Saturday 29 August 2015


The last week has been fraught. I was hacked. Lots of innocent people got an incomprehensible email purporting to come from me, Google spotted the problem, shut down my email and blog and got rid of my contact list. At the same time I went off to Antwerp on a long planned visit with a group of bookbinders. To finish this story, I set to today (first day back) and regained control of everything - but it took several hours!!!

On Wednesday, Most of us travelled by Eurostar to Brussels and then on to Antwerp. On Thursday we all went round to the Plantin-Moretus Museum where we had a conducted tour round the place and then stayed on to look at more things. It is fundamentally a 16th century printing works of one of the famous early printers. And it remained like that for centuries. Eventually the city bought it and turned it into a museum. It is now on the UNESCO list of culturally important establishments.

The books they printed were the high class ones
A first edition of Clusius.

One of the libraries. They had everything there into a foundry for casting type.
The cathedral was having an exhibition of early manuscript music - all very beautiful. The cathedral was very large with a huge carved wood pulpit.

And this is a linen press from Rubens house. I always thought a linen press was a cupboard (the word press means cupboard in Lallans) but no it is literally a press. He was very wealthy. Lots of Roman sculpture and other famous artists' work. The house is very well appointed as can be seen from the garden below.
Rubens house is the right hand bit and that is less than half the house.
I came back in the Eurostar and this morning set out for Burghfield Common to take possession of the house keys. It's ours at last!!! Dorothy's stuff arrives on Tuesday and mine will be coming along later.  And di I say I have replaced the Ford Mondeo with a smaller Bmax.

Wednesday 26 August 2015


Life has been fraught over the past few days. We really are going to get the house keys on Saturday. We went round yesterday and discussed power sockets and lighting in the studios with an electrician and talked to a gardener about uprooting most of the overgrown, underloved shrubs in the garden. 

And today, I took the train into London to catch the Eurostar to Brussels and on to Antwerp. I am with a group of book binders and tomorrow we are getting a detailed guided tour of the Plantin-moretus Museum - one of the earliest of European printer/bookbinders. Photos will be taken. I think this will be a nice restful three days. I am going home on Friday

Monday 24 August 2015

Summer School

You might have wondered what I have been up to. Two separate time-consuming things have been happening. Firstly the house purchase has hotted up enough for us to know that we get the house next Saturday and today I pay for the house!!! Lots needs doing, all of it essential and mostly boring. Secondly I have been at the Association Summer School for the last eight days learning about weft ikat with Martin Weatherhead. It was held in an agricultural college which left a great deal to be desired. Most people had a problem of some sort with the accomodation.
Here are my first set of weft skeins after dyeing.
And my samples. I dyed a whole lot of skeins later in the week which are blue rather than violet.
One of the pleasures of the Summer school is talking to people and I had a long and interesting chat about painting warps with one lady. She uses freezer paper to mask areas and paints round them. Very nifty. I must try that - - when I have access to paints and dyes again.
Which brings me round to the house. My sister, Dorothy, moves in eight days but they cannot move me in until 16th September but I shall go and live in the house anyway. Tomorrow we are seeing the electrician and the gardener about work to be done. No plumbing needs doing and I have organised the decorator already. So today and tomorrow are devoted to organising the house, gas internet, power et cetera.
Other gossip from the forest? I have changed my car and get the new one today. I found the Ford Mondeo too big for me and the driving seat is uncomfortable so I have bought one which has sit-up-and-beg seats more like dining room chairs which are better for my back - and it is two foot shorter!!!!
On Wednesday I am off to Antwerp with some bookbinders for a guided tour of the Plantin-Moretus printing works. We are going by train. I have been twice before but this time we are getting a special conducted tour for which we have paid rather a lot of money. And that will occupy me until late Friday. From Saturday onwards my time must be devoted to THE HOUSE. I will help Dorothy unpack - my grandson will also help and we hope to get all her stuff straight. before mine arrives.

Sunday 16 August 2015

A day spent on photography

When I was on the way to Madiera, I spotted a Canon G16 in a Heathrow shop and bought it at a good price. I had been meaning to get round to buying one for some months as my current digital camera had fallen apart - I mean that literally. At the end, the carcase was held together by sticky tape. Ruth and I went to a camera class at West Dean College at Easter and he sends us email about his other classes. Recently I had one saying walk round Chichester Marina taking photos so I joined the class yesterday. A lot of walking and I have been busy with houses recently. I reckon we did about nine miles including some steep hills on the South Downs. However I leant a lot about my new camera which was the idea and I am pleased that I went, despite my stiffness.


And some landscape as  well.


Thursday 13 August 2015

A Day of Designing

The weft ikat warp has been tied on and a header woven - all okay. And now I have nothing to do. So I went through my emails and found lots of things I had ignored/neglected/ failed to respond to and did all that was needed. I did bring some artwork and a note book with me and decided I would spend the day doing design. I had a great time,; it is not something I usually spend time on.  The best way of showing what I did is to show photos of my notebook.

The designs are inspired by Sonya de Launay's work and here is the particularly design I started with. I turned the design through 90 degrees and the Photoshop version is shown below. This was an attempt to use approximately the colours as in the original. But the lack of colour variation makes this look poor.
On the right are lots of different colourways. These were the most successful - all done in Photoshop CS5. On the left is a single unit translated into 2:1 Lampas with twill infill. The colours I like best are the two halfway down the page.

A second variation of the block diagram is shown on the right with several units of the lampas weave on the left. The colours do not show up well.
I have a book of Sonya de Launay's designs and I have already selected the one for tomorrow's trials.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Warping Up

I have become a great fan of Laura Fry's video Efficient Weaving and have persuaded lots of people to buy it. And they have all become fans too. I myself have watched it several times and have moved over to her method of warping up. So today I am warping up using her method. I have an order under way for Lease stick holders from Purrington Looms (The best thing since sliced bread) and I had a large wall-mounted warping frame made which will take 15 yards of warp. I have always known that warping mills give build up which means unequal lengths of thread in the warp. But how else do you wind a long warp? Well you get a warping frame the right size made for you. We have a man in our Guild who is a dab hand at knocking up equipment for his friends and I asked him to make it for me. 'That's very big', he said. And it is but I will wall-mount it when we get access to our new house.
Laura Fry's method of warping up involves winding the warp and then putting it through a reed. This is an extra step and the one complaint I have about the video is that she does not explain this step but appears carrying the warp and attached reed in her hands. Well I just put the end loops through the reed mounted on the loom so they could go on to a stick strapped to the back rod. This is done at the cross end with lease sticks inserted. So you have loops onto back beam, reed, lease sticks and rest of warp. At which point she uses a valet which is basically a rod mounted on the ceiling. My daughter would not be pleased about that but  I will have one in my new studio.  What I did is shown below.
The lease sticks are at the chair end and so I can wind on several feet of warp in perfect order.
And this is my very crude weighting system, a plastic bag filled with weights. Even with extra time needed to put the loops through the reed, this all took less than 30 minutes including transferring the lease sticks to the other side of the reed and shafts. Now it is all set up to thread.
The bad news is that I brought a box with all the documentation needed for the Summer School and the yarn for the weft and I cannot find it anywhere. I can print out all the documents again but the yarn is irreplaceable. Fortunately another student may have some.

Monday 10 August 2015

Peace descends

The last two weeks have been frantic. I have been to Boston for 3 days, attended my birthday party on the river Thames, driven to Malvern and back and spent four days in Stockholm. I returned yesterday and today I drove to Newbury to see a Council Planning Officer. I have nothing else planned until next Saturday except for a plan to sleep a lot.

I took my grand-daughter, Madi, to Stockholm to attend The Marriage of Figaro in The Drottningholm Opera House which is the oldest in the world. Built in 1770s and never out of use, still has all the original stage machinery. It only holds about 500 people and they are seated on very uncomfortable wooden benches - except for two thrones for the King and Queen who live in a palace on the island. They did not attend the performance!! That was on Saturday evening. The days before were spent inspecting some very avant-garde art and photography as well as taking a boat trip through the waterways of Stockholm.

Bought in a shop in Stockholm. Well you would not expect me to walk past a yarn shop without investigating it, would you?

I have written up the notes of what the planning officer said, all favourable and await Dorothy's comments. She has got fed up doing nothing while we wait for the house to be ours and has gone to visit friends in Scotland. Current date for removal is September 2nd. I am off to the Association Summer School next Sunday to do Weft Ikat with Martin Weatherhead and then I am off to Antwerp with the Society of Bookbinders but back in time to take possession of our nice new house.

Sunday 2 August 2015


I have to come clean. Yesterday Anne and I held a joint birthday party. Anne was 50 and I will be 80 in September but we celebrated together with a bang, though I do not remember any actual explosions. We hired a boat to take us and about 50 friends up the Thames from Reading, past Mapledurham and a bit more. And the boat glided through the water, we ate, drank and listened to the jazz band. Definitely different and we asked people to dress up in 1920s clothes (not obligatory). However there were  some stunning outfits.

This is Anne and her husband, Derek, suitably dressed for an afternoon on the river.

And this is my grand-daughter, Charlotte, trying and succeeding in looking like a Hollywood starlet. The young man, Shaun, is not doing too badly either. The fur, in case you were worrying, is definitely faux.
So textiles have taken a back seat lately. The house purchase is progressing and we hope to move in soon.


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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.