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.

A Day on the Tiles

When I was planning the laundry renovation, the thought of cutting ordinary tiles to fit the taps and power point was intimidating. I’d heard stories of people using up dozens of tiles in the attempt. It occurred to me that if I used sheets of little square mosaic tiles then all I’d have to do was remove the ones where the obstructions were.

Or I could do a mosaic! I’ve always wanted to try mosaic-making.

But I suspected doing a mosaic that size would be like trying to waltz before you learned to walk. I bought a little kit at Bunnings, then I found a mosaic class being run just a few weeks later, so I signed up – and persuaded a friend, Liz, to come with me.

I had the BEST time. It quickly became obvious that my suspicion was right: tiling the laundry with a mosaic was waaaay too big a job to launch into any time soon. The piece I made was only about 30 x 30 cm and it took me over seven hours to complete. I’d taken some photos of kookaburras that Paul took, drew a design from one and did it in glass:

Everyone in the class did vastly different pieces, using glass, ceramic tiles, broken crockery, broken glass, and making artwork, covering a bird bath, a pot and a clock face. I was so inspired by the time I was done that I bought some tools and materials ready to launch into a half dozen projects I was already itching to try.

However, I haven’t started any yet. I’ve found that every project has one or two materials that are difficult to find. Either it’s the substrate or glass colours to match the kookaburra, or a mould to test an idea for a mosaic made out of slate.

But I did get around to doing the kit from Bunnings. I thought the design they instruct you to do was a bit kidsy…

… so I mixed up the tiles and laid them in a different pattern, and grouted with black.

Much better!

Just last week I finally found a source of Marmox, the board we used in the class. It’s lightweight and waterproof, so good for wall hung art for outdoors. I’m planning to make a big clock. Now I just need to find a large clock mechanism…

Denim Braided Rug

This one’s been going for a while. I started the version I pulled apart to start this one a year ago, and started this one a month or so after. The slowness has been deliberate – it’s a soothing project to do when I don’t have brain energy so I’ve been saving it for those moments. Recently I had a nagging stomach virus thing, and on a day of distractingly noisy plumbers working in the laundry (which is opposite my office), I had only the mental capacity to stand and braid.

A few hours later it was done. I gave it a quick rinse and spin in the washing machine, and when it was dry laid it out on the kitchen floor.

Pretty happy with that. It’s nice and cushy under the feet, and matches my woven denim rag rugs. Amazing what you can make out of some old jeans!

Nalbinding Tapestry Thread

Nalbinding the small batch of thinner tapestry yarn kind of made sense, since it requires you add more yarn as you go by felting the end of the new piece to the end of the last. If the skeins that had felted together were an indication, tapestry yarn felts well.

I cast on and made a big loop, thinking I’d make a bag rather than another hat. I choose a new colour every time I added more yarn. As before, the fabric tightened up as I worked, and after several rows fit comfortably around my head, so it became a hat after all.

Now I wish I’d measured the initial loop so I could work out the percentage of shrinkage. Counting the stitches might give a rough idea, though how long that actually is may depend on the yarn thickness and how tightly I stitch.

I really like the way the colour stripes look. I’d like to try doing this with a slowly changing graduated yarn. I’d also like to try making a mobious scarf, as it would be easy enough to add a half twist before joining the loop. There are other approaches to try as well: starting at the top of a hat and working down, and seeing if I can find a way to nalbind back and forth rather than always making tubes.

Now that I’ve made three items, I’m pretty sure I like nalbinding. It’s portable like knitting. It’s stretchy, though not as much as knitting. It doesn’t seem to bother my hands like knitting does.

Tapestry Tangle

An idea for a Bargello project has been floating around in my head for a while, but to do it I’ll need lots of colours of tapestry thread. A while back I jumped onto eBay and bought two large batches of leftover thread. And when I say large, I’m not kidding. This is what the two looked like spread over my eight-seater dining table, after I’d untangled the bigger of the two batches.

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In fact, the largest batch arrived on a day when I hadn’t slept well, felt very crappy and sorting out the contents was just the sort of meditative task I needed. It was a huge tangled bag of mostly tapestry thread but also crewel yarn, perle cotton and stranded cotton. Some was precut into lengths, some precut and clearly from kits, some still in skeins with labels and some not, and lots of lengths from several meters to a cm long. There was even a few scraps of knitting yarn in there. It was like somebody had thrown someone’s entire collection of embroidery yarn into a bag, including the contents of a bin.

The stranded cottons were all precut lengths with no labels so I added them to my collection. The perle cotton and crewel thread was too, so I tied the cotton together and the thread was knotted onto a metal ring.

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Of the tapestry thread, there were several brands including some very old skeins, of which most had felted. I packed most of the tapestry thread into a basket with the ends showing so I can see all the colours.

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I left out the oldest stuff and a group of unlabelled yarn that appeared to be thinner than the rest. The old, felted yarns I started to weave on my Knitters Loom (more on that soon).

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The thinner I started nalbinding (another post will cover this).

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Sunday of Sewing

One Sunday morning recently I woke up at 5am and thought “I’d like to tackle the mending and refashioning pile today”. I fully expected to have forgotten or changed my mind by the time I’d fallen asleep and woken at my usual time, but I didn’t.

So out came the sewing machine, supplies, dress form and basket of clothing to fix or tweak. After making piles of clothes of similar fabric, in order of time needed, I tackled the mending to warm up. Then I hit the non-stretch fabric clothes.

First up was a red shirt I’d made the pattern for in my 20s. The underarms were now too tight. All I needed to do was remove the sleeves.

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Next came the cheesecloth top I’d embellished with handwoven tape. It had the opposite problem: too big. I simply took it in at the side and sleeve seams.

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I also took another top in at the sides where the armholes gaped, but it’s too small overall so I put it with some items for the op-shop. Not much point showing that one.

The second pile was all stretch fabric. First up was a skivvy I made in my 20s. Too tight overall, not surprisingly. I did one of my sleeve-to-side-panel fixes, then removed the collar and cut a scoop neckline.

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The next one just needed the arms removed. It was the least successful refashion, because I decided to bind the armholes with material from the sleeves, but I guessed the length of the stip of material and made it too long. The armhole gaped. The next day I cut the binding off and did it again, and the result was much better.

Another sleeve-to-side-panel fix followed. The jacket was a little too small when I bought it 12 years ago, but it was a bargain and I loved it. As a vest it should give me many more years of wear.

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The next day, after the binding fix, I attacked an old shirt of Paul’s and made another sleeveless top. I took the pocket off because it wound up in an odd position and discovered too late that the fabric beneath is a little less faded. I’m still thinking of ways to hide this.

Tapestry Rescue

Last year Paul needed round frames for his Batchelor of Photography project. The only ones he could find were frames for clocks or old embroideries. I put the de-framed embroideries aside, thinking that I’d repurpose them.

Recently I took them out and considered what I could make out of them. We already have more than enough art, prints, clocks and whacky stuff on our walls. Pillows seemed the obvious answer for the four matching outback Australia scenes.

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If I simply added a back to them to make circular pillows, they’d be a bit small, so I decided to insert them into squares. Rather than try to sew a seam around the ‘hole’ they’d go into, I bought felt, which wouldn’t fray therefore wouldn’t need a seam.

That leaves me with one last round tapestry, this time with a more ‘English’ colour scheme. I’m thinking of trimming top and bottom and making a clutch.

What would you do with old circular tapestries?

Flax Basket

A friend from Canberra, Donna, came to stay recently, and having heard that I’d been trying out basket weaving brought me an armful of New Zealand flax from her garden.

I’d done a bit of research on how to prepare it, mostly late at night when I couldn’t get to sleep. But when I went to find the instructions again the internet wouldn’t cooperate, so I had to do it all by memory.

I’m rather impressed with my memory (which is something I never thought I’d say) because I remembered them pretty well! There was a certain amount of just doing what felt right, as well. An hour or so of fiddling later, using pegs to hold things in place temporarily, we had these:

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Donna’s is on the left, mine is on the right.

It was much faster to weave a basket this way than use the coiling method. However, you waste a lot of the leaves in getting pieces of an even width and length. I’ve kept the longer offcuts, which I’ll dry and then see if I can shred and use them for coiling.

A friend has offered me some flax she wants to remove from her garden. I have a spot I think it will suit. If all goes well, maybe in a year or two I’ll have my own supply.

Waffleweave Blanket

Silly me. I was so eager to finish the Waffleweave Blanket, I forgot to add the plain weave to the final edge.

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I had to remove the first bit of plain weave and tie the fringe on both edges with knots. Lots and lots and lots and lots of knots. I’d just zig-zag along the edge but I’m worried that, even with the edge encased in satin blanket binding, the rough handling of a child might lead to unravelling.

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I’m afraid my sewing leaves much to be desired. Darn slippery satin edging!

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But I’m happy with the result. And the blanket was delivered to the parents this week. I hope they like it!

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I can now tick waffleweave off my list of weave structures to try. It was easy to do – easy to thread the warp and easy to weave. I’d definitely weave it again.