Friday, April 30, 2010


I'm working on a quilt for a friend whose favourite colour is--would you believe--grey! Here are the fabrics I've put together so far: Working with just grey is quite a challenge, particularly for some-one who loves colour. I'm going to have to work with variations in value--light and dark--to create interest. I think I'll get away with putting in some deep red accents too. That should really warm things up. It's going to be a very simple quilt--large blocks, with some four-patch blocks to break it up. Don't ask me when I'm going to get this done, by the way. I have no idea where it will fit with all the other projects I have on the go, but at least I've pulled out fabrics and started thinking about it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Colour for Me

I ventured out to the nearest large shopping centre last week. I'd decided it was time to make a real effort to buy myself some new clothes. For a long time I've been managing with variations on a theme of black on black, with accent colours here and there. After a season or two of washing and wearing, black loses it's glossy blackness. My black outfits are looking tired, but my mission was not just to buy more black. I was determined to buy some colours to add a bit of variety and freshness to my wardrobe.

It was not my day for clothes shopping. After walking from one end of the centre to the other by various routes several times over, I had tried on dozens of different options. None of them were right. In one of the "big girls" shops, I saw a tunic top which looked like a possibility. The one on display in my size was black. When I asked the assistant about colours she looked bemused for a minute or two. Finally she suggested she may be able to get it for me in grey or brown. I shook my head and left the shop. By this time I was tired, frustrated and my feet hurt.

I decided to stop at the Art Supply store before heading for home. Suddenly my day brightened. Here were assistants who know the meaning of colour and were happy to help me shop to my heart's content. I've been wanting to paint up some colour studies for my own reference, and to help with my teaching. I spent at least half an hour discussing types of paints, pigments and papers with the women on duty. I forgot about my aching feet. I also forgot about my budget--oops--but I came home with these:
Watercolour paper and artist's quality acrylic paints in primary colours plus black and white. One more colour wheel coming up--I can never have too many colour wheels! What a pity I can't wear them.

By the way, I did get lucky on clothes at a factory outlet the next day. I found half a dozen items, only one of which is black. Now I just need to find the courage to wear them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Clayton's Rib

The rib you have when you're not having a rib:I saw this stitch pattern on the weekend in a book of baby cardigans my friend M was working from. They called it a garter stitch rib. Every second row is garter stitch. The other row is K3, P3, K3, etc. The yarn here is a mohair blend, so that makes the resulting fabric even softer in outline. I'm enjoying it--just a simple scarf with some of the yarn left over from the Engagement Gift Blanket. I put the last stitch in that project this morning and immediately cast on something quick and easy! Now I must get the blanket fringe sorted so that project is really complete and ready to send to its final destination.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Armchair Project Upsize

I started this armchair project last winter. Look how it's grown!The idea started as a lap rug or couch throw, but since it's an engagement gift, there had to be room for two. The two live in Queensland where the weather is generally warm, but there are some seriously cold mornings and evenings in winter and the houses have no heating. I remember when I lived in that area, the adequacy of a lap rug was measured by how effectively it covered cold toes. Next came the idea, that since the rug was already going to be wide enough for two, it could double as an extra layer of warmth, colour and comfort for the end of a double bed. You're getting the picture: the ideas grew as did the rug. Now it's nearly finished. It has definitely outgrown my armchair. In case you need a size comparison--that little silver line at the top right of the pic is my crochet hook. Each row is 200 stitches and I've done more than a dozen rows in the past 48 hours. I'm keen to get it finished and on its way before the weather turns really cold again. And I'm ready for a smaller lighter project for my armchair.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Public Transport

The things you see around town:
From what I could tell, this elderly lady was only going to the local shops. But oh! what style: metallic gold high heeled shoes, layered pink chiffon suit with fluted rolled hems, glossy black handbag, plenty of gold jewellery . . . I didn't feel right about photographing more than this, but you can imagine the coloured and set hair and carefully applied make up to match. And all on the Number 86 tram at four o'clock on a weekday afternoon. If I'd been driving, I would have missed it all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Bonus

I caught up with my weaving group at the Guild yesterday morning. Not that I've been doing any weaving--but it was good to see what others have been doing and to urge myself to get back to my loom. Realistically that's not going to happen until I've finished my spinning folio. Then it will be time to explore ideas and weave just what I like.

One of the weavers had been to Orange to pick up a loom--believe me it's a long way to Orange. And even further to get back in a small car loaded with weaving equipment! Just as well she has friends there, because the loom itself was a bit of a disapointment. As well as the loom and a big bundle of fibre, S came home with a box of books and magazines. She brought along some to share. How could I resist this!

I've had a bit of a browse through it. These colour exercises might just have to be what I weave as soon as I get a chance to get back to it. On the other hand, I kept myself busy with my drop spindle throughout the morning. The fine angora-merino blend I've been spinning is also claiming first spot on my loom. So we'll see which project wins the race. Or then again it could be one of the many other ideas that are buzzing around in my head. Meanwhile I have several more books to glean ideas from when I'm not spinning.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Just for Fun

I'm going to have to buy myself a car sometime soon. It's been a few weeks since mine was damaged. Yesterday I received the paperwork from VicRoads confirming it as a total loss. I have started doing the basic research: makes, models, safety, prices . . . It's necessary, but uninspiring. At this stage I still have trouble telling one small car from another. In terms of textiles, the main thing is room for my loom. My spinning wheels are both fairly easy to pack into a small space, but looms are just big and bulky--even the portable ones.

I've been doing lots of walking--which is very good for me. And I'm remembering the benefits and drawbacks of public transport--lots of drop spindling happening! My friend L has been incredibly generous in letting me borrow her car too. I joked to her the other day that I only really need half a car, but which half? After some thought I decided that a diagonal half from the driver's side in the front to the passengers side rear would be ideal--not sure that there'd be much of a market for the other half, though! That got me thinking about three-wheeled cars. Here's a real cutey I found courtesy of Wikipedia:
I can just see myself driving something like that, though I would like a canopy for the luggage space. Fuel efficiency would be great and I'd just have to smile every time I caught sight of myself! Oh well, I can dream, but I'd better keep doing my research in the real world too.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sorting Time Again

I have been gradually spinning up the remainder of my Folio requirements. I can't say I've been really systematic about it. I've been working my way down the list and keeping samples, but I still have to organise and present the work I've done. There are more than enough skeins left to tackle as well. Now I've come to a stage where I really need to get things sorted. I've done some of the spinning for the next few sections last year. They've been saved and roughly labelled:
It's time to sort out what I've done, label it properly and tick it off the list. Then I can see what I need to tackle next. The bonus is that I'll know how close I am to finishing--or not!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


So, my car didn't make it through the Easter Weekend--long story, but the upshot is that it's been written off. I can't pretend I'm happy about that. It's a pain and an expensive pain, at that. On the bright side, though, I had been missing my walks for months now and despite my best resolutions, just hadn't got back into the habit. Without a car, walking becomes a necessity instead of an optional extra. As well as walking to help me get where I need to be, I've started walking the dogs again. I'm still at the stage where I feel more tired than I'd like after a good hour's walk. As I said, it's been a while. I'm looking forward to the benefits of exercise--coming soon, I hope!

Walking is always great way of noticing small details around the neighbourhood. Here's a bit I picked from one of the peppercorn trees in the local park. I love the delicate drooping leaves and the teeny tiny berries just starting to form. At least I'm guessing that's what they are.
I looked up the peppercorn tree when I got home the other day. Turns out it's considered a weed, since it grows so well locally that it easily takes over bushland. And the "pepper" bit is very real--I was surprised how strongly the leaves smell when I broke off a piece!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm planning a new quilt for the Neighbourhood House. This one will be a raffle quilt--so a fundraiser as well as a chance to promote quilting within our community. This interlocking stars pattern was suggested:It's based on a Friendship Star, but instead of just one set of stars there are two. A pattern of interacting Friendship Stars sounds like a great metaphor for a Neighbourhood House. Plus it's a simple enough design that relatively new quilters could be involved.

My first dilemma: the most efficient way to piece this design would be to work in rows: each row alternates a plain square unit and a unit made up of two triangles. On the other hand, Neighbourhood House is all about participation. Piecing the quilt in blocks--each made up of one Friendship Star--would be more inclusive and would give more people a sense of ownership of the project. Since the stars interlock, though, there'll be an odd row between each clear star block and only half the stars can be pieced as blocks. Oh well, I think it's still worth going with participation and ownership over efficiency.

You can see that my drafting is still done with paper and pencil. I've played with the idea of getting one of the software packages, but I haven't bitten that particular bullet yet. Sketching designs out by hand is time consuming, but it's a way of getting familiar with the pattern and anticipating the piecing process. I find it relaxing and absorbing. I don't know if that would be the case working on my computer--then again, I'm enjoying blogging well enough.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


It's a couple of weeks already since I settled on the idea of making a Flying Geese border for the Rose Quilt. I haven't got very far. The quilt top is still hanging on my design wall. Over the weekend I did start going through my fabrics looking for possibilities. Here's the pile so far:I haven't yet unearthed the fabrics that are already in the quilt--I think they're in another box. Oh, so many boxes! So if you would please imagine the key orange and deep rose pink colours in to the mix. I was pleasantly surprised, though, at how many possibilities I came up with in a relatively short time. I've found that with scrappy designs, I can get away with a wider range of fabrics than I would expect. It's as if the eye averages out the whole array and finds the right balance. The other bonus is that I got moving on clearing the small mountain of quilting fabrics from my cutting table--it grew by a third. The table that is:)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Autumn Dress Rehearsal

So it's mid-April--definitely Autumn by the calendar. But the season itself is not so convincing. A week or two ago I was sure it was Autumn. We changed our clocks back from Daylight Saving on Easter Sunday. Suddenly the evenings were an hour shorter. We had a run of days with maximums around 19-20 degrees. There was snow in the Alpine Region. The last few days have been summery again. Fine weather and temperatures up in the high 20's--oh Centigrade by the way.

I've lived in Melbourne more than ten years now, I should be used to the weather, but the first cool days always catch me by surprise. Intellectually I know that summer comes to an end and t-shirts are superseded by long sleeves, jackets and scarves, but somehow I don't really accept the truth until it happens. Then I find myself unprepared. There have been cool weather clothes in the shops for a couple of months, but I haven't bought any.

On the other hand there is always plenty of wool in the house! I crocheted myself this little scarf on the first cold day:
It's hand-spun merino and dip-dyed by me. I'm really happy about how the colour patterning has turned out. Now I just need the Autumn weather to come back so I can wear it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Carded Colour Wheel

The carded colour wheel from last weekend has been occupying my table all week. It's been a perfect task for those in between moments in the day. After the colour mixing, the next task was to spin the fibre on my drop spindle. Then I wound it off onto little cardboard bobbins--the ones made for embroidery floss that I seem to use for all sorts of other handy little jobs. I finished that off this morning.

Now to arrange them so I can keep all this colour for future reference:

I glued down the little bobbins onto a page of black card--I ended up trimming the excess white cardboard so it would all fit nicely. I still had a bit of carded fibre left over and I'm not in the mood for more mixing today. I'd like to tick this task off the list--much as I've enjoyed it--so I've arranged some of the excess fibre in the middle of the circle. It will be good to be able to see the difference between how it looks before and after being spun.

The glue for the outer circle is drying as I type. When that's secure I'll glue down the rest. I don't want to be worrying about bumping things out of position. Then I can clear off that section of my table and decide on my next project.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ditch Stitch Guide

I picked up my sewing machine from the repair shop yesterday. It's been serviced and has a new foot control. I'm looking forward to testing it out. Nick, who I've mentioned is crazy keen about old sewing machines, was his usual enthusiastic self. I took the opportunity to ask him about a clever presser foot I'd seen one of my students using. She called it a "ditch foot" but that didn't ring any bells. Rather than just a straight "no" though, the conversation continued. I grabbed a pen and paper to sketch out how I thought the thing worked. Then Nick grabbed several drawers full of presser feet and started rattling through them, picking up one foot after the other until he came up with this:
It's a blind hem foot--as it turns out, I had one a lot like it in my work box which I'd never used. The relevant detail is the little vertical ridge which you can just see in the lower right of the pic. That works as a guide to keep the stitch line straight against a fold of fabric. In my case, I'm hoping it will keep the stitch line along the ditch where the seam allowances are folded away. I'll have to try it out. My blind hem foot had an extra little horizontal piece which, though fine for blind hemming, would probably get in the way of my quilting, so we swapped. Since I wasn't using mine anyway, I'll either be in the same boat as before and keep looking for the elusive "ditch foot", or my problem will be solved and I'll have a new tool to help me with my quilting. I guess that means I'm going to have to do some quilting today.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Olive-Snake Inspiration: the next episode

In our last instalment of the Olive-Snake Inspiration I was using a tiny scrap of yarn to sample some stitch patterns. Here's the result:

The sample is not blocked--I'm still seriously thinking about a mobius neck roll and by definition a mobius cannot be blocked on a flat surface.

So from left to right we have:

  • reverse stocking stitch
  • stocking stitch
  • double moss stitch
  • moss stitch

The stitch definition is not as good as I would like on the moss stitch samples, so I think I'll try smaller needles if I decide to go with that option. At this stage, though I'm still inclined to go with the stocking stitch / reverse stocking stitch idea--I'm dreaming about how "snakey" a smooth mobius neck roll would look with it's dynamic drape. And besides, stocking stitch will be so much smoother to knit. I'm enjoying this process so much that I'm inclined to spin up some more yarn to do a moss stitch version as well. But there are still plenty of folio samples requiring my spinning attention. So I will have to alternate those with the thrill of designing or they'll never get done.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


These garlic and chilli stuffed olives were an impulse buy at the deli yesterday: I guess I'm still thinking about the olive colour--I'll confess, I was also just plain hungry when I went shopping! The reason I've included them in today's post--even after a healthy breakfast--is that it's a bit of a different take on a complementary colour scheme. Red and green are a classic complementary pair of colours, but in their pure form have the disadvantage of being potentially a bit too predicatable and, well, Christmassy. Toned down like this, though, there's still an exciting contrast, but also a bit more harmony. And in the taste bud department, the bite of the chilli contrasts beautifully with the smooth, slightly bitter olive flavour. Hmmm, something to think about while I knit today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Olive Oil

I'm still enjoying the follow-on from last weekend's design workshop. Here's the silky mohair that went into the dyepot on Sunday. It's definitely olive green!

I'm thinking of making a little neck roll from it--there's only 30g of yarn. Maybe a mobius . . . I've got a scrap more--just the leftover bit from when I was plying it up--so first a little swatch to add to my design board. Now I need to decide on what stitch to use: simple stocking stitch, which will also show the reverse if I do a mobius; or should I look through my stitch dictionaries for something that will pick up the texture of scales from the lizard and snake? Hmmm, if I start looking through my stitch dictionaries it might be a while before anything goes on the needles. Then again, this is a design exercise, so I may as well keep going with the process, even if I come back to the idea of stocking stitch.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

And Another Thing

Here are some of the pictures that didn't make it onto my Design Board on Saturday: One of the most helpful things I heard in the design process on Saturday was, "What happens if you take that away?". I have a habit in design--which often serves me well--of adding layers: of colour, texture, whatever . . . until I'm satisfied with the result. The opposite approach--paring back to a few essential features--was a new insight. And I like it. Now I guess the challenge will be to know when to add and when to subtract, but I guess life's like that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Colour

I was exhausted yesterday, but not too exhausted to enjoy consolidating my learning from the day before. I spent several happy hours pasting up the samples from my design board and adding a few other yarns out of my stash. I was so pleased with the process that I didn't want to put the board away. So it's leaning up against my wall where I can see it from my armchair. I realised as I was pasting it all up that there is not a scrap of blue to be seen on the entire board--that has got to be a first for me! The lesson of mixing with black was also reinforced as I mixed up a dyepot of landscape "wattle" with just a crumb of "currawong" and dyed up 30g of silky mohair which I'd spun up a few days ago. More on that later--it's drying as we speak.

The colour wheel was next. I started to spin up the colour swatches on one of my drop spindles. That gives me a double benefit: the more I handle the fibre, the more I learn from it; plus the colour is more intense and appears better blended when spun. It was my fellow student, M's idea to use the drop spindle--good one! It handles the tiny quantities easily and saves me occupying yet another bobbin with an unfinished sample. It also makes it easy to just do a bit more every now and then.
As you can see, I'm about 2/3 of the way through the samples. I had plenty of fibre in each sample, so I've saved a bit to take an extra step. I want to blend another set of in between colours--so doubling the number of steps in my colour wheel. I have visions of doing some more blending again, but I won't commit to that until I've got this lot finished. I guess that means it's time to leave the computer and head back to the fibre. Colour is just so good for me!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

A few weeks ago I posted a teaser. It was a gift for my friend D's birthday and I wanted to post about it without spoiling the surprise. Well, the birthday has been and gone. In my rush to get the gift in the mail, I forgot to take a final photo. Today I received this in my inbox:It's an armchair caddy--usually to be found over the arm of the chair, but I think here it's draped over the back of the chair to catch maximum light. A big pocket to hold embroidery bits and pieces, plus a needle book, pin-cushion and scissor holder. My friend has two blogs: one about Dee-cluttering and the other, Silk-stitching. I guess I wanted to have a bet each way!

Design Workshop

I found yesterday's workshop at the Guild very worthwhile. The day started with a couple of inconveniences--I took my wheel along, on the bus and tram, only to find it wasn't needed. And my choice of pictures--which was very much needed--had been left at home. Oh well, sigh; take a deep breath and dive into the workshop.

We spent the morning blending coloured tops for a colour wheel--I can never have too many colour wheels. The next exercise was blending and matching colours from a marvelous coral reef photo.

In the afternoon we created a design board. We used it as a source to blend colours and textures to use as inspiration for creating yarns. Since I'd left my pictures at home, I chose some more from T's box of magazines. I stuck with my personal challenge to go outside my usual palette: I worked on mixing three colours--
  • the deep dark brown of the lizard's belly: red and black with a hint of yellow;
  • the olive green at the top left of the pic: citrus yellow and black--unexpected!
  • and the burnt orange of the fried dumplings on the lower right: more red, yellow and black.

For someone who has tended to avoid using black in colour mixing, it was an enlightening experience. I bought a jar of black (Currawong) landscape dye before I went home to reinforce the lesson.

As often happens, by the time I was packing up to go home, my stuff appeared to have multiplied exponentially. T was kind enough to give me a ride home. As a bonus, we got to have a quick coffee and chat. I'm afraid I talked her ear off--it's been too long since we caught up. So, all in all a very worthwhile day. Today I'm exhausted and there's even more stuff on my table to be dealt with. Was it only last week I managed to get it all cleared!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Travelling Light

I'm off to a colour blending and design workshop at the Guild today. I'm looking forward to it. Anything about colour thrills me. Plus the workshop leader is my friend and first spinning teacher, Teresa.

As for the travelling, well, I'll be going on the bus and the tram. So my usual take everything, it might just come in handy approach has been shelved for now. I can't do without my wheel, so there it is in it's silver travel bag. If I have to do without my car much longer, I might just get around to implementing my idea for turning it into a backpack. It's a colour blending workshop, so I guess that means carders. There are carders at the Guild, but they're a bit dodgy. I'll bring my own. Apart from that, we were told to bring some pictures for inspiration. I've raided a few from a travel article about the Northern Territory--deliberately opting for those with earthy browns and oranges to challenge myself a little. I can always count on the sky for some of my favourite blues. OK, so . . .
  • wheel--check
  • carders--check
  • inspiration--check
  • what else? A flicker to clean my carders, do I need to bring some fibre? Better make sure my bobbins are in there . . .
  • OH, and remember, I'm going on the bus, so take it easy with all the good ideas!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reality Check

This is the foot control pedal of my sewing machine: It's not working too well. The problem is that when I put my foot down, not a lot happens, until it suddenly goes flat out. It's been like that for quite a while, gradually getting worse. It's the sort of problem I can adjust for in a way, but not a lot of fun. I'm afraid there are a few of those in my life and I find it hard to get a perspective on them.

The other day a friend of mine used my sewing machine. She'd just given up on her own of a similar make and vintage because it was driving her nuts. I asked her how she went with mine. Her reply, "yours is worse than mine"! OK, Now I know I have a problem with my foot control. It's going to the nice "fix it" man today. I think I've waxed lyrical here before about the nice "fix it" man who likes old sewing machines. I'm also acknowledging a bit of a problem with my reality testing and tolerance for annoyance--but that one's harder to fix. Oh well, a smoothly working sewing machine will be nice and I'll keep working on the rest of my life.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spinning Certificate Exhibition

J from the Handweavers and Spinners Guild rang me last night. She was asking for photos of the students' exhibition to put on the Guild website. When I went looking for the pictures I realised that the opening was almost a month ago. I don't know what happened to all those days in between. I never did get around to sorting and showing any of those pictures at the time. So here's one to inspire:The is knitted lace. Beautifully and unexpectedly presented in a bold black and white frame. The yarn is spun from silk cap, so the texture of the natural fibre is integrated with the texture of the knitting. Dell's work--I love it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wedding Pretties

I've just had my friend D on the phone. Her eldest daughter is getting married in January. She's at the wonderful stage of imagining and exploring all the exciting possibilities for frills and fripperies in, would you believe, Baby Pink! Thankfully for me, the stage of imagining that I could make the wedding dress--since I made several gorgeous dress up items in her growing up--is well past. The wedding dress has been purchased and if anyone makes the bridesmaids' dresses it won't be me. That just leaves the fun parts. D is planning an embroidered ring cushion. Together we just imagined the silk dupion, ribbons and emboidery floss into one of my dye-pots. Then I added matching silk hankies for the men. And ooh! what about little wrist purses for the bridal party.

Confession time--I'm not known for my frilly pink tendencies, but these three pieces of fabric were in the top of my "silk box". I don't expect any of them will actually be used, but here they are in their pretty inspiration. Now I just have to wait for some colour swatches--apparently a paint swatch from Bunnings is the thing! Then I can start playing with colour. Nine months out from the wedding, it all sounds like a lot of fun. And if all goes smoothly and there aren't too many last minute changes, it could continue to be lots of fun. Though I've experienced enough wedding preparations to know that somewhere along the line will be some complications and even tears.

Now as for today's realities--putting pretty baby pink aside. I have spinning and knitting to work on and a quilting class tonight. Oh, and no car. In non-textile news: my car was involved in an accident on the weekend--thankfully only the car was damaged, and the people are all ok. But it will be a few days before I know whether it will be fixed or written off.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Design Decisions

My new design wall is earning its keep. I've had the "Rose" UFO hanging on it for a couple of weeks now. So much so that even though I see it all the time, I'd almost stopped noticing it. But yesterday afternoon a couple of my quilting friends came over and there it was, just begging for comments. That was great, because their comments got me over my inertia. I hunted through my stash until I found the fabric I'd been thinking of for the first border. I think it works: At this stage I'm planning on a narrow dark border--perhaps 1 inch. The discussion then turned to the next border. It will need to be wider and to pick up the cream-gold colours from the centre panel. I honestly don't know who said what, but the discussion went to a pieced border and the idea of using Flying Geese to continue the sense of movement from the centre. The trouble with a pieced border, of course, is that I can't "audition" it until I've made it, but when I looked at Flying Geese quilts on line last night, I decided I like them enough that I could turn the strips into a quilt and not feel as though it was a waste of effort. So hunting out fabrics for a pieced border is now on my "to do" list. I think I'd better do a bit of tidying of my quilting fabrics on the way through, or things are going to get just too chaotic in here. If you're wondering about the big orange triangles in the quilt: I'm planning to hand-quilt a big rose there in cream thread, so they won't be a big dead spot in the design. Funnily enough, I've had that idea in my head so long that I was surprised when the comments came about how to break up those corners. It's as if I can already see the quilted design, even though it's obviously not there in current reality.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kid Mohair Colour

I dyed this skein of kid mohair over the weekend. Here it is draped on my friend's marudai stool , which is sitting near my armchair in the north window--hence the bands of sunlight. I was amazed at how greedy this fibre was for colour. There's about 50 g there. I started off with a generous half teaspoon of Landscape "Cyclamin", only to find the dye exhausted after less than ten minutes. I repeated this twice before I thought the dyeing was done. After it dried and I had another look at it I thought it would take some more, so back to the dye pot it went. This time with a combination of "Galah" and "Plum" from my last silk ribbon experiment. Would you believe it gobbled up all that colour as well. I wouldn't be surprised if it took even more colour, but I like what I've got too much now to want to risk anything else. I was originally going to include this skein with the "Bubble and Squeak" project, but now I think I'll give it a little project of its own. Stay tuned for further developments.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Beading Brightness

I managed to clear my big table yesterday! Blast of trumpets, please! Not only did I clear it, but I put all the things that were on it into at least semi-reasonable alternative locations ie I didn't just shove everything in a box out of desperation. After that it wasn't that hard to tidy up a few more things around the room and give the floor a bit of a sweep. Whoo Hoo! It's amazing how helpful an impending visit is to galvanise me into action. In reality, it was no easier to clear the table yesterday than it would have been on any other Saturday this year, except that my friend L was coming over to sew and I'd promised her some table space. As it turned out, most of the sewing happened in my sewing room--there is a certain logic there--and the sewing room hadn't received any tidying attention, but it was ok.

What to do with a large clear table? Well, as it turns out, L brought along a few jewelry items needing attention, and there's a possibility of my teaching a jewelry making class at one of the (other) local Neighbourhood Houses. So out came the beading boxes and tools. Here are some bracelets I made yesterday--the camera hasn't really picked up the sparkle factor, unfortunately--and a mermaid brooch from way back that was in the bottom of a box: I've been asked to show a small variety of my work to the House Manager, so this is a start. Most of my beading efforts end up as gifts and most of what I make for myself is in a narrow range of styles, since I make to suit my own taste. So I'm going to go nuts for a few days and just make some different things. I'm looking forward to it. Then I'll reclaim my big table again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I started flicking out some lovely kid mohair last weekend. I spun up half of it during the week and am loving how it's coming out. I'm not quite sure that it will be fine enough, but I think it will be ok. Yesterday evening I decided to flick out the second half before going to bed. Now that's ready to go:In the pic you can see the flicked fibre in the box. Below it on the left are a few of the mohair curls as they came--they're lovely and long, but took a bit of opening out. On the right is the "waste" fibre. These are the shorter ends, and snarls that came away when I did the flicking. I just can't wait to get my hands on them! I've got some "waste" merino from when I combed out my fine worsted sample last year--the short ends of merino plus the kid mohair, spun woollen should produce a delightful lumpy bumpy cloud of yarn. When that goes into the dypot, the mohair will soak up the colour with a zing while the merino remains more muted. I can't wait! But first I must produce the required "good" sample of lovely shiny smooth mohair for my folio. Being contrary will have to wait just a little bit longer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Slow, Slow, Slow!

I'm having a slow morning. I think I've had enough sleep. Honestly, it's hard to tell when insomnia is my middle name, but I've had a few decent nights without extra medication, and that's about as good as it gets. I've had a nice breakfast and better than average coffee. I have plenty of things on the "to do" list and plans to catch up with a friend later in the day. The sun is shining, and it's not too hot. Nevertheless, I'm feeling unmotivated and slow. I guess that's just how it is today.

Yesterday I finished off the hand stitching on Bunny Rug #1, despite being less than thrilled with the fabric. It's done. Now I have Bunny Rug #2 all ready to go:
I've used spray adhesive to layer the two fabrics together. I've stitched around the edge and trimmed it all square. I've cut the binding strips. Next step is to join the binding strips to make a continuous length, then fold, press and stitch it around the edge. And this is fabric that makes me smile, so hopefully I can get going on that today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bunny Rug #1

I took along one of the baby bunny rugs I'm making to my class last night. They're about as simple as can be: two layers of fabric with binding around the outside. We looked at binding in last week's lesson, but there was so much to cover, I thought a bit of reinforcement wouldn't go astray. Besides, with the new format for this class--a "do your own thing", UFO class--I thought I might just get the chance to put in a few stitches. I got nearly to the first corner--which conveniently allows me to post a picture of the corner here: The unexpected consequence of bringing this project along was admiration for the busy pink, blue and black paisley fabric. It's definitely not my style, but several people commented on how much they like it. Just as well, since I'll be giving it away to a charity when it's done and I do want someone to enjoy it. OK, now to put in a few more stitches while I brew myself a cup of coffee and then do a bit of cleaning up.