Sunday 27 February 2011

I have been taking photos for Michael to work on for his Garden-thru-the-year book. This is anemone blanda atrocaerulea of which we have many. It seeds itself round the garden and pops up everywhere - like our cyclamens but unless absolutely necessary, neither of them are ever weeded up.  The flowers are about an inch across.

Michael has pages of paintings of cyclamen coum but has moved on to these anemones. He was quizzing me about how the book would be bound. I want to do this book in various forms of Coptic binding. I would like to try some of the more complicated bindings. Also Coptic binding allows the book to open flat so he could have a painting across two pages. And then I could use guard pages which would allow a little text but not much.

This is an example. This is my journal for designing books in. The guard section has start dates and what I did finally. The following pages contain design ideas. This is the start of 'Sir Patrick Spens'.

But  I must not be deflected into starting in earnest on that book. I have just made a horrible discovery. I joined a Complex Weavers Study Group last September and though that I had a year to practice in and then in September 2011 I would have to produce some samples to share around. Well I was wrong. Delivery date for the first lot is May 1st. I have designed what I want to weave but it needs 24 shafts which means the Megado. But the Megado is waiting for the next warp to be tied to the ghost warp and woven (6 yards of it) and I have not finished dyeing the warp yet. That has become this afternoon's job. And I would like to use the ghost warp a third time. Oh dearie, dearie me.

The only saving grace is that the samples are only a sideline for this weaving. I intend to use the main part as  an entry to a Midlands Textile Forum Exhibition in September. 

Must go and get on!!!! 

Thursday 24 February 2011

Last Lot of Indigo Dyeing

On Wednesday, all the indigo dyed skeins were dry enough to weigh and sort. I had one mid-indigo skein too many and was a little short on very dark indigo. So I revived the indigo vat in the afternoon, added some Spectralite and overdyed the spare skein to a nice dark indigo. I am getting what is really navy blue this time around.  And since I might as well take advantage of any indigo vat going, I overdyed two pieces of fabric which I knew I would never use in their then state - came out nicely. I also dyed one of the calico shoppers. I have this idea of doing toucans or parrots in Mola work and indigo might be a suitable background colour. 

I got round to finishing off the first 'Morning Glory' book. Brown Pastel paper cover with blue Como silk sewing. The title label really is on square! But the morning glory below the Kanji characters is not bright enough. That has been corrected.

The inside of the book - title page.

This one has a mistake on the front cover in the sewing so it will not do for the exhibition. But I always intended to make 10 anyway to give round the family and friends.

The concertina book, 'In The Event' has been printed out on Bockingford duplex Inkjet paper. It looks good but I had not realised that 190gsm paper would be so difficult to crease exactly where you want it creased. It is glued up and has been pressed for an hour. Now out just to make sure it is drying properly. I will press it again before adding the coverboards. With 190 gsm paper, it is quite sturdy and almost stands up by itself. Almost but not quite. I sent away for some buckles and have tried out various closure arrangements. I eventually settled on black grosgrain ribbon plus a buckle at the back. I shall make one or two more of these books but I don't see this being given away.

I got round to weaving a bit more of the double weave book. and am on my third page now. At 36ppi on a table loom, it is slow going. My sister, Dorothy, sent me a book on transferring print to fabric from Committed to Cloth and I need to practice some of the techniques discussed. What is being woven at the moment is a  four page sample to practice on. But I need to try out techniques on something less valuable first!!!

Anne Field, the devore/collapsed weave expert,  who lives in Christchurch, NZ is okay. Although their house is not seriously damaged, their china and furniture is destroyed. For some hours, they had no water or electricity but facilities are being restored. Our thoughts are with her and the people of Christchurch.

Monday 21 February 2011

More Indigo Dyeing

The indigo dyeing on Sunday was a success. I dyed more than a kilo of yarn to the correct depth of colour and also dyed several pieces of cotton. I am keeping the indigo vat until the yarn is all dried and I can sort it into bags for delivery next Saturday. Just in case of shortage, you understand. It went better than the first day because I doubled the size of the dye bath.

I hope to complete any more dyeing needed on Wednesday as I am desperate to finish the wool/silk dyeing and get that warp on the loom. The Megado has been lonely since early December. 

The double weave for the book is going well although I am still searching for a method of printing text on the Tencel surface. The covers for the Morning Glory book are done, glued, pressed and ready. I only need to add the title on the front and sew the spine.

Most of today was taken up with going out to lunch at the Three Choirs Vineyard -  see here. I have to fetch the Community Action van (which has wheelchair access) get Michael into it (not painless), drive round Malvern and pick up two friends then drive for 30 minutes to the Vineyard.  And after lunch reverse all this. It was  a dank damp day with no sunshine but the vineyard itself looked lovely. They are all neatly pruned and the ground is quite hilly. The vines are all lined up but everyone is different. I wish I had taken some photos. It was a good lunch too.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Transferring Prints to Fabric

At the Bourneville class, I found instructions in a book on how to go from a printed picture to the same on a piece of fabric by way of an Inkjet printer. I tried this morning, taking care to reverse the lettering first. The instructions said 'Print on highclass photo paper, spray the fabric lightly with water, then spray the print (held vertically)  two or three times with water, apply paper to fabric and burnish two or three times'. 

I used Canon Glossy II which appears to be impervious to water. Anyway nothing doing. So I tried Fabbiano Accademia paper - highclass paper but not photo.  If you spray the paper held vertically, all the ink runs down the page so you need to hold it horizontal. It does work - sort of. 

Red is not as good as black printing and black isn't much good anyway. The fabric was just pre-washed off-white cotton. I think this wants more investigation. Use bold lettering? Other fabric?

In between times, I am working on the Morning Glory book.

Preparations are all done for Indigo Dyeing this afternoon.

The photo on the left is a sample for a Double Weave book - hence the interest in getting text onto fabric.

The warp is of two different space dyed Tencels from Just Our Yarns sett at 36epi and the weft is a self colour (blue-green) from the same source. The weave is a 3 and 1 broken twill, making sure that the 3 and 1 is in the opposite hand on the two cloths so that the final result is warp faced on both sides. I did experiment with tabby but the colour of the warp is dulled down a lot. This is a sample with square pages and when I have woven four pages I will cut it off and check it all works. It will be a concertina book. I do have letters I could stamp with but there is too much text for me to be sure of not making a mess anywhere. As the book is continuous, I think this is a mistake. I might stamp the title because that will be shorter and in large letters.  If the worst comes to the worst, I can have Thermofax screens made but that would be expensive. I need to continue exploring this transfer business

Saturday 19 February 2011

Blog Peekers

At the moment I seem more interested in my to-do list than what I have done in the last few days. Partly because a lengthy trip to Worcester Royal on Friday afternoon so that Michael can have his monthly transfusion of Zoladronic Acid has driven previous events out of my mind. I did get to my class on Friday morning and spent the time seeing what happened to the colours of transfer dyes. I was trying to put green leaves and flowers on to a red background but they turned out mauve (see below). So that's put paid to that idea. Annette, the tutor, thinks I would have to applique leaf shapes in dark green cotton to get the effect I want. I have prepared two pieces of red  background stamped with the Paisley pattern wood block so I still have one piece untouched. Some time this weekend I will look for green cotton in the stash.

The most important job today is to survey what has been done in the way of indigo dyeing and work out what needs to be done tomorrow.  And send off the Shuttle to the printer. That's the Kennet Valley Guild Newsletter. It is all done and Michael proofread it on Thursday. I will read it through one last time and email it off. 

The reason for the title is that I discovered last night that the Google has a blog  visitor counter and was a bit flabbergasted by the range - and number - of  visitors. They tell you what country too and provide a map of the world. UK and USA and Canada I can understand but Argentina and India! And a few from Pakistan. I was looking at the summary of a week and I suppose it only takes one person in Pakistan to look up the blog every second day or so to rack up the sort of numbers Pakistan has.  I am flattered in one way but hope they are looking at other (better) people's blogs - Daryl Lancaster, Elizabeth Barton. I particularly like Elizabeth Barton's for her discussions of what an artist is up to.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Morning Glory Title Page

The ink came yesterday and I started generating the final pages for the Morning Glory book. Here is the title page where the Kanji characters in the cartouche say 'Morning Glory'.  This cartouche will also be used on the cover.

It takes me a long time to do all the layering needed in Photoshop. I could finish it today.

We are so taken with this book that we had a great discussion about another book. I want to do a book on the Border ballad  'Sir Patrick Spens' but Michael says he is not competent to do the graphics - not his style. I have been mulling over this for some months and have realised ,as a result of the discussion with Michael, that I see the graphics as being black and white and why not do linocuts? I am thinking about it.

However I did make a suggestion which he is acting on - he will paint one item (flower, leaf, plant) from our garden for each month of the year. I am not sure about the text. Maybe between us, we can find some suitable quotations which would be printed on the opposite page. In 'Morning Glory, a painting and the text are on the same page and a pen and ink drawing on the  opposite page with details of the writer of the text. Yesterday afternoon I went out (in the rain) and and took close up photos of cyclamen (see below) and snowdrops and maple bark. The big leaf in the foreground is about an inch across

I have done a bout of lino-cut printing this morning and am quite pleased with the results.

Monday 14 February 2011

Indigo Dyeing for Cushions

This is the result of indigo dyeing this afternoon. Cushion weavers were allowed to choose light, medium or dark indigo. The light ones are at the top nearest the camera. There is a very dark one at the lower left - what I call Japanese indigo.

The rest are all medium although there is some variation. When they are dry, I will examine them carefully and possibly overdye some skeins. I still have four not-dyed-at-all skeins but I had no more indigo or spectralite so have sent for fresh supplies. I have kept the indigo bath   and will finish this session off next weekend. 

The different blue at the top but the rear is my own warp, well two of them which are the same as each other but are a lightish mid-blue.

I found it quite difficult to get successive skeins the same shade of blue. The light ones were done at the end of the afternoon when I had got the hang of repeating a colour.

I also dyed two large pieces of cotton by crumpling them and tying up the bundle tightly with string. Both bundles were a bit too large and the pieces have large white patches from the middle of the bundle. I will overdye them but have not decided how. Do I just submerge them and get rid of the white or do I crumple them up differently?

The only other thing of note is that I went to see my GP as my left hand has been troubling me. I expected to be told it was arthritis and take these pain killers, Mrs Foster Not a bit of it. 'Are you quite sure you haven't broken it?' He asked this question at least three times and then organised an X-ray. No pain killers. My sister, Dorothy (a retired GP), put the lid on the day by saying re a possible broken bone, 'Have you thought how you are going to manage Michael if your left hand is in plaster?' Well actually no that had not occurred to me.

Sunday 13 February 2011

I Have Been Good

I am sure everyone knows the day when you set out to do A, find you have to do B first and then that cannot be done until you do C and you wind up scrubbing the kitchen floor or turning out the scullery first. Last week I decided I really needed to start on the indigo dyeing for the Guild exhibit of cushions where the yarn has been natural dyed. Disappearing into the garage for hours on end is not on so I arranged for a carer to come in so Michael would be looked after. This is happening tomorrow afternoon (Monday). I checked I had enough chemicals last Wednesday - just in case I needed to get some but I didn't. All was well on that front.

The problem started on Saturday (yesterday) night. I decided I should wind my own warp and dye it in one go. That would allow me to work out what weight of yarn everyone required.  So I looked up my EXCEL spreadsheet and it said '? What epi?'And then I remembered. I did a wrapping with this yarn and it came out at 18 ends per inch which means 9 epi for tabby. But I also weighed a length of 10 metres very accurately and worked out the km/kg (yds per pound) and that pointed to a sett of 16 epi. This was really too different to use either. So late last night a decision was made that, since the Voyager was the only free loom, I would do a sample on that today. I got up at 6 am and had the weaving started at 0930 (time out was taken to give Michael pills and breakfast and fetch the paper). I sleyed up at 12 epi quite prepared to resley. But 12 epi is perfect!!! So I have been good. This will enable me to work out weights of yarn much more accurately.

Yesterday at the weaving class, I had a spare five minutes and chose the drafts from Carol Strickler's book  to use for my cushions. I chose a threading from which four different patterns can be  woven which I then changed a lot. So I have woven samples of each draft. The photo above shows, at the left, a weft which is exactly as the warp yarn and this has given me the data of  12 epi. I used up the rest of the warp with samples of each of the four different drafts. The width is 230 mm which is about two fifths of the final width.  I will change the layout of the stripes in the final version. I must wash this now and get a handle on the shrinkage.

Michael looked at the scanned paintings of morning glories, retouched one and replaced another. He also painted some twining morning glories on the title page.  I spent some time creating an end paper, see below.
I have decided to change the layout on each page. As I have had to order some printer ink for the Inkjet which will not be here until at least Wednesday, I have put both books aside till the end of next week. But next weekend should see a flurry of activity on this front as I print and assemble both books. There will only be 'In the Event' but I might make 10 of the Morning Glory to give away as presents. In any case I need to concentrate on the indigo dyeing immediately.

Friday 11 February 2011

Morning Glory Sample Page

This is a page from the Morning Glory book. All looking very nice but not if coloured green. The paintings were scanned in and two of the pictures look very odd in colour. This one is okay. Before attempting to do any Photoshop treatment, I intend to print all the pages out on the final paper and on the Inkjet. Definitely tomorrow. 

I have been to the Creative Textiles class and spent the time designing the decoration on a haori (Japanese workman's jacket). I then drove to my daughter in Leamington Spa and had lunch and admired her new bathroom. Visited the local Indian sweetshop and brought home too much. Drove home in time to receive Michael back from the day hospice. Later went out to do a massive shop and buy two new dustbins.

It was a good day!!

Thursday 10 February 2011

Missing Skein

I believe I have looked everywhere for the missing skein but no joy. So I re-did the sums and yes I was right. There was no margin at all so I have ordered 4 more skeins. Well I am not going to risk not having enough weft. 

Today I started threading up the double weave Tencel and later decided that I would make a haori at the Bournville class. So I have worked out the dimensions and that's all. Tomorrow at the class I will start designing where the decoration will go. I have started on the Morning Glory book but have not got far.

The most important thing I have done today is to watch 'The Trouble with Harry'. I always forget how funny it is. I have a weakness for Shirley McLean.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

First Batch of Dyeing

I did the first batch of dyeing today. Made soda solution, replacement acid dye solution. Used Procion MX dye rust-orange, on a big piece of calico for a gilet. It intend to put on an Art Deco design based on the previous one but printed (mostly).  And dyed three skeins of wool and silk violet. 

I dyed 3 similar skeins a few weeks ago. One skein came out a slightly different colour and felt differen and  I decided that it could be turned into warp and tie-dyed. Can I find it? No. I have the other two skeins but where the third is I have no idea. But there was a piece of serendipity. I decided to look in all the plastic crates of yarn and found 200 gms of Leicester Longwool space dyed with strawberry pink. It was bought at Sheep 2010 held at the local Three Counties Showground. It is just perfect for the multicoloured warp so I turned the whole lot into warp.

And I wound more skeins for the indigo day next Monday. I have decided that I will wind the warp I want and dye that directly. So that has to be done before Monday.

But I would like to find my missing skein. I don't think I have enough yarn otherwise.

Michael has finished all his work on the Morning Glories but I am waiting for him to sign them all. Then I will start on the book processing.
And there were also visits today from the GP, the district nurse, two pharmacists' deliveries and the hairdresser to cut Michael's hair.

Tuesday 8 February 2011


I wrote a few days about making a concertina book, 'In The Event'. A mock-up is shown above. It clearly needs some tidying up, but nothing drastic except that I need to think of a better way of doing the ribbon ties. Buttons? Buckles? All the artwork was done on Photoshop. The final version will be printed on Bockingford Inkjet Paper but this mock-up  was printed on the colour laser printer using normal photocopy paper. All the white slivers that can be seen must go and that was not too difficult. It's done already. But I will change one of the pages quite a bit, although only the layout of the words.
On the left is the back cover. This topic has been rankling since February 22nd 2010 when Michael came home after 7 weeks in hospital and he had a letter with him from the NHS. The letter was printed on A4 paper and had a wide red border. It was signed by a doctor. The implications were horrific and this is my way of working through those horrors. Just pray you never see a letter like that.

That is quite enough for one day.

Monday 7 February 2011

New Day Book

I am slowly progressing with my new Day Book. Today I sewed all the sections together and it is in the press. I had intended to cover it in some fabric showing beach huts but came across this while looking for a piece of fabric with stars on it to send to my sister, Dorothy.  The piece on the left was designed and sized for an A4 book so I will use it. The leaves go up the spine. It is a very substantial book and I am wondering if 2mm greyboard will be stout enough.

I have been experimenting with over dyeing. I took the piece of calico which I had printed with a paisley pattern wood block and tore it in half. Then one half was dyed with rust-orange Procion MX and the other half had transfer dyes ironed on. No real surprises. Both worked and you can still see the original printed patterns.  I suspect it work as well if I reversed the order. I quite like the transfer dyes although it takes a long time to iron. I have ruined the cover on my ironing board by not being careful enough - it has become quite multi-coloured.
I prepared a small lino cut yesterday  (3 inches square) and printed it this morning. I do not get on so well with such a small piece. Does not seem to print so well. I did try it on paper with printing ink and on fabric with acrylic paint textile medium. The fabric works okay but I was using heavily textured fabric  and the red looks quite pale pink because the paint only sits on the highest threads. Interesting though. I must try on a smoother fabric like calico. The next lesson has come and I must read it this evening.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Lino Prints

Here are some lino prints, about six inches square. I am quite pleased with them. They are printed on Chinese paper I brought back for Michael from Kuala Lumpur some years ago. I prefer the one on the left as I could get quite fine lines for the veins in the leaf. It is quite odd. I feel quite at home with this technique. I can see me doing a lot of it. The tutor assumes that the students will be printing on fabric. So far I have only printed on paper but tomorrow I will try on fabric.

Michael is making great progress with his painting for the Morning Glory book and, driving home from Newbury yesterday, I worked out how to do a book. This particular book has been bothering me for nearly a year. As I was proposing to put it in this summer's exhibition, it is about time I found a solution!  I must go and write it up. Do I need to make a mockup?

I have owned a copy of Carol Strickler's book on 8-shaft weaving for a long time but it is not exactly bedtime reading and so I can't say I know it well. However the Guild weaving class has been quarrying in it for lace patterns and I realised what a wealth of drafts are in it. One very attractive feature is that you often get one threading which can be used with wildly different treadlings to get very different patterns.  I am thinking of using this feature when I weave the cushions for the October Exhibition. This idea has proved very popular and we are promised 30 cushions which will all be woven with natural dyed yarn. I need to get on and indigo dye the first lot of warp yarn. We need a definitive weight for each cushion so we know how much our natural dye expert has to treat. The original idea was to pile up the cushions in a heap. That was when we were expecting 8 or 10. If we pile up all 30 in a heap, every under-five in the district will be burrowing through it and treating it as a trampoline!

The rainbow of scarves is coming  along. Weavers are acquiring yarn and selecting patterns. This was definitely a good idea. Originally we thought the rainbow of scarves would have 7 or 8 colours. I think we are at around 18 or 20 now and are at the stage of having a light purple and a dark purple, black, white, shades of grey and brown.

I need a day in the garage dyeing. It is quite difficult to disappear in there for several hours  and look after Michael at the same time. So I am thinking of getting a carer in for Michael for an afternoon so I don't have to attend to him. I have these strange tokens for a carer so that I can get out of the house. The garage is definitely out of the house. I really don't see why not although it does sound a bit odd.

Friday 4 February 2011

Bournville Course Today

I had this idea of doing a waistcoat with an Art Deco feel to it and decided to try out the design on a calico shopper first. Here it is. I unstitched the sides and laid it out flat, then applied the brown velvet shapes and the gold cord. The problem is the concentric circles and how to attach them. I am not keen on Bondaweb as a permanent attachment method in clothes. It is okay as a method of holding pieces together while machining is happening. But I find it difficult to control the sewing machine on such tiny circles. I want a 'clean' appearance and don't really want any stitching to show. These circles are all held on with hand stitches but they are not invisible. 
Options for the waistcoat are
1) to use a wool fabric as a basis and needle felt circles on. Hairy felt does not seem Art Deco-ish to me.
2) to print circles on and over print if necessary.  This strikes me as possible and within my capabilities

3) Abandon the idea altogether.

I  will consider this over next week.

I need to spend a halfday dyeing next week. Indigo bath for Guild Exhibition cushions, dyeing the last of the wool/silk yarn violet and seeing whether a wood block print using acrylic paint can be overdyed with Procion. The last is easy and I might do it on Sunday.

Have I said we (Michael and myself) are doing a linocut course through the web? I did some when I did City and Guilds in Creative Sketchbook but it was very cursory and I only spent a day on it. This is a good course and we are very pleased with the prints. I have cut out a caladium leaf (what else!!) and will print it soon. The tutor is really into printing on fabric but so far we have only printed on paper

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Connected Again

We have been without telephones since Sunday. Some one tried to steal the telephone cables, failed but managed to cut through the cables so they have had to be replaced. Much use of mobiles - except that neither of ours had much money on them and I was driving round yesterday evening trying to find a machine to sell me a top-up. Ended up in Waitrose.
This is the final version, all assembled See previous photo here.. I have thrown out two of the separate motifs. I have done as required by the tutor - that is, develop one of the sample pieces. But nothing further is going to happen to it.

I have decorated another calico bag using a design which I am considering for a waistcoat. Not quite sure of it yet.

I printed this off using an Indian woodblock bought from Rayna Gillman. I like it but am not sure what to do with it - probably a sample. I need to think about this carefully.

And the cover for A Christmas Carol is at long last done. This is front. back and spine. The colour and ghost shape were done using transfer dyes and then the text screen printed on.  I must finish off this book. It has been around for too long.

This is the lamb's wool scarf in lace, all fringed and washed. There was not much shrinkage, because I had dyed it. This is part of my on-going attempt to take better photos by doing photography just outside the front door. The colour has come out well. This is directly opposite the front door so I can retire down the corridor  and get some distance away.

The double weave Tencel  warp is wound on to the Kombo and ready to be threaded. This is going to be a concertina book. Originally I was going to put the text on using Thermofax screens but I am not sure of that now. The cover for Christmas Carol worked because the lettering is quite large but I don't want the text on this new book to be that large and I don't think it will print clearly if I make the font much smaller.  My sister Dorothy says embroider it!!! Hmmpphh! Can I manage that?


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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.