The Seduction of Simple Squares

The pin loom has proven to be quite addictive. Most nights, while watching the telly, I make a square. Sometimes two. I’ve now got enough for a 4×5 square lap blanket, and hoping I can get enough squares out of the yarn I have left to make it a 5×5 blanket.

creativefidget521

I went to the guild last Saturday and had a peek at the other pin looms they had in stock. This one came home with me:

creativefidget522

Perhaps I’ll soon be writing a blog post called “A Hedonistic Host of Hexagons” or something equally silly.

New Projects!

Yeah, I’ll admit it. I started a few new projects before declaring my WIP finishing drive finished. How was I to resist when the pin loom was sitting there beside my tv-watching armchair, all new and interesting?

I tried some cotton weaving yarn first, thinking I’d make some washcloths, but the weaving part was really tough on the hands and the yarn turned out to be too thin.

Then after dividing the stash up into fullable and machine-washable yarns I had a few no longer destined for their original intended projects. I decided to try the Bendigo Woollen Mills Neon on the pin loom, and it worked very well:

creativefidget514

So I’ve been making one or two squares a night:

creativefidget515

They come out a bit bumpy, but the frogged yarn has quite a kink in it and they settle down a bit with blocking.

The other project I started was also inspired by my yarn contemplation. Since scarves are the most likely to contact my skin, and don’t need to have stretch, one of the best fibres I can use for them is silk. I had a skein I’d bought back in 2008 as art yarn – that is, yarn with the primary purpose of being on display. It is by Ixchel Yarns and is 100% silk with a thread of silver through it.

I bought some fine undyed silk at the Bendy Show a few years ago thinking I’d try it on the knitting machine. Now I decided to match it with the Ixchel silk. So I warped up the rigid heddle:

creativefidget517

I’ve found trying to use a ball winder on silk is an exercise in slippery frustration, so I just warped straight from the skein holder. All of the art silk went into the warp, mixed with the white. The weft is all white:

creativefidget518

I hem stitched the beginning, staggering the stitch length, too. And I’m doubling up the picks every now and then to add a little more interest:

creativefidget519

It feels lovely to work with, and hasn’t been any trouble. I doubt I’ll use up even half of the fine silk, which I have two skeins of, so I can see more silk woven scarves in the future.

Though I didn’t finish all the WIPs before starting new projects, tackling the list has not only cleared out a few stalled projects and helped me decided to abandon ones I wasn’t feeling much love for, but the anticipation had eager to get into something new.

Maybe hurrying to finish projects before I go away just means I’m confronted with an intimidating list of possible starting points when I get back. Having a couple of WIPs waiting for my return might help me get back into the craft groove when I do.

Silk Stripe Placemats

The placemats are done:

creativefidget505

creativefidget506

creativefidget507

The plan was to weave a table runner to match, using up the rest of the sari silk. And I’d hardly used any sari silk. I had a little bit of warp left on the loom so I started experimenting with mixing the black cotton and sari silk, at at once I hit a problem.

With the placemats the overspun nature of the sari silk didn’t matter. I could ease out some of the twist with the end I started with, and when I cut the yarn to finish I could untwist the rest. But once I was weaving it without a break in the yarn the twisting became a difficulty I could do without.

And I was a bit over this project. And I was running low on the black warp yarn, too. And the sari silk would go really well in a friend’s weaving project…

So I decided there would be no table runner, just eight placemats. Which I’m very pleased about. Especially as stains aren’t going to show on these!

A Loopy Solution

Two years ago I made this scarf:

creativefidget500

It’s the yarn equivalent of endless soup. The lighter purple was originally knit into socks, then frogged when they shrank and made into i-cord, then after a while I made more i-cord out of sock yarn and wove a scarf out of it.

creativefidget501

Which I never wore. It was a) a bit boring and b) too thick and rigid.

I was going to pull it apart, right back to yarn. But every time I went to do it I had to admit, the fabric the i-cord wove into was rather nice. Just not as a scarf.

On Monday I was thinking about my new pin loom and thought I’d finally pull apart the I-cord Scarf and use the yarn to weave some squares. But to convince myself once and for all that it was worth undoing all that work I draped it over the dress model.

And then the solution hit me. Maybe it was seeing all the interesting weaving on the weekend – particularly the saori weaving – but it occurred to me that if the scarf is too wide I can just pull out some warp yarns on one or both sides and they’ll turn into a loopy fringe. Or I could pull them out in the middle. I’ve woven scarves with loops at one or both sides, but not one with loose weft in the centre.

So I got to work, and in a little while I had this:

creativefidget502

Much less rigid and much more interesting! A scarf I want to wear.

creativefidget503

(And another item off the craft to-do list.)

It’s Towel Time

An empty loom is a sad sight to see, so I’ve been thinking about what to put on it next. Every time I do this I looking at a three cones of cotton yarn in my stash and ask myself “am I ready yet?”.

creativefidget498

These were meant to become towels. A set for me and a set for Mum. The first and only previous attempted I made to weave these was back in 2008, and I got so befuddled by the math and intimidated by the number of warp ends needed when using 16/2 cotton that I packed the cones away without even taking off the labels.

Well, I’ve got a bit more weaving under my belt since 2008. Some of it involved projects with a few hundred ends, and some used cotton. If I did plain weave and just played with colour that would keep the project as simple as possible. It would keeps the number of ends to warp as low as possible too. So I measured up an average size tea towel in our kitchen, did the math and came up with 617 ends at 30 ends per inch for plain weave.

617 ends. I have 320 heddles.

I have plenty of handmade temporary heddles, but not enough to make up a shortfall of nearly double what I have. And I don’t relish the idea of making so many more of them. So what to do?

In the small hours of Saturday morning the solution suddenly hit me. I would be going to the Handweavers and Spinners Guild that day for their weaving demo day. I would just buy the thicker 8/2 cotton they stock and then sell the thin stuff. However, when I got to the Guild I started chatting to a lovely weaver who suggested that I simply use the thicker cotton as warp and the thinner one as weft – perhaps even doubling up for the weft.

Talk about a smacking-self-in-the-forehead why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? moment.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Here are the three cones of 8/2 cotton I bought for the warp:

creativefidget499

So if I use the 16/2 yarn for the weft, I have six colours to mix together. This could be fun.

While I was there I also bought this:

creativefidget497

Yes, I could have knocked one together myself, but it was there and so was I. I’ve been thinking about getting a pin loom for a while, as I have a heap of sock yarn that would look nice woven into squares and sewn together into a blanket. And I reckon I could make the squares while watching tv.

Weaving Weekend

I was sick all last week. Aches, back pain, headaches, fatigue and insomnia. It wasn’t until Friday that I worked out it wasn’t just a change in the weather but a bug going around when I started encountering other people who’d had the same symptoms.

Once I decided Friday was a sickie, my whole outlook changed. Instead of it being a failed work day it was a day on which anything I got done was a bonus. That improved my mood greatly! I just pottered around, resting and thinking.

One thing I decided was that, if I felt up to it, the weekend was going to be dedicated to weaving. I’m still determined to strike off as many projects in the WIP list as I can before starting new ones. So on Saturday morning, after a bit of Vitamin D harvesting in the garden, I got stuck in.

I got a placemat and a half woven:

creativefidget494

But the main achievement was to finish the Paua Shell Ruanna collar:

creativefidget495

And to sew it to the ruanna:

creativefidget496

I was always pleased with the ruanna, and now I like it even more.

I’d decided that, for some reason I don’t remember, this could be a scarf it if didn’t work out. Maybe because I didn’t have enough weft yarn – Bendigo Luxury in black. And I didn’t have enough… but I just ordered some more.

Now I can think about what to put on the loom next. Hmm. Choices, choices.

Though if I’m to stick to finishing WIPs, I should finish the placemats and table runner first.

Ribbon Scarf

creativefidget489

After getting my craft mojo back post trip, I couldn’t decide what to work on. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tackle anything on my to-do list but that I wanted to do all of them equally as much. So faced with too much choice I figured I may as well attack the WIP list instead.

The first thing I did was finish the flamingo pendant, then warp up the rigid heddle loom for some more placemats. But I wanted to reduce the WIP list and I had four placemats to weave then a runner to warp and weave so it would be a while before I could cross that one off. Rather than start weaving I set my sights on finishing faster WIPs.

I made a tough decision and unpicked the embroidery on the grey vest, While I thought it looked sweet, it really wasn’t me. Nothing like abandoning a project to quickly reduce the WIP list!

After that I examined the ribbon scarf. I’d been basting ribbons on slowly, usually during an evening of tv watching. But I found it hard to tell if I was getting the colours evenly spread, or if I had enough ribbon to cover both sides. So I decided to lay the fabric out on a table and lay the remaining ribbon over it. I worked out that I really only had enough ribbon to cover one side.

I started cutting and pinning ribbon, and once I was satisfied with the arrangement, I basted the ribbons down over a couple of sessions. All that was left then was to sew them down, hem the scarf and unpick the basting, and it was done.

creativefidget490

This is a 100% recycling project. The gauze was left over from another project, and the ribbons removed from an old costume.

As for the rest of the WIPs… I reckon I can get the Paua Shell Collar done pretty soon. I’ve also returned to art classes, so I’m finally making progress on Justin’s portrait. What I really need to tackle, however, is the Art Necklace. It’s the oldest WIP and it’s time I got it out of the way.

Warped Up

The placemat and table runner project is coming along nicely:

creativefidget482

I’ve made four. My sums seem to suggest that I have enough yarn to make eight placemats and a skinny runner. I figure I’ll do the placemats first then see how much yarn I have left over.

The collar/scarf is nearly done:

creativefidget483

I won’t know until I finish and start experimenting with the length of fabric whether I’ll attach it to the ruanna or just use it as a very long scarf, or cut it into two shorter scarves. It’s kinda nice to have options.

Memory, Reminder

The Memory Yarn Scarf is done:

creativefidget474

Remind me never to attempt one again.

Warping was challenging, but managable. It was the weaving that was tedious, demanding that the two weft yarns be tweaked constantly to keep them aligned. I could have done something more interesting than plain weave, but that would have just made it even fussier and slower, and I couldn’t wait for this one to be finished and off the loom.

The result is lovely, though – soft despite the stainless steel that imparts the ‘memory’. The metal is supposed to allow you to shape the fabric. With knit that look interesting and sculptural. With woven fabric is just looks, well, creased. Still, I don’t mind a crinkly scarf and it does have an interesting story to it.

creativefidget475

Next!

Pedalling On

Weaving, I’ve decided, is my friend. It doesn’t involve a lot of intricate finger movements. It would even less so if I used foot pedals for the table loom rather than levers. We’d always intended to add them to the loom stand we made ages ago, but didn’t get around to it.

craftyblog800

A few weeks ago I flirted with the idea of buying the Ashford stand and pedal kit, but when I told Paul it costs around $550 pre-postage we concluded it was worth having a go at modifying the existing table. So we did some designing, carpentry, varnishing and knotting of washing line rope…

creativefidget465

After a bit of tweaking I have working pedals, though the shafts don’t always fall back down completely. Still, it cost us nothing since we still had the parts from when we’d first made the table. And even with having to push the odd shaft down it seems much faster and a lot less work for my hands.

And that makes me very happy!