Sunday 30 November 2014

An Exciting Workshop

Yesterday I attended a Society of Bookbinders workshop on Japanese papers and got very excited. The tutor was Clare Prince who talked to us all morning about Japanese handmade papers and how they are made. In the afternoon, we all repaired books using Japanese paper. I will get round to that later but in the meantime the exciting bit. Which was that the Japanese use what I think of as textile techniques to decorate paper! For instance
Indigo dyeing. The tutor had several fine examples of graduated dyeing with indigo and, surprise, surprise, some examples of shibori!! The above is very delicate. Most of the examples I saw were robust, dark dark blue/black shading to the palest of blues.

And even more surprising, examples of katazome. Katazome is where you stencilled onto the fabric (or paper) with resist resist, then dip the object in indigo or dye, then wash off the resist. These papers are very high quality and have been over dyed in several colours.
 And these examples are bingata which is a stencilling technique from Okinawa. So what are the dyes used, apart from indigo? They are natural dyes with the handmade paper and use things like alder cones and paulownia.

I have acquired instructions on how to dye paper with indigo and intend to try this out. Any handmade paper I have in store is certainly too heavy so I will have to buy some Japanese paper.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Pleated Scarf

The pleated scarf, done from double weave, has been warped up and here are the first few inches. Both yarns are  20/2 tencel from Just Our Yarns and are spaced dyed. To keep the scarf warp dominant, I am weaving in 3 and 1 broken twill and remembering to weave the lower cloth upside down! This is a two shuttle job, red with the red/green warp and eau-de-nil with yellow/brown warp. It is quite slow and managing the tension is difficult where the pleats occur. The crucial thing to remember is that, after weaving 2 cm of only the top cloth, to insert the other colour shuttle first before slacking off the tension on the top cloth. If you don't do that, all the top cloth warp threads are floating all over the place.
I have more or less decided to weave a section at each end with pleats and do a 'normal' double weave in the middle section but I cannot decide whether to keep the colours constant through the middle section or to do stripes. I think I shall do stripes which are 2.5 cm wide to continue the pleat dimensions.
I have also dealt with the Guild Christmas cards which are, this year, based on a specially made lino-cut. I am quite pleased with it, although assembling them took a very long time. No woven Christmas cards this year, I need too many.
There has been much more throwing out and the garage table is piled high with stuff to take to the Guild sales table. Off now to continue weaving pleated cloth. There is a lot of radio listening going on!

Sunday 23 November 2014

Iron Man (maybe)

Today I went with Anne, Derek and Alex to the NEC in Birmingham to go to a Christmas Market there. It was all rather boring and so crowded that we were discouraged from buying much. After some hours, we left and walked up the concourse past the other halls to a place where we could have a drink. At our hall, there had been a lot of dressed up characters, fairies, panto dames, and so on. But as we walked away we encountered loads more dressed up characters, finally being swamped by a load of Darth Vader storm troopers, not to mention Vikings, supermen, goths and just about everyone else from the comic world. And that's what it was 'ComicCon'. Only these were not actors but ordinary folk dressed up. The bar was hilarious. At one moment I saw three pirates Johnny Depp type drinking beer at the counter. My favourite was this one. We think he was Iron Man but are not sure. Anne had a camera and I asked her to get him to pose for a photo.  So he put down his paper cup of coffee and obliged!

Cheered us no end.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Lino Cuts

I have been very busy this week, mostly enjoying myself at a two-day class in Lino cutting. I am self taught in this technique and, although I have done an online course felt that there were points I was ignorant of. So I attended a two course at the PrintShed which is in the wild and woolly West, that is, west of Hereford and practically in Wales. The tutor was Jill Barneby who went round the class asking why they were attending. My answer was because I have a lot of questions. In fact all of these were answered in the next thirty minutes, after which we all got our heads down and cut pieces of lino.
The above shows the final version of my first linocut in the course. Jill is a great believer in taking prints as you finish another section of cutting and I have four versions along the way of this. I learnt that a vertical press should be used for Linocuts but a roller press for etchings which does account for why I can get better prints on my bookbinders (vertical) press than on the College's press which is a roller press. I went on to two colour printing and generally mucking about to try lots of printing methods.
Calladium Leaves of course but with two colour printing.

The same but printed twice with the second print turned through 180 degrees. I had decided earlier in the week that I would give up on lino cutting bu8t have changed my mind. I really want to master the technique to make books and the prospect of success is definitely brighter. I also cut a lino block for the year's Christmas card but I will show that on Christmas Day.
I have been throwing out paper and getting rid of business papers which all takes longer than expected as well as threading up the Kombo. I am very close to the end now.

Tuesday 18 November 2014


I have sewn the headbands on two volumes of Malory (see above) and will be paring blue leather for the cover today. I have another book I am repairing and 'commissioned' some marbled paper to match what is on the cover. I did not know you could do this but it was explained to me that the British Library and the Bodleian and - and - like to match marbled paper when repairing their books. 

This one was relatively easy. She (Payhembury Papers) has several 'Victorian designs and either T9 or T10 would have done but with the colours changed. She asked for the original cover to check the colours and the papers turned up yesterday. Very nice too. Why have I bought two sheets when I probably only need half a sheet? Because it only takes one slip to ruin the whole cover. And I can always use up the rest. No bookbinder ever buys one sheet of anything. 
I am getting on slowly with threading up. I have forgotten the Kombo was such a pest to thread up. If you take off the breast beam (not easy), the whole loom will fall apart so I have to stretch over the breast beam. And there are 960 threads anyway. Anyway I am now over halfway.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Pleated Scarf

I have been warping up the Louet Kombo. It sat for four years with the same unwoven warp on it which is now finished as is the Aland Island length of fabric. But I have sold my Voyager. One woman cannot realistically use five looms at the same time. So I am now down  to three.
I started winding the warps for the Kombo on Friday and am now one third of the way through threading. The Kombo is, in theory portable but I added two extra warp beams to it which, if in use, make it very unportable and that is what I am doing at this moment. I did try out double weave pleating on the tail end of a single warp a few months back. It works but clearly needs two warp beams so that is what is going on now. Two skeins of Just Our Yarns 20/2 Tencel in  very different colour ways. One is yellow and orange, the other red/blue/ purple/green. This is going to be interesting. I should be finished the threading by Tuesday.
I went to a concert in Worcester Cathedral last night. Faure Requiem and Jonathan Dove's work of 2009 There Was a Child. Surprisingly large forces required for the Dove, large choir, slightly smaller childrens' choir, sizeable orchestra including two harps and a couple of soloists. Very good but the words were not clear throughout. That was not the choir failing but the way the work was written. The Faure, though beautifully sung, is not my cup of tea. I prefer someone like Victoria. Yes, I know he is centuries earlier but it is the same words.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Towels Finished

The towels are finished, hemmed and about to be washed.

Next on the list is finishing off the last headband. I am putting handmade silk headbands on the two volumes of Malory. I have one more to do. I have also created a draft to weave the clavicles for the Coptic shroud. The more I looked at pictures of 300 AD tapestry-type bands, the less I liked the idea of using an inkle loom, because it means lifting warp threads by hand and I need about four yards! So I worked on drafts till past midnight last night and this is what I like best.
I will have to say 'inspired by a piece of Coptic fabric in CalTech' but that will be okay. Now to find some very fine worsted to weave it in. 

Tuesday 11 November 2014

A Frog in the House

There is a small frog in the house - some where. I suspect the office but I am NOT looking under the desks for him. I left the front door open yesterday while I unloaded the car, then took a call before I was through unloading and I think he must have come in then. We met each other in the hall and were both very startled. I shot into the sittingroom to think about it and he leapt 15 inches in the air and made off down the corridor to the office. So I have not seen him since. He will starve in this house. He is leaf brown and about two inches long in the body.
I am weaving off the rest of the Hana Ori - as towels. I thought about using Four Colour Double Weave but I have enough lengths of that already and decided to find twill patterns which would use a point twill on 32 shafts. I adapted one of Strickler's patterns  which was for 8 shafts (blue above) and two from Pennington which were for 16 shafts. One is the brown above. The weft is 6/2 cotton (blue) and 22/2 Cottolin (brown). I am zipping through these and should have all three done by tomorrow at the latest.
Then it is fine linen and the seamless garment. I am getting worried about the inkle bands an d have almost decided that I would find it easier and quicker to use a table loom. This is because I have never warped up an inkle loom and do not thin k I have time to learn. I have signed up for a class in January but that is too late. I need this finished by December

Monday 10 November 2014

Guild Weekend

Thirty-odd members of Kennet Valley Guild met up at a local hotel for two intensive days of textiles. The weaving group had decided not to have a tutor but to take part in a Black Jack game. There was a lot of consultation and laughter and some extremely funny jokes which are not suitable for a family audience as the Guardian puts it. My three Black Jack cards read
1) Dark rich colours
2) Tweed like weave
3) use knitting
My use of knitting was to dye blanks of machine knitted stuff (thank you Marion Proctor). The dyed effect was not what I wanted. I wanted a slow gradation between red and purple through grey but I produced a sharp change from red to grey and a very patchy result from grey to purple.
This is the red end. I can persuade myself that it gets paler towards the top. The warp is the Aland Island space dyed yarn and the stripes areteh effect of the space dyeing
And this is the blue end which does shade from grey to purple.
And here is the intermediate bit shading from purple at the bottom to red at the top. Not good.
Actually not much of it was any good. It was a mistake to use the warp I did. It is really knitting yarn and kept separating at the edges. So I replace the four outer threads on each side with worsted yarn and that stopped the thread breaking problem.  I was going to make a waistcoat but will wait till I have washed it to decide. It is a long time since I wove up a whole project and mended all the ends in two days!

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Finished the Hana Ori

I cut the Hana Ori off the loom on Sunday and yesterday made all good in the way of ends. I used a strip of fusible lining down the selvedge to trap all the ends because there were too many ends to tie together neatly and I would not have done a neat job.

On the right are the samples for the motifs and on the left is the copy of my Okinawan version.

And here are the samples ready for posting to the States for the Japanese Textile Study Group. Now the problem remains of what to do with the remaining warp. The threading is a point twill on 32 shafts and I have been wondering if I could weave a version of four colour double weave as I did with the donsu. I am glad this is finished. It has not been fun. Very simple but let your mind wander for an instant and you are into unweaving.

Tomorrow I am off to London to a Complex Weavers Study Day on Thursday, then on to the Guild Retreat for the weekend. This time the weavers are working on their Black Jack projects which will be fun to investigate.


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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.