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.


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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.