Thursday, December 31, 2009
Yesterday I got as far as digging it out of the box where I'd stored it and giving it a good wash. Now it's clean and dry and ready to go, but it's going to take a bit of determination to make the first cut. Uh oh! --the more I think about it, the more reluctant I am to take the scissors to it.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The next question to answer is how hardy do I want this project to be? The corduroy will take a fair bit of punishment without complaining, whereas the flannel needs a bit more consideration. Then again distressed flannel does look pretty good. Hmmm . . . I'm not in a hurry so I'll just let those sit together until it becomes clearer.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I'm also hoping to use it to help wind off my smaller cones of yarn when making a warp, or skeins for dyeing. The larger cones are nice and stable, but the smaller ones have a bad habit of falling down unexpectedly. All in all a very clever little gadget!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
The setting was beautiful, with lots of green gardens--they had rain recently--and quirky little touches like this:It was quiet and peaceful--just the thing for Christmas!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
- rose petals from my garden before the weeds took over
- rosemary, also from my garden--it's the only plant that's really thriving at the moment
- orange peel
- lavender oil
- cinnamon bark
- green cardamom
- star anise
- oris root powder as a "fixative"
Sorry, the blog doesn't come with a smell widget, but try to imagine the scent in my sewing room where I've been assembling the sachets!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Now this morning I'm thinking of the fruit in terms of colours. I can't say I selected the blue-rimmed bowl for artistic effect--it was just the first one that came to hand, but it works as a complementary-ish colour scheme. At least it would be complementary if the fruit were fully ripe, but what fascinates me is the gradations of colour in the fruit itself from quite a bright green through to a mellow orange. Hmmm, I wonder what I could do with that? Now that I've taken the photo, I don't have an excuse to delay dealing with the fruit. I know if I leave it in the bowl the colours will continue to develop in a fascinating way, I also know that I will lose my motivation and the rot will set in--literally! So, cutting up and stewing apricots is on the bonus "to do" list for this morning.
Friday, December 18, 2009
It's one of those clever textile things where form follows function. The outer edges of the little squares are the highest and the pattern sinks down towards the middle--in this case, the better to hold moisture, though the same effect in wool makes a lovely warm blanket, with these woven cells maximising the insulation. So it's functional as well as decorative. I'm adding a simple edging in quilting cotton to boost the decorative value. Come to think of it, that's functional too, since it strengthens the outer edge.
OK, time to stop thinking about it and get to cutting and stitching, there aren't many days left before Christmas.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Apart from my usual slowness in actually finishing things off, the other delaying factor has been the big table. Well, not the table itself, but all the stuff that accumulates on the table. I wanted to have the whole table top clear so I could spread out the blanket and make sure all the fringes were even. Now I have a beautiful big clear table to work on. I'm hoping I can keep it like that for a while.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Now, what to spin . . . well there are various requirements for my Spinnning Certificate folio on the "must do" list. Trouble is the list isn't really written. I need to sort out what I've done and what I still need to do . . . Meanwhile, there's a bit of merino left over from the wool-silk baby skein. I might just use that as a warm up. The forecast for today is 39, so I don't think it will be much of a spinning day. Maybe I'll just gloat for a while.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Yesterday was my day for cleaning up the living room. This is where a lot of my spinning, knitting and weaving happens, so there's lots of stuff. I spent several hours sorting and putting away stuff before pressing the "clean" button on the robot. I was especially careful about fibre, since the little machine can get itself badly tangled. It does have a sensor for things like carpet fringes, but it's not up to dealing with a whole ball of wool. Here's the proof:I had some knitting on the armchair. I thought it was out of reach of the robot. I was wrong. While I was in the sewing room, the roomba grabbed, not one, but two balls of wool and the attached knitting needle and proceeded to criss-cross the room in its programmed cleaning pattern. Eventually the brushes were so tangled that it stopped. Then came the alert signal which brought me to investigate. The blue wool you can see disappearing at the lower right of the picture was cleverly festooned around two legs of my dining table. The robot voice said, "Please clean roomba's brushes". I thought that was a reasonable request. I rescued my knitting needle and unwound several metres of wool--which by then was well mixed with dust and dog hair. That went in the bin. Then I put the roomba back on the floor and pressed "clean" again. Off it went as if nothing had happened. I'm glad to say the rest of the task was uneventful. After cleaning the rest of the room, my little robot docked itself for recharging and made its little happy chiming noise to let me know the job was done. OK, so housework and I are still not the best of friends; and I'm more aware than I was of the limitations of my little robot cleaner, but the living room is looking better than it has in a long time.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Last week I bought a few metres of calico and made up these bean bag cushions. I bought a bag of "beans" to fill them. I must be getting wise in my old age, because instead of attempting to fill the cushions by myself, I rang a friend. As it turns out one of my weaving buddies was here as well when V came over yesterday afternoon, so the three of us tackled the cushion filling task. With three pairs of hands on the job, we got these bags filled with only one or two stray bits of styrofoam reaching the floor--yay team!! Now to close off the gaps and make pretty covers. My plan is to make two sets of covers so I can easily wash and change them frequently. I'll see how I go with that.
Unfortunately the afternoon didn't end so happily, when my friend R went to go home, she found her car had been smashed--so badly that she couldn't drive it home. There was no note and none of my neighbours had seen or heard anything. So she spent several hours calling her insurance company, a panel beater and a tow truck before I drove her home. So this morning I woke to the satisfaction of the bean bag cushions and the disappointment of some-one's carelessness and lack of consideration. I'll try to hang on to the former and let go of the other . . .
Friday, December 11, 2009
I tore binding strips from bits of scrap paper to demonstrate:
The top strip shows the bias seam which is used to join lengths of binding as inconspicuously as possible. The folded strip of paper hanging over the top of my notes is a double fold binding. Calculating the width of fabric to cut for these is tricky--you can see my diagram for calculating it--the formula is (3 x binding width plus allowance for quilt thickness) x 2. After snapping this photo with my phone, I left L with the bits of paper to fiddle with. I'll be keen to see how she gets on.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Since it came as tops, it's spinning up quickly and easily and getting me back into rhythm before I look at some of the spinning challenges I still need to tackle for my Spinning Class folio. And no, don't mention the word procrastination . . .
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
- the first couple went to amuse my friend A's bunny--she loves things she can chew: these she can chew and chase
- the next few went to my friend L--she reckons they're just the thing to wrap itty bitty Christmas gifts
- then several went to the Children's Centre at the Neighbourhood House--the kids can use them for constructing all sorts of wonderful things
Now I've got a few more. It's fun to think of the possiblilities.
Monday, December 7, 2009
This is the strawberry crepe we shared for dessert: fresh strawberries, chocolate sauce and cream. The venue has live music every night, so I'm guessing that Saturday afternoon is their slow time. They're gradually transforming the outside space from back-yard to "courtyard". I noticed some new garden beds since I was there last, but we still sat at a rickety table under a tree. Meanwhile my friends at Experimental Spinning were combining various fibres to make a chocolate themed batt, so I felt that I was participating in spirit, if not in person.
I've been doing a little bit of spinning and knitting each day and am starting to think about what next. Meanwhile, there's Christmas to work towards, with various bits of textiles to be incorporated into my gift-giving.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The whole thing is one big mosaic. I love it! Great colours, it's inspiring and lively and functional and just Wow!
I bought a couple of little things and my friend M bought quite a few things. Then we went on to High St for Crepes and a sit in the shade. It was a good day.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
If I can make yarn like that consistently today, I'll be a happy spinner. I may yet need a little more twist, since I'll lose some when I go to ply it.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Well this is where the tea comes in:
I made up the strongest pot of tea you could imagine. Then I soaked my white bras in it. Now they are not white--they're a basic beige colour. That's a definite improvement. I've also bought a black textile ink to try on the purple ones. That's my next challenge.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
- I need to find a way of securing each of these little packages of fibre so that they don't go berserk in the dyepot
- They need a good soak to help the colour to penetrate properly
- I need to find the right pot to dye them in, I think I can use the smaller of my two dyepots with as little water as possible
- Meanwhile I'm desperately running around the colour wheel in my head--like the proverbial hamster--what colours shall I add?
- I'm going to put the three different fibres in the same dyepot, then they'll easily work in together for whatever project D comes up with.
- Rinsing and drying and then deciding whether to pop them in the mail, or have the pleasure of handing them over in person.
Right, I have a plan! As usual there's a small snag--yep, the kitchen sink. It's currently full of dirty dishes. Clear those and I'm on my way.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Over brunch we talked about keeping contact next year. We're going to meet up every month or so. We all figure we've got a lot to learn, and meeting up, encouraging and challenging each other should help. There wasn't really an air of parting around the table at all. We'll be catching up in a few weeks time when we have our certificate day.
I'm already thinking about what I'd like to weave next! Will I start on another version of the double weave bag, just to prove to myself that I can get it right, or make myself a nice woollen shawl like the one that inspired me to join the Guild in the first place? Then there's the Le Clerc loom to sort out, not to speak of the house to tidy so I don't get too overwhelmed by all my textile projects mixed with dust and dog hair.
Today I'm supposed to be at the last class for my Spinning Certificate. I'm going to stay home. It's a revision class and I can't really take advantage of it without first sorting out the work I've done and have yet to do. That's a priority. Besides, I just don't have another day at the Guild in me after the last week. A day off is in order.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Anyway, now I have a couple of hours to tidy up all my bits and pieces before I go in to the Guild to hand in my work and meet up with my fellow students for brunch.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I did get to the Guild yesterday and I have one more exercise done on my Summer and Winter sampler and one to go. My day was sabotaged by a nasty tummy bug which kept me up all night. I never thought eating a slice of toast would feel like such an achievement! I've eaten the toast and had a rest and I'm starting to feel human again, if still rather wobbly. I've discovered that there is no option of handing work in late for this course--marking will be done tomorrow or not at all. That certainly simplifies my decision making, and I just don't have the energy to fuss, so I'll do what I can and hand it in.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
There's at least one more exercise to do on this warp. That's the lesson I missed, so I've arranged to meet our tutor tomorrow morning at the Guild. I'll have Friday to get it done. I think I can manage that, now that I've started.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I'm looking forward to having these blinds to cope with this summer's heat. Where I grew up, a hot day means opening the windows and trying to catch a nice breeze. Here in Melbourne the wind is hot. Shutting up the house is the way to go, but I don't like the feeling of being locked up. So I'm hoping the blinds will let me regulate just a bit of natural light in the room, while keeping out the worst of the heat. That's the plan. Meanwhile I'm off to the hardware store to see if I can get any attachments for me beloved cordless drill to make installing the next three blinds any easier.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Yesterday I bought a new insert binder. I'm trying to convince myself that this isn't going to be too bad . . . Probably I'll only be convinced once I get on and do it!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Now for a reality check:
- this bag is just about done;
- I've been building up the folio for the bag as I go, so there's not much more needed for that, though I could fiddle with presentation for ever--note to self, "you don't have forever"!
- The notes for the rest of the year's work are in a lecture pad and just need a bit of a tidy up. That's another task that could gobble up more time than it's really worth.
- I've got all of the weaving for the Round Robin exercise done. I need to sort out the corresponding notes.
- Then there's an unfinished project . . . well actually it's hardly started. That's the Summer and Winter sampler from the weeks around when my floor chaos was happening. Can I get it done in a week and still keep my sanity?
Friday, November 20, 2009
My major learning is about beat--the tabby layer which will form the lining is not beaten firmly enough, so it's weak. I can solve that problem with some iron-on stabiliser. The tabby layer was the underside while I was weaving it. Using a mirror would have let me check on how it was going. I didn't use a mirror!
My frustration is also about tension. The tension was very uneven at the beginning and the end of my warp. I don't know why and so I don't know how to avoid the problem next time. I didn't have trouble with tension on either of my samples. I'll have to consult about that one. The process of weaving the two layers for the lining and flap of the bag: one in twill, the other in tabby made the tension troubles worse, especially because I didn't pack the tabby down firmly enough. The result was that the bottom layer kept getting looser relative to the top layer.
OK, writing that down helped. I'm not kicking myself as hard as I was when I sat down at the computer. Now, to tackle the challenges and make the bag look good. I think I'll make a page of learnings and questions to include with my folio.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I did get down to it after a bit. I had some wierd tension troubles when I got started. So much so that I called the first six inches another sample and started again. Thankfully I'd allowed myself a bit of extra warp for sampling. Ah, sampling!
The body of the bag is woven. It was surprisingly quick once I got started. After breakfast I'm going to start on the next section which is the flap and lining. Since it's double weave, these will weave up at the same time. Then it will be time to finish it off and put the folio together. Hopefully that will be done by Friday.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
There are a few patterns in the back of the book: Believe it or not, the pattern on the right hand page is for slippers. I'm planning to explore that one. My experience of slipper patterns is that simple looking ones rarely fit well and more complex shapes are hard to understand without a diagram. So here's one for me to play with, diagram and all.
Now, I have been working on my weaving project. All the threading is done, checked and double checked and I'm ready to weave the heading. That will let me know if I've made any errors. Then the bag will start to take shape. I'm looking forward to that.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Meanwhile in the lounge area, I've made the warp for my double weave bag project. Dyeing the cotton for that was the beginning of this burst of dyeing frenzy. The warp is ready to go on--all 456 ends of it! I spent a frustrating hour or two yesterday morning calculating the yarn requirements using the unfamiliar units we've been told to include in this write up. I was ready to put a hex on Tex (g per 1000m) until I finally found my mistake. We'd been told to weigh 10m of fibre and that's the figure I'd written down. Once I multiplied it by 100 to get the 1000 m measure it all worked out. Normally I do like maths, but yesterday morning I just wanted to get back to the fibre. My task for today is to put the warp on the loom and start threading. If I can manage a bit of multi-tracking, it would be nice to get some of the newly dyeing yarns rinsed and reclaim a bit of my kitchen, but that might not happen today.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
- Happy because it's always a trash or treasure type experience with the hall full of books, yarns and equipment for sale.
- Happy because several of my Weaving classmates were there, preparing to take the next step in our textile adventures
- Happy because I had lunch with a friend to look forward to and an exciting array of creative tasks waiting for me at home.
Here's my loot:
- a cone of lovely mercerised cotton--can you see the sheen? I've been using mercerised cotton for my double-weave bag and I'm really enjoying it.
- Several books ranging in price from 50c all the way up to $2! The one on the right is by Mary Atwater--a classic. The one on the left promises to bring together my dressmaking skills with my hand-weaving--just what I need.
- A couple of sweet little stick shuttles: lovely timbers and light and smooth in my hand.
I didn't make a lot of progress on my weaving when I got home. Somehow my happy morning took up all my available energy. I curled up for a nap in front of the fan. Then I wound off the cotton for my warp into balls, while chatting with my friend D on the phone. I did manage to skein up some other fibres and get them ready to dye up overnight, so I have those to rinse this morning. Now I need to do some maths before I make the warp for my double weave bag project. Maybe another coffee first, since I've already been awake far too long.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Here are my results:
The sample on the left is a mini version of the whole bag. I've stitched the sides of the lining and bottom of the bag itself by machine. I hand stitched the edges of the flap together with an overhand stitch.
The top right sample shows the main seam which will attach the lining to the bag flap.
The bottom right sample is another way of finishing the bottom of the bag. The hem stitching isn't as neat as I would like because of the way I tackled it. I can do better hem stitching than that.
I found that hand-stitching with the same yarn I'd used for weaving gave me a better result than using the sewing machine.
I realised that beading the fringe would be tricky because there are going to be nearly 500 warp ends there! And even though the yarn is reasonably fine for weaving, it's definitely not what I would consider fine for beading. So either there would need to be an awful lot of nice little seed beads, or I'd need to use beads big enough to take several thicknesses of my warp yarn. Either way, it would be bottom-heavy, both visually and physically. I could still use some beads just decoratively. I won't make that decision until I've got the whole thing together.
So, my task for today is to make the warp for the real thing and start threading those 500 ends. I'm going to give myself a little more room to sample. I want to test the handle of the cloth if I use the silk yarn I've dyed up. I'd like to make the front of the flap with the silk weft.
I'm going to drop in to the Textile Bazaar at the Guild this morning. Hopefully I'll come home with just a little more fibre for weaving.
Friday, November 13, 2009
From there we went just around the corner in Bruswick St Fitzroy to another treasure house. This time Jasper Coffee:
You can just imagine the smells that greeted us as we walked in. The front of the shop is full of coffees, teas, coffee pots, tea pots, cups of all shapes and sizes. And then there's a cafe and courtyard. We sat in the shade, sipped and munched and talked. The talk got quite heated a couple of times when we discussed the pros and cons of protecting Australia's local publishing industry. It was great to be in the sort of company where silk and the value of Australian writing were the topics of conversation.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I wound off 840 metres of perle cotton on my niddy noddy before it got too hot. That was six 20g balls from my crochet cotton stash. A few years ago, I went through a phase of doing very fine cotton crochet. These balls were leftover. Now they'll get a new life in my weaving. Winding yarn on the niddy noddy is surprisingly physical work when there's that much of it to do.
My next step was to soak the cotton in warm soapy water to get rid of any sizing or other additives. Meanwhile I mixed up the soda ash and dye stock solutions for my dyeing.
Here's the yarn with the dye added: I used my two primary blues and just a touch of lemon yellow mixed with the turquoise. There's a bit of dishwashing detergent in the dye solutions to help me paste them up, so the whole batch was a bit soapy--especially because I used as little water as I could get away with.
The beauty of dyeing cotton on a hot day! I just left the batch in the sink while I went out and about for the afternoon. Then it was time to rinse. By that time splashing around in a sink full of cold water was a welcome relief.
I left the yarn to soak in the sink overnight, just to be sure it was fully rinsed. Now it's ready to dry. Tomorrow I should be able to weave with it.