Thursday, 26 May 2016


.I spoke too soon when I said everything was going well on the health side. Today I was supposed to be in London at a Complex Weavers day. But I was so unwell in the morning that I cancelled, then Dorothy identified that I had shingles. I ask you? How unfair is that! So everything has been cancelled for the next week. Today I have done nothing. Maybe tomorrow. If I do not get to go places, surely I can get some weaving or even bookbinding instead. Bah! It is very unfair.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

More news

I returned to hospital on Tuesday and had three doctors poking about. The result was three miffed doctors and one very cheerful patient. Nothing wrong any more. I was told that the doctors should be responsible for me getting better and I am not supposed to do it myself. No effect on the cheerfulness.

So this week I have gone back to weaving - - and gardening. I have wound half the merino warp to tie onto the Megado warp. I also finished off a multicoloured scarf on the 12 shaft Meyer and put on a new warp. This pattern has been taken from Bertha Grey Hayes recent book of miniature overshot patterns. I like overshot and how could an aerospace engineer walk away from a pattern based on bombers. I am doing a scarf in 2 ply lambs wool and it will be given as a Christmas present to the MD of my favourite engineering subcontractor.

Part of the reason for doing this warp is that I am off to St David's for school half term and we are doing islands with the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). So expect photos of puffins and progress on the overshot.

One interesting bit of weaving is that I am going to  day course run by Complex Weavers tomorrow. I also intend to visit a shop South of the Thames to buy some Lino cutters.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Columbia Press

I have finished two more clutch bags from lengths of four colour double weave and have decided on what else to make from various lengths of sample fabric.
I have also been extravagant and bought myself some more auriculas - only these are rather posh. They are 'show auriculas'. Dorothy was a bit a shocked at what I paid for them. They are about five pounds each. I think it is money well spent and have gloated over them, also potted them up and cosseted them. The photo below as is they arrived before potting up.

I also took a photo of the Columbia Press (built in 1850) at my lino cut class. Isn't it fantastic? The eagle moves up and down as you print.
I am currently suffering from what my son-in-law calls 'existential angst'. In other words, I am creating lino cuts to illustrate 'The Lament of the Makars' by William Dunbar and I now think the project is a mistake. So I have decided to grit my teeth and complete the last lino cut before the next class, spend the next class printing the all six in many colours and call it a day on that project. I have much better ideas on single lino cuts.

Now I am off to wind a merino warp which will be tied onto the lampas warp on the Megado.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Textiles at last

On Monday, I went over to Aylesbury to visit an old friend who has moved there from Shropshire which she misses. Mind you she lived on the top of Clee Hill for 45 years and the Chilterns are very tame in comparison.

Today I decided to get rid of this throat problem and decided to stay inside. The morning was occupied  with Guild business, writing pieces for the Newsletter, doing the jobs I got landed with at the last Guild meeting and filing papers. Then I got to do some textiles and made a clutch bag from a length of four colour double weave. I altered the pattern and it looks fine. I am half way through making a second  one and I have another length waiting. All three lengths are four colour double weave. I do have a good length of true double weave which is too thick for this clutch pattern. It will end up as a tote bag.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Mayor making at Newbury

A few weeks ago, the Guild exhibition organiser got an invite to the Mayor Making at Newbury. As the invite was for two, I went along, after all, I am Chairman. The proceedings were today and I am still suffering from shock. First of all, it never occurred to me that Newbury had so much history. After the Norman Conquest, it became a borough -(new borough). And continued to grow until Elizabeth'stime. She visited twice and the second time, the town threw such a good party for her that she made them a free borough. And everything stems from that. They elect a mayor every year and he has to swear to look after Newbury. And that is what we were invited to see. We had the full bit, two Mace bearers, a town crier, a town marshal and lots of processions. So we went to the Corn Exchange to witness the swearing and then the mayor and council formed up outside the Town Hall and the audience tagged along too and we processed through the streets of Newbury to an ancient church. St Nicholas was a Saxon foundation but was totally rebuilt in the 15th century and is distinctly gorgeous. Early Perpendicular. The only problem was that they had two songs (note not psalms) with very modern settings and the congregation was a bit floored by this! As they say, I do not think we were all singing from the same hymn sheet. If you listened carefully, you could several different verses being sung at the same time. After the service,we processed, this time 20 yards to the church hall where we had lunch and very nice too. A very interesting day. I would not have missed it for the world.

The sky was very blue and there was a farmers market on it the market square which added to the excitement with the processions.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Still Confined to Barracks

My laryngitis is still with me  but I have managed to do all sorts of odd jobs. I set about the overlocker and completed the red velvet top - - - which I do not like.
This is not my style and there is no way I would repeat this with my beautiful black velvet. The red velvet was dyed by me and was always intended as a dry run  for a length of black velvet overprinted with an Art Deco pattern in gold. The red is completed unstructured. The black will be backed with iron-on lining everywhere and I have ordered a Burda pattern which looks vaguely kimono-like. No difficult armscye and no darts.

I turned out more fabric yesterday and the dining room is deep in piles of woven fabric. I have a lot of 30-40 inch lengths, 8-10 inches wide in various weaves. Four totally different ones in four colour double weave and others in silk donsu. So lots of bags will be made. I did make a cushion cover out of the remnants of red velvet. And found several wall hangings made for the Midlands Textile Forum. Two are worth keeping, the rest will be binned. But now I am worrying because one (rather nice) is missing.

This afternoon I gardened which I can do for an hour and a half now. I think I am getting better!!!!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


I had a student here yesterday to learn about drafts and, while everything went well, I woke up this morning speechless. This does happen to me although it has not happened for a year or two. Anyway it is pouring with rain, rather chilly and I do not feel 100%. So I am not going out to my music class. Anyway the Motorway has been closed because of an accident and Reading is gridlocked.

This morning, speechless as I was, I wrote an article to be submitted to Yarnmaker and tidied up weaving samples. Recently I shoved all big weaving samples in a cupboard and pushed hard to shut the doors. Yesterday I wanted to show some of these to the student and left the mess on the floor until she left. Then I had an inspection and was quite frankly shocked. So I sorted the samples out into things which could be sold (scarves, table mats, runners, bags), things I wanted to keep as samples and things I have to take action on. Probably the biggest shock was the discovery of two lengths of woollen fabric. One is quite thick but very colourful and has been hemmed and put on the dining table. The second is five yards of 40 inch wide fabric in blue and brown fine wool. This I have no memory of at all. Clearly woven on the Megado. It will make a nice jacket. Add to that unfinished scarves and several sets of place mats! Oh well. Lots of odd jobs to be done.

Set of overshot placemats from 1986!!

Five yards of brown/blue fine wool fabric

Lots of wool fabric. I cannot think why I wove this. There is about 4 yards of it and it is too thick to be made into clothing. I do not need any more cushions.

Sunday, 8 May 2016


I went to Guild yesterday and spent most of the day sitting down so survived quite well. Indeed I felt well enough today to do gardening. Lots of planting little plants, watering other little plants,erecting bamboo stakes to plant the sweet pea seedlings round and so on.

I have taken some photos. First the auricula theatre which is now mounted on the wall and has flowering auriculas in it and secondly some really attractive very dark tulips.

Friday, 6 May 2016


I Last week turned into a nightmare. I ambled round to see my GP and asked her advice. I found myself in the Surgical Assessment Unit pronto with the registrar muttering that she had not bargained for an emergency operation. Anyway after scaring the living day lights out of me, they did a CT scan and returned all smiles. The original operation is intact and no further surgery is required. However - - . What that means I seem to be spending a lot of my future in Royal Berks hospital as a day patient. But never mind it has all worked. I actually feel better than I have for some weeks. And no I am not telling you bwhat is still wrong. It is too grisly.

To return to this week. I attended a music class in the WEA Reading house which is very civilised.  Tea and hot lardy cake! Sitting in basket chairs on the lawn. And on Thursday I went to the Lino cut class where I cut and tried out two Lino cuts. This means I got to use the Columbia press! It is in very good condition. It must be regularly serviced. I cannot show any pictures because the Lino cuts were not dry and were left in the drying rack and I forgot to take my camera for the Columbia.

We were going to London today but decided not to as it is a bit wearing. I am hoping to go next Friday and see the patola demo and the Designer Bookbinders show. Tomorrow is Guild day and I have signalled my intention to spend the day sitting down.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Serger - a laugh a minute

Ruth has had the serger since we did the Gill Arnold course. Today she came round and we started on threading up the serger, since I bought a load of different colours of overlocker threads on our Reading trip. 

So Ruth threaded up for a one needle exercise in the right colours and it all looked okay, only the machine ground to a noisy halt. One of the threads had snapped. So we started again and checked it carefully and it ran for an inch or two and it stopped again. This happened a third time. So we had a think and decided we ought to remove the unwanted needle and tried again. Failure. At which point we realised that the remaining needle was seriously bent. And it did not want to leave its nice safe home. In wrestling with it with a pair of pliers, I managed to break the needle, leaving very little to get hold of. So we called in Robin who got it out. We replaced the needle, rethreaded and it worked at which point, Ruth and I hugged each other. This had taken an hour and a half! 15 minutes later, Ruth had zoomed her way round all her skirt pieces and was a happy bunny.

Actually we stopped for lunch at this point. After lunch we set the whole thing up for my velvet and tried it out. All okay. The rest of the family was highly amused. We were very relieved.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


On Friday, Dorothy and I had a day out in London to see two exhibitions which were both first rate. The first one was at the British Museum on Sicily , full of beautiful Greek carving and sumptuous 11th century silks.And we treated ourselves to lunch in the BM restaurant. Also we got there a bit early so looked at the Japanese rooms. I was there only 8 weeks ago - and they have changed everything! There is a note saying what is shown is only a fraction of their holdings. I wonder how often they change the displays. Lovely things. An Ainu robe, a modern kimono of bashofu from Okinawa, Some wonderful modern ceramics. The BM seems to have commissioned quite a lot of the modern stuff.

After lunch we walked round to SOAS (= School of Oriental and Asian Studies, part of the University of London). They are having an exhibition of ikat. Now I had assumed  that this would be an affair of a few pieces. Not a bit of it. There are 200 pieces from all over the world. One room has half the room devoted to Japanese kasuri and the other half devoted to Uzbekistan. There is a substantial collection of African ikat and an even bigger section on South America. Not to mention Laos, Thailand, Malaysia. I recommend this exhibition: it is on till June. No photography allowed and no books available which is a pity. On May13th, they are setting up a patola demonstration and I intend to go back for that and to see the main exhibition again - and take notes.

Not content with that excursion, we went into Reading to do some shopping on Saturday. We have been here since September and this is the first time we have had such an expedition. The other attraction was a Schezuan restaurant which I wanted to try. I have to report that it is really good. It is in Friatr Street and is called Memories of Schezuan.

Today I intend to do not very much energetic. Things are not well in the operation region and I probably ought to go to bed for several days.

By the way, the SOAS exhibition had two verses of a very odd poem written up. Looking it up on the web, the author is unknown and it is a little twee on the whole but the last two verses are worth quoting.
The Masterweaver's Song

Not 'til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly
will God unroll the canvas
and reveal the reason why

The dark threads are as needful
in the weaver's skilful hand
as the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned


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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.