Doubleweave Gamp Sampler

I finished this months ago, but because I thought I’d make something out of it I haven’t posted about it.

As I wove it, I considered what to do with it. The fabric would be firm, with no drape. It would be narrow and long. It would be double-sided.

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I zig-zagged the ends after taking it off the loom. Since it was a sampler, I hadn’t bothered weaving in the ends as I went, so I wound up having to sew in 62 of them. Phew!

I could use it as a runner, but it’s a bit small. I could make zippered pouches, but it seems a shame to cut it up. I could make an obi, but I don’t have anything to wear one with. I could make it into a long bag for carrying my portable warping board, but then you won’t see that it’s double-sided.

So I’ve settled for just admiring the pretty colours for now:

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And trusting that the right purpose for it will come along eventually.

Sticks & Leaves

A few months back the teacher of the basket-making course I did at the start of the year posted on Facebook that she was clearing her excess accumulation of weaving materials, so I got in contact to arrange to collect some. What I took made barely a dint in her collection, but I kept in mind that I have only a small space in the garage to store it. I’m glad I did. They take up a fair bit of space there.

I also discovered a few months back that there are a couple of willow trees down by the nearby creek, so when we go walking down there I grab a couple of the whiplike slim branches, coil them up and take them home. I’ve also bought some old rope and put aside a branch that could make a nice handle.

But I haven’t done any basket weaving since I used up the cordyline from the workshop. Having to pre-soak the materials is part of the problem. I know I can only work for half an hour a day, so I can only soak a bit at a time, and it turns out I’m not so good at that sort of pre-planning. The other is that some of the baskets I want to try, like a tension basket, need firmer materials than leaves for the basic framework, and as time goes by I’m forgetting why I got excited about this craft in the first place.

Mosaic making had kind of taken over, too. I’m much more excited about it, and have several projects in various stages. Getting information about it is much easier, and I have two friends and a couple of women at my art classes who also do it.

So now I have a bunch of basket weaving materials I suspect I may not use. Oh well. You’ve got to give these things a try, right?

Twill Stripes Scarf

Having had success using up the ikat leftovers, I dug out some more unused warp end. These were from a mistake-ridden shawl that was the last item I made on the table loom before I got my floor loom. I had two colours, one of which I still had some yarn on the cone. I dug out more of the same kind of yarn (Bendigo classic 3ply) in colours that might go with the leftovers. And I went looking for project ideas.

I was inspired by the ikat scarf stripes, but this time I wanted to do more than tabby. I thought of the twill stripe project in Next Steps in Weaving, and when I counted up how many ends I had and measured the remaining warp I had almost enough for the stripes. All I had to do was make the central stripe narrower and it would work.

For the narrow stripes between the twill ones and the weft I could have used a lighter salmon pink or a dark blue. I decided on the latter, as I liked the idea of a more subtle low contrast.

Warping was a challenge, since most of the ends were already cut so there was no cross. Once I had tied it on and spread it across a raddle, I wove the lease sticks through chunks of warp to provide some evening and tension. Even then, once the warp was on I had to adjust the tension quite a bit before it was even enough.

When I got weaving, I tied up the middle four pedals to match the draft and started carefully working my way through them in the eight step order to make the pattern. When I’d done a few cm I had it memorised. Only then did I remember that I have eight pedals, and all I needed to do was tie up them up so I can simply work from pedal 1 to 8 over and over.

This is, after all, one of the reasons I bought the loom!

The result of all the fiddling with the warp has been so worth it. I’m loving how it’s coming out. This one may be a keeper.

Celebration of Wool

Recently we flew to Canberra for a couple of nights so I could photograph a portrait subject. Not only did I get some great shots for the intended sitter, but found another one willing to pose for me. With it taking at least five months to finish a portrait, I’ll be happily occupied for nearly a year.

While I was there, the friend I was staying with took me to the Old Bus Depot Markets where they were holding a Celebration of Wool. I certainly know how to time my weekends away! We fondled lots of lovely yarn and grew dizzy on yarn fumes. But we were both admirably restrained in our shopping choices – me keeping in mind I only had a tote bag rather than a suitcase. I bought some skeins of cotton chenille, a cone of fine alpaca, two skeins of hand dyed alpaca, and some cat buttons.

Architecturally Inspired

Back in April a friend told me about FibreArts workshops. They’re like a school camp for fibre artists, held at a couple of locations in country Victoria and NSW throughout the year. She said there would be one at Easter, so when I looked it up and saw there was a basketry workshop, I got too excited and signed up.

I say too excited, because I realised too late that it wasn’t on at Easter, but the weekend before, and I had a dinner party on that weekend. So it was with great disappointment that I cancelled. However, I would lose the deposit if I didn’t book into another workshop, so I looked at what other workshops were coming up later in the year and found a weaving one that would suit me very well.

Several workshops happen at the same time, and there are general events for all participants including a couple of charity raising art shows which everyone is encouraged to donate a piece to. So I got thinking about what I could make that would suit, and my mind turned to an embroidery design I’ve been wanting to do.

I have an instruction book on architectural drawing from the 1960s, and it contains examples of figures of different sizes. They’re very kitsch. I particularly wanted to do the strips of men and women in underwear/bathing suits. I’d already photographed them and some other examples, so all I had to do was print and transfer them to some calico with orange based cleaner. Then I got stitching.

I’m really liking those strips of men and women. So much that I want to keep them. They’re slow work though – I get one figure done in half an hour, and can’t work on them every night or my back objects. I’ll wait until they’re done, then see if I have the time and inspiration to do a fourth.

Ikat Leftovers Scarf

Some years ago I make a scarf with an ikat effect by laying a skein of sock yarn out so the stripes matched. For some reason I can’t recall, I had three bundles of eight warp ends left over. When I found these recently, I had the idea of including them as stripes in a scarf.

So I warped up the Knitters Loom with it and other balls of leftover sock yarn and wove this:

I really like how it turned out, but I have too many scarves already. It’s plain enough to be a man’s scarf, and I admit I was rather hoping Paul would express a liking for it. He hasn’t, so it’ll probably become a gift.

Portrait of George

I’ve finally finished another portrait.

The most difficult parts were the shirt and arm. While the shirt design was fiddly, it was getting the ‘white’ background of it right that was trickier. I painted it three times before I was happy.

I’ve started my next one. Here’s the underpainting done:

I kinda love how weird it looks at this stage.

A Day on the Tiles

When I was planning the laundry renovation, the thought of cutting ordinary tiles to fit the taps and power point was intimidating. I’d heard stories of people using up dozens of tiles in the attempt. It occurred to me that if I used sheets of little square mosaic tiles then all I’d have to do was remove the ones where the obstructions were.

Or I could do a mosaic! I’ve always wanted to try mosaic-making.

But I suspected doing a mosaic that size would be like trying to waltz before you learned to walk. I bought a little kit at Bunnings, then I found a mosaic class being run just a few weeks later, so I signed up – and persuaded a friend, Liz, to come with me.

I had the BEST time. It quickly became obvious that my suspicion was right: tiling the laundry with a mosaic was waaaay too big a job to launch into any time soon. The piece I made was only about 30 x 30 cm and it took me over seven hours to complete. I’d taken some photos of kookaburras that Paul took, drew a design from one and did it in glass:

Everyone in the class did vastly different pieces, using glass, ceramic tiles, broken crockery, broken glass, and making artwork, covering a bird bath, a pot and a clock face. I was so inspired by the time I was done that I bought some tools and materials ready to launch into a half dozen projects I was already itching to try.

However, I haven’t started any yet. I’ve found that every project has one or two materials that are difficult to find. Either it’s the substrate or glass colours to match the kookaburra, or a mould to test an idea for a mosaic made out of slate.

But I did get around to doing the kit from Bunnings. I thought the design they instruct you to do was a bit kidsy…

… so I mixed up the tiles and laid them in a different pattern, and grouted with black.

Much better!

Just last week I finally found a source of Marmox, the board we used in the class. It’s lightweight and waterproof, so good for wall hung art for outdoors. I’m planning to make a big clock. Now I just need to find a large clock mechanism…

Wobbly

A month or two ago I bought this book:

It’s a fun idea, making art materials from scratch. It’s also amusing to see where the author goes in the pursuit of creating them ‘from nature’. Some of the tools used to make them are modern (drills, carving knife), and yet it suggests making glue by melting down animal hoofs, etc.

A friend cut me some of her bamboo so I could try making pens. It was easy enough to carve them. However, the book doesn’t say whether to use fresh or dry bamboo, or what kind. My pens shrivelled out as they dried out:

I don’t think I’ll be getting any nice lines out of these!

I’d like to try making my own paint brush and black ink. Hopefully they won’t be as great a failure as my bamboo pens!