Greta Cape

I’ve finished my second post Sewing for Handwovens class project.

Using one of the Style Arc patterns I bought.

I made it in calico first, which I’m glad I did as the instructions are a bit scant in places so I was able to work it out without risking the small amount of handwoven fabric I had. I’d done so because I suspected the collar would be in contact with my skin, and being sensitive to wool that would force me to wear a high collar underneath. I was right, so I made the collar from the lining instead.

Though I used interfacing, the only black I had was a bit thin and the collar could be a bit stiffer. I should have doubled it or bought a thicker one. But the collar hasn’t come out too floppy, just a bit softer than it’s meant to be, so I’m not unhappy with the result.

It’s made from the fabric from the Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn Jacket, which was already the third garment the main yarn in this had been made into.

The only change I’m thinking of making now is to put trim along the lines where I pieced together the handwoven fabric strips. I’ll do that if I happen across the perfect trim. In the meantime, I’ll call the Greta Cape done!

Pattern Practicality

After the Sewing for Handwovens class a few weeks ago I reviewed my approach to clothing design with handwoven fabric. Until then, inspired by Saori, I’d been looking at patterns that didn’t require cutting the cloth. But to be honest, my taste in clothing has always been toward more fitted pieces.

I have cut my handwoven cloth before. A few years back I made a vest out of fabric I’d woven then felted. I wasn’t really entering the danger zone of fraying, however. Felted fabric doesn’t fray.

But I learned something else from that project: don’t download patterns.

Of the three patterns I’ve downloaded, carefully printed, pieced together and cut out, all came out too big. Sure, I printed out the little one inch square, measured it and changed the scale I printed at, but the square is much too small to really get the scale right.

I’ve now tossed those three patterns in the recycling bin, deciding that I will only buy paper patterns from now on. My local Lincraft is closing down, so I popped down there to buy some commercial patterns.

Ugh! I’d forgotten how time-consuming it is to buy patterns in store. Flicking through six or seven big books, writing down the brand and number, queuing up at the counter and discovering they don’t have the pattern you want in stock. I could have gone back and started again, but Paul was waiting in the car.

Once at home I did some searching on the internet. I wanted a classic denim skirt pattern. An image came up that looked right, and it led to a small pattern company, Style Arc. I expected to find it was in the US or UK and post would cost a fortune and take ages – but no! It was a local company in my home city! So I bought the pattern, and a few others.

I love how they contain a little sample of suggested fabric! I’ve sewn one of them now, and I found the instructions a little bit scant in places, but otherwise it worked just fine. Not for beginners, though. More on that project in another post…

Kitchen Ventilation Patch Mosaics

I’ve done the last of the mosaic patches in the smaller ventilation holes for the old central heating.

My first idea had been to make something in slate, since the floor was slate. I bought a couple of tiles and did some experiments, and was mostly confident that I could make it work. However, when I sat down to actually put together a mosaic, I found I hated the material. There is absolutely no control over how it breaks, so I wound up with a whole lot of pieces nibbled into shape with my tile nippers, and it looked crap. Even then, I couldn’t be sure they’d stay in that shape, as they kept crumbling.

So I brought out some of the smooth-edged tiles I’d worked with already, fiddled around a bit and either didn’t like anything I came up with or worked out I’d have to buy more tiles. When I considered how much trouble I had buying enough of the right colour of these tiles in the past, I just didn’t have the energy to pursue them.

But I’d have to buy something. And I realised that if I wasn’t going to use anything I had already, that freed me up to use any tile that took my fancy and was available. I recalled how I’d seen simple leaf shaped tiles on a mosaic shop website, and loved the sinuous pattern they formed en mass.

I wasn’t going to spent a pile of money without working out if I liked the effect in person, and I didn’t want to discover I hadn’t bought enough tiles only to find they weren’t available any more. I’ve learned that you have to work quickly from concept to finished piece, to make sure the latter doesn’t happen.

So I mocked up a tile in Illustrator, printed it out and confirmed that I’d probably like the effect. I counted the tiles and bought what I thought was enough. However, the tiles I wanted came in batches of two colours. I couldn’t be sure how much of each colour I’d get. I paid extra for fast shipping and when they got here I discovered there were less burgundy tiles than black. I simply reversed the pattern I’d come up with. Then I divided the tiles into three equal sets for the three patches. Laying out the pattern on a cement sheet backing, I worked out that I needed more black tiles, and ordered those straight away.

When they arrived I got to glueing. After a couple of sessions over a few days, I had my patches ready to insert. Then it was just a matter of filling the holes with layers of mdf to get them to the right height, glueing down the mosaics, grouting and sealing.

Another lesson I’d learned from previous mosaics was that I should test the grout colour beforehand. It always dries lighter than I expect. It was worth doing. This time I got it spot on.

There’s one more possible floor mosaic to do: the larger patch when the intake grille for the central heating was. It’s quite a big area, and needs more than a simple filler. But before I do that I have the clock to finish, and I want to do a glass mosaic bowl.

I Fixed It!

As I said a few post ago, I took the Glamour Shawl along to the Sewing for Handwovens class to get some feedback on what I could do with it. I was contemplating cutting it up to make something, with the hope that I could make the mistakes disappear.

But the suggestion from the class was to add surface embellishment to hide the mistakes and keep it as a shawl. I was still keen to make it a garment, and I figured if I cut a hole in the middle to make a neck opening, sewed up the sides and added knitted sleeves I’d have a reasonable garment. So I gathered together thrums of the yarns I’d used, the leftover bobbin of gold thread and some black 8ply yarn. Then I hung the shawl over a dowel to examine it and considered what to do…

… and the first thing that popped into my head was “get rid of that awful gold thread”!

So I cut it all out, leaving me with a section of loose warp. Fixing that was easy, I just used the 8ply yarn to weave three rows of leno twists. That one change made such a difference, and suddenly I liked the shawl and was excited about what I was doing.

The next step was some rya knots along the gap where I’d removed threads to fix a mistake and the weft wouldn’t shift in to fill the gap. I liked this, too. More rya knots followed on the other half, to balance. Then I sewed in thrums and knotted those together horizontally, and found other ways to embellish the shawl. When I felt it was fairly evenly covered, I decided it was done.

It’s now a good-looking shawl. I’m not going to push my luck and risk ruining it by making a garment. I like it just the way it is.

Krokbragd Rug

I started this back in September, so it’s been a long project. Partly that’s because each row of the pattern takes three picks, but there’s also my usual fidgety nature to blame. At the time of warping I’d put something on every loom, both in a bout of startitis but also in the hope I’d be capable of doing some of the projects between eye operations. So I worked on a lot of other projects at the same time.

It’s been a cobbled together sort of project. The thick carpet yarn came from a second-hand shop and the Guild textile bazaar, and I used rag shuttles because my boat shuttles are way too small to put the thick yarn on. I had to put clamps on the boards I have my loom raised on so the heavy beating wouldn’t walk off them into my lap again.

If I was to do more of this sort of rug weaving I’d need to find a reliable source of yarn and buy large boat shuttles meant for rug weaving. I’m not 100% sure my loom is up to the job, too. So I was kind of hoping I’d conclude that Krokbragd was fun while it lasted, but I’m not interested in doing more.

Except… I loved it. There was something very fulfilling about watching the shapes form and grow, and it has the same attention-holding effect of knitting self-striping sock yarn – what colour will I do next? It’s very easy to warp the loom, and the strong beating is satisfying.

The resulting rug… wow! I love it. Paul loves it. Everyone I’ve shown (not many people yet admittedly) loves it.

I like the back, too:

Though I have to say, I didn’t love sewing in the warp ends.

So where to go from here? Can I find a good source of rug yarn? Will I order a trio of big shuttles? Is my loom going to stand up to more heavy beating? How am I going to do other kinds of weaving if my floor loom is constantly taken up with slow rug weaving?

Maybe I need to buy another loom…

Sewing For Handwovens Workshop

Until a few years back my writing schedule always had me madly dealing with edits in late December through January. Now that I have to take longer than a year to write a book, edits happen at all times of the year. This means I’ve been able to attend the Guild’s Summer School for the last couple of years. Last year I did basketry. This year I chose a two day workshop on sewing handwoven cloth.

I took along my mini sewing machine (which seemed to be the noisiest in the group!), a few tools and armful of projects – finished, half-done and a shawl I thought might be cut up and made into something. It didn’t seem likely that we’d sew an entire outfit in the two days and there was a small fee for calico so I was expecting we’d do lots of samples and then just discuss our projects.

I was there for the hints and tips, and Pat provided plenty. Many were ones I knew already, since the class needed to be useful to both new and experienced sewers and I’m more in the latter category, but some of those were good reminders, particularly of good sewing habits. By the end I did find myself wishing we’d used some handwoven fabric for a sample or two, just to get a feel for how it behaves, but overall it was a very informative class.

Projects were discussed as a group. It would have been nice to have individual feedback, too, but it would have taken an extra day for Pat to talk to everyone. What I did get was still invaluable: a bit of general feedback on what was working and what wasn’t, and an environment which stimulated me to think about what I wanted to achieve with my projects – helped by seeing the garments that Pat showed us.

These were the projects I took:

Garment: The Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn Jacket:

Problems: Too small, scratchy. Hangs weirdly at the underarms.
Solution: Now that I have developed the idea further in the Taupe Jacket I’m ready to pull this apart and try making something else. Something lined, so I don’t have skin contact with the yarn.

Garment: The Taupe Jacket:

Problems: The underarm area doesn’t sit so well, though better than the HHH Jacket. The neckline is okay, but I think it could do with a collar. It’s a bit… square overall.
Solution: It needs a gusset, minimum, but I think I’ll try tapering the arms first. That would give me some offcuts to make a collar, so I don’t have to weave more fabric for it. Perhaps some darts at the waist would make it a little more flattering, but I’ll decide whether to do that at the end.

Garment: Boucle Stripe Skirt

Problems: The folds look good on the front, but add too much bulk to the back.
Solution: Add darts to the back instead.

Garment: A Touch of Glam Shawl

Problem: So. Many. Mistakes.
Solution: Class suggestion was to sew in more glittery thread to hide the gaps and skipped threads. I have only a bobbin’s worth of it (I culled it from my stash in disgust) but I do have some thrums in the purples and black that I could knot and sew in. I could pull threads out, too. I’ll need to do plenty of embellishment overall to make it look like it was intended, not hiding mistakes.

I could also use a recent purchase – a simple circular knitting machine from Lincraft – to make sleeves. Then I’d have to cut a hole in the middle of the shawl for a head opening, but I could knit a collar on the machine too. I’d then sew the shawl up the sides… or not. Hmmm…

Wavelet Scarf

The next technique I wanted to try with the Vari Dent reed was to weave separate strips, alternately joining them with their neighbours, rather than having the weft go right across. So I warped up the four small heddles. I started with threads doubled up, intending to separate them when it came time to do the strips:

Weaving with two shuttles at the same time was quite awkward. When I got to the point of separating into four strips, I started off weaving one row of each strip with each of the four shuttles. It was fiddly and I could see it was going to be very slow. I wished I could just weave one strip at a time, but the reed then would then be able to beat in the yarn for the rest of the strips.

And then I had a ‘duh’ moment. I could simply remove the heddles and use them as beaters:

This sped up the process considerably. I put the heddles back in the reed when doing the joined sections. I also only needed chocks when I was doing joined sections.

When I had finished I knotted the fringe, washed and dried the scarf, trimmed the fringe and started arranging it on my dress model:

It’s an interesting effect. The gaps are a bit long in my opinion, thought when gathered together there’s still plenty of fabric to warm the neck. I’d like to try this again with half as many rows between joined sections – and with six heddles.

Of course, the realisation that I can beat with the heddles led to more ideas, so I doubt this will be the last post on the Vari Dent reed.

The Yearly Overview Post

My craft/art aims for 2017 were to paint more, try new weave structures, and dabble in other hobbies. Yeah, I did all of that. The first I managed because I held weekly art nights in January and February, and then monthly ones for the rest of the year. The second was achieved by doing the workshop with Kay in June. The third included trying basketweaving and mosaics on top of my usual secondary hobbies.

So what did I do?

In January I started the Photo Album Project, finishing the redo of my earliest album and all but the captioning of the 80s to 00s album. I still have lots to do for this, especially the holiday albums.

Weaving:
I made the Graduation Blanket, Pinwheel Tea Towels, Waffleweave Blanket, and Greenery Blanket. I finished the Denim Braided Rug, wove some fabric for the Tapestry Bag and a double weave blocks sampler. At the Ballarat Fibre Forum I learned to weave Summer & Winter. I went on a leftover warp using jape and made the Ikat Leftover Scarf, Scarf of Leftover Colours, the Plaited Twill Scarf, and the Falling Feathers Scarf, and then a thrum using jape and made Thrum Dishcloths, Spring Sampler Scarf, Anaesthetic-Brain Scarf and Thrum-Fringed Scarf. And finally there was my experiment with the Vari Dent Reed, producing three scarves.

My fave was the falling feathers scarf:

Loomwise, I tweaked the design of my Katie Loom, adjusted the height and pedal position of the floor loom and made laser cut heddles for my Vari Dent Reed.

Basketweaving:
I tried basketweaving at the Guild’s Summer School. But I eventually lost enthusiasm for it due to the non-spontaneous nature of the craft (because you have to pre-soak the fibre) and the wear and tear on my hands. I can see myself using non-soak-requiring materials to make baskets in the future, however.

My fave was the first basket I made at home:

Embroidery:
For the Fibre Forum in Ballarat I stitched some embroidery artworks to sell for charity. Including a pair I liked so much I decided to keep them. I’ve not had the courage to try embroidery since eye surgery.

My fave was the Bathing Beauties:

Nalbinding:
I made a too small Viking Hat, then got the sizing right for the Tapestry Thread Hat, and the Graduated Nalbinding hat.

My fave was the Tapestry Thread Hat:

DIY:
Paul and I turned an organ into a bar. We also renovated the laundry ourselves.

Sewing:
I had sessions of refashioning early and then later in the year, getting heaps of garments made, fixed or tweaked.

My fave was the red shirt to sleeveless top:

Mosaic:
I did a workshop at Bulleen Art and Garden, and was hooked. Aside from the Kookaburra I did there, and the mirror mosaic kit from Bunnings, I went on to make patches for the ventilation holes in the bathroom and entertainment room, and then two mosaic spheres.

My fave was the kookaburra:

Machine knitting:
I did only one project – the Scarf Jacket.

Bookbinding:
An artist friend came to stay and we made concertina sketchbooks.

Macrame:
I made an owl.

Jewellery:
Just before Christmas I made a couple of new pieces.

Of course, this list doesn’t include partially finished or abandoned projects, like the fabric I wove to make a skirt from, the mosaic clock I started or the longstitch embroidery I added dinosaurs to but disliked and threw out. Nor have I included all the gardening I did. I’ve left out artwork, too. I’m going to do a separate post on that.

Looking at all these things I made, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I got done, especially of weaving. It wasn’t because I took five months off work. I did less craft than usual in that time – just the mosaic and weaving workshop. All my creativity went into home DIY and renovation projects, and gardening.

Setting achievable goals for the year worked. I had a secondary goal of making clothing from handwoven cloth, that I’ve partially achieved (the weaving part mostly, but also a little sewing). Of the new things I tried, basketry was fun but it was mosaics that really got me hooked.

I won’t be attempting to learn new crafts next year, but I will continue to try new weave structures and I’m organising a weaving week with a tutor for a small group of weavers for early next year – the first time I’ve tried something like that. I have an art project in mind, too. Overall, my craft/art aims are pretty much the same as those for 2017: paint more, try new weave structures, dabble in other hobbies.

It’s a Breeze Scarf

So for my next Vari Dent Reed experiment, I tried matching up the heddles that came with the kit rather than using my laser cut ones. For the twisting method I need at least six of the smaller size ones. It could be done with four, but since it makes a lacy effect it’d be a rather mean narrow scarf.

I figured that if I put the 5dpi and 10 dpi half ones together, and threaded every second slot and hole of the 5pi, I’d effectively have four heddles. Or do the same with the 7.5dpi with the 15dpi ones.

How to get an extra two? You might recall that the larger size 15dpi heddle was warped when I opened the kit.

Though my hot water trick lessened the problem, it wasn’t a perfect fix. When putting the half size heddles with the larger, I noticed that the larger one is more than twice the width of the smaller. I figured “what the heck, it’s already ‘broken'” and cut it up. This got rid of the warped end, and gave me two more small heddles.

For the warp I used a grey and white self-striping sock yarn. For the weft I used grey Patonyle.

Neither were sticky, feltable yarns, but I wanted to try another method for keeping the weft in place… Danish medallions:

This worked. It did make it more fiddly, because I had to sew in the ends of each section, but it kept the weft bound together. The resulting scarf is lightweight and lacy and delicious.

And it gave me yet another idea. But first I wanted to make another attempt at a scarf using the chocks. But that, yet again, will have to be another post.

Ocean Swell Scarf

So having had some success with my first idea using my homemade heddles, I threaded the loom to try another. This time I wanted to use the chocks I’d had laser cut at the same time.

Sock yarn had worked very well, but there had been the weft shifting issue. I wondered if using a sticky, feltable wool would help threads stay put. So I warped up the loom with a graduating yarn I bought in Denmark last year. I started with three gaps:

After 20 rows I slid changed the existing chocks with smaller ones, and added little ones where I wanted to grow the new gaps.

After 10 rows I changed them again.

And again…

I kept on this way until I had two gaps, after which I wove 20 rows, then reversed direction. This method took longer than the first, since I was wasn’t leaving gaps between sections of weft. But it was less fiddly because I didn’t have to remove the top of the Vari Dent Reed in order to manipulate the heddles. I just loosened the screws, added and removed chocks and slid the heddles into place.

When I was done, I rubbed the scarf gently between my hands when I washed it, hoping to full the threads into place. They do seem to be staying put. But I wasn’t as happy with the final result. Why? I don’t think the slowly changing colours of the yarn worked as well as the self-striping sock yarn had.

The method worked fine, though, so I want to try it again. But in the meantime I’d had an idea for fixing the wandering weft problem. Also, one of the laser-cut heddles had cracked while I was threading it. Though I’d had spares made, the plastic used in the Ashford ones is clearly much more flexible. I wanted to see if I could modify their heddles to enable me to try the first method again.

I did wrangle a solution, but that’ll have to go in another post.