Hamble Campbell's Home Page

An occasional window on Hamble Campbell's world.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Be a good chap and bring a barrel of oysters from Sweetings"

So we are being encouraged not to use the big supermarkets and instead shop locally for food. This would make us a friend to the environment. Sadly, especially for those living in the overcrowded southeast where there aren't so many farms, it would also make us all hungry. I remember a while ago a doctor being interviewed for the radio. He said he had seen quite a large number of patients suffering from malnutrition because they had to rely on food from their local shop. These were mainly old people with no transport - public or private.

Perhaps you know where the quote in the title comes from but if not, follow this link and I'll tell you.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Logcabin weave

Next up we have a new weave (well all weaves are new to me) which uses two colours and is called logcabin. I chose it because I saw a small sample of it in the V&A's Modernism exhibition. It was in a handwoven swatch book for a travelling salesman although apparently the actual commisions would have been woven on a mechanised loom. Anne Field warns that this weave can be dazzling. Having no wish to be dazzled I have chosen two shades of beige. This might be too subtle, but I think the effect will be more obvious when the cloth is removed from the loom.

I had woven two inches when I discovered a sleying error. I had threaded the reed perfectly for the first half of the warp but then what was a strict single-double alternating sleying pattern degenerated into a mainly double and sometimes triple warp being threaded through the dents. I had just started up one of those twenty-f0ur hour colds for the relevant portion of the reed sleying and the balance of my mind must have been temporarily disturbed rather more than it usually is.

By the bye, I have been pleasantly surprised at my reaction to these weaving setbacks. Normally I might well have thrown a tantrum. For weaving knockbacks, however, I just smile stoically and feel pleased that my little sum of weaving knowledge must have been added to.

Mission accomplished.

This is the huckaback scarf after it has been fulled (washed, so that the warp and weft threads meld together a bit). It is supposed to be a lacy weave but I was a bit disappointed with the scarf as the difference between the mercerised cotton weft stripes and the acrylic double knitting weft stripes caused a crinkly edge. Still, I have learnt from that.

I think the mercerised cotton makes a good warp but I'm not keen on it forming both the warp and the weft. It's a bit too like a dishcloth.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A bird's eye view of the monarchy.

It was interesting to hear John Humphries' interview with Countess Mountbatten's blackbird yesterday on Radio 4's "Today" programme. Unfortunately the Countess herself kept butting in and at times her voice completely drowned out what the bird was trying to say.

However, I think listeners were able to catch the main drift of his song, which was in many ways at variance with the Mountbatten opinion. Briefly, he said he considered the British monarchy a manifestation of the rot at the heart of our society - a society in which people are honoured and respected for their inherited family wealth rather than for their own personal qualities.

PS - I am no ornithologist and the bird could equally well have been a bluetit, robin, sparrow, etc - we weren't told.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


This is another scarf (because they're thin). It is still on the loom because it is only one-third finished. However, I am pleased to report that it only took me half a day to put on the loom.

Handweaving number three.

This took me only 24 hours to warp up so I am improving. I thought I would try a few different twills. This scarf is a bit thinner as I was using the last of the chenille. The next project will be purple.

You may be able to see: Swiss twill, twill and plain, alternating, 3/1 ribs and some zig-zags.

In case you did not know, let me quote you from Anne Field's "The four-shaft table loom":

"A twill weave forms the weft threads into a diagonal line. It is usually a balanced weave, but as it has fewer intersections than a plain weave, it is sett closer, and is a more flexible cloth."

I had not read that bit about it being sett closer and so my sett is not closer but it still seemed to work. I put 12 threads to the inch and I suppose I should have put 18 but that seems too many. I should have wound the threads round a ruler for an inch in the proportion two warp for every weft and then counted the warp threads. But I didn't, alack.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


This time of year the helebores are in flower but they do like to hide their pretty faces and stare at the ground. So at Easter I pick some and float them in a bowl of water so their beauty is revealed, then they make a tasteful centrepiece to the dinner table. I saw this idea in one of those so-called "life-style" magazines. You will observe that I have positioned the bowl at the very edge of the kitchen worktop so it is in danger of being upset. I think I shall just go and move the flowers now, as I too get upset when things get broken.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Joy unbounded -

(apart from a small knot).

I was overwhelmed with pride when I took this article off the loom. Although it does have a small knot in the warp, this did not cause me any problems during the weaving and the finished work has much neater edges than my first piece.

I was thrilled to note that my loom modifications were successful and this scarf has no gappy weft where it had missed the warp strands. I had blu-tacked some small pieces of ironmongery (nuts and bolts mainly) to one of the shafts to balance it and now they all go up and down almost perfectly. I also added some little hooks to each of the chains suspending the shafts so the shafts drop down further. This means the shed is lower, and in fact in the correct place, which in turn means that I can, if I so wish, run my shuttle over the shuttle race, which action I could not do before - the race being a half inch too low.

My next project is slightly more complicated - another scarf but a little narrower as I am fearful of running out of thread. I will acquaint you of its progress when there is news.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Warped - my struggle with a four-shaft table loom.

I feel the time has come to talk of many strings - well, chenille threads, actually. I have these last few days been through my own private hell, but I'd like you to know I remained positive throughout, and let it be known that it is a tribute to my own strength of character that I did so.

The weekend before last I spent with my weaving guru, who instructed me on how to make a warp and then dress my loom with it. She also said that everyone needs a second lesson on this as it is SO DIFFICULT. I've booked a second lesson (not until May) but I thought I would try to make my own warp and do all the dressing, raddling, sleying, thrumming, etc etc ALL BY MYSELF.

I started the process on Saturday, and it's now Wednesday and I think I am just about poised to start my first pick (weft row) of weaving. I have done every process at least twice - first time wrong, and then a bodged attempt to rescue the situation. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, short of me going mad and attacking the weaving with a pair of sharp embroidery scissors. I even managed to break a warp thread - but when I read the instructions on its repair I disregarded all the rules and fastened the two ends with a knot. This probably means the intended project of a second scarf is doomed, but I am beyond caring.

I was, however, delighted with my first piece of weaving (scarf pictured) which I completed at home on the warp the weaving maestro had helped me with. I chose to start with a checkered pattern, which unbeknownst to me at the time is most unforgiving for a novice weaver as all your mistakes are easy to see. Now really - I am suffused with pride when I survey my handiwork and am driven to try harder with my next weaving mission - I won't let it defeat me. Who knows, I may have found my niche?