Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why did I let myself be talked into it?

 Why have this ...
 when I have this ...
outside the lounge window.

A very special festive season to all my readers and a healthy and happy 2012.

PS  The tinsel tree has been decorated and a few more parcels organised.

Kete blanket

The structure is double layer double two tie unit weave which doesn't sound nearly as romantic as Kete.  The Maori use this same weave in their flax kete (kits).

        8 ply wool warp, mohair weft, sett - 9 tpi

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Random projects

Handspun from Little Wool Company (Anna Gratton) corriedale sliver.  One sliver multi shades and the other plain bordeaux.
Greek key, my first attempt at double weave pick up, which I really enjoyed.  But shock horror, can you see where the dye ran into the white.  Is there any way to remove the run of dye?  The rust thread is a guide to rap it straight around a canvas block.  I will have another go at this as I like the clean lines.
The blotchy variegated fabric using space dyed warps, one dark and the other an echo of it.  Woven echo weave, 28 epi, 560 threads, wove almost 5 metres giving me approximately 4.5 metres of cloth.  I'll have to do some fancy cutting out to obscure the band that stands out as being different (shame it wasn't on the outside edge).  The cotton tags are my half metre marks as I weave which I find less muddly than using string or a tape measure which I always seem to get tangled in and pull on.  I cut the tags before I start weaving and as they're used I know how many metres are woven and how many to go.  The tags also give me an idea of take up and shrinkage after fulling, in this case shrinkage was 4 cm per 50 cm, and a pause to stretch my back.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Eumachia was priestess and one of the most prominent citizens of the city of Pompeii. She was patroness of the guild of fullers (cleaners, dyers, and clothing makers), one of the most influential trade-guilds of the city because of the importance of the wool industry in Pompeii's economy. Although her ancestry was humble, the fortune she inherited from her father, a brick manufacturer, enabled her to marry into one of Pompeii's older families. She provided the fullers with a large and beautiful building on one side of the Forum which was probably used as the guild's headquarters.

Eumachia Priestess of Fullers

Entrance to Fullery

The elegant doorway is faced with fine marble which is carved with acanthus leaves.
This small room's entrance is to the right of the main marble arch.  Gentlemen could discretely pop in while passing and pee in a buried urn providing a source of urea for the cleaning process.

Fulling consisted of cleaning raw wool or cloth in vats of urine, soda and fuller's earth.  The workers trod the cloth in this mixture to clean it.  It was then rinsed in a series of other vats and hung to dry.  The cloth was combed, brushed and trimmed and white cloth was bleached by laying it on a cage over burning sulphur and brimstone.  The final process was the pressing of the cloth which was done in a press at the entrance of the fullonica of Stephanus, the most famous of four large laundries in Pompeii.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weaving in Crete and Rhodes

When in Chania two years ago I found this shop, Roka Carpets, full of woven goodies and right at the back was a LOOM but the shop was never open.  I would stand at the window and peer in, like "the little match girl".  I eventually learnt that the weaver, Mihalis Manousakis, had had to get a job that paid "real" money to support his young family. 

Roll forward two years and the doors were open and Mihalis's daughter was there looking after the shop on behalf of her stepmother, Anja, who was now the weaver.  Mihalis is working as a scaffolder.

Roka Carpets
Can you see the leather straps in the centre bottom of the photo?  These are the "foot pedals" and they must get develish hard on the back pushing forward and down to make a shed rather than just down as our pedals do.

Roka Carpets
Two strips of cloth being woven simultaneously and paper to separate the projects.   

Roka Carpets
                                                      Bamboo poles as leash sticks.

Roka Carpets
I love the tangle of threads on the centre support of the swift and the tree trunk its resting in.

The Roka patterns are from Minoan time.

One of my questions about Greek weaving has been, why have the traditional looms never been developed to make the weaving easier and why still just using two shafts.  On occasion I saw a four shaft loom but shafts 1&2 and 3&4 were tied together to act as a two shaft loom.  Maybe the answer lies in this article in the Crete gazette where they say
"There was a time on Crete when every house had a loom. Weaving was as essential as cooking. "
Weaving wasn't a fun thing to do or an art form but part of the daily chores.

Before we left home I had read that Kritsa was the centre of weaving on Crete and as this was one of our destinations to meet up with Pete's cousin I was quite excited but, alas, it seems the last weaver had recently passed away and, although several ladies had looms in their houses and were interested in learning weaving there was no one to teach them.

Kritsa - having a go.  My feet weren't far enough up the straps and I didn't get a very good shed.
If you enlarge the pictures you will see on my left on the floor a roll of the fabric (rag weaving in this case) being woven.  I really need another look at this in reality as some is rolled around the beam as its woven then, when there is too much, its still attached but becomes this separate roll.  When the warp is finished it is then cut up into whatever product it will become.  You can see the dear wee lady whose loom it was holding up a runner in the background.  I gathered from her demonstrating that she had a very sore back.
Rhodos museum

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Benaki Museum

First, the San Francisco air port had a display of work by Joseph Frank from Sweden.  I wrote down the date of 1928 for this selection.   Its behind glass, hence the reflection.

We had a morning in Athens before our flight to Hania, Crete so chose to see the Benaki Museum.  This holds a collection of work from Neolithic times onwards and was donated by Antonis Berakis (1873-1954) to the Greek state in 1926.  Lots a examples of fibre and costumery.
I took photos of the descriptions so I'm typing them out for my benefit.

Fragment of a linen tunic band, decorated with a grid pattern of lozenges and medallions with symmetrical motifs.  From Egypt 8-9thC.

 Linen and woolen screen curtain in the loop-weave technique with the representation of a praying couple.  From Antinoe, Egypt 5-6thC.

 Wooden winding frame for preparing hanks of yarn.  19thC.

Spindle whorls of bone.  The painted or carved decorative motifs must have created a particularly pleasing aesthetic effect during the rotation of the whorls.

Wooden spinning wheel.  From the islands.  19C.  For the life of me I can't figure how this works as a spinning wheel but I love the skein winder in the background.

Wood carved loom from Crete early 19th C.  I have the feeling this loom isn't set up properly as the cords to the two shafts seem to be attached to the front beam.  Lovely carving and solid loom.  In the background (rightish of the loom) is a bridal tent.

Tapestry for costume decoration, woven in wool and linen.  It is distinguished for the high quality of the workmanship and the grace of the depicted quail.  5th C.

Part of a woollen bedspread woven with a design of a couple on the tree of life.  From Kritsa, Crete.          18-19th C.

Ladies in costume.  Left:  Bridal costume from Kawakli, NE Thrace.  Middle:  female costume Eastern Thrace.  Right:  Bridal costume of Kapoutzida, central Macedona.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finally weaving

The good news is that all the oil that can be removed is off the Rena, container ship that ran aground off Tauranga Harbour, and any left will be "mopped up manually".  I do hope the mopping happens on board and not on the beaches.  Container removal starts today but with over 1300 containers and only 6 being removed per day it will take a while.  The spine of the Rena is broken so the fear is a storm could turn the whole situation to custard.

I finally got to sit at my loom last week and produced 5 metres of fabric which I'm calling wisteria.  This was the culmination of all the sampling I did during the winter of interleaved and echo warps.  I really can't say it is echo as I broke all the rules (as usual).  The warp had been wound with one thread wool and the second thread has some fibre which didn't take the dye (acrylic probably as I gave it the bleach test) so it was an echo of the main thread.  Unfortunately the threads had stuck together slightly so I had to stand and separate all 520 6 metre long threads before winding them on.  Wool is questionable to use for echo weave anyway but because it was now slightly fluffy it couldn't be sett as close as it should have been.  I did cut off a sample and wash it vigorously before preceding.  Putting all the elements together- the painted warp, echo weave threading, the warp sett I'm very pleased with the result though it is yet to be fulled.
In the evenings I've been knitting a jumper for Jack who, we've found out, is allergic to wool and acrylic.  Not what you want to hear when his GranD has a house full of wool.  Our last two days of holiday were a stop over in San Francisco and as luck would have it Arftibers was just around the corner from our hotel, not even a block away.  I had arrived in fibre heaven, there were bins and bins of thread and sample squares knitted of each variety and complete garments on display.  I shouted Jack (note how I shift the blame) some recycled denim thread.  Its rather soft to work with compared to other denim threads I've used.  Also some silk for myself.

And finally I just heard that Peter Gordon, London based master chef, bought my kereru blanket from Pauanesia (go to gallery) as a gift for himself.  I'm one proud cookie! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adventures while travelling

Most of our trips are well organised before we leave home and we travel local transport where possible so, for instance, we new there was a bus stop right outside the rail station at Merced.  Approached the first bus that came along but it wasn't going our way but the driver got on the radio telephone and every bus in Merced new there were two New Zealanders waiting for the No 3 bus.  Next bus and the driver says not his bus but it would be there soon (if we didn't melt in the heat waiting).  Sure enough No. 3 bus came and we got a wonderful ticky tour around the city seeing streets and sights we would never have seen in a taxi going straight to the motel.

Leaving San Francisco I asked if I could take my knitting on board and it was no problem but as we were leaving Frankfurt from the 4 hour stop over I was pulled aside and they nearly took my set of 4 double point steel that had belonged to my grandmother away.  I was told it was wrong and got my knuckles whacked but begging let me keep them.  Because of all the problems in Greece and the austerity measures the air traffic controllers were on a go slow so we had an extra hour on the ground in Frankfurt so I was real glad of the knitting.

Arriving in Athens for our nights stop we dragged our bags the half kilometre to the metro office to find one lonely man telling everyone the trains were on strike and we would have to bus.  That wasn't on our plan at all.  We had no idea where we were in the city but at one stage the bus was stopped at lights and so I suggested Pete ask the driver where the closest stop to our metro station would be.  "Last stop, get out now" so out we got into the traffic, looked over a harp of roads and saw our hotel neon lights.  Someone was looking after us.

The flight from Sitea to Rhodes was two hours but in that time we touched down at two small islands.  One leg was 5 minutes and in that time the hostess gave the safety discourse in two languages, Greek and English, and had time to give out birthday celebration chocolates to the passengers we had just picked up.

As I mentioned in the last post we struck a storm while on Symi island and the catamaran ferries can only run on flat seas.  One ferry stayed docked all day Saturday but left Sunday morning, the day we were to leave in the afternoon.  By mid day the weather had packed up again and we approached the ferry office to confirm if they would be running as we had two planes and a train to catch the next day.  They wouldn't tell us (but we found out later the boat had already been cancelled) and they closed the office for siesta.  Later in the afternoon we decided we better try to get on the cruise ship, the Aegean Glory, which was returning to Rhodes at 4pm.  Had to beg the captain who had to get permission from the harbour master but we made it in the nic of time.  Cruise ships are not supposed to take casual passengers so we were very grateful.

The day after Symi Rhodes we travelled by car to the airport, plane to Athens (more go slow hold ups), plane to Rome, train to Rome city, train to Naples, train to Castelamere di Stabia, most of these prepaid and booked so you see why we had to be off the island.

Before leaving Greece we caught a brief news clip mentioning NZ and I saw a picture of a boat aground and what looked like our beach, Waihi Beach.  It wasn't until 4 days later in Italy we were standing in a queue to get a bus down the Amalfi coast (more rain I might add) and I saw a man with New Zealand across his black shirt so approached him for news.  Sure enough the container ship had gone aground at Tauranga harbour and this man said Waihi was the first beach hit by oil and if I wanted to swim this summer I better hit the beach with a shovel.  We spent the next week believing this but turns out he was wrong and our beach is quite clear.  I feel desperately sorry for those hit by oil slick but quietly pleased we are clear so far.  The Rena still has 300 tonnes of oil remaining on board before the containers can be removed.

The start of our homeward trip had a rocky start when our train from Naples to Rome was delayed by 180 minutes.  We rebooked on the express (that travels at 320 k/h - what fun) and got to Rome no problem and walked underground to catch the train to Fumicino (near Rome airport).  It wasn't until we were on our plane the next day I read a news broadcast and it seems there were riots in Rome city and a bloodbath outside the Colluseum!

Next time some fibrey talk.  My loom is threaded and, after two months, I can't wait to throw the shuttle.

I'm back

A bit late reporting in but as usual after a busy exciting trip I got home with ill health and had to take to bed for a few days.  Just got cleared up and I've spent the last weekend in Auckland teaching shibori to a great group of girls.  Of course, a weekend is extended as it takes a day to get there and another to get home.  Wonderful to see family (i.e. grandson - he's so cute) and catch up with friends as well.

We had the most wonderful trip and saw so many different things that I couldn't say any one experience was better than another.

I'll give a quick run down of the trip.  We decided to fly to Greece via San Francisco where we had a 4 night stop over after a 12 hour flight.  Did we rest?  No, we trained inland to Merced as a base to get to Yosemite National Park, an extraordinarily majestic experience.  A second 12 hour flight over Greenland and Scotland to Frankfurt and a 5 hour stop on the ground before flying on to Athens for one night when we flew to Hania on Crete (still our favourite place).  Bussed to the east end of the island and met and spent time with Pete's cousin at Kritsa before bussing on to Sitea.  Flew to Rhodes and really enjoyed our time there before boating to a wee island called Symi, the driest island in the Greek archipelago (they bring their water in by ship) and we struck two days of torrential rain, lightning and thunder and power loss.  From Symi we boated back to Rhodes so we could fly to Rome where we trained straight south to Castelamere di Stabia (south of Naples).  Three days saw us at Pompei, Heraklion and a trip down the Amalfi Coast.  Back to Rome for one night with an early flight back over the pole to San Francisco for a couple of nights before home.

After sorting a few things at home we lay down for 40 winks about 4pm (that's 40 minutes) and we woke at 4 am the next day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Round up

Just a couple a pics, the Kotare blanket
 and a 100gm skein of corriedale yarn.  I meant to produce a 4 ply but ended up with double knit when it was wet finished.
This will be the last post until the end of October when I'll tell you all about my travels.  See you then.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Always the bridesmaid!

Had a very enjoyable day in Hamilton on Wednesday before going to the Opening of the Creative Fibre Experience.  It started with drinks and nibbles and lots of hugs of people I only get to see irregularly and then the prize giving.  I received a merit for the merino shibori scarf, 'Kaimai'.  The certificate was presented by the selector, Jane Siddell, and she said to me it was such a hard choice between the winner and two merits.  Its interesting that the other two prize entries was a handspun knitted baby shawl which was beautiful and a felted scarf which was very striking.

Then we were allowed to go in to the gallery to see the exhibition.  I was so intent on seeing everything before the two hour trip home I forgot to take a single photo.

As I moved around the exhibition I was looking at the table of exhibits beside where my "Forest Canopy" scarf was hanging I overheard a lady say "Oh I really like this one" so I was very heartened.  My friend Agnes from Fibreholics won the Robyn Hogg colour award and also the top prize, the Creative Fibre Award, for a beautiful wrap with three interleaved threadings.  Another friend, Lyn Walsh, took the Complex Weavers Award with a wrap in deflected double weave.  Thats the one I covet Lyn.  I'll keep trying and maybe one day ...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Where's it gone?

Have been trying to sort stuff out and finish off a few jobs before going away for a months holiday soon.  Not long after getting back I'm going to be teaching a workshop on loom controlled shibori so opened my teaching box and .... where is the sample scarf to show the technique.  Oh bother, that's what I dyed up for the Creative Fibre exhibition.  No problem, I'll thread the loom and weave another.  After all  I didn't really need a cotton sunfrock to wear on Rhodes!

Don't tell any of my students but one of the drafts I had sent off for them to use had never been trialed by me so I've killed two birds with one stone and threaded the loom accordingly.  I'm so glad I did because I keep thinking of "what if's".  Also glad that, for once, I put on enough warp to sample.  I'm off to roll on the warp and weave.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New model

Who could resist those eyes and grin (not toothless).
Modelling the Owl Vest at 8 months.  The hat does fit nicely with a turned up brim.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Its happened again

Earlier this month I entered two scarves in the National Exhibition of Creative Fibre Society.  This will be held in Hamilton in association with a huge Quilt and craft show.

It was a performance getting the entry in on time as I missed the Rural Post on the designated Friday.  No problem, I thought, I'd do it online.  Mucked up my bank account pin and three working days before anyone would help me so that led me to the decision to go to the Loominus weaving meeting on Monday and deliver the forms etc in person.  I've come to the conclusion I should never travel alone.  Got lost finding Margaret's place for the meeting (I've been there many times before) then got completely bamboozled finding my way around Cambridge.  Ended up in Lemmington which is completely the wrong side of town I needed to be.  Mission finally accomplished I drove home.

I've had word that both scarves have been accepted and that I should come to the opening, please!  The opening doesn't start until 7pm so, say presentations at 8 and, then a two hour drive home.  I'm showing my age by hesitating.  When I went to the opening of the Bay of Plenty exhibition I realised how important it is to go if at all possible because volunteers work very hard to put on an enjoyable show and it is disappointing if the award recipient isn't there.
NZ Bush

NZ Bush close up


Kaimai close up
Opening is 7 September so we'll all have to wait till then.
NZ Bush is an echo weave with two warps space dyed and then interleaved.  Kaimai shows the hazy blues of the hills with a twill back ground and a seperate twill resist pattern.  One side shows blue with green and the other dark green with blue highlights. other

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Knitting finished, start next weaving project

I seem to have waffled my way through the last couple of weeks not achieving anything much.  I did manage to knit this vest with cabled owls on the front for Jack before the families visit last weekend.  I've included this picture to show my row marker; an old earring with a closed ring fixture rather than a hook.  Works quite well most of the time.

Owls in Pohutukawa tree
 Now on to the next weaving project.  Can you guess which bird these represent?  Of course, the kotare.

Friday, August 5, 2011


A (sort of) log cabin knit blanket using the thrums left over from a series of woven Pounamu (greenstone) blankets surrounded by white.  All garter stitch, the only rules were that all green knots went to one side and each square had the equivalent of 50 stitches and/or rows.  The squares were crocheted together.


Kereru, New Zealand pigeon.
A masterpiece blanket in the making.  Below is the mohair weft drying in the morning sun.
23 different colours in the wool warp chains.
570 warp threads tied on and ready to beam on.
All on, smooth and ready to weave.  Woven double layer, silver, wine, pink on one layer with teals, greens on the other.  A mind bender keeping that flowing while tying on.
Weaving started.
Two blankets off the loom and waiting to have their tassels twiddled.
This is not a pretty sight.  Under that pile of .. um .. stash is the guest bed and you can't see what's behind the wardrobe door or out the passage.  I had to empty the cupboard to remove a TV aerial wire which was threaded behind the shelves.  Now it needs sorting and dealing to before family comes to visit next weekend.  I found bags of thread I'd forgotten about, bags I'd tried to find and given up on and bags of little bits left over from other projects.  What to do with it all?

And just so you'll forget the above scene I'll leave you with last nights walk on the beach. 
Evening blush.