Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cards and Napkins

I spent yesterday (Monday) at Grove with two Kennet Valley Guild members, Chris Fletcher and Jean McVeigh. The idea was to make some of my DPW weavings into cards. I knew Chris and Jean were real afficionados of card making. butI was astonished at the way they approached doing the cards and the equipment they had. They spent 2 or 3 hours discussing what to do with each motif and then in the afternoon, they made one sample for each motif - see photo above. In one case, they redesigned the card three times, discarding the first two designs as not good enough.  My meagre contribution was to make some tassels for  the bookmarks. They thought that one section of weaving would be better as a bookmark. It was stunning - but my photo did not come out. They are proposing to run a production now and say it will not take long to complete them all. We all need to be very grateful to these two for using their expertise for the good of the Guild. And I got a smashing lunch.

Today, I dealt with the napkins, cutting them apart after zigzagging the edges and then hemming them. I also prepared the handouts to go with them which was a problem as it is based on filling up a form but you cannot import any graphics so how do you get the draft in? Answer:-you print the form out, stick on the two drafts, a photo of me and the notes because the form refused to allow a Carriage Return and so you only got the first line printed. Then scan it into the computer, get a pdf file and print that out. Bah!!

I also dealt with the upcoming exhibition, invites to our Private View have gone out, lots of emails sent. I have just about done everything I need to do before I set off but I admit that I keep remembering odd jobs that have to be done now!! And I must go off and complete one now.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Off the Loom

I have spent the last few days weaving. I did it in 2 hour sessions with 1 or 2 hours break between sessions, ending up with weaving three napkins yesterday (Sunday). I finished at 10pm, applied Fraystop to the end and went to bed. This morning it was cut from the loom, zigzag stitched at the ends of the six napkins section and cut into two. 

The photo shows some of the card motifs. There is also a section where I repeated ad nauseam motifs for the napkins, all different.

Here is one of the napkins. All the ends have been sewn. in There were only two broken threads to be mended in the whole length. Now they are all in the washing machine. 

Still to be done are the cutting apart and hemming. But I am hopeful that I can get these off on Wednesday to the States.

I have done the occasional 'other' thing. On Saturday, I went to Wightwick Manor with the Midlands Textile Forum. This house was built by the Manders of Manders Paints and they were William Morris/ Pre-Raphaelite fans. I have to admit a weakness about the Pre-Raphaelites - I can't stand them. There is a gallery in the Birmingham Art Gallery devoted to them and I feel physically sick if I go in.

Wightwick Manor was totally redeemed for me by having lots of William de Morgan. All the fireplaces had his tiles and there are a number of bowls. plates and vases. Very desirable. I bought myself a book about William de Morgan from the shop there.

I was slightly surprised at the program for the group. I should read documents more carefully. We had a conducted tour (very good) of the house which lasted about an hour and a half. Then we retired to a private room and had a lecture!!! This was about Thomas Wardle (William Morris's dyer of choice) and the Leek Embroidery Society - a commercial organisation which seemed to have decorated all the churches in the Stoke/Leek/Stafford and Cheshire areas. The lecturer was very good and knew her topic intimately. A real enthusiast. She brought a suitcase of samples for us to examine. After that a late lunch of a sandwich and then back to the house to see an exhibition of William Morris patterns. And then back home to the Megado!

Now I must get off to the card making day.   Soon I must start thinking about packing! I am reminded of a rather humourless Project Manager at British Aerospace where I worked for several (happy) years. There was a big notice in his room which read ' As soon as I have a minute to spare, I am going to panic'.

Friday, 23 September 2011

And the Napkin Itself

Yesterday was spent getting the draft for the napkins right. I had to re-do the draft to start with to fit onto the threading that I now have. I did not like the first two drafts as the lines in the leaf section were too spindly so revamped the whole thing removing one of the three leaves and making the other two bigger as well as thickening up  the twining shoot. The photo shows two repeats woven .The napkin has three repeats and a final flower to make it 20 inches square  and I have completed one. This took all of yesterday!! Another four to go!

I must see to a few other things in the way of paper work and go to Bourneville class this morning. Then it will be back to weaving!!

I have done one useful thing which has been greeted with enthusiasm by my daughter, Ruth, who is coming to Japan with me. I suddenly thought at the weekend that it would be nice to see some flower arranging. So I emailed the travel agent saying 'It's a bit late but - - - ' and they produced two possibilities! In one, we get to go to a private Japanese house. The other is a large class in a hall so I opted for the private house!!! I can see us carrying flower arrangements back to our hotel room. I have got to the stage of wondering if I should be panicking about this trip but have been so taken up with weaving that the panicking will have to wait.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

More Motifs

Here are two more motifs for cards in Diversified Plain Weave. The stars are woven with 2 metallic threads in the weft and produce a nice glittery effect which does not show up in the photo.

I have now done enough to keep us happy on Monday when I go to watch Chris Fletcher turn them into cards!! Depending on what she says, I may weave some more motifs after the napkins are finished.

I am using up Guild yarn for the cards which was left over from our Colour Gamp exercise and still have quite a bit left, probably as much as I have used already.

Last night I checked over the draft for the napkins and we are ready to go!

The dyed fabric on the left is Procion MX dyed and was based on a photo of coral for the Bourneville class where the Theme for this autumn session is the Sea. I used various sizes of press studs in shibori and ended up with a knobbly piece of cotton. I tried to twist the fabric as I tied it up.  The cotton was soaked in soda water and then the tops of the knobbly bits painted red. I turned the fabric over and painted the back dark blue  -  a mixture of blue and a bit of black. It was left for 24 hours, in the garage wrapped up in plastic. It was very dark when finished although, after rinsing, it was less so. I let that dry completely and then unpicked all the stitching and washed it in Woolite - yet more dye came out but the rinsing water ran clear in the end. This is the final fabric dry but not ironed. 

I can only see one problem with it - what do I do with it now? I hope the Bourneville class will have some suggestions tomorrow. I am not at all keen on yet another piece of something to put on the wall.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Here are a few rows of motifs to be made into cards. Each row will provide 10 motifs and I have six rows completed so far. I decided to do these first which was a better idea than I imagined because it enabled me to find and repair about seven errors, crossed threads and the like. And of course such correction does not wreck the whole row just one or two motifs.  These are about 2.5 inches square.

I have also learnt a thing or two about Diversified Plain Weave and spent some time late last night changing all the drafts to make the background look better although I can't see that improvement in the photo. The fishes were done this morning and the blue butterflies last night before the changes.

So I am pleased about this exercise. I will carry on with the card motifs for today and start on the serviettes tomorrow. The Megado is playing up a bit and I must check all the shafts before I set out on the major weaving exercise.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Each section of the threading is taking me about 40 minutes and I have 10 sections to do. Yesterday I managed 8 sections!! This was done by deliberately pacing myself. Threading up 7 to 9 (am), do something else 9 to 11, thread up 11 to 1, fetch Japanese money from bank, thread up 4 to 6, supper, thread up 7 to 0930 pm. So I have only a little to do today. Then it is sleying, tying on and looking for mistakes.

On Sunday I took the grandchildren to the Aquarium in the centre of Birmingham. Much enjoyed by all except that my camera batteries ran out after 20 minutes. However here's  a photo. The Bournville Friday class has the theme of The Sea this term and there is a class visit in October when I shall be in Japan. I think the nicest thing is the light. My work, at the moment involves a rendering of coral and I have a piece of cotton which is carefully tied up, shibori-style, ready for dyeing with Procion Mx dyes - which I must do today.

Now I have the camera back I can show what I made over the weekend. This is based on some design work I did in an online class some months ago. I gave up after two lessons because I couldn't see the point. My fault really. However one or two designs were acceptable (to me) and this is one of them. The problem is the addition of the stamens and the flower stem. I can beef up the stamens by oversewing. For the stem, I made some cords using water soluble plastic and sewed them on but they were not visible enough so I unpicked them. I need to look for some bright acid green. A session with the stash is called for.

After comments on my blog on books, I was moved to estimate how many books there are in this house, about 2,500 (+/- 20%). Not as many as Cally's farmer but still a sizeable library. Every few years I think I ought to throw some out and go through few. I have never found more than 5 each time that I am prepared to part with!

Saturday, 17 September 2011


I have always been keen on libraries - and books, of course. I am currently in Leamington Spa looking after two of my grandchildren while their parents examine the Book of Kells and the Guinness factory in Dublin. Last night I searched their bookshelves and found `The Anglo-Saxon Library'by M Lapidge. It dealswith what books were and might have been in the libraries of Lindisfarne and York and others. Fascinating!!

I have always been interested in how we come to have ancient texts. How come the National Theatre can put on a play by Euripides which was written over 2000 years ago? How did the text come down to us? It must have been copied over and over again. How many texts did not make it? I have a few other other books on this topic and several on libraries. Then again there are fictional libraries, The Name of the Rose, Borges' library and, of course, the incomparable Librarian of Terry Prachett. He had some strong words about people. He approved of people who loved books but not of people who read books because the books got worn out.

I have a book on the history  of the Thousand and One Nights in which it says casually that in the 12th century lending libraries (run by book sellers) of Cairo, the 1001 Nights was the most borrowed item. Book sellers? Lending Libraries? 12th  century?

I could go on a bit here but had better not. What have I done this week? Michael's will was signed off for probate and I had to go to another lawyer to swear an oath. The full bit -  'Take this New Testament  in your right hand and say after me - - - -`

I also picked up the tickets for the Japanese trip which provided some surprises. Two weeks ago the travel agent asked what I wanted to see in Okinawa and he would see if the travel firm had any helpful data. So I provided six names on the basis that it can't hurt to ask. What came with the tickets was a personalised book (our names on the front) and in there was a page on each of the six people. Telephone number, address, map and directions, what we can expect to see, to do, to buy. You couldn't ask for better.

 In addition to all this excitement, I went to Greenham to look at our Exhibition space for Oct/Nov and have written it all up together with an alarming to-do list. I also went to Leek to spend the day demonstrating to the public. Friendly and chatty lot up North. Only one or two people did not stop for a chat.

I have been here in Leamington Spa since Thursday evening and, apart from going to Bournville, I  have created a textile work  which is nearly okay but not quite. I am going to unpick some of it. At Bournville, I spent the entire time preparing a large piece of cotton for shibori dyeing. The idea was to dye it at the class but I did not finish in time so will dye it during next week.

At home, the Megado has both warps wound on and I have started threading. I need a few more Diversified Plain Weave drafts as we want to make cards for sale at the Exhibition. So I brought my laptop with me and have created one of a butterfly and one of a dragonfly. I think I might do a fish and possibly something for Christmas cards for me. They are not needed urgently so I will not weave them till later in the year. In order to get everything woven up by next week end, I have cancelled next week!!! I now have Monday through Wednesday free and should be done by then.

In the meantime I must attend to the grandchildren. Lunch time then off to Esporta. I have already sat through a riding lesson this morning.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lots of Small Jobs

Lots of small jobs were completed this weekend because my grandson and his girl friend were here. A new curtain rail to keep out the draughts from the back door, a new front door bell, a new smoke alarm in the kitchen, light bulbs replaced. You might think I could do some of these  myself but the problem is the high ceiling in this house and I do not like standing on the top step of a step ladder while alone in the house. 

The other thing he sorted out was the TV!! And he did not even know there was a problem. I walked into the sitting room to find him watching the Grand Prix in Italy. 'I see you`ve got High Definition here` he said. Apparently the change-over has been happening here for the last 2 weeks!! He showed me what to do and how to tell. Amazing. A grandson is a good thing with electronic equipment. Apart from that, I spent a lot of time cooking. And there are hardly any left-overs!!

In between all this drilling of holes, I have finished the 2/30 cotton warping onto the sectional warp beam. I will put the lease sticks in and then put on the 2/6 warp today and start threading tomorrow.  I have to visit the lawyer today. At last all the work is done and I have to sign everything off for probate. At which point I can deal with all Michael's musical things. But I will not start that until I am back from Japan and possibly not until after the Weaving Exhibition is over in mid-November. Which reminds me - see below.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More Cushions

The cushions for Ros Wilson (Guild Natural Dyeing Guru) with dark indigo warp and madder weft. Two drafts on the same threading developed from a draft in Strickler's book.

Someone has just given me a copy of an article in an old Handwoven by her. It is on 'Blended Drafts' and is fascinating. All obvious but I had never thought it through. I must give it more attention.  Today I have to go and see the accountant first thing. He is in Worcester so that takes time. I do not expect to be back until lunch time. After that, I will start on the sectional warping. If I get a clear run until bedtime, I should get most of it done.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hanging the Leek Exhibition

Today I went North to Leek to help hang the MTF's (Midland Textile Forum) exhibition in the Nicholson Institute. It is home to a lot of William Morris stuff and the Institute specified that our Exhibition should be 'Inspired by Flora'. And it was too - all 80 works of it.

What interested me, in view of the Guild Weaving Exhibition in October/November, was how MTF went about the hanging. The first thing, the organiser, Julie Ring, did was to have everything unwrapped and laid out so  that each artist's work was together. Then she checked that she had everything on her list. There were 8 or 9 helpers and these were split into two teams, one to deal with the smaller items which were to be put in glass cases and one  team to organise the hanging. 

The space consisted of one very large rectangular room with a semicircle at one end which contained a stage. This caused some problems.

The first idea was to hang each artist's work together. That idea lasted less than thirty seconds. The hanging items were then grouped in colour (sort of), certainly harmonious and each piece was propped up or laid on the floor in front of the place where it was intended to be hung. Then inspected, group meetings held and things shuffled about. A few large 3-D items were eventually put on the stage.

The glass cases were easier somehow because it turned out that only three artists had items suitable for the cases and they could easily be organised into one artist per case.

So what are the lessons? Well all those people had started work at 11 and finished the hanging by 1530. At that point, Julie started adding labels to each work. This was dead easy because the Gallery is happy about using Blu-tack and the labels were glued onto foam board. We need to consider how we are going to attach the labels in Oct/Nov. My original idea was printed A4 sheets and laminate them while putting a number on each object, But I am now wondering about foam board. Rosie Price and I have a visit to the NNA next Tuesday and I hope we will sort everything out then.

Another two hour drive to get home and a minimal amount of anything done in the evening! I  finished the 2/6 warp for the Megado before I left for Leek this morning. Tomorrow, I will start putting the 2/30 onto the Sectional Warp beam.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Voyager Warped Up Again

The Voyager has been warped up with 2ply lambswool and the weaving started. The weft is space dyed Leicester Longwool which I bought at the Sheep Show two years ago. Very straightforward and, in many ways, much more suitable for demos to the public. So it is all ready for next week's outing to Leek.

Warping up and weaving this is like comfort food after an exotic and inedible meal. Like having corned mash and apple crumble after a diet of bacon-and-egg icecream.

Yesterday I reduced the In-tray to empty. I have a couple of parcels to put together today and some filing to do and that's it. I don't see to the paperwork often enough these days so it becomes an unmanageable mountain and then it is hard work to start.

Tomorrow I am going up to Leek to help with the hanging. I am quite interested in this as we have the Guild Weaving Exhibition in early November and I have only helped hanging one exhibition before. I hope to get lots of ideas.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Warp Cut off

I gave up on the black and white warp of high twist yarn. When I came to wind it on to the warp beam, I suddenly remembered what it was like - the singles warp for the Newbury Coat. It may have been a mistake to warp it up front to back  but I think the trouble would just have been moved downstream to the weaving if I had done it back to front. So there we are. One experiment not done but it is not the end of the earth. It was just curiosity and I can live without knowing the answer. Today I will warp up with lambs wool ready for the demos of next week. - after I have dealt with the post. The valuer has at long last produced a report - it has taken him 3 months and it is holding up probate. It would be nice to have that all over.
Yesterday I was in Leamington Spa with my daughter, Anne and her family. We all went out to a Lebanese lunch which was very good.

I have kept up with Jette Clover's method of doing a small collage every morning. This is what resulted from August. I liked one or two or them and definitely dislike a few, for example, the whole of the bottom row. The set has been laid out in date starting top left and ending bottom right. Does it do anything for me? At least I do one small piece of artwork every day. There is a new selection of paper and fabric in the wire basket for September.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


I have been tinkering with this draft again and this is the (current) final version. The 2/30s has arrived from Halls and so I will start warping up tomorrow. I will use both beams on the Megado, putting the 2/30 on the sectional warp beam and the 2/6s on the second beam. Can't start today as my daughter, Anne, is back from their holiday in Spain and I am going over to Leamington Spa to have lunch and hear their stories.

Besides I ought to finish warping up the black-and-white high twist yarn on the Voyager although I hate it. I can still only manage one inch in 30 minutes, then I have to have a rest. The stuff is so twisty and so fine!! I have trouble seeing the black yarn even with a 500 watt halogen light beating down on it - and me.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Lots of Outings

On Wednesday, I took a train to Oxford and met up with two friends, Mary Jarvis and Rosie Price, to visit the Ashmolean Museum. We were interested in organising an outing for the Guild weavers and Mary was anxious to try out one of the one-hour lectures which the Museum gives. It was very good, a conducted tour of one of the galleries with explanations by a very knowledgable lady. Mary has in mind getting a lecture given to our group based on the Textile gallery and we agreed at the end of the day that it would be A GOOD THING. The textile gallery is amazing. They have (they say) the best Museum collection in the world of Coptic fabrics (woven) and Indian printed and embroidered textiles. What was on display was wonderful.

We did look at various other galleries, Chinese scroll paintings, Japanese galleries (no fabrics at all!!). The highlight was a small gallery Rosie dragged us too. An array of etched and engraved wine glasses between 1750 and 1850. They were exquisite. About 100 of them from their holdings of 1500!!! The Ashmolean believes in a lot of a few things, if you see what I mean. Anyway we all think the Guild will enjoy themselves - and the cafe is not at all bad.

Thursday was running round Malvern day going into all sorts of shops. Today I went, with a friend, Jennifer, to a garden north of Leominster called Stockton Bury. I had never heard of it before and it is lovely. Privately owned and obviously much cherished. I recommend it highly. Sort of Hidcote before the National Trust ruined it. I have some photos but they are all of bark!!! Why is it, asked Jennifer,  that textile people like bark. I don't know but it's true.

In between all this, I have been continuing with the organising for the Weaving Exhibition. I also dealt with the diversified plain weave draft and ordered the cotton I need.  The coloursed stripes in the graphic  photo below are an artefact. The warp is all cream and there are sections of weft which are all pink and sections which are all dark green. Having seen it printed out, it needs adjustment to the tendrils and leaves. I could do much better. I have just found out that I have a short piece on DPW in the next issue of the Complex Weaver's Journal.

While waiting for the 2/30 cotton to arrive, I have been warping up the high twist yarn which is quite horrid. Both the black and the white want to hug anything close by. It takes 30 minutes to thread and sley one inch. I can't help feeling that 36 epi is not enough and that I will have to resley. But that what this exercise is about - samples.  I did want to have something on the Voyager for demonstration purposes in two weeks time at the Leek exhibition. I am not at  all sure that this is suitable and may try to get these samples finished and warp up with a nice middling thickness wool. I have some laid aside for a project.  I have bought several cheap clear plastic drawers in sets of four,  about 2 ft 6 high. And one set is allocated to projects. All the documentation and yarn is collected together and put into one of these drawers and one drawer holds some space dyed Blue Leicester handspun which would do nicely as a demo.

Tomorrow is Guild day and I have even more than usual piled up by the front door ready to go. Let's hope I come home with much less.

(A little later) A revised draft


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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.