Thursday, 29 March 2012


I have finished all the items for the MTF Exhibition at St Martin's in the Bullring. This is one of the Mughal windows pieces where I painted the warp with Seka silk paints (they work). It represents the courtyard garden at Fatephur Sikri seen through one of the stone screens with their lovely geometric patterns. I woven enough for six pieces but have only made up three.

 This is one with a peacock silhouette

The other three pieces are pinned up in the studio and I will think about them for the next few weeks. I do feel that the woven pattern has receded into wall paper which is not what was intended.

I made up a panel on the design and making up of the cover for the book of Omar Khayyam.

I am delivering everything this afternoon. The original plan was to do this on the way to the Bourneville class tomorrow but the general feeling was that I was mad to try since I leave for Heathrow after lunch. The final blow to my plans came when I had to move leaving Malvern earlier so I gave up.

The other upset was that I went to shut and lock the cellar at lunchtime yesterday on my way out to Bookbinding to find that the cellar door had fallen off its top hinge!! So my bookbinding did not happen while I sought out my friendly neighbourhood builder who came round and replaced the hinges. So that's done.

I have done all the writing needed for St Martin's and printed it all out. Filled up with diesel since it would be nice to return to a full tank. I still have to think about packing. I shall be taking the laptop and hope to be able to blog while in Australia. I wonder how they organise comms on Heron Island. It will too far from the mainland for line of sight. Satcom?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Getting along with preparation for the Exhibition

The photo shows the next design of DPW on the Megado - and includes a bit of the lovely sunshine we are enjoying. I have been sitting out on the patio for morning coffee. The draft is one of the series of Mughal windows, a topic which works well with weaving on 32 shafts. Actually it works on 8 shafts as well as the Kennet Valley weaving class has been discovering.

 This is a straight-on photo which shows up the pattern. I have woven enough for four panels for the exhibition and am about to try an experiment. What will happen if I painted the warp with Seka Silk paints? I painted the warp last night and left it to dry. It is difficult to get all the threads painted and so they will be mottled with white. I am trying to get the background colour to vary up the warp with green (grass) at the bottom and blue (sky) at the top.

I have made a lot of progress in finishing off the entries for the Midlands Textile Forum's exhibition and have completed four. Why have so many pieces been hanging around the house unfinished? Because they need mirror plates attached and some need a cover piece of white cotton over the lacing at the back. I have one more to complete as well as what ever I do from the DPW weaving. I'll get there!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Fish Rising

Yesterday I did get all the DPW samples prepared for posting today. This involved doing a write up, collecting drafts and scans and all that goes with samples. I tidied up the Megado so it is all ready to start weaving. That all took a long time.

Making a second version of the Fish Rising took longer than I thought, mainly waiting for the textile paint and gold ink to be thoroughly dry. The blue stuff is silk paper made made from indigo dyed silk waste. There is white lace, boucle yarn and sequins involved too. And if you look carefully at the sides, you can see the mirror plates are attached. So one item finished, four to go!!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Work in Progress

The Megado is at last up and running. Here is a photo of the Diversified Plain Weave. I have woven just less than a metre and will be taking it off today when I woven a bit more. This is going to the USA Complex Weavers as samples.

Then I am going to weave up some lengths to put into the Midland Textile Forum's April Exhibition. I only hope I have the right colours of yarn because I seem to be giving out a lot of yarn to the Guild for various joint projects. I am thinking of painting the warp anyway. The items for the MTF exhibition have not been going well. I have thrown out one of a fish as too horrid to rescue. I have decided to do it again from scratch and hope to get that done today. I have a replacement sewing machine so it should be okay. I need to get about 5 pieces finished by Friday which is one a day!!! I leave for Australia on Friday. SOOOOOO!!

Some time ago I made a small piece with a quilted paeony on it and wondered what to do with it. Annette Lucas (Bournville tutor) suggested I should make a bag with it applied as a pocket. So this is it. The outer fabric is samples of upholstery fabric and the inside is space dyed cotton that I made and found in my stash.

 My book on Headbands has not arrived so I could not redo the headband at the Bookbinding class. Instead I tried my hand at these Turkish folding map/books. The instructions for these can be found in Green Chair Press. They are all made from scrap paper. The two at the bottom show two closed up. My intention is create a piece of paper for the inside, printed, painted, whatever and fold that up.

I went to the last of this year's weaving classes yesterday. Everyone has produced interesting items in Summer and Winter (runners, cushions, tea-towels) or Diversified Plain Weave (ditto). Great stuff.

So today's jobs are - in order

- prepare the fish textile. I do intend to screen print part of it so must allow time for it to dry
- get the samples off the Megado, do the write up and parcel them all up for post tomorrow
- think about the next bit weaving and find the drafts (they have been done) as well as the yarn

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Burmese Textiles

I may not have blogged much recently but I have been very busy. On Tuesday I went to London and first met up with a Burmese friend who gave a great package of textile goodies from Burma. This is my favorite (though they are all lovely). He says that the Burmese have not learnt about tourists yet so most fabrics are for sale to the Burmese. It is of cotton.

This is a long cotton piece with a woven pattern of elephants at each end. I shall use this as a table cloth.

And here is another elephant! Done completely in sequins and gold cord! It would make a good cushion cover when I have the window seats installed in the studio. The elephant himself is padded so he is 3D.

This is woven cotton from North Burma. I have these all pinned up in the studio so that I can admire them from the seat of the Megado.

As far as my own weaving is concerned, it has been nothing but trouble. I went over to Leamington Spa last weekend to look after my grandchildren and took the Voyager, a raddle and everything else needed to warp up for a major guild project. The problem was that I had wound the warp in bundles which were too big for the Louet raddle. The warp was awful by the time I had it wound on. So I threaded up and sleyed - and then pulled out eight of the twenty foot warp and re-wound which was much more tedious than it sounds but resulted in a lovely tidy and smooth  warp. I was back home by Sunday night. By Monday evening I had woven a six foot length, cut it off , pulled out another eight feet and sorted that out. It now has to go to someone else to weave up and is ready for Saturday. Much of the weekend was spent taxiing children to ride horses and have music lessons. But we did go for a walk in some woods and I took them to paint pottery on a very wet Sunday afternoon.

Returning to Tuesday, Rosie Price, Debbie Richardson and I met up in the V&A and we viewed the exhibition of the Golden Orb spider. Some enthusiasts set up a system in Madagascar to collect the thread from Golden Orb spiders and weave it. There were two pieces , a shawl which must have been three foot by eight and a cape. The cape was woven in tabby and then richly embroidered with the same silk which is a uniform fantastic gold. The shawl was woven in a secondary weft/pickup pattern. They also displayed a traditional multicolored shawl woven in the same patterns. It is a wonderful display. I wonder what is going to happen to these two pieces.

We looked ast a special exhibition of Japanese cloisonee at the V&A. Again wonderful. Then it was off to the Royal Academy to see the Hockney again. The queue snaked all the way across the Burlington House courtyard. But we had tickets so just walked in. Crowded - but worth it.

By teh end, we were all exhibitioned out so sat in the Friends Room at the RA and organised the world. Well our bit of it.

The textile bit of my life is not going well. I am off to Australia next week and have to ship out samples of Diversified Plain Weave before I go. I have woven one pattern on the Megado and decided it would not do at 15 epi. I even tried replacing the thin weft thread with 60/2 silk but it did  not improve. I replaced the reed and resleyed at 12 epi and should be weaving this morning. 

In addition I am planning to put in a number of textile pieces to the Midlands Textile Forum's Exhibition in the Bullring, Birmingham. These all have to be delivered  next week. And the sewing machine gave up the ghost!! Panic in all directions.  It will go in to be serviced on Friday (tomorrow) and I am picking up another machine at the same time.

In all of this, I should be checking that I have done everything for Australia!!! But I have not - yet.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

New Bookcases

Last week the new bookcases were installed - black walnut and maple. They are very handsome. Probably more important is the fact that I have done a lot of rearranging of books and the Studio is well on the way to being much improved.  I have managed to collect up all the textile books and put them in the Studio bookcases while leaving myself enough shelf space there to stack yarn!! The stacking of yarn has not been done yet but you would be surprised at how much floor in the studio has suddenly become available for walking on!

The rest of the week has been spent warping up and threading the Megado. I should be finished this morning which will be nice as I must do some work for the Bournville class.  I started a Coptic book at the Bookbinding Class with the aim of reproducing what I had learnt at Lori Sauer's class and got the chain stitch done but totally failed on the headband! I do not understand my notes at all. I will have to see if I can follow the steps from the book I made at Lori Sauer's class. By the way I have signed up for another class with her but it is not till October.

The other thing I did this week was to attend a modern dance performance by the Richard Alston Dance Company in the Malvern Arena. The place was packed out - completely full. The audience was a real mixture from 16 year olds to 80 year olds. That is not the kind of audience you get at the theatre next door. I am no expert but I thought it was well done. There was a very odd moment when, instead of seeing people dance, I saw moving patterns.  It last several minutes and then was gone. Very peculiar. I am still thinking about it.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

A Week of Textiles

It is a week since I last wrote in this blog. I have not been idle - quite the reverse.  Some time ago I did the fabric used for the book cover above. It is  space dyed cotton with preserved flower petals and leaves on it . I only had three small pieces of fabric and decided to make an A5 book which I just managed to squeeze out of the fabric. My sister, Dorothy is holding an open Studio in September and is busy making things for it. One class of objects is Japanese-style books covered with her own fabric so I have had two sessions of pasting bank paper to fabric. One of the problems with this is having enough flat boards but I have made some more and now have 8 boards which is enough for one session of work. She managed to make 6 books while she was here!

I have done a number of other fabrics for Bournville but these are still under construction. On Wednesday, we went to Nature in Art to see the BBC Wildlife Photographic Exhibition - impressive. 

Probably the most important thing I did this week was to finish the Megado project and deliver it! It had to be mended - tidy up all loose ends and repair any errors. Then it was washed - into the bath with Woolite and we (Dorothy and myself) got into the bath and trampled on it for 10 minutes. I then got as much water as possible out of it and put it in the tumbler drier for 10 minutes on Synthetics. It felted very nicely - just enough. Mind you, I have done this before. It was woven as double weave to get the width and is in a straightforward four shaft twill.

It was delivered to its new owners yesterday (Saturday) as a very belated Golden Wedding present. It was orginally Michael's suggestion. He saw the yarn before he died.

Above is a close-up of the blanket. The yarn was very fluff-producing and I had a major clean-up of the Megado after the blanket was taken off. Now I must get the next warp on which is 10 yards of Diversified Plain Weave, much of which must be woven and off the loom before I go to Australia on 30th March.  Oh well, keeps me off the streets I suppose.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Hat

At Kennet Valley Guild, we have a 'Challenge' every three months set by Rosie Price and therefore called 'Rosie's Challenge'. At yesterday's meeting, it was HATS. Lots of knitted hats - and this confection made by me at the Bournville class. Our tutor is a milliner and I asked if she could teach us a bit. This was my result. Note that the fabric used on the base is Tencel woven by me and everything else was chosen to tone/match.  All I need now is a wedding to attend!! There is going to be a major celebration in July for my son-in-law's birthday, maybe that would do.

Also at the Guild meeting, I taught the annual How-to-Read-Weaving-Drafts class. They seemed happy at the end but I will watch them to see if they did understand. It is done by weaving paper.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Omar Khayyam Book

I keep records of my bookbinding and the first mention of this book was on 3rd February 2010. It is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and belonged to my father. Indeed it is signed with his name and the inscription Jubbulpore 1936. The cover was in a bad way and I decided to repair it and started by designing special end papers. I ran into lots of trouble with this idea and eventually put it away as I had Michael to look after. In the last few months I have put a lot of effort into it and here is the book in its final state - finished yesterday 29th February 2012, two years after starting. The outline of the buildings was created from photos taken by me in various places but most of it is Fatepur Sikri.

Here is a photo showing the end papers and the inside. I have put so much effort into this project. I even created four copies of the cover, in case of accident. But there wasn't one and the finest copy made it to the cover!

If you enlarge the upper photo, you will see that the first verse is written on the back of the book.

And the question is What  do I do now in the way of a major bookbinding project? I have not decided yet

This morning Dorothy and I did a lot with stencils and so on. This one is interesting because it used the large Okinawan stencil!!!

I fancy it done on gold material.

We walked Jake on the Malvern Hills this afternoon and it was very sunny and warm up there but foggy in the Severn Valley.


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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.