Tuesday, 30 August 2016


Not Lake Como but the city of Como which is said to be the premier Italian city for weaving silk and fine wool. There are hundreds of mills in the surrounding region.

We decided not to drive as the lake road is awful but instead went a few miles and picked up the hydrofoil which zooms down the lake and makes the journey in less than an hour with the added advantage of having nice views all the way.

We went up on the funicular and admired the view then set about seeing the city which is very attractive. Not noticeably touristy, more a busy city getting on with its life.
View from the top of the funicular.

Early frescos in a church.

A wonderful fabric shop where I bought tweed and silk.

And a rose window

Monday, 29 August 2016

Steamer on the Lake

Yesterday (Sunday) we went on a steamer trip from Menaggio round the central bit of the lake. It was not until the boat arrived that I realised we are talking paddle steamers here. I was so excited.

You can see in the above photo how fat it is with the two paddle wheels, one either side.

They have made a feature of the mechanism amidships.

What we saw were lots of elegant villas on the lakeside

And a summerhouse.
This is the Villa Carlotta which we visited earlier in the week.

Today I am staying at home. I am halfway through creating a draft based on a tablecloth I saw. All twill but lots of shafts, I think. It does resemble the original - a bit!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Cooking and Milan

On Friday we went to a cookery class which ended up with us returning home, slightly drunk at four o'clock having started at 1030. We ate what had been prepared and cooked. The restaurant was across the lake (used a ferry) and up a very steep hill (used a taxi). There were 11 in the class and mostly it was demos but did get o help make tortellini.

Derek, Anne, the restaurant ear and an Australian stuffing tortellini with ricotta and herbs. It was served with a tomato sauce.

The highlight was a veal loin which he carefully did not give us the recipe for. Fortunately I have taken lots of notes and photos so I aim to write this up in the next few days. Probably Monday because I aim to stay in that day.

today we went to Milan.

The cathedral with twiddly bits.

The galleria, posh shopping at its most decadent, Prada, Gucci, Versace.

Milan central station built in 1931, suffers from a severe case of gigantism.

Nice trains but then the Italians are very good engineers.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Zinnias again

I have had a restful day.

Another zinnia photo

Added later
The iPad has eaten the zinnia photo. Oh well. Have this one instead.
One of my own Morning Glories


Yesterday was spent lounging about in the morning and in the afternoon we took a ferry boat from Menaggio to Bellagio by way of Varenna. It was a drive on, drive off car ferry so much bustling about at the ferry ports. 
Later I sat by Bellagio ferry port and there are all sorts and sizes of ferry boats including a hovercraft at speed. Bellagio is noted for its many silk mills and there are shops selling silk scarves and ties. They are all printed designs and definitely in the class of bling. In other words, not for me thank you very much. It was very hot in BEllagio and it is built on a steep hill so has flights of steps in place of streets. I wilted what with the heat and the steps which is why I ended up sitting in the shade of a plane tree watching the ferry boats.

More views of the lake

And a nice house by Bellagio.

Spent the evening with Madi eating out and discussing Universities, LSE and how to choose a degree course. It would help, I pointed out, if she had an ambition for a particular profession. I think she would be better off with a gap year but that is her choice. Things were much easier when I was that age. Mind you I had a burning desire to be a radio astronomer - which I did achieve.  But then discovered in my early thirties that I loathed academia - and academics so morphed into an industrial engineer and loved it until I retired at 74. Mind you the last two years I was bored. I am a problem solver and no one was bringing new problems only old ones I could do easily.

It took me years to realise I was a problem solver - which, I think, is why I am weaver. I see something and think Would that translate into a weave?  I must admit that the most exciting bit of weaving for me is weaving the first 6 to 12 inches when I can see if  I have got it right. After that there is the boring bit of weaving the rest of the five yard warp! It also explains why I hop around from weave type to weave type.

Today is grey and overcast and a bit cooler. Nice!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta is a large house? Built in 1590. It ended up being totally redone in about 1830 at which time the gardens were laid. The sere what you go to see and they are quite something. Although it is a right hodge-pudge as far as design is concerne bamboo garden with Japanese bamboo fences

A close up of one species
And  a sort of parterre

But not enough of them in my view. And talking of views, the garden was full of them

From the terrace in front of the house.

There was a great deal of walking about in the sunshine and an abortive attempt to find the local village. And although we have hunted high and low, we have not yet found any bread. Rolls yes, bread no.

I am getting browner. This morning I am allowed off. Anne and Madi have gone wake boarding again and the rest of us are lounging about. I shall do a little work in my design book. I have been reminding myself of how to operate on iWeaveit although it is limited to 24 shafts. I have an idea for a good draft but it will need 32 shafts.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Lake Como 22nd August

We went up to the top of the lake and I took a lot of photos. There are mountains and trees and then there are more mountains and trees.

And there are things going on on the lake.

Like three small boys being taught to wind surf. All the windsurfers are tied together with rope one behind the other and instructions are yelled out m in Italian.
Telephoto lens in operation. Across the lake.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Villa at Santa Maria

The plane was very late getting to Milan and it wS twilight when we set driving north. Not helped by heavy rain. The villains spectacular with good views down to the lake. It was so late we feared that we go hungry to bed but no. The local hotel took us in, cosseted us and fed us with an extraordinary supper. This morning, the rain had stopped and the clouds were clearing.

View from my bedroom at 0730 am.
View at 1900 hours. Note there is not a cloud to be seen. 

The morning was spent tracking down a supermarket and in the afternoon we visited Menaggio which is the nearest (small) town. It is on the lake. There seemed to be a street music festival, leastways there were small groups of musicians performing under too small awnings.

There were also stalls on the lakeside selling tourist bling and nic-nacs and  about six selling food which we patronised, cheese and crystallised fruit.

Lots of sunshine and I shall sleep tonight. Tomorrow Anne and Madi are water boarding and I am going along as official photographer. Should be interesting.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Trip to Milan

The flight to Milan is delayed and several hundred people are milling about wondering how to occupy their children. Yesterday I worked very hard to do all the things I should have finished earlier in the week. We did deliver the necessary samples of our work to Greenham Arts Centre to be judged for the Berkshire Open Studios. Which entailed making labels and packing the samples up safely.

I did plant up a package of small pinks and they look very healthy this morning. 

I have been thinking about weaving, in particular, Bonnie Inouye's course in advancing twill. I looked up my records and I have a load of woven samples. I am thinking of weaving some small mats, coasters in fact. The weave wants sizing correctly so that it looks good as a four inch square. I think this can be done. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Daytrip to London

My sister, Dorothy and I went up to London for the day. We started by going to Intaglio Printmakers, a shop round the back of Tate Modern. This is staffed by experts and in  a basement. I spent very large amount of money and bought printing ink and two rollers as well as sundry other items. It is a wonderful shop but I have brought home their catalogue and now I have seen what they have and acquired small samples of some linocut papers, I can buy from them through the web.

Then we went to Tate Modern itself and `did` the current exhibition of Georgia O`Keefe. I have no idea of early stiff. The abstracts in charcoal for example and I particularly like two painting of the river in New York. We had been going to see a few other things in the exhibition halls but decided we ought to let that exhibition percolate and not spoil it. Dorothy was bowled over. After visiting the bookshop and not buying any more books on photography (but I did buy a modern beautifully illustrated Alic in Wonderland) we had lunch and set off for the Mall galleries. There is an exhibition on there till this Sunday of the Guild of Designer Craftsman and, my Goodness are they good. If I had not been weighted done with linocut stuff, I might have bought some of the ceramics. As is was I bought another Alison Dupernex cardigan! My second this year.

There was quite a bit of textile stuff including several very good weavings, the equal of anything in Convergence.
The pattern is an advancing twill and there another draft in blue silk. Cally Booker had some stuff for sale but it was badly displayed although we managed to persuade them to hang up all the scarves rather than have them folded up in a pile.

And just so you can see that we were really in London,
with St Pauls

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Mostly the Garden

I was so pleased with the space dyed yellow merino and the resulting weave that I decided to treat two skeins of blue merino (of the same make) in the same way.
 The dyes used were dark grey and red. The red has of course turned into purple but it is not very different from the dark grey and overall the effect is dark. The undyed skein is on the right. Nothing for it now but to try it out.
A photo of all the zinnias. Did I say I love zinnias? I grew them from seed as I did the daturas below.

And below is a photo of the greenhouse. Dominated at the moment by 36 delphinium plants but there are some seedlings of sweet william, rudbeckia and oriental poppies.
I have lots of photos of quilts but do not feel I can show them without the names attached which I have not got. It is nice to be home and sorting things out but I am off to Lake Como next Saturday. Which I am hoping will be restful but Anne is organising this trip and I fear that every day will be planned.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Festival of Quilts

We are staying in Birmingham for two nights in order to attend the Festival of Quilts. Really it is Dorothy who is the quilter and I am just along for the ride. But I have met several people I know which does not happen at any other show I attend. I attended two lectures and a catwalk show. The last was a total waste of time, very unfashionable and rather boring. The two talks, by Cecile Trentini and Clare Benn, were about inspiration and were very good and useful even to a weaver. The quilts in the exhibitions are the usual range from naff to exquisite. I believe they hang everything submitted and then award prizes. The prize winners were exceptional. I did a spot of shopping, nothing exciting, just some calico for toiles, a new roller cutter and some handbag fixings.

The two talks certainly provided food for thought and I have another design on the books as a result.

Other news is that I have started on the generation of the pages for the Lament of the Makars and have covered the first eight verses. There are another seven verses to do. Looking good so far. Expect photos this weekend.

I must return to the fan reed length on the Kombo though I have not got a use for this. It was warped up to use as another example in the fan reed book but there are three yards of warp. So I have decided to finish it off and use it as samples to send the Fine Threads Study Group of Complex Weavers In September. That means getting on with the weaving.

There were a nasty two days earlier this week getting Ice Shards back from Convergence. I was told very firmly when it left the UK that to get it back, I must tell the UK courier exactly what date and where it was to be collected at the USA end. Despite several frantic emails I could not raise anyone in HGA who could tell me where the ********* thing was.  So I was very surprised when it just arrived! It is all okay but someone must have disobeyed instructions very effectively. I did send a letter with the original submission  telling HGA what I had been to do. Oh well, no point wasting energy on it. It is home and that is all that matters.

Dorothy and I are registering for Berks Open Studios 2017 and I need to send three pieces of weaving to be assessed. I am going to use Ice Shards and the silk piece of yardage shown in Convergence 2012. The third item will be a book covered in some double cloth. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


Wisley is the garden of the Royal Horticultural Society and we visited today. At this time of year, the herbaceous borders are the draw.

So we noted the names of plants we fancied. The greenhouses were pretty good too with lots of fuschias and hibiscuses. But it has to be said that my zinnias are pretty good too.

At the art Journalling class in Milwaukee, I produced a line drawing and wondered if it would translate into a weaving draft. It does.
The bookbinding room has been tidied up. This was mainly dealing with the large number of linocuts I seem to have made. Now it is all put away, I could in theory bind a book!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Convergence III

I attended a class on Art Journalling today. I have this feeling that I am not a proper artist unless I keep a sketch book full of brilliant ideas for future projects. I have several sketch books which have the first few pages full of mediocre drawings and ideas which have been abandoned. I am not quite sure what I am expecting from these sketch books but whatever it is, I am not appreciating it (them?). My ideas for weaving seem to appear unheralded from thin air. I can even remember where some of them appeared.  For instance, the Association some years ago announced that they wanted contributions which would fit into a CD case and it was to be based on a song. I thought of all the operas I knew but no inspiration appeared and I got quite annoyed about the whole idea. Then one day I was driving home and turned the corner to cross the River Severn when the thought came. It does not have to be opera, it could be a musical say South Pacific and I had six songs sorted out ten minutes later when I got home.

But that does not help with the sketch book idea and I could do with some ideas for dealing with my stash. Perhaps I should approach it that way. Get out some problem skeins and ask myself why and what I should do with them

 To return to today. After a very good Italian dinner, we went to the Complex Weavers show, Complexity. Lots of lovely things but the jackets could have done with being on mannequins or at least a decent coat hanger. And some things had not travelled well and badly needed a pressing.

My favourite is the last photo.

Tomorrow I start the long haul home. Milwaukee to Atlanta to Heathrow. I do not have much time to change flights. Less than an hour so I hope I make it.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Convergence II

The two day class is finished. The most effective wAy to transfer an image is by way of a Tshirt transfer. You get really good results from this. But the method is no use for a warp. Today I am at a similar class and I was a big fearful that I would be doing the same techniques again. Not a bit of it. There are three methods. One is no use for a warp, the other would work fine. 

Last night was the catwalk show. It is noticeable that the attendance is down. I guess about 500 people. I have attended when there were over 1500. This is partly shown up in the yardage exhibition where there were 18 pieces on display. In the last few years it has been 28 to 30. The standard has not gone up noticeably.

There was a talk today by the juror of yardage which was very interesting but not helpful. She was careful to say nothing in the way of criticism

My piece is second from the right hand end.

I visited the exhibitions this afternoon and walked round to the Milwaukee library where there was an exhibition of small tapestry. Really intricate work and lots of entries.

Tomorrow we are visiting Complexity, the Complex Weavers show. It is a long way and we have decided to take a taxi. 


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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.