Saturday, 30 March 2013

Not quite finishing warping up

The last two days have been spent winding on  32 sections of the warp. I have now finished  (not got as far as winding on and threading up yet - that's still to do) and have been thinking - not that you can think while winding on with the AVL warping wheel because the counter has gone again. I replaced the original one  two or three years ago and it was very expensive to start with and then I had to pay duty and VAT on the cost of counter plus the shipping charges. So I am unkeen to do that again. What I did this time was count revolutions (four per thread) then put the thread through the cross and move on the counter manually by four. I could go on doing that but I might call in a favour and ask a mechanical engineer on my acquaintance to look at it.

An alternative which has occurred to me is to use a ghost warp where possible. The last three weavings were done on a ghost warp and took no time at all to tie and wind on. The problem is the sleying or rather the threads per inch. This one is 60 epi and 24 inches wide. The maximum usable width on the Megado is 38 inches so if I wanted to use all the threads as a ghost warp, I would have to restrict myself to a yarn which needed not less than 40epi. I can see a life in which I list Megado projects in decreasing epi and throw away the edge threads when I resley with a thicker yarn. Feasible. 

I don't have to decide now. The current threading is a straight draw on 32 shafts and certainly that would do for the next weaving. A bit of planning is required here. What must be done on the Megado? My current plan is to finish the warping up and weave enough to make samples for the Fine Threads Study Group, then depart for foreign parts and weave the rest when I get home.

The other job I have to do this week is to acid dye a lot of spun fibre. More about that and photos when I get going. I haven't done it so far because it has been too cold in the garage but I must have this finished this week so it will be done in the kitchen. With enough plastic sheeting down, it should be okay and all teh utensils will be dyeing utensils from the garage.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Today is blue skies and sunshine but still the temperature is below freezing and there is snow about. I inspected the garden this morning. We won't be having any peaches this year. The peach blossom started three weeks ago and never got a chance. The hellebores are looking very unhappy. Clematis Armandii, our thug, is paying no attention and is covered with flowers. Mind you, that is in a sheltered corner by the sittingroom window - and a robin pair are nesting in it this year. He's been carrying twigs bigger than himself into the leaves for several days. Most of the daffodils are looking unhappy but the above are not. They are some dwarf variety and are looking good which is cheering. The early camellia, Cornish Snow, usually starts flowering in December and goes through till March. Not this  year. It hasn't bothered starting and it is covered with flower buds as are all the camellias. 
I may not see them year. I am off in a few weeks time and spent yesterday on the web sorting out a visa for China. Next week I am taking all the documents up to Manchester to finalise the Chinese visa. My passport is plastered with strange documents - visas in strange languages. And the house is full of lists of things to do, things to buy, things to arrange.  My daughter, Ruth, is here over Easter and we will do some arranging then. I think she would like to come but seven weeks is too long for her job. Anyway Silk Route here I come!! I do intend to blog while away. My attitude to the blog is that it is like a diary only anyone can read it. It is surprising how often I look for a specific mention of something in order to fix a date.
I still have a few things to sort on the computers but intend to wind more warp on the Megado as a priority today. Which reminds me, I dreamt of looms and warps last night. Very odd. There were two large looms, one was the Megado and the other was more like a drawloom. Both were warped up for the Convergence 2010 piece!! The mind is very funny thing - am I worrying about a warp?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Final Castlemorton Common

Above is Castlemorton Common  and the Malvern Hills completed. Machine embroidery has been added as well as a stencilled rook and the pollarded black poplars. I worried about the back and the edges, thought about putting bias binding down the edges but was bothered by what colour to use. Eventually I steam ironed the edges, put black bias binding on the ends (which are folded out of sight anyway) and added iron-on black lining. They are all folded over the wooden batten and stapled down. The fabric is heavy and hangs well by itself. Using clasped weave with thick yarn does make the selvedge bulge.
I spent several hours on the computers yesterday and persuaded Bacchus and the lap top to speak to each other. I should explain that every computer we ever owned (except the current laptop) was given the name of a Classical god/goddess - here's the sting - who appears in an opera!! Possibly the most entertaining was a pair of identical laptops called Castor and Pollux. Sadly they were used for work and, when they got past it, were removed and destroyed. The current lot are Bacchus and Vulcan on Windows XP and Apollo and Diana which are Linux. Orpheus in the Underworld is a good source of names!! Iris and Neptune have died in the last year.
Mind you, I know a Government Department where the computers are named after cheeses. 'Stinking Bishop' anyone? I remember having to tell someone that 'Wensleydale is not booting up properly'. The answer was 'I think you had better use Cheshire'.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Family Weekend

On Friday, Dorothy and I went to the NEC at Birmingham for an exhibition 'Sewing for Pleasure' and we did get a lot of pleasure although I have spent rather a lot of money. A lot of this was on threads for the Castlemorton Common set which I will work on today. But it snowed a lot on Friday and went on snowing. My daughter, Ruth, arrived from the south (where it is not snowing) on Saturday and rushed out to buy a sledge. The weekend was spent cooking or so it seemed.
Because of the snow, the Saturday weaving class was cancelled. I don't remember us ever cancelling before and we have had to do it twice this year. About the only piece of textile work I have done is shown above. It is the cover for the second volume of the Jules Verne book. Today I will paste it to a piece of bond paper ready for bookbinding on Wednesday. In between all of this, I managed to install programs on the desktop computer which is about to be used for everything.  Lots of problems, mostly of 'where is the serial number` sort. So far I have only been forced to buy one new program - Powerpoint.  Very depressing. And I have discovered that this machine will not speak to my laptop. Oh well. More delving into Mr Gates's help and support. The weather is not conducive to viewing stately homes anyway so we shall be staying at home.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


I stencilled the pollarded poplars on to the Castlemorton weavings this morning. A bit of experimentation with cloth and colour can be seen on the left. These are drying out. Now I have to add leaves to some of the seasons but Winter (extreme left) is finished. I like that one. These are for the Midlands Textile Forum Exhibition at Craven Arms.
Other exhibitions were visited in London on Tuesday in the company of Marie FitzSimmons and Rosie Price. It did not work out quite as planned but we had a very good time. We started out by visiting the Fleming Collection (See here) which is not far from the Royal Academy. This is a gallery devoted to Scottish artists and there was a special exhibition devoted to James Morrison. He is very talented and the landscapes which were dominated by sky were exceptional. No I have never heard of him before and it was only Rosie's acute eye which spotted that this would be worth visiting.  Then we went to the Manet exhibition at teh Royal Academy. Not well hung. There were two enormous rooms with one picture in eahc and lots of smaller rooms with too many pictures in them so you could not get through teh crowds. Also, although he painted the faces in detail, he gave up elsewhere and the hands were just blobs and blotches. Disappointing. Standing around afterwards, Marie said, 'Well are we going to see the other exhibition?' None  of us had heard of George Bellow but, game for anything, we went up to the RA's Sackler Gallery. American1882 to 1925 and a native of New York. There were lots of paintings of New York from prize fights to longshoremen standing around in the cold waiting for work and portraits. Oh the portraits. There is a beauty of his daughter (about 8) with her grandmother and great aunt. And the hands are the hands of two old ladies who have scrubbed their floors for a lifetime.
So two excellent exhibitions we did not intend to visit and we were happy. Rosie and I then went to a lecture about Japanese paper and bought books there. Then got on a very crowded train and returned home with very tired feet.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Project in 24 hours!!

On Thursday, I had finished the weavings for the set of Castlemorton Common  and they are pinned up on the design board. I have added some very small flowers to the Spring one but am waiting until next Thursday when my sister, Dorothy, is here for a week. She is bringing some colours of Permaset for stencilling on fabric which I have not got and I will do the stencilling then. Besides Dorothy is good at telling when an idea will work and when it won't.
Well, the Megado was sitting there with the ghost warp still functional. I really need to weave samples for the Complex Weavers Fine Threads Study Group but I was still mulling over possible projects to weave.
The weaving class improvers are all doing Double Weave in lots of different projects. When I discussed things with the other tutor, Rosie Price, we decided to set them all the same project in double weave  to be done entirely by themselves. The project was to weave a tubular bag, that is, weave a tube where, after an inch or two, you swop the back and front cloths to make a base for the bag. The sting is that it has to have a striped warp and the stripes must be quite different on front and back. I had been feeling slightly guilty because I had never actually done this. So ghost warp threaded on four shafts? What could be better? I put on enough warp for two bags. The photo shows both bags on both sides before cutting up. What I have done is wevae them head to head with eight inches of weaving between them which is two separate cloths. The idea is to cut each of these cloths on the colour change line and then one side can have an inch turned in (probably using bias binding) and the other side turns into a closure flap. The rest of the warp has been woven with a nice pale blue boucle cotton (not in the photo) which I intend to cut up for handles. The timetable was Thursday evening, wind two warps, resley ghost warp, separate the ghost warps into Shafts 1+3 and 2+4 using cross sticks, tie one of the warps on to the lower set of ghost threads. Friday morning, tie on other warp to top set of threads and wind on warp. Tie on, weave two inches, take it all out and resley at 15 epi. This worked. Weave happily (one shuttle = happiness after five shuttles simultaneously). Finish by 5 pm. Put Fraystop on various places and cut off.   The yarn is all bits and pieces from the stash as I am having a major stash assault.
And what has made me very cheerful is deciding that the moment in life has come to weave some donsu. Not purple though but sage green in the warp. Last night I spent some time checking the drafts I have created and even more time trying to find enough 90/2 silk in the stash. I have a choice of colours, bright red, various shades of grey, white and the sage green. I have a huge range of colours but I need enough yarn  to put 10 metres, 24 inches wide on as warp and i had enough of all of these. So the Megado has been dusted (see - dusting does happen in this house) and this afternoon, I will move the warping wheel into place. I am so excited. It is a long time since I set about a project of this magnitude. I bought some Japanese gold paper thread some years ago and might even try it out!!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

At last Jules Verne book

At last, the first of the two volume Jules Verne is finished. I am not supposed to boast but note the central positioning of the title on the spine. You have no idea how carefully I measured this all up - and it worked! This project has been around for about a year. I don't have to check my records because the photos of the shells were taken by me in Australia and the photos of the strawberry grouper were taken in Kuala Lumpur Wet Market!!The assembly and the whirlpool background were all done in Photoshop.

This is a view of the endpapers which again were created by me in Photoshop.

Yesterday I spent from 0700 to 1300 hours and from 2000 to 2300 hours running three computers and backing up to DVDs, to Dropbox, to Google+. I have reached the end and the Linux machines will definitely be turned off soon. I have realised that I need to install Microsoft Office and Framemaker on the Windows machine I am going to use in future. Currently it has the scanner control software, Photoshop CS5 on it and ROXIO Create . So after a mug of tea, I will try to find the master disks for these programs.
Not much textiles happening at the moment. I am deciding what to do about further work on the Castlemorton Common pieces and how to mount them.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Castlemorton Common off the Loom

I took the weaving off the Megado last night. Seen above is Spring through Winter (Left to Right). The width is eight inches and the weave is broken twill but is sometimes 1 and 3, sometimes 3 and 1 and sometimes 2 and 2. And somewhere there is a section of  3 and 1 twill. Amazing the different effects you can get.  There is still a lot of work to be done on them, stencilling and embroidery. I am worried about the stencilling and so there is some spare fabric to practise on.
I said that there were shoe boxes of yarn strewn round the studio. The first job this morning is put that all away  and then do the stencilling.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Castlemorton Common - weaving in progress

I have never before woven two warps on a loom at the same time. It takes some getting used to. What you see in the photo is the top section of 'The Malvern Hills from Castlemorton Common - Winter' on the left and Autumn on the right. The foreground of grass and shrubby bits is wound on and not visible. The selvedges are not perfect because of the great range of yarn thickness I have been using and I may have to back the edges with tape. Every shoe box in the stash with little bits of yarn in it is strewn round the studio while I rummage for the next wanted colour. The rather nice space dyed yarn on the hills in Autumn is intended for autumn bracken and the yarn was dyed by Sarah Cage of the Midlands Textile Forum. I have a huge range of blue yarns all dyed by me but I do not seem to have been so enthusiastic about green because there is not much . I am well on the way with Spring and Summer. When they are all off the loom they will all be stencilled with a picture (drawn by me) of the pollarded black poplars. I don't often do 'designing on the loom' but it's quite fun.
The next job in bookbinding is to finish the Jules Verne volumes. I did a cased-in book recently (which I haven't done for some time) and decided I needed to do another one to practise before setting out on the Jules Verne - and the above is it. The fabric is printed cotton from one of my favourite shops - Abigail's Crafts in Stonehouse and the endpapers are from a sheet of marbled paper done by Michael some years ago.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Camera Progress

II am rather pleased with this photo taken at last week's camera class. Firstly it is taken on macro and secondly it really is this browny-pink colour. When I took it on Auto, the colour of the flower spike came out sky-blue. The correct colour arrived when I experimented with the White Balance. When I started the camera course, I did not know I had an adjustment for White Balance - or indeed many of the things like F no, exposure and ISO number. One reason for attending the class was to decide whether I needed to buy a posher camera before this summer's expeditions. The answer is that I shan't bother. I won't want to carry around anything heavier anyway.

One result is that taking photos of textiles has become a more time-consuming business as I experiment with the camera settings.
 Last week I tidied up the studio ready for my grandson to stencil on a couple of T-shirts on Sunday. And I managed to weave to the end of the samples for the Complex Weavers Study Group on Tied Weaves. The above shows the use of different yarns.  I am pleased to be working on the Megado now which is going well but not much of interest is showing yet. I will be weaving some more today so should be able to post a photo tomorrow.

Much of my time in the last few days has been spent dealing with computers. I have got all the photos which Michael set up, on to web storage and put most of mine on to Dropbox. Also I have saved all the old emails I want to keep. I think that is the Linux machines dealt with and I could switch them off but will leave them another week or so. I still have files to be web stored  which are currently on a failing Microsoft machine. I reckon it will be another week or so before I have done as I have decided to restrict myself to 2 or 3 hours per day on this task. Soon I will have to start a hunt for the master CDs  so that I can install the basic programs on the one machine which is functioning properly.

Fortunately the laptop is okay. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Orange Tree

Here is my orange tree looking quite good after two weeks with me. If you look carefully you should be able to see that it is covered with orange blossom but - - -

a close-up is better. Isn't it gorgeous? And the room is heavily scented!!

I have been learning a lot from my classes on the digital camera. White Balance last night - and the tutor brought in some flowers to practise macro on. So I tried both at the same time and got good colour as a result. There is every hope thatmy photos of textiles will be more accurate in colour in the future.

Not much on textiles in the past few days. When I have a few minutes, I weave a  few inches on the Voyager. This is for samples for the Tied Weaves Study Group.

But mostly I am sorting out computers. I spent about 5 hours yesterday sorting out old emails. They are now in a place of safety.  But before I do anything like switching off the two Linux machines, I need to deal with the photo albums used by Picasa and operating under Linux. The problem is that Michael wrote captions in Picasa for many of the photos and I don't want to lose these captions. But hwo do I get the controlling file from a Linux Picasa  to be put on a Microsoft operating system. And I don't feel I can move any files around until I have accomplished this.

Off to consult with son-in-law.

PS and NB. I have not really looked at Picasa for three years. I was horrified to see that Michael's setup included over 2000 photos but that my weaving/textile photos (which were never captioned) amount to over 6000  and I know that there are a raft more on one of the computer including all the jpgs which were scanned in from slides!! What am I going to do with this lot.  No doubt there are a huge number of duplicates but it will take me days to tidy that lot up.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Antique Textile Fair in Manchester

For years I have wanted to visit the annual Antique Textile Fair run by the Textile Society. It is held in Manchester these days. And yesterday (Sunday) I drove up there. The above shows some of what was going on. Most of the stuff was vintage not antique, that is, it was 20s or later. Beaded flapper dresses, lovely hats, shoes with stiletto heels and a stall selling the kind of 60s curtain fabric that we bought for our first home. In short not a lot to interest me. There was a stall selling spinning bobbins and fly shuttles. Not that I need a fly shuttle and these ones were in very bad condition and would only have been usable with a lot of TLC. I suspect they were being sold as props for displays. I did find a stand with some chops for sale (metal devices for applying a wax pattern in batik) and they had clearly been renovated with some care. So I bought one for my sister. I also bought a couple of wooden stamps. The only other thing I bought was some rather nice ribbon. A nice day out looking at lots of fabric but I would not bother going again.
These are my purchases. The chop is right centre. The strange paper bag was given to me with the stamps and the chop in. It is made from Indonesian local papers!! I will put it on display. Interestingly enough, I was asked by other stall holders if they could look at it and where did I get it?

Saturday was Kennet Valley Guild day and the three monthly Challenge was 'Chocolate'. This brought out the best in the Guild and I cannot resist showing two of the (all) exceptional entries.

The chocolate cake is by Sal Shepherd and is beautifully knitted. The top is knitted to look like chocolate butter icing which has been smoothed on with a fork. The chocolateswere needle felted by Chris Fletcher who made a gold paper box to fit the four chocolates.
Now off to tidy up. We are finishing the 6 yards of tweed in the bath today. I will have very clean feet at the end of the process!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Another Finished

As promised yesterday, this is the finished weaving from the Voyager. It is slow to weave and you have to keep a close eye on it to detect errors in weaving. There has been quite a bit of unweaving going on. This is a candidate for the Megado because of the computer, not because of the number of shafts which is only eight. The colours are correct or nearly so. There are hems at each end. Since the warp is a 2/20 cotton, the fringe is not very attractive and, although I have called it a scarf, it may end up as a runner with the fringe removed and stitched hems put in. This is because of the weft pattern yarn which is a two-ply Shetland. But soft it is not. I have washed it and it is drying now but it still feels harsh, harsher than I would want to wear next to my skin. That was a problem with the old Handweaver's Studio 2-ply Shetland. The colours were wonderful but the yarn was not as soft to the touch as that from Jamieson and Smith in the Shetlands.  Although I regret to report that they have reduced the number of colours they sell to about a quarter of what they had a few years ago.
So what next. Well I must finished off the Hockney sleeve at the top so that I can deliver it to Guild tomorrow. And then to tie on the Megado warps.
Yesterday I visited the surgery nurse to sort out what injections/medication I need for the 'Great Trip'. She did a typhoid injection on the spot and that is it. I am all up to date with everything else. She wants a postcard from Samarkand. It is getting closer and things are getting organised. The trip is all paid for (my bank account feels unwell) but no way could I be said to be living within my income this year. Oh well, I can't take it with me. I am beginning to wonder about packing and whether it would be feasible to post 'stuff' home so as to leave space in my luggage for other 'stuff'.  But is the Post Office gettable or honest in places like Dun Huang? And will padded envelopes and brown paper, sellotape etc actually take up just as much room as the 'stuff'?


Blog Archive

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.