the colour of the fabric at all. I will  now apply a strip of organza to the top edge of the fabric and fold it over to make a deep seam which will hold the rod to support the entire fabric. Originally I was going to apply a sleeve but, after discussion with my sister, Dorothy, the deep hem solution seemed best. The organza came from Dorothy. Very useful having a sister like her. You should see her workroom. There are shelves contains boxes full of fabric to the ceiling. And everything is labelled with the type and colour of fabric in the box.

The enamels project progresses and I have found two more crossing threads. Michael has painted a picture for me using gouache on mount board and based on the motifs and colours of the enamels. This will be cut up into 70 mm squares (the size of the enamels) and used to weave a complete replica. I will start on that after lunch.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Malvern Wells Common

Across the road from us is Malvern Wells Common, part of the holdings of Malvern Hills Conservators.  It is large and steep, some trees in the upper part, a lot of bracken everywhere, no trees in the lower part and several streams running through it - this is Malvern, after all. Today I walked over it and found only one spot of colour, a celandine flower surrounded by dead bracken and some new rosettes of nettle. Grass and bracken have been flattened by the winter. There are no flowers on the gorse.

Of the trees, only the willows are looking alive. It will be two or three weeks before much grows here. But it was sunny and warm and there were children in the pond engrossed in what a net had caught for them.

I put on Michael's jeweller's glasses and examine 'Reflections', then washed it. It is dry already. I put another heddle in and corrected the warp. Then spent some time doing the drafts. Tomorrow I will try them out.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Japanese Style Books (2)

On the left, are the stencils (positive and negative) based on caladium leaves that I used with Chinese paper to make pages for a pouch-style Japanese book.

Here are some of the resulting stencilled pages, using Paintstix. They are drying off and will be ready tomorrow. Because the stencils get very grubby, I have been using each stencil twice, then putting it aside for 24 hours before using it again. I now have enough double pages to bind nd this afternoon ferreted in my collection of fabric (bought) and samples (woven by me) for something suitable for the cover. 

 I found a piece of silk which was warp and weft ikat dyed with indigo. The ikat is not at all well done but the fabric is nice and so I decided to use it.  It has been ironed and had fusible lining ironed on. Tomorrow I will press all the pages and then bind them together before adding the cover. This book is intended as an example for a class in how to make Japanese style books. It will be done 'properly' but the paper is not terribly useful and so the class will make a book with Western paper. 

I have completely the warping up and checking on the Megado. Four crossed threads and one on the wrong shafts. Not too bad out of 1600 threads. The crossed threads have been corrected but I need to get in amongst the shafts to tie on a new heddle.

Not yet tidied up or finally tied on but the colours are obvious. It is 15.5 inches wide to give some idea of the scale.

I have also been re-reading Hannah Hinchman which I find very cheering and two books by Bailey Curtis, each containing details of six textile artists. I was surprised to realise that I was just flicking over the two artists who worked in monochrome. I have never thought of myself as a colour person and yet - - . The other thing I have done is buy myself a three month subscription to Design Matter' TV where you can watch (on your computer - this is web-based) video tutorials. I have only watched one so far - on using bleach. It is very well done and I could easily have a go myself after watching it.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Progress (2)

I finished off my first Coptic binding yesterday.  It is A5 size. The covers look really good and I must pester my daughter in Kuala Lumpur to bring me some more paper. Someone in my class would like to have a go using it. This one was sewn with a red linen thread. Next time - and there will be a next time shortly - I will use thicker, more prominent thread.  I have a large plastic crate full of linen and tow yarn  upstairs and will start by looking in there.

I did suggest in  my last blog that I might abandon the end-papers for Omar Khayyam but I had a thought triggered by Michael saying 'Why are you having all this trouble? You haven't had trouble with endpapers before. What's different?' What is different is using standard photocopy paper to print on! I asked the tutor if this was likely and she said yes. She also thought I might meet trouble if I printed on handmade paper and why not use some of her standard cartridge paper!! So I have brought 4 A2 sheets of cartridge paper home and will try this weekend with both sorts of paper.

The threading up will be completed today and then I will sley up which should be easy.

I will have to spend some time this weekend, putting a sleeve on 'Reflections' to hang it. I asked my sister, Dorothy, who is an expert quilter and embroiderer about this technique and she pointed out that I have one of her quilts with a sleeve on the back! So I have a pattern to copy. I will wash the silk first and, of course, wash whatever I am going to make the sleeve out of. I will have a hunt for something suitable. What with looking thread for Coptic binding, looking for something nice in the woven line to cover the next Coptic binding and finding fabric for the sleeve, I can see that I will be upstairs ferreting for a bit today.

Wednesday 17 March 2010


I am progressing with the threading up and have completed four of the five sections. It goes fastest when I can do it between 1100 and 1600 hours because then the loom room is flooded with light. But nothing can be done today. This morning has been full of visits from a district nurse, an appointment at the bank, picking up prescriptions and doing food shopping for the next few days. And it has not got to lunch time yet! 

I have my bookbinding class this afternoon and hope to get started on the Coptic Binding. The covers have been prepared from the Christmas present paper from Kuala Lumpur. The inside of the cover was padded with card in the centre and then covered with a plain green Ingres paper which is a good match to the green in the cover paper. I still have not managed to produce acceptable end papers for Omar Khayyam.  I am putting that project on hold while I think of a solution. I am probably going to abandon using my own end papers.

I have managed to write an article for Complex Weavers Journal on the various double stitched cloths and sent it off. Oh and one other thing.  'Reflections' has been accepted for the Association's Exhibition in Mansfield Museum. I have found a suitable piece of wood in the cellar to hang it from and have till April 1st or so to get it hemmed washed, ironed and the hanging organised.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

New Projects (2)

People are very kind. Linda Scurr has emailed me discussing just exactly what handspun I need for a blanket at 6 epi (see this blog) and Mary Jarvis actually posted me a chained and dyed warp for 'The New Project'! See the photo on the left. In fact, I dyed two like this, wove one up and gave Mary the other but she has kindly sent it back!!

This was the final woven scarf from the first chained warp with disperse dyed coloured rectangles applied. You can see the mottled appearance which results from using the dyed chained warp.
The project was based on a photograph of a very old brick wall which several of us interpreted in textile techniques (takedai braid, felted bowl, felted picture, knitting, quilting, weaving  and tapestry). This scarf was in the Blue Ridge Show for 2008.

I think this warp will do well and I must hunt in the stash for some suitable grey  cotton or cottolin. I need to dye a wool weft - I have decided on a pale yellow. The weft in the scarf photo was white. I can see a mad warping up of the Voyager this weekend.

Monday 15 March 2010


The older flower on the left has faded. The colour of the two on the right is pretty accurate, sort of lavender blue. There are more buds. Sheets of blue crocuses under the rowan - not the big Dutch ones but little ones which like the garden enough to seed themselves. This year, there are crocus flowers in the lawn, in beds in the lower garden. Long may they go on seeding. The other thing that seeds freely here is cyclamen. I have let them grow everywhere.

The daffodil buds have turned their heads down so the flowers are horizontal, the scilla are a sheet of blue. But the peach tree is nowhere near flowering and it usually does so in February. We have an evergreen clematis which is a bit tender growing in a sheltered place and it can be relied on to flower in February. It has just opened its first two flowers, lots to come.

I can see that, this year, this garden is going to be like our garden in Aberdeen used to be. At the start of May, everything came into flower together. Snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, tulips - and the roses. Mind you the garden gave up doing anything in October. And you could dig in the garden at 10 pm!

Sunday 14 March 2010

Yet Another Project

The threading up proceeds a little faster. I dismantled a bit more loom to make it easier to reach through all 32 shafts and things have gone faster - better for my shoulders too. 

 I have been making stencils and using Paintstix and that is going quite well. I discovered how to cut the paper tidily - suggested by my sister, Dorothy. The paper is in a roll. Cut off 6 or 8 feet with scissors, fold down the centre line carefully. Now it will fit in the guillotine! And that works well. The photo does not show up the smudges of Paintstix on two of the pictures which will have to be rejected. It is not possible to use a stencil with Paintstix more than 2 or 3 times without generating smudges. Means lots of stencil cutting. The stencils are made from  printing photos of caladium leaves on stiff paper and cutting them out, sometimes cutting an interior one as well to give veins. Good fun.

The title says 'New Project'. I am much better at inventing projects than carrying them out. There just does not seem to be enough time. This one is involved (when are my weaving projects not involved?). I start by winding a warp in 2-ply wool and chaining it very tightly, then dye it in bright oranges and browns. This will give a fabric  flecked in orange and brown when woven up. Warp this up with a pale grey unmercerised cotton which is a little thicker than the wool and have equal numbers of threads. Weave in twill or tabby (not important at this stage) with alternate wool and cotton. When off the loom, use devore to print maple leaves over the fabric and they should come out in bright browns and oranges against a grey background which is tinged with orange/brown. There is no doubt that the results cannot be predicted so I may have to do this two or three times. There is a question as to what colour the weft wool should be. I will think about it.  It might have to be dyed to match one of the colours in the warp. I have in mind an entry in an exhibition 'Inspirations from Nature'. The finished objects will be scarves.

Friday 12 March 2010

Japanese Style Books

I want to make some trial Japanese style books. True Japanese books with their stab binding use Japanese paper which is very flimsy - hence my purchases on Wednesday this week. The paper is used folded. You can see a fold in the two samples on the left. The free ends are bound into the spine of the book leaving a 'pouch' formed of the folded paper. In making a sample book with this paper, you can't give it to someone to use as a journal because the use of a pencil or biro would wreck the paper. It is actually intended for wood-block and other printing or perhaps calligraphy using special ink.  I decided that I wanted to have some content on the pages and what better than calladium leaves? Watercolour or pastels is not feasible. Oil pastels might be, I thought.  So I printed some calladium leaves at the appropriate size on to thick paper, cut them out and made stencils, then used these with oil pastels. A sample is at the top and I do not like it at all so I tried paintstix (lower sample) and decided that was fine. Another problem which I had not envisaged is that the paper just tears with a craft knife. So I have cut the sample pages with scissors but will have to do better as the edges are a little ragged. 

The paper of the samples is a roll of Chinese watercolour paper I brought back from Kuala Lumpur and am using because Michael does not want it.

Jobs to do then are to find a good method of cutting the paper to size, prepare some pages with stencils and bind them. My tutor brought in two Japanese books for me to see this week. One was bound in paper and the other in silk donsu!!! There's a thing to aim for!

The threading is progressing and I am approaching the 20% done mark. The next thing on the Megado is going to be a  good length of Tencel on 4 shafts - broken twill, easy to warp up and weave! I have realised that the last three Megado projects have been too many to the inch!! The Vale of Evesham was 90 epi, Convergence was 60epi, the current one is 100 epi. I think I will ask Linda Scurr if she has some spare handspun which I can weave at 6 epi!

Thursday 11 March 2010

Japanese Paper

I have the warps for the multiple cloth wound on to the warp beams and am threading up which is a big job. The piece of silk I wove last had 1450 threads and a complicated threading on 32 shafts. This one has 1600 threads, a simple threading - 40 times 1 to 8, followed by 40 times 9 to 16 and repeat. BUT, because of the multiple warps, one is always looking for the correct next thread. The other point is that afternoon threading is clearly much better. Light is pouring onto the Megado whereas the warp will all be in shadow this evening.

Yesterday I went bookbinding and found that a man from J Hewit of Edinburgh was present at the class with leather to sell not to mention marbled paper and, to my joy, Japanese paper. I have been reading lists of Japanese paper for the last few months but it is pricey and I thought I would like to see samples before buying. And he had six sorts! I bought a sheet each of five sorts. One was far too flimsy at 10gsm. The rest were 20 to 29gsm so they were all very fragile. They have got Japanese names which probably mean something.  One of them (Maruishi) is made from hemp and the rest from wood pulp.

The Coptic binding is ready to be sewn. The covers are made and holes made in the paper. I am looking forward to this. Just as well something interesting is going on because I still have not succeeded in pasting the Omar Khayyam end-papers to a backing sheet without wrinkles and/or smudges. I found my flour paste had gone off in the fridge so cooked up some more this afternoon and tried again.

Back to a bit more threading up

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Convergence Yardage

This shows the coloured warps on the back of the Megado. I have got further. The black cotton is present. All the cotton is wound on to the back beam and the cross-sticks are in. The silk warp needs to go on the second warp beam. So there is progress.

And in the garden is Iris unguicularis, four inches high and doing its best. There are lots of buds coming on this plant and also on the plant you can see at the top right of the photograph. I cherish these. This plant has been with me for 30 years. We moved it to this garden 24 years and it took 5 years to get over its miffedness. But that always happens so I just waited. I tell it I love it when I pass it by.

But what has been exercising me mentally  is Stacey Harvey-Brown's blog in which she talks about judging the entries for the Convergence Yardage Exhibition 'Enchantment' and I got to wondering how you carried out the judging. Clearly if a piece is very badly made, it can be discarded at once but I bet that does not happen much. So you have to devise a way of marking/ranking them. And that is quite difficult. What percentage of the marks go to 'fit to the title' and 'artistic design'? Well it is a yardage exhibition so less than half, say 30% . But then what? The Grand Rapids yardage show had a piece which was a fantastic fit to the title but 'Enchantment'? Fairies and elves? Twinkly lights? Wands? Hmmph.

Re-reading the rules, the fabric has to be 'constructed or embellished' and will be judged on 'concept, design, technique and overall suitability of technique and/or materials. Creative exploration is encouraged'. 

There is nothing to say the piece has to be woven so there is no point in allotting points for difficult of draft or anything like that and I guess that you would have to allot points according to the attributes listed by HGAso it might read

Fit to Title 10%
Concept 20%
Overall Artistic design 20%
Technique 20%
Suitability of technique for concept 15%
Suitability of materials for concept 15%

But I bet that, if I were doing this, I would mark every piece and then realise that the marking scheme was not suitable for certain pieces, devise a new scheme and re-mark them. Unless of course, HGA has set up a marking scheme which the juror has to follow. I can't see the jurors liking that. I am prepared to bet also that a few pieces will be obviously outstanding and the problem will be which of the rest to accept. There must be a limit on the number of acceptances. I would love to know how many entries there were. I do know that the acceptances are around 27->35 at the last three Convergences (I counted). I was interested to realise on looking at these that I actually knew (to speak to) or knew of (read the book) at least 75% of the entries makers. Is it only the really expert who go in for this or is the really expert who are going to get accepted and the rest of us have no chance?

Interesting, is it not? I have never done anything like this - but I have spent decades (more than three) refereeing papers for Journals and Conferences and it is not unlike this which is why I am interested.

Monday 8 March 2010

Michael's Enamels

On November 6th 2009, I showed some output from Photoshop of a project using Michael's enamel samples. This is the latest (definitive) version. I matched the plain colours as well as I could to William Hall's shade card for 2/12s cotton. The colours are muddy which Michael says, is the results of using a copper base. The only one which was a problem was the red so I ordered two slightly different shades. Now they are with me, I have decided to use both. I decided that I did not want to make up a coloured square out of two colours of cotton but have both warp and weft the same in each coloured square. The colours have been changed round so that, in each row and each column, there are only two colours. So I need two cloths for the colours plus one black and one grey silk for the pockets. Each column contains 80 threads and I am winding a warp for each column and each colour, 15 warps 3 meters long, each with 80 threads in it. Plus the grey silk which will go on the second beam.

For a minute or two, I considered warping up the Megado from front to back but realised this is not feasible. I could not reach shaft No 1 from the back of the loom to thread it up. 

Last time I blogged about this project, I was worried about the draft. I can just about see it is okay but the warping is correct and, once that is on, I will soon find out if I have the draft right. I started winding the warp last night and have done a third of them.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Tencel Curtain

I posted a photo of four different skeins of 20/2 Tencel (under Artistic Choices). I selected two colourways. I have wound 200 gms of 16/2 Nm white Tencel into two skeins. 16/2 Nm works out at 8000 m/kg or 4000 yds/lb. The Tencel from JustOurYarns says 20/2 (cotton scale?) and has 2000 yards in 113 gms which is 4 ozs so 8000 yds/lb. Maybe I should have dyed the 30/2 NM which would be 7500 yds/lb.
Here are the two skeins, after soaking in water plus Woolite and in their Procion MX dye plus salt solution and soda solution. Each bag contains 6 teaspoonfuls of dye solution (bright pink) plus 100 ml of salt solution and 100 ml  of soda solution, topped up with 500 mlitres of water. The skeins were thoroughly kneaded through the plastic and then left for 24 hours. Then they were rinsed - and rinsed - and rinsed. When no more dye came out, they were washed in water and Woolite and hung up in the garage
They look a very bright pink.

This is after drying. One dyed skein with one skein of each of the two space-dyed blends from JustOurYarns which I intend to use. The idea is that the warp will be mostly the red/green with a few stripes, probably one inch wide of the pink/orange with my dyeing as the weft in a 3 (warp) and 1 (weft) broken twill. I have just done the sums and it comes out okay. I need 5 yards of 24 inches wide for the curtain I want. It will not be a balanced weave but I can live with that.

Today I did a class on drafting with the weaving class students weaving paper spills into prepared 'warps' of paper- see Tidying Up. They all managed all four examples and went off happy (I hope!).

Tomorrow I go back to the draft for Michael's enamels. With four layers of cloth inter-changing, I wish I could see what I had planned!!

Thursday 4 March 2010

The sun is going down behind the Malvern Hills and has gone off the crocuses which were open all afternoon. Now they are closed for the night. Originally they were planted in the soil at the foot of the tree (Sorbus Joseph Rock) but they like it here and have seeded into the lawn and into other beds. The magnolia is showing colour and so is the peach tree. So that got its last anti-peachleaf curl spray of the year this morning.

Lots of things are poking up. Not least one of my caladium corms from last year and sitting on the scullery window sill. Am I pleased? Yes. But I inspect the other two several times a day. Why aren't they doing anything?

Yesterday I went bookbinding and the book on the left was the result. The cover comes from the same piece of fabric as a book in a previous blog of 18th February. You can see the nice pale yellow end paper which is a handmade paper with grasses and leaves included. The paper in the body of the book is watercolour paper.

I am still trying to glue laser-jet graphics to a backing paper to use as end-papers in Omar Khayyam. I am approaching something acceptable but am not there yet. So to fill the time while papers are drying, I have started on a Coptic binding. The covers have been made and are in the press until next Wednesday. The paper was something I had by me and has been folded ready for use.  The sewing for a Coptic book reads like something very complicated but we will see.

I find this business of paper very difficult. My sister gave me a present of 10 sheets of A1 some years ago which was wonderful stuff and nothing has been up to scratch since. So I buy samples every time I see some. I do not think that NEC Exhibitions or Hobbycraft or other craft retailers are the right source. I could send for some on-line from a specialist like Griffin Mills but I would rather see it first. I have wondered about making my own and bought a second-hand book on the topic at the last Guild meeting but it looks too difficult to get right first time. Perhaps I need a course at West Dean. The problem is that I cannot define what makes a 'good' handmade paper/ I just know it when I feel it and write on it.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Uchishiki Lining (2)

Yesterday I caught the light on the lining just so and suddenly saw the whole pattern. Today I wandered round the house, trying out various light sources. Ended up in front of a window at a low angle and here it is. This is the best I can do.

I have had an email back from Ichiroya saying he agreed with me re the rayon-ness of this lining and says

From around Taisho era, jinken(rayom) was often used for kimonos and
other fabrics, which were silk. Maru obi is often woven with silk and
jinken(rayon) blend, so that the lining of vintage uchishiki is rayon is
not special case, we think.
It might be the original lining ( we are not sure though ).
The Taisho period is 1912 to 1926. My textile expert says that rayon was highly regarded in the 1930s which would fit.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Uchishiki Lining


I have done some more research on the lining of the orange uchishiki and think that it is probably rayon. Wikipedia says the diameter of cotton is 12 to 20 microns. I have looked at the fibre using a much better microscope with an accurate graticule and the diameter of each filament is between 5 and 10 microns and is most likely 6 to 7 microns. The filament has a high sheen and is very uniform. I have shown it to a textile expert using the microscope and he was convinced it was man-made and not cotton. The filaments look very uniform in diameter and there are between 40 and 60 to a thread. The thread is definitely spun/twisted. The burn test also fits with a man-made fibre and Ichiroya thinks it is most likely to be rayon.

I managed to get a side light onto it and took the photo above. What is shown is about three inches square and you can see several fans and some flowers. In the 1930s rayon was very new and it would have been very grand to have a kimono made of this new material.


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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.