Sunday, 30 May 2010

New Projects (3)

This blog is more for my benefit than anyone else's. I am conscious that the house has little heaps of things collected together. Each heap represents one project and not much is happening to any of the heaps. Well here they are.

W1) Weaving top on Margaret Roach Wheeler's warp on the Voyager. Not far off finished. Should be off the loom today. Give it a good wash. Make up this week
W2) There looks to be plenty of warp left to do some more samples. I made a mess of two of them. I think I found reading the treadle draft for the table loom difficult so I will put the two drafts on to Fibreworks and turn them into liftplans. Do today.
W3) Finishing warping Megado with handspun and weave this.
W4) Put devore project on Voyager when Margaret's warp comes off. I have dyed Tencel and merino skeins for this. So we are ready for off. I need to decided whether the warp is just wool or is wool and tencel. Must read Anen Field's book on this topic.
W5) And of course the Fan Reed. Being brutal about this project, I have no great enthusiasm for it. I have got the photos I want. Oh well. I ought to try to get it finished by June 12th when I talk to London Guild. You will note that it is lowest of the list of weaving projects.


S1) Do the buttonholes in my jacket which has been sitting upstairs since December. This counts as URGENT
S2) Draw up the master block for my dress as fitted in Gill Arnold's course.
S3) Then make up cotton material using that master pattern
S4) Draw up master block from jacket pattern on stiff paper. At the moment the master is on tissue paper which is looking tired.

B1) Finish Alice in Wonderland. This can be done at the class.
B2) Bind three Japanese books as samples using 3 and 4 hole techniques. These can wait until the table comes next week. The contents are all ready.
B3) Do something about birch bark. I may have some next week. Otherwise buy from Sweden. Kirsten kindly sent a Swedish website address which sells birch bark. But my sister says there are two birches down in her local woods and she has noticed bark lying about. She will collect today. This would be an opportunity to  practise flattening the bark.
B4) Take piece of sycamore into class and try to burn letters into wood so as to do title. Angela Sutton will have to be consulted.
B5) Distantly in the future. I have bought some paper from Velma Bolyard and have designed a Coptic binding for it. But the paper is not likely to arrive for another two weeks.

So Order is
W1,W2,W3, W4 until table appears then
S1, S2, S4, B2, S3

B3 is separate and can be done when it arrives. Reading up what to do, it need soaking in a bucket for several days first. That does not sound too onerous to do!!

I feel better already!

Added Later

If you are interested in copyright as it applies to textiles, you might be interested in this

Copyright in Fashion

Saturday, 29 May 2010

This is the view from our kitchen window. Hostas being very successful! I have thinned the set peach fruits twice all ready this year. The fruit is about 15 mm in diameter and I will have to thin them at least once more. The soft fruit is all underway and we look to have the usual glut of black and red currants and gooseberries.

 Last night I stayed up late watching  the first Opera program on Italian Opera on the Iplayer. Great stuff.  We had the privilege of seeing Danielle de Niesse on her third performance at Glyndebourne when noone had ever heard of her (She was a last minute stand-in). And she was stunning. Mind you, it is a great advantage to be a stunning looker and dancer as well as one of the top flight singers. And she can't be 30 yet!! But I look at opera houses and everywhere I went when I worked (and there was a lot of travel) I would go to the local opera house. On one famous occasion, I was in Munich with a high-powered technical group of about 25 people for a week. The first evening was spent in a beer garden but I have a limited enthusiasm for beery evenings with 24 males. So the second evening I said I had a head ache and would stay in and rest. As soon as they were out of the hotel, so was I - on my way to the Gaertner Opera House to see 'Cosi Fan Tutte'. It was played with a much younger caste than I had ever seen and played very fast and for laughs. Great fun. At the end, I went back to the hotel on the tram and walked into the hotel with the program under my arm, singing (inside you understand). To find the rest of the group milling about. Doh!! So I told the truth, had a night cap with them and went off to bed. The upshot was quite startling. The next day, five different people approached me very quietly and said the next time you go to the opera could I come too? It turned out that quite a few people cared as little for beery evenings as I did!!

Michael has not been well this week so not a lot of textile work. I have decided to make a major change in working methods. His room is what used to be our sitting room. It is the best room in the house and he can get a good view of the garden. Because I like to work where he is in bed, the Kombo sits in one corner and yes I am using it at the moment but that it is not always true since I have two other looms. So I have ordered a table to replace the Kombo. The crucial thing being that the top is variable  in height so I can work at bookbinding on it, use the sewing machine and also weave on the Voyager. This arrives on next Wednesday. 

Thursday, 27 May 2010

A Day Spent Dying

I made up a new batch of KEMTEX Orange acid dye and dyed two silk skeins. First I wound a 75 gm skein of Uppingham's two-ply pure merino and dyed it lemon yellow. This is for a devore project. The yarn is lovely but causes havoc if used for a warp. So I am using TEXERE's two-ply wool in the warp. It has come out a wonderful colour.

This is a piece of sanded sycamore left from doing the book covers for Michael's enamels. Three different methods of applying dye have been used.
1) Procion MX (green + rust-brown)
2) Acid Dye Emerald
3) DEKA Silk Paint Green

All the samples were all painted in a rectangular shape. The DEKA Silk Paint has only crept a very little, the acid dye has crept more (look at the irregular edges) and

the Procion MX has invaded  everywhere. The Acid dye has separated as well leaving  a blue edge to the sample.
The lower photo was taken after ironing the piece of sycamore (with a parchment separator). When it had been ironed for several minutes, I took a damp cloth and rubbed each patch of dye. You can see where I did this on the Procion MX and Acid dye patches and the damp cloth picked up a lot of colour. When I did this to the DEKA Silk paint patch, there was no colour on the damp cloth and no change to the appearance of the patch. So it is safe to use DEKA Silk Paints.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Caladium Flower

This blogging lark - -

has made a difference to my life!

If I had not seen the Coleus weaving in Sandra Rude's blog and followed it up so that eventually I became its proud owner, I would not have had the courage to write to Velma Bolroyd, she of the Wake Robin Paper Mill and ask if she would sell me some of her handmade paper. I am so pleased she said yes. I have worked out a book design to use it already!! These blog people, they don't mind you writing to them at all. And in passing, a wake robin seemed to be a trillium. I have had some in the garden but they didn't like it and died.
This is a badly focussed photo of a bloom on Magnolia watsonii. All the other flowers had been shrivelled up by the heat of the last few days. It is a small tree and, to me, it seemed a bit short on leaves. 

Returning to book binding, my tutor says that wooden covers were the thing in Coptic times and my book with Michael's enamels mounted on sycamore is just right. I am taken with the idea of having book covers of birch bark which I saw used in a purse in Birmingham Museums Warehouse with Margaret Roach Wheeler.  I have now read up how to prepare birch bark. I have several birches in our garden and nearby and I was going to visit them with a knife but this is a bad idea. You kill the tree. So you have to buy the bark or find a wood with cut down or dying birches in it and then take a knife to it. These days you could get arrested for that. I have found a supplier in the States but I can see trouble with importing wood into the UK. I once had to oversee the sending of two very large antennas to Canada and there was a major carry-on about the wooden crates which were specially built to fit them into. We had to have a special Certificate - and pay special money too. Anyway if anyone knows of a source of birch bark in the UK, please get in touch. It is used in basket making. I suppose that anywhere in the EU would do. Scandanavia?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Fan Reed (6)

This is the Fan Reed silk just off the loom. After washing and ironing, it was beautifully soft. This evening I have done the write-up for the Complex Weavers Fine Threads Group, printed 40 copies, cut up the cloth into 40 small samples and stuck them onto the printed sheets with archival tape. And parcelled them up.

I am not tying on again because the tension in the warp is quite good so I have done it with sticks and the sticks will be tied on. I also repaired a few errors in the warp. I found there were errors in sleying which I did not want to redo. So I added in threads and sorted out the right selvedge.

I must say that the quality of weaving is not up to standard. It is all too easy to lose a thread or two with the narrow sheds I have to work with. I estimate I have 2 metres or so of warp left and I MUST TRY HARDER!!!

The acid dye came today but I will not have time to do any dying until Thursday morning. Tomorrow afternoon I have the bookbinding class and, in the morning,  I shall call on a Magnolia watsonii in flower in a friend's garden! There will be photos here soon.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Fan Reed (5)

This morning I managed to take the series of photographs I need to explain how a fan reed works. I have turned them into a Powerpoint presentation but thought I would attempt to turn them into a Picasa Slideshow for this blog.

 First, how does it work? Mine is a 15 dent/inch reed 20 inches wide and 5 inches high. On the centre line, every fan is two inches wide and runs from 1 inch at one side to 3 inches at the other side.
Basically the warp stays constant in position and the reed moves up and down so that some sections of the warp are squashed together while alternate sections are further apart. The 15 dents per inch on the centre line becomes  30 dents per inch at one end and 10 dents per inch at the other.

How you achieve the movement of the reed will depend on the loom you have it mounted in. I rather fancy that an overslung beater is best but that is probably because I have implemented mine on a Louet Kombo. The actual motion is achieved by winding two screws up and down.

This is a SolidWorks drawing of the mechanism. The inner two vertical rods are long screw threads. There are wingnuts under the lower wooden beam for the reed which are manually adjusted together to drive the reed up and down.

Now you have to decide what 'pattern' you want to weave. Suppose you fix a step in vertical reed movement. If you throw a weft three times each time you move a step, you get a linear pattern, looking like a triangle. In practise as you turn round to go back, you will not maintain a sharp kink and  the triangles will be rounded. You can vary the length of a pattern repeat by throwing more or less weft shots per step. I do not like this linear pattern and have experimented with a number of curved shapes. I now use an approximation to a sine curve (computed using EXCEL) which does require a variable number of wefts per step.

There are problems in using the Fan Reed

- you cannot use the whole height of the reed. The top is limited by where the upper threads of a shed are and the need to have enough space in the shed for a shuttle. I bought two tiny shuttles from Bluster Bay specifically to use with the Fan Reed  but I still 'lose' the top 15mm - and to make the pattern symmetric you cannot use the reed to the lowest point but must stop 15mm above the lower edge
- you need a high tension in order to give the shuttle a surface to glide on. And this very light shuttle is not ideal.

I am weaving 60/2 silk and there are additional problems in weaving silk at 48epi with the Fan Reed.

- because the cloth is sometimes warp faced and sometimes weft faced, unweaving is a real problem if you make a mistake. The shafts have to be well balanced and equally hung - and that is not easy on the Louet Kombo.  A tie up system like the LeClerc Voyager which uses Tex-Solv would get rid of a lot of these problems
- it is very slow. I reckon to be an average weaver. I can manage better than 3 seconds per weft throw on my Megado. It takes me 50 minutes to do five inches which works out at 12.5 seconds per weft throw. This is mostly a function of my mechanism and yes, I can see how to automate it using a stepper motor and a lot of money.

It is a waste of time, in my opinion to do anything but tabby with this reed, though maybe you could use twill. I am disapppointed at the number of errors in my weaving. Possibly weaving with a thicker yarn would avoid these errors. Most of what I have done has been 60/2 silk although the first thing I did was 10/2 cotton in a triangular pattern.

I have taken photos of the current cloth at the top and bottom of the reed and at three intermediate positions with the current weaving.  For those of you who are still with me, try this Fan Reed Slideshow.  Click SlideShow at the top left  and then immediately go to the lowest central part and click on the plus sign until the 3 seconds reads 10. Then you can use the right and left arrows to move through the Slide Show at your leisure. I would like to know how readers manage with this Slide Show.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Best Laid Plans - -

I have been weaving away at the Fan Reed fabric and suddenly realised that I am nearly out of light orange weft. I knew about that so Plan B swung into action. I dug out the dye sheet (one of Ros Wilson's many excellences is that she insisted I keep records of dyeing!) and, oh yes, I need 150 gm of 2% KEMTEX orange for 75 gms of 60/2 silk.  So I make up a 75 gms skein of 60/2 silk and then look for 2% solution Orange in garage cupboard, none. Never mind, look for dye powder to make up a new batch of 2% solution - none. None, what do you mean none?  So Plan C is

- order Dye (done by FAX)
- wait till tomorrow to weave up remainder of orange weft because I want to take a lot of photos for my talk to London Guild and there is lots of light in that room before lunch.
- When that is done, I can finish off the samples for Fine Threads Group in either of the other two colours, brown and dark orange. Or possibly better use some yellow which I have from Handweavers Studio.

I have woven 60 cm of the 80 I need for the samples. Since the family is coming over tomorrow, I will only be able to weave in the morning.

I am going to have to post on Wednesday if Lillian is to get these by June 1st.  So I will have to do the write up this evening.

The weather continues fine as it says somewhere.

A big shock to my nervous system has been that a caladium has flowered. I am not at all keen on arum lilies - and that's what we have!! Unfortunately the flower went over very fast before I remembered to take a photo but another flower will be open tomorrow. 

Friday, 21 May 2010

Tree Paeonies

I am very fond of tree paeonies and we have several in our garden. This is my favorite. It looks like the famous rockii but is actually 'Shimane Hakugan'.  This plant is at least 15 years old.
When my daughter, Ruth, moved from Purley (South London) to Kuala Lumpur three years ago, she had just planted two tree paeonies, one of which was also Shimane Hakugan. Well I wasn't having that. The new owners might not like tree paeonies. So I dug them up and moved them to Malvern where they are flourishing.
There is a general feeling in the family that love of these plants tokens something not quite right with Mother's taste. Blousy? Over the top? A trifle uneducated?

Well take a look at two blooms, each eight inches across.

The plant is straggly and has nothing but bare sticks to show over winter. I have to prune it very carefully to keep it even down to this size.  And it does not pay the rent - that is, it does not have a long season or have interesting autumn colour.  But I forgive the plant everything for three weeks of these a year.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Thoughts on Sketch Books

My sister, Dorothy, told me some time ago that there was a Quilting exhibition on in Hanley Swan which is about two miles away from us. I don't even know where the Hanley Swan Village Hall is. I thought I would investigate and a Google search produced a time and date. It is the Region 11 of the Quilting Guild's Show so I will try to get there. But in the event above the Hanley Swan one in the Events list was a note on a show on in Ledbury this minute. Given that we have family coming at the weekend and Michael seeing his consultant tomorrow, I went this afternoon. It is a 'quilting' show by Sue Spooner and Helen Keenan. To me, they are rather painterly art works. Good Colour sense and well balanced pictures. However they had put out some sketchbooks. I can't resist looking at other people's sketch books. For years I have had a love/hate relationship with them. I am unconvinced that weavers can make much use of sketchbooks.

The ones at Ledbury seemed to be one sketchbook per series, say 'Storm'. There were some Postcards/photos/paper cuttings at the start with drawings interpersed. Then more painterly drawings and then samples. A set of different coloured organzas overlaying a textured dark material, samples of different materials and stitches. Building up to larger samples appraoching the final work.

Why is this no use to a weaver?

A weaver is stuck with a warp. Once you have decided the colours and the threading draft, you do not have much freedom except to change the weft colours/ thickness/texture. What is more, it is very time consuming to try out lots of threadings for one project and you are much more likely to select the draft based on previous experience. About the best you can do is use a weavette (small square of wood with nails in all four sides . You wind on a warp and insert the weft with a tapestry needle). That does not allow you to sample patterns because it is difficult to do much more complex patterns than two-and-two twill with a needle. It does allow you to see what the colour mix looks like. In a perfect world, you might do full scale samples but that takes time. I know that Stacey Harvey-Brown creates samples in a big way and finishes them differently. She just builds up a library which she can call on when needed. And Cally Booker did sketch books when doing the Bradford course. I don't know whether she has kept that up.

I have tried. I did do a weekend on story boards with Loraine McClean once, and while it was great fun, I never did any more.

And yet I love looking at other people's Sketch Books. Maybe I should try harder.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Coptic Book III

I do finish projects - honest. This is the Coptic Book using Michael's enamel samples mounted on sycamore board. The paper is handmade lokta and the thread is linen thread dyed green with Procion Mx dyes. Dimensions are 10 cm high by 9 cm wide.

I do like it.

I also dealt with endpapers (nice black and red) for Alice and decided that, if I protected the cover pictures with acetate, I could print on high class paper on the Inkjet printer. We are losing all the reds on the laserjet. So I will try that out before next Wednesday.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Fan Reed (5)

Two days ago I had a very courteous email from Lillian Whipple who is Moderator of the Complex Weavers Fine Threads Group. She very politely asked when my annual samples would be arriving. The truth is that I have yet to weave them but I have started (see photo above for proof). The samples are going to be from the Fan Reed length. There are 'folds' in some places. When the silk is off the loom, it relaxs and these all disappear. It is very slow weaving and took me 90 minutes to weave  one repeat which is about five inches. I need about a yard for samples for the Fine Threads Group so have promised the samples for June 1st which means at least two repeats a day.

Today I spent at Gill Arnold's doing the third day of the Dress Pattern Fitting Course. The result is great! But I still have to transfer the toile to a master block. I have the paper for that and must do it later in the week. However Michael is in Worcester Royal tomorrow for an MRI scan of his whole spine and later in the week we return there to see his consultant and discuss the results from the MRI scan.  I don't see a lot of spare time before the weekend.

I dyed the 8/2 Tencel with Procion MX dyes yesterday and have just taken the skeins out of their plastic bags and rinsed them. Well I needed to dye a few yards of linen book binding thread for the latest Coptic book and thought I might as well do the Tencel I want for a Devore project.  So I wound three skeins of undyed Tencel 50 gms each and dyed them in four batches. The only green Procion MX I have is Emerald Green which is not what I want. I mixed 5 teaspoonfuls of Emerald Green with one of Rust Brown. The linen has come out bottle green which is fine and the Tencel has come out sage green. Interesting, is it not? It so happens that these colours suit me very well.

An interesting thought occurred to me while dyeing.  Handweavers Studio calls the undyed Tencel 'ecru'. To me ecru is pale biege. The dictionary says ecru is unbleached linen or, when applied to other fabrics, the colour of unbleached linen. The point is that the ecru Tencel as supplied is bleached white so ecru is a misnomer.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Quilting Show at Malvern

 went to the Malvern Quilting Show yesterday. Just down the road for a mile to get to an International Exhibition! I can remember going several years ago and shutting my eyes to the quilts, all sentimental tosh. Not so today. Very high class. Not as big as the NEC Quilt Show in Birmingham in August but up along side it in quality. As usual no photos as I am not happy about that. 

I wanted to buy some fabric for covering Japanese style books and bought these from various stalls. Most are cotton but two are silk (top brown one plus the blue with cherry blossom one below that). One is indigo (top left). The lower left red brown is an ikat weave which I shall be using today on the book on caladiums!

I have been practising doing a cover for Alice in Wonderland. It looks like a black photo frame! The right hand one is complete and was printed on normal photocopy paper and the paper has creases in it. The one on the left is only the picture and is printed on card stock and has no wrinkles so I shall use that. What you do is 
1) cut a piece of 2mm grey board the right size for the cover
2) cut a rectangular hole in it, placing it carefully with respect to the edges . Call this the frame. The hole has to be just big enough for the picture to show through.
3) glue the picture to thinner card or board, in my case 1mm grey board.
4) cut the edges to match the frame piece
5) cut a piece of book cloth larger than the frame and mark on the back where the frame has to go
6) glue the book cloth to the frame with PVA, covering all the book cloth with PVA.
7) turn the sandwich over and cut across the 'hole' from corner to corner.
8) turn these triangular flaps in and trim them.
9) put the whole thing down on the picture and fold over the outer flaps to catch in the picture on its board. And there you are. It looks okay but doing front and back in the same piece of book cloth might present problems.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Association Exhibition

Today I went to Mansfield Museum to see the Association's Exhibition 'Kaleidoscope'.  I drove over to Leamington Spa, left my car at my daughter's house and was picked up there by Glenn and Chris Fletcher. The total journey took about two and a half hours. We went straight to the Museum in Mansfield and Glenn was very forebearing as the two women examined every item in detail and discussed how it was done!

My impression is that the standard is very high this year. According to the local Guild people demonstrating at the Museum, less than half the entries were selected. There was a lot of handspun which had been dyed with natural dyes and then knitted or woven. A wonderful range of colours. I have to report that sludgy greens and yellows are a thing of the past. There was a lot of weaving in fine silk (30/2 and 60/2) and a fine collection of tapestries. A spectacular tapestry was of koi carp with water ripples done in silver lurex by Jill Gerratt of the Isle of Wight. She also had woven a pair of mallards which was unfortunately right next to the koi carp. In any other situation, it would have been the star of the show!

Another Show stopper was a repp rug by Roseanne McConkey of Cambridge. This was large (four by ten feet?). Apart from the faultless technique, the colour selection was very fine.

Other notable items were
- a flower in split ply braiding
- a handbag woven in space dyed and ikat yarns
- a large transparent hanging in monofilament with cross-sections of mushrooms worked in Theo Moorman technique
- Several fine handspun (1 and 2 ply) Shetland shawls.

There were a number of knitted garments but no woven ones. Lots of woven scarves and a few bags but nothing sewn like a waistcoat, dress or jacket. Odd.

Has it inspired me? Well yes in an odd way. I was reminded by seeing a scarf in crackle weave that I have always meant to get to the bottom of that technique. So crackle weave will get added to my list of future projects.

You will note there are no photos here of the Exhibition. I took lots but I feel bad about putting photos of someone else's work in my blog without asking permission.

Home at six o'clock, tired but prepared to discourse at length to Michael on what I had seen.

The next two days are to be spent around the house. I have to turn out the spare room. I have already washed and dried the bedding. I need to do the Wokefield Park accounts and thenI can start on weaving/bookbinding et cetera.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Summer and Winter the Mahotan Way

At Wokefield Park residential weekend, I tried out several different patterns in Margaret Roach Wheeler's class, 'The Mahotan Way'. This is the combination of patterns I liked best as a basis for designing a top. The warp was shown previously and is black, two shades of red and green warped up randomly. In the photo on the left, two colours of weft were used, black and cream. Both warp and weft are 2/12 cotton from William Hall.  I tried a number of other colour combinations  but they did not seem so effective. The design is done, in so far as I have measured me, adapted Margaret's pattern to my dimensions, and written down in detail what I have to weave. Weaving will start shortly!

I have spent some time this evening winding all my 2/8 ecru Tencel into skeins ready for dyeing. I also checked on what Procion MX I have in the garage. So we are ready for dyeing at the weekend. Tomorrow I am going to Mansfield for the day to look at the Association's Exhibition. Expect a report by Saturday.

My New Calladiums

Here are photos of my new calladiums, transported to me last weekend by Linda Scurr. The photos are not in scale with each other and one leaf (lower right) is all of 12 inches long. The red ones (upper right are at most four inches long. Two of last year's plants have made it through the winter. I see flower buds on the new plants. I have not seen any flowers yet so am looking forward to that.

Definitely inspiring and I must get on with my projected calladium leaf design in silk.

We have had visitors every night for the last ten days culminating in a surprise one last night. He came armed with the biggest box of chocolates I have ever seen!

There is a long list of jobs to be done, most of which require the washing machine. I have written a lot of letters and tidied/filed things away but have by no means finished the list. In fact as soon as one thing is done, I remember two more I must do. 

Tonight I am going to wind some skeins of Tencel to be dyed green at the weekend along with linen thread for the current Coptic book. I have signed up for a one-day course at the Tech on Orthodox book binding (Orthodox as in Greek Orthodox). This is  a bit like Coptic binding and should be fun. Also at yesterday's bookbinding class, the tutor showed me a method of getting a picture onto the front and back cover which I am sure will look excellent. So I have brought all the bits home and intend to do a trial run before next Wednesday. This is for 'Alice in Wonderland' which has been pressed and sewn together.

The only piece of textile work I have done is to design how my top made from Margaret Roach Wheeler's patterns will look and yes I do have enough warp.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Wokefield Park

I see it is a week since I last wrote something in this blog. I have been to our Guild residential weekend. We had four tutors Lorraine MacClean (Experimental Knitting), Pat Johns (Tapestry), Shirley Berlin (Braids) and Margaret Roach Wheeler (Weaving). I took the weaving class

Here you see some of the weaving class's samples. These are designs using Summer and Winter but with designs taken from Native American Quillwork and Beadwork. I got very tied up with a lovely one based on feathers. In the end I abandoned it! I may have another try in a few days but I have mentally designed a top with the rest of the warp and need to check how much material I need for that.

Wokefield Park is a Conference Centre, complete with swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and gym.  I know of no-one who used the gym but the pool was well paronised.

Everyone seemed very happy and all classes did a lot of work. We spent an hour last thing on Sunday afternoon going round the other classes to see what they had done. Which was a lot.

Margaret took the night sleeper from London to Aberdeen to visit a friend and the Aberdeen Museum which has holdings of Native American textiles. Then she has two days in the British Museum before flying home.

Being a glutton for punishment, I am attending a course with Gill Arnold on fitting dress patterns. On Friday 14th, I am going up to Mansfield with a friend to see the Association's Exhibition. I have seen two lots of photos and the standard looks very high.

But I admit to looking forward to next weekend when I propose to be a cabbage.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Great Day Out

Margaret Wheeler and I went to Birmingham Museums Warehouse this morning and spent several hours being shown Native American artefacts by a curator. Margaret was only interested in clothing but there was still a lot to see. These moccasins are made of buckskin and decorated, not with beads but with dyed porcupine quills cut into short lengths (Hence 'Quillwork'). There were several pairs of moccasins which would be wearable today.

And here is a baby's bonnet decorated with beads which they got from the Europeans. Mostly the bead size size is 1mm but, to vary the pattern, there might be a section in still larger beads.

This is a purse made of very thin birch bark - you can see some vertical flecks on the bark. The rest is embroidery. The purse is about four inches wide and high. This is from NE America.

There is a lot more stuff which I photographed but I can't show it all! I then drove the car into the middle of Birmingham and we walked over to the Museum through the Canal area, had lunch in the Museum and went straight up to the Native American exhibits.  Very oddly exhibited with all sorts of localities and cultures mixed up. The grandest of their holdings were here which included the  item shown below.

This is a hood for a woman. The fringe, formed of beads would have lain on her shoulders. Again probably NE American.

After that we looked at the Stafford hoard and marvelled at the intricate workmanship. Then at various other exhibits - not including the pre-Raphaelites whom I cannot stand. And finally across the street to a Bridget Riley show which was wonderful

I thought we had had enough of culture so I drove Margaret through the West Midlands countryside to Bewdley where she was very taken with the swans on the river and the black and white buildings. Home at 5 o'clock, having left before nine.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Odd Jobs

We have Margaret Wheeler arriving tomorrow to stay with us when we both go to Wokefield Park, Reading on Friday for a residential weekend. This is Kennet Valley Guild's biannual bunfight. We have four tutors of whom Margaret is one. Anyway I have a treat on Wednesday because she has an invitation to Birmingham Museum warehouse to view Native American artefacts in their stash and I am going along as chaffeur and security guard.

This is all an introduction to the fact that house needs tidying up and that is what I have been doing. Other people have half-finished projects. I have not-quite-started-yet projects. In the upstairs room, there were several such which are several months old. I had a huge tidy up - you can see the floor now and then sewed buttons on garments, sewed loops on to my waffle weave towels and did something about my sister Dorothy's journal quilt which was stuck on the wall with Blu-tak but started falling off. This involved

- finding the one inch wide white bias binding - a major exercise
- hand sewing a strip of it on the back of quilt at the top - the easy bit
- searching the cellar for something suitable to hang it from
- finding a piece of dowelling and cutting it to length, sanding the ends down
- hammering a picture hook into the wall
- inserting dowelling into quilt pocket, attaching brass wire to dowelling and hanging

The dimensions are A4.

All told, 45 minutes for the quilt. I think tea is called for and there are some Welsh cakes brought by a visitor this morning.

But more jobs remain to be done.

 Warping up has also been going on. The Jacob/Wensleydale is plied and very flecky. There is some black and white yarn to the right. The space-dyed yarn is much greener than I realised. This is going to be very interesting when woven up. 'Interesting' as in 'This could be unspeakable'.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Handspun Cushions(2)

I have designed this in a way novel to me. When I came to weigh out what handspun I had in the stash and discard the stuff that was the wrong colour or too fine, I realised that, while I had enough weight of yarn, I had no idea how long each colour was, given that the thickness could be different. So I weighed each colour, put half aside for the weft and prepared a warp or two identical warps, with the other half of the yarn. That way, I knew how many warp threads of each colour I had. I then used Fibreworks to design the colour scheme.
The colours are not true but representative, The yellow is turmeric coloured  and sort of boucle and the white is off-white. The red signifies the space dyed handspun which I have doubled up with up another darker yellow to give a thickness near to all the other yarn.

This will be the first cushion. The colour scheme in the weft will be altered for the second and third cushions.

Handspun Cushions

I woke up this morning very depressed. After a couple of hours I realised that the prospect of weaving the fan reed was the problem. It took me 90 minutes to weave 4 inches which is very slow. And I have only just got over weaving 12 yards of 90/2 silk!

So I decided that I would weave the handspun I have been given and make some cushion covers (at 6 epi!!). The idea is to weave them as double cloth which avoids any thick seams down the edges and finish the top and bottom with a fringe. The design is for a plain back and a 'fancy' front which is felted after weaving. The photo below shows all the handspun of the same thickness that I have and it ought to do three cushions. The two skeins hanging over the breast beam of the Megado are two warps for the cushion backs - Jacob mixed with Wensleydale. Goodness only knows how it will shrink. The advice I have been given (by Linda Scurr) is not to have wide stripes of any one lot of handspun because of differential shrinkage.

I have created a design of coloured stripes for the fronts and will weave with different wefts to get different but related patterns. I should have it up and running by tomorrow.
Camellia Lady McKinnon
My apple cordons. They were moved three feet backwards in January and look okay to me.


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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.