Thursday, 27 February 2014


Yesterday I was told by the insurance company that ' repairs would be authorised today and I would get a courtesy car from the repair garage and please take the current courtesy car back to the rental firm'.  Today a mechanic rings up, says 'repairs are not economic, come and fetch your personal belongings now'.  When I took on the full implications, I went back to reading WHAT CAR and decided
1) the Alfas rated too low on all counts
2) I needed a car with a main dealer in Malvern instead of 45 minutes drive up the motorway
3) I needed an automatic
4) I needed a boot big enough to hold two looms and three would be better.

The rest of the day was spent driving from garage to garage in this minute Toyota Yaris (which can't take even one small loom never mind three). There was one nice moment. A salesman opened the boot of a Mondeo estate and my reaction was a gasp and 'It's bigger than the Saab' I checked the external dimension and the two cars are pretty well identical.

The result of all this carry-on is that I have not done many of the textile jobs I need to do by Friday evening ready for Guild on Saturday. I have woven more on the Megado and done a lot of work on the Guild submission to the National Exhibition.

The Saab has been a good car, no major problems, swallowed up Michael's wheelchair and our luggage when we went to Munich in it.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Irises in Savill Gardens. Mine never naturalise like this!

On the othe hand, my crocuses are thinking of taking over the world! 22 years ago we planted the rowan on the left and put 20 crocus bulbs underneath it. They obviously like it there!

I finished off the mudflats on the Megado yesterday and wove a few rows of triangles. The warp is 90/2 silk and the weft is 30/2 silk. The other side is reversed but I think this looks better. I have about 0.75 m of warp left - enough to make a bag for the National Exhibition.

I have used very little of the Japanese gold yarn. It is all a bit slow. And laying in the yarn so that the gold is uppermost is difficult. I discovered the secret is to lay in the yarn, change sheds and then beat because that traps the gold yarn right way up. I can't see me hurrying to do this again. Especially as I have 4 yards of Theo Moorman technique to do now!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

London,Reading, Newbury

I managed to extract a courtesy car from the insurance company, a Toyota Yaris of which more later. This was done early on Thursday morning. By 11, I was at my daughter's house near Heathrow and by 1230 eating in Yo Sushi at Waterloo Station. Then we went to the National Portrait Gallery to see the David Bailey exhibition. I like his black and white portraits but not his coloured photos. Too garish. Then to dinner at Covent Garden Opera House, then to see Turandot. It was a production  I had seen before but of course, all the singers were different. A very good evening which ended taking the train back to Englefield Green and going to bed well after midnight. Friday some of use walked into Windsor Great Park and visited Savill Gardens. In the afternoon, I drove to stay with Rosie at Reading, then on Saturday morning to Newbury to the weaving class.

Which is where comments on the Yaris become blasphemous. A student brought my Voyager back - and I could not get it into the boot. We had to unbolt lots of it until it eventually fitted in the Passenger well. So the Yaris is no good for a weaver carting two or three looms about as a matter of course.

I was preparing the Shuttle (Guild Newsletter) for the printer earlier this week when I realised that the Guild Challenge for March is 'Triangles' and that I have not entered anything for the Challenge for at least six months. I do have quite a bit of warp left on the Megado and created a draft (see above) which I will weave up before next Saturday. If I have enough fabric, I will turn this into a bag for the National Exhibition - but maybe not by next Saturday! Now off to check through the Shuttle and send it to the printer.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Still Quite A Lot of Woe

The Saab has water in its engine and we are all waiting for the insurance inspector to decide what should be done. I am not wildly keen on buying a new car because I like to consider a new car for months. The family are offering lots of advice. When I say how about a Smart car, I get the chorus You can't get three looms in a Smart car. Oh well. I am not worrying too much - yet.

I have dyed some more yarn and followed Diane's advice to add vinegar at the end and let the container plus water and yarn cool down before rinsing. The dye is much more exhausted but still not completely. I did four lots yesterday in the steamer which needs less looking after than a pot on a Calor Gas stove. So thank you Diane.

I have also started up on the next piece on the Megado where I am using Japanese gold foil on paper yarn. It needs to be positioned carefully. It is really a thin one-sided ribbon . But it is looking good. The trouble is that I do not believe a photo will show much. And I have started on the first African tree which uses the Theo Moorman technique. Why I have to be doing these at the same time I cannot imagine. Both are very slow. 

I want to have some pieces finished and off the loom in two weeks as my sister is coming to stay and she is a real expert on how to mount pieces.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Woe is Me

Never mind about Worcester. The flooding has caused me a lot of grief and will continue to do so for the next few days/weeks. Last night (Friday evening) I made arrangements to meet my eldest duaghter, Ruth, and her husband, Robin, in Cheltenham to take them to a Michelin starred restaurant Michael was very fond of.  But getting there means crossing the Severn and that means going West over the hills and picking up the M50 motorway, then driving East. Ah well. There was a deep unmarked flood  on the road to Ledbury. I followed the car in front of me and swamped my engine. I was then sitting in a car in a flood with a dead engine as the tail lights of  the preceding 4 by 4 disappeared into the distance. I managed to get the engine started long enough to get out of the flood and into a turning and then called out the troops (the AA). When he arrived with a tow truck, he said that, with a waterlogged diesel engine, I had probably wrecked the engine and towed me home.

Ruth and Robin arrived at almost the same moment (I had cancelled the restaurant) and we had fish and chips for supper. Today will be spent getting my garage to tell me the bad news and tell the insurance company and - and -. Bah! Reviewing the diary for the next two weeks, this is going to be very inconvenient. I have worked out a plan which involves a lot of taking the train but are they working?

Having said that, by the time we left the flooded site, someone else was stuck.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Poor Worcester

Photo taken from the train to Birmingham, passing over the Severn into Worcester. The road by the river is between the two lines with lampposts at regular intervals. The bridge is at the place where road divides left (into Worcester) and right (back to Malvern). It was raining hard at the time.

And this was taken coming home, leaving Worcester and looking away from the City Centre. This is the race course. Again taken from a train in heavy rain.
The most distressing thing was the opposite bank to this where Hylton Road runs alongside the river. It is semi-industrial along Hylton Road. I used to have my Alfa serviced there. There is a Homebase, a Currys and a PCWorld as well as garages for every make of car. Everything was three feet under water. Looking up Hyton Road, I could see that the water was halfway up the Belisha beacons and the traffic lights and these were all working. Lights changing from green to red, orange lights flashing, all above a fast flowing mess of ugly brown water, and not a vehicle in sight. Poor Worcester.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Back to the Megado

Due to the rain, I have not been outside much so I have been concentrating on textiles. I tied the silk warp back on the Megado. I had left it with two sticks and several inches of weaving to hold them in place. So I just had to tie the two sticks to the front beam and we were off.

I have been weaving the turned four colour double weave again, only this time with all sorts of green yarn inserted as well as the two colours of silk noil. Title is Seaweed on the Mud Flats and it is intended for the Midlands Textile Forum and its exhibition in Nature in Art over Easter. I am not too sure about it but it looks better in the photo than in real life. The ripples show up through the seaweed which I wanted. When it is done, I intend to do yet another piece about mudflats, only I shall use my Japanese gold paper yarn this time. I thought of using it for the Convergence piece but the back of the yarn is white paper and the Convergence yardage is looked at from both sides. This piece (Sunset on the Mud Flats) will be mounted so that problem does not arise.

The other project I have started up on is the Small Newbury Coat. It was decided that we had so much fibre and yarn left from the Newbury Coat of 2011 that we should make a small replica which would fit a ten year old and it could be taken round schools (of which the Guild does a lot - well Rosie Price and her band of helpers do a lot). We did not do much about it for a long time but a fleece has been spun in the last few months and I have inspected all the yarn from 2011 and taken out the best for the warp. The fibre that has been recently spun was spun much finer and plied - and a plied yarn is what I need for the warp. For the coat in 2011, we used singles and it drove us demented with broken threads. I (unilaterally) decided that I would rather dye the yarn than the material (Reason, it is possible to dye yarn in batches but we would have to dye the whole length of fabric as one piece and I could see problems getting it evenly dyed. I also decided not to use indigo (Reason, it can come off and we do not want small children going home wearing white shirts with blue stains). So I looked for a blue whose colour approximated to a mid indigo.

The photo above shows the first batch of yarn dyed with Mountain Blue from an Australian firm, KolorKraft, and sold in the UK by Wingham Wools. It has come out as expected. The only problem is that the dyebath was by no means exhausted. As I have about 2 kgs of yarn to dye, I am wondering if I could get away with reducing the amount of dye used. I did use a large jam pan (And no it is never used for jam) on a Calor Gas stove in the garage which meant I had to hover over it for the whole time. My sister suggested I do the dyeing in a steamer but I can only dye 75 gms at once that way. But I have to say that it was very cold in the garage and I do have three steamers(!!) and I do not have to stay with it after the first ten minutes. So I might try a single steamer and see if I can reduce the amount dye used. 

Tomorrow I am off to Birmingham by train. I will take my camera and try to get photos of Worcester under water. The train goes in from Malvern on a high level viaduct well above the river and you get a good view of the town from the train as you pass over the river.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Flooded Out

On Saturday I drove South to Newbury for the weaving class, made good time and wondered when all this flooding would stop as it is inconvenient to me. Yesterday(Sunday)  I drove over to my daughter in Leamington Spa. A lovely sunny day with a blue sky and fluffy clouds. It took me the standard slightly less than an hour. Coming back (still no rain) and the Severn had risen and bridges everywhere were flooded. Worcester is a city under seige. The city fathers are saying please don't come in by car, you won't get here and there are the usual photos of the city's swans paddling about where cars used to park. They are talking of another 0.5 to 1.0 m rise in the water level over the next two days. It has already risen 5.3 m at Worcester. And it took me two and a half hours to get home. In other words, I am pretty well stuck in Malvern for the duration. I am supposed to be in Birmingham on Wednesday and I might make that because the trains go into Worcester over the Severn on a very high overhead bridge. But of course the railway track could be flooded elsewhere. Oh well, that means I just get on with weaving and bookbinding.

I am pleased I made it to Nature in Art in Twigworth last Friday. I was quite worried about getting there because it is very near the Severn and the access road has been  flooded and impassable in previous years. The BBC Wildlife Photography exhibition was on which, as usual, was excellent and the Museum was very crowded. There was a textile artist, Kathleen Matthews, in residence and her works were really first rate. She is a quilter - sort of. She calls herself a stitcher and there is a lot of machine stitching on her quilts. Very high class and she has been recognised as such. Exhibitions in the States, winner at the Quilt Show in Birmingham etc etc. No photography allowed and I cannot find a website for her. But if you google Kathleen Matthews, you will find lots of images of her work.

I have warped up a four colour double weave on the 12 shaft Meyer loom. This is another turned draft and the loom is actually threaded up in a straight draw in alternate colours of orange and blue. I have woven a first section using only an oatmeal silk noil (not two colours) and got the effect I wanted for Kalahari desert sand. I am about to start on a leafless tree in Theo Moorman technique. I hope to produce a series of pictures of African trees based on my photographs. There is not much to see yet but there might be a photo in a day or two.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Frank Lloyd Wright

The architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, has always been a hero to me. I have been to see Taliesin West at Scottsdale, Arizona. I dragged my ten year old grand-daughter round it, telling her first that this was granny's day out and she would not like it but would she mind not grumbling. Then when we were at Convergence 2008 in Tampa Bay, I persuaded a group of UK visitors that they wanted to see Frank Lloyd Wright's campus at the Methodist University. A few years ago,  Martin Randall Travel  took to doing conducted tours of the most famous of his buildings and including Falling Waters. The tours were always fully booked by the time I got the brochure so I complained and got myself onto a waiting list. You can guess what is coming. This afternoon I had a phone call. Did I still want to go? Try stopping me! It has taken a bit of reorganisation including a phone call from my daughter, Ruth, who was in Prague Airport. But it is all fixed. I can't believe my luck.

I have been warping up the 12 shaft Meyer to start on some pieces for the Midlands Textile Forum which is exhibiting at Nature in Art, just north of Gloucester. This is a multicoloured (orange and blue) warp which I discovered at the back of a cupboard. I have worked out what it was for- a piece of four colour double weave. Because of the nature of the pieces which will be in Theo Moorman technique, I have threaded it as a straight draw and will probably weave it as a turned four colour double weave.
I have bought two new reeds for it as an 8 dent/inch is not much use to me. I have bought a 10 and a 12 to fit the Meyer. They arrived today. The warp is all threaded, just needs sleying and tying on. So I am off to do that.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A Second Wraparound Case

I have made a wraparound case for the second smaller Futatsu book. It is better, fits very snugly whereas the first case was a little too large

And this is the inside. The lining paper is red textured tissue paper (Chinese) which is a bit too transparent. I would have done well to have lined the case with plain red paper first. But serviceable all the same.

Last Saturday was Guild day. Lots of preparation for the National Exhibition entries, in particular, the Guild entries. I think these are going to be good. We have made arrangements to take photos of entries  as these are required this year. We had an excellent talk from Liz Clay who is a very talented felter. The stuff is gossamer thin!! And the following day some of us had the privilege of attending  a class run by her. Great excitement as felted ruffles appeared as if by magic.

The other project which has suddenly got to the front of the queue is the small Newbury Coat. A dressmaker has been altering and generating a pattern for a small version of the Newbury Coat which is sized for a ten-year old. I now know how much yardage is required and the spinners have spun some special yarn (plied!!) to be the warp. I decided to dye the yarn before weaving and have just sent for some special blue acid dye as I do not want to use indigo. The sett will be 8epi so it will weave up fast. I have taken all precautions. I just do not want to suffer the weaving as in 2011. Cans of spray starch are in the house. I do have to get the rest of the current Megado warp woven off but there is not much of that. I am making a piece for the Midlands textile Forum's show at Nature in Art in April


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.