Taking a Sickie

Sometimes I think it’s better to be properly sick than have some nagging not-quite-rightness that isn’t bad enough to excuse taking the day off work. Last week I had nausea, headaches and a sore back for day after day, chipping away at my resolve and ability to concentrate. On Thursday after pain killers weren’t making any difference I gave up at midday and called the day a sickie.

It’s amazing how a decision like that can make the situation brighter. While I wasn’t well enough to do anything that required energy or concentration, I could muddle away in the craft room for the first time since the move.

At first I did a little tidying up, to see what project idea might grab my attention. The first one was small and undemanding:

I tried out nail polish marbling. According to the blog posts I’d seen, you put a couple of drops of nail polish in water, then dip something in. Keeping it small, I chose to dip a couple of beads. I used a black and a pale apricot nail polish so the contrast was strong. The adhesion of the nail polish didn’t seem that good, so I painted the second bead with the apricot colour before dipping. That just resulted in a completely black bead. Too much adhesion. In the meantime the first had dried, but was a bit unevenly coated, but after a coat of apricot on top to smooth it out, I found I liked it.

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Next I decided to finish the Double Heddle Leno Scarf. There actually wasn’t much left of the warp to go. Instead of unweaving it to fix the uneven width, I figured the silk was slippery enough that I could narrow the wide part at the start by pulling the weft thread tighter at the sides. I was right – it worked a treat.

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So that was one new project tried and one WIP finished. Not bad for a sick day.

WIP-lash!

As the trials an tribulations of pool ownership continue, investigation commence into how to prevent the neighbour’s back yard washing into ours next time there’s a storm, and the excitement of the ensuite/WIR renovation extends a week longer than scheduled, I’ve been dipping my toe into crafty waters. Just one toe, and not very deeply, but it’s a start.

So I thought I’d do another bloggy exercise to get those crafting brain cells firing: the WIP update.

Alan’s Portrait:
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Just the arms to do. I’ve not gone to art classes for two weeks, and probably won’t make it this week, so hopefully I can get back to it next week.

Double Trouble Baby Blankets:
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Still waiting for me to add the binding, but not that the craft room is tidy I have room to set up the sewing machine.

Grey Vest:
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I got this far before moving house. Not sure if I should add more and/or if I should put some of the same stitching on the matching skirt. Part of the reason I’m hesitating is that I’m not sure I like how I’ve finished the stitching at the back. The ends kept working their way out again so I’ve knotted them, and it looks messy. But who cares what it looks on the inside, eh?

Two Heddle Leno Scarf:
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Haven’t touched it since the move. I’m not liking how it’s wider at the beginning and I’m thinking of unweaving and starting again. I’ve not had trouble with weaving pulling in at the edges this much before, and I’m guessing it’s because the yarn is slippery silk.

The Art Necklace:
What art necklace?

Kogin Tissue Cosy:
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I’ve worked on this little kit three times now, and it has proved to be a good interesting-but-not-too-challenging project for evenings of post-house move/reno exhaustion.

Eye:
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My travel craft project. Went to Brisbane with me.

Inkle Band:
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Another travel project. Not on the WIP list in the sidebar because I always have one on the go.

Finishing these projects seems achievable now that I’ve spent a little time thinking about what I need to do. I just need to make time to do it – and not get distracted by new project ideas and gardening.

Have to say, being stuck on ADSL internet speeds makes blogging about craft a test patience.

Craft Room

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Still some tidying to do. I did most of it in a fit of obsessive organising. I even made a scale drawing in Illustrator of the wardrobe to help me work out what would fit where.

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The left side is for paper-related craft, the right for fibre-related craft. The middle shelves and drawers are for everything else. Art materials and tools went into my tool trolley in the laundry, and the art instruction books and canvasses into the huge laundry cupboard. I rearranged the loom, knitting machine and tables until they fit reasonably well.

And then… well, more important things took away my attention and some last boxes of craft-related stuff were shoved in there, leaving the craft room not quite organised enough to comfortably use. I suspect I need a big surge of inspiration to push me into finishing. Maybe it’ll come soon. After all, I’ve done a bit of a tidy up of my to-do lists on this blog, and that often leads me to tackle projects.

Well, it turned out writing the above was the push I needed. A few hours later I started finding homes for the contents of boxes added after the first tidy-up, and repacking the wardrobe more efficiently with the help of my trusty Illustrator file. I turned the loom 90 degrees and liked it better that way. I’m sure there’ll be more adjusting, but I feel like I could start working on a project now, without having to spend a few hours making room for it first.

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Have I explained the missing wardrobe doors? The wardrobe in this room has three doors to the hanger spaces on either side of the central drawer and shelf section. There’s an inconvenient beam blocking entry 1/3 and 2/3 across each section. The only reason we can think of is that the beam is extra support for the shelves. We’re going to add internal supports to the shelves, remove the beam and join two doors on either side with hinges so they open concertina-style.

Once we find time. Which could be a while.

Craft Daze

My lovely arty crafty buddy, Karen, hosted a Craft Day a few weekends ago. I’ve never been so disorganised over a Craft Day. To begin with, I’d lost all memory of it. It was only because I went out with some of the crafters a few weeks before that I heard about it (again). When I looked up my emails I found the one inviting me there, but it was dated around the time I had that awful cold, so I suspect I didn’t register it. That shows how sick I was. Me forget a Craft Day? Never!

But then I wasn’t sure what to take. I don’t want to start new projects when I’m going to be moving house soon. I decided to get the baby blankets off the loom so I could attach satin blanket binding and to take the knitters loom so I could finish the leno scarf.

I work on either. I’d also thrown in two projects for the move: make folio bags (large flat bags with handles that hold several folios of bundles of craft paper at once) and pouches for the previous year’s harvest of lavender.

For the folio bags I needed sturdy material. I was going to buy denim, but at the last moment we ducked into an op shop thinking we could recycle an old bed quilt or something. They just happened to have rolls of fabric, including heavy curtain fabric – which seemed perfect for the job.

Except it wasn’t. The plasticy fabric slipped everywhere and the holes made by the needles started to look suspiciously like perforations for tearing. I gave up on that project and concentrated on the lavender bags. For those I cut up an old pair of cheesecloth pants and just sewed ravioli-like squares, stuffing them with the lavender then finishing with zig-zag stitch.

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And that’s all I got through. But I did get a crafty fix and it was a fun afternoon – especially as I got to chat with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

Two Cardy Refashions

I’ve had this post waiting for a few last pics for some time now…

Back at the beginning of the year, I decided Purple needed to become a cardigan:

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This involved cutting it down the front. I sewed a zig-zag on the machine, either side of the stitches I wanted to cut, then took a deep breath and snipped:

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It languished in the bottom of my knitwear adjustment basket until its turn came. I simply picked up stitches along the raw edge behind the zig-zag and got knitting.

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I have no idea why I chose a 2×2 rib. It wasn’t until I got to the second band that I thought about it. But it works. I crocheted over the raw, zig-zagged edge on the inside as an extra precaution against unravelling.

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The only detail that gives the refashion away is that the neckband is usually knit onto the edge of the button bands. This is the other way around. Let’s call it a ‘design feature’, eh?

I’ve worn this quite a bit since the refashion, which I’d say makes it a winner.

The next refashion was easier – simply to add another band of ribbing to the Gift Yarn Jacket as it just didn’t look finished enough to me:

So this:
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Became this:
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And this:
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Looks like this:
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Which took some months, but was done in time for winter at least. I prefer the second way of wearing it, though I haven’t yet worn it since doing the refashion.

Works in Progress, or Not

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve finished Rachel’s portrait. Well, mostly. There are some tweaks I want to make, now I’ve had time to examine it critically. I’d be doing them this morning, if I wasn’t in the goopy, vertigo-ey, exhausting phase of a head cold, and not wanting to spread it around.

Jason’s has a session or two to go:

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I’ve started stitching on one of the garments I wanted to embellish. After a few false starts, I settled on purple and mauve flowers with green branches winding between them.

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I started the eye:

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The leno scarf isn’t finished because I’m holding off working on it. I want to show it to the weaving group:

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The Double Trouble baby blankets are going slowly.

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The art necklace… what necklace?

Leno with Two Heddles on a Rigid Heddle

I got to thinking, thanks to the weaving group at the Guild, that it must be possible to weave bead leno on a rigid heddle loom if it has two heddles. After all, it’s possible to weave leno on a table loom so long as you have three shafts, and the extra heddle effectively adds more ‘shafts’ to a rigid heddle loom.

Well, as I learned from an afternoon of experimentation, it’s not that simple.

The first problem is, the heddle on a rigid heddle loom is also the beater. But that can easily be solved by using a lease stick to push each shot into position:

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Or use the shuttle:

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The second problem may be too hard to explain here. All threads on a shaft loom are controlled like the ‘hole’ thread on the heddle, and that effectively means two heddles gives you only two positions. I just couldn’t get bead leno to work, but I did find a way to do doup leno.

The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving contains a project using doup leno using one heddle as a spacer – the warp threaded through slots only. Loops of string tied to a length of dowl behind the heddle are used to get the leno twists. And you can only get leno twists – no tabby.

The method I worked out allows you to have tabby bands between your leno twists, so it’s a slight improvement.

Warping:
1) First, warp the loom with two heddles of the same epi, the rear one with threads in slots and holes, the front with two threads in each slot and none in holes.

2) Place the back heddle in the neutral position and the front on the up position.

3) Then at the front of the front heddle, select the first warp thread that goes through a hole of the rear heddle and bring it underneath its neighbour – a ‘slot’ end – and up again. Tie it to the top of the front heddle with string so that you get a shed just big enough to slip the end of a shuttle into.

4) Continue across until every ‘hole’ thread is tied into position. It should look like this:

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Weaving:
1) Place the front heddle in the neutral position and use the rear heddle to get your weaving started with some tabby. Put the rear heddle in the bottom position and weave a shot. It should look something like this:

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The string loops allow the shed to open to almost its fullest extent.

Now place the back heddle in the up position and weave a shot. It will look like this:

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The string loops will be loose enough to pull under the ‘slot’ threads, allowing the ‘hole’ ones to move into the up position. Again, the loops allow the shed to open to almost it’s fullest extent.

2) For the leno twists, return to the position the heddles were in when you tied on on the string loops, with the front heddle in the up position and the back in the neutral position, and slip the shuttle through the shed. It’ll be a tiny shed, so you’ll have to work the shuttle through close to the string loops.

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The loops should have twisted pairs of threads around each other. The resulting leno shots spaced between tabby should look like this:

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3) Now return to tabby weaving.

I used silk for both warp and weft, and the slipperiness helped the warp threads to slide around each other. Even then, sometimes they didn’t want to go into position. I found two things helped combat this. First I’d run my fingers over the warp threads like they were harp strings. This often flicked them into position. Secondly, to get a good shed for the tabby I’d slip an unused shuttle or warp stick into the gap between the heddles or behind the rear heddle to encourage the shed to open to the fullest.

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The leno twist shed was very small and it was fiddly to get the shuttle through. To make it bigger would be to reduce the tabby sheds. I’d rather fiddle with the occasional leno shot than the more common tabby ones. Doing leno this way is still much faster than manipulating the threads individually by hand, which was the object of the exercise, really.

Craft WIPs

Tapestry Bracelet – Abandoned
I went off the boil with this project. The trouble is, though I’ve sewed in the ends, the flower yarn is slippery enough that they worked their way out again. And it’s was such slow work. This is about five or more hour’s worth. Zzzznore!

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Art Necklace – in hiatus
I was going to fill the frames with little paintings of eyes and ears and mouths, then after I started embroidering I got the itch to stitch something instead. But I couldn’t think of a subject. Lately I’m thinking photos of my ancestors might be better – and much faster.

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Double Trouble Baby Blankets – picking up again
Inspired by a weaving group meeting on multiple projects on one warp at the Guild, I cut a warp for two baby blankets late March. I lost momentum for this project for a little while, but resumed warping a few weeks ago. Last weekend I finally finished and started weaving. I’d really like to give one of the blankets to a friend who had a baby in April.

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Two Heddle Leno Scarf – established
Another project inspired by the weaving group, after a meeting in which we explored bead leno. I got to thinking that bead leno should be possible on the rigid heddle loom if it had two heddles. Well, I didn’t manage to do bead leno, but worked out a way to do doup leno with tabby between.

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Gift Yarn Jacket Modification – current tv project
Adding another band of ribbing to this:

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Eye Embroidery – poised to begin
The skull was a great ongoing brainless portable project that I could pick up while watching tv or work on while travelling. Now that it’s done I’ve got this eye ready to go.

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Lookin’ Fly Clutch

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All kinds of odd things end up in my stash of art and craft materials. A while back I got playing with a scrap of plastic fly screen. The folds that had been pressed into the mesh while in storage suggested a simple clutch bag shape, and reminded me of the cross-stitch iPhone cover I stitched last year. A bit of a trim and sewing in some side panels with waxed linen thread was all it took to make the clutch. Then I had to come up with a cross-stitch design.

So I measured the proportions of the grid and created a graph in Illustrator, which I exported to Photoshop. Then I modified a cross stitch pattern to a shape and colour I liked and put it on a layer behind the grid so I could colour the spaces in the fly screen graph with the fill tool.

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Then it was just a matter of cross-stitching the design onto the bag. I used sewing cotton to mark out every fifth row and column of rectangles so I could keep oriented to the pattern. Stranded cotton turned out to be unsuited to the job, as the individual strands would eventually separate and misalign, so I turned to the flower threads I’d bought at the mini tapestry weaving and on ebay. There were a few gaps in the colour range, so I had to order in some more thread, but I was able to get started while I waited for them to arrive.

It was a good tv craft project, taking me about a month of half-hour to hour stitching sessions. I’m very happy with the result.

Stitchy Skull

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I’ve been working on this since … well, I transferred the image to the fabric last June and blogged about working on it in October, so it’s been a while. Stitching something like this, small and all in one colour, is almost a perfect replacement for knitting socks – something I could do without thinking too much while watching tv, in a waiting room, during meetings, and travelling.

On the other hand, I don’t know what to do with it now. Though I rather like the idea of hanging a collection of skull artworks somewhere in the house, since I have some oil stick paintings in a sketchbook somewhere. In fact, it’s long past time I refreshed the collection of artwork I have in the workroom.

Hmm.