At the moment, the floor loom is occupied with a Krokbragd rug. Krokbragd is a weft rep technique – rep in weaving is where the yarn going one way along the cloth completely covers the yarn going the other way.

That might be an overly simplified explanation, but it’ll do for this post. I’ve tried warp rep twice before, and hated it. (Though technically inkle weaving is warp rep, and I do enjoy that!) But I like the look of warp rep. Weft rep turns the pattern of crammed threads on its side, which means there are far fewer warp ends to thread and there are no cranky, sticky shed problems, so I’ve been wanting to try a form of it for ages.

I’ve been seeing lots of references to krokbragd lately. There’s even a Ravelry forum weave-along happening at the moment. The last Ashford magazine I saw had an article on doing krokbragd on a rigid heddle loom. Earlier this year I found a pile of carpet yarn in an antiques and second-hand market. A lot of it was moth-eaten, but I bought the least damaged cones anyway. I washed it, wound it into cakes and froze it for a month in the hopes that would take care of any moth larvae. I found some more of the same yarn at the Guild Textile Bazaar this weekend, too.

When I wove denim rag rugs some years ago I wound up with an extra cone of thick cotton rug warp. I put that on the floor loom, wound some of the carpet yarn onto rag shuttles, and got weaving. The first attempt was Not Good. Though the pattern was coming out fine, the selvedges were terrible, even though I was using a temple and ‘bubbling’ the weft. On closer inspection, there were even a few threads that doubled back on themselves, missing the floating selvedge, and where I’d bubbled the weft loops had formed.

I unwove it and started again, this time concentrating instead on making sure the yarn always caught the floating selvedge. The selvedges looked fine. I bubbled the picks again, but each time I pressed them in gently with the beater, checked the selvedge and for loops, and corrected if necessary before closing the shed and beating harder to cram the weft in.

I’m liking how it’s turning out so far. There’s a momentum to it, too. Just as I start to get bored with one combination of colours it’s time to switch to the next. I was worried that, what with three picks to a row of pattern, it would take up my floor loom for ages. I suspect that won’t be a problem. More likely having my attention and time split between so many looms will do that!

A Dior to Another World

I awaited Kathleen’s visit with anticipation not just to see my friend, but because we planned to do some sketching. Last time she visited we went to the 200 Years of Australian Fashion exhibition at the NGV. This time we headed to The House of Dior.

The previous time I was impressed with myself for getting five sketches done. This time I did nine!

The classic Dior ensemble. It was at the start, when I hadn’t really warmed up yet.

Watercolour added later. You can’t bring paints into these things!

Hat’s too big, though it was an overly large hat for the model. Was going to add a second figure next to her.

Surprisingly goth for a Dior gown.

I started drawing the goth gown but realised I’d started too bit and began again. Managed to cover the first marks with this one, which I really like.

Dotty dress! My favourite of the show. Borrowed Kathleen’s red marker for the dots

A very red, lush dress. Red added later.

This was a brightly coloured dress that I was going to colour using a photo as reference, but I didn’t get around to it.


Revisiting Bookbinding

A few weekends ago an interstate friend, the lovely Kathleen Jennings, came to say. I gave her some of my concertina sketchbooks a few years ago, and she loved drawing in them. So in the evenings, after gallery and historic home visits, we grabbed my roll of watercolour paper and various pretty papers I’ve collected and made a pile more.

As before, the strips of paper being cut from the roll make for an amusing image:

These are the ones I made:

I’d intended to make five, but mistakes in measuring the page widths meant I wound up having to cut two of the strips in two and make shorter concertinas. Funnily enough, I did that last time as well. Measure twice, cut once! Still, it meant I got to make two extra covers out of some lovely paper I’d been saving.

They Call them Gazing Balls

I prefer ‘mosaic sphere’, but I do like the irony of choosing to make a ‘gazing ball’ while recovering from eye surgery. It just happened that I found some polystyrene balls at Zart Art in Box Hill – and their special ‘will glue anything to anything’ Supertac glue – a few weeks ago. After the surgery I decided to give the mosaic sphere thing a try. It’s much easier to see tiles than warp threads at the moment (not that this is stopping me weaving). Since the spheres aren’t going to be touched or walked on, I could happily use broken tiles with sharp edges and glass tiles with the colour on the surface – which gives me a good use for the tiles I’d bought for the ventilation hole patches that turned out to be unsuitable.

For my first sphere, I had no plan. I just made it up as I went. First some yellow lines to break it into quarters, then flowers out of orange, green for leaves, and lastly filling in the remaining spaces with blue and green. I used up most of the triangle and square glass shapes in those colours, and added some cut glass tiles from Bunnings. I only needed to cut tiles smaller at the end, when I was filling gaps.

The grouting was, er, educational. One day I’m going to learn not to make two to three times as much grout as I need. I also made it a bit too wet, so at first it sagged out of the cracks on the underside of the ball. But I kept adding and smoothing and wiping until it had stiffened up enough to stay put. I did a second coat when the grout had thickened a bit more, too.

I’d watched YouTube tutorials that said the ball should be covered in mesh and mastic so the tiles have something to stick to. I tested the Supertac glue by sticking one tile on then holding the tile and seeing if I could shake it off the ball. It held, so I figured it was worth the risk just using that. The one time I tried to remove a tile that had shifted, I couldn’t even carve it off with a knife. Eventually it came loose, but only by taking a chunk of polystyrene with it. Fortunately the glue stuck it back on just fine. The grout wasn’t inclined to stick to the polystyrene where the gaps between tiles were wide, so for my next sphere I’m making sure all the surface is covered in glue.

Yes, I’ve started another one.

It’s rather addictive.

Eye, eye, aye!

Well, having a cataract removed and a lens installed was an interesting and somewhat uncomfortable experience. Not painful, thankfully, and most of the disturbing bits happened under the influence of a ‘relaxant’ that had the extra bonus of making time speed up so it seemed done in no time.

Thanks to groovy modern technology my ‘new’ eyes had 20/20 vision. I can see that I will probably need glasses for close work, like threading a needle, however. My excellent close vision is being sacrificed for me not being blind in a couple of years. I can live with that, especially when glasses with magnification are cheap and available in most chemists.

For the month until I get the other eye done I’m in a bit of visual limbo. The day after the op I took the lens out of the side of my glasses that my ‘new’ eye sees through, but immediately wound up with a motion sickness headache and dizziness. I’ve been able to get around wearing no glasses, but I can’t drive like that, so today I’m trying to wear my glasses again. I’m not getting the headache, and while the dizziness is still there it’s not as bad. Maybe if I persist my eyes will get used to it.

I took the week off work, and I’m glad I did. Every day I’ve been so tired I wound up having a long nap in the afternoon. Concentration is a challenge. I’ve filled the days with sorting out my cd collection – making sure I have everything in iTunes and updating playlists – and working on a mosaic ball which, because the surface is curved, I can only do a bit at a time on or the tiles fall off.

I’ve done a little bit of weaving on the saori-inspired project in the evenings. It’s a bit hard to focus on fine lines, so I don’t trust myself with projects where skipping a warp thread would be a bad thing. More complex weaving might have to wait a bit.

This weekend we have two social events to go to, so I should be well occupied. I’ll get working again on Monday. If I’m still struggling with my vision after that… I’ve got my yearly wardrobe assessment and cull on the list of things I can do that don’t require seeing well close up or wielding sharp objects. I’ve started my yearly washing of knitwear, too. And I have to say, having a nice long laundry bench to lay garments out on to dry is wonderful! No more taking up the kitchen table for weeks and weeks.

Do You See What Eye See?

A few weeks back I had a huge bout of startitis sparked by ideas for using up thrums. Just about every loom in the house wound up with a project on it. I finished the dishcloths then a busy fortnight arrived, with an interstate friend staying over and another friend’s 40th birthday party to organise and host, and suddenly I didn’t have much time for weaving.

It was a fun two weeks. There’ll be a post some time with the sketches I did at the Dior exhibition. September had been really lovely, socially. It zoomed past as a result… and possibly because I was dreading today, the first of my cataract removal surgeries.

So there might also have been a bit of “DO ALL THE THINGS WHILE YOU STILL CAN!” anxiety behind me starting so many projects. The thought also occurred to me that if I had a range of projects warped and ready then something might be doable during the recovery time.

So I have:

A clasped weft using thrums twill scarf on the Ashford 4-shaft loom. (Though I need to dye up a third colour to add to the thrums, because I don’t have enough of them to make a good scarf length.)

Krokbragd on the floor loom. I wove a good ten cm but had to unweave most of it because the selvedges were VERY bad! But I consider those cm a ‘sampler’ I was learning on and expect I’ll do better on the second attempt.

A saori-inspired project on the Knitter’s Loom in which I’m using up more thrums as well as some leftover yarn. I’m doing as many different kinds of weaving I can think of. Clasped weft, rya knots, thick and thin, danish medallions, and brooks bouquet have all made it in there.

The Falling Feathers scarf hasn’t been touched since all this thrum-using inspiration hit, I admit. But I haven’t lost interest. Now that I have more time, and so long as my new eye settles in well, I’ll be back to it again soon.

Ventilation Patch Mosaics – Day & Night

The holes for the old under floor heating in the entertainment room were different sizes and not very square. I guess the installers figured that the covers would hide any inaccuracies. The mosaics didn’t have covers to hide the flaws. We tidied one up as best we could with a dremel, but mostly I figured we’d have to live with the crookedness. Thanks to the thickness of the floating floor, the holes were actually quite deep. We added 9mm thick pieces of wood to bring the mosaics up to level with the floor, but that still left quite a bit of space for the grout to fill.

The daytime one is on the south side of the house, which is the side that faces the pool:

The nighttime ones is on the north side, near the bar we made from an old organ.

I love the nighttime one, but the daytime one came out a bit dull. I used mid-grey grout on both, and maybe it’s a bit too light for the pale blue tiles.

This leaves three ventilation holes to fill in the kitchen. I’ve still got a few trials using slate and cement mortar to do before I attempt a final mosaic. That’ll have to wait for the weather to warm up, as it’s going to be waaay to messy to do in the house.

Thrums Dishcloths

I’ve finished using up two batches of thrums!

One was very thick, the other thin. The thick batch had some longer pieces as well as the remainder of the red and black balls. I wove these on a pin loom, using longer pieces to make a warp, then weaving the shorter pieces through that and tying at both ends. I worked out pretty quickly that it was easier to tie two pieces of thrum together before weaving them through then knotting both together on the other end.

The thin batch of thrums was all short pieces, so I used it as weft in a warp of Bendigo Cotton 4ply on my Knitters Loom. I enjoyed coming up with different patterns for each dishcloth. The last one was entirely random.

I’m amazed at how many dishcloths I got out of the thicker batch. We’re not going to run out of them any time soon. Overall, I made some useful cloths out of waste that could easily have wound up in the trash. I’m rather chuffed at that!

Stash Plotting

The skirt fabric is off the loom, washed and draped over my dress model, waiting to be pinned and shaped into something hopefully wearable. The falling feathers scarf is half woven. The 4 shaft table loom is now on a folding table in the entertainment room with a pile of carpet warp and yarn awaiting transformation into a krokbragd rug.

The Knitters Loom now has a stand!

It’s an embroidery stretcher stand, and all it needed to transform into a loom stand was for Paul to make two flat pieces of metal for the side knobs of the loom to slot into.

But what to put on it, and the floor loom?

On Sunday I was feeling a bit under the weather and didn’t want anything mentally challenging to do. Over the previous week I’d been thinking a lot about saori weaving and how Amanda weaves thrums from previous projects into new pieces. So I dug out my bag of thrums and began considering what I could make with them.

First I separated them into cotton or wool. Most were in bundles according to the project they’d come from. I put all the 8/2 cotton thrums together and decided they would be used at warp ties.

There are three batches of red, white and black cotton from hand towel and tea towel projects. All using different thicknesses of yarn. The 8/2 cotton went into the warp tie bag, which left me with 3ply and 10ply.

I decided to make dishcloths, which I use rather than plastic sponges or ‘chux’ in the kitchen. They can be thrown in the wash and once worn out are biodegradable. I’ll try weaving the 10ply on my pin loom, and I’ll warp up the Knitters loom with some white 4ply cotton for weaving the 3ply thrums. They’ll be fringed on all sides, and I’ll have to either hemstitch or zigzag around them for stability.

Of the wool thrums, I have two batches of purple. One is quite short, but the other is long enough, and there’s enough of it, to become a side fringe on a clasped weft scarf.

My newest batch of thrums comes from the skirt fabric. All black. So when I warp up the purple thrum fringe project I’m going to add enough to do a second one with blue on the non-fringe side.

Looking for yarns to go with the thrums from the plaited twill scarf, I pulled out several cones. The grey and burgundy yarns below are very thin, but put together, with the rust coloured boucle yarn, they’ll be thick enough to weave without the risk of expiring of boredom.

But wait! A peek in the handspun box reminded me of the yarn I spun from the fibre that came with the electric spinner. It has brown in it, so I added that, but then the burgundy looked out of place. Hmm. Options…

By now I’d found uses for most of the thrums and was enjoying mixing and matching stash. I already knew I had a potential combination between the two new white/taupe yarns and the darker taupe-ish ones already in my stash, and the mix was one I’d been having saori-like daydreams about.

The next combo had popped into my head during a bout of insomnia. Pink and green. Watermelon colours. I’ve got lots of the green, so perhaps a shawl.

This new purple matches perfectly with the glitzy one in my stash.

Plans for making clothing have had me thinking about combining the slubby blue cotton with white and making a top, but on a whim I put it with blue and it works much better.

By this point I’d started tidying the stash. The blue alpaca below was from a scarf I frogged, and I’d just stuffed it in a box with yarns of similar thickness. Now I moved it to the ‘yarns other than cotton, wool or acrylic’ box and discovered I had a lovely combo of alpaca 8ply yarn. So soft!

This half-frogged project was meant to be knitted into something new, but this time I looked on it with a weaver’s eyes and realised all those lovely stripes would look fantastic woven into a shawl. (Last night I finished frogging it. A good tv watching task.)

Moving yarns of like fibre content and thickness into the same boxes did leave me with a problem: Bendigo yarn balls don’t fit into the smaller of my boxes. So I set to winding them into cakes… and in the process realised that these two yarns go beautifully together:

I spend most of the day mixing and matching, brainstorming, winding yarn and resorting stash. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday. It means I have an even longer to-do list of projects I want to tackle right away, though. Some of these might never happen – I’ll change my mind about a combo or find a better use for a yarn – but coming up with ideas is half the fun. The next challenge is to choose weave structures, drafts and looms for them – and decide which one to start next.

The dishcloths are going on the Knitters Loom first. That much, I know!

Ventilation Patch Mosaics

When I did the mosaic workshop earlier this year I came away full of enthusiasm. But I did wonder if, like basketry, that enthusiasm would wane. With basketry, I thought the difficulty getting materials was part of the reason my focus shifted away. But I’ve had enough troubles getting supplies for mosaics that I don’t believe that any more.

I certainly have a lot of tiles now, bought for projects then rejected as unsuitable when they arrived. I learned quickly to get a sample pack before investing in lots of colours. I’m sure I’ll use all the rejected tiles, though. I have projects in mind that they’ll work fine with.

The swimmers clock has been sitting out in the garage untouched, because it’s been too cold to work out there. That’s fine. I’m happy to wait for warmer weather.

Instead I’ve been working on ‘inside’ mosaics – ones that don’t require breaking tiles. That brings me to the ventilation patch project…

When we replaced the old ducted heating here, we wound up with lots of redundant floor vents. Even when shut, they let in cold drafts (and mosquitoes, I suspect). Paul blocked them all off earlier this year. We’ve left the covers on the ones in carpeted areas, which is just the four bedrooms. The rest I want to patch with mosaics.

They need to use a material without sharp edges to cut socks or bare feet. They need to be tough enough to survive being walked on. That means no tesserae, stained glass or broken ceramic. Fortunately there are other options.

The bathroom only needed one patch. I did a classical inspired wave design in blue, burgundy and pink, using small ceramic tiles:

I’d like to do a smaller version as a frieze around the walls, but I had a lot of trouble getting hold of the right amounts of the colours I used just to do the patch. I might see if I have enough left to do a sample strip, then contact the tile seller to see if she can do larger orders.

The entertainment room has two ventilation holes, and it has a floating wooden floor. I designed ‘day and night’ themed patches. Initially I thought I’d use irregular coloured glass ‘melts’ which have smooth edges, but when my order arrived I was disappointed to find they only came in square and triangle shapes, with a couple of bigger trapezoid ones. I laid them out without gluing and didn’t like the result. I considered the Mandala art version of irregular glass tiles, which come with greater variety of shapes, but these, like the ones I bought, had the colour on the surface rather than base of the tile, and I reckon it’d wear off under foot traffic.

A bit more searching and I found 8mm opaque square glass tiles, which were small enough that I was able to get enough detail into the design:

I’m hoping to get them glued in and grouted this week.

The kitchen needs three patches, in something to match the slate floor. I figured… why not slate? So I bought a couple of pieces, smashed them up and made a test patch by pressing pieces into a shallow container of cement mortar, sealing it when dry. I’ve been doubtful at several stages of the test, but the result is better than it first seemed like it would be so I’ll be going ahead with this idea…

… when it isn’t so cold in the garage!