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.


Blog Archive

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.