Waffling About Weaving

In the last few years I’ve developed two weaving ambitions: to try lots of new weave structures and to weave fabric to make clothing from. Recent projects have seen me revert to my usual comfortable habit of using up stash, however. They have been a great excuse to play with twills, but I want to get back to trying new structures and weaving fabric for clothing.

My table loom now has a fabric project on it. I’m weaving three metres of black wool (Bendy Classic 3ply) with grey boucle stripes, which will hopefully become a skirt.

The Katie still has the feathers scarf on it.

All my recent yarn purchases have been with fabric in mind. Recently a weaver on Facebook posted an ad for vintage linen. I got in contact to see if she was amenable to me coming around and looking at it, and anything else she had for sale. We organised a time. When I got there she’d laid everything she wanted to sell out on the table. Well, except the occasional yarn cone I’d take out and find it wasn’t for sale. Maybe she changed her mind, or hadn’t checked that what she had put out was all for sale. It occurred to me that she might be doing it to see if I’d offer more money, so I tried that for a second cone of a yarn she’d already said I could buy one of. She refused firmly, so that clearly wasn’t it! Ah well, people can be hard to read sometimes.

I wasn’t bothered (just a bit nonplussed) and I came home with a half dozen small cones of interesting yarns, two large ones of linen and one enormous one of hemp. The linen is thinner than I’m used to weaving, and the hemp is as fine as sewing cotton, so I will probably double or triple them. The small cones will go with others that have been accumulating in the stash. I’ve got several reds and a white and natural mix.

The day after my yarn purchasing, Amanda at the Weaving Matters meeting gave an inspiring talk about saori. I found myself thinking that there’s a lot about saori that I’m drawn to. It’s colourful, playful, I like how the clothing is designed to be made with minimal cutting or waste, and the looms have many clever features.

Not that I’m going to buy a saori loom. I don’t have room for another loom. I don’t have room for the looms I have already! My Ashford 4-shaft table loom has been sitting folded up in the hallway for many months, unused.

(I’ve been thinking about that loom a lot recently. I advertised it the Facebook group for nearly a year, and though I lowered the price a few times all I got was the occasional enquiry that went nowhere. Trouble is, occasionally an ad for the 8-shaft version goes up from someone who is desperate enough to sell theirs really cheaply, so I don’t think I’ll ever get even a third of what a new version of mine is worth. I may as well keep it as a backup loom.)

Anyway, I can probably do saori-ish weaving on my knitters loom. It might even be simple enough to do while I’m recovering from eye-surgery, so long as I warp up the loom beforehand. Now there’s an idea. Yes, that’s what I’m going to do! I just need to decide whether I’ll use the red yarns, or the white and natural yarns.

I’d Do It Differently (and Better)!

I’ve not read many biographies in my life, but one of the few I have is an art book on Van Gogh. Such an interesting man, who had a beautiful way with words as well as a great love of experimentation and expression in art. So I was looking forward to going to the Van Gogh: the Seasons exhibition at the NGV.

I didn’t get there until the Wednesday before the end of the school holidays, and it was full of people rushing to see it before the holidays and school groups keeping the kids occupied during the last week of term. Even so, I don’t think the timing make a lot of difference. I’d heard about the long queues since the day it opened, and doubt there was ever going to be a quiet day.

We bought out tickets online, so at least we missed that queue, and we probably waited half and hour to 45 mins to get in. It was what it was like after we entered that really appalled me. It had to be the worst laid out exhibition I’ve ever been to, here and overseas – and I’ve seen some pretty badly designed ones. It seemed designed to have people cross paths constantly, squish them together in front of paintings, and be unable to see signage unless they stood right in front of it. And this was so much worse for people in wheelchairs.

It would have been a struggle with half the amount of people in there, but to make things worse they were letting so many people in it was uncomfortably crowded. Afterwards I got to wondering if I was just bothered by being around so many people, and I realised it wasn’t only that, but it felt dangerous to be in there. Maybe they had an effective evacuation plan, but the general impression of incompetence with floor layout didn’t inspire confidence.

When we got to the end, Paul asked if I wanted to go back and have another look at anything. I looked around and decided that, while I might have ordinarily, I just wanted to get out. So we emerged into the gift shop. Where I bought these:

Why buy two bags? Well, they were only $10 each. As I said before, Vincent had a great way with words as well as with the paintbrush. One bag had quotes, the other two had artwork. Which to choose?

No. I will not choose. I will have the best of both worlds! I cut them apart and brought out the sewing machine.

I’m going to use the tote bag to carry my mat and easel into classes rather than juggling them, and the satchel (lined with the back of the painting bag) is a gift for the teacher.

Doubleweave Gamp Sampler

I finished this months ago, but because I thought I’d make something out of it I haven’t posted about it.

As I wove it, I considered what to do with it. The fabric would be firm, with no drape. It would be narrow and long. It would be double-sided.

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I zig-zagged the ends after taking it off the loom. Since it was a sampler, I hadn’t bothered weaving in the ends as I went, so I wound up having to sew in 62 of them. Phew!

I could use it as a runner, but it’s a bit small. I could make zippered pouches, but it seems a shame to cut it up. I could make an obi, but I don’t have anything to wear one with. I could make it into a long bag for carrying my portable warping board, but then you won’t see that it’s double-sided.

So I’ve settled for just admiring the pretty colours for now:

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And trusting that the right purpose for it will come along eventually.

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?

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.

Once it Was Winter…

… you’d think I’d have been wearing the Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn Jacket I finished earlier this year. Well, I haven’t. I did put it on once, but when I took it out of the drawer I’d stored it in it was all creased in the front. As I’d predicted, I didn’t like the fringe being so long. And the little bulge where the bottom of the cowl met the zip bugged me.

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So after trimming the fringe, I decided to cut the top section down the front and make it a jacket. I could have zig zagged along each side and sewn it to the back, but I liked the idea of a fringe there, too. Easier said than done!

I unwove the weft until I had enough warp to tie knots. However, this meant I had to unweave past the point where the bottom section joined to so I also had to unpick the top and bottom sections along the front and re-sew them together.

In the meantime, I found I rather liked the way the top of the pockets flopped down, matching the angle of the front edges, so I stitched those in place.

Then I unpicked the shoulders, took out the darts and added a length of cotton tape across the top of the back to strengthen the fabric. After trying the jacket on, I decided I didn’t like the sleeves being so wide. Inspired by the folded pockets, I decided to unpick the top seam and overlap the pieces.

At last I was done:

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After all the adjustments, I have a jacket I like, though it’s a tiny bit small for me – not quite long enough in the body or sleeves. But it’s wearable, and I’ve explored lots of ideas for making woven rectangles into clothing. I’d like to make this again, with wider pieces for the sleeve-upper body so that the seam where it joins the waistband sits under the bust line rather than over it.

Textile Talk: 1year1outfit

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Last night I went to the Victorian Handweavers & Spinners Guild to hear Nicki of This is Moonlight and Rachel of ReduceReuseRecycle talk about Fibreshed and 1year1outfit.

Your ‘fibreshed’ is the area within 500 km of your home, and all the products grown, processed and made within. Nikki describes the 1year1outfit on her blog as:

One Year One Outfit is a challenge to make a locally sourced outfit in a year. Anyone interested in garment making is welcome to join in. Most participants record their findings through social media and use the tag #1year1outfit to keep in touch with the group.

The outfit must be made from natural fibres sourced from your fibreshed, dyed with non-sythetic dyes, and be constructed to last.

After seeing the flyer, I investigated the various sites and Facebook pages related to the challenge. It became pretty clear that it would be very difficult for me to participate, because I can’t wear animal fibres against my skin and no silk or plant fibre is being spun in my fibreshed, and I don’t spin. It might be possible if I moved away from fabric. A quick search online brought up a leather tannery using ‘natural’ methods in Melbourne. I could even try basket-making techniques using locally-grown plants.

The talk was very interesting and I learned more that what I’d found out in my investigations. I think the most exciting is that there are now ‘mini mills’ where small batches of fibre can be spun. They didn’t say if those mills were spinning silk or plant fibre, but I imagine it requires different machinery.

Today my thoughts had shifted to a video I saw recently of Hmong women weaving hemp. I found it again and another that showed how they attach strips of hemp together before spinning it – a method that appeals to me because it does not involve drafting. I got lost in researching plant fibres, and how to make cord and baskets with Australian native plants.

It all reminded me how I’d like to make baskets out of materials I’ve grown. And that I need to get those lomandra seedlings in.

And how there’s still so much work to do in the garden.

Oh – and I nearly forgot: the talk will be repeated on Sunday August 28th, at 2pm. I highly recommend it.

Handspun Vest

Aaaaages ago I spun some wool. Getting it ready to weave was not without trials.

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I wove it into what was a bit of a disaster – meant to be a jacket but waaay too stiff. So I sewed the pieces together and called it a rug. The Dud Rug.

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But it was a pretty ugly rug, so I put it away for a while. A year or so ago I got the idea of turning it to a vest, and ran it through a hot wash to full it a bit to lessen the chance of unravelling when cut. Then it was just a matter of finding a vest pattern. I never seemed to remember to look at patterns in fabric stores while was there, and I found nothing on the internet until a few weeks ago.

I bought a pattern, printed it out, taped all the sheets together, cut them out, joined the body and fronts to make one piece and traced a copy off that.

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I cut out the cloth and sewed the pieces together, then put it on the dress model.

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It was enormous. Clearly there was something wrong with the pattern. I suspect it had printed out too big. So I pinched and pinned and chopped it down until it fit the model. Then when I was satisfied that it was the right size, I used brown cotton fabric for lining and bias tape to finish the edges. Some sewing later I had this:

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It fits perfectly and is very cosy. Unfortunately it’s a bit cold now for vests, but Spring will come along soon enough. All in all, I’m very chuffed to have turned a dud into something wearable.

Inkle Band Top

Earlier this year I made this top:

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Which I decided needed some embellishment. While it was tempting to do some embroidery, I’ve been wanting to use some of the inkle I’ve woven on a garment. I chose one of the wider bands for the centre front, then wove a matching narrower band for the edge of the bib-style facing.

A bit of stitching later, and it was done:

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Of course, I dawdled so long with this project that it’s now winter, and too cold to wear the top. But it’ll be in my wardrobe ready for when the weather is warm again.