Friday, 27 December 2013

Double Overshot

I seem to be into Overshot at the moment. Probably because the Guild weaving class is studying Overshot early next year. I have tried turned overshot and then selected two turned patterns where the treadling length of the two was in the ratio of 2:1.

This was a test pattern (one repeat) on the ghost warp on my 12-shaft Meyer. The pastel warp and weft is of 22/2 cottolin dyed by me years ago and rediscovered recently in my stash. The blue is indigo dyed 22/2 cottolin used double. There were two errors in this. When put right, I tied on the silk warp which is 16/2 soysilk for the ground and Debbie Bliss silk for the pattern.

The Debbie Bliss silk was acid dyed by me. The larger pattern is Mary Ann Ostrander and the smaller is Johann Schleeleien No 120, both from Marguerite Davison's book. I have a problem which I thought I could get away with but - - - . The ratio between the pattern and the ground yarn is large whereas in the cottolin, it was 2:1. Since the warp is rather short at just over a metre, I thought I could get away with this but the ground warp is already a bit slacker than I like. Oh well, it seems like a lot of film canisters are needed on the back.

From which you may gather that the family has all gone home, having eaten the goose and the turkey and all the trimmings. We are reassembling, lots more of us, in Dorset tomorrow to have a week-long celebration of Ruth's birthday which is a special one. I am picking up a suckling pig from the Ledbury butcher, Mr Waller, early tomorrow morning.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Something for your stocking

At the last Guild meeting, a member, Lesley Dunn, produced a book she had borrowed, 'Miniature Overshot'. A quick flick told me that this was worth buying and so I did. I have just finished reading it. Amazing! Marvellously interesting! All weavers should have one! Miss Bertha Hayes invented her own designs around the 1940s and kept meticulous records along with samples. Apart from an incredibly interesting history, there are copies of her records together with computer generated drafts from the records. The patterns are great. A lot of them are name drafts but some are based on current topics of interest. For instance, there is one called 'Bomber Flight' and there they are, though they look more like Vulcans than Lancasters. I must definitely do that one. If someone gives you a token for Christmas, spend on this book. A wonderful piece of work by the dedicated weavers who put together all the data.

And on the subject of Vulcans, I am reminded of the phrase 'VOG. Stand by your benches'. In the UK, this was used for years after the Vulcans went to the great airport in the sky. Somewhat equivalent to 'Houston, we have a problem.'

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Textured Overshot

Kennet Valley Guild is working on a major joint project for the Association's Exhibition in May 2014. This involves lots of weavers weaving and lots of spinners spinning. I seem to be squashed between these groups! But first the weaving side. Rosie Price has bought cottolin in four colours and we are warping up four looms, each in a different colour. It is a longish warp - enough for lots of weavers to weave a suitable piece for the project. And it was agreed that the threading would be a straight draw on four or eight shafts. The idea is that each weaver selects their own draft. I put a red warp on the Voyager and threaded up as overshot, then wove it red on red to get texture.

It seems that one or two other weavers would like to use the same threading which comes from Marguerite Davison's book and has six different treadlings. Anyway I have done my bit.

The other way I am involved is not so painless. For the project, it is necessary that the yarn produced by the spinners should be dyed the same colours as the cottolin yarn the weavers are using. I have done colour matching several times before but that was always just repeating an initial recipe rather than trying to get a colour match to an existing colour. So I consulted the expert, my sister, Dorothy, and was told what to do.  I have produced six sample dyed skeins in various blues  and I know what I did to get each. The skeins are drying at the moment but it is fairly clear where the colour I want lies. That took all afternoon today. And I have another three colours to do. And the family arrives on Tuesday. So I need to start early tomorrow and try and get the other three colours done.There is a lot of doing nothing while the skeins are steamed. The method is sufficiently interesting that I am recording it carefully and will write it up with photos on my website.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Many and Various and Convergence 2014

I had a Christmas card this morning which contained a  nice review of the course I ran on Woven Shibori togther with a photo and a reference to a student's blog on the topic,  Blog on Woven Shibori course. This contains lots of photos which surprised me. It seems like they all enjoyed it.

Yesterday I set out at 1500 hours and drove to Blewbury where I visited some old friends - dating back to my research student days. A lovely tea in front of a blazing open fire and lots of gossip exchange. Then on to Moulsford Cricket Pavilion where a group of textile enthusiasts meet once a month. The objective was a lesson in spinning, wheel and fibre kindly supplied by Linda Scurr and advice supplied by Carol Crowdie and Linda. I managed (with a lot of help) to spin two bobbins full, very lumpy. Then I plied it, even lumpier. It is now in a skein. Everyone advised me to call it textured yarn. Hmph. It may well be textured but lot of it is not yarn. I am NOT showing a photo of the skein.

I stayed with Rosie Price overnight and drove home this morning with some red cottolin which must be warped up asap. This is for  Kennet Valley Guild's entry to the National Exhibition next May and must go to the next Guild meeting in January to be passed on to the next weaver. I have wound the warp and must go and wind it on.

I have decided to go to Convergence in 2014 which will take a bit of organising as I have to get from Newark to Stockholm. This can be done very expensively in a nonstop flight or at a third of that cost if I stop at Rejkavick (spelling?) for an hour. Now to fill up all the HGA forms.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Garden

I inspected the garden carefully yesterday and I am not happy. Mahonia Charity is nicely budded and will clearly be a yellow mass in a week or two which is fine. What is not so fine is Camellia Cornish Snow. This is the earliest camellia with us and it can be counted on to be in flower on New Year's Day. Last year it refused to wake up until early March because we had a bad winter. This year it is very well budded but no way is it going to flower for at least a month. Does this mean we are going to have another horrible winter?  And the eucalyptus is leaning over even more. I had a nice straight prop put under it a few months back, diameter about four inches. It is seriously bowed now.

The weaving on the Megado is progressing. I can easily weave half a metre a day. The concertina book project was halted yesterday while I thought and I can see a solution which I will try out today. Yesterday I assembled all the Christmas cards and addressed and even posted them at midnight on my way back from  Leamington Spa. Today I will fetch back my Bernina from its service. It is a nice machine but it does need servicing regularly. Which costs. I had a Cresta for 40 years and the servicing was done by me. The only reason for getting rid of it was one part wore out and the f irm has long since gone and I could not source a replacement part. I should got one of my subcontracting engineering firms to make me a replacement. It might have been expensive but cheaper than all this servicing. Bah!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


This is the Convergence yardage on the loom. Sage green silk warp (90/2) with two colours, natural and brown, of silk noil in the weft and yes the draft was designed to have wiggly lines. Here is a blown up version.

If this were being submitted in the United Kingdom, I would call it 'Weston Super Mare' but that would mean nothing to non-UK resident. So I might call it 'Ripples on the MudBank' but that does not sound very attractive. The title for Convergence Yardage is 'Ebb and Flow'.

I have taken photos of my poor eucalyptus which is leaning over alarmingly. I have had a letter from the Malvern Hills District Council saying my request to have it down has gone to the Planning Committee and I will hear the result on 13th January. I just hope it does not come down by itself before then. My trouble is that this is a Conservation Area and the tree is a very big one. The whole of the lowest three feet of the trunk is rotten. I am sad. It was Michael's tree planted 25 years ago. He decided he wanted a particular eucalyptus in that site - a Snow Gum - and we made two visits to Wisley to inspect their collection of eucalyptus trees before a Command Decision was made as to which species to buy. The tree surgeon says it has honey fungus so I will not plant another tree there.

Still we have an even older tree which was his. When we moved into this house 30 odd years ago, my daughter, Ruth, gave Michael a birthday present of a Picea Breweriana = Brewer's Weeping Spruce. It was two foot high and just sat there for three or four years not doing anything which was very worrying. Then it got going. It is now 20 foot high and beautifully shaped. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Worcester and Venice

Worcester Cathedral seen across the river Severn. Here there was once Roman bridge and a major Roman camp (hence the 'cester' = castrum). Here in the 8th century a church was built, the kings of Mercia were buried. It is not the best cathedral in England. To my mind, that is Gloucester with its soaring baptistry. After all, Gloucester was used as Hogwarts. I do regret that I have never seen Lincoln Cathedral. But Worcester Cathedral is a good setting for a concert of Venetian Christmas music. The choir were all in their best red robes - it has a Cathedral school. And there were cornets, crumhorns and early trumpets and people singing from odd bits of the nave. Generally a concert of celebration.

Sunday morning was spent on Midlands Textile Forum paperwork. Not quite finished as I must talk to the bank today. The rest of the day was spent in making books for Christmas presents. It is not quite working as well as I want, due to the Inkjet printer's nasty habit of twisting the paper so the photos come out squint. I am wondering whether to use the laserjet which does not do that but does not produce as nice a print. It is getting a bit late for posting for Christmas. And have I got any decent double-sided paper which I can use with the laserjet? I am using a nice photo paper for the Inkjet which is double-sided but I only have seven sheets left and I need  seven sheets for the book. This twisting business means I cannot risk it and must use Bockingford inkjet paper which is nice and not glossy. The first book is glueing up at the moment and I have just had a look at it. Not perfect but okay. It should be completed today.

Friday, 13 December 2013


Yesterday I wove more on the Megado. But with such fine silk in the weft, it is SLOOOOWW. I can weave six inches an hour with the current weft. I am hoping to use silk noil for the Convergence piece so that will be faster.

The Midlands Textile Forum decided some months ago to create a banner and everyone was to contribute a piece seven by five inches. I have had this completed for months (done on a piece of Diversified Plain Weave on 32 shafts from the Megado) but needed to deal with mounting it onto felt. It will be posted today.
This is the new spare room complete with pieced quilt made by my sister, Dorothy, to fit into the room. Note the two shades of pink in the wall paintwork. I think this all goes rather well. Now back to the Megado.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Two Weeks to Myself

The next two weeks I have to myself. Yesterday I went to shop locally and also shopped in Ledbury to post parcels and cards and to buy the last few presents. I have not been to Ledbury for some months and it seems to me to be even more upmarket than it was. Where else in the UK would you find a small market town with five real butchers and two real greengrocers on the High Street, nevermind the fabulous Italian deli and a chocolate shop wher they make their own? So all is done and dusted for Christmas - except the cooking.

I have done as much as I can to repair Webster's Dictionary until the next session in January. I inspected the two other two of my books under repair on Tuesday and decided the only way forward was to make totally new covers. They are both covered in bookcloth which has disappeared in places. But the front of Oglivies Encyclopaedia (1894) is heavily ornamented and my tutor told me I could get it off. I was very dubious about this but tried. The procedure was to lay the front cover, decorated side up, on a tray and cover it with a damp teatowel overnight. And it worked! It just peeled off!

Here it is. I can trim this and paste it to the new cover when the book is completed. I also found a Christmas card pasted to the inside front cover which I have managed to get off. Not what we would call cheery as a Christmas card.

It is the size of a modern postcard.

This is the silk warp on the Megado woven as a turned four colour double weave. This will be used as the cover to 'Sweet Thames, Run Gently'. This has a weft of white and green 30/2 silk. I intend to weave the Convergence piece in two shades of silk noil which is thicker and will be faster to weave. At least I intend to start that way. The distance between the ripples is about half an inch.

I have replaced the Kyoto noren which was in handpainted hemp with this cotton Chinese one which has 100 characters on it, everyone saying Good Fortune.

Monday, 9 December 2013

A Finished Jacket

In 2007, I wove a length of fabric from silk and handspun which ended up as a jacket. I had about 1.5 metres of black silk warp left so I wove it up in baby alpaca and some fancy yarn from Linton Tweeds. It looked rather good - a sort of oatmeal colour and I said that I would, some day, put on another silk warp and weave up enough to make another jacket. I carefully stored the rest of the weft yarn against that day. This spring, I put on such a warp, wove up the rest and, in July, started on the jacket. I have been very busy lately but set myself the deadline of the Guild December meeting for completion. Which I met at the expense of staying up 1230 the night before the meeting.

The photo does not show them but there are hook and eye fasteners down the front. The silk lining was bought in Suzhou and the black and gold trim in Shaghai at the end of the Silk Route trip. So one deadline met.

The rest of the weekend was taken up with parties, the Guild one on Saturday and the local Braid Society on Sunday. I like the Braiding Society meetings as I can sit and gossip and do things. This time I was knitting fishes for the Midlands Textile Forum. All very enjoyable. I came home and started clearly up the studio. I managed that last night as well as starting on transferring the jacket pattern from tissue paper to squared stiff paper. The job is about half done. I am feeling very virtuous.

Friday, 6 December 2013

A Woodpecker and Some Donsu

This is a regular winter visitor to our garden. It has been coming regularly every few days over the last ten or more years around now until February. It or its descendants of course. Sometimes it comes along with a young one and teaches it to make conical holes in our lawn. It is very wary of humans and I have to move very carefully to get to the window to take photos. I have heard them drilling into trees.

Some of the donsu taken off the Megado earlier this week. This is for the Japanese Textile Study Group. The distance between flowers horizontally is less than half an inch. This pattern has been developed from an example of Japanese meibutsgire (fabric to wrap up a tea ceremony pot). Done in 90/2 silk, both warp and weft.

Two sides of the silk (2 metres of it) to make a waistcoat from. I originally thought I would use the copper dominant side but the other side shimmers in bronze (green plus copper) and I cannot decide! There is plenty of fabric and I might add pockets and labels made from the other side, which ever that be in the end. This has the sage green 90/2 warp but the weft is copper 30/2 silk from a UK firm at

I have started weaving the modified four colour double weave using white and bright green 90/2 silk and it is working fine. I will use this to cover a book (Sweet Thames Flow Gently) but will experiment with weft yarns for the Convergence piece and I am going to start with silk noil. The way I created this draft was to take a four colour weave draft I created when at Bonnie Inouye's class in 2012, substitute a straight draw on 32 shafts for the weft and turn the draft. Of course the two warp colours are now both sage green. But the draft creates the rippling stripes I am looking for.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Print Shed

On Monday I visited The Print Shed which is several miles West of Hereford, in other words nearly in Wales and very rural. The Sat Nav took me 4 miles down a single track road with the only passing places at the entries to fields. Since the only other traffic was tractors pulling trailers bulging with potatoes, guess who had to do the backing?  However since it was close to Paradise to a bookbinder/printer, I forgive it and found another way home.

The outbuildings of a farm have been converted into a 'print shed' equipped with very large presses for an artists commune. If you pay an annual fee, you can use the presses freely. What was even better, they were having their Christmas weekend and lots of the artists' work was hung. A very talented bunch, lots of lovely linocuts by Ursula Prosser to which I succumbed in the end. The people were friendly and chatty and quite willing to let me join. So I will do so after Christmas. I do not see me getting there in December.

In the afternoon, I was at the Malvern printmaking class and have just about finished cutting all the linocuts for Sir Patrick Spens. This was the last class till mid-January but the tutor, Karen, has told me how to use my own book press to print the linocuts.  I hope I will at least be able to do trial runs and correct/replace any of the lino cuts I do not like. The difference between the class press and the Print Shed is that the class press is very small and, since there are 12 students, I will never get enough time on it to do more than one book. It is my intention to do a number of them. Beware all friends!! I need to do a complete trial run because I have not really decided how to bind it. I am thinking of a single folio with a folded paper cover but I need to decide what weight of cover paper/card would be best so I can see several trials at the binding. There is also the decision about what to put on the cover. I am wondering if I am able to cut a lino cut with title lettering. Well I can always try.

And talking of old films, I was lent a set of Powell and Pressburgers DVDs by my daughter, Anne. The one that surprised me was Tales of Hoffman. I have always been fond of this opera and realised that I must have seen this around 1951 when it came out. Certainly before 1955 when I left Edinburgh.  But the treatment in the film has influenced my views on every performance of it I have seen since. Yes it's dubbed and yes the singers are not that good.  But - - - the Barcarolle duet where Julietta sings a duet with her reflection is magical and of course I always expect the candles to be turned into diamonds, rubies and emeralds. The dancing is fabulous, much better than you ever get in an opera house but then it was Moira Shearer and Robert Helpmann.

No photos but I have taken the donsu off the Megado and, will take photos today. The next bit of weaving (for Convergence) is turning out well and apart from worrying about what yarn/colours to use in the weft, I will be busy for the next few weeks.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Book Bound in Atlas

Yesterday I went into Birmingham for a meeting of the Midlands Textile Forum. I had intended to do some Christmas shopping but the number of people trying to do the same thing meant that, after I had bought a book token, I caught the next train home. I turned a whole lot more yarn into skeins while watching a film and that was that for the day. Except that I made some gooseberry jam with my own gooseberries taken from the freezer.

I woke up this morning feeling disgruntled, because I have several jobs I need to do for other people. And decided not to do any of them. Instead I finished off the book made of mulberry bark paper. Photos of the inside and outside are shown below.

The paper is very irregular in size and thickness and some sheets are practically tissue paper. The fabric cover is of Atlas bought in Khotan. Atlas has a crammed warp of tie-dyed cotton woven as 1 5:1 twill with a weft of fine silk. The texture is very smooth and luxurious. As a book it is fairly useless because any writing in ink promptly spreads.

There are lots of processes involved in making a cased-in (=hardback) book and there is a waiting time for glue to dry between each step. So I wound up more skeins of handspun. There is a whole large rubbish bag of yarn yet to do.

Last night I wove a header on the Megado and then looked for errors. These were very difficult to see with the waistcoat fabric but I had a feeling there were a few threads missing. The errors are marked up now and I need to check out each one. I have  a draft ready for the Convergence yardage entry  but am also thinking of binding a book with a similar fabric. In fact, the binding is a bit ambitious and needs a copy of ThermoFaxes making. I will not do these until I am sure the fabric is going to work.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A List of Things To do

No, not textiles but places to visit. This has come about as a result of my travel insurer making ominous noises. It is only a few years until they will refuse to insure me. So what do I want to do before I have to stop?

Attend Milan opera
Walk the Camino de Compostela (organised for 2014)
Walk Hadrian's Wall (organised for 2015)
Visit Manaus opera house ( I have asked a tour company about this and included two other items, seeing textiles in South America and taking a tango class in Buenos Aires)
Visit HongKong
Visit Bali
Go back to Japan
Visit Yellowstone
Go back to Arizona
Attend a complete Ring cycle at Bayreuth

Can I get through that lot in three years?Hmmm?

I have promised to take Madi to South America but I would rather go in a group than by ourselves.

I am sitting in Anne's kitchen, waiting for 0830 when the traffic has died down and I can drive home. Discussing Anne's new job with the National Grid. So every time there is an outage, we can all blame her.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

An Exhibition at Compton Verney

I managed to weave to the end of the piece of donsu on the Megado. Not that it is really donsu since I created the draft. I have not cut it off as there are two or three broken threads which I want to sort out before starting on the samples for Convergence. 

Other things done today were mostly concerned with the new spare room. I have sorted out the boxes of fabric and labelled all the boxes. I have far more fabric than is sensible. 

After lunch I visited Compton Verney Art Gallery on the way to Leamington Spa where I am minding the children. There were two exhibitions I saw at Compton Verney. The first was a collection of prints from the British Museum to do with animals. Not quite what I had expected. Durer's rhinoceros was there but also several political cartoons by Cruikshank and Gilray with eminent people as animals. A lot of historical explanation. Along with this was an exhibition of an animal alphabet which had been commissioned by the Gallery. Very good, well mostly. A few were poor but most were high class. I was disappointed that the Gallery shop sold nothing of the alphabet. 

So there we are. I get the evening to myself here. So a bit of thought would be a good idea.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

At Last, A Bit Of Weaving!

It was my intention to weave yesterday but it never happened. Instead people turned up at the door to do things, see if the new spare room is okay, deliver things (several times), inspect a tree. It needs to come down - and that involved extra work for me because we live in a Conservation Area and I had to check with the Council whether I need planning permission. And I do and please take lots of photos as a record. And two men from the Council will inspect the tree. The time this has all happened, the tree will have fallen down. It has honey fungus and the bottom two feet of the trunk is badly rotted. One high wind and it might come down. Oh well. Trouble - and expense. It is by the way a large eucalyptus, over 40 foot high.

When I was thinking of going to bed, I got sidetracked on the Overshot drafts. I dyed some silk for this on Sunday and will warp up as soon as the skeins are totally dry. They were dry this morning and I have carefully washed them in Woolite and hung them up.

I went to bed past midnight, having sorted out the draft. I wanted to have two stripes of different overshot and to get that both overshot patterns have to be turned. So the two above are (left) Mary Ann Ostrander and (right) Johann Schleelinein No 120 both from Marguerite Porter Davison's book. In the first draft I did, I did not match up the two patterns carefully enough. This time, the weft repeat for the right one is 60 and the left one is 30 throws and it looks okay. So the repeat for weaving is 60 throws. Tedious. There will a lot more plain weave. I only put in enough to show up that I had it right. Each pattern needs 6 shafts and this project will be woven on my 12 shaft Meyer. 

This morning, I started the day by weaving for an hour on the Megado.  It is coming along. I am wevaing with 30/2 silk and so it is not growing at a great rate. But I reckon that if I weave for an hour and do something else for an hour, I might get it finished by Thursday.,

Monday, 25 November 2013

Endpapers and an Acid Dyeing Class

On Saturday I attended a class on endpapers run by the local branch of the Society of Bookbinders. I always feel a bit of a fraud when I attend such classes because I am not a professional bookbinder. I think it is because I am scared of leather binding! Anyway the course was great - and very timely because it covered library binding which is what you use when you have a hefty book.  And I am repairing three such at the moment. I was just about to add the endpapers but will see if I can do library bindings instead.

I got home at 1630 and set to preparing for Sunday when I was running an acid dyeing class for Kennet Valley Guild. This involved making up new lots of dye solution. The class was very successful. I had a larger class than I like and so had asked one of the most expert if she would be an assistant and that worked beautifully. So thank you Marie FitzSimmons. Most people were dyeing fibre or yarns. But two or three were dyeing silk scarves.

 These were very successful. My only part in it was showing them how to clamp the scarves. I managed to dye a couple of skeins myself but these are still in the car which is not yet unpacked.

I have a great feeling of freedom today. I have no more commitments until the end of January. The household needs some attention. Today I shall deal with paperwork which I have not touched for more than two weeks. I hope to get some weaving done on the Megado as well. It is time I got on with the sampling needed for the Convergence yardage submission. This is going to be fun. Even more so because I am going to put a bound book into the Society of Bookbinders challenge in 2014 and have come up with a design which uses some of the Convergence yardage!!  It is a set book challenge (everyone binds the same book) and I suppose a lot of the other bound books will be in leather (see above for my thoughts on binding in leather). There is a website (Sweet Thames Website) where the problem of designs are being discussed. Well, what I do best is binding a book in fabric so I will do that. I may stencil on to the fabric. It is not needed until next April but I am far enough ahead with the design to see it in my mind's eye. I might even use some of the Japanese gold foil on paper yarn I have stored away. As you know it takes me two years to do a book from the moment of inception. Six months is definitely marginal.

Which reminds me that the College has had some of my books on display since July 2013 and does not want to give them back - the Inspectors are due in December and they want my books to stay on display. Which is all very well but I do get anxious. One is the Omar Khayyam I rebound in stencilled and painted fabric and I would like it back. I have another Omar Khayyam to rebind. My sister was left a 1920s version with etchings and paintings by Frank Brandwyn. I am furiously jealous but have agreed to rebind it. The textblock and covers are okay but someone/thing has eaten the spine cover.
It spent years in Malawi.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Getting On with Things

I see it is some days since I blogged last. A lot has happened. I started out at 0730 from Dundee and drove home on Tuesday taking in a Committee meeting of the local Bookbinding group on the way. Arrived home at 1730. The new spare room has been completed, new lights, new decor, white and two shades of pink and, on Wednesday, a lot more tidying up was carried out. I managed to clear up the garage (see below for reasons) and take the garbage to the tip and the charity shop. Thursday I had a firm in to clean the carpet in the new spare room. It has not been cleaned since it was put down 20 years ago, mostly because there was too much in the room. The room is totally clear at the moment. They also did the stairs.  I ordered new beds last week and will call them today to see when they can deliver next week.

Somewhere in all of this I wove off the rest of the double weave warp on the Voyager. It is narrow but I would like to turn it into a carpet bag like the one Cally Booker made at the Association Summer School in August this year.

On Friday, I went up to London, met a few friends and went to two exhibitions. One was Paul Klee at the Tate Modern. I found this very informative but very disappointing. There were a huge number of pictures arranged in chronological order which was the informative bit. But my favorites, the ones based on North Africa, were not present. He changed his style every 2 or 3 years and it is the North African paintings I like.

After which we went to the Victoria and Albert to see the Chinese scroll painting which were out of this world. I could have stayed for hours. Very well selected running from painted Buddhist banners of 950 AD or so from Dun Huang (been there, done that) to lengthy scrolls in black ink. There was a lovely one of dragons with detailed swirls of cloud. Black and white and grey four-colour double weave? We were all bowled over.

After a cup of tea, two of the party went back to Paddington to go home and Marie and I departed to Shepherds to buy sheets of  Chiyogami, mull, Japanese book fasteners and so on.

Today I am going to a one-day class on Endpapers run by the local Bookbinders group. Tomorrow I am running an acid dyeing class at Kennet Valley Guild and must lay everything out in the garage ready for an early start tomorrow. I may have to make up some new dye solutions so have better go and start. The garage is going to be very cold and I will do it in the kitchen this evening with lots of plastic laid down.

Monday, 18 November 2013

More in Dundee

I have not seen much of Dundee on this visit. On Saturday I gave a talk on Far Eastern Textile Techniques. Judging from the number of questions and the number of people crowding round the tables at the tables to examine the samples, it went okay. Then on Sunday I gave a class on Japanese style bookbinding. I ended up with 14 students which is too many. But they all went home with one finished book and a second one, nearly finished.

Today was spent reloading my car and shopping. The shopping was particularly useful as I do not go shopping much these days. The time  was mostly spent in Dunelm, a household linen shop where I bought everything needed to equip the new spare room. Fitted sheets, pillows, duvets. Dorothy is going to make me two matching scrap quilts. I will have to make the curtains to hide the piles of plastic crates which contain fabric. But, surprise, surprise, I have two curtains woven for my daughter, Ruth, for her house ten years ago. She no longer has that house and I have the curtains. So I will remake them. 

I am hoping that the rewiring, new lights and painting will be done by now. Tomorrow I go home, taking in a Society of Bookbinders committee meeting on the way! 

I am glad to see the end of November approaching. I knew  it would be hard going with so much teaching. I said to my daughter , Anne, that my problem was that I never wrote a day into my diary for preparation of the talk/course. And she replied that I should write in two days. True, oh queen but too late for this session. The upshot is that I have done hardly any work for me in the last three months. December is free. Yippee!! You can look forward to me getting lots of projects finished. I have had a Good Idea but it requires deciding on the yarn, which I hope I can find in my stash, winding it all into skeins of a specific size, dyeing it at a Guild acid dyeing day next Sunday and warping up. It is not something I have ever done before and I think it is going to be quite special. Watch this space.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Now in Dundee

I drove up to Dundee on Tuesday and got here rather late. Wednesday was spent walking the dogs and applying paper to fabric. I am running a class on Japanese style bookbinding on Sunday and have to back the fabric for 13 students. It is a bigger class than I like but that is due to pressure at this end rather than my wishes. I did six pieces on Wednesday, took them off the boards this morning and did another eight. Now I have just discovered there are 14 students and have to stop this. I just have not brought enough materials for 14.

Yesterday Dorothy and I went into Edinburgh and visited two exhibitions. The first was in the National Library of Scotland. It was on miniature books. One of them was less than one mm square!! They supplied magnifying glasses. A beautiful little bookcase with tiny books each containing a Shakespeare play. Some are bound in leather. No photos were allowed but I managed to buy a poster which is very informative. After that we visited a Kabuki print exhibition at Museum. This did have an illustrated catalogue to buy.

All these prints have NEVER been published. I did not know that the Scottish Museum has a very large collection of Japanese prints. I must return and look into this. After that, we had a first rate Indian meal and then went to see Don Giovanni done by Scottish Opera. Very good.

This was all in the vicinity of the Old Quad which is the heart of the University. So I inspected the site of the Mathematics Department, now Geography. And I was so taken by all of this that I persuaded Dorothy to take a small diversion and check on the Natural Philosophy Department (Physics to non-Scots). The building is still there and still part of the University but that department has moved out of town. It is a dark grey large building in Scottish baronial style built as a fever hospital. Robert Louis Stevenson had a stay there before he did Travels with a Donkey. All very full of memories. It is sixty years exactly since I went up to University. I did enjoy my years there. The pavement between the Nat Phil Dept and the Old Quad has a groove in it where I trekked back and forth to the caff.

The other thing that has happened is that I am now kitted out for the family game of Murder Mystery at New Year. We went round to an antiques centre and I bought a velvet wrap, a black beaded clutch bag, a 1920 s bandeau in blue velvet and a cigarette box. Everything 1920s. Very satisfactory - especially since I can see me using the velvet wrap a lot.

Tomorrow I am lecturing on Far Eastern Textiles. Not very restful.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Working Harder than Ever

On Wednesday I drove to Egham (Ruth's house) and stayed the night in preparation for attending Bonnie Inouye's course in London on Thursday. The course was quite mind-bending and we all had trouble keeping up with the lecturer! However she covered a lot of ground  about Turned Tied Weaves plus a few other goodies thrown in. I shall take her handout with my notes to Leamington Spa today where I am looking after a grandson. I hope to expand on the notes as I read through everything.

In the evenings, Christmas and New Year were discussed. To be honest I had forgotten about Christmas and have done nothing about it, not even a thought about Christmas presents. Ruth and Robin were more interested in the food and the planning was all ready. Charlotte, my eldest grand-daughter, has taken to organising things and had written a plan. With her and Ruth and Anne (who is the world's most assiduous organiser) there is no point in me getting involved, except of course when I feel strongly about their decisions! It all ended up at Majestics (a wine store) where I spent a lot of money buying wines for a wine tasting that has been set up. I have a huge to-do list which was generated by Ruth. Oh well.

I drove home on Friday morning and got here at 0815 am. Did a huge amount of small jobs, realised I need to do the accounts for the Midlands Textile Forum which has become this morning's job, went down to the local furniture and bought two beds, two mattresses and a chest of drawers for the upstairs office which is well on the way to being a spare bedroom. Next week, the new lighting and power sockets are installed and the room is decorated.  I also got everything ready for goign to Dundee where I am teaching Japanese bookbinding. So there is a huge pile of stuff in the hall ready to be packed in the car.

And what have I done in the way of textiles? I have been weaving off what is left on the Voyager of a garish double weave. I am using a grey cotton as the weft to tone it all down.

The Voyager and a garish warp. You can see the effect of using the grey weft quite clearly.  The reason for this photo was that the Guild needs a few photo of looms. I am hoping to use the fabric to make a bag like the one Cally Booker made at the Association Summer School in August - see here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Back to Weaving

Yesterday was entirely devoted to paperwork - except for 2.5 hours spent doing the Print class in lino cuts. The good news is that, when I tried printing the lino cuts for Sir Ptrick Spens on all the different sorts of paper I have in the house, the print is respectable on all of them and especially good on Bockingford Inkjet which I wanted to use. So I need to cut the other 11 lino blocks and decide the most efficient way to printing the text. I spent most of the time practising the printing yesterday which was time well spent.  I have not yet decided whether to use a sewn Japanese binding or a single folio pamphlet. I can see big advantages in a Japanese binding. The Bockingford is 180 gsm which means it is thick when folded. It is also easier to print since I need only print on one side. I can lino print on the other. Whereas if I make a folio, it will need to be printed on both sides.

Today I had bookbinding and did a second sewing on two of the three books. This is needed to put tapes on the spine. I will add the endpapers before I go again.

The rest of the day was my own. And I spent it weaving, half time on the Megado and half on the remnant of the double weave warp I have on the Voyager. There are so many games you can play on Warp and Weft Interchange on Double Weave. What I have settled for is a single shuttle in mid grey in order to calm the colours down. And it is looking good. I will take a photo tomorrow when it is daylight. Thursday I am going to London to a day course given by Bonnie Inouye. I am looking forward. There is always something to get your teeth into with Bonnie. The title of the  course is Turn the Tied.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Another Double Weave Sample

Another set of Double Weave samples. From left to right, stitched double cloth, Warp and Weft interchange (simple), Warp and Weft Interchange (complicated). And yes there is an error in the last one.

I got through all the items from the Kennet Valley Guild meeting on Saturday - emails flying out to everyone concerned and then tidied the contents of my car away. A bit of filing left to do and then (maybe, fingers crossed) I can weave on the Megado.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Teaching Double Weave

I have been teaching Double Weave today and am not a happy bunny. I asked and was told 'treat them as beginners' and planned the program accordingly. But not true. Everyone had some knowledge of double weave. I had no fall back plan - which I should have had. But a fall back plan might have been difficult since they were all warped up for a fairly straight forward set of exercises on two cloth fabric. They must have thought it was all a waste of time and I am quite off teaching weaving at the moment. I have been analysing my teaching. Firstly the Woven Shibori course is fairly novel anywhere and some of the class were not too sure what Shibori was.  So it was all new to them. Secondly yes I teach weaving to Kennet Valley Guild but I know all the weavers individually and, in any case, they do not hesitate to tell me exactly what they want.  (A good thing too). By the way we are doing Overshot in spring 2014. That will be fun since some plan to weave it in fine silk and soem want to get isolated overhsot patterns in a sea of plain weave.

In running other courses, acid dyeing, Japanese bookbinding, it does not matter whether they are knowledgeable or not, the purpose of the course is for all the students to go home with stuff ready for a textile project or a completed book or books. So I am happy about those courses. Anyway I have done those two courses so often that a fallback plan comes naturally.

I think the moral of today's course is that teaching a basic technique to an unknown group is not a good idea since you do not know what they know already. The only positive aspect is that I have 1.5 metres of loudly coloured warp on the Voyager with which to do Warp-and-Weft Interchange. It is loudly coloured because I was using up some yarn. It was okay for samples but I think toning it down is  needed. Black? White?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Kennet Valley Guild Exhibition

At last I have got home and sorted out the photos. For any reader who is a KV Guild member, look at the Guild website because all the photos should be there shortly. Meanwhile I will post one or two here to show the variety of work.

 Knitted, crocheted, felted, woven, you name the technique, we can do flowers in anything!

And lots of other things too in the way of bags, scarves, jackets and hats.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

La Fille du Regiment

We attended a performance of La Fille du Regiment at the Opera house here in Vienna. The production is that of Covent Garden which I had seen with Natalie Dessay who is better than today's performer. But Flores is still the hero. I saw something I have never seen before in an opera house tonight. After Flores' great aria, there was a great roar from the audience and the applause went on for more than five minutes. And it only stopped because it was clear that he was going to sing it again. And there was an even louder roar after the encore. 

Other things we did today were the photographic museum, the Vienna Ring  tram, and a lot of shopping. We also had lunch in a very posh vegetarian restaurant. The full works as though they had a Michelin star. So a successful trip. Tomorrow we return to the UK. We have 2 hours free in the morning and will probably go to the architecture museum.

I did look at some Indian textiles. Shawls in various techniques but I did not buy anything.


Yesterday we went to Schonnbrunn Palace. Lots of people there and a warm sunny day. It does not seem like late October here. We walked and walked and then went back to the hotel to rest before setting out for a vegetarian restaurant. Today we attend the opera in the evening and go shopping during the day. We might get to the photographic museum as well.

Still no solution to the slow connection and so no photos.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Der Rosenkavalier in Vienna

I would write up my day at the Guild exhibition but moving photos around on the iPad is proving difficult because the Marriott's system is so slow. So you will have to wait until I get home.

On Saturday, Madi, my granddaughter, and I set off for Vienna. Today we have done four exhibitions and an opera!!! Three of the exhibitions were in the Albertina and were Matisse and the Fauves, Russian modern art and modern Art in general. The Matisse got a bit samey after three or four rooms. There were three artists who turned into something else shortly afterwards for which they were justly famous. In the case of Braque and van Dongen, their later, more famous, work was so different that the Fauve stuff was not easily identified. But Raoul Dufy's paintings of later were developments of his Fauve work. He was unable to hide his essential cheerfulness about life!!! The Russian work belonged to Gazprom. The nicest thing was a set of photos of knitted berets being worn. These were photographed from the back and were printed at three times life size. Mounted side by side, they looked like barrel cacti. The last exhibition in the Albertina contained a number of Richters.

Then we visited the Mozart house. They have a problem because they do not own much that is relevant to Mozart, a couple of autograph letters and a letter appointing him as court musician. So they fill the space with Goethe and his colour theory which is interesting but not relevant.

The Opera House is very large and has three rings of boxes with two galleries of the gods above that. Lots of marble statuary and gold paint. And a very good performance with Renee Fleming as the Countess. Sold out. Nothing else to say except that there is still music inside my head.

Tomorrow we do Schonbrunn Palace. The biggest problem is finding places to eat for Mafi who is vegetarian. So tomorrow we are going to try a recommended vegetarian restaurant.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Double Weave Samples

The Voyager has been warped up and I have woven a small set of samples on it.

Five in fact. Two of separate cloths, two tubes and one with a join down one selvedge. On the loom there is a stitched double cloth and the start of a warp and weft interchange sample. So I am all ready to weave samples at the Guild Exhibition tomorrow. I will take lots of photos and post a few when I get back.

Now I must go and lay out clothes to pack for tomorrow ready for going to Vienna on Saturday. I remembered to go out this afternoon and buy a black sweater and an airline bag which is a replacement for a scruffy canvas shoulder object with American Airlines written on it. A freeby from 30 years ago when an airline was an airline, by gad. The shoulder strap disintegrated on me 18 months ago and I have not been happy without it. It is for the iPad, magazines and books to read and shoving last minute presents in it bought in airports. It is much posher than the airline bag but I wonder if it will last 30 years.

Talking of lots of years, last night I had dinner in a Cheltenham hotel to celebrate a friend's election to the Royal Academy of Engineers. People I had not seen for years were there, including one I met first 40 years ago. I can remember his marriage and meeting his young son who is now studying string theory for his PhD. He himself is an eminent professor in London now. The group was a collection of academics and business people with one thing in common. We all worked on the same kind of scientific spacecraft! Because of looking after Michael, I have dropped out of the engineering/physics world and do not keep up. On the drive home at midnight I decided I ought to. I might subscribe to Scientific American as a start. I don't read the journal sent to me by the Electrical Engineering lot (rather boring but then I was always halfway between physics and engineering) but I do read with great care the Journal of Royal Academy of Engineering. Oddly enough I recently had a missive from the Institute of Physics wanting me to take part in some shenanigans which I declined.

I am halfway through reading Penelope Lively's new book 'Ammonites and Leaping Fish' which is about growing old, well sort of. The combination of these two events is unsettling. Do I have to stay at home and do textiles? Suddenly I have itchy feet. Perhaps I should relocate to Arizona and run a diner in the desert.

A long time ago, British Aerospace sent me to SouthWest America, in particular to Arizona. I was enchanted, the desert was in flower. I scandalised the Company management when I got home and they asked how I got on. I think they were thinking of  'have you brought a contract home'. I said 'God has promised me that, if I am very good, when I die, I can go live in Arizona'. An enormous number of people still quote that back at me. Actually I did bring a contract home.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


I spent a blissful two hours in the bookbinding class, ironing the wrinkles out of some pages! With a very special electric iron for paper! I have managed to repair all the pages that were torn. In fact I brought everything home and continued working on the three books until all the damaged pages were mended. Next I shall put the endpapers on two books. Not on the Webster because that has lovely red marbled paper from the Victorian era. It is a bit scuffed but I think it is better to use that than replace it.

I have completed all the framing and hung the pictures. Finding a space was difficult but they are all up. I have resolved to stop buying works of art, pictures and ceramics. 

I realised a few days ago that I have a course to give in ten days, most of which time I shall spend in Vienna. And I had said I would bring a multicoloured warp along for the students to practise warp and weft interchange. Well nothing had been done, not even a decision as to yarn type. It is now warped up in 2/6 cotton and ready to go. I am killing two birds here as I will take it to the Guild exhibition on Friday to demo on. I have also written a PowerPoint presentation on Double Weave. Why is it that an old presentation is so useless when you look to reuse it? The samples have been collected together, mine and other people's as well as suitable books. I think I have covered most requirements.

Pioneer Loom

This is a view from above of the Pioneer loom. The front and back beams pull out and there are hooks every inch across the edge of the aprons. This makes it possible to warp up, thread and sley in one action since each thread can be dropped into its heddle and its dent. The photo shows the reed with its cap on for weaving but the reed itself has no top.

This is a different view of the heddles showing that they are fixed only at the bottom and have no tops. You will note that the warp is spread which is because the heddles 'walk' away from the centre. The handbook mentions this and says the heddles should be pushed back into place which is not easy until you get the knack. It needs doing after every inch of weaving, say 20 throws. All in all, an unusual loom with a lot of time needed to get used to it. There seems no point in using it UNLESS you are are going to rethread and/or resley while weaving because weaving is very slow.  Although I intend to use it for resleying, I would be wary of rethreading. The Complex Weavers 2014 entry is clearly not going to be woven on this loom! But I ahev come up with a plan for using the Megado.

Yesterday I went to the print class and cut two lino blocks out of the eleven needed for Sir Ptarick Spens. Next time I will practise printing on the press. The tutor is very keen that Hot Pressed paper is used but I may not be able to print the poem on such paper so we are agreed that the first thing to do is just to print on all the suitable kinds of paper I can find in the house. The fall back position is that I print the lino cuts on the correct paper, scan them into the computer and print that but the effect will not be so good. One thing I have realised is that mentally I had decided that Sir Patrick Spens would be a hardback but bound in Japanese style. That makes a big difference to the print layout are I need folded paper. I am wondering about a one section book.

Malvern had three glaziers until recently where I could get picture frames glassed but one went bust, one abandonned doing picture framing and the third uses too thick glass. So I took four frames to Leamington Spa over the weekend and had them properly done. I finished off two pictures last night and am about to finish off the other two. At last the nice piece of gold work bought in Kuala Lumpur is framed!! Now all I need to do is find somewhere to hang the pictures. The other pictures are an interesting selection, an ink drawing by Michael which is tiny but lovely, a print from the Brussels Print Museum  and a photo from the Blue Mountains in Australia. Trouble is that I cannot say the framing project is completed because I have one more frame which was not quite ready for glassing last week. That one frame is for a rather nice batik of fishes, again from Kuala Lumpur which I miss visiting.

Today is bookbinding day. I am repairing three books for Derek, my son-in-law. One has the spine present but hanging by a thread and unusable, the other two had no spines at all. So I charged Derek with getting pictures of the spines in good condition for me. He sent them within 24 hours. He got them by looking on ebay to see if any were for sale and using the photos there! I would never have thought of that.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Unspecified Ones

I have discovered that the Unspecified Ones responsible for the current traffic chaos are working on a Flood Alleviation Scheme which is sorely needed in Leamington Spa. The river Leam is about 200 metres away and has got very close to Anne's house several times recently. It has flooded seriously here about four times in the last few years. Not that that makes me feel any better about the traffic.

I have been working on the Pioneer and thinking about it. Wendy Morris is right about thin threads. Even with a 2/10 cotton, the threads jump out of their heddles so I have to check before every weft throw. And the warp needs to be kept at very high tension to keep most of the threads from jumping out. I actually had a broken thread in the warp due to the tension, never before in my experience.

The first conclusion is that a thicker thread should be used. I am not a great fan of 2/6 cotton but maybe I have to use that. 2/20 cotton is my style currently. My original idea was to use the loom with its ability to resley as a kind of limited fan reed, that is, just in one section of the warp. Certainly I would not want to rethread as I think it would be difficult to get right. When I post a photo of the loom, you will see that there is a forest of half heddles present and it is difficult to work what is going on. I speak from the experience of correcting two threading errors.

The problem that I see with resleying on the hoof is that changes would have to be made every 2 to 4 weft throws. In order to make changes, I would have to slack off the tension enough to move the threads around the reed, taking care not to let the threads jump out of the heddles at the same time. The more I think about it, the more I think that the only good solution is to have the threads I want to move loose, that is not tied to the back beam, and separately weighted. In which case, I would just have to lift up that thread enough to move it in the reed. Of course, taking care not to let the thread jump out of the heddle. 

So I have to cut off the current warp and replace with a 2/6 warp where some threads are weighted separately. The back beam is going to be a mess of film canisters. 

My original intention was to weave a piece of fabric on the Pioneer for entry into the Complex Weavers Exhibition for 2014 but I have abandoned that. Early this morning I was in favour of abandoning the loom too but no, I think I will try again. Nothing like actually using a piece of equipment to find its limitations! 

In any case, I have just realised that I need to warp up the Voyager pronto to a) take to demonstrate at the Guild Exhibition next Friday, b) let the students use the week after when I run a course on double weave. The students could be just using a 4 shaft loom and I intend to warp up a warp and weft interchange draft for them all to have a go on. YSo the Pioneer will have to wait. And unless I have an inspiration very quickly, I will not be entering anything for Complex Weavers. The closing date is November 18th.

On the other hand, the Convergence yardage entry 'Ebb and Flow' is not due until January 2014 and I have already decided what to do. The draft is ready and it uses the silk warp already on the Megado. I just have to finish off the yardage for my waistcoat first. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Leamington Spa is not my favourite place

Not at the moment anyway. For the last six months they (unspecified who) have been digging up a main road just along from my daughter, Anne, in Leamington Spa and have had a major cross roads blocked. Yesterday I came over to look after Alex and Madi for the weekend while parents go to Venice. The unspecified ones chose to move on a bit today and have blocked off two additional major junctions which are close to the first one. The result is gridlock in the city and it takes a lot of extra time to get anywhere. Since I only have two functions here, taxi cab and food provider, I am a wreck. Anyway it is worse than that.

Yesterday was crisis evening. I arrived to find that Anne and Derek's flight had been cancelled by British Airways and they spent a frantic hour trying to get on another flight so instead of a civilised departure from Ruth at Heathrow, they were leaving Stansted at 0630 hours. I have had a call from them -- in Saint Mark's Square outside Florians to say they were happy.

Which was more than I was. I taxied Alex to swimming on Thursday evening and the Saab Dashboard had a weird symbol. On consulting the manual, it means Engine fault- see to it at once. I drove home very carefully. This morning I set out for a garage which was a saga in itself but eventually managed to get it looked at, diagnosed and repaired. So now I am somewhat poorer but definitely happier.

Somehow I have managed to warp up the Pioneer which is a saga to itself and is definitely weird. I have no means of transferring photos with me but will post some as soon as I get home. There are a lot of pluses in the process. Basically you warp up directly on to the loom and you can do this for warps of several yards. I have put on 1.5 metres of 2/10 cotton. Wendy Morris told me that 24 to the inch was as much as you could use without threads jumping out of their slots. My sample is only six inches wide and I have woven a few inches. I will start playing with it tomorrow.

This is just to cheer me up. Two icecreams at Florians in April 2013. One for Debbie and one for me.


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

People - and Things

Last weekend I was at Steeple Ashton where Wiltshire Guild has its HQ. I was there to teach Woven Shibori. It all went with only one hitch. I had forgotten there was an error in one of the drafts and one poor weaver thought she had something looking very odd and it did. The error was in the lift plan and I managed to work out what was wrong so that was embarrassing but not disastrous. We dyed all the samples with Procion MX and one sample was untied. It was okay so I breathed a sigh.
Then I picked up Kirsten Froberg  on my way home past Swindon station and we spent a happy two days discussing weaving topics. She had an appointment with a robemaker in Pershore (just down the road from Malvern) on Monday so I drove her over and stayed to listen. Very interesting. If you have just been appointed Vice-Chancellor of University X, you order your robe from him. So the place is full of black velvet, red and yellow silk, ermine, hat moulds for tricornes and so on. Fabulous ribbon, heavy gold motifs - - indeed everything that a textile nerd finds attractive. Kerstin has a photo which I am hoping she will email to me.
If that was not enough, the robemaker took us into Pershore Abbey and showed us the embroidered copes and altar cloths which were stored away. Quite breath-taking.

It was raining hard so we went Beckford Silk Mill and looked around. Then home to steak and kidney pie. Today we walked on the Malvern Hills before she caught a train to Gatwick on her way home.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dyeing Yarn

Two skeins dyed yesterday

Three balls of yarn injected with dye. These take impossibly long to dry so, wet or not, I wound them back into skeins yesterday and this morning they are dry.

And here they are. This evening I will turn them all into little skeins and finish off the boxes.

I went to the bookbinding class in the morning and have started on repairing three old dictionaries, doing them in parallel. Bookbinding is all about hanging about waiting so I need to have several things running in parallel. I reduced all three books to the textblock and removed the glue on their spines. Next week. I shall repair the pages which are not bad. One book needs nothing, one has something wrong with one section and the last has the front two pages in a real mess.

Robin arrived after the class and we spent the afternoon framing pictures. I stripped down an existing one, cleaned it up carefully and reassembled it. Then stripped down another one, threw away the picture (faded beyond belief) and cut a new mountboard for one of Michael's pictures. it was reassembled and both were hung. I use the downstairs toilet as a crammed gallery. A long time ago, I installed a museum style hanging system in there which makes it dead easy to change pictures around. So three works by me have been removed and will be disposed of.  Today I have two frames to make and another existing frame to deal with. These are much more important pictures and will be hung in the studio. Robin has equally busy although he got very cross. I have a cutter to make the bevelled inner edges in mountboards and he got the bevel round the wrong way on the same piece of board - twice. So he gave up and had a beer.

I am also hoping to clean up the room upstairs this morning. I can't even walk across the room at the moment.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Chelsea Physic Garden

Saturday was Kennet Valley Guild day and so it was busy, busy. Noone has lynched me yet - I can't think why. After that, I drove to Ruth's house  and watched while she and Robin tried doing one of the recipes (for sea bass) which we got at the Hibiscus day. It worked although it took two of them a lot of running around to produce four plates of fish. I am having a return match today as Robin is on his way here to frame a lot of pictures and I am going to do the pork recipe.

On Sunday we went into London and looked at the Antique Textile Fair in Chelsea Old Town Hall. Much more interesting than the one in Manchester in March. There was a French dealer there selling a small piece of quilting which was Indian 17th century and he wanted a lot of money for it. He also had a large piece of French flowered silk which was 18th century and even more expensive. Lots of lovely things. I bought an obi for £10.00. It is badly marked but it looks like mould and I think I might try to clean it.

Then we went round to the Chelsea Physic Garden and took a garden tour which was very good. It was a warm cloudless day, nore like summer than October.

Due to Robin's arrival, I cleaned up the studio yesterday and sorted out all the little skeins I have made up into boxes. These are for sale at the forthcoming Guild exhibition. The paper boxes were made by Chris Fletcher and are lovely - so much so that I don't want to write a price on them or indeed stick a label on. I was given some handspun wool to use in these boxes and, after sorting out what I had already, I decided what colours to dye the handspun - and got up at 6 am to do the dying. So it is coming up to 8 o'clock and the steaming just about finished!! I will post some pictures when the yarn is dry.

Bookbinding starts up today. I have three Victorian books from my son-in-law, Derek, to repair.

Friday, 4 October 2013

More Books Bound

Two books made using the same marbled paper. The right hand one has endpapers of the same marbled paper from Venice as the left hand one's cover. The picture of Venice on the right is by me!! These are fine but I am not sure about the one with mulberry bark paper. I have sewn it but the paper is very fragile and some sheets are very flimsy whereas a couple are much thicker and are okay. It is currently being pressed. Also the book does not have as many pages as I like. But what I do have cost me $50 in Samarkand.  I have to put the Atlas cloth onto paper for the cover which I hope to do today.
Last night as I was going to bed, I realised that I had not selected endpapers for the mulberry bark book so inspected the stash and did not like anything. So I thought of what was typical of Central Asia and the answer was roses. I hunted out all the photos I had taken of roses, chose these two and spent an hour creating this patterned paper which is very flamboyant and will scream at the cover. It will do nicely. The women in Samarkand did not bother much about matching colours - as long as it was loud, it was okay. The pink rose is from Samarkand. The bunch of red roses are from Cappadocia. Oh and I got to bed after midnight.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Cleaning Up

At last I have got to the end of paperwork so today I can do what I want - which is bookbinding. I have another textbook sewn and will finish that today and I have torn and folded the mulberry bark paper from Samarkand. This, being handmade, had deckled edges and I wanted to avoid a straight cut so I used a ruler set acros the centre of the sheet and passed a paintbrush loaded with water down the ruler's edge, then carefully tore the edge through the wet paper. It worked a treat and the edges match the original ones. I had to wait till the paper had dried before folding but the textblock is ready to be pressed now.

I have acquired several books in the last few days. The Midlands Region of the Society of Book-binders is having an internal competition to bind a Japanese book and is prepared to sell copies of the textblock to 'outsiders'. So I have bought two copies. It is properly done on very thin paper with two prints to each page. The pages will be folded and the fold goes at the fore edge. I fancy binding this and will have fun designing the covers. I still have not used some paper printed in gold and bought in Kyoto.  It is to have a box too. The Society itself is having a free-for-all in 2014, binding a book called ' Sweet Thames, Run Softly' by Robert Gibbins. It is illustrated with his own woodcuts which are lovely. The idea is that anyone who wants can bind a copy and enter it at the 2014 Conference. There is no judging. I am not a Book Designer and I am sure there will be superb designs on show but why not do what I can do, which will be to design as piece of fabric for the cover. I am sure there will lots bound in leather. That's is beyond me. The book itself is very good and I read it is two sittings.

The other book I have acquired is something I have wanted since 1981. I was ill that year and could not work for several months. I borrowed a very early copy of Ruskin's The Stones of Venice from Gloucester Library, three volumes bound in leather and worked my way through it. Over the years, I have looked at second hand copies but they were either abridged, missing the illustrations or too expensive. Yesterday at Aardvark Books, I asked if they had a copy and they produced two. One abridged and the other a Folio Society version of 2001 in a case - complete. I bought it for £20.00!!

I have been clearing out in what is known as the Fax room, although we have not had a Fax machine for several years. The shelves need to be taken down before the builder starts in on doing something about the damp in that room. The shelves on that side go to the ceiling and were Michael's province and I had no idea what was there. So after 2.5 years, I found all sorts of strange things. A whole lot of tools for making stringed instruments (I know a good home for them), stones for sharpening tools (I need them), innumerable fancy drills, far too many power extension leads, and more cable ties than I will ever use. Oh and lots of internet connections which will go to a good home. So the shelves look quite bare now and at least I know what is there. One day soon I must do the same to the cellar.  Another 2.5 years?

Monday, 30 September 2013

A Hectic Weekend

This is Dennis Walker's ikat warp which has been twice dyed. It is shown with two of the wrappers removed after the second dyeing. His tape has protected the first dye, green, very well and there is no leakage.

On Saturday I went into London with Ruth and Anne and we spent the day being shown how to cook by a Michelin-starred chef, Claude Bosi.

Claude Bosi is on the left and Ian from Glasgow is on the right. Ian is the head chef and was very knowledgeable. The kitchen was fantastically well kitted out with induction hobs, including a wok induction system! There were seven of us and I had known we were going to have a demonstration but I had not realised that they were going to cook a four course lunch and that we were going to eat it. This at 0930!! And we had a four course (different) lunch at 1230. It was all very informative and they answered questions happily. Really quite an experience.

The original idea had been to go shopping in Bond Street but after all that food and wine we all felt decisions were a bit strenuous so went home!

On Sunday we went to Wisley Gardens where they had a scuplture show on. Not as interesting as at Savile Gardens because most of the pieces looked as though they would be happier indoors. But it was a lovely September day and we enjoyed walking round the gardens.  After that I drove home.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Back to Bookbinding

In keeping with my determination to finish a few projects, I have gone back to bookbinding.
This is a book for my daughter, Ruth. What is special about it is that she made the marbled paper! She found a pile dating back some years and gave it to me. Lots of lovely stuff. So I made a book for her. The title label has a pastel drawing by Michael of Ruth at about 12 reading a book which I thought was appropriate.
This one has endpapers from Venice. There is some gold leaf in there but it does not show up well in the photo. I have the paper ready for another book using what is left over of the sheet. It will be on the cover and will be done next week. I might also do the Central Asian book which will have mulberry bark paper for the textblock and a cover of Uzbekistan atlas (cotton and silk) in a lurid design.

I have been re-reading Sir Patrick Spens to remind myself of what I need to do in lino-cuts. I found a lot of notes which lay out which verses go on which page and shows a sketch of the accompanying lino-cut. So I am further forward than I thought.  I am off to London for the weekend with great things afoot which I will describe when I get back. I am taking all the paperwork about Sir Patrick Spens because I think we will not be doing anything on Sunday morning.

I must say that, rereading the poem,  some of the wording jars. Because it has been Englishified and it was written in Lallans. 'new' instead of  'braw'.  'to' everywhere instead of 'tae'. The last verse starts 'Half-ouer, half-ouer to Aberdour/ tis fifty fathoms deep whereas Sir Walter Scott says it should be ' Oh, forty miles from Aberdeen'. Stupid. Doesn't have the right ring at all. This is a Border Ballad and it should thump. I have decided to change the wording throughout. I might see if I can find an original.  

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


When I was at Aardvark Books, I looled around the book shelves and found a lovely book of Hokusai prints. He was a Japanese printmaker around 1800 and his most famous print is The Wave. This book was printed and bound in Prague but totally in the Japanese style. That is, two prints are on one sheet of paper and the sheet is folded and bound into a stitched spine so that the fold is at the fore edge. The cover is paper and the whole book is enclosed in a Japanese-style case.

You can see the bone fasteners on the left hand side. It is slightly spoilt by that the outer cover which is European standard red book cloth. They ought to have used paper. But the prints are a lovely collection. I cannot work out how they were selected although there is a good introduction. I canot photograph the inside of the book because it is too tightly bound. The other criticism is that the book is printed on paper which is too heavy at about 50 or 60 gsm whereas it should be less than 30gsm. It would open better if it was lighter. Anyway a real find.

I have worked hard over the last few weeks and have cleared off all the small jobs I promised people I would do. I am finding that being treasurer of two groups and chairman of a third is more onerous than I expected. The treasurer jobs are not difficult but it is all the meetings which are difficult to juggle. So I have given up the Complex Weavers Study Group on Tied Weaves which I am sad about but another set of deadlines is asking for trouble. I have however just started attending a local class on print making. This I excuse by saying that I must really get on with making the book on Sir Patrick Spens. I intend to have the verses on the righthand side and a lino cut on the lefthand side. What I forgot was that I should have gone to the class with the designs ready. So I spent Monday afternoon at the class drawing out some of the designs. I do not want to start making the lino cuts until the designs are all finished. There may be a problem in selecting paper. At home I have used thin Chinese paper of about 30 gsm which looks good but I could not put through my printer for the text. Those earlier prints were done by rubbing with the back of a spoon but the class has a press!!! So I may be able to use a much heavier paper. The tutor likes to use Hot Pressed waterolour paper which will be at least 120 gsm. I can see a lot of experimentation going on when I start on this in earnest.

One job I have completed is completing the sections on my website. So now all the old sections are present as well as one or two new ones. I will add additional sections as an interesting topic comes up.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Lamb's Wool Ikat

Last week I was demonstrating weaving on three days, Thursday, Saturday (at MTF) and Sunday (Kennet Valley Guild at Newbury). So I decided I had better warp up. In tidying up earlier in the week I had found an ikat warp of lambs wool.

I tied on to the back beam irregularly to give the lightning effect, then wove with some lambswool of the same weight I dyed years ago in violet. It looks a little stiff because I have not washed it yet. Anyway this was finished by the end of Saturday including all the finishing and fringing.
So I decided to spend Saturday making some needlebooks using leftover scraps of woven fabric. I always make sure there is a sample to file with the records but, after that, any bits and pieces get shoved in a drawer with the hope that I can think of something to do with them. This idea came from Cally Booker but the big difference is that she is a perfectionist and her needlebook is carefully stitched whereas mine are done with glue but I have reinforced the cover with grey board so my excuse is that I am treating them as books!! I managed to make six of these at the Newbury Show. They are being pressed at the moment and I am not sure about a closure. I think it would spoil the appearance but they gape at the moment. You would be surprised at how much fabric you use up doing this.

Kennet Valley Guild has a stand (actually more of a sit) at the Berkshire Agricultural Show every year. Whenever I have done a stint there, we have had a place in the Crafts Tent as well as in the Sheep Lines. This year we were only in the Sheep Lines which was much nicer. There were all these spinners and knitters sitting in a ring in the middle of pens full of baaing sheep and sheep were being moved from pen to ring and back again. Some sheep took exception to this and dug their heels in, especially the Soy and North Ronaldsay. So it was all highly entertaining. What was a bit worrying and I still have to solve the problem is that of the Leicester Longwool. I rather like this - when it is turned into yarn. I was introduced to a man who has a flock of these and ended up with a sackful of fleece. I can't spin and it looks grubby. The effect is of dreadlocks. I can see a bit of bartering going on here.

Autumn is on its way and the Euonymus is always first to colour up. Now two conifers have been removed, it can be seen from the house. The tree in the foreground is my birch 'Silver Ghost'. It was put in last autumn and is doing well.


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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.