Saturday, 14 November 2020

Memorial Pillar: First* Panel

*actually the fifth in the design, but it’s all a bit arbitrary.  It’s certainly the first to be woven.

I’m not sure why it looks wonky - it’s not - must have been the angle I held the iPad at.  The original tiny panel is blu-tacked to the reed bar for colour reference.  The enlarged panel photo hangs over the cloth beam.  

There will a lot of ressaut added after weaving to soften some of the edges, and add the detail shown up in the enlargement.

There’s wool, silk, linen, acrylic, and nettle in the mixes - which I have narrowed down to 19 basic ones, with extra threads added in or substituted as required; all the sampling whilst in Folkestone stood me in good stead to shorten the ‘palette process’ as I call it.

I’m enjoying it tremendously!  Even more so as, having loaned the Ashford loom to a friend yesterday, I have more space in the studio, and had a good tidy up this morning, making it an even more pleasurable Happy Place.  It is pouring with rain, and due to do so for the rest of today and all daylight hours tomorrow; good weaving and writing weather!

Monday, 9 November 2020

Untangling: A Parable

Once upon a time there was a weaver - let’s call her FrouFrou.  People often commented that she must be very patient, being a weaver, but she wasn’t really.  One day, FrouFrou bought some delicious, smooth, shiny silk yarn for her latest project.  This yarn, as many do, came in a skein.  FrouFrou knew, as do all weavers, and many knitters (and her Nannan before her, when all yarn came in skeins), that skeins must be wound into balls before you can use the yarn.  Horrid tanglements ensue if this rule is forgotten.  Nevertheless, because FrouFrou was excited about her latest project, and because the yarn was lovely, and because she was impatient (see above), FrouFrou hung the skein over the end of the loom, and started taking lengths from it as required...

It tangled.  

A lot.

Project over, the mare’s nest was put aside in a box. Yesterday, FrouFrou needed the yarn for another project, and decided that the Great Untangling must commence...

It took two hours of slow, patient (despite note above) winding and unknotting, but in the end, FrouFrou had a properly wound cheese of silk, still shiny, smooth and delicious.  

And the silk goes into a weft with other yarns, and the new project continues. 


The meaning of this parable?

Doing something properly in the beginning will save time in the long run, but, even if mistakes are made, wrong decisions taken, and tanglements ensue, with patient, loving attention, individual beauty and order can be restored, and then become part of a group that work together to make something new.

As Kiki Dee so wisely put it:-

"I will untangle myself

So that I can be

Loving and Free"

Friday, 6 November 2020

‘Weaving Against the Wound’

There were some issues uploading the last post - it was actually written on October 31st, and more progress has been made since then:-

The improvised warping board (as I can’t use the warping mill at WD at present) and chained warp - linen from Weavers Bazaar.

Tied on, waste weft and double half hitches.

Aphraminta Splodge inspecting the large scale print from which I traced the design lines for the first panel; it will hang near the loom for colour reference. I upped the contrast and saturation before printing to make the areas easier to delineate.  I am fortunate to have a very good printing company nearby (Lollipop Chichester, formerly ProCopy) who have done a lot for me over the years.  They have established a very good system for no contact for the time being; they also give a lollipop with each order collected!  I’m saving mine for when I’ve woven an inch all across.  
The woven colouring will be more subtle.  Now to stitch the cartoon to the waste weft and make a start.  

Weaving is my creative protest against the wounds in the world, and my affirmation of, and prayer for good order. Let the reader understand.

Wot Did & Wot Doing

June was the month for Registration Presentations, and then I needed to make swift progress in completing ‘Nefesh’ and ‘Neshamah’ ready for an exhibition I at the Brewery Tap Project Space in Folkestone at the end of September.  

Next up is the writing of my Literature Review, so I have been away from the loom.  Until yesterday.  A bereavement during the week (coming after several this year) meant that I simply could not immerse myself in writing theoretically about grief and loss for a little while, and need to ‘weave it out’.   While invigilating the exhibition I had time to do some sampling for ‘Memorial Pillar (for Diana)’, the maquette of which was part of what I was showing.  I had realised that I would not have time (with chaplaincy work and a LitRev to do) to make the next three shrines before our next exhibition at the end of January, so decided to go with ‘Pillar’ instead.

I wound the warp yesterday evening, and today is loom dressing; sleying the reed with a soundtrack of ‘70s Genesis. The finished piece will be 97cm high, woven sideways, so, at my usual sett (4epc, woven over doubles) that is 388 ends.  I’ve wound a warp long enough to do two of the shrines on afterwards (and yes, there will be a lot of retying to do between cutting off this one and resuming).

There is something about weaving and preparing to weave that both soothes, and embodies hope for the future, so it is a good activity in the face of loss - which is one of the contentions of my thesis after all. 

Friday, 12 June 2020

Bad Habits

I’m not going to list all my bad habits here, but you will see from a comparison of the upper and lower photos how much weaving I have done, and how I have neither taken photographs nor posted updates.  How will my devoted followers know what I am up to? šŸ¤£
I started on the thumbprint section of ‘Neshamah’ yesterday, having experimented and softened the blend by adding two strands of the grey weft.  The sections are too narrow, and the sett too wide, to be able to ‘halo’ the transition between the two areas, so this was a good compromise to make the difference less stark.  I’m now only 35cm from the top of the weaving of this shrine; after another 10cm I will switch across to ‘Nefesh’, weave up to the same level, and then wind on for the last time.  After all the vicissitudes with the warp, I will be perilously close to the top of it by the end.  I’m hoping to  get away without needle weaving (I had to resort to that at the top of ‘Lament’ all those years ago, and it was not fun!). In my calculations for the next warp (for ‘Ruach’, ‘Hayyah’ and ‘Yechidah’) I have allowed a lot more waste.

A dear friend has been running a quarantine art class over the last few weeks, and it has been very good to rediscover a drawing element to my practice. I have been working on a large (28x23cm) ink drawing of one of my small (5x4.5cm) stones - one of the five stones which are the core forms of the upcoming body of work.  I rarely like my drawings, but am pleased with this:-

I might even frame it.

Friday, 22 May 2020


The lurid cartoon handprint is now covered up, much to my relief; it was necessary, but somehow vaguely irritating.  I have been enjoying using ressaut which is a new technique to me, but renders the image in exactly the way I want.

One of the ways in which my research has been impacted by the pandemic situation is that I realised that my vague notion of ‘displaying my artwork in a virtual landscape if I have time’ has a greater priority, and more urgency, than anticipated.  The second realisation, close on its heels, was that I lacked sufficient visual data to create said landscape (let alone the skills, software, and computer power).  In order to remedy at least the first lack, I headed off to Knowlton in Dorset - one of my chosen locations - with picnic, iPad and doglet (for scale šŸ˜†).  It was a stunning day; odd to be driving on a motorway again after two months, but delicious to travel through heath and woodland on my way to the site.  When I arrived, shock! horror! other people!  This was a slight deterrent to filming and photography, but reassuring that, subject to permission from English Heritage to exhibit, there is sufficient footfall of visitors to see the sculptures.

Holding my iPad (in video mode) in front of me I walked the perimeter, then the henge, ditch and plateau; ever decreasing circles and ever decreasing footwear - it seemed appropriate to walk barefoot and labyrinth style somehow.  I am sure people thought me most odd, but I was ready to claim ‘artistic immunity’ if challenged.

Real tea - standards must not be dropped!

I now have many photos and lots of video.  The next challenge is to work with it!  

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Variety (and sparkle)

Four types of texture going on here; weaving over singles, doubles with two different weft mixes, and quadruples.

The hand on the cartoon is rather startling, but you see the beginning of the ressaut interpretation.

This is the left hand rendered in ressaut on ‘Nefesh’.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020


I sat down at LemminkƤinen for an early morning session yesterday, only to have to cease and desist after about ten minutes because of excruciating pain in my lower back.  I have two prolapsed discs, and permanent sciatica as a result, but I can usually manage the issue without too many difficulties.  Yesterday I just had to admit defeat and hobble to bed and the foetal position.  I consoled myself watching some weaving videos until the painkillers kicked in and I fell asleep.  Thankfully, the Chaplaincy part of my work is all remote and iPad based at present, so I managed a Zoom conference later, and I can type lying down sideways.  LouLou will not be defeated!  

Much more mobile today, so at intervals I made an attempt on disentangling an old (2009!) rigid heddle project.  At some point in all my moves, the warp had become unwound from the back beam.  I had begun to work on it at the weekend, but the snarl up made me snarl; sometimes a second person would be so useful to have around!  This afternoon I had a brainwave:

Even tension for winding on by careful use of matching mugs tied on with pieces of old sheet; then it was a cinch.

All ready to continue with Leno.

I chose this yarn long before I encountered Yehuda Amichai, but in reclaiming it, I remembered this from his poem ‘In My Life, on My Life’:-


I know how slight are the threads that tie me to my joy

but from those slight threads I have woven strong clothing,

a kind of soft armour, the warp and weft of joy

to help me cover my nakedness and protect me.

I did a small piece for my 2013 exhibition inspired by those words:-

Somehow, the reclaimed shawl has the same vibe associated with it now, a ‘warp and weft of joy’.  It should not take long to finish, and being so airy, I will be able to wear it in even the hottest weather.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

And there’s more.....

More textured progress yesterday, between domestic matters, Zoom drawing class and remote movie night with a pal.  
On Wednesday I had occasion to go into my garage for a ladder (guess who locked herself out when she went to take photos of wildflowers on the green? šŸ¤£)

While out there I rediscovered more of the yarn stash - the stuff for general weaving or knitting rather than tapestry.
I may have a play with some Saori type weaving on my Knitter’s Loom as a Sunday treat.

Friday, 8 May 2020

I Forgot it was a Bank Holiday

....and spent a lot of time at both desk (with chaplain hat on) and loom.  This is where I started today:-

with ‘Nefesh’ shown for comparison:-

And this is where I reached, when I could not feel my left leg any more and deemed it time to stop weaving and stand up.  
I usually set a timer, but I was engrossed in both the texture I was creating, and the music on Radio 3 (James Macmillan’s birthday concert)

I did also make a plateful of macaroons and went to the ‘party’ on the green for a while.  Such gallivanting!

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Warp Speed!

I’ve been continuing to make good progress; I’m actually finding it difficult to tear myself away from the loom to do other things (and I still have work to do for the Chaplaincy, so cannot be in the studio all the time).  And I have to eat. And rest my back. 

This is where I left ‘Nefesh’ last night:-

And where I got to today, at the stage where I soon need to wind on:-

But, because ‘Nefesh’ shares the loom with ‘Neshamah’, they need to be at the same level before I do the winding; I have therefore moved across to the latter:-

It is just possible to see the edge of ‘Nefesh’, but would have been more useful to show them side by side, so you can see what needs to be done.

I have a prism hanging in the window of my studio, as well as a solar powered rainbow maker which fills the whole flat with dancing rainbows when the sun shines.  Today the prism cast light onto some leftover warp:-

Monday, 4 May 2020

Still Here, and All There

Geode II (aka ‘Blingy’) is off the loom and waiting to more beads added before I draw the warps up and present it to the client - probably in July when she is down this way again, but possibly via Royal Mail if her course at WD is cancelled.   I shall make no other mention of The Thing.

I started at UCA/UAL in September last year, and writing my registration document took some time, but I passed, and am officially registered for MPhil /PhD, part-time over five years.  It is hard to realise that the first year is half over!  Alongside new sketchbook work for the practice side of the thesis I am going to include the Identity Shrines as a trial run in the locations that I plan to use for the final artworks.  After some vicissitudes with LemminkaĆÆnen - who I think felt rather neglected - and with assistance from a fellow Varpapuu owner in Wisconsin, I was able to solve the tension and treadle problems, and am now weaving at great speed, aided by Radio 3 concerts and my classical playlist.  My lovely Boy gave me a really good Bluetooth speaker for my birthday, so the sound quality is much improved, hoorah!  As I type this, I am listening to an archive recording of Le Nozze di Figaro (my favourite opera; I listened to a CD of it while I was in labour 28 years ago).

Here is the progress made on the Nefesh shrine in the last week:-

A maquette for a large piece to be made once the shrines are off the loom:-

And a bonus picture of Aphraminta Splodge guarding valuable tapestry samples:-

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