Hooked on Yarns Brooch

A little thank you gift for Ineke, the literary guest manager at Supanova:

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Yesterday I attended another weaver group meeting at the HW&S Guild. This time the discussion was about tips and tricks. Lots of good ideas. It gave me a boost of weaving enthusiasm, so when I got home I wound up working out how to do leno with two heddles on the rigid heddle loom.

It got me thinking about my sources of inspiration. Groups, blogs, Pinterest, friends’ work. I wonder, sometimes, if I would do the crafts I do if there was no internet or people around to inspire me. Maybe I’d read, garden and paint more. Or maybe I’d find I needed something, and visit the library to find out how to make it.

The Voodoo That You Do

A while ago I needed a dress for a party with an early 20th century theme, and I picked up a costume from a recycled clothing store that has, unfortunately, closed now. Last weekend I had a New Orleans-voodoo-jazz themed party to go to, so I dug out the dress. The skirt of it was of a rather shabby looking gold satin, and if I’d had the time I’d have replaced it or added an overskirt of some kind.

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(I didn’t get a ‘before’ photo, so here’s a shot of the original skirt material.)

I cut off the skirt, which I used as a pattern to cut some lace I got from Lincraft. Then I had to sew lace to slippery satin to stretch velour. Hmm. To simplify that, I used the overlocking stitch on my new machine to attach lace to satin. Then I sewed the two to the velour, stretching as I went.

The result was better than I expected:

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And paired up with a cloche, fake fur shrug, long black gloves, pearls and fishnets, I had the look right without it being too costumey.

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I also managed clever updo trick with my hair that I found on Pinterest. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to get Paul to take a photo, so you’ll have to trust me that it was good.

Sarongs

I haven’t worn a sarong in years. Used to be I’d wear them all the time in summer, so I have a quite a few. Recently I did a quick wardrobe cull and decided it was time to do something new with them.

Four are ‘pareo’ bought in Raratonga during a holiday in my early 20s. Sentimentality reigns here. Good memories.

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I’ve put the mermaid one into my beach bag to continue using as a sarong. The fabric of all these is quite see-through, so if I made skirts they’d would have to be lined and a shirt would have to go over a top. But since they’re about the same weight as the cotton shawls I’ve got, I’m going to wear them as as shawls instead.

This sarong I bought for a trip to the Whitsunday Islands, though I don’t recall where. I bought two in different colour combinations, one to be a gift for my ex’s mother and one to keep, and let her choose which she preferred.

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The fabric is a little thicker, so this might work as a shirt. Or a lined skirt. I’m more in favour of bright, complicated fabrics for skirts than shirts, though.

I don’t remember where I picked up the dolphin sarong, but while I’m not into pink or dolphins it’s a really generous length which is good for warding off the sun at the beach.

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It’s going in the beach bag to be used as a sarong, too.

One of these dark blue ones came from an op shop, but I’m not sure about the other. I bought them intending to make a caftan dress.

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They’re not so well matched as I hoped, however, so I’m thinking separates. A tunic top, perhaps. Maybe a skirt.

Jenome Well

I have a new sewing machine! Except it’s eight years old.

You see, the day before craft day, after I’d brought down all my sewing bits and pieces to the lounge ready for the next day, I decided to do a few of the quicker refashions. I got out my old sewing machine:

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But when I went to sew a zigzag I discovered it was stuck on a fancy stitch. I had already lost the use of the buttonhole stitches when I had it serviced a few years ago, and this was a problem with the same lever. If the service man couldn’t fix that, I suspected he wouldn’t be able to deal with this either. I bought my faithful of Jenome My Style in the early 90s but it was familiar and while it worked I’d seen no reason to get a new machine. Now I figured it was time to replace it.

When I told my Mum, Dad remembered that she’d bought a new machine back in 2005 but didn’t like it and went back to using her old one. Dad, being a bit of a hoarder, stowed it away. He suggested I see if I liked it. So Paul and I popped over and picked it up:

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When I got home I tackled the first refashion. And I love it! It has a needle threader and every time you finish sewing it puts the needle in the upright position. The most common stitches are one button press away.

It, too, is a Jenome. Most of my friends have Jenomes. Good little machines.

Crafty Day Refashioning

Last Sunday I hosted another Craft Day. Lots of my crafty friends came over to sew, crochet, spin, knit, papercraft, chat and eat cake.

I stuck to my determination to get some of the refashioning done I lined up at the beginning of the year, plus a few new pieces I’d added to the list. In fact, I started the day before, on this:

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This red shirt is a refashion of a man’s shirt from a few years back. I’d worn it, but I found it a bit masculine and uniformish. The solution, I hoped, was a more feminine sleeve. So I cut off the cuff and made it snugger:

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Then shortened the sleeve and gathered the fabric when attaching the smaller cuff:

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A bit girlier? Yes. Girly enough? We’ll see. I like to add some embroidery, too.

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Then there was this top I found at an op shop for a few dollars. It just needed taking in under the arms and at the darts:

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On Crafty Day my first refashion was this dress:

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Which was too small, so I turned it into a skirt, doing the hand sewing that night while watching tv:

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The next refash was this jacket:

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Putting it on the dress form, I pinched in a big long dart from within the pocket on the front, over the shoulder, down the back to the hem, then sewed it with the ‘wrong’ sides together. I also took it in at the sides and arms, right sides together this time.

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It’s still a bulky jacket, but more fitted and less boxy than before.

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My confidence was high, so I tackled a refashion I’ve lost courage with several times before – this dress:

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I measured a point just above the hips and got cutting. But by then my crafty friends were heading home, so I didn’t get any sewing done. I finished it off over the next few days, doing a little bit of pinning and a little bit of sewing each time until I had this top:

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And a skirt, which can be worn with the waistband scrunched up:

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Folded over:

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Or wide and flat:

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But these weren’t the only refashions crossed off the list. I also had planned two men’s shirt conversions, but Paul has lost enough weight on the Fast Diet that he fits into them again.

Frog Cabin

The log cabin scarf is done and I’m really happy with it. As I said in a previous post, the fabric drapes very well for something woven with bulky yarn.

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Weaving thick and thin is interesting and I’d like to try it with other patterns. I wasn’t excited by the colour combo of blue and white, worried they were too contrasty, but they combined much better than I expected.

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I finished it on Sunday, and also cut a new warp for the table loom:

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At the Guild weaving group meeting on Saturday there was a talk about long warps. Inspired by that, I decided to try weaving two double weave baby blankets with one warp, using the three leftover shades of Bendy Cotton 8ply in my stash then black weft on the first blanket and white for the second. They should look quite different to each other.

Mystery Box Challenge – The Autumn Fairy

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I’ve been working on the Mystery Box Challenge project since I picked up the box in mid-January. As soon as I opened the box and inspected the contents…

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… they seemed to suggest to me a kind of rustic fairy doll – or rather, a figurine, since this wouldn’t survive being played with – with feathers for wings and red hair.

The challenge was to use at least 50% of the contents of the box. I thought I could use everything – including the box.

I’ve been working on it nearly every week. It has involved a lot of weaving shapes by sticking pins in foam core, winding yarn between them for warp then sewing in the weft – like with the sleeve here:

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The shawl was my first try at frame weaving. Rather nifty process, actually:

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The copper wire and beads became a crown. The wire was VERY fiddly to weave. I used string heddles:

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The playing card became a book, with the entry form as pages and the silver thread as binding:

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Everything I didn’t use became stuffing, mixed with some felting fleece:

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The box became the chair:

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The tubes the yarn was wound onto were rolled up squares of paper, so I unwound an stuck them over the back of the box, covering the box handle, which I’d taped onto the back to give it rigidity.

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The upholstery was woven directly onto the chair, and the chair painted with acrylic paints:

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I managed to use up all the brown wool. The last item I made was a little mat. Boy, was I sick of weaving this way by the end!:

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The feathers became wings, attached with more copper wire. The smaller feather became a pen:

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The eyes and mouth were stitched out of some of the silk threads.

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However, the face is, well, not brilliant. The wool made for a very rustic fabric, which I think I got away with except in the case of the head. But these were the materials I had, and I was determined not to add anything obviously new – stuffing, tape and paint didn’t add significantly new objects to the figurine.

What is very obviously new is the bird cage I put her in to deter small people who might believe she is a doll to be played with:

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The cage is the only thing that doesn’t quite meet the requirements. There is a size restriction and the cage is a little bigger.

All in all… well, it was a lot of effort and I enjoyed maybe 60-70% of it. But I had to dedicate two afternoons of the weekend before last to finishing her and I was utterly sick of the project by the end. Dolls/figurines weren’t my thing before this and they still aren’t. Still, I was trying something new and I did use all the materials!

If I learned anything (apart from not getting sucked into mystery challenges) is was that frame weaving is something I might want to have a go at. Oh, and not to weave with copper wire.

Back to the Beginning

I had some big plans at the start of the year. Photo albums and refashioning lists were going to be tackled. So what happened?

1) I could only work on the albums on my computer, which is in the workroom, which is impossibly hot in summer.

Actually, we finally finished the Japan album and sent it off to an album printing company last weekend. Pics to come.

2) Refashioning Neon Safire is kicking my a**.

I knit a new waist in mistake rib, then added the yarn for the old waistband as plain knit thinking it would curl up a little. But it curls up a lot. Ignoring that, I knit the new neck band… twice because I picked up too many stitches the first time. When I put it on, I found that separating the front to make it a cardy had widened it around the middle, which was good except that the fronts now wouldn’t stay over my ‘assets’. But I ignored that, too, and started knitting new sections on the arms. Arms that are really too tight… WHAT AM I DOING THIS IS A DISASTER?!

I think it’s time to concede defeat, acknowledge that nothing is going to make it fit right, and frog the dratted thing.

3) Lack of sleep from the hot weather meant I couldn’t get my head around the more complicated sewing refashions. And it was too hot to try on stuff.

Fair enough, I suppose. But I did get some refashioning done…

4) … until I got distracted by weaving and that crazy Mystery Box Challenge.

Well, there’s a reason this blog is called Creative Fidget.

Okay, so I’m determined to get stuck into the refashioning pile again, especially as I’ve added more to it since the beginning of the year. There’s a Craft Day coming up, so I’ll be bringing out the sewing machine and dress form and tackling some refashions at that.

That is, unless I hear the siren call of the loom, or the embroidery hoop, or…

Thick & Thin

I’ve been wanting to try thick and thin weaving for a while now. It’s where you have both thick and think yarns in the warp and weft. Once before when I wove log cabin someone suggested I try it with thick and thin yarns, so I’m giving that a go.

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The blue yarn is from the frogged sleeves of the Sunrise Circle Jacket and the white is Bendigo Classic 3ply. Being a chunky yarn that’s felted a bit, weaving the blue with itself would have produced a thick, hard fabric perhaps only suitable for a rug or blanket. Except there wasn’t enough of it for that. Weaving it with a thin warp would have helped, but been a bit boring. This combination of yarn and weave structure seems to be resulting in a light enough fabric to work as a scarf.

If it does, I have a weaving option for bulky leftovers in my stash. Hmm…

I Weave You, I Weave You Not

I’ve been trying to decide what to put on the table loom next.

Olive Handspun Shawl
The handspun is the yarn from the frogged Handspun Wrap Vest. I’ve bought some fine, strong wool from a weaving supplies store to use as warp. But I have no ideas for a weave structure beyond simple tabby.

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Hunky Hank Shawl
The colourful yarn will be the warp and the black Bendigo Luxury the weft. I want to try an undulating twill.

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Metallic Border Shawls
I want to weave finer yarns, and when I matched up these metallic threads with Bendigo Classic cones I started to get excited about the possibilities. I’m thinking of a twill forming diamonds, which will show up most strongly in a stripe of the metallic yarn at either end of a shawl.

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Cotton Baby Blankets
I still have a lot of Bendigo Cotton 8ply in my stash, and I’d like to weave more baby blankets out of it. I’m wondering if I could do a long warp and weave two or three in one go.

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Cotton Tea Towels
A few years ago I decided to make tea towels like what I’d seen in Handwoven and ordered some yarn. When I realised how many ends I’d have to wind and thread with the fine yarn, I lost courage. But I’m determined to do this one day.

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But the decision must wait until I finish the Handweavers and Spinner Guild Mystery Box Challenge, as that’s due soon. Here’s a glimpse of some of the weaving I’m doing for that:

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Yes, that’s the copper wire. Fiddly. As. Anything.