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!

Waffling About Weaving

In the last few years I’ve developed two weaving ambitions: to try lots of new weave structures and to weave fabric to make clothing from. Recent projects have seen me revert to my usual comfortable habit of using up stash, however. They have been a great excuse to play with twills, but I want to get back to trying new structures and weaving fabric for clothing.

My table loom now has a fabric project on it. I’m weaving three metres of black wool (Bendy Classic 3ply) with grey boucle stripes, which will hopefully become a skirt.

The Katie still has the feathers scarf on it.

All my recent yarn purchases have been with fabric in mind. Recently a weaver on Facebook posted an ad for vintage linen. I got in contact to see if she was amenable to me coming around and looking at it, and anything else she had for sale. We organised a time. When I got there she’d laid everything she wanted to sell out on the table. Well, except the occasional yarn cone I’d take out and find it wasn’t for sale. Maybe she changed her mind, or hadn’t checked that what she had put out was all for sale. It occurred to me that she might be doing it to see if I’d offer more money, so I tried that for a second cone of a yarn she’d already said I could buy one of. She refused firmly, so that clearly wasn’t it! Ah well, people can be hard to read sometimes.

I wasn’t bothered (just a bit nonplussed) and I came home with a half dozen small cones of interesting yarns, two large ones of linen and one enormous one of hemp. The linen is thinner than I’m used to weaving, and the hemp is as fine as sewing cotton, so I will probably double or triple them. The small cones will go with others that have been accumulating in the stash. I’ve got several reds and a white and natural mix.

The day after my yarn purchasing, Amanda at the Weaving Matters meeting gave an inspiring talk about saori. I found myself thinking that there’s a lot about saori that I’m drawn to. It’s colourful, playful, I like how the clothing is designed to be made with minimal cutting or waste, and the looms have many clever features.

Not that I’m going to buy a saori loom. I don’t have room for another loom. I don’t have room for the looms I have already! My Ashford 4-shaft table loom has been sitting folded up in the hallway for many months, unused.

(I’ve been thinking about that loom a lot recently. I advertised it the Facebook group for nearly a year, and though I lowered the price a few times all I got was the occasional enquiry that went nowhere. Trouble is, occasionally an ad for the 8-shaft version goes up from someone who is desperate enough to sell theirs really cheaply, so I don’t think I’ll ever get even a third of what a new version of mine is worth. I may as well keep it as a backup loom.)

Anyway, I can probably do saori-ish weaving on my knitters loom. It might even be simple enough to do while I’m recovering from eye-surgery, so long as I warp up the loom beforehand. Now there’s an idea. Yes, that’s what I’m going to do! I just need to decide whether I’ll use the red yarns, or the white and natural yarns.

Tapestry Bag

Remember when I bought some big batches of canvas tapestry thread on ebay? Well, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. It was quite a while ago.

In it was a small collection of Beehive tapestry thread, but it was so old each skein had fulled to itself. It was too far gone to stitch with so I decided to weave it. I cut all the thread into shorter lengths then fused the ends together by wetting with soapy water and rubbing between my palms. This gave me three shuttles worth of weft. I wove this on the Knitters Loom with a firm beat to make a weft-faced cloth.

Once off the loom I found it was a good thickness for a bag, but simply folding it in half made for a rather boring one. I started folding on the bias, and found the result much more appealing. I’ve seen bags folded so that they formed a square with a triangle missing so I tried that, and I had just enough material to do it.

I’m not a fan of bags that don’t close, however, but I couldn’t see how I could easily add a zip to this design. After a lot of thinking the answer came like a bolt of lightening – a bag within the bag!

I found a silver belt in an op shop to make a handle out of, and when I went looking for some leather to make the inner bag from I found some in the same shade of silver, the right thickness and on sale! I bought some matching lining and a zip and got sewing.

It all came together easily until I got to attaching the handle. Where the buckle had been sewn onto the belt the leather was splitting. If I sewed the handles to the bag (and reattached the buckle) the same thing would happen. Rivets would be better. But do you think I could find any at the right size? The fruitless search for suitable rivets has put this project on hold for months. Last week I gave up. I cut the holes for the rivets anyway, then sewed everything with thread.

Perhaps I will stumble on the right sized rivets in future. For now, I have a useable bag.

Which I love!

Plaited Twill Scarf

This was yet another leftovers-using project, this time to use up the orange yarn I dyed for the overshot sampler I did last year. These batches picked up black dye from the pot I had used previously in a failed attempt to dye some stained polyester pants. I couldn’t scrub the residue off the pot, yet it came off on the yarn as a greyish shadow. The pot went into the rubbish afterwards, which was a shame, as it was a good sized dying pot.

Since the shadowing wasn’t uniform, I mixed the orange threads among twice as many in the ‘dusky rose’ colour of in the same yarn. I’ve been liking the dividing stripe effect of the last few scarves I’ve woven, so I added some in ‘raffia’ too. Then I chose ‘almond’, a slightly off-white, for the weft.

It was MUCH easier to warp the loom this time as I wasn’t working with already cut ends and therefore no cross. I could use my warping board to wind and tie everything neatly, with one exception: because I wanted to mix the orange with the pink I wound three threads together – one orange and two pink – and that meant the cross wasn’t of alternate single threads but sets of three. This allowed me to move the orange thread of each trio around when threading so the mix was more random than simply orange-pink-pink and I didn’t get two orange threads next to each other.

Like with the Scarf of Leftover Colours, having eight pedals meant I could arrange the tie up so I could simply move from left to right. Then I got weaving.

Oh my. I may have fallen in love with plaited twill. It’s so pretty!

These are not my usual wearing colours. Either I’m going to have to revise that opinion, find someone dear to me who does wear them, or weave another plaited twill scarf. I’m thinking the latter.

I have other plans for the floor loom’s next project, so that’ll have to wait. On the Katie, I put another leftovers warp on, using up some burgundy warp. I found a draft I liked by entering “weaving drafts” in google images. I started with a blue weft, but didn’t like it, so I tried cream and it’s much better.

However, it wasn’t looking like it was supposed to. I realised I was making several mistakes: I should be working from the bottom to the top, the black squares for the tie up should be for shafts in the down position and not up, and I had missed four picks of the sequence in each repeat.

But I liked what I’d done, so I just made a new draft that looked like the result I had and called it ‘falling feathers’.

The other mistake I made was that, when I measured the warp, I cut sixteen threads for each stripe, when the pattern repeat actually uses 14. So now I have another small pile of leftover warp to use up.

Scarf. Jacket. Scarfjacket?

Way back when winter was approaching I did my usual scarf, hat and glove swap: that is, take the summer-weight items off the hanger on the back of the coat cupboard door and choose the winter-weight ones to replace them. At the same time I culled a few things.

A couple of knitted scarves were frogged, since I never wear them and the yarn is so nice I will enjoy weaving something instead. One scarf went into the refashion ‘pile’. I knit it during my 2005 trip to the UK, buying a ball of yarn at each location we stayed at and knitting until I bought the next. When we got home I repeated all the stripes to use up the yarn, and wound up with a very long scarf.

(I’m amazed I found a pic of it, since it was knit before I started this blog!)

Very long scarves were in fashion back then but eventually that went the way that all fashions do, which left me with a scarf that was really too long to be practical. It’s been sitting, rolled up, in my wardrobe for years.

I could have shortened it, but other ideas were percolating in my head. The first was to separate it into four pieces and sew them together to make a squarish tv-watching lap rug. Then I’d use it practically every night in the colder months. Trouble is, I have plenty of knee rugs already.

Then I had the idea of incorporating it into a long jacket, so I draped it over my dress form and began playing. My first design involved separating the scarf into two, draping the pieces over the shoulders and filling in the gaps between with narrow garter stitch strips. I could then machine knitting two stocking stitch sleeves. The Bond Sweater Machine only does stocking stitch so I started knitting the garter stitch strips by hand. I cast on 20 stitches and did 20 rows a night for three nights, which was about 30 minutes a night.

By then my hands were really hurting. They still are weeks later. There really is no going back from RSI – at least RSI as bad as I had/have it.

Accepting that I would never be able to knit the strips, I came up with another design. This one used half of the scarf as a collar, a quarter of it around the waist and the two eighths as cuffs. The rest would be done in stocking stitch on the Bond.

I found a free pattern to adapt and bought some yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills and, when it arrived, set up the Mega Bond and began making the back, which was in one piece. As I worked, I decided that I would make the whole garment, minus the collar, then when finished I’d separate the waist section and shorten the cuffs ready for the scarf inserts.

But as I worked I realised that the way the collar would sit would show the colour joins on the back side of the garter stitch. I could fold it in half along the length, but that would make it skinnier than the collar in the pattern and perhaps not meet in the middle.

But what if I used both halves of the scarf as a collar and doubled them up? I draped them both on the dress form and instantly loved the way the colours lined up. So instead of cutting the scarf up further, I just attached the two pieces:

I’m pretty happy with how my new jacket turned out. It’s casual and warm, and full of happy memories.

More Loom Tweaks

Having had success modifying the Katie Loom, I turned my attention to the floor loom.

Problem 1: I’m too tall for the loom as it was built, so when my top half was in the right position, my knees were bent at 90 degrees and I couldn’t put my weight on the pedals. Also, my knees pushed up against the apron when I changed pedals.

Problem 2: There was nowhere to put my non-working foot when I was pressing a pedal except on either side of the eight pedals, so I was always straddling them and it made my hips ache. If I sat back far enough to rest my feet on the front ends of the pedals my top half was too far away from the beater to weave comfortably.

Solution: Raise the loom by putting it on planks of wood, and move the pedals to the underside of the supporting beam so they’re further away and I can rest my non-working foot on it.

I got stuck into removing the pedals before I took a photo, so here’s a pic from when I first put the loom together:

Paul and I played around with the position of the pedals until we had one where they were underneath the crossbeam and still had room to move. It meant drilling a new hole in the edge supports, but that was the only permanent modification.

This was MUCH more comfortable, as not only are the pedals now low enough that I can put my weight behind pushing them down, but I can brace my non-working foot on the crossbeam. My knees no longer push against the apron, too.

However, because front of the pedals are now lower than ends when they’re in the down position, they’re also at a greater angle when pressed. The shafts didn’t rise evenly with the chains I was using for the tie-up. I replace them with texsolv (after this pic was taken) as it is more easily adjusted. The up side to the change is the loom is a little quieter to operate now.

This all happened in the middle of weaving another leftover yarn scarf. I chose a plaited twill from an issue of Heddlecraft:

These are not my colours, but I love them. They put me in mind of a spring flower garden, though maybe that’s just because I’m longing for an easing of what seems a very chilly winter.

Katie Loom Fix

During the weaving workshop students from other classes would occasionally ask if they could come in and look at what we were doing. One duo looked at my loom and said “this is a really expensive loom, isn’t it?”. I told her how much it cost and then admitted I would advise against buying it, and explained why.

While I love so much about the Katie Loom, there is one shortcoming that renders it a loom only suitable for sampling or making very small projects. The cloth beam at the front is so close to the front beam, that the accumulating woven fabric around it soon meets the front beam and you have to cut it off to continue. It also begins to restrict how far forward the beater can swing, giving you a decreasing area in which to weave, and a narrowing fell. Depending on the thickness of the yarn you’re using, you could end up only being able to weave a metre of cloth.

It seems like compromises were made in order to keep the loom small and light. I’ve considered how the loom could be better designed many times, and it didn’t seem like much weight and extra depth would be added to it in order to allow a longer warp.

Having discussed ideas with Kay, I decided I was going to ‘fix’ the loom when I got home. I measured the loom and drew up plans, comparing different approaches that would gain more room for the front cloth beam.

Simply replacing the front beam with a dowel is a small change that would make a reasonable difference, and what I’d recommend for other Katie owners. This will make it much harder to put a raddle on the front of the loom but, as Kay had pointed out, a raddle ought to be as close as possible to the beam the warp is being wound upon – which is the back beam no matter whether you warp front to back or back to front. So if you want an improvement to your Katie, a simple change from the flat front beam to a broomstick-size dowel is an easy fix.

However, I wanted to try to make even more space for woven cloth, and that meant moving the cloth beam lower. I’ve considered moving it to new version of the ‘legs’ that swivel down to support the loom, but that would mean cutting the cloth beam shorter which would involve some tricky woodwork. I’ve considered attaching pieces to the underside of the existing arms to hold the cloth beam, but when I realised that was going to be as involved as simply creating new arms entirely I put that side aside.

New arms would add weight and depth to the loom, but I was prepared to live with that for the sake of being able to make a whole scarf on my only eight shaft loom.

First I carefully dismantled the front of the loom. The scariest part was removing the knob and ratchet – they are two pieces but it’s not obvious. The ratchet piece is screwed into the beam, and the outer knob slots tightly into the ratchet. It’s the part most likely to break when taking the loom apart. Don’t try this unless you’re prepared to break it and have to order replacement parts.

I managed to separate it without damaging anything, fortunately. Next I traced an existing arm, then brought out a math-a-mat, french curves and paper and got to work designing arms that would lower the cloth beam without compromising the function of the ratchet and pirns. When I was satisfied with my new design, I copied it onto tracing paper and held it up to the existing arms. To my surprise, they would only add about 2 cm to the depth of the loom.

A trip to Bunnings for some Tasmanian Oak (Ashford Looms are made of Silver Beech and a quick google didn’t show any easily accessible sources in Melbourne), some assistance from Paul with power tools, and a bit of sanding and varnishing later…

My modified Katie weighs only 44 grams more than the original loom. It’s about 2 cm deeper, and still fits in the bag the loom came in.

I’ve yet to test how long a warp I can weave on it, which really depends on the thickness of the yarn used anyway, but I’ve increased the space for the front cloth beam from 53 mm to 78 mm so that’s 25 mm more cloth thickness I can wind on before I run out of space.

I’ll be trying out a longer warp soon, but the first thing I did was retie the sampler warp and weave the last of it, going through variations of summer and winter I learned in the workshop. I got a small length of fabric with pockets big enough to fit my stick shuttles, so it became a little shuttle storer:

I found that I can’t weave close to the front beam, as the beater doesn’t swing that far. That made me think about replacing the sides the beater hangs off so that it has a couple of positions from which to swing… which would be do-able but I think this is enough loom tweaking for now!