First Electronic Handspun

Here it is:

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Plying it was… interesting. I never had problems with plying yarn nine years ago, but this time I had trouble judging how much spin was enough. Some sections were under spun. I wound up winding it onto a stick and then adding twist by hand where it was too loose. It probably didn’t help that I decided to make it a three ply, which I’ve never done before.

Why? Well, I wound up with only a small amount on the second bobbin. I joined the ends of the yarn on both and began winding yarn onto the second bobbin in the hope of evening them up, but the yarn broke at a point that, according to my scales, put 1/3 of the yarn on one bobbin and 2/3 on the other. So I divided the one with 2/3 onto two bobbins to get three in total then began plying.

I could see I wasn’t getting much twist and tried adjusting a few things as I went. Two of the bobbins ran out at nearly exactly the same time, leaving one with enough yarn on it for me to try navaho plying – which I had more success with.

It’s all skeined up now. The question I have now is: do I wash it? There’s no lanolin in it. I have vague memories of a need to wash the skein, but I can’t remember if it applies with washed and dyed fibre.

A Bendy We Will Go

So last weekend I spent 5-6 hours on trains in order to go fibre shopping for four hours. Well, I didn’t only buy fibre, but the main bulk of my purchases was. I wanted to try some plant fibre, and silk, and also get some pretty sheep’s wool. Here’s what I got:

This is the collection of non-sheep fibres:

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This is the four different kinds of silk I picked up:

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And these are all the blended sheep-with-something fibres I bought:

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I also bought a cookie cutter in the shape of a martini glass, a little Christmas pudding for Paul, a big date and butterscotch pudding, two hair clips, one merino ‘head sock’, and some alpaca yarn from a new mill on the Great Ocean Road.

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I regret that I didn’t buy one of the nifty little spindle and spindle companion sets from Luxury Overdose (look under sold items if there’s none in the shop) and some carders from the Ashford stall. I’m not sure yet if I need a carder or a blending board, and I really want to be sure the spinning thing isn’t temporary before I splash out on expensive items, so both were in the ‘walk away and think about it’ category. I hadn’t managed to come to a decision when 4pm came around and I had a shuttle bus to catch.

But I might be able to pick up second hand carders at the Guild, and hopefully I can order the spindle set on Etsy in future, so really, holding back was sensible.

Bargello Nostalgia

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Back when I was a kid and I tried countless different crafts, I preferred the kind of embroidery that used a canvas or grid, like cross-stitch and tapestry. I’m not sure if I tried Bargello, or even if I liked the way it looks, but I was aware of it and remember vividly how it looks.

When I bought some wool embroidery yarn recently I thought I might try Bargello, but I couldn’t find the right kind of canvas. Then a friend generously gave me a roll (thanks Elaine!). It’s double thread canvas, not single as the few instructions I’ve dug up on Bargello say to use, but I figured it might do anyway. However, the spacing was too wide for the thread I had.

When I went in person to Morris & Sons to buy thicker thread I discovered they had single thread canvas, which doesn’t show up on their online store. (Annoying that, as it meant I didn’t know they sold it.) That canvas was much finer, but the retors a broder thread I’ve bought on eBay works like a charm.

So I’ve been Bargello-ing of an evening, in front of the tv, after using Google images to find patterns I like. A few days ago I finished:

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It’s funny, though. When I search on Google Images for Bargello or Florentine Work (which is the same, or similar) I get as many, if not more, pics of quilts as of embroidery. There’s plenty of Bargello-insired quilting out there, but not so much embroidery.

I like that it looks a bit like marbling, or woven undulating twill. And the illusion of three dimensions. And the potential to have fun with colour. I don’t know yet what I’ll make from the samples. Maybe little zipper pouches. I’m just enjoying the process.

Braided Spectrum Rag Rug

It’s done and I love it:

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When I got 3/4 of the way through I started putting it out of sight, not wanting to finish it too quickly, but it’s such good de-stressing activity that I’d soon pull it out for some more therapeutic braiding. Finally, when I wanted the satisfaction of finishing something, I wove on to the end.

The Jean Jeany Rag Rug is still going, so I have braiding to turn to when I need a non-thinky project.

Electrified

The 1year1outfit challenge must still be lurking in my subconscious, because I keep finding myself thinking about how it could be done with non-mammal fibres. Since there’s no yarn made of silk or plant-based fibre grown within 500km of Melbourne, it’d have to be spun. Since I didn’t really take to spinning, if I found some silk or plant-based fibre grown within 500km of Melbourne, I’d have to get someone else to spin it for me.

Or maybe not…

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This electronic spinner came up for sale on Ravelry for a price I thought I could recoup if I didn’t like it. The seller was in Canberra, but I had a friend from there coming down to visit two weeks later. Another possible buyer was already considering purchasing it, but they changed their mind. Everything seemed to line up to make it convenient to buy.

Last Friday it arrived, and since it came with a half-filled bobbin and the rest of the sliver, I gave it a whirl. It took a while to remember how to join new yarn, but once I got past that everything went smoothly. On the same night, I taught my Canberran friend how to spin on a drop spindle, as she’d brought one with her. It didn’t spin well and had no hook, so eventually I found my old turkish spindle and got her spinning on it. That certainly helped wake up my nine year old memories of spinning lessons!

Two days later I found time for some more electronic spinning. So far I’m enjoying myself. It isn’t just that I don’t have to pedal, but I can take it nice and slow, and the wheel never decides to go into reverse on me. Last time I kept at spinning until I had proven to myself that I could do it, despite not enjoying it much. The trouble was, I’d get bored. This time I plan to listen to podcasts and audiobooks if it starts to get monotonous, but I suspect I need more zen-like craft activities now than a decade ago. Stress gets to me more now I’m older.

The fact that this all happened just before the Bendigo Sheep & Wool Show is another fortuitous coincidence. I’m planning to buy some silk and plant fibres to see if I can spin them. If I can, then I’ll be keeping a look out for local sources of these fibres. Just for curiosity’s sake. Really.

We’ve Got to Move It, Move It

Paul finished his Batchelor of Photography a few weeks back. During the final few weeks he was franticly busy and I had a head cold, so when it was done we spent a few days relaxing and recovering.

Then we got stuck into all the things we’d been putting off. Like chasing up the concreter, who still hadn’t filled the ‘moat’ between the old tennis court slab and the new garage foundations. The garage went up in January, so we haven’t been able to put our cars in it for coming up on six months.

As I expected, the concreter didn’t turn up. Again. But Paul had also got the inspector in to see if he’d give us the offical go-ahead to use the garage anyway, and he did. In the meantime, I’d done some careful calculations and reckoned we could get the kitchen garden tidy-up done in time for spring. I’d hoped to be growing veges last spring, and didn’t want to wait another year. I invited the landscaper around to quote on the construction work, and when he heard of our concreter problems he offered to quote to finish the job. The price was very reasonable, so we’re going ahead with both projects.

All this means we had a lot of moving of things to do. For the kitchen garden that meant clearing the space. The contents of the gardening shed went into the garage:

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The succulents went onto the deck, sheltered from frost. The herbs were set aside, ready to go into the herb beds when they’re in. Pallets and a trestle table were moved, lots of plastic pots were cleaned and, if of the right plastic, thrown in the recycling bin, wood for the fire was moved into an old rustic shelving unit that was in the gardening shed, and scraps of wood too big for the old garage were moved to the new one.

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When you move things, you find things you’d forgotten about. There was an old terrarium in the garden shed. A friend’s nine-year-old daughter, Miranda, is a bit of an expert of these, so I invited her and her mum over for a ‘Terrarium Day’ so she could teach me, and the result was fantastic:

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I also found seven pavers, which was exactly the amount I needed to put stepping stones in a topping pathway, so we didn’t walk as many stones into the house or garage.

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The clean up has given me some other ideas, but I’m holding off following through with most of them. I still have lots of other garden jobs that need doing, including lots of plants in pots that need to go in the ground and a couple that need moving, which ought to be done in winter. I’m sticking to a general rule that I can’t buy any more plants until I’ve planted what I’ve got.

Bits & Pieces

After around twenty years of neck pain, I finally got around to having an MRI done last month. The physios and the one osteo I’ve been to over the years never suggested I get one. They’ve all said my problems are muscular, not spine-related. But after all the pain I had earlier this year, and the slow recovery, I figured it was time to have a closer look at what’s going on in there.

Though the MRI did reveal some minor spinal problems, like small bone spurs on one side and a slightly compressed and bulging disc, the assessment didn’t point to them as the major causes of pain. It is more likely it is soft tissue damage. The up side is that I can work on those. Bone and disc problems are much harder to treat.

It all means doing less of the things that cause the problems (typing, looking down or turning my head) and more stretches and exercise to strengthen the muscles. Actually I’ve been doing all of the above for years, just not to the degree I’m going to have to go to now. Since writing is the main culprit, it means cutting back on the activity that is my source of income. To put a more positive spin on that I’ll be calling myself ‘semi-retired’ for a while.

Does that meant more crafting time? Unfortunately, no. I need to avoid sitting for long periods, particularly when it involves extending my arms in front of me and making repetitive movements. What will I do with my time instead? Exercise, obviously. Short stints of gardening. Portrait painting. Helping Paul with his photography.

And maybe we’ll do some things we’ve talked about for ages, like travelling within Australia, cooking classes, learning a language and growing veges. I’m all for treating setbacks as opportunities. Who knows, I may like this lifestyle better!

Undulating Scarf

The first item made on my new old floor loom is done:

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Warp: Bendigo 2ply in Peacock
Weft: Bendigo 2ply dyed by me
Draft: Undulating Twill from A Handweaver’s Pattern Directory
Loom: floor loom

Though the warping stage was full of hitches, the weaving was very pleasant. Each time I got weaving on it, I got into a steady rhythm. I really, really like lamms! I can pedal away without trying to follow a draft. If I stuck to doing only one bobbin’s worth at a time, I didn’t wind up with a sore neck.

With the table loom, Katie and Ashford table loom free, I ought to be prepping a few new projects, only my head is all over the place at the moment, worrying about a work deadline and trip, stressing over the concreter not turning up to finish a job for months and months, and trying to regain strength and stamina after a two week head cold wiped me out. Oh, and planning to finally finish the kitchen garden landscaping, hopefully in time to plant veges next spring.

Winter Weaving Progress

Some weeks after I gave up on it, I dragged out the smaller of the two reeds that I messed up with primer-laced rust converter. I scraped the remaining primer off both sides of each dent with a knife, in short sessions over a couple of weeks, applied the same rust converter I used on the floor loom, painted the top and bottom rope-covered rail and covered that with black duct tape.

The motivation for fixing it was maths. The table runner I put on the Dyer & Philips loom threads at 4 ends per dent on a 12 dpi reed – the size reed it is – and threading it on a 15 dpi reed was proving awkward.

After a bit of weaving then unweaving, I finally have things working well enough.

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Only… I’m not liking this weaving method much. It’s such a physical effort to get a clean shed. It occurred to me that it’d be a lot easier to get the rep effect I’m after by having the weft cover the warp, rather than the other way around. Then the warp doesn’t have to be so dense and won’t catch on itself. Looking up weft-faced weaving, I think that method is boundweave. Something to investigate.

The Undulating Scarf is done – a post on that to come. I’ve been leaving the Electric Boogaloo scarf for the next time I need transportable weaving, so no progress there.

The Jean Jeany rug grew to about a metre long, which was the work of many hours, but I have decided to pull it apart and start again:

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Why? Well, I began another rag rug, this time made of t-shirt strips. Rather than going around and around I worked out how to turn a strip back on itself, back and forth, to make rectangular rug. It took a bit of weaving and unweaving, with and some suggestions by Ilka White, who taught the project sessions, before I got it right. I’m enjoying this method much more.

The dark is navy, and the light is mostly white with some grey added at the end and centre. I wound up buying second hand t-shirts in green, yellow and purple so I could progress through the colour spectrum. I’m planning to stop after two repeats:

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Having done this, I started to find the Jean Jeany rug a bit boring to work on. So I’m going to start again. I want to weave with more strands – six to eight – so progress is a little faster.

What will the second project on table loom be? I’m thinking of doing a wider panel of the peacock overshot fabric then making a vest out of it and the sample pieces. I still want to do the doubleweave squares on the Katie loom, and do a test project on the rejigged Ashford table loom. I just need to kick the head cold that’s been sapping my energy for the last two weeks, because project planning and warping require me to think clearly.