Sold!

As I mentioned earlier, at the FibreArts schools they have two charity auctions for which you can donate artworks of 15 x 15 cm and 10 x 10 cm. I was stitching figures from an old book on line drawing for architectural elevations. This is the piece I did for the 10 x 10 ironed and mounted on card:

I finished the first of the two rows of men and women in bathing suits (or underwear), but by then I badly wanted to keep them both. So I went looking for something else to do for the 15 x 15 in the time left. I looked through finished piece of embroidery and among them was the rather boring grey bargello sampler.

It just happened to be very close to 15 x 15. I got thinking on how could I make this something that someone might want to buy. The design looked like mountains. Perhaps I could stitch on some mountain climbers. Or skiers. Or both…

I almost decided to keep it, too, but I made myself let it go. And I’m glad I did as the friend who told me about FibreArts, Jane, was delighted when she managed to buy it. The architectural figures went to Jillian in my class, who almost lost out but for the generosity of another FibreArts attendee who heard her lamenting that she’d missed out and let her buy it instead.

Selling both was a nice surprise. I really had no idea if the school attendees would like this sort of thing, but it turned out they did very much – especially the four figures. I know what to make next time!

Weaving in Ballarat

A few weeks back I headed to Ballarat to attend the FibreArts Winter School @ Ballarat I mentioned a few post back.

It being my first one, I was given a ‘duckling’ card to pin next to my name card to alert others that I might need guidance, but my friend, Jane, had told me almost everything I needed to know. The workshop I did was Kay Faulkner’s ‘Play +1’ weaving class, which was challenging and definitely fulfilled my aim of learning something new.

I picked doubleweave as my main structure and summer and winter as the +1 element, but we went way beyond those two options, including a bit of basketweave, hand-manipulated weave (leno, in my case), replacing warp ends with new colours, adding a supplementary warp or weft, tying on a dowel as an extra shaft at the front or the back. By the end I had quite a few extra ends weighted at the back of my loom.

I finished up with a sampler using many kinds of combinations. As I said to Kay, her class should be more truthfully called ‘Play + Ninety Billionty’.

The other weavers, Di, Jeanette, Jillian, Elizabeth and Michael made up an inspiring group, each trying different main and additional structures.

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There was a lot of mutual cursing at mistakes or loom problems, and excitement at the result of our experimenting.

The Winter School was held at Ballarat Grammar. I took the single residential package, with all meals and access to tutor talks included. The room was comfortable (student rooms vacated for the holidays), the food reasonable (the sticky date pudding was delicious!) and the location was conveniently across the road from a supermarket (and five op shops!). I managed to see all but one talk, and they ranged from interesting to inspiring.

I’d like to attend a School again. There’s a workshop that I’m kinda interested in at each of the three next Schools at Ballarat, but I’m hesitating because I’m not sure how well I’d fit them into my schedule once I start writing again. None are weaving workshops, for which I’d probably book and go regardless. And having tried two new hobbies this year, I don’t really need any more taking up my spare time. At least, not for a while!

I’d Do It Differently (and Better)!

I’ve not read many biographies in my life, but one of the few I have is an art book on Van Gogh. Such an interesting man, who had a beautiful way with words as well as a great love of experimentation and expression in art. So I was looking forward to going to the Van Gogh: the Seasons exhibition at the NGV.

I didn’t get there until the Wednesday before the end of the school holidays, and it was full of people rushing to see it before the holidays and school groups keeping the kids occupied during the last week of term. Even so, I don’t think the timing make a lot of difference. I’d heard about the long queues since the day it opened, and doubt there was ever going to be a quiet day.

We bought out tickets online, so at least we missed that queue, and we probably waited half and hour to 45 mins to get in. It was what it was like after we entered that really appalled me. It had to be the worst laid out exhibition I’ve ever been to, here and overseas – and I’ve seen some pretty badly designed ones. It seemed designed to have people cross paths constantly, squish them together in front of paintings, and be unable to see signage unless they stood right in front of it. And this was so much worse for people in wheelchairs.

It would have been a struggle with half the amount of people in there, but to make things worse they were letting so many people in it was uncomfortably crowded. Afterwards I got to wondering if I was just bothered by being around so many people, and I realised it wasn’t only that, but it felt dangerous to be in there. Maybe they had an effective evacuation plan, but the general impression of incompetence with floor layout didn’t inspire confidence.

When we got to the end, Paul asked if I wanted to go back and have another look at anything. I looked around and decided that, while I might have ordinarily, I just wanted to get out. So we emerged into the gift shop. Where I bought these:

Why buy two bags? Well, they were only $10 each. As I said before, Vincent had a great way with words as well as with the paintbrush. One bag had quotes, the other two had artwork. Which to choose?

No. I will not choose. I will have the best of both worlds! I cut them apart and brought out the sewing machine.

I’m going to use the tote bag to carry my mat and easel into classes rather than juggling them, and the satchel (lined with the back of the painting bag) is a gift for the teacher.

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.