Sunday 30 July 2017

An Existentialistic Crisis

A few years ago, I was accused of having an existentialist crisis which was me collaring anyone who would listen and pouring out my worries. I cannot for the life of me remember what the crisis was or how it was resolved. Anyway the current one centres on whether or not to buy a TC2.

Today my nephew came round (he knows about buildings. He used to build airports. These days he builds stores.)  He inspected the house for possible sites and suitable temperature ranges. Unless we can control the garage temperature, the garage is out. Any where upstairs we need to spread the load and it is impossible to house the pump unit without having the builders in. All in all a sorry tale.

And a friend has written to me asking a load of questions about the TC2. Really concentrating on what do I get out of having a TC2. The answer is I am not sure. Especially since the TC2 software seems to do most of the hard work of drafting.

Last night I had a dream. Now this is relevant. And rather startling. I was been talked to by my sister and Rosie Price and various other friends and they were all getting on to me about the TC2. I turned away and said I would do something else in stead, like writing a book and it would be different. I would take a design I had already completed and repeat the weave in three other yarns of different thickness but the same colours. And behold the book was in my hands full of wonderful photos doing just what I said. At which interesting point I woke up. Now I am not sure the book will get written but is this a way of giving me a major project for the rest of my life. I do not think I am buying the TC2. The upheaval would be tremendous.

And on a more cheerful note, the camera club has set three challenges, one of which is Machinery. The idea has exercised me for a month but this morning I took a lot of pictures of Dorothy sewing up her current quilt.

Now to find for the other two challenges.

Saturday 29 July 2017

Weaving Day

Yesterday I went to an office in Bracknell and saw a photographic exhibition. Beautifully laid out, each photo was several foot across. All done by professionals and technically perfect. I thought about a third were wonderful. The rest was me - - I did not like them and in most cases said 'So?' As one judge at the local camera said 'where is the story?'

Today I drove over to Newbury and looked at the local camera club exhibition. A mistake after yesterday's excellence. Then I went off to the Guild's Weaving Study Day for this month. Lots of people with their looms and lots of gossip. I discovered all sorts of things I had forgotten Like I need my entries for the 2017 Exhibition to be delivered in 2 weeks. And I have a scarf to complete and the bookmarks to mount. I will start by trying to find a big sheet of foam board. Dorothy says there are some in the garage.

I meant to take a photo in the garden for this blog but high winds and lashing rain discouraged me. The zinnias look good and so do the sweet peas and the crop of French beans is threatening to overwhelm us.

Wednesday 26 July 2017


I have a project to weave some velvet. Since this is a new one on me, I decided to weave a project from Deb Essen's book on Supplementary warps. And I have spent all day fighting with it. First I used some velvet rods I have by me but the results were poor - tracked down to the rods being too small. A hasty dash into Reading got me three of everything they had with a cross-section not more than 6mm on a side - four different cross-sections.. The next trial made the yarn pull out. Tracked down to the track for the cutting knife being too deep. Fortunately I had something more suitable and at last!!!

Showing the rods in place before slitting the warp yarn I cannot say I like the effect but I will be trying again on my project. I shall set about that tomorrow.

Sunday 23 July 2017

I have done very little in the last two days. We had a visitor all the week and I delivered her to the local station on Saturday while Dorothy went to Cambridge to see an old friend. I did nothing all day, except some gardening and reading books on photographs. Today I spent the morning dealing with paperwork like taxing the car and organising Anne's birthday. Anne has had an accident, fell off a horse and cracked a rib. So feeling sorry for herself.

The zinnias are out and I am running out twice a day to gloat.

But I have not said that our trellis of sweet peas and French beans has done very well indeed. I noted last autumn that the Royal Horticultural Society had completed trials on French beans and they voted a variety called Cobra as the very best. So I planted Cobra this year and it has done magnificently. The taste is really good and the crop is enormous. We are deep freezing two thirds of the crop. As for the sweet peas, last year they were fine but I attended Hampton Court Flower Show  in 2016 and came across a nursery selling sweet pea seeds and the colours were good, dark rather than wishy washy. So I sowed these in November in the greenhouse and worried about them all winter. We are swamped by sweet peas. And have taken to giving them to neighbours. And the colours are great 
A zinnia, the first of the crop

And a few sweet peas.

Tomorrow we are off to Hilliers arboretum to show Dorothy the Centennial border. Photos will be taken 

And I have done some weaving.

Thursday 20 July 2017


Some months ago I volunteered to help out at the National Needlework Archive south of Newbury. I cannot embroider and am not to be trusted with a needle near their great conservation work 'The Country Wife' which is an enormous hanging made for the WI in 1951 (I think). What I can do and what is very unpopular with everyone else is entering up everyone's notes on computer files. It is not that demanding but does require attention. The notes are handwritten in pencil and are not always easy to decipher/ There is nothing for it but to put a best guess and put (sp?) after the word. I think I am catching up. There are over 60 sections each with its corresponding file and I can update 2 or 3 files per visit which is about once a week. I can see I am going to be doing this until after Christmas.

I left at ten this morning and so had time to finish the sleying on the Deb Essen velvet project. I need to tidy up and tie on which I ought to get done in a day or two.

I am still  thinking about the TC2. Today Dorothy and I played a game of what else could you buy for that amount and would you (buy it)? A world cruise - forget it, I can think of think of nothing less entertaining, Trip to Antartica? - forget that. A Maserati? I am too old to fold up properly to get in a sports car. You should have asked 40 years ago.  A conservatory? I have a greenhouse already. (By the way my tomatoes are doing really well and the zinnas are showing colour).  I could buy a Schacht - now there is a good suggestion. And with that thought, I will leave you.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

The Vyne

The Vyne is a Tudor house about 20 minutes drive from here and we visited it this morning. It now belongs to the National Trust who decided some years ago that they had to repair the roof and save up for it. Today It is encased in scaffolding and visitors can take a lift up (very industrial lift clearly intended primarily for materials) and walk round on a gangway and watching people working. Today they were beatintg sheets of lead into shape and sealing the junctions between roofs with the lead.
From this viewpoint you can see how complicated the roof is!! The house is not really open but the gardens are georgeous with a Tudor brick summerhouse and a very large walled garden where they sweet peas are doing much better than mine - and I thought mine were good.
I would not mind one like this in my garden.

I have finished a project!! Making a shirt from some nice batik fabric (bought at Convergence 2008) eked out with some plain green. This has been on the list for years.

Now to finish warping up the Kombo.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Still Thinking

I have consulted with various members of the family. They all say much the same. You have to take the decision yourself. But my son-in-law, Robin, asked the critical question. If you spend that much money on this loom, you will want to work on it all the time. Are you going to give up bookbinding and Lino cuts? Well I ask you. You cannot be serious!! So I am still undecided. 

I have been fighting with Picasa, the web album which Google bought and then abandoned. I have discovered how to transfer photos out of Picasa and into a folder under Dropbox. So I have done people, discovering ancient photos of New Year family do's. and most of holidays and trips to Stately homes. I am nearly finished on 'holidays'! I do have a load of garden plants to do. I find it difficult to feel they are worth the effort of transferring to my desktop. So I have decided to transfer only high class photos. 

In amongst all this, I have finished a shirt in various batik patterns today. I have the buttons and will get the buttonholes done first thing tomorrow.

Saturday 15 July 2017

TC2 Course

It was hard work for three days, not physically but mentally. I thought I was a Photoshop expert but not for weaving. So we practiced all sorts of techniques and I am not sure I will remember them all. I have not made my mind up one way or the other about buying one. I have sent for a cost and my nephew. He is chief engineer for a group including Currys and PC World and knows about floor loading etc. My second problem is where to site it in the house and what to do about the pump. Cally Booker has her eye on the Megado so that would be its future sorted. And the TC2 could take the Megado's position. Questions are would the floor take the weight and where does the pump get sited. It must be reasonably close but not in the same room as it is noisy. There is also the small matter of the cost. My Scottish heart is jibbing a bit.

 The Tc2 in Belinda's (very nice) studio. It is the same height as I am to a cm. I am five foot five.
The weaver stands at the left.
My sample weaves. The section at the top is me practising with a three colour image.
Belinda's studio

The only thing that spoilt the course was driving back on Friday. I started from just north of Dundee at 0645 and staggered into our house at 1715. There had been road works on the M6 and I was shattered. I am too old for that kind of driving. So today I am catching up very slowly.

Sunday 9 July 2017

Getting ready

Tomorrow I drive north, a long way north, to Banchory where Belinda Rose lives. I am staying with Carly Booker on Monday. She lives South of Belinda by 90 minutes driving. The reason is that I am on my way to a three day course on the TC1  if it is not the TC2.  This is to show me how the loom works and if I want to buy one. It has almost come down to  do I want a TC1 or a Columbia. The problem is that while I can get the Columbia into the garage in the sense there is space for it. But how? Would I finish up hiring a crane like Tracey and her Jacquard loom? I will let you know how I get on!

I am hoping to get out and about in Banchory with my camera. I have several projects on in photography. Top of the list is to put together a portfolio about Burghfield Common. Well, as I said, I am going to have a six months rest from weaving.

Saturday 8 July 2017


Those of you who have read this blog for a long time will know I am an opera lover. But recently I have not been much - until the last week! I have been to three! Firstly we watched Turandot in the telly as done on the Sydney docks. All the effort went into creating a spectacle. The arena was so big and the cameras so far away that little figures pranced about a distant stage and it was difficult to deduce what was going on. and they pruned one of my favourite arias. The singers were so so. 

Then on Thursday I went to see the new Glyndebourne opera, Hamlet, but in film. A lot of blood in the last ten minutes. Not a bundle of laughs. It was brilliantly sung. And very well produced. The critics said it was wonderful and would still be in the repertory in fifty years. I disagree but there you are.

And now to today. Dorothy and I took a train to London and went to a matinee of Turandot in Covent Garden. And discovered Sydney had thrown out more than I remembered. And Covent Garden was a great performance. The only drawback was that Turandot's high notes were squawky.  But a great time was had by both of us. And we had crepes for lunch which added to the general feeling of satisfaction.

The mundane side of life is very mundane. For some years, I have wanted to sort out my photos on the computer. The problem is Picasa which was bought by Google and then closed down. My problem that I need to check what is on Picasa and not on by computers. After several hours of work I discovered how to copy albums from Picasa to my desk top. I still have a lot to do but I have transferred all the really important.

Monday 3 July 2017

Scarves (Various)

I finished off the rainbow scarf on a silk warp and took it into the Guild's Show and Tell on Saturday. Spent the day gossiping which is one of the advantages of not being Chairman. I had a great time.
The photo background is not very suitable and has swallowed up the blue. I started the next scarf which has a weft of a boucle cotton and linen mix. I have no record of where this came from but it has clearly been dyed in an array of light blue shades. I have overdyed two balls  of the yarn a darker (solid) blue.
The originals are the balls in the foreground. I will create a few stripes of darker blue amongst the mainly lighter yarn.

I have also wound 6 warps today. My next project which  I have a deadline for, is velvet about which I know nothing. I did acquire velvet rods a year or so ago but I need to start. Some months ago I bought Deb Essen's book which contains a section on velvet. The book (available from Interweave) is not what I expected. It is a set of projects, one of which is velvet. I read this with care twice last week and decided that rather than set out to adapt it to my requirements, I would start by carrying out her velvet project. Hence the 6 warps, one for ground and five for the pattern (velvet). So I selected suitable yarns, roughly corresponding with the author's, wound the warp and wound it on. This did require that I dismantle the Louet Kombo. It was last used with a fan reed and has to be unscrewed and re assembled for normal use. It is now all set for threading up tomorrow.

  The above is our monarda. Last summer it was half the dimensions. This year it is five foot and has been in flower for three weeks. It will go on until September.

And for those of you who follow this blog regularly, the zinnias are coming on very nicely.


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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.