Tuesday 31 January 2012

Tidying Up

The 12 shaft loom has gone on its rounds and the 4 shaft Dryad has found a loving home. The last I saw of it was Roy Young (the Guild's man about looms) and the new owner peering at it  in the boot of her car and discussing which of them should take it home. One shaft needs some repair.

I am in 'Finishing-Projects' mood at the moment. I finished off a batik shirt of Michael's which I remade for me. A problem about buttons. In the end I removed the originals, made button holes on the female side and added some Dixie Nichols buttons and put on ribbon as a collar. I have a 'Ribbon Stash' and I know that this length of ribbon with waterlilies was bought near Gawthorpe Hall in a Lancashire market 30 years ago. I knew it would come in handy one day. Michael knew it was useless trying to get me past a ribbon shop in Europe. There is a fabulous one in Strasbourg in Petit France and another in Amsterdam on the way to the RijksMuseum.

I am going to a natural dying day in Birmingham today and am taking the rest of the indigo vat from the Newbury Coat. I assembled everything yesterday and should just have to pack the car. I have wound a warp of 2/16 cotton and tied it up for Ikat. Some of it looks okay but some may have gone wrong. This piece is intended to get me back into weaving ikat and I have already remembered a lot. It is more than  five years since I last did any. Then I tried warp and weft ikat and it was all horribly wrong. I reckon I now know what went wrong and am starting up again. I deliberately chose 2/16 cotton. Last time I was working in 90/2 silk. and a width of 24 inches.  The current piece is 12 inches wide. Let me get the technique right first and and then I will try fine silk again. The current piece is intended to be for warp only and then warp plus weft. So I will have to dye some more yarn for the weft later. 

Friday 27 January 2012

Finished with the 12 shaft Loom!!

I have finished all the samples on the 12 shaft loom - all 12 of them with the first sample being repeated in 2/6 cotton, doubled 2/6 cotton and doubled 2/10 cotton. The last looks best but the pattern is too unbalanced. As it is, I could have done with resleying at 8 to the inch (but I have had enough of this project!!). 

Some of the drafts are very attractive - the ones at the top which are versions of Mughal windows at Fatepur Sikri. I have written everything up with 13 liftplans and printed out 9 copies. Everything is parcelled up ready to take to the weaving class tomorrow.

This includes a large Dryad 4-shaft table loom which I have 'acquired'. I am hoping one of the beginners will greet it with cries of joy.

This is the draft which escaped. After I had cut off the samples and re-tied the warp, I found that I had not woven one of the samples. Which was a pity because I fancy this one.

After I have completed te ecurrent Megado project, I will be warping up DPW on 32 shafts to do several different pieces. They are not yet designed but I was wondering; if the Mughal windows work on 12 shafts, could I do a double cloth with a DPW on each face? They could have the same warp threading but different treadlings. 

Last night at 11 pm, I looked out things for today's Bourneville class  on the theme of 'Word and Image' and ended up by creating a piece in Photoshop and printing it on Organza. It came out rather pale and I took it to the class with me slightly resentful but suggestions were made. I came home and added a sheet of wadding and a backing sheet and quilted it. Now I am happier. At least this project only took a few hours - four at most!! Unlike some 12 shaft projects I could mention. I think I will carry out a few quick projects next and start on the Megado next week. I have my grand-daughter coming to stay for the weekend. That does mean I have to cook meals!!

Wednesday 25 January 2012


Yesterday I went to London with Rosie Price and we went two exhibitions. The first was at the British Library and was the Royal mediaeval manuscripts. Exquisite and we could have spent twice as long there but we had timed tickets for the Hockney Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Exquisite is not the word for that. But spectacular - yes.  I had been told that all tickets for the whole time (until end April) and, when I checked the website, yes it was true. There were not too many people there although it was very busy but you could still see everything. The exhibition consisted of paintings done in the last 15 years - since he returned to Yorkshire. He is about the same age as me and there are apparently 150 paintings in all. The great works are the scenes painted on lots of large canvases and hung close up to show one scene. For example, the Grand Canyon for which Rosie has ideas for the Guild Weaving Group!! When I say 'lots', sometimes it is as many as 32, each one being 30 by 50 inches. In addition they have hung some of his exploratory charcoal drawings. I have a weakness for drawings - these are what I would want to take home.

I remember him and his silver carrier bag when he was about 20. Also Michael and I went to The Rake's Progress for which he did the designs at Glyndebourne (1975). It went on tour and we saw it twice. See the designs here.

And, when that was over, we went to Handweaver's Studio and bought up the shop. Wendy Morris showed us a tiny portable loom which is very desirable. I am really interested in buying one.

I am getting on with the weaving on the 12 shaft loom and must be finished by Friday evening as I must take it to the Weaving Class on Saturday.

I have been chewing over the contents of the brown paperbag which I was given
at Bournville last Friday. I laid out the pieces and kept looking at them. One evening as I was on the way to bed, I stopped by and thought that I had ideas but that I could not audition them because it would mean cutting into the fabric and might wreck the pieces. So I created pieces of paper the same size, used felt pen to get the colour about right and then cut those up. When I was satisfied, I cut up the fabric, bondawebbed it on to the backing piece and went to bed (rather late). Next morning, I finished off all the stitching.
Here are eight sheets of silk paper made from silk trimmings dyes in indigo. I make the paper by using the natural sericin. I lay out finely shredded silk trimmings, spray them with water and iron them hard between two sheets of parchment. When I dyed the stuff I noted the patchy take up and thought that was due to the sericin not being washed out. Well, I have proved that. I carefully made a sheet with nothing but indigo dyed bits and it did not stick at all! I have these sheets and am quite happy with them. I intend to embellish a couple and make them into book covers.

Monday 23 January 2012

Indigo Dyeing

Yesterday three friends came round and we had a wonderful time with an Indigo Vat. It was half of one 5-gallon container left over from the Newbury Coat. I realised that they might be bringing a lot to wrok on so I did my own before they turned up! about 800 gms of wool and 500 gms of silk. The various shades of blue are deliberate. I was dyeing some yarn for other weavers and the colours had been specified. They were only allowed light, mid and dark.
The matching of pairs of skeins worked out well by using a clock to time to the nearest 5 seconds! The skeins are shown after being allowed to dry, then washed in Woolite then rinsed with a little vinegar in the last rinse.

The photo on the left is of silk trimmings indigo dyed. They are patchy because (I think), these have not had the sericin washed out. It is intended for making silk paper so the patchiness is not a problem.

The others brought wool yarn and several pieces of cotton and silk fabric  in shibori. Rosie Price bought brought 16 (?) balls of white boucle cotton (commercial). So we tried dyeing one ball without skeining it. It worked although she had to skein it when wet to see what it was like all the way through!! Anyway we then dyed all the rest  in balls. I should have taken a photo to show how much we all did. I had to refresh the vat a couple of times but it all worked okay.

I still have an ikat warp to indigo dye but I could not do it yesterday as it has not been designed, never mind wound and tied up. I am having another indigo day next week and winding the ikat warp is high on the priority list for this week. As is weaving samples on the 12 shaft loom.

Sunday 22 January 2012

The 2012 Weaving Course Starts

The Guild Spring Weaving Course started yesterday. There are six 'improvers' doing 'patterning' and five total beginners. I was too busy to say much to the beginners. The improvers are doing things like Summer and Winter and Diversified Plain Weave. So there will be leaves and flowers and trees! One is working in silk noil and one in cottolin but the others in cotton.  Yesterday was spent warping up, sorting out selvedges and generally discussing things. By next Saturday, they should all be weaving.

I have resleyed the 12 shaft loom to 10 dents per inch. All I have to do now is to wind the whole warp forward, get rid of the excess warp yarn (I have gone from nine repeats to six repeats) and wind back again!! Sooner or later I will get this right.

At the Bournville class, the theme for this session is Word and Image. The tutor handed out paper bags of stuff which we were not to look at until we got home. It contains a selection of fabrics and a four inch backing square and we all picked one or two words (again supplied). So now I have to make something from this. Investigation of the brown paperbag dismayed me. I have had a quick go but my initial ideas were no good. One problem is that I am not used to working on such a small scale. I have 2 weeks to do this!!

The clockmaker came on Friday, bringing back Ruth's clock. He spent quite a bit of time preparing a level patch. We ended up with a piece of mahogany from the cellar cut to size. It is now installed and looks good. The phases of the Moon dial has been totally repainted (see  newly painted clock face here) and looks good. The striking bell had been broken and that has been replaced with a newly cast bell. It does not sound quite so sweet as the original but that may be my imagination.

Today is Indigo Day. I have a five gallon drum from the Newbury Coat but just in case, I had up a new batch of indigo solution last night. I have lots of yarn to dye for other people and I am aiming to start my dyeing before everyone comes and get mine out of the way.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Catching Up

I drove down from Dundee on Tuesday. It was not my lucky day as I started out at 0615 and 30 minutes later had a serious puncture. The AA turned up quite quickly and put on the spare tyre which turned out to be a temporary measure and the AA man was adamant that I could not drive 400 miles to Malvern on that tyre even at 45 mph. So I ended up in Stirling buying a new tyre. Got home at 1515 feeling ill-used. I did unpack the car but that was about it.

On Wednesday I went to my bookbinding class and finished off this Coptic binding. I had done about 60% of it before Christmas. This is done with a two-needle sewing method and I have more or less standardised on this.  Each one comes out better than the last.

This is the inside, showing the end-paper and the guard papers round each section which were cut from the same Japanese paper sheet. The thread for the binding is Oliver Twist silk - slightly variegated.

All the examples I have done recently have been A5 portrait and I decided to do a little one. That is all prepared, paper folded, covers made. The guard-papers are rainbow coloured. The covers are of cotton dyed by me. The endpapers are Japanese. The sewing will be done in black Como silk. It is 4 inches square and was made from odds and ends of paper lying around.

Today has been spent, catching up with post which means paying bills, phoning up tradesmen and filing everything away. I have not quite finished but only have one phonecall and one letter to do. Then it is putting buttons on the waistcoat. The buttons have been selected from the button stash and I have some material to practise on.

The good news is that, when I visited the optician this morning, she says my eyes are very nearly alright. They were far from it in December and I have been following a course of treatment. Nothing life threatening just dry and painful eyes. So I have to keep up this regime for the rest of my life.

Monday 16 January 2012

12 Shaft Table Loom - BAH HUMBUG!!!

They have weather in Dundee. One side of the house looks out over the Firth of Tay and the storms clouds coming roiling in blackly. But it is often the case that, if you look out of the other side of the house over the moorland, you see a pale blue sky with mackerel clouds. The sunrises and sunsets are great - this is a sunset.

This is lichen on a fallen tree, taken with a macro setting. The photo shows an area about 30 by 40 mm.

I have been walking Jake in the fields nearby and there is lots to see, even black pheasants which are a local speciality. There are badgers setts on the edge of the fields.

I finished warping up the 12 shaft Leclerc and started weaving. There are problems  - two of them. The first is that the loom has been constructed by taking three fiour shaft sections and mounting them one behind the other. This means the distance between Shaft 1 and Shaft 12 is large. I had a look at my niece, Cally's, 16 shaft Louet yesterday and the distance between Shaft 1 and Shaft 16 is about one third of the distance between my Shaft 1 and 12. This leads to nasty shed problems because there is not that much distance between Shaft 12 and the back beam. So problem one - a poor shed and this means winding on frequently

Problem 2 is rather different and although I see it, I do not know why it occurs. I warped up the Megado with Diversified Plain Weave in the same threads 2/6 and 2/20. I used a 15 dents per inch reed and put 1x2/6+2x2/20 in each dent. This wove up balanced. The reed I have with the 12 shaft is 12 dents per inch. So I warped up 15 epi - and it was much too closely sett when woven - very crammed. So I resleyed to 12, that is, every dent holds 1x2/6 + 2x 2/20. While it looks okay, it is far from balanced and really it looks as though 8 or 9 would be better. In both cases (Megado and Leclerc) I put on a 9 yard warp. The only thing I can think of it that I can get a good tension on the Megado and not on the Leclerc and that I can't beat as hard on the Leclerc.I have stopped weaving and am thinking. I might put on a 10 dent reed when I get home but that will mean reducing the number of pattern repeats to 7. I started with 10!!! The width of the loom is all used. While I could live with this, six people are going to be weaving on this warp and I would like the warp to be better. Oh well, I will think it over. But I think I am heading for resleying on a 10 dent reed.  I have 14 samples to weave and I was aiming for next Saturday, the first day of the annual Guild weaving course. But I have realised that there is no special reason to take the loom in then - the following Saturday will do as everyone will be sorting out their own looms on teh first day.

As I said above BAH HUMBUG!!!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Stirling and Textiles

Last week at the Museum in Stirling, there were some Trades banners hung up. I returned plus camera to photo them yesterday only to find that they had been put into storage. The curator managed to find photos of them which she emailed to me. This one is part of the Wool Trades banner. A pity it is only a part but better than nothing. The banners were made by Glasgow School of Art in the 1970s.

Here is part of the Weaving Trades banner. I like the treadles!!

We went round Stitrling Castle which I had got very wrong. I had assumed it would be like Goodrich Castle (near Malvern in Wales) - all ruins and bare walls inside. Not a bit of it. They have restored to a specific day in June 1546 which is four years after James V death's when Mary was Queen. I was told that Mary had played football in the Queen's Chamber. The photo is of one section of the ceiling in the King's Inner Hall where all the important meetings took place. There are 32 of these heads. What is interesting is that they have 30 of the originals left. Very carefully preserved now in a special museum. The ones installed in the ceiling are all copies. The Museum is well worthwhile.

There are lots of people about - dressed in clothes of that period. The decoration is very rich. In particular, five of the seven tapestries 'The Hunt of the Unicorn' are up. These were woven partly at Stirling but mostly at West Dean College. 

This is one face of the palace - still defensive even if very gorgeous inside!! The white van is just too bad!!

Before Christmas at Bournville, we were into 'Deconstruct, Reconstruct'. So This is my offering. I found I had several Liberty lawn ties (Michael's) which I have turned into a waistcoat. The lining is also old - a skirt about 15 years old from my sister, Dorothy. It is made from a pattern I have used twice before and fits nicely.This has all been done here in Dundee between warping up the 12 shaft loom.

I have also mounted a picture of jellyfish.

I brought with me some 'illuminating Acid Dye' which has been tried out - see photo on left. Because it is acid dye, I got a piece of already dyed silk and cotton from Dorothy. The squiggle has been screen printed in yellow illuminating dye. I made up a mixture of acid dye solution and disperse paste. So the pattern is bleached of colour and then replaced with yellow. I tried a purple as well but, while all the yellow worked, none of the purple worked well.  When the fabric was dried completely, it had to be ironed on a hot setting and then washed.

I am off to do some more with teh illuminating dye and also some batik.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

And A Happy and Properous New Year to You All

The family have all gone home/back to work around the globe and I am staying on in Dundee with my sister, Dorothy, for a fortnight more. I spent yesterday changing heddles around on the 12 shaft loom . Very nervously done as it is a Leclerc with a tendency to deposit all the heddles on the floor. So each shaft's contents was carefully tied up before removal - and I did not have a single accident. One of the problems with Diverisfied Plain Weabve is that two thirds of the heddles have to be on Shafts 1 and 2 and so I have ended up with 220 each on those shafts. Today will be devoted to warping up. There is no incentive whatsoever to go out as it is terribly stormy. It has been quite a lot since I arrived in Dundee and I do not sleep well with bangings going on outside! All Dorothy's (very heavy) wooden chairs are strewn round the garden.

Dorothy keeps bees and the young werer all gungho to help. So this is (Left to right). Chris, middle grandson, Tom (eldest grandson), and Dorothy equipped with smoke device. Reports are that the bees are doing fine despite the rotten weather.

This is a photo of Anne's sushi prepared for our Christmas Eve dinner. We decided to have a Japanese meal and I did the main course. All went down very well.

And I have managed to get photos from my camera to Dorothy's computer and onto this blog asuccessfully!

Off to warp up now.


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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.