Tuesday, 30 May 2017

More Wall

We have seen lots of Wall, walked beside lots of Wall and done two spectacular museums. The Roman Army Museum is quite small but very good with lots of recreations. The other was Vindolanda which is overrun by excavators and archaeologists. While we were there, one of them found a shoe. The museum has thousands of shoes and probably more important, thousands of writing tablets. Bits of wood which have been preserved in the boggy ground. And they contain all sorts of info from 'I am sending you two pairs of socks'.  to posh invites to a birthday party. And there is the best part of a large dinner service which arrived broken and was thrown in a ditch unused. Very beautiful. It must have been for the CO and I bet his wife cursed.

In amongst this we have stayed at really luxurious B and Bs and the standard of food has been high. The standard of my walking has not been so good and I had to abandon the walk on Sunday when I saw what I was supposed to tackle next. I knew I could not make it up that steep hill. Has not stopped me walking several miles a day though.

  Entrance to fort strongroom where the soldier's pay was stored.

Sparrow building a nest 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Hadrian's Wall

Ruth and Robin drove me up north from Reading to Carlisle yesterday. It took all day. Anne and her family were leaving home later in the day and did not arrive until 10 pm whereas we arrived at 5pm. Lovely dinner at a rather nice family hotel. This morning we were off before 9am and the luggage was obviously collected and taken to our next stop because it was waiting for us when we arrived in the evening.

No bits of stonework to specify the Wall for several hours of walking but then all of a sudden was the first sight of Hadrian's wall.

 After that, lots and lots of steep hills and Roman stonework.  I am not too good going up hills these days (just getting old) and so I slowed the group pace a lot. We ended up by walking 12 miles and my muscles were beginning to complain at the end. 
 A major fort just off the wall itself. Lots of sheep and cattle around
 And this is what the surrounding country side looks like. Lots of bog plants so must be very boggy, so no cereal cultivation. Just sheep and cows for beef.

Went to the local pub, the Milecastle Inn, which is totally isolated on the moors. Food terrific,place packed out.

Tomorrow we are only walking five miles.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Chelsea Flower Show

First the weaving. I have woven 2 metres of the stuff and made myself sick in the process. So it was just as well I had a visit to Chelsea Flower Show for today organised months ago. Anne and Dorothy came with me and Anne caused a lot of head turning.
by wearing her hat which I call Tallulah Bankhead and she calls Carmen Miranda.

We did not care much for the Show Gardens, altogether too many painted  steel beams and sheets. But the Pavilion was its usual magnificent self.
 A particularly fine bonsai
 No idea what these are but nice.
 A rose on David Austin's stand
 Who would have guessed there were so many colours of potatos

A tuk-tuk decorated with fresh flowers. Five horticultural colleges were given a tuk-tuk each and had to decorate it. So there were five of which I thought this was the best but the judges gave the Gold Medal to someone else.

Other info. We all had a good time and were exhausted at the end. Dorothy who is very keen on the Underground said 'That's a good idea' when I said we should take a taxi back to Waterloo Station. It has to be said that the most interesting - and most beautiful - things in the Show were two photographic exhibitions. The first was run by the RHS and the photos were blown up to a lrge size. The other was startling. We came across a small display of about eight photos of seed pods. They were jewels or abstract art, I don't know which. I found myself saying These are lovely to a young lady, only to discover she was the photographer so naturally we continued the conversation!! The reason why they look jewel-like is that there are no shadows because she uses a light tent so loads of diffused ambient light. And the photography is impeccable. She is going a publish a book containing these but she reckons it will be in 2019. Her name is Anna Laurent and she can be found at www.annalaurent.com/photography

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Getting somewhere

I have been weaving steadily after some time removing errors. And I really did not like the colours when woven so after a lot of practise runs and twisting of threads together, I settled on a dark brown cottolin for both patterns. But of course I only have 250 gms of that. So much consultation with William Hall and Co. I ought to get the yarn on Wednesday but I have enough to weave my required three yards or very close to it. So it seems like I might meet the deadline of June 1st.

I find it quite wearing trying to weave a metre a day. I managed 0.75 metres yesterday and will probably manage that today too.

Since I have done nothing else but weave, there is nothing else to report. We did have an interesting artist visiting us. He talked about his college day where his tutors used to hand out three words and they had to make a work of art from the,. His were fabric, plaster and weaving. The interesting thing is of course this is what Kennet Valley Guild calls Blackjack. Our three topics are weave, and two restrictions like do it in black and white or use mohair. Interesting.

Friday, 19 May 2017

More Cheerful.

This blog is for readers over 65 years old.

Lately there has been a TV ad with a song attached about boots. This has been bothering me for some days and I woke up at five one morning, having a eureka moment and remembering some more words. So I looked it up on the website and it was 'These boots are meant for walking' sung by Nancy Sinatra in 1966. That was a good decade for me and very exciting. At the end of it, I had given up academia and become a commercial engineer, much more fun. It was seeing Nancy in thigh high black boots that triggered memories. I had those! And A-line dresses in solid colours. No pattern any where. We owned a very elderly Mini but had risen to a Cortina at the end of the decade. You try getting two toddlers, their belongings and a pushchair in a 1959 Mini. (Yes ours was built in August 1959, the first month of Minis).  

Michael wrote two books on computing which became best sellers. They were translated into lots of  languages which meant lots of money. Hence the change from a Mini to a Cortina.
As I said, a good decade for us.

Fed Up, Browned Off and Gritting my Teeth

I have at last got the warp sleyed and tied on - and the crossing errors corrected. The draft (unreasonably complicated) is ready. I freely admit that I do not like the colours now I see the whole pattern. Dorothy likes the back much more that the front. I spent some time late last night searching for a suitable yarn to replace the brown silk noil but could not find enough of anything that would be an improvement so have decided to grit my teeth and go with the original colour plan.

You have probably realised that no photos have been shown recently. As with Cally Booker. We are both doing a piece to be included in the Complex Weavers book and there are strict rules about no prior publication. I am not at all clear on whether blogs count as publication but better safe than sorry. (There are too many clich├ęs in this blog). I will take the woven length to Guild when completed (if ever) so some people will see it.

The 'fed up browned off' state is me this morning realising that I have still have to weave the damn thing. I have today to myself so should get somewhere, even if it is only to decide to terminate the project.

Two lovely prospects. One, I am going to Chelsea Flower Show next Tuesday with Anne and Dorothy. Two, I have been watching the irises which grow along the Kennet and Avon Canal. When I was there on Monday there were a few flowers out and lots to come. Dorothy says that elsewhere in the neighbourhood, there are banks of them. So I might knock off to do a bit of photography this afternoon.

And on the topic of photography, I have discovered the pleasures of courses run by Craftsy. I have nearly completed all the lessons on 'Landscape Photography'. I eventually, after several lessons, found the materials list. All I can say is that I do not think my accountant would stand for me buying all the gear the tutor thinks you ought to have. And I would certainly have to abandon any thought of foreign travel for a year or two.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

More Progress

The threading is going well. I should be done tomorrow. Just hope there are not too many errors. In between bouts of threading up, I have planted all the plants we bought earlier this week. There has been a fair amount of rain in the last few days and the newly planted plants should be okay. Annuals have planted out.


And lots of PCIs. These were all brought from Malvern. I specified to the estate agent that I reserved the right to take any plants I wanted plus all the irises!

The other good news that I had an email from Lori Sauer saying she had a place on her regular bookbinding class and did I want it? The answer has been an enthusiastic YES. I am going to concentrate on binding in leather. I have done a little but I need practise to get more confident. I have a couple books all ready to bind. The course is in Salisbury so it is a fair step from here but the classes are on Saturday soThe other course I have signed up for is one run by the Designer Bookbinders with Mark Cockram. He is very famous and I keep wondering if I am going to get shouted at for incompetence. Once I get past the deadline for Complex Weavers and the Open Studios, I will be a lot happier. Lately life has returned to what it was like when I had a company and got up at six to get a good start on the day. One of my customers used to get into work at six and got the shock of his life when I rang him at six once to ask a technical question.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Threading Up

The deadline for submission to the Complex Weavers Book is approaching faster than I want.I have the warps on and am threading up which is spread over 16 shafts. And it is very complicated. I can manage 120 threads (half a pattern) in an hour which is slow for me. I keep checking the last threading. The house being open for Open Studios does not help and I am off to Hadrian's Wall before June 1st (the deadline for the CW book). So my life is parcelled out according to a timetable. This morning I was up at six to thread up and did half a pattern. I am off to Wokingham later and the gardeners are here and need attention but I will get back in there this afternoon and do another half pattern. Seven patterns in all and I must finish by Monday. I have allowed a day for looking for errors and then it is weave, weave, weave. I must be bonkers.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Progress on the Megado warp

It has taken some time to wind the ten yard warp onto the Megado. I started putting the first warp on the sectional warp beam. Not quite according to Crocker. It took from Sunday evening to Tuesday morning. Then I started on the second warp which went on to the second plain warp beam. Finished just after lunch. So ready to start threading up tomorrow morning. And what, I hear my critical friends say, did you do with the rest of the afternoon?  The answer is had a filling at the dentist and spent the rest of the afternoon waiting for my face to unfreeze.


We bought these on Monday. They need planting.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Warp done

In between opening the studio, I managed to finish winding the  warp for Complex Weavers. The deadline is June 1st and yes I know it is only a few weeks away. I am busily cancelling appointments and outings!!

Here is the warp or rather here are the warps. two of them.

The yellow one is cotton ( what I think of as the top cloth) and the multi-coloured one is bamboo (the lower cloth). But of course they interchange - frequently.  I do not think I have used pure bamboo before. It has a lovely soft feel which will be wasted on curtains which is what this fabric is going to end up as. We have a drafty house and need a door curtain.

Other than that, it is more Open Studios today but not for two hours so I am going to pot up my lupin seedlings and plant the French beans. I have bought some auriculas which need potting up but no suitable compost so that is tomorrow's job. Some are in flower and they are lovely.

Saturday, 6 May 2017


Sandra Rude has posted photos of some gorgeous Tall Bearded irises. Just to keep the Uk end up, below is a photos of two of my Californian irises(Pacific Coast irises). There are lots more coming. In fact the garden is looking good but needs some work which, of course, I do not have time for.

I have wound 75% of the warp for the Megado. This weekend is more Open Studios, so not much else will get done.

What with fighting with the printer (it will not print), having trouble down loading files and finding that the loudspeakers are not connected to my desktop, I am feeling that 'Things are against me'

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Open Studios

I reached home at about 1700 on Friday and collapsed in a heap but next day Open Studios started and we were open over the weekend. Lots of visitors came and we chatted happily. But it has to be said that other things did not get done. And then on Monday (Bank Holiday) we were both stewarding at the Open Studios Exhibition at Greenham. Hard work. Loads of people and I learnt a lot. The most of which was that Open Studios is really devoted to  painters. The visitors walked straight past the lovely ceramics (which are the best thing in the show) and the jewellery and the textiles and di not look at anything else. Dorothy and I each had a wall hanging which were basically hidden.

So without too much thought we have decided not to do it again. It has taken us weeks of effort to put everything together for opening the studios and now it seems like a waste of time. Never mind, I reckon both of us have Christmas presents for family and friends for the next two years.

 I arrived home from Greece to be reminded that this year I am in charge of some of the Bookbinders bursary applications and the deadline was last Sunday. So in amongst everything else, I have scanned in the applications and bunged them out to judges. I myself intend to read them thoroughly this evening sitting in front of MASH.

The other point to note is that I have wound a great deal of the warp for Complex Weavers but have more to go. There are two warps and one is early finished. The other one is multi-coloured and needs a bit of thought - - - which I will go off and apply now!!

On the way home

I am sitting on a plane which has just left Athens bound for Heathrow. The whole group flew in from Milos - on the only plane there is on one day! Very early. So we have all been mouching around Athen airport, drinking coffee and having desultory conversations about photography.

I would not go back to Milos. There is not enough of interest. Jacqui is doing a course in Morocco next April but says they intend to trek through the Atlas Mountains. I think that is a bit beyond me. But I fancy Morocco. Souks and bazaars sound good to me.

I have spent a hour or two this morning planning my life over the next month. The Berkshire Open Studios starts  tomorrow and lasts three weeks but in between I must deal with my entry for the Complex Weavers book. This means finishing the draft, winding the warp of 12 yards, getting it on the Megado and weaving it. It is going to be tight. However everything else can wait till June. Progress will be reported.

Some photos from the last few days.
At the manganese mines

The church in Pollonia where we stayed.


A piece of carefully sited drift wood.

So what have I learnt? What lots of the camera buttons do and what apps, equipment other people use. I have ordered some stuff from amazon which should arrive today.  One thing I must do is take photos of our layout for the Open Studios. Personally I think Dorothy has the right idea. She is off to Scotland for a break with friends immediately the Open Studios closes,


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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.