Tuesday 28 September 2010

Purple Scarf (2)

This is the resleyed purple scarf on the Louet Kombo. I added an inch worth of warp either side to make it up to 10.5 inches wide. This has toned down the colour and I like it.

The black jacket last mentioned before Christmas has had the buttonholes done, the buttons sewn on and given a good pressing. Michael took some photos but the texture pattern of the fabric is not visible and there seems no point in showing me in a black jacket when you can't appreciate the on-the-bias collar and other such details. 

I am off to Wales tomorrow for two days to look at four weaving Exhibitions  - going with Linda Scurr and Rosie Price. We have to visit a chocolate factory and a waffle factory too. So watch for lots of reviews and pictures.

Talking of reviews and pictures, I was sent a copy of the London Guild's Newsletter. It is very grand - a special edition for the  60th year of London Guild and it contains a review of my talk to them on Silk. Very flattering and with some smashing photos!!

The other decision of importance is that I am no longer going on holiday to Kuala Lumpur at the end of October. The McMillan nurse thought it was a bad idea and, when we worked out that it would take me 48 hours to get home if there was an emergency with Michael, I decided she was right.  So I am going to go on a three-day course at Broadway with Samantha Dadd. I will commute daily to Broadway - Google says it should only 50 minutes in the car. I need to talk to Samantha about what I am going to do there. More on that later. At the present moment I am at the incoherent stage. Perhaps if I write it all down, I will know what I think.

I think I am going in the wrong direction with my weaving and, instead of hopping about between techniques, I should concentrate on one technique. In particular, I am bothered about colour. This is because I know the effect I want to achieve but I don't know how to get there. With the piece for Convergence 2010, I ended up by matching every silk yarn on an RGB scale, then building those colours into Fibreworks and then selecting the colours almost individually across 1500 threads. There must be a better way!! It took a long time with  17 colours.

Sunday 26 September 2010

More on Arabesques

On the right is the same shape as shown in a previous post but done in a striped fabric. On the left, a better arabesque using a space dyed orange, yellow and brown cotton fabric as base with red fabric applied and a space dyed thread, rather thick, sewn on as well. I do not think patterned fabrics should be used nor space dyed threads!!

Clearly more experimenting is needed. But I like this shape of arabesque.

What has become obvious is that I prefer clear-cut shapes rather than tufty textures. The arabesques are a bit difficult because they have some thin bits which are difficult to manage. And I am not good at applying thick threads using them in the bobbin and sewing from the back of the fabric.

Saturday 25 September 2010


A lot has happened in the past few days. On Thursday I borrowed the Community Action van and took Michael to Beckford Silk Mill. Anne came too. We had lunch, bought some lengths of silk and investigated their stock of fabrics by the yard, then wandered round the shop and bought some more stuff. On Friday morning, the carer system nearly collapsed so I got to my class in Creative Textiles very late but I did make it to lunch with a friend afterwards. We went to the Plough and Harrow on the road out of Malvern where I had a plate of whitebait - which I love and have not had for years. Very well done.

Back home to Michael returning from his day painting in the hospice and I tidied up ready for Ruth's arrival this morning. I did manage to get the purple scarf warped up. I put an inch worth of extra threads for the outer edges on the second warp beam. This is to make the warp wider again after resleying at 24epi.

 I finished off two more Paisley patterns and have gone off them. I think because I have ended up with 3D effects which I don't fancy on a waistcoat. So I went back to arabesques, cutting out various shapes in the class and put them on fabric with bondaweb. Then adding gold foil bonded on top. These shapes were generated at the class and were okay-ish.

But when I looked at them at home, I decided I could do better and generated this one. The change in colour is to give me the shapes for the interior. I have not tried this out yet but I like the negative shapes. Is cutting the interior shapes out going to be tricky?

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Needle Forge Museum

The Needle Forge Museum near Redditch holds a number of textile exhibitions every year. Redditch was the needle manufacturing centre for England at one time. Recently that trade has gone abroad - but Redditch has kept the prestige (=expensive) trade at home. They make surgical needles and medical needles in general.

So you see the connection between needles and textile shows. The current Exhibition is headed by Alice Kettle and Karina Thompson  and some of their students have work on show as well. The unifying theme was that everything was done with a computer controlled embroidery sewing machine. The work shown on the left was one of several by Jessica Scott. I wish she had stiffened up her background circle. The stitching is tightly controlled but the circle was not flat.
Karina Thompson's work was based on DNA and chromosomes. She had several on this theme. Complex lettering in the background and shapes in the front. I liked these pieces. Very crisp.

Some of the students I had come across before, for example, Rachel Gornall with circles of stiff material cut out and re-inserted so that it could spin on an axis in its own original hole. There were also altered books. and some heavily embroidered silk chiffon.

After viewing the Exhibition, I went across the river to look at the remnants of the abbey - Cistercian dating back to 12th century. The church was large and the bases of the pillars were enormous but not a lot ls left above ground. Clearly there had been encaustic tiles on the floors but only fragments were found. These have been assembled and cemented down and the photo shows how varied the patterns were.

Time after that to get on the motorway and go home.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Another Glut of Fruit

This year we had a glut of soft fruit, - redcurrants, gooseberries and black currants and then we had a glut of peaches. I was reduced to freezing them and we gave a lot away. I have just realised we have another glut on its way - pears. This trayfull is only from four step-overs. These are only 15 inches high and this means that the pears are within easy eating distance for a squirrel. Well I am not having that so I picked the lot. I have netting round the 10 cordon pears and they are just as loaded. My attitude to the squirrels is that they have the cobnuts but nothing else. And certainly not the crocus bulbs.

I have been practising on paisley patterns again. This time I used the set patterns on the Bernina. Looks okay. But I am not convinced. I am thinking of going back to arabesques (see this blog) and trying them out. My sister, Dorothy, has suggested using reverse applique. I would need to learn about that but I have realised that I don't like the 3-D-ness of some of the techniques I have used. Not in general but I had thought of using this on a waistcoat. They would not work as book covers either unless the embroidery was recessed as in Alice in Wonderland.

Monday 20 September 2010

Purple Scarf

This is a sample for the purple scarf just off the loom. I had it sleyed at 20epi and this is not enough so I am going to resley it at 24epi. That will make it too narrow so I will add a border of violet yarn to each side.

I have been playing with Paisley patterns at the 'Creative Textiles' course. Apart from collecting lots of pictures, I have tried to producing some using some of the techniques (soluble fabric, Bondaweb) we are being taught.

The fabric is polycotton and is the stuff I tried unsuccessfully to dye, first with indigo, then with Procion. The result is that they look dirty and smudgy. I printed a Paisley Pattern in a flat colour on the polycotton using disperse dyes and used them as a basis for the embellishment.

I have kept notes of how each one was done but I have already decided that this soluble fabric lark is not for me. Looks too much like a badly made birds nest. Of these I like the top left one best followed by the bottom right one.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Busy Busy

I see it was Thursday when I blogged last. I had the weaving student round  that afternoon and  went to my class in Bournville on Friday morning. Can't think what I did the rest of Friday except get ready for Saturday.  I packed the car on Friday evening. Demo loom plus loom tools and yarn, large bag full of items to use as display on the Kennet Valley stand at Newbury Show, 2 handspun cushions and the green/blue 5-section warp scarf as entries for a class at the Show.

I got up at 0530 on Saturday and sped down to Newbury - except there wasn't much speeding as the M4 had been closed so I wound my way slowly through the countryside as the sun came up in a long convoy of similarly disadvantaged vehicles. Got into the Showground at ten to eight and parked in the Livestock area. Don't ask me why they sent me a ticket for the Livestock area but I wasn't complaining. As I got out of the car, I realised there must be alpacas at the Show - there were three lots being exercised within 50 yards of my car! Very pretty.

The show opened at 0800 and by mid-morning it was heaving. We were demonstrating in the Rural Crafts marquee. There were four spinners and one weaver and lots of questions. What was nice from my point of view is the chance to gossip. Some how that doesn't happen at Guild meetings. I spent a lot of time finishing the fringe on one of my scarves with plaited sections containing beads and sat peacefully next to two spinners to do that. Home by seven. 

What with all this activity, there are piles of un-put-away items everywhere there is a flat surface and so writing this blog is a displacement activity. Good joke from some friends  who are replacing their garage with two rooms. Husband said an important part of the specification to the architect is that  there must be no horizontal surfaces for his wife (who works from home) to put piles of paper on.  Oh well must get on.

But I did find time last night to do this which is a draft triggered off by the space dyed cotton yarn in brown and pink. Colours are only indicative. Two points both connected with the goose eye twill. I may have to sley the twill sections differently from the tabby and I will put the twill sections on the second warp beam. This is for 8 shafts and means that it has to be done on the Louet Kombo which actually has four beams with the extra two on the stand and  centrally placed below the loom. I usually have one of these as the cloth beam because the front cloth beam does not hold much

Thursday 16 September 2010

Ledbury Arts

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Ledbury. This week is Herefordshire Studio Week when lots of artists open their studios. So I went round Ledbury, starting with the local Embroiderer's Guild  exhibition at the Weaver's Gallery. The trouble I have seen too much mixed media and so find straight embroidery rather conservative. There were some nice works where someone had used black machine stitching as a drawing medium. Then to Herefordshire Crafts Guild. Some nice Shaker boxes at too high a price for me. The Linen shop in Tinsmiths Alley which had a show of  garden pots and then to Angie Hughes - who is in a different league. Think purple velvet with black organza and gold and silver applied and you are part way down her road. Gorgeous and I bought a few small items - including some of her buttons which I intend to use as closures on Coptic books.

Then to see some pastels - of Ledbury. There was a nice one of a railway signal box at twilight. Not the most obvious of subjects but, like a good artist, she showed there is beauty in unexpected places.

Today was spent turning out more files in the cellars and throwing out garden chemicals from the garage. I shall have to take the bottles round to the tip and smile sweetly at the staff, while asking what they want me to do with the bottles.

No textile work for the last two days unless you count working out the yarn requirements for a scarf for my weaving student. I don't see much else being done until Sunday evening.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Mary Jarvis gave me a skein of white yarn - I thought it was silk at first but, no, it is mercerised cotton. It is also 4-ply. I space dyed it brown and red using Procion MX and it has come out a magnificent mixture of colours - various shades of brown and pinks and a little red. I think I am going to base a large length of material on this.  But I will need a lot more yarn. Mary, where did you get it from? 

I took Michael to Droitwich Hobbycrafts yesterday stocking up on essentials like double-sided sellotape and school PVA and had a look at their dyes and bought some fabric dye pens by Dylon. These look like felt-tipped pens and can used the same way. So I spent some time last night adding to my disperse dyed paisley patterns. They need to be ironed today to set the dye. The purple skeins have been wound off  and are ready to be warped up - when I have five minutes to spare!

Monday 13 September 2010

Disperse Dyeing

I have been playing around with disperse dyes. This book has covers which are on Fast2Fuse which takes fabric on both sides. So the front and back are of similar designs  done in disperse dyes and the inside of the covers is cut from some Procion dyed cotton.

The covers are sturdy enough for this size book (130 by 130 mm) but, in future, I would do the front in the same way I do covers of grey board, that is, have a gap of 5 mm in the cover for the 'hinge'. Okay though.

I have used disperse dyes before on wool (no use), silk (a bit pale), and cotton (also a bit pale.). On polycotton, the colours are in your face! I was so taken by the effect that I printed large paisley pattern outlines on another piece of polycotton where the Procion dyes did not work at all well. I have been working on these 'Paisleys' with dyed ribbon, machine stitching and anything else I can find. I will show these when I have completed them all.  I could do with conquering soluble fabric.

I have washed, pressed and trimmed the fringe of the 5-section acid dyed scarf. It is entered at the Newbury Show this weekend as are two handspun cushions. I love this Show and enjoy demonstrating there no end.

My purple wool skeins are all dry and I must go and wind a warp.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Another Dyeing Day

Yesterday I set about dyeing in the garage. I have been asked for a purple scarf anf not having any purple in the stash, have dyed some. When this is finished, it will be purple!! This was all acid dyes. While these wool skeins were being steamed, I did some dyeing of calico with the Procion MX dyes left over from last week.

I can't complain about feeble colours this time. I used the Kemshall's method and it worked well.

I have also been playing with disperse dyeing which means painting paper with disperse dyes, letting the paper dry, cutting shapes out of the paper and ironing them on to fabric. The fabric was the polycotton which did not take the Procion at all well. It took the disperse dyes very well but I then wrecked the fabric. I thought that I would try gluing the pieces of fabric to a paper backing using PVA instead wheat starch paste. What I ended up with was the fabric stuck firmly and sandwiched between the paper and the backing board. Oh well. I can reproduce that and will. But not today. There is family coming.

Saturday 11 September 2010


I went to the class at Bournville yesterday, more Bondaweb and stitching. I am not going to show my trivial attempts. Apart from putting the sewing machine needle through my finger, I worked hard.

On the way home I visited EXOTICA, the Midlands Textile Forum's show at Birmingham Botanic Gardens. They have a nice gallery which is a throughway so lots of people pass by and stop to comment

'Oh look, it's all stitched'
'This one says it's made of felt'
'Look at those nice flowers'
'I do like that, it looks just like the greenhouse'

The 'art' pieces were passed by. It was 'pictures' they liked.

I thought the exhibition was good, one of the best I have seen from MTF and I think the reason was that the exhibition had a theme which was the Botanical Gardens. Also everything had to be hung and a size limit of 50 by 50 cms was put on entries. The result is that the hanging looked uniform. Everything was framed - except for mine which I thought were poor and that was my fault. I put a dowel through the top and weighted the bottom with lead weights for curtains. The hanging wire was visible at the top (which it was not for anyone else). The pieces were 50 by 50 cm so picture framing them would have made them too large. A better method would have been to have made a stout wooden frame to exactly the size of the weaving, mount the weaving on a larger piece of dyed calico and staple the calico to the  back of the frame. The other thing that was obvious was that the selvedges of the birds was wiggly. Clearly the use of quite different yarns in the weft pulled in one of the sections. Moral:- use the same type of yarn throughout as weft. I should have hung up the pieces at home for a week to check these flaws.

When I got home, I realised that I was not going to get the piece of needle out of my finger so went round to the local Minor Injuries Unit, where they insisted on X-raying it. It took about 20 seconds to remove it and the nurse insisted I take it home with me - 'It's your property'!!  After all that I spent the rest of the day doing not much. I must be more energetic today.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Harwood House

This is the centre of Newent which is about seven miles north of Gloucester. On the left is the 16th century market hall. Straight in front is Harwood House where we used to live. Mostly 16th century but with 14th century bits. The arched door on the left leads into the remaining 14th century bit. Over the central front door is written HARWOOD HOUSE which was painted by Michael and is still there after 30 years. This is actually a jettied house but it has been infilled at some time. The walls are over 2 ft thick on the ground floor where they were infilled.

 The house was built on the module of 18ft  which is the space needed by a yoke of oxen. So each of the three floors contains two 18ft square rooms and then there is another room out the back on each floor. On the left is a view of the back. The house is a dress shop now and the owner kindly took me out to look at the garden. The figtree  and conifer we planted are both enormous. 

I spent some time wandering around Newent - pretty much the same as 30 years ago. The green grocer had a fine selection of local plums. There is a good quilting shop where I bought needles for book binding, more cotton and calico, a rotary cutter and some interesting stuff called Fast2Fuse which you can glue fabric to on both sides.

The other thing of note yesterday was that a book that Annette Lucas recommended arrived from Amazon (£1.43 + postage - the money side of that transaction defeats me but my daughter, Anne, says if there is no additional marginal cost then it is worth it  to the bookseller. The book is Aimone 'The Fibrearts book of Wearable Art'and it is wonderful. Superb clothes by Randall Darwal and Candiss Cole among many others. I am inspired!!

My daughter, Anne, is here and she wants to go through our slides. We dug them out last night. There are all sorts of strange labels on the boxes. Then we spent some time looking on the web for a firm which would turn them into jpegs and decided we did not want to entrust to a strange firm we did not know. So I am going to call a local firm today and see what they can offer.

Wednesday 8 September 2010


On 8th August we bought (at great expense) a XEROX duplex colour  Laser printer Type 8560DN. It prints very nicely but it does NOT print duplex. In fact it seizes up on printing the second side. It then has to be switched off and on in order to clear the erroneous messages.

Obviously you call XEROX support. And you get someone who says that serial number belongs to someone in Greenock and I must provide proof that I own it.  So you FAX the invoice (with PAID stamped all over it) and wait and wait and wait. After two weeks you ring up the XEROX support centre again and get someone else who says it is sorted out and he will arrange an engineer to call. And you wait and wait - until today. I phone up. They STILL think the printer belongs to someone in Greenock and I get very stroppy.  So I have to email in documents saying who we are plus other data. This time I have a note of the name and  his email address.  What are the chances of getting an engineer soon? Low I would have said.

And the reason for posting this blog? DON'T EVEN THINK OF BUYING A XEROX PRINTER. They are great printers - when they work. I can live with simplex printing if I have to  but I paid £556.00 for the duplex facility and could have had simplex for a fraction of that cost. Bah!!!!

Dyeing Again

Chris Fletcher came over yesterday and we had a dyeing day in the garage. I wanted to see how well the indigo vat had kept and the answer is not very. Things did not come out the nice very dark blue as they did ten days ago. The rack on the left shows some of our results although there is a fair amount of Procion MX there too.  Part of the problem was me trying to dye some polycotton which had not been scoured first. In addition to what you see on the left, there is a whole lot of  2/20 Tencel yarn (200 gms) which is sitting in Procion  for 24 hours. This is more weft for the Tencel curtains - see later.

My sister, Dorothy tells me that polycotton does not dye well. What with all the dying/printing/etc etc that has happened in the last few weeks, I have no pure cotton or calico left so today I will go to Newent to a quilting shop and get some - and wash it first!! I have some pots of Procion MX dye left over and will finish them up. Besides I need some needles. I have managed to wreck several needles doing Japanese style bookbinding. And I need some curved needles for bookbinding. I have managed to mislay 3 of them in the house somewhere which is quite distressing. So I bought myself a needle book to live with the book binding kit.

Chris did lots of dying, including a piece of slub silk fabric which she has sewn up shibori-style. This did come out a lovely shimmering blue. She went home with lots of plastic bags containing wet yarn and cloth and three small buckets containing yarn in three different autumnal colours in Procion dye.

I have reviewed the calculations for the Tencel curtains and got round to producing a draft for it. The final weaving should be nothing like as lurid as this. The warp is space dyed 2/20 Tencel from Just Our Yarns and is darker and much more subtle that the colours shown here. The self pink which I have dyed is very close to the colour of the 'pink' warp. My idea is that it would shimmer. I shall start on warping up the Megado soon - probably Saturday.

There is nothing on the Megado and Kombo now and what is on the Voyager is for a beginning weaver - she starts tomorrow. So the Voyager is warped up with white 2/6 cotton and she has a red 2/6 cotton for weft to try out simple tabby and twills.

Monday 6 September 2010


EXOTICA, an exhibition by Midlands Textile Forum is on at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens from now to the end of September. There was a Study Day there a year ago and this exhibition is the MTF's response to that Study Day. I haven't been yet but am hoping to go on my way home from the 'Creative Textiles' Class at Bournville next Friday.  The class is being held right next door to the Cadbury's Works cricket ground. The wrought iron gates to the cricket ground are a marvel of intricacy!

The class is nine strong and very hot on textiles. Most of them have qualifications in City or guilds or degrees in Art and design (except me). Last Friday we had demonstrations on using bondaweb and dissolvable fabric.  And got given home work! 

On Saturday, there was a Kennet Valley Guild meeting at which it was decided that next spring's weaving class will be on Lace weaves. A good discussion on what people had done over the summer and lots of ambitious plans for autumn and winter. I did not take my camera which was a nuisance but I persuaded someone else to take photos of the Bag Challenge. And I forgot take my entry for that!

I have just about warped up the Voyager ready for a beginner weaver and have all the yarns for the Tencel curtains for the Megado next to the computer. I had intended to make this as a simple striped length but am now wondering about using something similar to the draft for the Convergence piece and I do want to do it as a double stitched cloth to give it enough body for a curtain. So I cannot use the Convergence draft directly as that was on 32 shafts and I will only have 28 here as I need 4 for the back  cloth if it is going to be double stitched cloth - and besides have I got enough Tencel? So a lengthy computer session is called for.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Space Dyed 5-section Warp

This is the 5-section warp in 2-ply Shetland from Uppinghams. It has been space dyed with acid dyes. I used strong colours because the weft is a lightly dyed indigo merino which is pale blue.

The finished scarf - well not quite. It has not been washed yet but I need it for Saturday to talk about space dyeing warps and there is not enough time to wash, dry and press the scarf before then.

Two of the warp sections have been reversed end for end and inserted between the other three. You can see the gradual colour change over down the scarf  and the sharp division across the scarf between adjacent sections of the warp.
This is a big improvement on the scarf   using the same technique but from a warp tie dyed in indigo.

Autumn Cyclamen

Last Friday two of the dyers expressed amazement at our cyclamen. They are the sign of autumn and they are everywhere in our garden. They seed freely and we have a wide range of leaf shapes (this is cyclamen hederifolium after all) and colours range from white and bright red.

This is a pinkish one.

And here is a pure white one.

The colchicums will be next and then the nerines. Our maples are looking as though they might change colour soon but I have seen a large ornamental maple tree down the road which has turned completely to orange-gold.

And autumn means classes start up again. Tomorrow I start on 'Creative Textiles' in Bournville (as in Chocolate town) which is in the south of Birmingham. I have collected everything on the list together. This is going to be very interesting for 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.