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.


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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.