The List of Lists

Holidays can be like punctuation marks in the flow of daily routine. Sometimes they’re a like a comma – a small interruption after which life continues in the same vein. Sometimes they’re like full stops – things begin anew but on the same or similar subject. Sometimes they’re like paragraph returns – a shift in direction. And sometimes it’s like an entire chapter finishes and another begins.

The new problem with my neck that began at the beginning of this year forced me to find a new routine. I had to work out what I could and couldn’t continue to do by trial and error, and found that I needed to restrict sitting and typing/weaving/whatever to an hour at a time, once or twice a day.

Since what I do for a living involves sitting and typing, that meant lots of changes. But I had a deadline, which kept moving as I discovered my limits. Eventually I knew I’d finish just before going overseas, and a lot of things I needed or wanted to do were pushed onto the ‘when we get back’ list.

Now that we’re back, I’ve been considering all those things, and all my to-do lists. Last week I divided everything into six categories that fit across my computer screen: work, general, house, garden, art and craft. (I use a program called Stickies.) It allows me to not just prioritise within a category, but across them. And when one task is held up, I can consider spending my time on high priority tasks in other categories as well as in the same one.

It’s been working really well. When bad weather meant I couldn’t tackle many of the more important tasks, or items further down, I moved across the lists until I found something I could do. That turned out to be renovating a loom I’d rescued from the Guild. Knowing I really couldn’t do those other things means I could work on it guilt-free. I didn’t stuff around wasting time in the house or on the internet.

As a result I’ve got the loom finished in time to put it up for sale at the Guild’s Textile Bazaar next Saturday. I’ll be bringing in the Ashford Table Loom on the homemade stand as well as the Dyer & Phillips loom. Hopefully they’ll find new homes and I’ll make back the money I spent on them with a little extra for my time… to spend at the bazaar!

Crazy Loom Lady

Our dining table looked like this until last weekend.


Paul found the small loom on a hard rubbish pile last week, destined for the tip. He lugged it home on the train. I have warned him that looms are like cats. People hear you’ve adopted strays, or ones that the owners couldn’t look after any more, and suddenly you have a house full of them.


It has two shafts and is a countermarch loom, operated by pushing or pulling the dowel on the top to raise and lower the shafts. After much googling, I found two similar looms: the Brio and the Peacock. The Brio is Sweedish, made of pale wood and collapsible. The Peacock is from the US, made of darker wood and not collapsible. I found a manual for the Peacock, and there are a few differences between it and the one Paul brought home, but it’s the closest match so that’s what I’m calling it.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a free loom. Looking closer, I reckon it was fixed up by someone many years ago as there are holes where bands have been replaced and the project on it had faded quite a bit. It was dusty, and the reed had rusted.

The shed was small, and I had to hold the dowel firmly forward or back to keep it open. Seeking the source of resistance, I eventually concluded that the problem was the string heddles. They were made of a sticky yarn, which created friction against the warp. After removing the project the heddles moved more freely, so I figured all it needed was new Texsolv ones. Nice and slippery.

Which was what the bigger loom needed, too:


It belongs to my Canberran friend, Donna. It has levers for raising and lowering the shafts, and a nifty back brake release cord that I wish I had on my table loom.


There’s no sign of a maker’s mark, and I’ve had no luck finding a similar loom on the internet. Anyone know what this mystery loom’s maker is?

Being another ‘free’ loom, the first cost Donna had to bear was an expensive new reed to replace the rusty old one. That was a couple of years ago. I flew up to Canberra help her clean it up and teach her how to warp and weave on it. We removed a whole lot of rusty heddles, which left her with only enough for narrow projects. They’re an odd size, and she’d had no luck finding additional ones. Nothing fit – not even Texsolv heddles. After a bad run in with a shop, she had almost given up, so when she came down to join us for New Year’s Eve I suggested she bring the loom and we’d see about finding a solution.

And we have, as it turns out Paul can drill new threaded holes into metal. I ordered some shorter Texsolv heddles and we changed the frames to fit. And I worked out that the old reed must have been taller, so I raised the new one so the reed doesn’t lean on the warp. It was very satisfying fixing up this loom, as this is a great design.

In the meantime, I’ve been slowly warping up my Ashford table loom for a shawl.


Once again, I’ve run out of heddles and had to attach a bazillon string ones. Since I was already ordering heddles (from the lovely Glenora Weaving and Wool) I figured I may as well order another 200 for it. And some new bungy cords. So once I’m done with the shawl my loom is getting a bit of renovating, too.

Of course, Donna’s loom will be heading back to her soon. I will try out the Peacock loom out of curiosity because I’ve not used a countermarch loom before, but then I’ll probably find a home for it. Then this can go back to being a three loom household, and my dining table can be used for, you know, eating off, again.

Projects of 2015


First project finished in 2015 was the Bunny Mink Scarf with inlay.


It was a good month for weaving. We finally got the pedals on the table loom, which made weaving much faster.
However, the next rigid heddle project, the Memory Scarf, was tortuous to weave.


Paul and I put together a pair of Bedside Bookcases.


Not a project, but it felt like one: I left Pinterest. And never looked back except with relief.


I twisted my ankle badly, which is probably why the only project I managed for the month was the Stitchy Shirt.



I made a Shoe Modification ready for my trip to Europe.
A little less work and more down time on this trip, so I managed to stitch a
Beetle Pendant while I was travelling.



I made a Flamingo Pendant as a thank you present for a friend.
A post-trip bout of finishitis took hold, where I finished the Ribbon Scarf


Fair Isle Beanie
… and Paua Ruanna Collar.


A simple tweak turned my stiff I-cord Scarf into a relaxed, loopy scarf.


I finished the Silk Stripe Placemats.
Some knitwear and scarves were spruced up on Overdyeing Day.
I went a little overboard making a Gingerbread House.



Giving up on altering it yet again, I turned the Origami Bolero into the Origami Bolero Scarf and the sleeves of the Gift Yarn Jacket into the Gift Yarn Scarf.
After a sudden and intense love affair with a pin loom, the Neon Blue Blanket was born.


More weaving produced the Silksation Scarf.
And I replaced the sleeves of the Gift Yarn Jacket to make it the Blue Sleeves Jacket.


Craft Day among friends was Refashioning Day (dress & two tops) for me.


I tried a little simple knitting to make Capucine.


With the leftovers I made a Capucine Cowl.
An experiment with circular weaving resulted in the Tapestry Hat.
And my determination to try weaving with fine yarn meant I finally produced the Scary Tea Towels for my Mum.


Then I lived up to my blog name and, perhaps triggered by all the landscaping preparations, became a little obsessed with jewellery-making, refashioning old pieces to make the Washer Necklace and Tiger Tail Bracelet.


I finally used some paper beads to make Paper bead jewellery.


But the weaving continued, with another pin loom project, the Hunky Hank Shawl.
Colourful beads suggested to me a Tinkle Bracelet for a friend.
While for myself I made Seed Bead earrings & necklace, though by then the landscaping was nearing its end and the jewellery-making obsession had run it’s course.


A simple solution led to me finally finishing the Art Necklace.


I started 50 Cards by Christmas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-9, 9-10.



While way on a solo writing retreat, escaping the beginning of the new garage foundations work, I made some Inkle bands.
For the New Year, I bought myself a Katie Loom!
And I embellished a cardigan:


Overall, it feels like I got less craft done this year than usual. RSI and a sprained ankle held me back in February and March, and I was away for most of April and part of November. Then there was all the landscaping and garage preparations and ongoing tasks that ate up mornings and weekends.

Thanks to the latter, I was exhausted by the middle of November and behind schedule with work. I reconnected with both writing and craft during my solo writing retreat week. In fact, I learned something useful. Because I wanted to avoid a sudden increase of typing, which would lead to RSI, I did craft in the mornings – weaving and card-making which didn’t work my hands too much. By the afternoon I was relaxed and my mind had been working over the story while I crafted, so the writing went well. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been doing the same, with varied success. I can’t help that the garage build and various chores are a distraction, but I can avoid spending mornings stuffing around on the internet – which just adds to the wear and tear on my hands and back. It is hard to switch into work mode, however, when the craft project sucks me in and I don’t want to stop.

A lot of refashioning, modification and reusing of materials were part of projects in 2015. When I did try something new, it was in weaving mostly, and also a few jewellery projects. In both I finally tackled and/or finished a few very long term projects – the scary tea towels and art necklace.

I only finished one portrait this year thanks to starting classes two months late, though the second is close to finished. That’s disappointing, as I was aiming to do four.

This year’s aim with the house was to take a break from big projects and stick to small ones while the pool fence, landscaping and garage preparations were done. The pool fence was ridiculously stressful and complicated. The actual landscaping was fast and stress-free, but the preparations before and pre-mulch preparations afterwards took up far more time than I’d expected.

The garage project is slow and ongoing, but mostly Paul’s task so I’m free to chase the work deadline and craft in 2016. I’m in a much more optimistic frame of mind than I was six weeks ago. In fact, the silly season, which I usually find distracting, stressful and a bit lonely, felt like a welcome break and opportunity to get everything back on track.

Happy New Year!


I’m not sure what to make of this winter. Normally I like winter. Yet while it was the warmest June on record, but it didn’t seem like it – perhaps because there were some very cold nights and frosty mornings either side of the unseasonably warm days, perhaps also because we’re discovering how hard it is to keep warm a house with no insulation. Thankfully, we have insulation installers booked to fix that this week, so the house may get more comfortable soon.

July has felt unbearably wintery. The head cold didn’t help. I was well enough to go on an interstate trip the weekend before last, but came home exhausted. It was followed by a week with two social outings I couldn’t really cancel, so I skipped art class in order to be rested enough for the first, and cancelled all plans for last weekend so I had time to get over the second.

I’m feeling a lot better for the rest, too. I read a while back that we’ve lost the art of convalescense. That we dive back into the demands of everyday life before we’ve truly got over an illness, instead of easing back into our full routine.

Though I feel like I need to hibernate for the rest of the year, I’m setting my sights on spending the weekends of August convalescing. I’ll be curling up in sunbeams like a cat, reading books, and doing a little weaving or stitching or sewing when I have the energy.

Until I can’t stand the sight of the weeds any more, that is.

Hung Up

The housewarming we had a few weeks back gave us the push we needed to tackle more artwork hanging. We’ve now used most of the methods I covered in this post about avoiding putting nail holes in walls: this post.



The wall shelf is from IKEA. I’m not 100% happy with it. For a start, our level was not level so the shelf is slightly off straight. And it’s too shallow to safely overlap artwork of this size, which I was hoping to do here. But I’m planning to repaint this room in a few years, so this is only temporary anyway.

Top of a bookcase:


You can just see that I have wooden picture supports, that Paul made, to ensure these don’t slip off.

Picture rails:

We decided against installing any, as combined with the dado rail it would be a bit too busy.

Picture hanging system:


This was the main pre-housewarming project. It’s not cheap, but the versatility of the system makes it worthwhile. We can put artwork anywhere along the walls, and put two or three pieces on each set of wires. It’s not so good for clusters of small artwork, however, but…

Removable plastic hooks:

I’ve used these all over the house:


The cat art wall is a work in progress. As we get more I’m adding them to the wall. And the map and paintings below are in the toilet, ’cause why not?


And the hooks are great for more than artwork:



The clear ones are practically invisible from a distance, so much nicer for items where the hook shows, like with the old traveller’s coat hangers above. And you can get removable velcro strips, which I used to hang the map in the toilet. However, the paint in the kitchen did not like the removable hooks, and even very light pictures like the small fruit ones below kept falling off so I had to use hooks.


Display easel:


I was hoping to get all of this related artwork on the wall, but there just wan’t room, and the odd sizes weren’t coming together in a balanced arrangement. I had a few pieces leaning against the wall while I was working this out, and realised they looked good like that. So I dug out a display and table easel. It’s another way to overlap artwork.


This is where I’m displaying finished portraits until their owners claim them.

So I’ve utilised nearly every hanging option I thought of last year. We’ve still used nails for mirrors, clocks and heavier artwork where there’s no hanging system, and I’ve reused existing holes as much as possible, like in the passageway:


There are still more pieces to go up – we have a dodgy shelf to remove in another room which will free up some more wall space – but most of it is hanging now. Funny thing is, after filling the living room and hallway walls, along with having the housewarming, I feel like we have finally settled in to this house.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

It’s a bedside table. No, it’s a bookshelf!

It’s inevitable that when you move house there’ll be a couple of pieces of furniture that take a while to find their spot, and new pieces of furniture to buy. We’ve spent so much on fixing up the house and garden that I’m trying to reign in the spending elsewhere, and that includes furniture.

We sold our old bedside tables and matching chests of drawers to the buyer of our old house, and needed to replace the tables. Some of the book shelving at the old place was built in, so we had a couple of boxes of books with no place to go. I hit on the idea of fixing both problems at the same time: bookshelf bedside tables.

Looking at furniture websites, I couldn’t find anything that was both attractive and reasonably priced. I suggested to Paul that we make them ourselves out of the wine boxes sold at the local liquor merchant, as we did with my craft side table and magazine rack.

So Paul did the carpentry and I sanded, painted and varnished. With the addition of a few planks of wood and some feet from Bunnings we had these for less than $200 each:


They look great filled with books, which will hopefully encourage me to read more:


Hmm. Books. I haven’t done my “Books Read in 2014″ post yet.

Projects of 2014

What a year! It’s been one of big contrasts and challenges. At the beginning I had enough spare energy and time to take on the HW&S Guild Mystery Box Challenge. I kinda regretted that. What I made was way more effort than the end result was worth.

By the middle of the year my energy and time was all tangled up in buying, moving, fixing up and selling houses. At the end of the year Paul was rushing to get his final year exhibition and folio together and I had a major writing deadline move three times. You can see the impact everything had on my craft output in this summary:

Finished Cat’s Portrait
Updated my New Zealand photo album
Tried Sumi-e
Did a Miniature Tapestry Weaving Workshop
Made a stud bracelet
Took on the HW&S Guild of Victoria Mystery Box Challenge
Refashioned some clothes
Gave a friend a weaving lesson
Wove the Huckleby Hemp Scarf
Bound the Squirrel Scorpion Book
Turned a broken colour-changing umbrella into a shower cap
Tackled some Knitwear Refashions

Stitched a diamond necklace
Wove a Big Blue Blanket and a scarf

Painted while camping
Finished the Autumn Fairy for the Mystery Box Challenge
Wove a thick and thin scarf from frogged yarn

More refashioning! With my new sewing machine:
Including glamming up a 20s costume into an evening dress
Made an photo album of our trip to Japan
Stitched a gift brooch

Finished stitching a skull
Made a cross-stitch clutch
Worked out how to weave leno with two heddles on a rigid heddle loom

We bought a house!
More knitwear refashions

Finished a portrait
Sewed lavender bags for the move
Sewed folio bags for the move

Settled. Moved. Prepared old house for sale. Sold it.

Embroidered a vest (though I’m not sure if it’s finished)
Finished weaving the leno scarf

Repurposed two old frames into ensuite mirrors

Converted an old kitchen cart into a bar cart
Made a jewellery display pin board
Made jewellery!
Made more jewellery!
Made shade card pom poms
Started extensive and expensive landscaping

Finished two more portraits
Made shorts.
Tried a Kogin embroidery kit and made a bag from it.
Sewed blanket binding around the Double Trouble Baby Blankets.
More refashioning!

By December we were exhausted, my RSI had made a comeback and my physio had raised the possibility of rheumatoid arthritis. But I’ve finished my work and have settled in for a month of rest, recovery and enjoying the new house with friends.

A Bit of Dressing Up

I’ve just finished a little weekend project, which had the added bonus of motivating me to unpack yet another box: a new costume jewellery board.


Back at the last house I kept my costume jewellery on two pinboards I bought and covered with calico:


There’s no convenient alcove to use as a dressing table here. Initially I wanted to put a shelf in the walk-in-robe, but there wasn’t room for it. The next choice was having an actual dressing table in the bedroom. Using the old Singer sewing machine table seemed like a good option as it’s small and cute and it means we don’t have to buy another piece of furniture, so I put it in position… and covered it in unpacked boxes of bags, shoes and jewellery.

I had a table, but what about a place to display jewellery? For a while I flirted with the idea of turning my old printer drawer into one, but most of my costume jewellery is necklaces and the compartments are the wrong size.

So I eyed those old pinboards. They were the wrong colour for the bedroom, so I’d have to sand and repaint, replace the fabric, and make two new holes in the wall to hang them. Or I could take that old metal poster frame with no board or glass that’s been hanging around in the garage, buy a new board and come cork squares that happened to be exactly the right size to fit 2 x 3 in the frame…


… then glue the tiles, assemble the frame and hang it up by a chain to a new nail in the existing nail hole, stick some pins in it, unpack, cull and hang the jewellery…


The end result looks great and was pretty quick to knock together. The cork and black frame match the sewing table wood colour and cast iron base. I also bought a lamp and mirror on the same trip to get the tiles and board. And I’ve moved my make-up and perfume into some decorative boxes.

The old pinboards are going into the craft room, where I’m sure I’ll get plenty of of use out of them as inspiration boards.

And speaking of inspiration, I now feel the urge to make some jewellery…