September 2016

October 5, 2016


This blog is a little late so “waiting” is appropriate.

But this month I waited for my studio to become available again after it was temporarily appropriated as a storage venue. It was only meant to be for a weekend but it took a little longer.

I also waited for the announcement of what can only be described as a career highlight. I have also waited a long time to be able to talk about what I’ve been doing.

And what does one do while one waits….. one weaves. One also weaves on whatever loom is accessible in amongst the accumulation of stuff, the household effects temporarily here on their way to their new home. I’ll leave it to your imagination but let me say it wasn’t fun. But there was a loom that I could reach and that was available.

Before I had left for my adventures last month, I had put on a 16 shaft parallel threading ready and waiting for when I got back. It had been a very long time since I had explored parallel threadings and echo weave and double weave… possibly even 15 years or more. Interestingly, my friend Jette who I stayed with in Canada last month and I also took the opportunity to collaborate on some 8 shaft parallel threading samples. There are some images of that play on last month’s blog. It was rather addictive playing with what can be achieved on a 2 parallel threading draft: Double weave, turned taquete, echo weave, shadow weave.

Here’s just some of those samples.


Then because I was still waiting, I did a 3 parallel threading draft on firstly 16 shafts using the same profile as the previous 2 parallel draft. I decided to weave a pair of scarves from the one draft using a different echo weave approach. The 3 warp colours chosen are subtle, not what I would usually choose for this structure. Here’s the two scarves from the same warp. They are quite different.


And then another 3 parallel draft but this time on 8 shafts. Again I wove 2 scarves in echo weave, but this time I used more contrasting colours.


The studio finally returned to some normality, but I’m having way too much fun to stop. So what will happen if I use 4 parallel lines with 4 warp colours. Here’s some sampling.


And then some fabric destined eventually for a shirt. It feels lovely and drapes beautifully: 4 colours of mercerised cotton in the warp and silk for the weft and not a dominant pattern.


And the day that I’ve been waiting for and working towards finally does arrive.

I have been involved in a very long term project. The project: To design and create new robes for the High Court.

This is the announcement that Bill Haycock, an amazingly talented designer and a pretty wonderful person to work with, made on Tuesday, 4th October.

I’m pleased to be able to finally say, without embargo, that as of this afternoon’s sitting the High Court of Australia are wearing new robes designed by me. ….

Other people involved include talented pattern maker and cutter: Margaret Adam, sewer who has a pretty amazing eye for detail: Saffron Firkins and myself.

This has been an amazing project to be involved in. It has also proved that I can keep a secret. This project has been under wraps since its inception. It all began more than 2 years ago when I was approached by Bill and sounded out as to whether I would be interested in weaving a commission. There was no hint of what the project was but I’m always interested in a challenge. A year or more passed. I presumed it had fallen through and hey I didn’t know what it was anyway. But then I heard from Bill again. That was the start of many meetings. I had the design brief, I sampled. Bill, Margaret and I met over several meetings and discussed overall robe design and conferred on the design of the woven elements. Finally the weave pattern was decided and I got to weave. The first set of sleeves are woven. A toile is made. It and the proposed fabric is presented to Justice Kiefel. We progress. The prototype is constructed and presented to all seven Judges. They unanimously approve and are delighted with the new robes. I heard they loved the woven fabric. We celebrate a milestone. This has been quite some journey. The project proper starts. Now time is of the essence. There are deadlines. The robes are delivered and we wait to hear when they will be worn for the first time. This day has now arrived. I can now share what has been and what continues to be an amazing collaboration.

While I can’t share the actual design details or the draft (It now belongs to the High Court), I will share some general facts on the woven component. In the overall design, Bill has incorporated several concepts. (See the press release.)

The basic fabric design is based on sand ripples. The concept is that Australia is an island hence sand enclosing our nation and yet ripples of sand can also be found in the Inland and is so inclusive. The fabric has a wool warp and silk weft. The aim of this combination was to allow maximum contrast for viewing of motif from a distance; maybe the back of the court room. It was a challenge especially as it had to be black on black. The weave structures used were chosen to maximize this contrast in lustre. The threading has no repeat and constantly changes. The treadling sequence evolves from narrow ripples on one end at the sleeve hem through to wider ones on the other sleeve hem, hence the pattern repeat is the total length of the two sleeves.

Threading begins.


The first row is woven.


Weaving progresses.


Cutting off.


The puddle of fabric on the floor.


As the project developed, we were asked by the female judges whether a scarf /collar piece could be a part of the robe design. There are currently 3 female High Court Judges. The men wear shirt collars under the robe so the women required something that would give the same effect. The fabric design is based on the same concept of ripples, ensuring that the total effect is cohesive. It is however a much more simplified version of the sleeve pattern. The fabric is a natural cream silk. Margaret has then crafted the fabric so that it is fits inside the robe. Several collar pieces are required for each judge.

The fabric being woven.


The finished yardage.


Eventually I hope to be able to share images of the robes when they become available.

I have waited a long time to be able to share what has taken many hours of designing and then weaving. The project continues. I have woven the initial fabric for the seven judges’ robes. Now I am weaving more fabric for the High Court’s requirements and as of now and till the completion of the project have 2 looms (16 and 24 shaft computer assist) dedicated to the project. I hope to have it finished within the next month or so. I am so very honoured to be part of this project and very aware that this has certainly the potential to be a heritage that will live beyond me. How amazing is that!


August 2016

August 31, 2016

This month celebrates all things weaving and the fellowship/friendship of weavers. It was the month for Convergence and travel to the USA and Canada.

I arrived at 1.00 in the small hours of Monday morning after a delayed stopover in Dallas. My friend Judith greets me and of course we have to celebrate.


It was also time to do our biennial scarf exchange. This challenge started by dying a warp using a starting point of mid-blue. This warp was then separated into 2 lengths with one length being swapped. The warps were then combined. We could weave it however we wanted. I think this challenge was in some ways the most challenging yet as the two warps that were to be combined ended up being very different. Here’s what we ended up with.


 Now we both have an additional 2 scarves to add to our Judith and Kay collection. Their first outing: the fashion parade at Convergence. And as always they’ll be worn together.


I would have to give an award to the most dedicated class of weavers to this group. There was a fire evacuation in the convention centre. No problem: we’ll just do a bit of theory while we wait.

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I celebrate the class results of Ties: decorative, functional and unconventional.

And I celebrate the results of the East Meets West Class.

 And the Sotis class.

But Convergence also means getting to see exhibits: The fashion parade with the winner’s circle and details of cloth.

The yardage exhibit.

Convergence is also about shopping. All the loom makers were there and an interesting mix of other traders.

Y shopping Outside the convention centre, I came across this unexpected delight.

And then Convergence was over for another two years. I wonder where it will be next time.

Then on to more adventures and I was very fortunate as I got to go and visit Kati and of course get to see her studio. As we drive in their driveway this is what I am welcomed with.

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And from there onto Canada. This time I get to stay with Jette.

I also get to teach. And here we celebrate weaving East Meets West with the Huronia Guild: weekend 1

 And also celebrate the weaving of the weekend 2 group.

What does one do when two weavers get together? Well obviously have a grand time but sometimes it’s also a chance to play.

To all the weavers (and others) I spent time with and the friends I caught up with, it was a grand trip. Thank you!


July 2016

July 28, 2016

My touring exhibition is having another showing. This time it’s at Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough. It is very interesting seeing how the exhibition interacts with different spaces. Gallery 4 at Gatakers is a large open space with exposed beams. That beam provided the perfect place to hang The Hand. Here are some general views of the exhibition. The staff at Gatakers and in particular Anne Brown who helped hang it were great to work with.





In conjunction with the exhibition was a 5 day workshop. Three students, Pat, Isobel and Karen took advantage weaving for the full time, while Ann could only come for four. It was a great place for a workshop: plenty of light and plenty of room. It was great to work with them. As well as preparing warps, they achieved a lot of weaving.


Ann explored double weave in a sampler. Both layers were the same colour so it was challenging to keep track of what layer was where without reference to colour. Here’s her sample.


Then Ann decided to use the rest of the warp for a scarf. But first sections of warp were removed to make a more interesting textile. There will be warp and weft floats as well as double weave layers.


Karen explored 8 shaft twills. She’s got some interesting colour combinations and structures happening and some that she’s designed herself.


Pat also explored 8 shaft twills. As a beginner weaver she’s having a lot of fun exploring colour and pattern.


Isobel is also a beginner weaver. She’s working with four shaft twills.



Pat, Isobel, a friend and Karen celebrate the week’s achievements.

In addition there was an opportunity for people who had never woven before to come and weave for a day on pre-warped looms. All three are keen to continue. Here are these new weavers with what they wove in one day.







It was a wonderful week where much was achieved as well as being delightful to spend time with weavers, both beginners and the more experienced.

Queensland Spinners Weavers and Fibre Artists ran a beginner weaving workshop over a weekend. There were three participants. They learnt how to wind a warp, dress a loom and weave. Just look at how much they produced in two days. They certainly went home with beautiful scarves; all very different.


Tegan, Sally and Leonie with their scarves.

My friend Helen came for a visit. Of course she was going to weave. There was a spare morning so she had the opportunity to try out a draw loom. She did have fun!



Sally stated weaving last month. For her third warp she decided to weave a tartan silk scarf as a ‘proper project’. In three and a half days she completed a beautiful scarf.

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My exhibition will come down in a few days. It is quite amazing to think how quickly this month has flown.

Finally I’ll share this image. One of the bonuses of having the workshop and exhibition at Gatakers was the opportunity to stay at one of my favourite places. Here’s a sunset at Burrum Heads.


June 2016

July 3, 2016

This month there’s activity in the studio with two new weavers and a wonderful week with some old friends. I’ve also got some weaving to share

Rosemary continued with her next project. She brought her finished hand towels,


and is getting one step closer to weaving a proper project using her hand spun mohair. Here she has put on a quick test warp to evaluate both how her spun mohair performs and to calculate shrinkage. She also wished to try out a table loom as she thinks that will fit her space requirements when she gets her own loom.


Sally is also a beginner weaver. She is obviously having a great time learning to weave. Here she has finished her first warp: a collection of handtowels.



Then very quickly there was a series of tea towels: to explore both how to weave her MacPhee tartan (colour sequence) and to explore various twills.



Then even before she had finished off those she was planning her next project: a tartan scarf. As she says who would believe just a short time ago that she’d now be weaving and dyeing.



In the meantime, I worked on a couple of scarves in double weave with supplementary warps. But then I decided to turn one of these sections into another narrow band of double weave. But how was I going to do that? Well it’s simple really: just add in a couple of temporary shafts, Laos style. What I did discover was that they were so easy to use.



Then at the end of the month three friends from my time at Sturt arrived for a 5 day intensive. Each had their own project.

Sue wanted to explore lace weaves but more than that wanted to understand the relationship between design, profile and drafting. She wove and initial sample.



Then after working on theory and developing a design wove a second warp.


Helen came knowing that she wanted to weave lampshade fabric to compliment an oriental lamp base. She’s requiring both fabric and accent braid. As the braid was the more complex she decided to start with that.



Gillian came knowing that she wanted to weave curves and explore network drafting. We worked on several design approaches. One was selected to weave into a scarf with additional sampling as time allowed. What was an interesting experience for her was going from her usual table loom to weaving on a computer assist loom.





It was great having such a diverse range of requirements as each learnt from each other. In addition there was time to spend together.


Eventually the weather turned and those Southerners got to experience glorious Queensland winter. We even took time out to have lunch and play at Wellington Point.


 While they were here, I got to start threading my draw loom. Eventually I’ll get to weave on it though it will be some time till I can. In the meantime I’ll get it set up.


What I do like about drawloom weaving is the flexibility in deciding what to do with pattern shafts. They can be rearranged so easily. I’ll just get the loom ready to weave and  decide later what I’m going to do. I do have 126 pattern blocks to play with.



Invitation for 8 – 31 July 2016

June 23, 2016

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May 2016

June 2, 2016

Rosemary has been spending time in the studio. She is a new weaver with an aim of weaving with her own hand spun mohair. She is raising a few goats. Firstly though she has woven a few hand towels so that she can understand the process and play with colour.


Just starting…

DSC03065 and finishing! Congratulations Rosemary.

I was a birthday present! And I was delighted to be one. Anne Mette’s husband gave a weekend of private lessons to celebrate a special birthday. She had got hooked on weaving following a workshop I did at Go Create last year. She also has a Danish background and was interested in weaving rugs. This was her second warp and was partly woven. We explored all manner of basic weave structures on this warp.



And then learnt about efficient ways of winding and putting a warp on. A trellis was a convenient place to hang a warping board.


We then repeated the patterns on a balanced weave. It was a very busy weekend and she had a party in the middle. We covered an extraordinary amount of ground as well as fine tuning her countermarched loom. Well done Anne Mette!


It has been a busy time in the studio. I have even managed to weave off three of scarves with variations on a theme. They combine plain weave and twill with some supplementary warp patterning.



And some collapse weave scarves using a weft of overspun alpaca/silk. I do not spin regularly but as I required an overspun yarn, it was one way to get it.


On books and magazines:


This is a marvellous book. I was delighted to do a review for TAFTA. Robyn Spady, Nancy A Tracy and Marjorie Fiddler have created a beautiful hardcover book full of wonderful images of fabric swatches and full documentation of the work of Dr Bateman. I had seen some of his samples and documentation in folders of his work in Seattle. These are much better and so easy to understand. For those who don’t know about Dr Bateman, on his retirement he was prolific in his experimentation of weaving drafts, often taking them in new directions. 398 warps x 6 to 12 samples sure produced a lot of samples. The authors chose “the most innovative”. I was very happy to recommend it.

At the end of last month, I received the latest issue of the Complex Weavers Journal. I’m delighted to have an article in it.

Just arrived is the latest issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, the publication of the Handweavers Guild of America. I was honoured when they approached me for an article am delighted with how they presented it.

The highlight of this month though has to go to my latest adventure. On my ‘bucket list’ for ages has been a trip to Lake Mungo. Why? The remoteness, the landscape, the history, all have called.


Lake Mungo is a world heritage listed national park in the far south west of NSW, just north of Mildura. Normally it would be classed as dessert but it had rained and it was green. In some ways it was not what I was expecting but I was so fortunate to be there. Maybe I’ll have to go back to see it in another light.

It is the site where Mungo Lady and Mungo man were found. The Lake Mungo area is ancient and is a most significant Australian archaeological site. There’s evidence of man having lived here for over 50,000 years. That’s nearly beyond comprehension. Mungo lady was found first and is the earliest known human to have been cremated. A few years later, Mungo man was found. His remains had been coated with red ochre and is the earliest known use of pigments for artistic, philosophical or religious purposes. Both are around 40,000 years old with a possibility of them being even older. The mere fact that I was standing there was remarkable. We could see artefacts emerging from the sand.

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Lake Mungo is a dried up lake. On one side is a crescent “lunette”. Here there is erosion and large sand dunes. The sand is moving. It is remarkable scenery.




You can see the sand being blown off the top of the sand dune.


Vegetation is being covered up as well as artefacts uncovered.

It is also the place where explorers passed through and of pastoralists trying to make a living raising sheep. Here are old shearing sheds and stories of early life on the land.





The remnants of an old tank stand provides a perch for swallows.


Bits of wire and weathered wood provide an interesting study.

I shared my adventure with two other textile artists. Judy Wilford is a well- known embroiderer and Truda Newman is a lapsed weaver who is finding a new voice in different media. It was really interesting to see how we each reacted to the environment and for me it certainly added to the experience. There’s much inspiration here. I’ll share some images. Firstly a flight over gives an idea of scale and how it all fits together. It also flattens the landscape allowing pattern and textures to emerge.






Spinifex circles. The plant dies from the centre and new growth creates pattern. This wasn’t visible from ground level.



A straight line dissecting the land as far as the eye can see.

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Truda and I back on the ground having had the most extraordinary experience.

On the ground:


A grove of rosewood provides a place for contemplation.


Some Mallee and spinifex/porcupine grass.


Saltbush and a kangaroo.


Emu. When driving one certainly needed to keep an eye out for emu and roo.


The sun goes down looking back from the Walls of China over the lake bed.

As we were in the ‘area’ and it was on the way home, of course a stay in Broken Hill was also on the agenda. It’s also been on my list. It’s dessert country, a frontier mining town of another era where the mine dominates,

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the home of the movie, “Priscilla Queen of the Dessert”, an Australian cult classic celebrating 20 years (Do you recognise the murals and shoe in the foyer of the Palace Hotel?),


and where a group of sculptors did remarkable work.



The round trip: over 4,000km. What remarkable country!




April 2016

May 1, 2016


This scarves came off the loom at the start of the month. It’s one of a pair.  Woven in 20/2 silk they combine some weaving structures that are used in South East Asia but with are woven on a 24 shaft loom as opposed to a back strap loom.

Contextart is an annual 6 day textile event run in the Blue Mts of NSW at Easter. Firstly however, on the drive down to Contextart, I stopped off in Tamworth and was lucky to see the retrospective of Vivian Chan Shaw’s work.

At this year’s Contextart, my class focused on Ties: Functional, Decorative and Unconventional. The students did extensive sampling exploring many design approaches. They were a very diverse group of 10 which certainly added to the experience for all. Here’s a snapshot of what they did.


They calculated, wove and analysed.





Here’s some of the work on the loom




And finally, the class collection. What a lot of weaving was done in 6 days… and what a lot of theory. I am delighted at what was achieved. Well done everyone!


For next year’s event visit

Kaz Madigan joined me for a very exclusive class. She spent 5 days in the studio exploring warp faced weave structures inspired by South East Asia. As well as covering a lot of ground, it was a very enjoyable week.





There are two other highlights this month.

Firstly, Trood Newman’s 16 shaft Noble loom is finally working. I acquired the loom while at Sturt in the expectation that my students would be able to have the experience of weaving on a computer assist loom. Till that point it had left Trood’s place in a horse float, stayed with Pat for a while and then to Sturt. It was dead and I contemplated and tried various solutions. Eventually it came home. I still hadn’t given up. 18 months later, then a visit to Ian, a wizard with a soldering iron and hey presto the electronics worked. He’d resoldered all the connections. I then came home put the loom together, connected it all up and “Trood’s Loom” is functioning beautifully.


Who would believe a little bit of plain weave could bring such joy!


With the plaque added. It was done 18 months ago when I started attaching plaques to all the looms in the studio. I had faith!


Paw Nay Thah came to the studio. The visit was arranged by Meredith, the youth Settlement Co-ordinator with MDA Qld. Paw Nay and her family have been granted asylum from a refugee camp on the border of Burma and Thailand. She is from the Karen, an ethnic minority group from Burma (Myanmar). Meredith had asked “What would make you happy?” Her reply: to weave traditional fabric.  Meredith had no experience of weaving so she came here to see what was involved and if it could happen. Paw Nay arrived with the biggest grin. I got shown some traditional cloths and we discussed back strap looms and what is required to make them. It’s very fortuitous that I brought one back from Bhutan. It’s much easier to explain if there’s one to look at. The result: Meredith knows what is needed and Paw Ney will weave. It was such a fun and heart-warming experience.

Meredith and Paw Nay examine some of the textile’s in Meredith’s collection. She had been given them by some of the Karen ladies. Paw Nay can weave these.


Here’s a close up look.

An unmarried woman’s blouse. Note the fringing and the supplementary weft and twill weave structure. The fringing may be added in. In this case it has been added above the hem.


The reverse side. This was interesting because the yarn is carried from one motif to the next.


More detail

Another unmarried woman’s shirt and detail.

A married woman’s shirt and detail. It is much plainer. The reverse side doesn’t show as much pattern. This had a double row of fringe: one a the end of the warp, the other a couple of cm above and inserted in the weft.


Thank you Meredith for coming, bringing Paw Nay and a wonderful experience. Long may she weave!