Tuesday, 29 December 2015


Every year, the Foster family rents a house for a week over New Year and settles in to enjoy itself, play silly games, sit in the hot tub. This year there are 13 or 14 of us. There is a certain amount of coming and going. Anyway 12 of us went to the local pantomime in Tunbridge Wells Assembly Rooms. The script was dire, the acting sheer ham, the singing was not at all bad, the dancing startlingly good and the dresses fabulous. The Ugly Sisters had a new outfit on each entrance, I counted eight!! All different in style. And beautifully made. Very odd. Now last year Weymouth, if it was not Bournemouth, hired first rate actors and singers but no dancers and the costumes were poor. I suppose it must depend on local expertise.

I have several photos I intended to show but I have brought the wrong camera reader. bah! So they will have to wait until I sort this out. 

I have managed to wind 80%of the Convergence warp. More important I am running a class in Japanese style bookbinding in 12 days time and collected several pieces of fabric from students to back with paper. I looked at the fabric on Sunday and trimmed the pieces to size, just less than A2. Then on Monday morning early, I backed all ten pieces of fabric with paper. It all looks okay. But if it is not, I have time to take action when I get home next Sunday. It is the first time I have worked in the garage and I discovered some problems which we can get round. Also working in my studio, I have discovered things I cannot live with. Dorothy and I discussed this on Sunday and Monday and came up with a few ideas. I think we need to implement little 'corrections' one at a time and it will not be long before everything will be okay.  The main problem is storage in that some things are stored behind others and it is difficult to move the things in front. One point is that cones storage better on shelves than in drawers. However I must not get sidetracked when I get home. Convergence must take precedence. I only have three weeks. Am I going to make it?

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Day

The cooked breakfast has been eaten, the presents all opened, the wrapping paper tidied up. Anne and family are with me for Christmas and as much preparation as possible done yesterday.  In fact I am sitting around dipping into the books I received as presents. And dipping into a box of Turkish Delight which Anne brought back from Istanbul two days ago.

These have no relation to what is sold in the UK as Turkish Delight and are delicious.

May you have a Happy Christmas and your equivalent of Turhish Delight from Istanbul to please you,  not to mention a satisfying New Year.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Getting ready for Christmas

We returned from Bilbao on Wednesday and set about preparing for Christmas. That really means a huge clear up of the house and trying to finish off the unpacking! So I have moved half the garage contents to the new garden shed while Dorothy shunted shelves about in the garage and tidied up there. We have finished up with a large amount of garbage for the recycling facility and  a lot of less garbagey stuff for the charity shop. I have also hung all the pictures we have space for on the walls and done one or two hours work in the garden. All bulbs have been planted and we had a lot of them. We bought a lot on October but, when we came to plant them, we could not find them so bought a second lot and guess what? The first lot turned up in a bucket with a lid on. I have planted a lot in garden pots. I have turned out the spare room ready for family over Christmas.

But far more important is that my son-in-law  came over this morning and finished mantling the Megado. I have to admit that the Kombo is no longer attached to its stand because we pinched a bolt from it but it is all functioning now. The computer is happily driving it and I am a happy bunny. Now to wind a warp a ila Laura Fry.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Third Day in Bilbao

A bit of a disaster today. We went into the Guggenheim. There was an exhibition called Modern Africa which is clearly today's art and that was really interesting though with a strong political message but the rest was not to my taste at all. Even the four Richters were black and white and not at all interesting. Nice cafe. Then back to the hotel to try to book into Convergence. Which I managed eventually and even got into all the classes I wanted. So I feel quite cheerful. 

After lunch, we took the tram all the way to the terminus and walked back. In the evening we went out to see if the Guggenheim was illuminated but it was not. I did get a nice photo of the large Xmas de orations at the Guggenheim.

That is all from Bilbao. Except that I have been cogitation get on weaving.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Second Day in Bilbao

Today's excursion included the old city where I bought a three-headed dragon and visited the cathedral (very plain) and the Basque museum. The latter was fun. To do this we took the tram which was an experience in itself. Then back to the hotel by way of a shopping mall across the street. In the afternoon we walked up to a big bridge over the river just beside the Guggenheim. And I was right. The view was much better.

A ham shop in the old city.

Just outside the Guggenheim. Note the person to give some idea of scale.

Guggenheim from the river bridge.

After the photo session we went to the Fine Arts Museum. The Roman and early Catalan stuff was very interesting. Tomorrow we 'do' the Guggenheim.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

First Day in Bilboa

I do not know what I was expecting to find in Bilbao but it certainly was not this. The sky is blue - no clouds, and quite warm. The city is full of very avant garde buildings and works of art. The hotel has more high class modern sculpture than anyotel I have seen elsewhere. And this sculpture business even stretches to the many public parks.

A few samples

The Guggenheim itself

A bit of sculpture

A piece of floral scuplture. A bit on the large side.

More of the Guggenheim. We had a good look round this afternoon but we are visiting it on Tuesday. Tomorrow we are going to the old city and the Museum of Fine Arts. It has lots of parks in the centre of the city and a river. A real elegant city.

Friday, 11 December 2015

End of Bookbinding Course

For the last five weeks I have been commuting by train into London centre to go to a bookbinding course. All I can say about the pricing system is that it is weird beyond comprehension. The class runs from 1030 to 1630. So the first week I took the bus to Reading Station and then a return to London. But cheap day rates and anything other method of reducing the cost is not allowed till after 10am. So it cost £50.50. Next week I got a lift to Theale which is 5 minutes in travel time west from Reading and was taken aback to discover a return to London costs £15.50. This includes global travel on London underground. The reason is that the cut-off time for cheap day rates is 0900am and it is only five minutes beyond Reading!! And another thing. The cost of a single ticket in the reduced period is £18.00. So it would be more economical to get a return and throw away the return half. How daft can you get.
I was attending a class on soft cover book binding which I was interested in. Today, the last day, I was particularly interested as we were doing Coptic binding.
All four of the books I made. The dark one, second from the right is leather, the other three are paper.
The leather book by itself.
The above is a photo of Books 3 ad 4 by the whole class.

I have decided what to do about Convergence. Firstly I have moved the Megado and when I get back from Spain next week, I will install a valet system and have it working so that I can start warping up after New Year. I will only have two weeks to weave five yards. To which end I am not using fine silk but 2/12 cotton. A lot can go wrong with this plan. I will try to get the warping up completed before Christmas.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Local Camera Club

There is a camera club in Burghfield Common which I have been attending. Usually 25-30 people are at each meeting which are held twice a month. One meeting is a lecture by a visitor and the other meeting is either a competition or a workshop on techniques. They hold four competitions a year. Considering myself a beginner, I did not enter for the first competition but when I heard the critique at the next meeting, I thought it would be worth entering just to get the critiques. So I entered three (the preferred number) as jpegs.

Marks were out of 10 and I got 9.5,10 and 8.5 making me the highest scorer in submissions as jpegs. As I have never entered a photographic competition in my life till now, I was very startled. In order from the top the photos were taken in Chichester harbour, Petworth Deer Park, and Mesa Verde. The caterpillar was a monster of about four inches long. I cannot get over this.
Life is progressing in the house. Most workmen have completed their tasks and gone and sent in an invoice which has been paid. Tomorrow a man comes to install a new loft ladder and on Monday several men appear to erect a garden shed. After that, we are done. I have done a spot more weaving and my frozen shoulder has been injected with a steroid and feels almost cured. I have started worrying about a submission to Convergence and am wondering if there is time available to warp up and weave 5 yards of material in time to arrive at Convergence by Jan 25th. I suspect not but I will try. The first time I entered, I wove more than 3 yards of fine silk (60 epi) in three days and was crippled for the next week or so. I have the yarn for this one and it will be about 20 epi so maybe it will be okay. The yardage entries are under the title `Ice Age` and I have created what I think is a really nice - and suitable - draft  for it.

Monday, 23 November 2015


I went to London on Friday and finished the first limp cover book and started on the second.

It then became a very exciting weekend. I took the train to Leamington Spa and stayed Friday and Saturday nights with Anne. On Saturday morning, we all took the train to Bicester Village which is an outlet shopping centre. Mostly we bought each other Christmas presents but I bought some things. I have to admit that I have never bought anything from Dior or Prada before! I have acquired a Missoni dressing gown for much the same as I would pay in Marks and Sparks.

The high light of the weekend was Sunday when we all took the train in the opposite direction (North) to Birmingham to go to ComiCon and had a great time - -  without spending any more than the entrance fee. What I go for is look at the people!! I do not see me dressed up as Queen Hippolyta.

 Top one is Anne and Leon, a friend of my grandson. No idea about the bottom one.
And the kind of things on sale. Others intangible things you could buy, an autograph, a photo with your favourite person, 15 minutes conversation with ditto. The kind of people doing this were Lee Major, Colin Blakely and the woman who played Arwen Evenstar in the Lord of the Rings. She was by far the most expensive.

So now I am home and have done a lot of tidying up. Next it is putting up pictures.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Back to Bookbinding

I have recovered from being ill to the extent that I want to weave but I have had a sore shoulder for four weeks. My osteopath not to weave but I am fearful of the Convergence deadline. Anyway I am being extra cautious.

On Friday I attended the first of five day classes in the middle of London with Kathy Abbott. This course is on soft covers. It means taking the bus from here to Reading, the train to London, the underground to Holborn and walking to the City Literary Institute. The class was good. The tutor is fiendishly organised and we all have to keep up. In the first day, we nearly finished the first book. She is not wildly keen on anything which interrupts the class, so no mobile calls and no photography. I did not get home until 0645. I was exhausted as I am not fully recovered from illness but am getting stronger every day.

On Saturday our nephew and his family came over for lunch and moved a load of furniture for us. As we live here, we realise furniture needs changing round and so a lot of reorganising has been. Things have been shoved in the garage on the way elsewhere and I have been selling stuff on ebay. I am going to the osteopath in Theale each week (shoulder) and taking a car full of stuff to a charity shop across the road from the osteopath. Dorothy has had her studio painted and is generating unwanted stuff for the shop in a big way. Last week I ran out of space in the car but fortunately the shop staff  are really helpful unlike the one in Tadley we used to patronise who were very ungracious.

We have had two weeks of decorating and the place is looking much better. I even put up pictures yesterday and will do some more today. I still cannot weave but I did do some bookbinding on Sunday and discovered that the room arrangement will not do. So when I want to cut up large pieces of board, it has to be done downstairs. I  can probably do it in my studio or dining room as well as I have I put my enormous dining table in there. I bought it for £1.00 , Table, Officers, for the use of, many years ago and spent £150 on getting it French polished. It seats 12  very comfortably and will take another 2 or 3.  Perfect for cutting out jackets, tying up ikat warps and other similar important jobs.

No photos yet but I hope to be back to weaving this week. But I have been designing. I was very taken with the ceramics I saw in SW USA.

You could be forgiven for thinking this was 21st century pottery. Instead of which it is several hundred years old. I have designed one draft based on these ideas and motifs but it has come out at 36 shafts which is a pest and I need to reconsider. But it is feasible. Expect to see lots of black and white yardage. I asked a museum curator what the attitude of the native Americans is to people translating their designs into modern artefacts. He shrugged his shoulders and said that everyone does it and noone apologises or worries about it. I hope this is true.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

No More Fever

I have been told by several people that the last blog was garbage. And yes I agree. The trouble was that I was still unwell when I wrote that. I have recovered now and the fever is all over. I am using as a criterion, completing the Times difficult sudoku which I can usually knock off easily. After the fever, I had no idea even how to start. But I am back to form now.

I went to the Guild meeting last Saturday and was tired out. Today I went to steward at the Guild exhibition and was not tired out. So I have hopes of final recovery. On Friday I am going to London for the first day of a course on soft covered books. I need to think of a way of getting my tools there.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A raging fever

I have been very ill and it has been worrying. I was unconcious for two or three days and was apparently dolally not a good state to be in. The result is that I have to take it easy. And my sister who looked after me the big problem which was I wanted to get up and help with the all the windows being replaced as well as the decorator decorating. My problem was the use of words.things got called the wrong word and I could not explain myself. I know I am doing wrong but cannot prevent it.
I will need watch myself carefully. Dorothy tells me that

Monday, 26 October 2015

Megado Trouble

Before I went to the States, my son-in-law came over for an afternoon to help ( in truth I "helped", he did) reassemble the Megado. We got it mostly together before giving up as we were missing some bolts. Later that day, I returned to the pile of bits and assembled every piece of it to see what else was missing and the answer was only those two bolts. So I asked at the local DIY shop and they had some but the wrong size and told me the shop to visit in Reading. Today we made an expedition into Reading to visit it. Visits into Reading are not undertaken lightly given the traffic. When we got there and showed a man one of the missing bolts, there was much sucking of teeth and shaking of heads. Anyway they did not have one that size. 'But you will get one on the web' Well maybe but it helps if you know what the thing's name is. After poking  around for an hour, I discovered its name and found photos of it so I knew I had got hold of the right thing. It is a 'M8 cross dowel barrel nut (offcentred)'  and I have bought 10. I feel quite triumphant. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

USA Day 10

I have been home since last Wednesday but tidying up and sleeping so writing a blog was low on the priority list. I have now recovered from jet lag and am feeling refreshed so can face the getting down to it procedure.
Firstly Day 10 turned into a Frank Lloyd Wright Day. We stayed in the Arizona Biltmore on Monday night. This was designed by Wright in the early 30s. He is definitely good as designing public rooms. It is a stunning hotel.

From the top, a stained glass window  (about 8 ft square) in the entrance hall, a view of the entrance and the corner of a large carpet. We had our last evening's dinner there, the best meal we had in the States. Then it was off to see his Western home, Taliesin West, which is only a few miles away. After that, it was one last archeological dig and home to Heathrow.
I managed to buy myself a telephoto lens before Saturday and got up very early on Saturday morning to be at Petworth Park by 0800 am. A group of us led by Steve Walby looked at and for deer. The males are busy fighting just now. With lots of good advice, I managed to take some good photos (for me).

 And now it is back to sorting out the house. This week, the electrician return to finish off everything. Next week, all the windows in the house are being replaced with double glazed ones - and the decorator is in residence too. The gardeners seems to be in permanent residence. They came this week and renovated an entire bed so it is ready for replanting. A mixture of daffodil and tulips will go in as well as some small shrubs, probably heathers. Planting is my job.

Ruth and Robin came today to see what progress we are making. This resulted in a disagreement. They agree with Dorothy that my bedroom is a mistake because it has a metal filing  cupboard in it. They say it looks as though I am camping out in an office. I admit, it contains  a desk, a computer and an A3 printer and some filing drawers and a lot of Lever arch files on shelves as well as the aforesaid filing cupboard. But my view is that , as long as I don't mind, it can stay as it is. All I am getting is flack from all sides. Bah!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

USA Day 9

Today was dominated, for me at least,  by my problems with a credit card. I have been unable to get cash or pay for anything. I failed for the last time in Flagstaff and then inquired where I could change sterling. There is only one place in Flagstaff to change and it is way off our route. At this point someone suggested I ring up Visa and after two or three abortive  attempts get through, I was passed to the fraud department. And they had put a stop on my card. The story, highly entertainingly if you are not personally involved is that two days before I left for the USA, I changed my address and telephone number to those of the new house - and then the next use of the card after several days  was at a tiny bookshop in the depths of Utah. So they stopped the card at once. They asked all sorts of weird questions to which, fortunately, I could remember the answers. Like what did you use the card for on such and such a date. Eventually, they unblocked the card though I have not tried it again. But it ought to be okay.

In amongst all of this, we went round Flagstaff Museum. I have fallen badly for Chaco pottery and searched without success for a book on it. When I was in the bus again, I searched the web. Nothing. I have great plans for weaving designs based on the Chaco designs. You would think they were done yesterday not a 1000 years ago. I have seen a handful of modern reproductions which are very expensive and based on containers modelled on animals - which I do not like. I like their plain bowls. So I will content myself by designing and weaving yardage. I think Lampas. Only a week or so ago, I put a large amount of unmercerised cotton in the attic. It will have to come down again.

I cannot wait to get home and set about Fibreworks.

I ought to say that tonight, the last night, we are in the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. Frank Lloyd Wright designed desert resort in 1929.

Monday, 19 October 2015

USA Day 8

We left early and got to Monument Valley at 1000. We transferred to two open vehicles and rackets round the Valley till 1230. I had no idea the place was so large. I loved it. So it is just photos today. No explanation is needed.

And the last photo is of the San Juan river. The young Navajo man with the triple flute was our driver and guide, told us about the Navajo legends and their way of life. I might say I have always been very taken with the Navajo way of living.

Tomorrow we start out for Phoenix, 300 miles away. But we have a stop at Flagstaff. 

USA Day 7 continued

We drove to the other end of Bluff Main Street which is all of two miles away from our motel, passing about twenty buildings on the way. But it has to be said that the trading post is the highest class we have seen so far. It mostly sold Navajo rugs(superb), jewellery, good, and watercolours, also good so we bought a few things and lunch at the cafe was excellent. We discovered the Bluff Arts Festival did not start till 1 pm so we got ourselves driven back to the motel and started out at 1400 on foot ,and had a great time. For a place as small as Bluff ,  there were a lot of stalls and a lot of people. T he standard was very high(not the weaving though). Bluff has a quilting bee and they were demonstrating. No nonsense about expensive long arm quilters. This was clamped to a big frame and several women were quilting by hand!! Then there was a woman who designed fabric using Navajo motifs and had them professionally printed and she made scarves, bags etc from them. I bought a length as a present. T hen there was some unusual and fabulous sculptures of sticks which might have been bought if they were not so big. British Airways could quite rightly jib at accepting it. And high class potters.  Where I did succumb. And I bought socks with Navajo designs on them.

A Union loom of the 1920s , only two shafts being used for rag rugs.

A gorgeous 1950s car. There were quite a lot of old cars about.

All in all a most enjoyable day. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

USA Day 7

The day before this we had tyre trouble and so lost time and had to skip a viewing of Aztec Ruins. So   on Day 7 we went there first thing. It was another Great House but much better organised than previous ones. We were issued with a self guide booklet and important points were marked and explained. The Great Kiva has been restored in the 1920s. That would not be done today but nevertheless it was very enlightening.

On the right is a corner of the reconstructed Kiva. There was a small but good museum, with lots of artefacts.

And that included some pieces of weaving. After that it was off to Teec No Pos trading store which was a great disappointment.

Skeins hung up for sale. I asked about this. Was it natural or acid dyed? Was it churro sheep? Was it local? The answer was that it was all bought in and she clearly knew nothing else. There were some  spindles for sale but she knew nothing about them either. I walked out having bought two books and nothing else.

And then to Canyon de Chelly. Pronounced Canyon d'Shay.  Quite beautiful and lived in by the Navajos. This is Navajo land.

We spent several hours here. Then on to the motel Desert Rose Motel where the staff are all Navajos and it is very comfortable although the address gives cause for concern. It is Main Street, Bluff. The trouble is that there is a road, the motel and a lot of desert. No sign of a town to have a Main Street.

All but two of the party have gone off to do a river trip. I opted out because my right hip was complaining at anything like a climb and there is lots of that on the river trip. We have arranged to go with the bus driver to a place nearby for lunch as there is nothing here.

And at the same time, Dorothy has decided she needs to go to Bilbao to look at the architecture of the Guggenheim  museum so we are doing some long distance organisation. Planned for mid December?

Friday, 16 October 2015

USADay 6

BToday was spent walking about in a very high temperature, wondering if this was really a good idea. The temperature must have been well over ninety. What we were looking at was Great Houses. The smallest had 150 rooms and the largest 600 rooms. Little cities.

In the Chaco Canyon where the Great Houses are.

Ruins of a Great House. Note the fine masonry

And they were clever enough to build this strange window across a corner. Started 800 and finished about 1200 AD.

I was smitten with an idea for weaving in lampas on the bus this morning. It is based on the decoration on pottery we have been seeing. I think it will work. But I need Fibreworks to help with the draft.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

USADay 5

We looked at a lot of cliff dwellings go today.

But I have to admit to chickening out of one hike. It involved a thirty foot ladder on the open cliff face followed by two fifteen foot ones ditto and a twelve foot tunnel. No thank you. There were four others who felt I should be kept company. So we sat in the shade with a marvellous view and gossiped for an hour.

The pottery was in a museum at Mesa Verde and is marvellous worth abstract geometric patterns.

Today we are off into very deserted lands to Chaco Canyon.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

USADay4 addendum

I do not seem able to add photos so am producing them as an extra.

You can make out all sorts of things, goats, men on horseback, shaman figures, a bird, bison, deer.


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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.