Tapestry Bag

Remember when I bought some big batches of canvas tapestry thread on ebay? Well, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. It was quite a while ago.

In it was a small collection of Beehive tapestry thread, but it was so old each skein had fulled to itself. It was too far gone to stitch with so I decided to weave it. I cut all the thread into shorter lengths then fused the ends together by wetting with soapy water and rubbing between my palms. This gave me three shuttles worth of weft. I wove this on the Knitters Loom with a firm beat to make a weft-faced cloth.

Once off the loom I found it was a good thickness for a bag, but simply folding it in half made for a rather boring one. I started folding on the bias, and found the result much more appealing. I’ve seen bags folded so that they formed a square with a triangle missing so I tried that, and I had just enough material to do it.

I’m not a fan of bags that don’t close, however, but I couldn’t see how I could easily add a zip to this design. After a lot of thinking the answer came like a bolt of lightening – a bag within the bag!

I found a silver belt in an op shop to make a handle out of, and when I went looking for some leather to make the inner bag from I found some in the same shade of silver, the right thickness and on sale! I bought some matching lining and a zip and got sewing.

It all came together easily until I got to attaching the handle. Where the buckle had been sewn onto the belt the leather was splitting. If I sewed the handles to the bag (and reattached the buckle) the same thing would happen. Rivets would be better. But do you think I could find any at the right size? The fruitless search for suitable rivets has put this project on hold for months. Last week I gave up. I cut the holes for the rivets anyway, then sewed everything with thread.

Perhaps I will stumble on the right sized rivets in future. For now, I have a useable bag.

Which I love!

Plaited Twill Scarf

This was yet another leftovers-using project, this time to use up the orange yarn I dyed for the overshot sampler I did last year. These batches picked up black dye from the pot I had used previously in a failed attempt to dye some stained polyester pants. I couldn’t scrub the residue off the pot, yet it came off on the yarn as a greyish shadow. The pot went into the rubbish afterwards, which was a shame, as it was a good sized dying pot.

Since the shadowing wasn’t uniform, I mixed the orange threads among twice as many in the ‘dusky rose’ colour of in the same yarn. I’ve been liking the dividing stripe effect of the last few scarves I’ve woven, so I added some in ‘raffia’ too. Then I chose ‘almond’, a slightly off-white, for the weft.

It was MUCH easier to warp the loom this time as I wasn’t working with already cut ends and therefore no cross. I could use my warping board to wind and tie everything neatly, with one exception: because I wanted to mix the orange with the pink I wound three threads together – one orange and two pink – and that meant the cross wasn’t of alternate single threads but sets of three. This allowed me to move the orange thread of each trio around when threading so the mix was more random than simply orange-pink-pink and I didn’t get two orange threads next to each other.

Like with the Scarf of Leftover Colours, having eight pedals meant I could arrange the tie up so I could simply move from left to right. Then I got weaving.

Oh my. I may have fallen in love with plaited twill. It’s so pretty!

These are not my usual wearing colours. Either I’m going to have to revise that opinion, find someone dear to me who does wear them, or weave another plaited twill scarf. I’m thinking the latter.

I have other plans for the floor loom’s next project, so that’ll have to wait. On the Katie, I put another leftovers warp on, using up some burgundy warp. I found a draft I liked by entering “weaving drafts” in google images. I started with a blue weft, but didn’t like it, so I tried cream and it’s much better.

However, it wasn’t looking like it was supposed to. I realised I was making several mistakes: I should be working from the bottom to the top, the black squares for the tie up should be for shafts in the down position and not up, and I had missed four picks of the sequence in each repeat.

But I liked what I’d done, so I just made a new draft that looked like the result I had and called it ‘falling feathers’.

The other mistake I made was that, when I measured the warp, I cut sixteen threads for each stripe, when the pattern repeat actually uses 14. So now I have another small pile of leftover warp to use up.

Scarf. Jacket. Scarfjacket?

Way back when winter was approaching I did my usual scarf, hat and glove swap: that is, take the summer-weight items off the hanger on the back of the coat cupboard door and choose the winter-weight ones to replace them. At the same time I culled a few things.

A couple of knitted scarves were frogged, since I never wear them and the yarn is so nice I will enjoy weaving something instead. One scarf went into the refashion ‘pile’. I knit it during my 2005 trip to the UK, buying a ball of yarn at each location we stayed at and knitting until I bought the next. When we got home I repeated all the stripes to use up the yarn, and wound up with a very long scarf.

(I’m amazed I found a pic of it, since it was knit before I started this blog!)

Very long scarves were in fashion back then but eventually that went the way that all fashions do, which left me with a scarf that was really too long to be practical. It’s been sitting, rolled up, in my wardrobe for years.

I could have shortened it, but other ideas were percolating in my head. The first was to separate it into four pieces and sew them together to make a squarish tv-watching lap rug. Then I’d use it practically every night in the colder months. Trouble is, I have plenty of knee rugs already.

Then I had the idea of incorporating it into a long jacket, so I draped it over my dress form and began playing. My first design involved separating the scarf into two, draping the pieces over the shoulders and filling in the gaps between with narrow garter stitch strips. I could then machine knitting two stocking stitch sleeves. The Bond Sweater Machine only does stocking stitch so I started knitting the garter stitch strips by hand. I cast on 20 stitches and did 20 rows a night for three nights, which was about 30 minutes a night.

By then my hands were really hurting. They still are weeks later. There really is no going back from RSI – at least RSI as bad as I had/have it.

Accepting that I would never be able to knit the strips, I came up with another design. This one used half of the scarf as a collar, a quarter of it around the waist and the two eighths as cuffs. The rest would be done in stocking stitch on the Bond.

I found a free pattern to adapt and bought some yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills and, when it arrived, set up the Mega Bond and began making the back, which was in one piece. As I worked, I decided that I would make the whole garment, minus the collar, then when finished I’d separate the waist section and shorten the cuffs ready for the scarf inserts.

But as I worked I realised that the way the collar would sit would show the colour joins on the back side of the garter stitch. I could fold it in half along the length, but that would make it skinnier than the collar in the pattern and perhaps not meet in the middle.

But what if I used both halves of the scarf as a collar and doubled them up? I draped them both on the dress form and instantly loved the way the colours lined up. So instead of cutting the scarf up further, I just attached the two pieces:

I’m pretty happy with how my new jacket turned out. It’s casual and warm, and full of happy memories.

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!

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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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?

It’s a Bar. It’s an Organ. Barorgan.

I suspect one of the defining elements of my relationship with Paul is that he finds junk to buy and I find something to do with it. When he was doing his Batchelor of Photography last year he bought a whole lot of stuff on eBay that might work with his alternative Australia steampunk theme. Like an old typewriter and sewing machine.

He didn’t mention the organ. I have no idea how he got it home and buried in the new garage without me noticing. I spotted it a month or two ago and after sighing and shaking my head at the discovery an idea came to me. I’d been not-seriously looking at second hand bars for sale on eBay. Some of them had been made from repurposed objects. Could we turn this organ into a bar?

Some brainstorming followed, then a satisfying bout of dismantling, then more brainstorming, then buying and cutting of mdf, a bit of painting and varnishing, hinges added, glass ordered, led lights attached… and we have this:

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It was surprisingly easy to modify the organ. A minimal amount of alternation to the outer framework was done. Only the flap that covers the keys and central fill of the lower part of the back were removed. Most of the innards are gone. The hidden ends of the keys were cut off to make more room inside. The visible part was lowered then we had glass cut to cover them. Paul added a strip of coloured led lights that reflect nicely in the glass.

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The back has become the preparation area, with the fold down access flap becoming a preparation shelf. The lower area is open and empty right now, but we’ve bought wood to turn into sliding doors because and it’ll become the storage space for spirits and mixers.

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I’ve seen quite a few piano or organ to bar conversions on Google since we made ours, but none that were designed for a bartender to stand behind it. I figure we need to have a bar warming party.

But first I may need to weave some bar mats.

Craft Swap

A few weeks back a friend hosted a craft swap and afternoon tea. Well, it was more of a craft rehoming, because the idea is you bring along materials you don’t want any more, place it on a table and people take home what takes their fancy.

I had put a couple of things aside, but hadn’t had time to gather a decent amount of stuff for it by the day. So I decided to spend the morning going through all my craft and art supplies. I wound up culling with rather a lot.

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At the swap people were peeking shyly into bags, so I started putting each on the table, unpacking, showing the contents to all and asking who wanted it. This seemed to work, and we found homes for about 80% of the stuff. One participant knew of an organisation that takes craft supplies for kids, so we filled a bag for that. Others had friends who would take materials for hobbies none of us practised. (I brought home some mini fruit decorations for a friend who makes hats.)

At the end of the day I’d found homes for lots of stuff I didn’t want any more, too, so I was very happy overall. I had one shopping bag of things nobody wanted and another of things I’d adopted. The incoming craft items included an old sewing box, lots of jewellery charms and findings, some embroidery hoops and thread, and a few pieces of fabric.

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In fact, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and come away with something new, so I think I might host one of these craft swaps in future.

Scaling Up

Christmas to New Year is usually the time I go through my whole wardrobe and cull things. This year I couldn’t be bothered looking over it all, so I just did my knitwear. I decided to cull four items. Two I unravelled, one went to a friend and the other to the op shop.

That gave me a batch of 12ply/bulky yarn, and two batches of 8ply/dk. I liked the idea of weaving the 12ply with itself to make a blanket, but I didn’t want to occupy the floor loom with a plain weave project when I could do more interesting 4-shaft ones. I wasn’t sure the thick yarn would go through the heddles or reed anyway. Weaving strips on the knitters loom and sewing them together didn’t appeal, and it was too thick for the pin looms I have.

Well, there was a way to get around that last problem:

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Paul made the frame, I put in the nails and a tac to anchor the starting thread. Once my new pin loom was finished, I got weaving. The longest needle from my bought looms is a touch too short, so I use a darning needle and work my way across.

Soon I had a few squares to block:

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It makes a slightly open, drapey fabric. I scaled up by the same difference that 12ply is to 8ply. But since 8ply yarn on the pin loom I scaled up weaves a little loose, it’s no surprise the 12ply does too. It’s not too open, though.

The up side is I could weave thicker yarn on it. Or weave with 10ply doubled, or 8ply tripled. Which would be a great way to quickly use up yarn.

The only problem I’m having is that using a darning needle means I need to rest the loom on my lap, which I can’t do if the cat is there. So the weaving of squares has been a bit slow – especially with the unseasonably cold weather we’ve had lately.