Thursday 30 June 2011

Bookbinding and Other Things (latest version)

I went to Bookbinding class twice yesterday. The tutor kindly said that since I had missed so many classes I could turn up at the morning class as well as the afternoon. And I am so pleased with myself. I decided I would start on my summer bookbinding task(s) of working my way through various forms of Coptic binding. This is the result. The paper is cartridge paper and the covers are old Ordnance Survey maps. They are so old that they are mounted on muslin. Remember them? The guard papers round each section are old maps as well.

This is the first example in Keith Smith's book Volume 3. It took me from 1000 am to 0430 pm to complete from scratch - five hours in all. I will be doing more this summer.

 This is a view of the spine and both covers. I can see a lot of Christmas presents being made as I practice more and more difficult versions of Coptic binding.

I did say I would show photos of the cotton I space dyed before going off to the Lampas course last week. Here is one. And the colour really is a darkish red. The dimensions are about 2 ft square.

This is a large piece of cotton wrapped round rusty objects in a pail of water for four days. And if you think it is pale pink, you are right. I put it through the washing machine along with the dark red piece above.

This is a piece of cotton which is redder than shown here. I have used Photoshop to create the text in the middle and also the calladium leaves which were then printed on JetFx paper and ironed onto the cotton. After that I used blocks and acrylic paint to print on small leaves and the ferns surrounding the text.

Now this has an Indian Paisley pattern block printed all over. And the background colour
is about right.

The day has been fraught with Google destroying the latest blog and shutting periodically. It has only just returned to normal. 

I have also sorted the various people whom Barclays Bank told I was dead.  Now for a nice bit of textile work.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Newbury Coat Re-enactment (3)

Before I set out on last weekend's marathon, Joanna has asked what were the three SF books. They were

- Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon
- City by  Clifford Simak
- The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clark

All classics. I have a lot of SF in the house but there was a special Saturday section on SF in the Guardian a few weeks ago and I noted down those I had not got. There are another couple I must buy.

So here it is - on Sunday evening about 6 pm. This is Newbury's MP wearing the coat and standing next to the one made in 1991. At this point, the fabric was still slightly damp! Since then it has been dried and pressed thoroughly and is on display in Newbury's Department Store which supported the operation whole-heartedly. 

The level of support nationally and lcoally was quite surprising. The local paper produced a 4 page pullout on the re-enactment the week before and I am sure that contributed to the six thousand people who turned up to watch.

I wondered about putting in more pictures but decided against it. If you want to see photos, look at the website of the local radio station.

So what happened? The steps were as follows

Saturday, started at 1000 am
- sheep sheared
- fleece picked and carded
- fibre spun  (by 39 spinners)
- yarn wound in sections of 32 threads, tied with crosses and handed to
- the tiers-on who tied that section to the ghost warp on one of the two looms. The tying-on started 47 minutes after the start
- when all the yarn was tied on, the warp was wound on. There was 4 yards on one loom and 5.5 on the other.
- when woven, the broken ends were sewn in (this was Sunday)
- the fabric was then waulked in a tank in Newbury Market Square
- mangled
- then dipped in an indigo bath
- mangled again
- put on a tenterframe and ironed dry (well nearly)
- cut out
- sewn up by hand

The whole exercise took 14 hours and 44 minutes.

Winding on to the looms was difficult because we were dealing with singles which wants to wind itself onto everything in teh neighbourhood. Next time I would like the yarn to be plied, Although it would take longer to prepare the yarn, it took hours to weave because of the broken threads. What was surprising was that the fabric when it came off the loom looked very poor but after waulking, dyeing and drying, it turned into something respectable.

Every one worked very long hours. I was there from 0815 to 1830 on Saturday and 1030 to 1830 on Sunday. Slept like a log although I have to say that on Monday night, I had a horrible nightmare where I was weaving on a loom which was far too big and was having trouble because the loom bench was so high and the shed difficult to reach.

Now it is Wednesday and I think I have recovered!! 100 people took part in this operation. We have a lot of yarn left and it will be plied, woven up and so on, then made into a coat which will fit a child. Our Guild goes into schools a lot to demonstrate and Rosie Price who is in charge of the schools visits thought the children would like to wear a Newbury coat. So we will see what weaving with the plied yarn is like.

For a lot of us, especially the organiser Linda Scurr, recent life has been dominated by this operation. But it is time to move on.

On Monday I was in Birmingham by 0930 am to see the Bournville class's exhibition which I missed completely due to the Coat. The photo shows a small selection of work. None of it is mine. All very successful and some pieces were sold.

 Since Monday I have tidied up, well nearly. I have finished the last Lampas sample and written up last week's course. And have worked on a piece of fabric for Bournville. It is not quite finished and I will show all the pictures when it is done. I have one more sample of woven shibori to complete before Saturday (Guild meeting) but today is Bookbinding Day!!! Hooray!! I am going to start a Coptic book today. Also Anne, my daughter is coming this evening. I need to consult with her about a lot of things.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Lampas Course

I see that it is a week since I last wrote an entry. It has been a very busy week and I am not going to write it up in one blog.

I attended a three-day workshop in Biederwand and Lampas run by Jette Vandermeiden, a Canadian weaver. She was a very good instructor and we all got to grips with the complexities of drafting for these weave structures. The course was run by the Devon Weavers Workshop near Totnes. Above are shown a few of her own samples.

To the left is shown one of my own samples.

I stayed in Torquay since I had left booking accommodation too late to get anywhere in Totnes. One fine evening, I walked down the hill to the beach and harbour. The town is vertiginous and I would not tackled the enormous and very steep flights of stairs going up from the beach area to the top of the cliffs with their chocolate box houses. A very pleasant place.

I left about 1430 on Friday afternoon to get to Newbury in time to look at the looms ready (or not as the case might be) for the Saturday's re-actment of the making of the Newbury Coat. I will write about that tomorrow.

I have something else to report. For the last three and a half years, I have not been able to read a book (any book, heavyweight, lightweight, fiction, non-fiction.) In the last week I have read three new books. Yes they were all SF.  But I had not read   them before.

Monday 20 June 2011

Busy Week

I had a busy week last week. On Wednesday, there was the Woven Shibori class at the National Needlework Archive, Newbury. This is a new venue for us. A midweek class is unusual for Kennet Valley Guild but that was the only time it could be fitted in and our usual venues (church halls) are full of toddlers midweek. I recommend the NNA as it is very reasonably priced and much better  lit than the average church hall. I had been too ambitious in telling everyone that they had 'only' to weave four one-foot samples in the day. Oh well. So we all took our looms home promising to weave one or two extra samples for those who had not managed to do all the weaving which was everyone. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The results will be on view when they have been dyed in an indigo vat in August.

I did some - not much - tidying up later in the week but concentrated on weaving the extra shibori samples as I need the Voyager back!! When those samples were cut off, I warped up for a class on Biederwand and Lampas I am attending this week in Devon. Everything now ready for me to take to Devon tomorrow (Tuesday)

Friday was Bournville day and I spent the time thinking about what I was doing next.

Saturday, Madi came over (grand-daughter) and helped me clear the hall cupboard of Michael's sheet music. It is all stacked in a cupboard in the cellar now and I have got a lot of yarn in the hall cupboard which has freed up space upstairs. Then we had a go at the upstairs room and got everything off the floor!!  It is now obvious that the carpet needs cleaning - my excuse is that I haven't seen it for a bit. 

Sunday I went to Blewbury to attend the Golden Wedding celebrations of some old friends. A lovely do. It was nice to talk to the 'children' who are the same age as mine! I recall getting caught in a snowstorm on the Downs with most unsuitable clothes on, like shorts and T-shirts only  and carrying a three year old because he had turned purple with cold. I really was very worried. He is more than 6 inches taller than me now.

Monday is today. And I have managed to get through all the necessary jobs including laying out and labelling everything I need to take to the Newbury Coat weekend. I need to check with Rosie that I have everything she is expecting.

It is a very restful day.

I went out to pick some gooseberries and realised that the blackcurrants and the red currants were ready. So picked all the blackcurrants, and some of the other two. I now have bags of fruit in the freezer including some of Summer-pudding-mix. The gooseberry crop is very heavy this year.

 This is Clematis Vagabond just outside our front door - one of Michael's favourite plants.

This was also a favourite  although he admitted that it was a thug. It is 12 foot high in this photo and was 20 feet  a few years ago. We cut it back because it was getting a big leggy but it is reaching for the skies again. It is Rose 'Plein de Grace'. There is a six foot trellis supporting it somewhere in the heap.

Thursday 16 June 2011


I have been in Dundee staying with my sister, Dorothy for the best part of a week and doing all sorts of textile things. We went out one day to Glamis Castle and walked round the woods and gardens with her dog, Jake. Here is the castle - Scottish baronial in spades with  turrets everywhere. They are developing the enormous walled gardens which currently are grassed down. Fruit trees are trained against one wall and a lot of soft fruit has been planted. But they must have several years work in front of them as it is very large.

There is a pinetum full of very ancient conifers. They lost a lot of trees in the recent gales. In fact, everywhere you go up here there are trees on the ground.  

I saw two red squirrels and managed to get a photo to prove it. There are still a lot in Scotland. They are smaller than the greys.

Highland cattle in the fields and a nice Italian garden. No wonder the carpark was full by mid-day.

We visited Cambo gardens in Fife which also has a walled garden but this is marvellous. It is a very personal garden with beds of flowers, vegetables and fruit, a piece of grass for sitting out on and a stream to listen to. Photos would not do it justice. It is just wonderful.

Dorothy has lots of birds visiting her garden including a family of woodpeckers. We only saw one of the young ones visiting but we think there was at least one more. Flocks of goldfinches. lots of tits and finches and sparrows. We don't see many sparrows in Malvern.

I taught a class in Japanese bookbinding while in Dundee and here are some samples. They all did a paper covered book in the morning and a cloth covered book in the afternoon.

Then I came home. It was a lovely day and, as usual ,I was very smitten with the countryside in Galloway. I stopped off in Tebay service station to buy some food, mutton pies and Selkirk bannocks. For those of you who don't live in the UK, Tebay service station is a miracle. It is an independent and serves only local food. I believe the owners are farmers. There is a farm shop where you can buy local meat and bakery goods. 

That was Tuesday. Wednesday I went to Newbury to take part in a day of weaving Shibori.  We used a Round Robin. There is nothing to show yet and there will not be until all the samples are dyed. We plan to do that in early August when we shall have an indigo vat at the Guild meeting for our 'Dyeing in the Churchyard' annual event.

Now I need to write letters, pay bills, finish various jobs urgently . Oh and redo two posters for the Newbury Coat. That is now only ten days away.


Wednesday 8 June 2011

New Day Book

I have been tidying up projects in the last few days. I framed two pieces for the Bourneville Exhibition but they are not totally assembled so no photos yet. I started ona mass production oif Morning Glory books but never got round to the assembly bit.

I did finish my new Day-book. This is covered in a piece of cloth I made 4 or 5 years ago. I like the way the leaves look on the spine.

The pages are a mixture of cartridge paper and fancy stuff I had round the house. It is pleasing to hold - the fabric is cotton and quite weighty. I don't usually do A4 books as they need hefty covers but I wanted to use this fabric wh9ich was designed for an A4 book and, anyway, an A4 book is more useful for a Day Book. I am going in for Just-in-Time manufacture! The old Day Book is within two pages of the end.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Nine Posters - Two To Go

I finished off as many posters I can do yesterday morning. There are nine done in all now and I need to assemble the data for the last two today at the Guild meeting. I am quite pleased with the results although it was very hard work.

Yesterday afternoon I went over to see an old friend who lives on Clee Hill. This is the view. The slight haze has been intensified in the photo and you can't make out the Malvern Hills which were quite visible to the eye. I had forgotten how much I liked the piece of country between Malvern and Clee Hill. Bromyard and Tenbury Wells are on the way, just as attractive as ever.

The country side is one of littleness, little fields, little valleys glimpsed through the farm gates, little hamlets called Tedstone Wafre and Edwyn Roach and isolated farmhouses. It does not have the tidiness and agribusiness look of the Vale of Evesham. I had to drive through a ford to get there and some of the roads had grass and weeds in the middle - always a bad sign.

Jennifer is an iris breeder, specifically siberican irises. Once upon a time, I was too, not of the same kind of iris but what is known as an arilbred. Anyway in those days sibericas were shades of blue. Not any more as you can see from the photo. Yellows, reds, a near black. A close up is shown below.

We spent a lovely afternoon gossiping and admiring irises.

A real beauty.

I got up early this morning and wound a warp to take to Guild, assembled all the things I need to take. Major items for today are

- all the yarn, handouts, samples and notes for the Woven Shibori class
- the Newbury Coat stuff, woven fabric, leftover yarn, pieces of card for each of the spinners,  and the 'weaving plan'
- warping mill, ball winder, bobbin winder and bits to show people how to tie on a warp.
- Guild Loom with ghost warp on it for practising tieing-on.
- all of Linda's sheep photos in three great big albums
- some of my stuff for Show and Tell
- a collection of bits and pieces I have been asked to bring or am returning
- oh and lunch

Even writing this list has reminded me that I have not printed out the latest copy of the weaving plan. I hope I don't come back with so much stuff.

Friday 3 June 2011

Posters - and Completed Project or Two

 I remembered, not quite too late, that I had undertaken to create a set of posters for the Newbury Coat Re-enactment. The idea was create the artwork in Photoshop and get them printed off as A1 and laminated. I did this when I was working and we went to exhibitions in the States. Dead easy to roll up the posters and take them in the luggage. And they can be re-used.

People have been sending me data for these posters for some time and it was only when I realised that we were in June and these are needed for 25th June that I panicked.  So on Wednesday I did three and yesterday I did four, one of which was difficult because it meant scanning photographs of sheep and editting them - 77 of them, The results are above.

I have done seven and still have another six to do. No textile work at all except sorting out the Woven Shibori class and taking a photo of my work on an African theme. 

Oh well back to Photoshop. I am going out to see a friend on Clee Hill this afternoon so I need to get two or three done by lunchtime.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Calico Shoppers

Yesterday the carpets were cleaned - a very smelly process despite what they say. So I cowered in a room which was not being cleaned and repaired the Voyager. I am happy to say that it is now warped up again with an Overshot for Woven Shibori and I have woven a few inches to check it. This is not for me but for the rest of the class.

After the cleaners had departed. I finished off this shopper. I tie-dyed it at the Bourneville class some weeks ago and thought it would set off the Tall Bearded irises nicely and it does. These are done in Mola work. The purple is variegated and I dyed it some time ago. Although it cannot be seen in the photo, the shopper is lined with a cotton which was tie-dyed in red-brown when I dyed the Woven Shibori.

This shopper is a family joke and is for Anne. The picture is of Ruth's handbag and the other side is just the same. It is based on a photo I took in Brussels and a lot of processing in Photoshop was needed to get a clean image. It was printed on ARTVANGO's JETFX paper using my inkjet printer.

The local bank admits I have a valid complaint and it has all been escalated to the 'Complaints Department' with lots of apologies from the local branch. That is all very well but I don't care about an apology. What I want is the error to be corrected. I have to wait till Friday 3rd to get any more information. Oddly enough a friend tells me that someone in her family had exactly the same thing happen to her - at Barclays too.

I reviewed all the projects yesterday and have just realised that I need to get to grips with some posters for Kennet Valley. Maybe I will start today. But I am still fighting with various computers.  Doing the review has made me finish off various small jobs. I find that these days, I get up early between 5 and 6 but have run out of oomph/steam/get-up-and-go by five pm. So I have to be careful to do as much as possible at the start of the day.


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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.