Sunday, 28 September 2014

Ufton Fields

I spent the weekend at my daughter, Anne's house, fitting for her jacket. Measured her, made a toile, measured her again and have come home to get on with the jacket. We did knock off for a walk round Ufton Fields, a local nature reserve. The weather was good and the signs of autumn unmistakeable.

I have cropped and amalgamated the photos to show off the autumn colours. I have not done much else today and I was quite pleased to have accomplished a walk.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Aland Island project

The spaced dyed warp on the Louet ready for sample weaving.

The sample weft knitting dyed. A different yarn must have been used for the start as it has dyed very bright and different. The colours are what I wanted though it could do with being a little darker. Just waiting for it is dry completely before unknitting it and weaving. Since I was working in the garage, I decided I would dye the white wool and silk I have. I was aiming at a pale violet and that's what I have got.

One important fact I have omitted from the blog is my affliction with sciatica. It was not very troublesome until last Sunday. When I reached home, a drive of 90 minutes after two days at the Show, I was crippled. I thought I would be better on Monday but not a bit of it. I spent the day limping very slowly round the house. Over the week I have taken it easy and cancelled everything which meant driving. By Wednesday I was reasonably okay. Today I had lunch out, visited the dentist, and B and Q, the DIY place, and the theatre. The result is a distinctly slowed up Pat.  Maybe the doctor will have something helpful to say on Monday.  Tomorrow I am driving to my daughter's which is about an hour. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Great British Bake Off

This is definitely my not-to-be-missed programme. Which is why I was so worked up about having a nonfunctioning TV and so pleased it is now much better than it was. And I have found a local TV repair man.

I forgot to say that the electricians gave a clean bill to all the power installations but a distinct thumbs down to some of the lighting circuits. So it is to be put right. Oh well. No more yarn purchases till next year.

The tweed for Anne's jacket is drying nicely. It had been taken off the roller, towels removed , the fabric reversed and rolled up with new dry towels. On Friday I will iron on the fusible lining. That will take some time. There is a lot of yardage.

The Åland Islands warp is half way through the sleying. It is lovely stuff and the colours are great.

I had an inspection of fabric this morning and was a bit shocked. I found several lengths which I do not remember buying or had forgotten about. In particular I found five yards of high class blue silk which I bought in Stockholm some years ago as a lining. When I got it home and realised just how much I had paid for it, I used something cheaper. Recently I looked for it to give to Ruth but failed to find it. I also found some lovely fabric which I must have bought to make into a tablecloth. I do not remember buying it but it is lovely. And then there is the green cotton I bought to go with some batik fabric and that was bought in 2008! And so on. And I found two warps and a pile of white M&S Tshirts. I have sorted it out. But I must make a few of these things up. In the immediate future, I will continue warping up the Louet with the Aland wool.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cowering in the Sitting Room

The electricians are in full residence. They started by asking for everything in this half of the house to be switched off. That includes the desktop, two printers and the laptop which runs the Megado. Not to mention that they switched off the lights everywhere so it was hard to work out what to do.
I have completed the double weave book and started a sample of pleated double weave. I have discovered a few facts which are
  1. You weave a short section on both faces call them A front and B back
  2. You interchange front and back, A for B, and weave only on the new front, B, for a bit - 2 cm for me
  3. You change faces so B is now below
  4. This is the difficult bit. You pad up the warp for face, A, behind the heddles. You want the fell-line in B to match the fell-line in A When you start weaving
  5. You weave both faces for a bit -2 cm. A is on top, B below making sure that the pleat in B has folded up
  6. repeat from 2 above
With a bit more changing of faces, you can produce a pleat on both sides of the warp or on the same side. All this needs careful attention to the tension. I have only tried on the tail end of warp but it would be much better/easier with two warp beams and that is what I shall do in the future.
This was all on the Louet which needs to be warped up with the next project which is the Black Jack. This involves putting on a warp of the space dyed Aland wool. Because of the space dyeing, I set up three sets of dowels and carefully spaced them to get a good colour run on the warp. That is done with only a few yards of yarn left over! The length and width was calculated to use up the yarn.
Next I need to decide whether I could get away with using the Tencel double weave warp as a ghost warp because it is set up on eight shafts with a straight draw. I have more than enough threads on the Louet but it is sett at 36epi for one cloth. I need to resley before I tie on.
A second volume of '500 handmade books' has been published and, because I enjoyed the first one so much, I bought Volume 2. It is nothing like so good. The first volume was definitely books, with admittedly a fair number of strange bindings. Volume 2 is specifically artists' books and they are, in the main, not interesting. The book contents are trite, facile and politically correct and mostly unattractive. This is not going to be allowed a place on my bookshelves.

Monday, 22 September 2014

More on the Show

The top photo shows alpacas in the show ring. The lower one shows some particularly nice sheep which are Devon and Cornwall Longwools.

I like looking at chickens.
I spent this afternoon in the College printmaking class working on the lino-cuts for Sir Patrick Spens. We tried several different colours of ink. Everyone in the class had wildly different preferences - except that everyone agreed that a front cover I did with bright blue on it was wrong. That is easy to put right. But I will have to make my own mind up about the lino-cuts in the book.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Newbury Agricultural Show

Kennet Valley Guild demos every year at the Newbury Show. So here we are in the sheep lines and it is 0820 am! We are all set up, lots of spinners and two weavers. I have a loom warped up with blue dyed yarn left over from the Small Newbury Coat and a placard about the coat. Lots of stuff on show.

And the smell of wet sheep everywhere. People with their best sheep on a platform very carefully clipping stray bits of fleece while the sheep protests loudly. Outside the rent, alpacas are being similar manicured and walked on a lead. I can hear a yelling pig in the distance. Actually I like pigs at the show. They are very idiosyncratic and showing them is a major problem for the owners and a chance for laughter in the audience. So I must find out when they start the pig judging.

My job as chairman is to talk to the visitors but they will not be round for another hour or so. So I think I will investigate breakfast. This is an old fashioned show. There is not much here which is not related to farming. A whole section devoted to selling tractors and farm equipment. Another one for treating unspeakable animal diseases. And so on. There is an interesting food tent which I must visit. I see some visitors approaching.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Sir Patrick Spens

At long last, I have completed the first copy of Sir Patrick Spens. There are mistakes. I will have to relayout some pages and there is at least one typo. One of the lino cuts needs replacing and I need to change the paper. I am using Bockingford Inkjet which is a watercolour paper but it is too textured for using with my book press. If I was printing using a proper roller press, it would work much better and I will try that next week. But a bit of experimentation is called for.

Here are all the pages printed out with text and linocut.
and here is a sample page.

The completed book. Sort of concertina but not quite because it has a wrap around cover.

And the book showing how it opens. I have rewritten bits of the poem. It struck me as not Lallans enough. In some places it was just too English and I had to replace phrases. The one that upset me most was 'at this time of year'.  Too English. I replaced it with 'at the backend o' the year'. And various other bits.
It needs more work before I produce several copies. But at least I have got this far. It has struck me that it is a good day to finish the book. Personally I did not see why I should show my passport when going home.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


I have had a bad week. The plumber has mended the taps and gone. We found a large wasps nest under the eaves. That has been dealt with. My sister, Dorothy, told me on Tuesday that the reason why half my TV channels were missing was that I should have retuned. Two hours later with the TV frozen on a menu, I gave up and went to bed. A friend turned up on  Wednesday, spent two hours on it and things were worse at the end. I found the insurance papers and rang the company, only to discover that that piece of equipment was not on the named list. (That's one company I will not be renewing next year). I called a local man who got exactly the result I got, tucked it under his arm and removed it to his workshop. So I ended up watching the Great British Bake-Off on my iPad. And why is Mary Berry wearing my M&S jacket? How dare she?
Oh and we have a wasps nest. We sprayed it with stuff last evening and they died on the spot but there are a lot about this morning. It needs another go. And now the man is here who cleans my ovens. The builder is still here.
Have I done much textile work? No. I have got up to 11 sections on the double weave book, only two to go. I have completed the Blurb book about Michael's paintings. Ruth is reading it at the moment and I hope to get it off to be printed next week. I did find a batch of paintings I did not know about including
me threading up the Megado. I was obviously too absorbed. I have no recollection of this being done. It is a pastel.
I have been bookbinding. Replacing the covers on a 1850s book and starting on the two volumes of Malory. The 1850s book has had the heavy paper on the spine removed and I have sewn in four tapes. I am not surprised the cover fell off. The text block is a hefty three inches thick and it was held to the cover by the endpaper only so over 150 years, the cover has been ripped off. Now the tapes are on, I will sew on the end-papers, not glue them. The cover had a leather spine and corners with what had been some nice Victorian marbled paper on the cover. The endpapers were plain dusky blue-grey which I have to replace. I am just about to send a photo of the covers to Payhembury and get them to make me some replacement Victorian marbled paper. They offer several Victorian designs, one of which looks just like mine but the colours are slightly different.  
I have decided to do similar style covers for the Malory and have found some nice blue leather. I also investigated the whole of my paper stash and found some blue marbled paper which I have started to make into sewn endpapers. It is not the correct period (1900) but it is my book and I never saw the original covers and, in any case, I can do what I want with it, designwise.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Tewkesbury Abbey

I had visitors over the weekend, old friends form my Cambridge days. We visited Tewkesbury Abbey which is not far from Malvern. It was a Benedictine Abbey until the Reformation and now fairly high church. Lots of history and lots of good things, culminating in some nice modern stained glass windows.

The Milton Organ recently refurbished. Built in the 16th century, it spent some of its lift at Hampton Court where it was played by the poet, Milton, hence the name. A century later it went to Tewkesbury where it has been every since.
The view towards the altar showing the magnificent ceiling. The altar is a slab of Purbeck marble and is also incredibly old.
The view in the opposite direction. The pillars show the Norman origins but it is very high for a Norman building. The people clustered at the other end of the nave are attending a christening. The baby was christened using the ancient font. I was a bit surprised when the christening group sang, not a hymn, but 'He's got the whole world in his hands'.
So lots of things to see and tea in their café.
The double weave book is coming on and I have done my ration for today. The only other happening of import was the visit of the electricians this morning. I wanted them to replace an ancient substation with a modern one with trip switches. They were a bit unwilling about this until I dragged from them that, if they do that, they are legally responsible for all the wiring in the house and they could see that some of it might be old. They inspected a lot and thought that most of the wiring was modern but - - -. So I suggested that they might carry out a complete test/inspection of the house wiring and then we would discuss what must be done. I had not budgeted for rewiring the whole house and am not keen to go down that route. It sounds to me as if we are looking at some work but not massive amounts. I may have overdone things because the builder is installed in the garage  which is falling apart and the plumber came this morning to look at what needs doing in  the bathroom and will be back tomorrow to do it. Oh well, it means the house will be all done ready for the winter.  I have a couple of other house expenses on my list but I will wait till I know the financial damage from the current operations.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Winding a Warp Outside

The sun was shining and the studio needs a thorough tidy up before I can wind the warp I need so I removed myself and the equipment outside and did the job in pleasant surroundings. Noone could call the studio pleasant surroundings. It is just too crammed. Memo to self. The studio is really very unwelcoming. Maybe I need to do something about this.
I am going to warp up a Guild loom with yarn left over from the small Newbury Coat  and take the loom to the Newbury Agricultural Show next weekend. I will set up a display about the Newbury Coat and let the public have a go. All the undyed yarn went to the Guild spinners last Saturday and they have plans for a major project. I did keep six dyed skeins and, after the warp was completed, I wound some shuttles, then turned the rest into balls.  Anything not used can go back to the Guild eventually.
I managed to weave 18 inches on the Louet this morning which is three sections. There are 25 verses and I had thought of two verses per page. If the title is by itself and I have the first verse by itself, then I need thirteen sections. I have already thought of a way of improving the structure of the book but it is too late now! If I find I have any sizeable amount of warp left, I will try it out. It involves weaving a small section between each large section so that, when the board is inside, there is more space available for the fold between sections.
Yesterday I drove over to Bromyard to see some more Open Studios. I love the country north of Malvern towards Bromyard. South Worcestershire is the Severn Vale with the Cotswold  escarpment to the East and the Malvern Hills to the West. The top soil in the Vale is said to be 20 ft in some places. So it is good for fruit trees and asparagus. Cherry trees are left to Kent and the Vale grows apples and pears but mostly plums. You are no good if you can't tell your Orleans Early from your Marjorie Seedlings (to which I am very partial).  So flat country with orchards. But Hereforeshire grows hops and cider apples and black cattle and has little hills and little farms and hamlets. Lots of glimpses of little valleys. I have not the courage to move there. No shops without a car, the roads are not cleared much in winter. Not sensible. But oh the views! And the trees! 
The studios were in a barn and visitors had tea in an orchard in the sunshine. Lots of lovely things, paintings, printed linen. I have bought some Christmas presents. Then back home by way of North Malvern to see another community of artists, paintings, prints, clothes made from vintage patterns and a spectacular leather worker who had a whole window of Selfridges in London to herself to show her way-out handbags. Again a few Christmas presents. Except for a Japanese style print which may not be leaving this house.
The print was by Tony Muckle and I see that the handbag lady, Sarah Williams, has her bags on the same page. The print currently shown to the right of Tony's portrait is the one I have bought.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Usual Sort of Odd Day

Up to a year or so ago, I always made my own garam-masala (curry powder) but gave it up and used commercial stuff. But it is not so good so yesterday I visited the Bran Tub (local health food store) and stocked up and today it was weighed out and ground up.
After grinding, it looks like dried mud but it smells delicious. It is not hot (I add Kashmiri dried chilies for that) but spicy. I have about 50 gms of the mixture but it took quite some time to prepare and grind it.
I went to Ledbury and points west this afternoon to have a look at the studios taking part in Herefordshite Artweek And British Camp looked  as good as I have ever seen it coming home. The fortifications at the top are clear. It was inhabited around 0 AD for 200 or so years. The most interesting studio was not a studio but a working print shop (Tilleys of Ledbury) where they print using letter press. They have an amazing room full of fonts. The print room has five or six presses. I am now wondering about using them for printing books!  
Then home to admire the garden in the sunshine and especially the autumn crocuses with cyclamen in the foreground.
And a bit of weaving. Green is the front and red the back. You can see where the two cloths are interchanged. The right hand selvedge is open and the left hand one closed. When completed, I will print on every section , back and front, then insert pieces of card to fit, hand-sew the opening and viola! I have a concertina book. The warp is two different colourways of spaced dyed Tencel from Just Our Yarns which the weft is a single colour, turquoise/green, fine Tencel. It is not taking as long as I thought to weave. I thought I might get one section done per day but I think two now and three if I tried hard.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Restful Day

After all the rushing about of the past weeks, suddenly today I had no urgent tasks. So I started by walking on the common. We are walking Hadrian's Wall next year and I must stay fit and it is back to leaving the house at 0730 and back by 9 for breakfast.
I looked at all my paperwork and everything that should have been done, has been done! So after tidying the house up, I set out on the Hana-ori. I checked the tension and the threading and then started looking for the right colours of yarn for the pattern. The warp and the ground are 30/2 cotton so I decided 12/2 cotton was probably the right weight for the pattern. I made a great discovery about me as a result. I don't like baby blue. I have no baby blue yarn of any weight or fibre! I found a small scrap in a bag of oddments which I think I acquired after a class.
Later on I wove a bit on the Louet. Quite slow. It is double weave and fine tencel so there are a lot of weft threads per inch. I did four inches in an hour so six inches  day is feasible. I need to adjust the chair height as it is too low.
I had a lovely birthday present today from Debbie -

The covers are of ash. Isn't it gorgeous?

The garden is looking pretty good. The trees on the common are just starting to colour. I have visitors this weekend and I think we might go to Westonbirt Arboretum and see how the maples are doing though it may be a bit early.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Thinking Aloud

The last three days have included rather a lot of scuttling about the countryside. On Saturday there was the monthly meeting of Kennet Valley Guild. I took a carload of stuff to Guild and got rid of it all. One large electrical drier 2 or 3 rubbish sacks full of handspun yarn, a bag of leftover fabric from two years ago (Newbury Coat) and the new fabric. Together with lots of smaller things. I brought home, the Guild banners, the Guild tablecloths, two large circles (4 feet diameter) with dyed skeins mounted on them, the Richter Stained Glass project. There was a four shaft loom as well. All of this is for the social event of the year, the Newbury Agricultural Show which I seem to be setting up this year.
On Sunday morning, I rose early, unloaded and tidied up the car, checked all the actions on me from  the Guild meeting - -  and carried them all out except one! Then I put on my poshest clothes and drove to Nature in Art (its usual interesting self) and then on to Corse Lawn Hotel for my birthday lunch with the family. We started at 1 and ended at 4 which showed what it was like. Nothing else got done that day.
Some nice handmade buttons from my sister, Dorothy, who knows what I like.
Today I rose early (again!), collected all the relevant stuff and drove northwards this time to steward an exhibition of Midlands Textile Forum. It is at Aardvark Books, Brampton Bryan which is very nearly in Shropshire. Needless I brought some books home. The visitors were very chatty and were mostly interested in textiles so it was all very pleasant. The weather is fabulous autumn weather. Temperature about 20 , clear blue sky and excellent visibility. The quality of light is very noticeable.
The thinking aloud bit comes from driving round the UK for three days, wondering what to weave next. It is all very complicated and so I want to write it all down. I warn you all, this may be incoherent. It's the old story. I don't know what I think until I have spoken it all out. (Then you realise it is all garbage and you should never have started in the first place) 
Currently I have 5 or 6 yards of Hana-ori on the Megado which will be straightforward to weave. I also have a piece of double cloth on the Louet in fine tencel which is intended for a book. It has been there for some years and time it was finished. If I weave one six inch repeat every day, it  should be finished in two weeks. Ditto the Megado. In other words, neither of these looms  is going to be available for at least two weeks. No other loom has a warp on it.
The guild four shaft is to be warped with yarn from the small Newbury Coat for the public to have a go at. It will take me a day to warp it up and test it and that has to be done before Friday, 19th, eleven days from now.
Weaving that I want to, have to, weave in the near future is
- a seamless garment in fine linen which can only be done on the Megado because that is the widest loom I have. It must be ready by mid-January, so the warp must be on by mid November. This also needs some tablet weaving but I have started that.
- A double cloth scarf in fine tencel which has pleats both sides. This would be much better done with two warp beams so that means either the Louet or the Megado. I do not really want to do this on the Voyager because I will have warp tension problems
- A 'Black Jack' project which I must do in November. The Guild biennial retreat is on in November and we are not having a weaving tutor but each person is doing a 'Black Jack' project. This comes from Ann Sutton's book and  each person is handed three cards, one each  from three different packs. Then they have to go and weave it. Mine is strong dark colours + include knitting + tweed. The trouble I have is with looms. I do not want to do a narrow piece for this so I need the Louet. This is going to be a fun project. Marion Proctor and I are working in tandem on it.
- In January the weaving course is doing tweed and, before that starts, I want to weave off a length of tweed which is totally reversible. This means stitched double cloth in a fine worsted and, as I am trying to marry this up to Rosie Price's newest Challenge (Charles Rennie Mackintosh by Easter). I need the Megado. Partly for the width but mostly for the fact that the draft needs lots of shafts. My idea is to use a ghost warp and resley for the second  length of fabric which will be in 90/2. The drafts for both are done.
So where does that leave me? The two last projects need to be done one after the other if a ghost warp is going to be used. I reckon the following would work
1) Hana-ori (finish end September
2) Seamless Garment (finish mid November) Check I have the right sort of fine linen  in the stash.
3) Reversible Tweed (finish mid Jan). Need enough to make a reversible jacket
4) Mackintosh silk (finish mid March
1) Finish current double cloth (mid October)
2) Black Jack (finish end November)
3) Double weave pleated scarf (Jan/Feb)
So there I am. Turned out a bit different. Immediate jobs are to finish the weaving on the Megado and the Louet. Sorry to bore you all with this rigmarole but it was worth it for me. 
Of course there is lot of dyeing needed for the Black Jack Project and the small matter of the Christmas cards!

Friday, 5 September 2014

A Few Projects Finished

The first lot of tablet weaving is finished
Here it is, rigged up in Anne's kitchen between the cooker and a weighted chair.
And a close-up of the worked section. I have started on a more ambitious piece and will mount it on an inkle loom which Rosie Price is going to lend to me. I hope it works because I don't fancy living in my kitchen while this is in progress. 

I got home from Leamington Spa at eight o/'clock this morning, having avoided the rush hour traffic. Immediately I set about sorting things out for tomorrow. I am returning an electrical drier/airer to its owner so that is in the car after a wash down. All the spare yarn from  the small Newbury Coat and the fabric for said coat is waiting in the hall.
 The finger-woven belt from Carol James's class at Convergence is completed and fits me. It is not perfect but good enough to wear.
This is Seaweed on  the Mudflats (think Weston-Super-Mare) which was woven at the end of my Convergence yardage. It has been hemmed top and bottom so it is ready for tomorrow where Rosie's Challenge is 'Green'.
This is Sunset on the Mudflats. The weft is silk noil plus Japanese paper gold thread.
Apart from that, the hall is cluttered up books I am taking tomorrow plus various packages of yarn. I am about to set out on a major project with Marion Proctor. I hope she is patient as I have never done this before! You know I am always up for a new Challenge.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Evernote vs Outlook

I may have solved a serious problem. For me anyway.

For years I have been a devotee of Tasks in Outlook. When I got the iPad, I ended up using its Reminders and transferring these thoughts manually to the desktop when back at home. The trouble is that, when I am away from home, I seem to have more free time to think! So I have spent a lot of time on the web, trying to find a way of syncing the two computers. As far as I could make out, it could not be done. In the end, I used iPad support and actually spoke to someone! He thought it could not be done but checked with someone and called back to say no and there were no plans to do this.

General miffedness ensued. I continued to follow this up in a desultory way and suddenly came across Evernote. Now that has been around  for a long time and I have heard good things about it. So I downloaded it onto Orion (the desktop) and the iPad very late on Monday evening. Next morning I had a message from it saying that the syncing had been done and reproachfully saying that there was nothing to sync!

I had printed out all tasks from Outlook and brought it with me to Leamington Spa where I am looking after two grandchildren for a couple of days. So last night I entered up all tasks. So far it all seems all okay. I need to enter more data when I get home. I think my problem has been sorted. 

Today I will start out on tablet weaving. Alice Schlein ( has a nice device for holding a set of tablet weaving cards. Trouble is it will take up room so I may just use the nearest door handle.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Fabric for Small Newbury Coat

I finished the fabric in a rush before going to France and got round to taking photos this morning. It is a nice crisp morning and overcast so I tried lots of shots in the garden.
Yes it is striped. Different skeins of yarn dyed up differently. This is not me because, when I dyed three skeins together, one would often be very different from the other two and uniform thoroughout. The weft is different because that was all spun in 2011 at the 'do' and came from the same fleece.
Another view (wish I had ironed the fold out).

Monday, 1 September 2014

Home Again

The process of getting home meant that I said nothing about the end of last week. We went to Nimes and examined the arena - the finest and most complete in the Roman world.
This is the top tier.
and the outside. One reason it is so complete is that the inhabitants never stopped using it. Today it is used for feria (bull-fights, only no killing) and pop concerts!

The Maison Carree which is said to be the most complete Roman temple left today.

and the TGV pulling into Nimes station  to take us home on Saturday!  I got home in the early afternoon on Sunday and have been working hard ever since. Bills have been paid, folks have been phoned up. Tomorrow I might even get to warp up a bit more on the Megado. Today included dealing with the garden surplus, lots of French beans and far too many pears.


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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.