Ancient Craft

A couple of days ago we got back from three weeks in Scandanavia. The last weekend I spent being a guest at a festival, and the rest was holiday time – half in Norway, half in Denmark.

While in Oslo we visited the Viking Ship Museum, where I picked up this book and a nalbinding needle:

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I soon stumbled upon a yarn store (and I kept stumbling upon them throughout the trip) and bought a ball of yarn so I could have a try. I was a little doubtful. I tried to learn nalbinding from a YouTube video a few years back with no success. However, the promise of “The easiest, clearest ever guide!” held up, and I soon was nalbinding away happily – but keeping it to one hour max sessions so I didn’t stir up my RSI.

First up I made a test piece, then started on a glove that I soon pulled apart because it was too small. The next attempt fit right and eventually turned into these:

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On the last day before we came home I found another store, and bought more yarn to make a hat. Nalbinding doesn’t seem to bother my hands as much as knitting does. It’s more of a stitching action. Though I’ve grown more proficient with practise, having to attach new lengths of yarn with spit/water joins all the time makes it a slow process. And it doesn’t unravel like knitting and crochet do, so it’s slow to undo mistakes.

But it is fun, and the fabric is makes has an attractive texture and robust feel.

Black Rose Red Cardigan

You might remember this cardigan that I embellished a while back:

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Well, I had another. A red one. I wanted to embroider roses all over the front. I drew a design based on a single line quilting pattern but worked out pretty quickly that it was going to be hard on the hands and back and take forever. So I simplified the pattern a great deal, and came up with this:

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Which I’m pretty happy with. I also changed the buttons over to black ones.

Blue & Linen

When I started spinning this roving, I thought it would take me several weeks to get through it. But it didn’t.

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The long pieces of linen were a bit of a challenge to spin in neatly, but only enough to make it interesting. I managed to get most of it smoothly spun in, but here and there it sticks out and makes the yarn hairy. The plying worked fine this time, so I must be getting the knack of it again.

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I have no idea what I’ll make out of it, but right now I don’t care. I made yarn!

Fanspun Shawl

It’s done and it’s pretty!

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Warp & weft: handspun gift
Loom: Ashford Table
DPI: 10
Weave structure: Twill

It’ll probably be the last item I make on the Ashford Table Loom. I’ve mostly made up my mind to sell it. The only thing that’s holding me back is I’d like to test that the brake on my new old floor loom is working properly by putting something on it that requires a very tight warp.

I’m worried that if it isn’t, I won’t have a larger loom available while I get it fixed. Which is silly really. I have the Knitters and Katie loom to keep me occupied in the meantime. And inkle looms. And two knitting machines. And plenty of projects on the spinning, sewing, refashioning, jewellery-making, and other craft list.

But I’ve had this loom for nearly ten years. I need to be 100% ready to let it go.

Electric Boogaloo Scarf

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Warp: Patonyle
Weft: Patonyle and hand dyed sock yarn
Loom: Ashford Knitters
DPI: 10
Weave structure: Clasped weft

I had a bout of finishitis through August, particularly with weaving projects. I started this project back in March, then decided to stop halfway because it would make a great portable project, should I need one.

When I decided to finish it I discovered pretty quickly that I wasn’t halfway through, but more like three-quarters. So the last of it wove up fast. There was enough left, however, for me to fall in love with clasped weft all over again. It was such a fun project to weave! I want to do another like this, maybe with a contrasting colour against the striped yarn instead.

New Recruit

Last weekend we went to a friend’s daughter’s 10th birthday party. Miranda reminds me of me at her age – quiet and creative. Her mum had told me Miranda has seen me weaving and embroidering and wants to learn.

So I thought long and hard about a present that would be suitable. Too simple OR too complicated might mean she’d get bored. A rigid heddle loom would be great, but I figured it would be better if she had a chance to try one first – and I didn’t have time to arrange that thanks to work deadlines.

Then something reminded me of my pin looming last year, and it occurred to me that this was a good way to teach the basic structure of cloth. Each square is complicated enough to be interesting but not overly time-consuming. They can be sewn together to make lots of different things.

I took along my shawl to show what can be made from squares. And I took my pin looms and some yarn I’ve been meaning to weave on them so I could teach Miranda if there was time. Since it was the family and adult friends party, not a kids party, once the presents were open it was okay for us to get started.

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Miranda loved it. I think I have a convert.

Reddy Runner

Finished, washed, fringe trimmed:

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I can see now that I should have used a heavier yarn for the thick weft. The pattern isn’t as obvious as it should be:

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The Dyer & Philips loom did work well for warp rep, but I have to say I found the weaving technique tedious. Soooo many warp threads. Having to use a pick-up stick to open the shed fully annoyed me. And it took aaaaages to weave. Looking at it now, I can see I did eight repeats of the stripe sequence, and yet it felt like I’d done twice that many.

I’ve come to the conclusion that weft rep might be more my cup of tea. Fewer warp threads but similar patterns – just turned 90 degrees. Something to try, anyway.

But probably not on the D&P. It’s a cute loom and with plain weave it is a delight to use, but having projects on multiple looms just means it takes me longer to finishing any of them. If I find a loving home for it, I will let it go.

Blackwork… Bookmark?

I like the look of blackwork, so I really, really wanted to like doing it. However, I only kinda sorta didn’t mind it when there was nothing else to do, so after I’d finished one row of the sampler, I decided that was it.

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The decision became easier because I’d really enjoyed the Bargello samplers. I have no idea why they were so much fun, but the blackwork didn’t thrill me. It’s not a matter of colour vs black, because I’ve embroidered black before and liked it. It’s not that the final result is something useful or not, because I figure the blackwork can become a bookmark whereas I have no idea what to do with the Bargello. Both are ‘counted’ work on a mesh. Both are graphic rather than representational. They take about the same time to do.

The only difference I can see is that I need a stretcher for the blackwork, and it was finer work. Maybe I’d like it better if I used aida cloth with bigger squares and ditched the stretcher?

Hmm. I think I’ll have to give that a try!

Once it Was Winter…

… you’d think I’d have been wearing the Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn Jacket I finished earlier this year. Well, I haven’t. I did put it on once, but when I took it out of the drawer I’d stored it in it was all creased in the front. As I’d predicted, I didn’t like the fringe being so long. And the little bulge where the bottom of the cowl met the zip bugged me.

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So after trimming the fringe, I decided to cut the top section down the front and make it a jacket. I could have zig zagged along each side and sewn it to the back, but I liked the idea of a fringe there, too. Easier said than done!

I unwove the weft until I had enough warp to tie knots. However, this meant I had to unweave past the point where the bottom section joined to so I also had to unpick the top and bottom sections along the front and re-sew them together.

In the meantime, I found I rather liked the way the top of the pockets flopped down, matching the angle of the front edges, so I stitched those in place.

Then I unpicked the shoulders, took out the darts and added a length of cotton tape across the top of the back to strengthen the fabric. After trying the jacket on, I decided I didn’t like the sleeves being so wide. Inspired by the folded pockets, I decided to unpick the top seam and overlap the pieces.

At last I was done:

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After all the adjustments, I have a jacket I like, though it’s a tiny bit small for me – not quite long enough in the body or sleeves. But it’s wearable, and I’ve explored lots of ideas for making woven rectangles into clothing. I’d like to make this again, with wider pieces for the sleeve-upper body so that the seam where it joins the waistband sits under the bust line rather than over it.