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. It 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!

Ball & Change

For the first two to three months of last year I had to stay off my feet thanks to a bout of plantar faciitis. Fortunately it settled down enough that I was able to move house in the second half of the year with no new flare up. However, the sprained ankle has stirred up the plantar facia again, because when I was limping more force went into the non-sprained side, which was the most prone to pf.

I’m off overseas again soon, and my old multi-purpose mary janes aren’t going to cut it. I needed shoes that were not just going be robust, able to be worn with a skirt, nice enough for an evening out and taken off quickly at airport security gates, but they had to be supportive and impact-absorbing. I went to Gilmores, a local shoe specialist for people with problem feet, and the only shoe that came close to filling my requirements were, well, not exactly pretty.

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Paul calls them ‘old lady shoes’. I think they’re just boring.

This moccasin style of shoe usually has a few more features. A buckle or bow across the top. A thin leather cord tied at the middle. A bit of leather fringe. Heck, I’ve seen them in a street fashion photo with fur and a chain. Looking at the website of the shoes’ brand, there are plenty with these embellishments, but perhaps only this one had the extra-good-for-plantar-faciitis internal structure.

Still, this did mean I ought to be able to decorate my shoes without it looking odd.

What to do, though? I experimented with all of the above, cutting up bits of leather and experimenting with buckles and cord. I realised that if I could somehow attach some loops to either side of the shoe I might be able to switch around embellishments as I pleased.

So I got stitching. A bit of black leather and waxed thread later I had the loops on.

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After applying a bit of boot polish to make sure they blended in with the rest of the shoe, I considered all my decorations and settled on the simplest: a chain.

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I figure if I get the time between now and leaving, I’ll make some more embellishments. Maybe some black bows. And I rather fancy a strip of leather with studs in it. Hmm.

Warped Up

The placemat and table runner project is coming along nicely:

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I’ve made four. My sums seem to suggest that I have enough yarn to make eight placemats and a skinny runner. I figure I’ll do the placemats first then see how much yarn I have left over.

The collar/scarf is nearly done:

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I won’t know until I finish and start experimenting with the length of fabric whether I’ll attach it to the ruanna or just use it as a very long scarf, or cut it into two shorter scarves. It’s kinda nice to have options.

Stitchy Shirt

At last! Some craft!

This shirt has gone through a few transformations now. It was one of Paul’s shirts. The first refashion saw me taking the sides in, ripping the arms out and reset them as short sleeves, then beaching the whole thing.

But the fabric was a bit heavy for a summer top, especially as it was double thickness at the yoke. I decided to take the sleeves off completely in the summer just past. Before I had a chance to wear it, though, I decided to try some kantha-ish embroidery.

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I was going to stitch all over it, but I found stitching on a single layer of cloth not as easy without a hoop as stitching into the top layer where there were two or more layers. It’s also much easier to deal with thread ends when you can hide them between two layers.

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It was very relaxing. The stitching didn’t have to be perfect. Good tv stitching.

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I like how it has come out. There’s a nice quilted texture to the areas I stitched.

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And I suspect stitching over the whole garment would have taken long enough for it to go from a fun to a tedious project. This was enough.

Cullbriated

I have an ap called Stickies that puts post-it note like pages on my computer screen. In one I have a list called “Big Cull”. I started it before we moved in the hope I’d get through every category on it and have less stuff to shift. Of course, I didn’t get everything culled in time, so I’ve been revisiting it every time I have the itch to tidy up.

The wardrobe in the craft room has two hanging sections with, for no good reason, have three narrow doors each where two would have been fine. That meant there was a vertical beam for the middle door’s hinges that stood 2/3 the way across the space, always in the way. It ran up through the shelving above the hanging rail, too, so I had to do box tetris to get some things out.

So we turned a pair of the doors for each section into a concertina door by attaching hinges, and removed the beam. The new double door didn’t quite sit flat, partly because I had extra fabric spilling out of the fabric tub and my trims box had become two trims boxes.

Time to tackle the “fabric” category on my Big Cull list.

Oh body, did I chuck out a lot of useless fabric scraps. Turns out that a glass of Pinot Gris is a good primer for culling. I thought it would weaken my resolve. Instead it made me ruthless.

Though thinking about the fabric stash differently helped, too. I have everything in zip-lock bags labelled by type. They include denim, corduroy, felt, velvet, muslin, lining, facing, knit, silk painting scraps, fancy fabric, fake leather, polycotton, cheesecloth, calico and costume scraps. Most are leftovers from projects, though some is fabric from abandoned projects or ones I found a better fabric for, and a few are leftover from my 20-year-old self’s addiction to discount bins.

I decided I’d stick a post-it note on each bag with a possible project/s for the contents. Let’s just say I didn’t use many post-it notes. Lots of small scraps went in the rubbish. Any decent sized piece of fabric that drew a blank had to be pretty special to avoid the op shop pile. A few did. Call me deluded, but I’m still sure I will find a use for stretch fake leather – probably for a costume.

The tub not only closes now, but the fabrics aren’t crammed in. I was so pleased with my culling success I had another glass of Pinot Gris and attacked the trims, getting them to fit into one box.

Fortunately by the time I was done there was no more wine, or it could have got scary.

Memory, Reminder

The Memory Yarn Scarf is done:

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Remind me never to attempt one again.

Warping was challenging, but managable. It was the weaving that was tedious, demanding that the two weft yarns be tweaked constantly to keep them aligned. I could have done something more interesting than plain weave, but that would have just made it even fussier and slower, and I couldn’t wait for this one to be finished and off the loom.

The result is lovely, though – soft despite the stainless steel that imparts the ‘memory’. The metal is supposed to allow you to shape the fabric. With knit that look interesting and sculptural. With woven fabric is just looks, well, creased. Still, I don’t mind a crinkly scarf and it does have an interesting story to it.

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Next!

Pedalling On

Weaving, I’ve decided, is my friend. It doesn’t involve a lot of intricate finger movements. It would even less so if I used foot pedals for the table loom rather than levers. We’d always intended to add them to the loom stand we made ages ago, but didn’t get around to it.

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A few weeks ago I flirted with the idea of buying the Ashford stand and pedal kit, but when I told Paul it costs around $550 pre-postage we concluded it was worth having a go at modifying the existing table. So we did some designing, carpentry, varnishing and knotting of washing line rope…

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After a bit of tweaking I have working pedals, though the shafts don’t always fall back down completely. Still, it cost us nothing since we still had the parts from when we’d first made the table. And even with having to push the odd shaft down it seems much faster and a lot less work for my hands.

And that makes me very happy!

Bunny Mink Scarf

Last year I visited a friend in Canberra on the Australia Day weekend to teach her how to use a 4-shaft loom she’d adopted. This year she came to visit me over New Year and brought her Knitters Loom. We spent the last day of 2014 and the first of 2015 weaving.

While she whipped out two scarves over the stay, I managed just one. I chose an Ixchel yarn “Bunny Mink” spun from angora and mink – a soft, resilient laceweight yarn I’d fallen in love with at the Bendy Show a few years ago. It wove into a beautiful scarf.

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I had no head space for deciding on a fancier pattern than tabby, what with surviving Christmas, hosting three friends and arranging a New Year’s Eve party. But the yarn was quite slippery so tabby meant I had only one challenge to meet.

Toward the end I decided to try inlay. Well, kind of a cheats inlay, where you stitch the inlay yarn in rather than weave it at the same time. I did a simple pattern of staggered rectangles.

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This one is definitely a keeper. Unless I need a gift for someone I really, really like!

Summer Refashioning

I often get the refashioning bug in Spring, but this year I had no time for it. Once on ‘holidays’ I enjoyed a few days at the sewing machine. These green shorts were the main achievement, but I also tackled some basic mending and garment tweaking – taking in at the sides or removing sleeves. Most was too simple to bother blogging about. Except this long sleeve shirt refashion:

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It involved shortening the long sleeves and using the pieces as side panels and binding around the armholes. I tried folding the armhole seams first, as I’d had good results from the stretch stitches on my new sewing machine. But this time it went all crinkly so I had to cut it off and try again, using overlocking stitch to attach a binding.

I seem to have moved on to weaving now, but I’m sure I’ll switch back to sewing soon as I still have the sarong shorts to make that I bought the pattern for.

Inevitable Startitis

At first, when my ‘holidays’ started, the desire to craft was strong. I managed to tick several projects off the to-do list, including some WIPs. But I also had six months worth of new ideas brewing, and that brought about a bout of startitis. Also, my weaving session with Donna led to the stash review which led in turn to me warping up both looms. So here are some of the new projects on my WIP list.

Ribbon Scarf:

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I had the idea to turn a handful of ribbon scraps of varying sizes rescued from a costume that went in the rubbish and a scrap of gauzy fabric into a scarf by sewing the ribbons on in strips. The basting is a good tv watching craft activity.

Jacobean Kit:

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Wanting to explore embroidery more, I figured the best way to learn more is to try a few kits. So far a bit of unpicking has happened, as the instructions are probably not aimed at a novice and the photo is a bit too small for me to work out what I’m supposed to be doing. But I am enjoying it.

Stitchy Shirt:

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I’ve been loving the look of blankets and clothing covered in a kind of freeform running stitch and sashiko that I think is called ‘boko’. This vest was originally a man’s shirt that I refashioned to fit me, then bleached. I liked the blotchy look, but not the sleeves so I recently removed them. The stitching doesn’t require much brain-power, so this is one I turn to when I’m too tired to tackle the kit above.

Memory Yarn Scarf:

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I bought this yarn to try out on the knitting machine and have decided to weave it instead. It is fiddly to work with mainly because you use two strands together. I’ll be glad when this one is done.

Paua Shell Scarf/Collar:

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I’d always intended to put a collar on the Paua Shell Ruanna, but it took me so long to weave that I couldn’t bear the thought of warping up again in the same yarn. Now it feels like an easy, quick project I can knock off the to-do list, and the yarn is lovely to work with.