Weaving Weekend

I was sick all last week. Aches, back pain, headaches, fatigue and insomnia. It wasn’t until Friday that I worked out it wasn’t just a change in the weather but a bug going around when I started encountering other people who’d had the same symptoms.

Once I decided Friday was a sickie, my whole outlook changed. Instead of it being a failed work day it was a day on which anything I got done was a bonus. That improved my mood greatly! I just pottered around, resting and thinking.

One thing I decided was that, if I felt up to it, the weekend was going to be dedicated to weaving. I’m still determined to strike off as many projects in the WIP list as I can before starting new ones. So on Saturday morning, after a bit of Vitamin D harvesting in the garden, I got stuck in.

I got a placemat and a half woven:

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But the main achievement was to finish the Paua Shell Ruanna collar:

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And to sew it to the ruanna:

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I was always pleased with the ruanna, and now I like it even more.

I’d decided that, for some reason I don’t remember, this could be a scarf it if didn’t work out. Maybe because I didn’t have enough weft yarn – Bendigo Luxury in black. And I didn’t have enough… but I just ordered some more.

Now I can think about what to put on the loom next. Hmm. Choices, choices.

Though if I’m to stick to finishing WIPs, I should finish the placemats and table runner first.

Beanie a Long Time

Back in 2010 I started knitting a fair isle vest out of Patonyle sock yarn. I got to the armpits and discovered it was too small for me, so I cast off and set the piece of fabric aside. Since then I’ve toyed with plans to make a bag, a hood style hat, and finally, this:

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It was really just a matter of using a beanie I already had as a template, overlocking the edges and sewing the halves together.

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I used some of the waste yarn to make a pom pom. This is the only time I’ve put one on a hat. I’m not 100% convinced I like it, but I don’t dislike it enough to take it off again.

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This was a WIP that had been around so long it fell off the WIP list and wound up on the To-Do list again. But now it’s done, and I feel more satisfaction at that than how it turned out. Though I do think it worked out alright, and I’d have hated to waste all the hours of knitting that went into it.

Ribbon Scarf

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After getting my craft mojo back post trip, I couldn’t decide what to work on. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tackle anything on my to-do list but that I wanted to do all of them equally as much. So faced with too much choice I figured I may as well attack the WIP list instead.

The first thing I did was finish the flamingo pendant, then warp up the rigid heddle loom for some more placemats. But I wanted to reduce the WIP list and I had four placemats to weave then a runner to warp and weave so it would be a while before I could cross that one off. Rather than start weaving I set my sights on finishing faster WIPs.

I made a tough decision and unpicked the embroidery on the grey vest, While I thought it looked sweet, it really wasn’t me. Nothing like abandoning a project to quickly reduce the WIP list!

After that I examined the ribbon scarf. I’d been basting ribbons on slowly, usually during an evening of tv watching. But I found it hard to tell if I was getting the colours evenly spread, or if I had enough ribbon to cover both sides. So I decided to lay the fabric out on a table and lay the remaining ribbon over it. I worked out that I really only had enough ribbon to cover one side.

I started cutting and pinning ribbon, and once I was satisfied with the arrangement, I basted the ribbons down over a couple of sessions. All that was left then was to sew them down, hem the scarf and unpick the basting, and it was done.

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This is a 100% recycling project. The gauze was left over from another project, and the ribbons removed from an old costume.

As for the rest of the WIPs… I reckon I can get the Paua Shell Collar done pretty soon. I’ve also returned to art classes, so I’m finally making progress on Justin’s portrait. What I really need to tackle, however, is the Art Necklace. It’s the oldest WIP and it’s time I got it out of the way.

Flamingo Pendant

Here’s the finished embroidered pendant I began while overseas:

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As I suspected, it all started to look right once I got the full range of feather colours on. I found a blue cord necklace at Spotlight that was a close match to the fabric.

Last weekend it went to the recipient, a thank you present to my lovely friend Karen who made some promotional notebooks for me to use as gifts overseas. She is rather fond of flamingos.

From the Ground Up

Our new property is a full acre. When I stop to think about that I think I must be nuts taking on a garden that size. Yet the majority of it is laid out in the easiest way to maintain: large trees that don’t require work and grass a mowing guy takes care of.

The rest is far from ideal: a difficult-to-access weed infested embankment. 20% of the property will require 95% of the time, energy and money to fix and maintain.

I’ve entertained plenty of ideas about what I’d like to do here: native gardens to attract birds, productive vege beds, pergolas covered in grape vines and more fruit trees. But the gap between what I have and what I dream of is pretty wide, and I need to consider what I can physically do now and as I get older.

I’ve been struggling to tame what we have. Having gone away for a while, I can see that the philosophy of dividing work into smaller, manageable tasks isn’t working. Too much of the work required has to be done everywhere at the same time, to keep the costs down and prevent weeds spreading.

I’m now taking a step back and looking at the garden from a different viewpoint and asking myself: what do I want to achieve here?

1) a garden with no structural issues
2) a garden we can easily maintain
3) an attractive and usable outdoor spaces
4) a productive garden

So I’m setting my sights on numbers 1 and 2 for now. Drainage, soil, weeding, mulching. That’s more than enough to keep us busy for quite a while.

Poking Around the To-Do List

After returning from a long trip away I usually find myself in a creative funk, and this time is no exception. But it’s always a temporary thing. A week after getting home my interest is starting to revive. Through the week, rather than waiting for my mojo to return, I’ve been tidying up my craft room looking at WIPs, checking my to-do list, reading back through old blog posts and noting which projects make me go “ugh” or “I still want to make that”.

Photo albums
“Ugh” was my first thought, despite having found quicker and easier ways to make them. It’s the choosing of images that takes a long time. That, and captioning them. Still, Paul is working on the ones from this trip (I left it to him and didn’t even take a camera) so maybe that’s one album I won’t have to worry about.

Weaving
My first thought on entering the craft room was that I could happily jump on the table loom and finish the collar. And that once I got over jet lag I would be ready to tackle the place mats. Sure enough, I had warped up the rigid heddle for another four before the week was up.

Dyeing
Yeah, well, most of the dyeing I want to do is to improve existing objects and that doesn’t make me leap to the pots. However, the idea of dyeing yarn for weaving a colour gamut blanket is attracting me.

Papercraft & Printing
Oddly enough, I’ve had a bit of an itch to do some printing for a while now. Even while I was on holidays. However, I think I’m officially over bookbinding now. I’ll happily do it in order to make something, but not for the sake of doing it.

Sewing & Refashioning
Cold weather usually dampens my enthusiasm for garment sewing. (All that getting changed to test the fit.) I’m a bit sad I didn’t get as much done last summer as I’d hoped, and there are a few winter weight and non-garment projects on the to-do list, so maybe I’ll whip out the machine soon.

Machine Knitting
I found a reference to thinking about selling the Passap knitting machine on my blog from last August. Hmm. I bought it in Feb 2012. I don’t think I used it after August 2012. Perhaps next August, if I still haven’t used it, or have used it and thought ‘meh’, I will sell it. The Bond doesn’t take up as much room, so I’ll hang onto that.

Embroidery
I’ve been enthusiastic about embroidery for pretty close to two years now, though I seem to have reached that point I get with a hobby where I start questioning what I’m doing and why. I’m still figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. And the cat. It has to be something I can stitch while the cat is on my lap.

Jewellery
I’ll always be interesting in making jewellery, but the kind of jewellery is what changes. I’m over beading and macrame. I’d like to try that metal clay kit Paul gave me for Christmas a few years back.

Other
There are some whacky ideas on this list. I have an mini fan I bought some years back that barely makes a draft, for all that it buzzes around noisily. I’ve wanted to try making a paint spinner disc since seeing an artist playing with one on a doco. Entirely for the fun of it. I have no idea what I’d do with the resulting artwork! I also have an itch to make sand candles out of some leftover candle-making supplies I’ve got hanging about. That’s where you press an object into sand to make the mould, and the grains decorate the outer surface.

Yeah, the crafty brain cells are definitely waking up.

Turn at last to home afar

A long time away usually has me seeing my home life in a different way, on returning. I notice bad habits I’ve fallen into, or let go of things I don’t really want, or see a different way of doing things. Perhaps it was jet-lag, but I mostly wanted to get back to my old routine this time. (Not the routine I had before I left, where I didn’t get weekends.)

I did see all the small messes around the house that I’d got used to ignoring. The ones made up of possessions that haven’t yet found a home since the move. All the boxes are unpacked (if we ignore those waiting for the new garage to be built) but some of their contents are still sitting in piles, waiting for shelving and cabinetry to be built or picture hanging systems to be created.

The trouble is, at the end of last year I decided that this year I’d concentrate on finishing what we’d started and not begin new house projects. New shelving and picture hanging systems are new projects. Still, there are messes we simply haven’t got around to tackling.

Of the projects to finish, there a lot more outside than inside. No surprise, then, that these are the ones I’ve focussed on first. I’ve missed the ideal planting time, at least for natives, but I can see now that I would have been getting ahead of myself anyway. There’s a great deal of preparation to be done first before planting: weed removal, soil improvement and stabilisation, drainage and mulch.

A great deal of that has to wait until the planning permit comes through for the garage which, while a bit frustrating, at least shrinks the to-do list to something more manageable. The two main tasks left are weeding and drainage. The not-fun parts. But necessary.

So we’ve been spending an hour or so a day getting dirt under our fingernails. Nothing like a bit of sun to help reset the body clock, too.

Not All Who Wonder

We’re back. We’re home.

The trip went well. Exploration of Paris during the jet-lag recovery week was hampered somewhat by my ankle and plantar fasciitis, but we got to see some sights we might not have if we’d been more mobile, including the Musée des Arts et Métiers, which was like going back in time to one of the Great Exhibitions, or being transported to a Lilliputian steampunk world.

The work-related days in Belgium and Poland were exhausting but productive and a lot of fun.

The river cruise along the Rhine that was supposed to be our “recover from the work-related days while watching the world go by” part of the trip didn’t fulfil either expectation, as the ship travelled at night mostly and the shore trips were too rushed, but everything else about it was wonderful. We’d not done a cruise before, so I now know that I would ask a whole lot of questions that hadn’t occurred to me before if I was to consider doing one again.

The up side to my sore feet was that stopping to rest them meant I did more sketching. I took on a few subjects I’d have avoided as ‘too difficult’ or ‘too time-consuming’ and was pretty happy with the results. Pics to come.

The beetle pendant was the only craft project I finished. I’m halfway through a second pendant, but I’m not 100% sure if I like what I’ve done so far. I’ll keep going and start over if I’m not happy with the final result.

In a gallery shop in Paris I stumbled upon lots of colouring books for adults, and bought one and a set of pencils. I spent a couple of evenings with my feet on a bed of ice wrapped in a towel, filling in designs. Some of them looked like an image had been run through a program to create a vector file, but the result did not always make a design suitable for colouring. It got me thinking about what makes a good design, and wondering if I could produce my own. But colouring in isn’t all that satisfying, like art or craft is, in that I don’t produce something useful or improve my artistic skills. It’s more like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

And I don’t need another hobby.

Travelling Stitches

Thing I was right about: I stitching during bumpy flights and train journeys doesn’t produce accurate work.
Thing I was wrong about: That a certain stretch of rest time I’d planned to do stitching in would actually be restful.

However, I did eventually finish this:

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And half of the second piece.

Kitted Out

The first embroidery kit I took overseas contained lots of little embroidery projects. I far overestimated how much time I’d have for stitching and didn’t even finish one. Having learned from that, I took a smaller kit for the next trip. I was only away for 10 days so all I managed was to embroider eyes on a sleep mask.

This time there’s a bit of relaxation time built into the trip, so I might achieve more. But I am only taking two tiny projects, my usual card holding pre-cut lengths of thread in a range of colours, some fabric and some blank pendant bases. If I run out of stitching to do I’ll attack another sleep mask. Or something else in my suitcase.

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The pros of traveling with embroidery over knitting is the materials and tools are so much smaller. The cons are that bad light and being jostled make it difficult to stitch well. Since I was able to knit mostly without looking, so long as light was good enough for occasional checking of progress I was fine, and the rocking of a train or turbulence of a plane had to be pretty bad to bother me. I have a little clip-on light, but there’s no solution to stitching in rough transport and those needles are sharp!