Saturday, 31 December 2016

Old Year, New Year

At the end of every month, I do the accounts of which there seem to be a lot since I do the joint accounts as well. Apart from a mysterious enormous amount out to iTunes, everything was okay. On investigation, the iTunes turned out to be a subscription to the Economist on iPad. I like the Economist and I knew it was pricey when I organised it but had forgotten. However the point of this blog is that I also update an Excel file where I list all projects and progress on same. Since we are about to move into 2017, I reviewed the year and set up a new file for 2017. I have accomplished a startling amount in 2016 but not under the heading of weaving. There has been a lot of dyeing and even bookbinding. I seem to have repaired books for lots of people and am left with only four books in the cupboard waiting for attention, all of them stinkers. Two are text blocks I bought from the Old Stile Press which goes in for commissioning illustrations for its books. The texts are poems by John Donne and the libretto of Duke Blue Beard's Castle. I was surprised to realise that I know the libretto off by heart. But never mind that, what am I going to do for the cover? I had ideas for a Lino cut but I am worried that anything I do will not be up to the standard of the text illustrations. Perhaps fancy lettering is the answer. I need to go for a long drive. That is when I have my best ideas.

I have started on a draft for Complex Weaving and boy, is it difficult! I think I will get there in the end. I have had an idea or two on how to make sure I get it right. The Megado fabric is looking more dark red than dark brown now and is quite pleasing. I am having a number of broken threads. Mostly the thread just pulls apart. I am gradually replacing the edge threads with dark grey cottolin and have gone on to using a stretcher rather than weights hanging off the edges which are difficult to use on a Megado

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Concertina Books

Christmas has come and gone leaving plastic bags full of shiny paper and bits of tinsel. I have tinkered with the Complex Weaving draft, not finished yet. It is complicated and I have trouble getting my mind round it. No other textile work has been done.
I am giving a short course on concertina books in ten days, doing three different styles. So I have practised, found previous examples and cut the paper to size for seven people. It looks okay although I wonder if two and a half hours is enough. Oh I will know the answer soon.

One example - a Turkish map fold opened out.
Tomorrow we go into London to see some exhibitions in the British Museum.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Pre Christmas

I have been ill - tummy bug or food poisoning, we suspect the latter. The result is that very little has been done.

One thing I have done is to sign up for the Complex Weavers book which they are issuing as a celebration of their 40th birthday in 2017. There are big problems with the way they set it up which only a twisted mind like mine would see.  The draft has to be based on a 8 shaft starting point and there are a number of options. At this time all that has to be done is to say you are going to submit something but you do have to say what kind of draft you are submitting. The draft clearly will not exist for a lot of people (e.g. me) and I want it to be something I am interested in and anyway suppose I create a draft and it looks awful when woven? Well I took a deep breadth and put in something that I had a go at once before and had a terrible time setting up the draft and eventually abandoned.  But you have to specify what yarn and what sett. I think they should get rid of all this detail. I suppose it is to make the editors' job easier since otherwise they will not know until the final deadline (June 1st 2017) what they are getting. Photos only are required. And another thing!!!! In the details before you start on filling up the form, they seemed to me to be saying only yardage but in the 12 page form(!!!!) there is a long list of items you can submit, jackets, bags, towels etc and yardage.

Having said all that, I have started on my draft. It is on 16 shafts and I am not telling you what 8 shaft draft I have used as a base. I have the threading done and can see it is correct but the tie-up is only half done. Indeed I have not yet decided exactly what to do.

So not entirely a wasted week. I am off this afternoon to Leamington Spa for Christmas. May you all have a Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Weaving at Last

I started on the weaving this morning. The usual preparations and changes of plan, not to say design. I had intended to use white merino (the same as the warp) and a black wool about double the grist. This was not to be. I have cones of black wool in the stash but they are either exactly the same as the white weft or even finer. And the other colours around were either not what I fancied or not enough. Mind you I found four balls of some fabulous Swedish wool. The trouble is it is space dyed and that would not suit the pattern at all. So I decided that I might try some silk noil which is about the right grist. The colours were beiges and dark browns but there was a large cone or a dark maroon. And I thought I would give it a try.

It does look more dark grey than dark maroon although you can see the true colour in the shuttle.

A detail

So it takes me 30 minutes to weave one pattern which works out at 3 hours and 20 minutes per yard.
Should be done in a week or two. The weight is just right for a jacket. The design, by the way, is based another Chaco ceramic design. I have several more waiting for a project. The trouble is I do not want any more jackets and I have not thought what to do with Convergence piece yet. That is cotton and cottolin. I could seam it up the middle and make a table cloth. I must check how much length I could get.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Weaving Progress

At last I had the merino warp tied on completely and today I set about winding the warp on. The process of getting the knots through the reed and the heddles was quick and much less trouble than I expected. The valet was brought into use as shown into the photo below.

All done in an hour or so. And then tied on. All okay except that I was sure there were some missing threads. So I checked and yes there were five out of  a thousand which is not bad. So I put that right and now have a warp ready for off. Tomorrow.

And the warp in all its glory.

Sunday, 18 December 2016


I spent Friday at an engineering firm taking photos. It is about seven years since I worked there and I was surprised to find I knew all the staff except a new apprentice. So rather a lot of recalling the past and drinking tea. I took a lot of photos but I do not think they are of any interest to a non-engineering viewer. It was an interesting exercise. Firstly the only time you get a man and a machine together is when the man is setting up a piece of work. The rest of the time he is programming up the next job. There are a few exceptions such as people assembling the finished product. I took 85 photos and there are only two I would say could be entered in a competition.

Other things done this week? The warp tying on is completed and all the knots are through the reed and the heddles. So now to wind the warp on. It is five yards long and I wish I had put on 20 yards. Oh well.

The accounts for the Bookbinders have been done although there was a delay in completion due to losing 60 pence somewhere. I found it this morning, no more than copying a number incorrectly.

Christmas is organised. So all deadlines met except that a new one has appeared. Complex Weavers is publishing a book of drafts to celebrate its 40th birthday. But the specification is a bit restrictive and does not allow for my 32 shaft designs. So I need to mull over this.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Meeting Deadlines

The usual round of trying to meet deadlines. on Sunday, I blitzed on the handout for next year's weaving course (Colour and Weave). The biggest problem is getting the graphics of all the drafts into WORD. But it is done and I have scanned in all other documentation, so I am feeling virtuous.

I have also finished an album for my grandson's Christmas. I bought the textblock and it is very nicely done with guard stubs so the book's spine will not be broken when all the pictures are mounted in it. It is 8 inches square.

Finished Christmas cards too.

There are several other deadlines to meet before Christmas, the Bookbinders' accounts for instance.   But I have a photo shoot on Friday. I am going back to one of my favourite sub-contractors, an engineering company that makes things, and am going to spend a couple of hours taking photos - all with permission. Should be interesting. My attitude is take as many as possible, throw away 50% on a first pass as technically faulty, throw away 50% of what is left as not well composed or just plain dull and, of the rest, given you started with 100, there might 5 good and 1 or 2 really good. So the interesting time will be Saturday when I download everything.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

More Bookbinding

I finished off the slipcase for Alice - not perfect but it will pass. So I decided to do another one immediately and took the next one from my project list, which was two volumes of Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues under the Sea'. I bought this as two textblocks from  Volcano ART, USA and bound them some years ago. I have now put a slipcase round them.

Jules Verne on the left, Alice on the right.  The second one is much better. Outside folds and finishing very much better. I need to find another to do pronto.

I spent some time correcting and dealing with my EXCEL spreadsheet for projects. I was surprised to see how small the list is. This means I have been steadily completing projects. The only list not seriously dented is the one headed Sewing. The warp tying is progressing. It is a very uncomfortablr position for any length of time and I can only do an hour at a time. I am tying on a warp 5 metres long. I wish now I had done 20 metres. I intend to tie on a third warp when this one is completed and that will be lots of  metres. I need to turn the stash out before I can do that.

Monday, 5 December 2016


I have been finishing off bookbinding projects and starting out on new ones. I finished the album made last Sunday. I have put together the box for Alice and it looks okay but needs covering in bookcloth - which has just this minute arrived from Hewitts of Edinburgh. I want to bind and album for my grandson before Christmas and, of course, discovered that I really needed to paper back some fabric. This was sorted out yesterday. Eights pieces dried over night and I took them off this morning
The fabric for Alex's album has owls on it.

I did eight pieces. The hardboard had been used before and, while it can  be used twice, it was ready for paper removal. That takes lots of water and a scrubbing. Now eight clean boards are drying and I feel virtuous,

I have managed to do more tying on of the merino warp. I would like to do a spot of weaving.  Maybe next week.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Definition of a smidgeon

I spent today in Malvern with my bookbinding guru, being taught how to make a box to put my new copy of Alice in Wonderland in. And making a mess of it. The trouble was eventually diagnosed. I was told the size of the back and front was the length of the book plus four thicknesses of board plus four thicknesses of bookcloth plus a smidgeon. Being an engineer, I defined a smidgeon as about 0.1 mm. Investigation when the book did not fit into the box deduced that the tutor defined a smidgeon as 1 to 2 mm. So useless and the box has turned into a slipcase. I think I will make a box this weekend to make sure I get it right.

Yesterday we spent the day in London, visiting two exhibitions. The Caravaggio one at the NationalGallery and the Opus Anglicanum one at the Vnd A. Opus Anglicanum is English mediaeval embroidery which was highly thought of between 1200 and 1500. The.  V and A has a huge collection of these, copes and mitres and other bits of church garments.  Stunning.

The Caravaggio was pretty good too.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A Project or Two Completed.

I have finished off two scarves for Rosie Price in green and beige. I am definitely off weaving twill.

They are very soft. I have no idea what the yarn is.
The other project I completed is binding three address books in text block form.

They have nice matching endpapers. The outer two are commercial fabrics while the centre one is cotton space dyed with Procion MX by my sister.

I now start on a round of hectic travel and  courses. Saturday is a Weaving Study Day, Sunday is making an album with the bookbinders, Monday is a trip to see two London exhibitions. Tuesday is another bookbinding course, only this one is to make a box to house my special copy of Alice. This all seems to involve a lot of driving and I will spend Tuesday night in Leamington Spa catching up with gossip in my daughter's family.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Designer Bookbinder Exhibition

Monday was very odd. The exhibition was odd, very cold, and lots of lovely books. Some are shown below. As far as the cold was concerned, I had taken a thermos of tea. Good for survival.

I took the photos but the books are (top to bottom) by Alice Adams, Theresa Wedemeyer and Kaori Maki. All were technically outstanding and sometimes very unusual.

I spent some time designing a cover for a text I have of the libretto of Duke Bluebeard's Castle with illustrations. I have had the book for 16 months without having any idea of how to bind it but I have now. Definitely a few lino cuts will have to be created. But first I need to bind some textblocks as Christmas presents.

When I got to Paddington to catch a train home, I found mayhem. There had been serious flooding in the West Country and, apart from delays, some trains were stranded in the flood waters. So, when I reached the station, No train was going beyond Swindon and there were one or two going as far as Swindon. At this point, the powers that be starting bringing in more coaches and making 3 coach trains into eight coach trains (I fear they had small engines attached. I learnt a new phrase 'full to standing'. It means even pushing hard, they could not get more people in the train. This announcement was always followed by 'the train has been closed'. I wonder how they did that.  I waited for 90 minutes for a train I could get. If the train was going to Swindon by way of Reading (my goal), forget it. They were not letting anyone on except those with tickets to Swindon. And the train was extra long with an under powered engine. 

Actually the railway staff have to be congratulated. Noone snapped or lost their temper dealing a mob of hysterical customers who could not see why they could not go home. Certainly someone had full-scale hysterics by my train.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Chinese Thread Box

I spent the weekend being taught to make a Chinese Thread Book by Lori Sauer. Great Fun despite the worries about flooded roads in Wiltshire

The bits decorated with roses are the twist boxes. Intensive work. All the heavy paper has to be cut accurately and then decorated.

Today I am off to London for the day to steward a book exhibition. Should get some good photos from the day.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Processing photos

It took a long time to sort out the photos of Japan. There were more than 400. The first thing to do was to unload them from the camera to the desktop and put them in date folders, one for each day. Then go through everything and weed out those out of focus, duplicates, and mispositioned. That operation got rid of a hundred. Later I will go through all that remain and check for errors. I will get down to about 150 in the end. Then pick the 30 best and put them in a separate folder. This is for showing to family and friends. I reckon people get bored after 30 photos.

Lots of tidying up has been done and I have warped up Rosie Price's Regent Street project. It needs checking for errors and then I  can start weaving. That ought to be today.

I have been looking at the two pieces of silk I bought in Kyoto. I am aiming to reproduce a version of those which I reckon feasible. The first one will need a spaced dyed warp.

The second piece needs shaded dyeing and I am not sure I can get this good enough..

I have also turned photos of shutters into a black and white drawing. This is because the photos were taken through a bus windows and bits of the view were obscured.
I have created a simple draft for the shutters but it wants all 32 shafts not the eight I have used.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Coming Home

I am on a Finnair flight from Osaka to Helsinki where we catch a BA flight to Heathrow. All a bit roundabout if you ask me.

I shall be glad to get home. I have had enough of concrete underground bunkers where you are supposed to admire the roughness of one large rock against the smoothness of the concrete walls and the texture of the surrounding gravel. I am sorry to sound so old-lady-ish in my views but I have become suspicious and wonder if it is all a giant hoax. The one yesterday had a lot of long underground corridors. The concrete manufacturers and creators must have made a fortune.

We took the bullet train to Osaka and stayed the night in the Marriott. In a sky scraper. Lobby on the 19th floor. Rooms started on the 39th floor and ended on the 56th. The views over Osaka at night were stunning. And it has all the right things for a big city, Prada, Gucci, Armani! More important was what we saw from the airport bus this morning - an enormous port. With steel mills, oil refineries, containers by the million. I have always liked ports. To me, they make a city real.

Summary on the holiday? Not enough free time. I liked the screens and the painted doors and the temple gardens, in fact all the gardens but one statue of Buddha is much like another. The scale of the statue may be different but that is all. 

Ruth and I ate better three years ago. We had only one Japanese meal which was the equal of what we ate last time and that was on Naoshima where the marriage of the containers and the contents was exquisite (only word to use). I tried to buy the chopstick support which was a pottery koi carp but the restaurant would have none of it.

So here we are on the way home and I am making lists of jobs I need to do. And timetables. One nice thing coming up is that I have a class with Lori Sauer next weekend. I do enjoy her classes. This time we are making a folded paper Miao holder for needles and threads. I have always liked these and am looking forward finding out how to make them. I must look up her website and see what courses she has on next year.

Added later at home. In all my arrangements, I did not foresee that Helsinki would be snowed up. Piles of snow cleared by snow ploughs, icy roads everywhere, very slippery and dangerous. And bitterly cold. The plane had to be sprayed with anti-freeze before we could take off. However we made it home where it has been raining hard but the centre heating was switched off and it is cold here too.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Japan Day 12

This is Friday. On Wednesday, we were bussed across the country to a Western port and took the ferry over to an island, Naoshima. This is totally devoted to modern art with at least four museums. The hotel is in the same complex and was also built by the architect, Ando. The biggest gallery contains Richter, Hockney, four Warhol and so on. Quite a lot of other stuff as well.

The second one is totally underground and is lit by light funnels. No artificial light. It contains five Monets (I do not care for Monet). Three Tyrell's and one Maria. And the gallery is a disorienting experience, lots of very dark corridors where you have to feel your way and then dazzling outside spaces. It is enormous and contains very little. So you can guess I was not enamoured.

In the evening we had a grand Kai-seki meal in the first gallery. Very good.

No photos allowed anywhere so nothing to show you. I might be able to take some of the outside sculpture this morning. We are off to Osaka today, fly home tomorrow. On the whole an okay holiday but the trip with Ruth was much more enjoyable.o

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Japan Day 10 (I think)

I have reached the stage of losing track. I am sure which day we have got to or what day of the week it is. I do know we are off to the island of Naoshima today.

Yesterday we were bussed in heavy rain to the Miho museum which was designed by I M Pei. They removed the top of a mountain, built the museum and put the mountain and its trees back. The result is a stunning museum and the contents are not worthy of it. Lots of lovely autumn colour but I see no point in posting photos of yet more coloured foliage.

We then returned to Kyoto and visited the Raku museum. Lots of rough tea bowls. Then we diverged from the group and visited the Textile Centre. Various changes since last time. The catwalk show is much better organised but the braiding demos along with the demos of cutting stencils out of mulberry paper have gone. I have the impression much more odds and ends are on sale. I had trouble finding the yardage. I did buy some small pieces of silk to take home and study the weaves.

Then packing. I seem to have bought a lot of books without noticing it. Oh well. I can always throw out a few Tshirts.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Japan Day 8

Yesterday we bussed to Nara, a very ancient capital of Japan, about 8th century AD. We saw two spectacular Buddhist temples where, for a change we were allowed to take photos. Not that it was any good as it was very dark inside. I think I can process them when I get home.

However there were a lot of Zen and other gardens.

One thing I got very excited about was a set of 12 statues from 734 AD which were painted and quite clearly were silk brocade patterns. So I have bought a book in Japanese but full of photos. It all looks like donsu with pickup.

We were taken to a very posh hotel in Nara for a Japanese which was much the best meal we have had. All the temples were in Nara Park and, since it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, all Japan was in the park. Food stalls, knock knack stalls all very busy and tame deer wandering about, stealing sandwiches.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Japan Day 6 and 7

Yesterday was spent getting from Tokyo to Kyoto by bullet train. In the afternoon we visited two temples then went to the hotel. Most people were shocked to find the hotel was several miles out of town and up a steep hill. I was looking forward to wandering around the city after we returned from the day's outing. That is just not possible. It means organising a taxi instead.

This morning we visited a museum where most of the exhibition were about a man of no interest to a Brit. Fortunately there other galleries which held displays of ceramics and archeology exhibits. A lunch in the sunshine and a seat by the fountain made for a restful day. The afternoon saw a Buddhist temple with 1001 statues of Buddha which were not beautiful. Oh well. Every day cannot be perfect. We are about to go to a lecture on Buddhist art.then a Japanese evening meal.

What we have done is a mass of Christmas shopping in the museum shops and a ceramics shop we happened across.

I had an email from a friend commenting on the autumn tints so I will not bore you with more but instead attach some zen gardens which are supposed to represent a tiger and her three cubs crossing a river. I do not see it myself. But I do like the proportions.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Japan Day 5

We went to the Nezu museum yesterday. No photos allowed which was a pity. Wonderful 17th century screens and equally interesting (to me) were the utensils for the tea ceremony. Some were wrapped up in 17th century kinran which is donsu with pick up. I did buy a book and a load of postcards. The garden was lovely and rather large given that Prada, Gucci etc were two minutes walk.

We walked the Main Street, just like every city's Main Street. The side streets were more interesting and the street furniture was appalling. Even if they do have earthquakes, you would have thought the Japanese could do better.

Off to Kyoto this morning. Not enough time to explore by oneself. And lastly a manhole cover.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Japan Day 3 and 4.

Yesterday we went to the Tokyo National Museum and viewed the Treasures of Japan. Not allowed to take photos. I will just say it was good.

Today we were bussed north for several hours to see Nikko and its shrines. And as a wonderful bonus, the autumn colours were  fabulous. I had not realised that the forests were a mix of conifers and the maples showed up against a background of dark green.

The shrines were very bling, pile on the gold leaf. But there were some lovely carved wooden panels.

In amongst the shrines, there was a coffee shop in a courtyard and the courtyard was occupies by a show of chrysanthemums. The big ones. I have never seen any as big as these. But no I am not going to start growing them. They look difficult, not least because the heads were so heavy that each flower had its own support.

Back at 1900 hours and we all slept on the bus back.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Japan Day 2

Day 1 was spent getting to Heathrow 5, sitting around around waiting, then doing more sitting on the plane for 12 hours. Lunch at the hotel , nothing exciting, just a Hilton. Then bussed to an ancient garden nearby which was designed and built about 1650. It is the most ancient garden in Japan. And very beautiful.

And a manhole cover!

Now off to dinner. We seem to be doing six museums tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Three blue scarves

I finished the third scarf on Monday, mended the odd end and washed them. I like the simplest one best. I practised taking photos in the garden and remembered to cover the table but not yet satisfactory so I shall try another table next time.

And a bit bright. However I have finished winding the white wool warp to tie onto the Megado. Pure 100% fine merino from Uppinghams (2/30 Nm). I am tying this warp an to the white cotton warp used for the last Convergence yardage. This uses the same threading but a quite different treadling. The idea is to felt it a teeny bit and make a jacket.

Today we walked by the Kennet canal as we did two days ago. The trees have turned colour in those two days. Not quite at their height of colour yet but on their way. Gold and scarlet everywhere.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

A day spent printing

Today was spent in the garage (rather cold) printing in various ways and on various surfaces. So block printing, stamping with foam letters, stencilling, thermofaxinb on fabric and three sorts of paper.

Everything was successful though not at first. I need to stencil on a big area so I need to repeat the printing as the stencils I have are much less than A4 never mind A3. And if I tried to position them I ended up with smudges. So I printed on a sheet of paper wide apart, used a hair drier to dry the printing (2 minutes), printed and dried again, changed the colour of ink and repeated twice more. Very effective.

The lettering on book fronts was very effective. I have a number of blank textblocks which I have covered rather nicely with my cloth and wanted to print the word NOTEBOOK on the front. I had a Thermofax mask made for this job and it all worked.

I tried block printing on paper - that worked. And I tried wood block printing on handwoven fabrics and that worked.
And I have discovered a solution to my photography problem. In Malvern, I used the walls, pillars and railings just outside the front door to put the object to be photographed on. I like to do the photography outside with an overcast sky. There are no shadows and no pools of light. I have been wondering what to do ever since we arrived in our new house. Today I realised I now have a table in the new patio which is perfect. That explains the mosaic background to the above photograph. Next time I will drape a length of black velvet over the tabletop.

I retook the photo of the Makars book as it was so bad taken indoors.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Another garden

I visited my daughter's garden in Wokingham. They have a town garden with a brick wall six foot high all the way round. Quite big - bigger than ours. And totally grass with one tree at the far end. They had a total redesign done and I saw the finished garden today. Quite fabulous. Exotic plants, big trees imported and very fancy plants. Fancy lights too and a fountain. I am quite taken with it all.

I have been doing odd jobs. One rather odd job was looking for paper suitable for stencilling on. Okay that is not a problem. But there is an additional entry in the specification. The paper must be suitable to be used as an endpaper in book binding. So it must be greater than 70gsm, otherwise they will be transparent and show up the inside of the cover. But it must be capable of being folded for the book hinge without creasing, which mean less than 130 gsm. So I rummaged under the spare room bed and found a cartridge paper of 120 gsm. I also guillotined pieces off a roll of Chinese paper which is 30 gsm. This is for proofing. The next thing is extract the 145 gsm sheets of A1 from under the same bed. I will do that tomorrow and cut up into A3 pieces. I want some A3 sheets so that I can do an A4 book. You will have guessed from all this that I have agreed to give a course to some bookbinders on stencilling and other ways of creating your own endpapers. And I am panicking as a result. When they told me how much they were going to pay a tutor, I made a face and the committee pounced.  Oh well I have till March to prepare samples and I am going to have to make some books.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

More on the Garden

Yesterday was spent planting up the garden. There is a bit more to do including planting three new clematis plants. Since it was very sunny, we had elevenses on the new patio and admired the garden from a different angle.

Other things did get done. More weaving - I am fed up with 2 and 2 twill. A lot of sorting out of photos. The Japan diary has surfaced. Today will be more of the same. I must push on with the weaving and get it finished.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Altered Garden

The builders have gone away leaving a beautiful garden

The elegant table and chairs given to me last year are now installed. The scruffy bit at the top of the steps has been reseeded. The areas either side of the steps have to be replanted and pots installed either side at the top of the steps. We need to wait for 24 hours until everything has set. They have made a good job of a tiny corner at the front of the house which, I swear, the original housebuilders filled up with hardcore. The soil was so poor. We had all the plants taken out, the soil removed and replaced and the plants replanted. They look happier already! It was so bad that I filled it up with annuals. Some flourished (marigolds). Others packed it in (petunias). So there is space for more perennial plants and we have a list prepared. The first thing to go in will be some tulips. Replanting will start tomorrow if the weather holds. We are pleased. One has a vision in one's head but life has made one used to the final product not looking so good as the vision. Well the result this time looks rather better than we imagined it.

Apart from continuously brewing coffee and tea (Don't they eat a lot of biscuits!!), I have finished a scarf and started a second one, this time in undulating twill. Also done lots of paperwork. I am still hunting for a Japan visit diary.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Guild Weekend

Every two years, the Guild holds a weekend full of textile courses. We all stay in a hotel and live undiluted textiles for two days. This time it was tapestry, rag rugs, basketry and design. There were four rooms full of silence and absorbed students concentrating. The evenings were another matter, gossip, catching up and drinking wine or G and T as you fancy. The hotel was good and we were all very comfortable.

I returned home to a long list of things to do because I am off to Japan in two weeks time. The first job was to find my Japanese diary in which job I have failed so far. I have found three design note books, twonotebooks on music courses, several notebooks on gardening, and lots of travel diaries but not one on Japan. I am going to have to widen the search.

I have done some jobs on my list, written up the weekend for the Guild newsletter and several other documents, paid bills.One important was to admire the building works in the garden. We are rather pleased. They are making a good job of it. Wednesday will see the replanting start.

And I did do some weaving. The first scarf is nearly finished.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Ally Pally and all that

The Knitting and stitching show is always held at Alexandra Palace (= Ally Pally) in north London. I went once many years ago and the journey there was horrendous so I refused Dorothy when she said she wanted to go, would I come too. But she persisted and found a coach going from Maidenhead for the day. So on Sunday I was out of bed at 0630. I have to admit it did work. We went with a long list and got most things on the list. Nothing very exciting, bobbin holders and the like. When it says Stitching, it means embroidery and one the best exhibitions was a student show where I even bought some bits of embroidery - owls to paste onto the front of a book as a Christmas present for my youngest grandson.m

Yesterday was spent traipsing into Reading hospital and back. So today has to be devoted to gardening as the garden is not quite ready for the builders on Thursday. I need to move a load of plants from the area where they are putting in steps. I have taken some photos of what it looks like now for a before and after comparison.

A small patio goes in the top left hand corner. There is a set of steps going up from the bottom centre between the two phormiums. These are being widened and the rockery on the right will be pushed back.

I have been busy thinking about textiles. Next weekend is the Guild Weekend Retreat and I am going on a course entitled 'Design for the Terrified'. The materials list is long and baffling. I am supposed to take appropriate equipment for my chosen craft. If I do not know what I am going to do, how can I warp up before hand? And I hardly want to warp up the 12 shaft Meyer there. It would take too much time. So I scrabbled about in the studio until I had found a Weavette. And I have put a load of yarn that I cannot think what to do with in a plastic crate. The spare room is filling up with stuff to be taken. I still have to find a few things.

I had a major triumph yesterday in that two different web outfits charged me with one of these automatic annual charges. One was a security outfit where I intended to cancel the subscription and they took the money four weeks before it was due for renewal, thus not giving me time to cancel so I pointed out they were being illegal and I wanted my money back - and got it. The other was similar but I had left it a bit late so I suggested they take a month's rental and give me back 11 month's dues. They refunded the lot. Mind you it all took hours. And just for the record, because they hide these things well on their websites, you can get at them through your credit/debit card services. They will cancel an automatic subscription if ask them.if asked.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A new project or two

I finished off the rather garish scarf I have been weaving. It is mended and fringed but not washed. I have worked out the numbers for the Hampshire handspun and can get 5.5 metres out of it. So I will wind the warp tomorrow.
The other project involved mucking about with Photoshop, making this year's Christmas card. I created a Lino cut at West Dean this summer. It was scanned in and text added and the layout organised to print two cards. The inside was similarly organised and printed on the back so all I have to do is to use the guillotine and fold the two cards. I have a large number to print.

I have been doing a lot of gardening. Some of it explained by the garden needing attention but some is due to the builders moving in next week. We are having work done in the garden, laying a small patio where the garden catches most sun, widening the steps up to the garden from 3 ft to 6 ft and installing a bannister on one side. Also removing a large tree from the rockery and relaying the rockery which means putting the large stones back in the places they have fallen from. And digging one complete border and replacing the soil. So my job is move everything worth keeping from the scene of operations and plant the plants elsewhere. All the preparation has been done. If the weather forecast is correct, it will be sunny tomorrow and I will get the replanting completed. Gardening always improves my temper. Something to do with seeing results immediately.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Depression and new projects

Last Saturday it was Guild monthly meeting and it was rough. I ended the day very depressed. I am glad I only have a few months left. I should never have become chairman as I am not good enough at people.

So I decided a few artistic endeavours might improve my temper. The first is a new stripey scarf of merino.

And the other project was a concertina book which is made from photos  of a Suzhou garden. Suzhou is about 30 miles from Shanghai.

The paper is still damp which accounts for the fold on the front.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Burnley and London

On Tuesday Janet Dunbar and myself made the long hazardous journey into the North - beyond even Manchester. Our goal was Burnley where there is a Museum of looms and a steam engine to run them which was in full howling when we arrived.

It was very well looked after and everything that was brass was polished, everything else was painted and it gleamed. The museum seems to be entirely staffed by volunteers. All the ones I spoke to were ex-mill hands. Of course there are only one or two mills left. This one is exactly as abandoned in the 1980s. The steam engine originally drove all the looms in the weaving shed  but now only drives a few at a time.

There are 14 looms to a row and between 20 and 24 rows - so 280 or more in the room. The noise was awful. The looms are driven by leather belts going up to the ceiling where they are attached to a rod running the length of the weaving shed. That rod is driven by the steam engine. The rest of the mill was taken up with machinery to help with speeding up the preparation for weaving. A creel and a device for winding through a reed onto a warp beam was used to prepare the warp which was then taken to a machine which tied the new warp on the old one automatically. At this point we were flummoxed as to how this operated and I went in search of a volunteer who turned out to be a mine of information. He had been a mill hand for over 50 years! And had ended up as an expert knotter. The first question he asked was why are you interested so we explained we were weavers and that I often tied warps on but did it by hand and got the answer And do you use a silk knot or a dog knot. The answer was (when he had told me what they were) I used something in between. Well he was not having that so we were taught how to make a silk knot. And taught to make heddles which was wonderful. Quite the most useful technique I have learnt for a long time. He could see I was taken with this so he insisted I practise. I can do it now!!!!

There was lots more to see

Dusty, rusty reeds and shafts full of heddles hung from the ceiling.

Today (Thursday) we went to London to see two exhibitions. The first was Abstract Expressionism which means Jackson Pollock and the like. I had trouble with this exhibition. I could take the Jackson Pollock but, for 90% of the rest, I was trying to turn the painting into images - and failing. My problem is that I do not know what I am looking at. Dorothy had no problems.

Then we went to the Victoria and Albert  and I went the Ove Arup Engineering exhibition. It was good but very small and covered only 5 or 6 of his projects. All in all a disappointing day.


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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.