Thursday, 8 December 2016

Studio Joy: addendum

IKEA racks on the back of the door.

I can listen to music without headphones. Radio 3 is a frequent companion.

I can sing along to said music without alarming anyone (it has to be said that me singing along to the bass parts in Walton's Belshazzar's Feast would alarm the most sturdy soul!)

My favourite armchair and blankie are just across the landing for knitting / thinking / reading / crochet breaks.

A purring cat on my lap or at my feet.

I will be sharing this happy place with an Open Studio Weekend, January 14-15th 2017. Message me for details. There will be cake!

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Studio Joy

Since beginning this journey from utility textiles to textile art, there have been many permutations of studio spaces. At one point during my BA I had small workspaces in Leicester, Northants and Jura simultaneously; keeping track of what was where was a logistical challenge, but I learned to pack light (eventually) and trusty trolley Marilyn came into her own:-

as she still does!

With the arrival of Lemminkäinen I now have a single studio, small (10' X 10') but near perfect for me; I have to be well-organised, which is a good discipline, but I have my desk, my books and equipment, and my loom. The studio faces south, so I know that the sea is only a mile away as I gaze out of the window; the sky over the sea is almost always beautiful. When I sit at Lemminkäinen, who resides against the north wall, the sun often shines on my back. I have a prism in the window, so I often work in rainbows. Other advantages:-

Close proximity of good tea.

I can (and often do) work in my PJs first thing in the morning.

I can work late into the night without travel concerns.

Doglet and catkin are faithful companions, if not any actual use!

Desk and loom are only a step apart, so ideas can flow between most easily.

I can weave, draw, plan or journal in even the shortest periods of time.

Last week, when my old back problem flared up, I was able to carry on weaving (if only a little) between lyings down.

You can probably tell that my studio is one of my happy places, and I am well content.

And I have this splendid sign, salvaged from a rubbish dump, on the door.

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Sunday, 13 November 2016

On the Mending of Bobbins

My favourite ebony bobbin, the one that has been my faithful weaving companion throughout, came apart again; my whipping technique was not enough to withstand my weaving technique!

Enter my colleague Andrew, of Artisan Bobbins, who mended it with glue and boxwood dowels (only 2mm diameter!) with ebony shards. Watching a craftsman at work is always a delight, and he was very happy to be trying out his new lathe to turn the dowels.

Very glad to have it back in working order; the reserve bobbin was just not the same.

Location:West Dean

'Geode (139:15)' : Panels 1-4 Completed

I have been adding extra texture to what will be the outer surfaces of the geode form by weaving thinner wefts over singles (using my lovely treadles :-)) and thicker ones over quads, as I did for 'Shrine'. Texture and form are my thing.

Location:The Loom Room

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

'Geode (139:15)': First Panel

The weaver's cat does like a basket to curl up in......

I finished this first panel on Monday evening. I am pleased with the 'crusty' effect of weaving with sari ribbon. There are also amethyst chips and other beads embedded in areas. I will attempt to take some close ups next time I am at home in daylight. Yesterday I put the next pair of cardboard spacers in and wove the slim triangular area between panels which will become a rib when the piece folds up. Moving back into single warps for that area enabled me to use my new treadles again. After a busy day at the office, I am just re-energising myself with tea (M&S Extra Strong, loose leaf; splash of whole milk) before beginning panel 2. I received a parcel today with more stocks of the Coton à Broder which figures in the pink to mauve areas, so there is nothing to hold me back.

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Monday, 17 October 2016

'Geode (139:15)' : The Weaving Begins

As it turned out, making the treadles work on Lemminkäinen was as easy as tightening a bolt. The contortions necessary to reach said bolt are another thing! But they work, and made weaving the header so much faster than usual.

The cartoon stitched on, card spacers inserted, and the beginning of the first inner panel:-

The layout plan in miniature. The observant will notice that it is rotated 180 from the cartoon. There are fourteen panels; seven inner and seven outer. Starting with one of the inner ones, the join will be hidden inside the hollow form.

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Restoring Lemminkäinen to Life: Part the Fourth

Tied onto the cloth beam; shed sticks made of scrap Perspex from WD workshop. I like to recycle and reimagine :-))

Ready to go....

And lo, she weaveth!! Only the scrap header, but even so. It is so great to be able to open a whole shed for this bit, rather than picking a few warps at a time. I already LOVE having heddles!

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Restoring Lemminkäinen to Life: Part the Third

Heddled and tied on to the warp beam.

Chained and secured with ladybirds :-) (I use clothes pegs of all sizes in so many ways)

Wound onto the warp beam with corrugated cardboard.

Ready to tie onto the cloth beam - in the next exciting instalment :-))

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Restoring Lemminkäinen to Life: Part the Second

All photos taken on iPhone for Instagram; apologies if quality is poor on larger scale.

Clamping the beater assembly to access the reed.

The reed marked for the width of 'Geode(139:15)' (Because, yes, I did decide to start with a smaller project!)

The warp (Weavers Bazaar linen, as used for 'Shrine') on my improvised warping board.

Chained warp (136 ends, 2.7m)

The reed sleyed and chained in bundles of eight. This is my first ever warping of a vertical loom, and, apart from my rigid heddle loom, the first sleying I have done in 10 years - that was on a 16 shaft Dobby loom at De Montfort.

I am hugely grateful to Tommye Scanlin's Tapestry Share blog for guidance:-

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Restoring Lemminkäinen to Life: Part the First

All built, but awaiting the heddles / shafts. 'Historic' warp from previous owner - now removed but will be recycled.

I had to remove and tidy away rather a lot of other stuff from the loom room, but managed to retain my drawing desk and the windowsill of curiosities.

Lemminkäinen's bee arrived in a parcel, so he can now be brought to life....

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

On the Naming of Looms (and Other Equipment)

In my family, we have always given names to our cars, so it seems sensible to name other significant objects. In my weaving life it began with a custom-made plumb bob:-

Athena-Mae, named for the Greek Goddess who invented weaving, and Mae West for those curves! She was turned by Tjeerd, one of the WD clockies, from a sketch of mine.
When I needed a solid brass bobbin for beating heavy jute ('Lament'), Clockie David came to the rescue. A Clockie who shall remain nameless wanted it called 'The Penetrator', but we compromised on Zeus!

And so to Aragorn, the Ashford loom; made in New Zealand, close to where they filmed a certain film from a favourite book...

Lemminkäinen was made in Finland at some indeterminate time in the past, and came to me via Ireland. I listen to Sibelius a lot when I weave, so was familiar with the name, if not the legend. I read it the other day and it fitted so well; the hero Lemminkäinen is killed and dismembered, his mother finds all the pieces and reassembles his body, but it is only with the help of a bee and special honey that he is restored to life. My bee arrives tomorrow!

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Lemminkäinen* has Landed (Dreams do sometimes come true)

When I was starting as a tapestry weaver, I felt very grateful to be able to have an Ashford tapestry frame loom (known as Aragorn), and then to work on a scaffold loom at WD and subsequently acquire one of my own (Sid). I never imagined that I would ever have a 'proper' two shaft tapestry loom to accommodate the big work I long to do. Yesterday, thanks to the wonderful 'Eaton Fund for Artists, Nurses and Gentlewomen' and fifteen crowdfunding backers, I received two packages containing a 2.0m weaving width Varpapuu two-shaft loom, of unknown age, from Finland via Southern Ireland.

The packages. Three of us. No hernias!

Added by a previous owner :-)

Beginning construction...

From left to right: cloth beam, upper beam, heddling bar and bits, warp beam. The linen aprons are in good order, with only some minor repairs needed to the loops. A friend is sending me a copy of her original instruction manual for the same model of loom; the only other thing is to make two new lamms to attach the other pairs of treadles as I do not think the previous owner had these (the lamms; the treadles are there). They should be easy enough to do, even with my minimal woodworking skills. The reed is my favourite sett, but is not full width (I knew this when I committed to buying it), so I will need to order one.

I need to find my rubber mallet in order to knock the frame together enough to fasten the bolts - I have the big spanner to hand. Am also revising my knowledge of making a warp and dressing a reeded, beamed loom with heddles. I have been using frame looms for seven years, so it is a long time since I beamed, sleyed and tied up :-))

I have not known whether to dance for joy or weep with gratitude! So many kind people believing in me and my work.

Now, of course, I am wondering whether, rather than launching straight into the large version of 'Shrine', I should try a smaller project and make 'Geode(139:15)' on Lemminkäinen* rather than Aragorn. The reed is plenty wide enough, and it will give me the opportunity to acclimatise to a different way of weaving and make any necessary adjustments to the tie up etc.

* I shall explain the choice of name in a later post; this one is quite long enough!

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

'Geode (139:15)’: Blingtastic Yarnfest!

Raiding my (extensive) stash for sheeny and shiny and glittery yarns for the interior. Beads too. I need it to glow in even low light conditions.....

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

'Geode(139:15)': First Sighting

Rejected maquettes either side of the final version, cartoon-in-progress, colour reference from Sark stone. This one will be quite a challenge as it has fourteen panels with lots of spacers so that it draws up into a hollow form with a coloured interior, my usual 'stone' weft and texture on the outside and the necessary join hidden inside. The cartoon is 150cm long, so will just fit on the Ashford with a continuous warp. It should be a fairly quick weave as there are a lot of unwoven areas. My deadline is October 31st to enter it for a juried exhibition. 'Shrine' and 'Derrière II' have been entered for a couple already. Fingers etc. crossed!

Tomorrow I begin the yarn gathering......

The Big Loom is now 86% funded! Many thanks to the backers via this blog and elsewhere :) Go to if you would like to support the project. Any funds raised beyond the loom cost will go to buy the materials for the full size version of 'Shrine'.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Home Studio

Monday, 12 September 2016

Photo Shoot: 'Shrine' and 'Derriere II'

All Over (and no Shouting!)

The Textile Art show 'Fabulous!' which I curated was taken down yesterday. We garnered good reviews from the public, and a lot of support for another one in 2018. I am a relieved and happy bunny.

While invigilating I worked on the new maquette, and have finalised the size and shape - always a pivotal moment. Now to gather yarns and do some sampling. I also came up with a new idea before breakfast! Another 3D form, based on some lines from East Coker - I do love the Four Quartets. It will mean a return to the ring loom as it is a collapsed bowl form that I envisage. It is always pleasing when the creative juices are flowing, even when I am very tired.

This morning I did an outdoor photo shoot of 'Shrine' and 'Derrière' so that I have some good images for exhibition entries and postcards.

Funding for the big loom has reached £160 (of £500 target). Please pledge or spread the word; help take my practice to the next level!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 9 September 2016

'Shrine': Finished and Exhibited

At the Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester PO19 1YH until Sunday 11th September.

is the link to a crowdfunding site I am using to finance the purchase of a loom in order to make the full size version. I am not usually one to ask for help, being fiercely independent, but the Soap Opera of my life in the last decade - in particular the last eighteen months - means that I have to.

In the meantime, I have started on a new maquette (paper so far) for a piece inspired by geodes and Psalm 139:15.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

'Shrine': Inking On the Image

I have surprised myself by how fast this is growing; making / finding time to weave has been easier than expected over the last few days. I spent some time yesterday stripping a power cable to liberate the fine copper wire within. The plan is to weave the (now inked on) image over single warps rather than the doubles and quadruples I have done so far, using a finer weft of spun silk, 18/2 wool and the wire. It should look incised in the final piece (like 'Curvaceous' in 2012). The detail will not be as fine at this maquette size as in the full size version* but should be sufficient. The right hand side of the weaving will become the bottom of the cleft stone, as in the paper maquette below.

*I hope to have news on this front soon.

Location:Cuckoo Fields,Chichester,United Kingdom

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