Saturday 31 December 2011

Happy Christmas to You All!!

Yes, I know that it is some days past Christmas but I have been busy celebrating with the family. Firstly with Anne  and her family at Leamintgton Spa. Ruth and Robin andChris from Kuala Lumpur were there. Then some of us moved back to Malvern for 2 days then Ruth and Robin and myself drove north to Dundee while Ruth's children all flew up from Birmingham. The flyers had the better journey. It was gales and near-snow from Carlisle northwards and very difficult to see so there was no fast driving, just 65mph if I was lucky.. So my sister, Dorothy now has 7 guests staying with her and there is a lot of cooking and washing up. Yesterday every one under 70 went to Edinburgh for the day and Dorothy and I 'rested'. I spent most of the day creating weaving drafts for the 12 shaft loom which has come north with me. I had created four previously but felt they were not ambitious enough so I have changed the threading and the new drafts are much nicer. The idea is is that I put on an 8 yard warp, weave a yard containing a small bit of every draft   When the Guild weaving course starts at the end of January, each one of the class takes the loom home for 1 or 2 weeks (1 I hope!!) and weaves a yard of their selected draft - or samples of more than one, if they wish. The warps are wound and I will start to put them on on Monday 2nd Jan after the whole KL bunch have left. Those who live in KL are flying to Gatwick and leaving from there on Monday afternoon. The others are driving down to London on Monday. Dorothy and I will then get on with our textile plans for the next two weeks. Which are very ambitious. 

No photos this time but I ought to be able to get photos onto here when there is something to record in the textiles.

Friday 23 December 2011

Michael and Music

One very odd thing in life this year is hearing strange stories, unknown to me till recently,  about Michael. 

One concerns computers. There were 14 in the house when he died along with as many ,if not more, keyboards and mice, many still in their original boxes. We are now down to 5 plus a laptop which is a great improvement and I hope to get down to three shortly. Anyway, the more important computers run LINUX, not Mr Gates's offerings, and I know nothing about Linux. So when I needed help, an old friend of Michael's came round and sorted it out. I complained bitterly to him about the lack of notes from Michael. I always keep a hardback notebook with details of my computers and its programs in it (Mine are all Microsoft anyway). Richard laughed and said ' I worked for Mike for 15 years and he never kept written notes. It was all in his head'. That may explain the lack of info but it's not helpful. A bit startling though. I never knew that.

The other story concerns the chaplain at Malvern Community Hospital who  is a middle-aged lady with a fine taste in knitwear. I never saw her with the same multicoloured cardigan  on twice. She was very good at her job and I saw her dealing with several people with real problems.but never saw her talking to Michael. One day she approached Michael in bed and he said 'I warn you that I am a devout atheist' and she said ' It's the 'devout' that matters not the 'atheist', Now, shall we have a good row about religion or shall we discuss something else?' This story I got from some one else.  But although Michael was an atheist, it did not stop him liking church music. Byrd's masses were a particular favorite of his.  My tastes are a bit different.

I was reminded of all this by what has been on offer on Radio 3 this week. It started with Palestrina's Mass Sancta Maria which is one of the greatest and last night we had Bach's Christmas Oratorio which is another of the greatest. I was brought up on Peter Schrierer's version which uses a very small choir. Once we were in Munich for Christmas and went to their annual performance of the Christmas Oratorio at the Symphony Hall and it was upsettingly dreadful, mainly because they had an enormous choir and, dare I say it, some of the solists were not much cop. Well last night's was up there with the best, a small choir from  Trinity College and first rate solists.    There are moments when  I wonder if all these composers, not to mention painters, had something and maybe I am wrong. 

I am working my way through Victoria's complete works at the moment.  The same remark applies to him. They have a fine choir and choral scholars at Worcester Cathedral. Maybe I should go there more often. 

On the textile side, yesterday I made up all the rest of dye solutions which have been emptied and the garage table now holds a pile of stuff ready to go to Dundee next week. I am taking the Guild's 12 shaft loom and have wound one warp and half another for it. The Megado warp is finished and I might start threading up today but first I must finish the paperwork. How come I need to spend so much time on paperwork?

Another bout of cooking is required.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Finished T-Shirt

Here is the finished T-shirt. I did as I said, unpicked the machine stitching for stamens on one flower. Then auditioned lots of different fabrics for application, thought black and white looked best, bondawebbed on circles of the chosen fabric and then stitched them down. I also outlined the faded flowers. I am reasonably pleased. At least I will wear it.  

I made up a lot of acid dye solution this afternoon to replenish stocks after the November class. I am doing an acid-dyeing class in Dundee in January and have collected together on the garage table everything I need to take. As I am taking a 12 shaft loom plus loom accessories and two other people with their luggage, I am making the assumption that I can buy/acquire most things except the dye solution up there. 

I have nearly finished the sectional warping. With half a section to go, I have run out of wool which has been turned from skeins into balls. And my swift is elsewhere being mended!!!! So I am off to see if I can cobble something together using my Ashford skeiner. 

You would be forgiven for thinking I am not doing much towards Christmas. I made small cakes this morning and a lot of stew. That has gone into the freezer for use just after Christmas. Tomorrow morning at 0830 I will be at the supermarket entrance to get the rest of the ingredients. I have two puddings and another lot of cakes to make tomorrow.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

I started warping up the Megado on Sunday or rather I went back and checked all the numbers. This is a double weave blanket and the wool is Borg's from William Hall. Unfortunately about a third of the yellow is a  slightly different shade and I had to work out what to do about this. I managed to do 6 sections on Sunday out of the 50 needed. I should be finished today and on to the threading. 

At the Bournville class, we have had some sessions on Deconstruct, Reconstruct. I took this (then white) T-shirt to cut up but changed my mind.  It is a good shape for me. The problem is that the original design was in black and gold and all the gold has slowly washed away. So I decided to dye it and do some shibori. Here I have outlined the leaves in green embroidery thread (machined) and added some stems. I have also added some stamens in machine stitching to the flower on the upper left - but I did not like the effect so I slept on it. 

I have decided to finish  sewing stems on all the flowers, including the single flower on the back but then use  acrylic paint and  textile medium to do the stamens. If this works, I will unpick the sewn stamens. I might also outline the black flowers I do not like machine stitching on T-shirt material, even when it is stretched in an embroidery frame.

The Christmas presents are all wrapped up and all the cards posted. I am going to make some French cakes to take with me to Leamington Spa and need to buy the ingredients today.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Progress (Some)

In the last few days, I have concentrated on finishing a few jobs. Like creating liftplans for Diversified Plain Weave to send round to the spring weaving class. I am in Dundee for three weeks immediately after Christmas and so anything for the end of January has to be done now. I am taking a 12 shaft loom with me to warp up in DPW. I shall put on a long warp, probably 10 yards so that the weaving class can each weave 1.5 yards on a 12 shaft loom. The first thing to do will be to install some more heddles as there are none on Shafts 9 to 12. Which reminds me that I do not want to take the warping mill with me so I had better wind the warps soon. I spent some time finishing off Christmas cards and presents, realising as I did so that I had promised Ruth shibori-ed T-shirts for Christmas. So yesterday was spent dyeing. 

I dyed 2 M&S T-shirts for Ruth and an old one for me as well as two calico shoppers (see left) with the leftovers of Procion MX dye solution.

Winter has set in here and it is very cold in the garage so the Procion dyeing was done in the kitchen. But I did dye some feathers in the garage. I started by boiling them for 5 minutes and then brushed on acid dye, wrapped them in cling film and steamed them for 40 minutes. Yes they all dyed nicely, some green and some blue but they never went back to their original feather shape. I tried brushing them with a clothes brush but no use. I threw the lot out.  Oh well.

Today I must deal with the post - a never ending task. It seems to take me half a day per week. I know, without looking, that I have to write to the lawyer and accountant and there are certainly some bills. And then I must get on with framing four pictures. One of them is needed for Christmas!!

Friday 16 December 2011


On Wednesday I went to Birmingham and to a meeting of the Midlands Textile Forum, which is held in the Birmingham Art Gallery Tearooms. Another exhibition has been organised which has intrigued me - it is entitled 'Legacy'. You can read all sorts of meanings into this and my mind is busy imagining and rejecting! After the meeting, I went to see the Exhibition 'Lost in Lace'. I have read two slating reviews of this. I walked in, took in the scale and colour (none) and thought 'This is a Pat Exhibition'. I urge anyone who can to visit it. It is wonderful. One of the best Textile exhibitions I have seen in a long time.

The idea is that modern artists create a work, or two, based on lace. All are in black and/or white except Michael Brennan-Wood whose is bright red. Everything is on a large scale. One exhibit has a large room to itself, about 20 foot cube and it is three quarters filled with what looks like a black spider's web- see it here. If you Google Lost in Lace, several links have photos. 

The Birmingham Christmas German Market was on and there was a stall selling nothing but stamps, made of metal. There were some flamboyant Fonts but, at £20 a letter, a whole alphabet was a bit expensive. So I bought some trees - see left. The workmanship is too fine to use acrylic paint, it will have to be ink and have I got any textile ink?

I also visited Waterstones and bought a book or two, then took the train home and set about the Christmas cards. I then wrapped the Christmas presents, rushed out on Thursday and bought the last ones, wrapped those and posted everything.

I had someone round to help me turn out the garage and we took a car load to the tip. The garage is now in a fit state to do some dyeing in. I need to do that this weekend as I have promised Tie-dyed T-shirts to Ruth for Christmas.

The car boot is now accessible. A local garage sorted out the problem in 20 minutes. I was shocked to discover that the Saab garage I have used for years has closed down. It is not surprising since Saab has gone broke. It was in Droitwich which is at least 30 minutes and often 45 minutes drive so taking the car there occupied most of a day. The local garage, which is not a Saab specialist, says they can service the car so I will hang on it for a few more years.

Today it is Christmas party time at the Bournville class and then I have the weekend to myself. I have a lot of Christmas presents to finish making and hope the weather is good so that I can work in the garage and in the cellar.  I have realised that it is sometime since I had anything on the Megado and will try to start on the next warp over the weekend. I am missing it.

Tuesday 13 December 2011


This piece started life as an exercise in drawing and then cutting up the drawing and rearranging the pieces. Eventually I did a colour value exercise and decided that inverting the original (dark on light background) looked better and ended up by making it. Then added leaves cut from the leftovers of the back door curtains. It has also been quilted.  Not sure about this. Makes a good table mat.

This is going into the Betty Smithers exhibition in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The background fabric is Diversified Plain Weave with lots of different types and colours of shoes and overlaid are prints of shoes photographed by m. Then the shoes are over stitched. It reflects the many pairs of shoes in the collection. I quite like this.

Nightmare Journeys

I have driven to Dundee and back over the last three or four days. Not a good idea. I started out at 3 pm on Friday and should have reached Dundee at about 10 pm. Instead of which I was tucked up in bed at Tebay at that hour. There were 2 serious accidents on teh West Midlands motorways. In one I just sat stationary for 40 minutes and ditto for the other one only for more than 70 minutes. Add to that the Friday night traffic and the pouring rain and you can see I was more than 2 hours behind by the time I got to Manchester.  Given that the roads were said to eb icy in Scotland, I decided to stopover in Tebay.

Next day got me through the snow covered peaks to Dundee by 11 and a warm welcome from my sister, Dorothy. The whole idea in going was to take a table and other things up to Dorothy including a large amount of wood for a woodworking friend of Dorothy's.

I did manage to lock the car boot in such a way that it cannot be opened which is a first class pest. Then home on Monday, stopping off to have coffee with old friends of my parents in Edinburgh and lunch with a friend of Dorothy's in the Borders.  Very isolated. When I left I was on the main road from Edinburgh to Moffatt. From their house to the next house was 7 miles!! It rained heavily later so the last hour or so were horrible with the rush hour traffic. Home at 7. Not at all pleasant.

I did, under Dorothy's supervision, manage to quilt the erythroniums piece and then hem round the edges. So I need to put on a sleeve if I want to hang it but I am not sure I do! It is too dark to take photos so I will do that later. Indeed I have finished off a few things so must have a photography session.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Trying Again

Dorothy's ExtravOrganza works well and so does her JetFX paper but it is no good to me. While the JetFX takes well on calico shoppers, it does not take neatly onto my weaving because the fabric is not smooth enough. I tried applying the JetFX to the backing canvas and had one or two successes but two disastrous failures which left black smears on the canvas. So the canvas has had two coats of white acrylic applied to get rid of the smears. Which leaves me with the organza. Now I have to try and fix the organza to the weaving. I'll get there in the end.

I have been thinking about living by myself. I find the worst time is about 9 in the evening. So I try to organise myself into doing something then. Thinking back, I have realised that I only ever lived by myself for a year when I first went to Cambridge. After that, I shared a house with three other girls and then, after a few years, got married. I don't remember feeling lonely during that yera but then I suppose there were lots of other people in a similar situation around all the time. Also I was working - quite hard as I recall. Whereas now I am retired and there is no work - well hardly any. I have worked all my life apart from two years having babies. This was unusual  45 years ago but is not today.I am not sure where these thoughts are leading so will go away and see to the organza.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

A New Coptic Binding Style

This is a Coptic binding book which was mostly made at the last bookbinding class. I finished it off at home. The covers are cotton printed by me. The cotton was spaced dyed = shoved in a yoghurt pot with some Procion MX dye. 

The binding is yet another variant from Keith Smith's book. The sewing lines across the spine are in pairs and each pair is done with a single thread  of silk from Oliver Twist but it has a needle on each end. This produces a tight binding which seems much better than anything done before. I intend to use this for preference in future. 

I now realise that a lot of his sewings for Coptic books are very similar and I don't have to try them all. I think I have found one which suits me. Now for headbands!!

View of back and front.

There are guard papers which have been cut from the same sheet as the end papers. While the visual effect is quite good, the paper is much thinner than anything I have used previously for guard papers. I will not use such a thin paper again.

I have prepared a set of covers and the papers for a Coptic book to be done tomorrow. Definitely I must try headbands.

Today has been a bad day. I was aiming to finish off the weaving of shoes for an exhibition and I must have it finished by next Thursday (9 day's time). My intention was to put on top of the  woven rows of shoes, photographs of some of my best shoes at life size using JetFX paper. Well my JetFX paper had gone off. It was 6 months or more since I used it last. I got round to calling ArtVanGo today who were clean out of JetFX but might have some in just before Christmas - which is too late. Oh well, the fall-back position is to turn the same photographs of shoes into ThermoFaxes and screenprint them on. So look up Thermofax Limited on the website and find there is no chance of getting Thermofaxes done in time. Weep on my sister', Dorothy's shoulder (metaphorically since she is 400 miles away). She has some JetFx which has never been opened (mine was out of its packet for six months). She also thought that printing on organza might do the trick and has stuck some in the post. I tried out some  of my organza ironed on to freezer paper and managed get one print but most of the ink finished up on the freezer paper and the image on the organza was too delicate. Dorothy says that my fabric is probably nylon organza and that silk is better. I await the arrival of her parcel with interest. I have left this far too late. 

I had started framing four pictures, got as far as cutting the mount board but that is now on hold!! Bah!

Monday 5 December 2011


This week's funny story:- On Saturday at the Guild meeting, I tool possession of a 5 gallon drum of indigo vat left over from the Newbury Coat. I am arranging to hold an indigo day in January. When I got it home, I put the drum in the garage. The roofers had been in on Friday and put the new roof on the kitchen. It is all waterproofed but they need to return to finish off a few things. On Monday, the builder turned up to start the tidying up and spent a few hours painting and such like. When he had done, he came to the door to say he was finished and added. 'The roofers have left a 5 gallon drum of some funny chemical in the garage. It's got a funny smell and doesn't look like anything I have seen before. It must be a finishing coat. Anyway I thought I would warn you'. So it now has a label tied to  it, saying 'INDIGO VAT PROPERTY OF P R FOSTER'.

Curtains - and other things

This is a scan of the curtain fabric. I worked hard on Friday evening and got the curtain for the back door, sewn and hung. A photo of teh curtain in place is pretty well impossible so a scan of a bit of leftover fabric is  shown on the left. The colour is quite accurate. The pale thread is silver in appearance - certainly metallic. The material is noticeably scratchy. I would not want to wear it.

I think a tie-back is needed and will consider whether I can make a suitable braid or whether I should try weaving one of Robin Spady's designs in her book . I might use it as an excuse to weave a few of the designs. 

The last few days have been very busy. Saturday was Kennet Valley Guild's Christmas lunch. It is the first one we have held in our new venue and it does work nicely. The hall has an entrance hall which is very large - large enough to lay out all the food for 60 or so people!! And it was not overcrowded when in operation.

I had to leave early because I attended a HD performance of an opera from the New York Met. Very high class in singing and style though only the Met would have a two story library complete with staircases and upper levels for people to return books and sing their hearts  out at the same time. Oh and there was a real horse. I did not see the point of that. The text doesn't mention a horse. On Sunday I was back south of Swindon for a Braid Society meeting where I did a bit more kumi-himo. I am making a braid for a bag for the Bournville class (Topic Carnival). I have nearly finished and will post a photo shortly. And then I went to The National needlework Archive's Christmas party. They have a really good exhibition on 'Poetry in Stitches'. They seem to run this every year. The brief was  to produce an embroidered piece 24 inches square based on a poem. The NNA produces 100 poems for you to choose from. The results from the horribly sentimental to the very apposite and beautiful. The standard of workmanship is uniformly high. I had a search on the web when I got back but they do not seem to have posted photos which is a pity. Maybe it is a bit too soon.

Now back to work. Post today followed by framing three pieces of songket - gold thread weaving from Malaysia.  But first I must make the covers for the next practice of Coptic book!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Two scarves

 One of the two scarves I have been furiously weaving on the  Voyager. You can see from the fringes how lurid the warp was before being toned down by the indigo dyed Cheviot singles.

And here is the red and grey scarf done in 3:1 twill squares - except at one end where I got bored and let the squares dribble away. I have got rid of vast amounts of wood and tools to a violin maker today. Mind you all this getting rid of things does not appear to provide any more space in the house.

I have been thinking of putting a curtain up at the back door. It faces North and a cold draught is obvious whenever I walk by. I had decided on a thick black and gold fabric (in the stash) but changed my mind because it will make that area look very dark. Today I was truly inspired. I have a roll of kimono fabric, pale blue with silver sprays of flowers, very delicate. I bought it on the web as a lining for a jacket but, when it arrived, it was no good. The material is very stiff and scratchy. However that will not matter for a curtain!!!

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Bookbinding Projects

Some months ago my daughter, Anne, gave me a book on chutneys with a request to mend it. It is a glued paperback and was in three separate sections with one loose single sheet and the covers were in an awful state. So I considered for several months and, in the end, went to Angela Sutton, a local bookbinder, for a day's tuition, today, and repaired it under her supervision. It is now a hardback and is all quite sound. I cleaned up the covers, trimmed them and glued them on the outside. which is dark maroon library book cloth. I created the artwork for the spine label using Photoshop and printed it out on a postcard. It seems stout enough.

This is a photo of the end papers which are Lokta, Indian  and ornamental - and also dark maroon.

I have finished another coptic book, started at the bookbinding class last week. The cover is a cotton Japanese-y print. The paper inside is a mixture of cartridge paper and paper brought back from Japan. Each section has a guard paper which you can see on the spine under the stitching which is done with Oliver Twist space dyed silk. This yarn is a good weight and strength for book binding.

This photo shows two guard papers. The one on the left is a small remnant from a large sheet of Japanese paper. The one on the right is the entrance ticket to a Kyoto temple. I saved mine up and brought them all home. Also used as a guard paper is a fortune prediction!! All written in Japanese. What you do is take it home if you like it and tie it on in a special place in the temple if you don't like it.

Yesterday I assembled all my woven Christmas cards and addressed them. The foreign ones were posted this morning. I managed to complete the red  and grey space dyed scarf, finished and fringed it. The two space dyed scarves have been washed and hung up and will be ready by the weekend when I need them. What with managing to deal with all the paperwork on Monday morning, I fell quite virtuous.

The next job will be enjoyable as I must go upstairs to the paper stash to select paper for the inside and the covers of the next trial Coptic book. There is no doubt that this business of practising is paying, Each book is better stitched than the previous one.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Flower Trapping

At the Bournville class on Friday, we practiced a new technique, that of flower trapping. You put down a piece of fabric, then some stuff called FuseFX, then flower (petals) leaves, et cetera then more FuseFX, then silk chiffon. The sandwich is ironed at a high heat between sheets of parchment. The final piece has the silk chiffon partially fused as well. Sarah Cage, who taught us how to do this, has pieces done months ago which look the same as the day she created them. The piece cannot be washed so it would be used for a cushion or wall hanging. I have done three pieces and will have to think of something to do with them!!

My grand-daughter, Madi, came over yesterday and we had another a day of clearing out. I am slowly getting rid of stuff. We also turned out the garage. For all the throwing out that's going on, there does not seem much less stuff in the house! 

I have made an error in the red squares scarf and will have to unweave about an inch. I thought it was a little error which would not show up but not so.  Oh well.  This week I must finish that scarf and wash the last two. I need them for next Saturday and I must do the Christmas cards as well as framing threepieces of songket from Malaysia. So a busy week.

Friday 25 November 2011

Another Space Dyed Scarf

I spaced dyed a lambs wool warp in red and dark grey ( see a photo here) knotting the warp tightly in 5 or 6 places, painting the knots dark grey and painting the bits in between red. When it came to weaving it up, I wanted to show off the colours and came up with this design which is just a twill.  20 threads on Shafts 1 to 4 and the next 20 on Shafts 5 to 8, then weave in 1:3 and 3:1 twill, swopping over every inch.  Quite pleasing although simple minded.

I am determined to go back to ikat and have been reading  my many books on ikat. I have decided what to do in the sense that I have decided to start on warp ikat and design it so that I could do the last half of it in weft ikat if I am getting on well The big problem is that I need to lay out the warp under full stretch and that limits the length to less than 2.5 yards in the garage. I will dye it in an indigo vat and might try a double dyeing. 

Tomorrow Madi is here to help clean up and out the garage. This will help towards the ikat plan.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

A grandfather clock has been handed down the family. It was made by a 19th century clockmaker in Whitby, Yorkshire where Michael's family has lived since the 1820s.  It is currently owned by Ruth, my eldest daughter, but she decided that taking it to Malaysia was not feasible and it has been staying with us for 5 or so years. However it has not worked in that time and also was damaged in the move to Malvern. Recently I found a local clockmaker to take on refurbishing it. The clock shows the phases of the moon as well as time (the clockmaker says it is an incredibly accurate clock and got very excited about it) and the enameled dial for this has been very badly damaged for years. I remember it damaged at least 30 years ago. The clockmaker suggested that it be repainted and so it has been.  It went to a specialist painted who has made a fantastically good job of it. I should have taken a photo before repainting. The paint had entirely disappeared from the top third of the dial leaving bare metal and one of the two faces was very badly damaged. There was a lot of cracking elsewhere. No-one has any idea what was painted on the top section so a ruined castle will do as well as anything else. I am rather pleased about this. 

He has refurbished most of the clock but a new wheel has to be cut and we are aiming for an operational clock by Christmas when the KL bunch are descending en masse. The current plan is for everyone to have Christmas with Anne in Leamington Spa and then the KL bunch and me depart for New Year in Dundee with my sister, Dorothy. The younger members (everyone but Dorothy and myself) have tickets for the Hogmanay street party in Edinbuirgh and are looking forward to it immensely. 

Dorothy has invited all the other bits of the family for lunch. I reckon there will 25 people if they all turn up.

Monday 21 November 2011

The Wonders of a Stash

You may recall this dyed warp  from a week ago  which I said was too bright. I warped up yesterday and yes it is too bright.

So I thought I would inspect my fine wool stash just in case. And I  found four large spools of fine Cheviot Handspun which I had dyed darkish blue with indigo. I have no memory of this but my records show that I got it from Rosie Price in 2008.

And this is what the fabric looks like woven up. Much darker, subdued even, but much better. IThe scarf will be more blue than brown but it is nice. There is plenty of the weft yarn. I wonder what project I had in mind for it. I put 250 gms in skeins, dyed them and wound them onto spools. 

Sunday 20 November 2011

Hand Painted Noren

This is a handpainted noren (door curtain) from a stall in Kyoto market . We were wandering through it looking at the fish, the mushrooms and the pickled vegetables when we came across a stall selling nothing but noren. We went in, not that there was much room and he more or less ignored us (European tourists after all) until Ruth took one out of the rack and got me to hold it up. At which point, he became very attentive and hung up masses for us. He even brought others out from his shelves. And we did buy one each. Ruth got hers installed as soon as she got home but mine had to wait till today.

It is hand painted and no two are alike. The fabric is natural hemp and the picture is of a persimmon tree bearing fruit - very autumnal. He had some very nice ones painted with maples.  And where you ask have I hung it? The door to my work room is just by the front door which means that the first thing anyone coming in sees  is a shambles first unless I have closed the door - which I don't. So a door curtain is perfect. It's in a very prominent position to be admired and you can't see the shambles through it. I even used a piece of bamboo to hold it which comes from my own bamboo plantation . It curls up at the bottom because it has been rolled up for the last five weeks and in a small box. I am hoping it will drop out. If it doesn't, I will have to iron it.

I have cleared up a bit more in the work room and am about to finish another project or two!!

Saturday 19 November 2011

Saturday Already!

I have been cleaning the house up as I had visitors for lunch today. If family, I would have left the place in its state of chaos but thought I had better make the effort as I have not put things away since I got back from Japan. So I have
- made blackcurrant icecream - very important as it was for lunch today. It worked.
- written up all the textiles I brought back from Japan and tidied them away into their new homes. In the process, I also tidied up pieces I had before because some went to the Weaving Exhibition and needed to be put away.
- unpacked and put away all my stuff from the weaving exhibition and found various pieces which were not mine. Fortunately I could identify the owner so have sent out emails telling the owner I had them and would return them at the next Guild meeting.
-tidied up and put away everything upstairs which means that floor is visible and I could work up there. This is unusual!!
- edited the next Guild Newsletter which meant emailing/calling people for information (just exactly who in the Guild won what at the Newbury Show in September?) and reminding other people that they did promise - - - -. Everything is now in and I have one colour graphics page to work up Photoshop for the centrefold and it will be finished. So sending it to the printer on Monday morning looks feasible. And on the subject of prizes, I got a yellow rosette. The judge thought the selvedges were poor on my lace wool scarf. I was surprised. I thought they looked quite good, given that I wove lace to the edge.
- cut off the Diversified Plain Weave from the Megado and tidied the loom up.  Cut the napkin off and hemstitched the ends.
- found a Lever Arch file to put my napkins from the 2011 Napkin Exchange into. Printed out my handout and filed my sample too.
- the work room is still a tip with the table piled high with projects. It is going to take a few days to clear.

This is the tail end of the DPW warp with feathers woven in lurex. I am hoping there will be enough for the front of a waistcoat.

This is the final shoe piece. I have to work on this and will probably overprint using JetFX paper from ArtVanGo. Chris Fletcher who made all the lovely cards (which sold extremely well at the weaving exhibition) gave me back a few remnants which I can test out with my JetFx ideas first.

I will zigzag stitch the ends of the various sections of the DPW weaving and then deal with them. Tomorrow nothing is happening and I hope to reduce the pile on the table a bit.

I have enough food left over from lunch not to have to think about food for a day or two.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

24 hours Gone

I have had a sore throat and a sniffle for more than  a week and it decided to punish on Sunday night. I spent the night eating strepsils and decaquane but felt so bad in the morning that I stayed in night until 1130. Ate breakfast, emptied the car, cancelled two appointments for Tuesday and went back to bed.  Eventually I crawled out at 4 o'clock but did very little. I watched Murder on the Nile and retired to bed with the family cure for a cold, hot orange squash with lots of sugar and a hefty dose of whisky. And slept straight through until 7 o'clock. I feel quite energetic this morning.

 We had a great time at the acid dyeing class.  Some of us discussed this and decided it was me restricting the number of students to ten.  In the past, there have been up to 14. This time it was restful, every one, including me, got on with lots of projects. I managed to complete three! Two dyed warps are shown on the left. The warp on the left had tight knots tyed in it and was then space dyed, hot pink and dark grey. The one on the right was tightly chained and then dyed in chestnut, gold ochre and jade. It has come out much louder than I expected. Too much white. If I over-dye the warp, the jade and chestnut will end up muddy. I think I will dye the weft a pale gold ochre. I can see me putting this warp on the Voyager and trying out colours in the weft first!!

Actually I do wonder if it was the presence  of Yvonne  Withers that made the difference. She makes us all laugh.

And then there was this which, again, has not come out as I expected. Well, that's the joy of space dyeing. When we had all finished the cushions for the exhibition, some of us liked the yarn so much that we got Rosie Price to get extra some cones of it. I bought 2 cones which is more than 2 kgs. I wound off 200 grams in 7 balls and dyed them by injection. This means using a syringe to insert dye into the ball and you have to poke the syringe into the middle and dye there too. I discovered, on a previous occasion, that it is difficult to get a soaking wet ball dry and worried about it rotting. So this time, I wound the balls into skeins immediately, rinsed the yarn again and they are dry already. Again rather loud but I am proposing to have a plain undyed weft and that will tone the colours down.

I have found a lovely Linton Tweed yarn for my feather  draft and can't wait to try it out. As you can tell I am recovered. I can see lots of small jobs being finished today. Upstairs is a shambles as I just dumped all the exhibition stuff there.

A visitor at the Exhibition told me that a member of their Guild managed to go on a four week course in ikat in Kyoto. I wish I had asked more questions.

Sunday 13 November 2011

This week has been busy

This week has been busy and I see I last blogged on Tuesday. I prepared another Coptic binding book at the bookbinding. Very nice too but I can't show it as I left it in one of the class presses. On Thursday, I went off to Greenham to do a day's demo at the Weaving Exhibition. Lots of people turned up from Wiltshire Guild and a couple from Berkshire Guild as well. The exhibition was stripped down on Friday in an hour!! Not that I helped there as I was looking after my grandson while the rest of the family went to a party for 80 young people which they had organised. 

During the week, I made a pile of those bits of weaving which I can do without and I am going to take them to Guild to sell in December. So yesterday, I sewed labels on and tied on labels saying how to wash things and thought about prices. These are low. I am trying to clean out a stash. And some are marked with MMAO which means 'Make Me An Offer'. So that's all done.

I have been taking part in Su Butler's Napkin Exchange and this is what arrived this week. Aren't they all wonderful? The idea that one should use them is laughable. Gloat over them more likely. I emphasis that none of these have been done by me.

I have woven everything I intended to on the Megado and have about 1.5m left. So I have created yet another draft for Diversified Plain Weave. I am not going to weave it in green and will shortly go and hunt for something suitable.  I will look out my Linton Tweed yarns first. I reckon I can get a waistcoat out of this length.

Today is Acid Dyeing Day at the Kennet Valley Guild. The car was packed last night, starting with the biggest tarpaulin you have ever seen and ending up with three plastic boxes packed with 27 colours of dye solution. I have (ever optimistic) included some yarn I would like to dye. The dyes are in the boot and samples, yarn etc are on the back seat. No point in asking for trouble. I have also got a box of Indian sweets to share. They came from Leamington Spa's Millenium Sweet Shop.

Tuesday 8 November 2011


I am waiting for the repair man. My dish washer is on strike. Or maybe it is just feeling under the weather like me. I felt uncheerful on Sunday and had to attend a work meeting two hours drive away yesterday. When I got home, it took me some time to realise that I was feeling very cold and miserable and would rather go to bed. I feel better today but definitely not 100%. The weather is foggy and clammy. I cannot see further than 100 yards and it is dark. 

So since I have to be up and about for the repairman, I am tidying up paperwork and throwing out old documents. I have come across a present I received some months back a set of baitk pieces showing a square at each stage of the dyeing. Very interesting and I have mounted it  up. I have no idea how old this is. My guess is that it is not 21 st century.

This is the first square showing the first application of wax. It is then dyed red. The wax is not removed but added to, in other words, some of the red bits are waxed over, It is then dyed black and all the wax removed.  A new pattern of wax is applied and the square is dyed brown. All the wax and - - -

Here is the final square with all the wax removed.

I now have a working dish washer and a whole lot of Lever-Arch files neatly filled with 'stuff' - and labelled on the outside too.

The next thing to do is set about the papers  dealing with my pension and put them in some sort of order. After that, I will allow myself to design the 2011 Christmas cards and make up some dye solution towards Sunday's class.

A piece of amusement for you all. I have a friend in the space industry who follows this blog and wondered which of her categories she should put Purple Donsu into. In the end, she decided on UK Institutions!!!

Monday 7 November 2011


The Midlands Textile Forum is having an exhibition next January in Newcastle-under-Lyme Art Gallery. The idea is that pieces are based on the Betty Smithers collection of artefacts, which includes a lot of clothes and accessories from the 60s and 70s. I still have a lot of warp on the Megado in Diversified Plain Weave and decided that I would do 'shoes' which you see here. The colours  are wrong. It is cream not yellow. I will embellish the piece when it is off the loom. I have several ideas but will have to trial them with   bits of paper.

On Friday I was at the Bourneville class and helpful remarks were made about the two pieces I took in.  I added more sequins to the coral piece and now have to mount it. The other sea piece needs more stitching which I cannot do till next week because the sewing machine is being PAT tested. PAT = Portable Appliance Test and has to be done on any such electrical appliance you take out of the house. Health and Safety!!!!

On Saturday, there was Guild and a South West Area meeting. I went off to the Weaving Exhibition in the afternoon and a lot of Guild members and the SW Area reps came too. All in all, it was quite busy. Anne and her family came down from Leamington Spa in her brand new (delivered this morning) car which I admired. It has a glass roof.

I have done more clearing up although I have not sorted out the photos from Japan yet. That must be the next major job. I have managed to clear out the office so that there is a clear space to work on!!

Thursday 3 November 2011

A Few Projects Completed

Yesterday was back to  the bookbinding class. I am doing the next Coptic Binding (No 2) in Keith Smith's Volume 3 (ISBN 0-9637682-4-7). The cover (back and front) is cut from a heavy-duty paper shopper from a  Department Store in Kyoto.

The end papers, which match the covers are from thinner paper which was used to wrap each purchase at the same Department Store.

The paper inside the book is a mixture of cartridge paper and paper brought back from Japan. This one is a paper table mat!!! Only two paired sections have been sewn so far. That took me most of the afternoon. It does look nice and is definitely better than Smith's No 1. Lots of recycling happening here.

Yesterday I got back my Coptic binding using old maps. It has been on display in the College over the summer and my tutor, Anna, told me that it had been much admired. She ran a bookbinding Summer School at the College and has had to promise to teach Coptic binding next year!! She was very complimentary about the design.

 I have embellished the coral fabric I created in September, beads and angelina as well as some embroidery. I do not want to add too much more and will take it to Bournville tomorrow to see what the others think.

I am not too happy about producing all these pieces of fabric which are cluttering up the house. I have decided that I must sell some of weaving at the Guild Christmas day. That means I have to have a major clean out upstairs. Any of Rabbit's Friends and Relations who fancy a specific piece should speak now.
This fabric was also created in September and I have added two jelly fish. Now what I ask myself? Also I do not like The left hand underneath bit of the central jellyfish and I think I will have to unpick it and move it to the left.

I have managed to finish off a lot of minor jobs. One important job was checking on the acid dye supplies as I am running a class in 10 days time. I need to re-supply stock solution of 14 different dyes, 13 of which I have in the house. So  I have ordered the Bright Kelly Green from Fibrecrafts and will settle down to making up the dye solutions over the weekend. I thought about starting today but it is dark , damp and cold in the garage today.

I have ironed (to set the dyes) and washed all the fabrics I brought back from Committed to Cloth and they are hanging up in the garage to dry. I put the drop cloth I used last week through the machine, ironed it and hemmed the ends. 

What else? The builder and a man came about the windows and all sorts  of decisions were taken, like exactly what size the windows will be and where the window seat will run.  And what sort of storage under the seat. This work will not be started until after Christmas. The seat will have a spectacular view of the garden and the work will be finished before spring.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

The Exhibition

 Yesterday (Monday) Rosie Price and I had a gallery-seeing visit to London. We did the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy which was great, the Japanese Embassy to look at a small but beautiful exhibition in their foyer and the Gerhard Richter Exhibition in Tate Modern. The Japanese embassy exhibition was two or three Japanese and British craftspeople in each of several disciplines. Exquisite braids, wonderful ceramics and baskets and rotten weaving. Well worth half an hour if you are in Piccadilly.

The Richter exhibition covered about 50 years of painting. What interested me was the fact that he worked in two or three different styles at the same time. Also in the 1990s he worked with a squeegee applying oil paint and ripping it off. The finished work looked as though it was Leslie Morgan's breakdown printing which must have been started about the same time.

And then we went to the Daiwa Foundation's Exhibition 'Bite-Size'. Which we thought was poor compared to previous textile exhibitions which have  all been one-man shows. We had arranged that a group of Guild weavers would go up to London in the next few weeks to see this but - - - .  

Three out of four is not bad though.

Over the weekend, starting on Friday, the Guild weavers were involved with our Exhibition at the National Needlework Archive. We hung it on Friday. I am not too happy about the labels but everything IS labelled and it would have taken 2 days (which we did not have) not 1 to do the labelling properly. The cushions looked great but the photos of them are going into the Journal so I do not feel I can show them here. But I can show some other photos.
A colour range of scarves

Lots of lovely bags

And assorted goodies.

There were lots of looms being demo-ed over Saturday and Sunday and lots of public 'having-a-go'.  I shall not be back until next Saturday.

I woke up this morning and realised that, for the first time for 6 weeks, I was not supposed to be elsewhere or preparing for elsewhere or unpacking from else where. And I felt very cheerful. As a result, I got a lot done which included preparing for bookbinding tomorrow, talking to the builder about replacing the kitchen roof and also a window, talking to a man about installing book cases, running the washing machine several times. I am glad to be back home.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Coming Home

I have been away from home for 8 days and this is the sight that greeted me at home this afternoon. The maples strutting their stuff. The whole garden is incandescent - and gorgeous. Why does yarn not come this colour?

From Monday to Thursday I was on a course 'Beyond Background' with Leslie Morgan of 'Committed to Cloth'. They have a wonderful purpose built studio formed from an old barn. Everything is perfect. A large table for each student which is easily height adjustable, an IKEA storage unit on castors for under the table. Masses of tools, paints, dyes, sinks. The only imperfection was me. The other eight students were all quilts/textile artists and had a much better grasp of shape, design and colour than I had. One of the next sessions was where every student in turn pinned up a work and everyone criticised it. I learnt a lot from the discussions on all the works. I managed five works but only one of them is finished.

The above shows two completed works on cotton. The piece on the left is dry-brushed and I will use the top part as covers for books. I don't like the tartany bit at the bottom.

These two need further work. The fifth and last piece is in an early stage and I might show it when I have decided what to do with it!.

On Thursday I moved to Reading and stayed over. On Friday a gang of us hung the Weaving Exhibition.  We had a good 'do' on Saturday evening and a fair few visitors during the day on Saturday and Sunday. I have a load of photos and will save these for a later blog.

I am not at all sure about the pieces I did at the course. I can't think what to do with them. Everyone else was a quilter and I shall not be making a quilt any time soon - certainly not the size these pieces are. The smallest is 1.5 yards long. The techniques were interesting and useful  and could be used elsewhere.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Exhibition(s) and What-not

I have spent the last week mending computers or, in one case, paying to have it mended. If that was not enough, the dishwasher is on strike and I haven't the time to chase a repair man so that will have to wait a week or two. In the meantime, I am washing up by hand. I know that does not sound logical but I am off on Sunday to a course at Committed to Cloth and then hanging the Guild Weaving Exhibition. The other job I have been doing is making lists of items which are going to exhibited, ringing people up to ask questions and running out of labels. The lists are now finished and I am hoping that not too many changes are needed next Friday.

I did manage to produce this T-shirt. When in Okinawa, Ruth saw a T-shirt tie dyed like this and fancied it but no, not in her size (she's a 14). So she turned to me and said,'You can do that. I would like one in pinkish-purple'. The only response possible is a nervous 'Ooh err'.

I have to take 2 yards of dyed cotton to next week's course and opted for dark purple. But I had lots of Procion MX dye solution left and it does not keep more than a few days. So I found an old M&S T-shirt in my wardrobe and tried out the method I think was used in the Okinawan T-shirt. The method clearly works  but I think it would look better if the lowest band was lower and the other three bands were higher. A useful exercise.

I must say I am looking forward to a time 10 days hence when all that is before me is Christmas which will be 2 months off and I can concentrate on getting a few projects finished. I have decided against entering for Convergence Yardage and Small Expressions. I am not inspired by the theme for the yardage and don't think I am good enough for Small Expressions. I have a lot of Diversified Plain Weave warp left and intend to weave something off-beat for the Midland Textile Forum's next Exhibition.

Thursday 20 October 2011


In addition to textiles, there is, of course, paper. Apart from buying some (too much), everything you buy is wrapped up in wonderful paper. I brought everything I could home including the paper shoppers which came with my carefully wrapped  up purchases inside.

I have just cut the bags apart and ironed them. On the left are shown a lfew of them. To give you an idea of scale, the piece on the top right is about 20 inches square and is quite heavy duty so could be used as a book cover without any card inside.

This photo is of tickets! You have to pay to get into shrines in Kyoto (not in Tokyo) and the red and black tickets with calligraphy are temple tickets. They are about 10 inches long. All ironed and ready to use.

There are many stationers selling beautiful paper. Here is some I bought. A stationer in Kyoto saw me opening all the drawers where they keep the best paper and arrived at my elbow with a Lever Arch file of samples. Not much hope of communication but he indicated the number on the sample and the number on the drawer and then ushered me to a desk and chair to examine the samples. Worth his while, I spent a lot of money.

This was the most expensive sheet of paper. The paper is not much more than tissue paper (the crosses are the floor tiles. The pattern of cranes in a landscape is in gold leaf. Goodness knows what I shall do with it. Gloat over it for few years, I expect.

The Kyoto stationers sold packs of 5 paper table mats with wonderful designs on them and they worked out at about £1.10 a sheet so I bought several packets. They are a little bigger than A4. It seems to me that the patterns are seasonal. They were doing a lot of autumn leaves. I went to the bookbinding class yesterday afternoon and bound four copies of Michael's Morning Glory book. But I also started on another book which will be bound in Coptic style. That has a lot of cartridge paper in it but I am using some of the paper mats in it as well.

I have had a lot of trouble with computers since returning home and the kitchen/scullery roof needs replacing. The builder has been to see it and says he will patch it up until spring. In his opinion, it is a waste of money doing a flat roof in wet weather. What this has shown is that I have decided to stay in this house for the foreseeable future. I am about to have some bookcases made and I am thinking about turning one large room into a studio and knocking more windows into the end wall. If I do that the peach tree will have to go. So I am not quite decided yet. But it would make a huge difference to the light in the room.


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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.