Giotto Scarf

Working out what to do with odd balls of yarn in my stash can be either an enjoyable challenge or a source of frustration. Years ago I bought a ball of Colinette Giotto – a hand-dyed cotton tape yarn. After some false starts I combined it with some plain navy tape yarn to knit an off-the-shoulder top.

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I wore it once, and found it a bit scratchy. After removing the body, the band around the shoulders – the bit made from the Giotto – became an infinity scarf.

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I never wore that. So some time in the last year I frogged it. Because I’d cut the band to make it into a scarf, I wound up with lots of long pieces of yarn. I just tied them together and wound it into a ball.

Needing a rigid heddle project recently, I looked at my stash spreadsheet for inspiration, noticed the Giotto and did a quick google for what to weave with tape yarn. I found this blog post.

The Giotto isn’t a railroad yarn, but I could certainly use it as an interesting warp yarn. And the yarn was already cut into scarf-length-ish pieces. What was a little revelation to me was that the weaver used 16/2 cotton as the weft. I have plenty of that, in blue and aqua. So I dove into the stash and the blue turned out to be the nicest match.

So it wouldn’t take forever to weave, I did bands of closely beaten picks followed by spacing them out.

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It still took longer to weave than I expected, but I figured that was because the weft was so fine. Only when I got it off the loom did I realise the scarf was long enough to touch the floor!

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I could cut it in half and make two perfectly reasonable length scarves, but I won’t do that unless I decide not to keep it, as I rather like it as it is.

Pattern Recognition

Since I bought the little Jenome (Lil’ Jen?) I’ve had the itch to sew, not helped by thinking a lot about what to embroider. So I went looking in my box of fabric and refashioning project baskets for inspiration.

Early last year I went through my fabric stash and culled it, mostly removing offcuts of fabric from past projects. Out of what I kept, if I had an idea for what it could become, I put a post-it note on it. So I now looked at the post-it notes and selected two projects that appealed: a white cheesecloth tunic that I’ll embroider, and straight grey denim skirt.

I also did a bit of a ‘mix and match’ with some of the smaller pieces of fabric, and hit on the idea of replicating a skirt I have, which is denim at the back and a cotton print at the front.

After that I went through my refashioning baskets. Plenty of projects waiting there, but I was most attracted to a sarong-into-shorts project and, in complete contrast, some thick pieces of woven, felted wool that I might be able to sew into a vest.

But for all but the shorts, which I have made before , I didn’t have any suitable patterns. The half-denim, half-print skirt is very simple, so I’ll just trace a pattern from it. I wasn’t game to try to invent the vest, straight denim skirt and tunic pattern. Fortunately, a while back I bookmarked a few that I liked and found a pattern for a tunic. I couldn’t find any classic straight denim skirt patterns, but I found a vest one that I could adapt for the woven fabric.

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So I bought and downloaded the tunic and vest patterns, then spent most of a morning printing, taping together and cutting them out. The tunic is going to need some careful cutting, as I don’t have a lot of fabric. This is it with the back and front shortened and full length sleeves. I’m thinking now that I’d rather have short sleeves and a longer body.

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Of course, then I had to dig through my sewing notions. I found everything but a skirt zipper and some bias binding. The first I got in my local habby store, and the second I found today, when I went to grab some calico from the stash and found a great big coil of calico binding, the copious leftovers from a quilt I made a few years back.

So with four projects ready to go, I may just need to put aside a whole weekend for sewing. Or two.

Papery

Without really thinking much about it, when I started tinkering with making jewellery again a few weeks back I set myself a challenge to finish or abandon most of the pieces I’d left incomplete last time I had a bout of diy-jewellery-itis along with refashioning and exploring new ideas.

I had these paper beads made from the pages of a book. I tried stringing them, knotting the string between each bead, but the result left me feeling ho-hum. As I cut the threads I lined the freed beads up in a row, and that’s when inspiration struck.

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I used a beading technique from The New Beader’s Companion called ‘square stitch’. The result has drape, and a pleasing nubbly texture.

The other batch of paper beads I’d made were from Japanese paper. I tried joining them in a hexagon pattern to make a triangle, bib-style necklace, but they wouldn’t sit flat. So, once again, I separated them. I started playing with them on my beading mat. They put me in mind of beaded curtains, so I lined them up in a triangle that way instead, and I liked the effect.

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(Necklace stand bought from Waverley Antiques Bazaar. It’s a bit small, but works okay for my shorter necklaces.)

Permitted

We finally got approval of the planning permit amendments for our garage last Monday, and I got straight onto the landscapers to book the tidy up of the embankment garden. They’ll be here in two weeks. In the interim the old tennis court needs to be demolished.

I’d like to recycle as much of the court as possible. Many of the fence posts will become a shorter fence, a pergola and a cat run frame. Some of the mesh will be reused on the new fence if my idea for recycling it works, and a friend of a friend is interested in taking some for her property. I wanted to put the fake turf on the embankment gardens to suppress weeds until next autumn, when conditions are better for planting, but by the end of the weekend I had to abandon that idea.

Two much-needed helpers provided invaluable extra hands:

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While Paul tackled the fence:

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He made better progress on the fence and posts than I expected – they’re almost all down and stacked away. The turf was my target. However, lifting one big piece to use on the garden turned out to be impossible, as the stuff is very, very heavy. It’s embedded with sand, and though a good blast with a high pressure hose gets most of it out, to have any chance of moving it it had to be cut into 30-50cm wide strips.

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We’ve done maybe 10% of it and spent at least 12 hours on it now. When we stopped yesterday, and considered the size of the garden beds it’s meant to cover, we realised we’d need almost all of what’s on the court. That’s just not going to happen before next Monday.

Once autumn arrives and it’s taken off the garden beds, we’re going to face the same problem all over again. And next autumn we won’t have landscapers here with excavators to make light work of moving it.

So we’re going to keep what we’ve lifted, and the rest will go to the tip. We have kept a square of it under what will be the pergola, too:

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It’d make great door mats, too. But we don’t need THAT many door mats!

And, of course, I’ll have to find other ways to suppress weeds in the garden until autumn. Black builder’s plastic is recommended for this. It isn’t too expensive, and I have an idea for what I can do with it afterwards.

So while I’m sad that we can’t reuse everything from the court, I’m happy that we’re going to be making something out of most of the non-turf parts.

Misfits

Try as I might, I can’t just throw out knitwear that doesn’t fit any more. If it’s in good condition I might donate a piece to the op shop, but if it has felted I end up keeping it in the hopes I can refashion it into something else.

In the last few weeks I’ve transformed two pieces. First this origami bolero:

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It was made up of rectangles, which I pulled apart. I widened a narrow piece with garter stitch, then attached all but one piece into a strip with some garter stitch ‘gathering’ to make a long, chunky scarf:

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Close up of the garter stitch areas:

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This cardy, which I dyed a little while back, was inspired by the above bolero. It too was made of rectangles:

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The sleeves were too tight, so they’ve become a scarf:

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The rest was knit from machine washable yarn, so it hasn’t shrunk:

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So I’m thinking of replacing the rectangle that had formed the arms and back with either some ribbing knit on the Bond, or a looser sleeve/back piece of woven fabric. Inspired by this book, which arrived in the post last week:

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Yarn Shrink, Rethink

It’s been three and a half years since RSI set in and I had to give up knitting. In that time I’ve culled a quarter of the garments I made because they no longer fit well, partly because I grew, and partly because they shrank despite gentle, careful washing. So far this year I’ve culled three more garments for the latter reason. I really hadn’t worn them that much, so it’s disappointing.

And that got me thinking that if I was still knitting now, I’d be much more choosy about the yarn I made my clothes out of. But then I remember how I used to be intimidated by using expensive yarns in case I wasted them on a bad design, and that knitting was as much about enjoying the process as having a garment to wear a the end of a project.

Taste and fashions change, too.

Then there was the little discovery I made about the Paua Shell Ruanna. The green and black yarns I used are machine washable. The blue is not – or it is not as machine washable. The result is a slight shrinkage of the blue stripes, despite the fact that I’ve only washed it twice. It doesn’t bother me, but it is a mistake I don’t want to make again.

So in the spirit of learning and moving on, I’ve had a more critical look at my stash. Sure enough, I’d matched machine washable and non-machine washable yarns for a couple of other projects. I’ve now added the info to my stash spreadsheet, designated those yarns for other projects, and even shuffled the stash into tubs for ‘feltable’ and ‘non-feltable’ yarn.

From now on any garments and hats I make will use machine-washable yarn. But since most of what I weave isn’t garments and hats, that’s not a big change. I have a few projects in the to-do list for the Bond Sweater Machine, though. All but one use machine-washable yarn, thankfully. I just have to rethink one project.

Beanie a Long Time

Back in 2010 I started knitting a fair isle vest out of Patonyle sock yarn. I got to the armpits and discovered it was too small for me, so I cast off and set the piece of fabric aside. Since then I’ve toyed with plans to make a bag, a hood style hat, and finally, this:

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It was really just a matter of using a beanie I already had as a template, overlocking the edges and sewing the halves together.

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I used some of the waste yarn to make a pom pom. This is the only time I’ve put one on a hat. I’m not 100% convinced I like it, but I don’t dislike it enough to take it off again.

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This was a WIP that had been around so long it fell off the WIP list and wound up on the To-Do list again. But now it’s done, and I feel more satisfaction at that than how it turned out. Though I do think it worked out alright, and I’d have hated to waste all the hours of knitting that went into it.

It’s a bedside table. No, it’s a bookshelf!

It’s inevitable that when you move house there’ll be a couple of pieces of furniture that take a while to find their spot, and new pieces of furniture to buy. We’ve spent so much on fixing up the house and garden that I’m trying to reign in the spending elsewhere, and that includes furniture.

We sold our old bedside tables and matching chests of drawers to the buyer of our old house, and needed to replace the tables. Some of the book shelving at the old place was built in, so we had a couple of boxes of books with no place to go. I hit on the idea of fixing both problems at the same time: bookshelf bedside tables.

Looking at furniture websites, I couldn’t find anything that was both attractive and reasonably priced. I suggested to Paul that we make them ourselves out of the wine boxes sold at the local liquor merchant, as we did with my craft side table and magazine rack.

So Paul did the carpentry and I sanded, painted and varnished. With the addition of a few planks of wood and some feet from Bunnings we had these for less than $200 each:

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They look great filled with books, which will hopefully encourage me to read more:

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Hmm. Books. I haven’t done my “Books Read in 2014″ post yet.

A Bit of Dressing Up

I’ve just finished a little weekend project, which had the added bonus of motivating me to unpack yet another box: a new costume jewellery board.

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Back at the last house I kept my costume jewellery on two pinboards I bought and covered with calico:

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There’s no convenient alcove to use as a dressing table here. Initially I wanted to put a shelf in the walk-in-robe, but there wasn’t room for it. The next choice was having an actual dressing table in the bedroom. Using the old Singer sewing machine table seemed like a good option as it’s small and cute and it means we don’t have to buy another piece of furniture, so I put it in position… and covered it in unpacked boxes of bags, shoes and jewellery.

I had a table, but what about a place to display jewellery? For a while I flirted with the idea of turning my old printer drawer into one, but most of my costume jewellery is necklaces and the compartments are the wrong size.

So I eyed those old pinboards. They were the wrong colour for the bedroom, so I’d have to sand and repaint, replace the fabric, and make two new holes in the wall to hang them. Or I could take that old metal poster frame with no board or glass that’s been hanging around in the garage, buy a new board and come cork squares that happened to be exactly the right size to fit 2 x 3 in the frame…

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… then glue the tiles, assemble the frame and hang it up by a chain to a new nail in the existing nail hole, stick some pins in it, unpack, cull and hang the jewellery…

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The end result looks great and was pretty quick to knock together. The cork and black frame match the sewing table wood colour and cast iron base. I also bought a lamp and mirror on the same trip to get the tiles and board. And I’ve moved my make-up and perfume into some decorative boxes.

The old pinboards are going into the craft room, where I’m sure I’ll get plenty of of use out of them as inspiration boards.

And speaking of inspiration, I now feel the urge to make some jewellery…

Mirror, Mirror

Pinterest has been great for finding inspiration for the new ensuite. The one at our old place was apple green and white, with a circular motif and an overall feel of modernness and fun. This time I took inspiration from the French Provincial kitchen, a couple of pics on Pinterest of bathroom with a luxury/glamour style, and some cool coloured glass sinks I bought online:

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I love those long rectangular mirrors, and last weekend I found a couple of old kitschy paintings in an antiques market with nice black frames.

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I took out the old factory-line paintings, cleaned them up and had mirrors cut for them:

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That’s the first of the new ensuite projects done. Yes, I have a couple more planned. The others are a bit more labour-intensive, so it’ll be a while before I get them done.