Weaving in Ballarat

A few weeks back I headed to Ballarat to attend the FibreArts Winter School @ Ballarat I mentioned a few post back.

It being my first one, I was given a ‘duckling’ card to pin next to my name card to alert others that I might need guidance, but my friend, Jane, had told me almost everything I needed to know. The workshop I did was Kay Faulkner’s ‘Play +1’ weaving class, which was challenging and definitely fulfilled my aim of learning something new.

I picked doubleweave as my main structure and summer and winter as the +1 element, but we went way beyond those two options, including a bit of basketweave, hand-manipulated weave (leno, in my case), replacing warp ends with new colours, adding a supplementary warp or weft, tying on a dowel as an extra shaft at the front or the back. By the end I had quite a few extra ends weighted at the back of my loom.

I finished up with a sampler using many kinds of combinations. As I said to Kay, her class should be more truthfully called ‘Play + Ninety Billionty’.

The other weavers, Di, Jeanette, Jillian, Elizabeth and Michael made up an inspiring group, each trying different main and additional structures.

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There was a lot of mutual cursing at mistakes or loom problems, and excitement at the result of our experimenting.

The Winter School was held at Ballarat Grammar. I took the single residential package, with all meals and access to tutor talks included. The room was comfortable (student rooms vacated for the holidays), the food reasonable (the sticky date pudding was delicious!) and the location was conveniently across the road from a supermarket (and five op shops!). I managed to see all but one talk, and they ranged from interesting to inspiring.

I’d like to attend a School again. There’s a workshop that I’m kinda interested in at each of the three next Schools at Ballarat, but I’m hesitating because I’m not sure how well I’d fit them into my schedule once I start writing again. None are weaving workshops, for which I’d probably book and go regardless. And having tried two new hobbies this year, I don’t really need any more taking up my spare time. At least, not for a while!

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.

Twill Stripes Scarf

Having had success using up the ikat leftovers, I dug out some more unused warp end. These were from a mistake-ridden shawl that was the last item I made on the table loom before I got my floor loom. I had two colours, one of which I still had some yarn on the cone. I dug out more of the same kind of yarn (Bendigo classic 3ply) in colours that might go with the leftovers. And I went looking for project ideas.

I was inspired by the ikat scarf stripes, but this time I wanted to do more than tabby. I thought of the twill stripe project in Next Steps in Weaving, and when I counted up how many ends I had and measured the remaining warp I had almost enough for the stripes. All I had to do was make the central stripe narrower and it would work.

For the narrow stripes between the twill ones and the weft I could have used a lighter salmon pink or a dark blue. I decided on the latter, as I liked the idea of a more subtle low contrast.

Warping was a challenge, since most of the ends were already cut so there was no cross. Once I had tied it on and spread it across a raddle, I wove the lease sticks through chunks of warp to provide some evening and tension. Even then, once the warp was on I had to adjust the tension quite a bit before it was even enough.

When I got weaving, I tied up the middle four pedals to match the draft and started carefully working my way through them in the eight step order to make the pattern. When I’d done a few cm I had it memorised. Only then did I remember that I have eight pedals, and all I needed to do was tie up them up so I can simply work from pedal 1 to 8 over and over.

This is, after all, one of the reasons I bought the loom!

The result of all the fiddling with the warp has been so worth it. I’m loving how it’s coming out. This one may be a keeper.

Celebration of Wool

Recently we flew to Canberra for a couple of nights so I could photograph a portrait subject. Not only did I get some great shots for the intended sitter, but found another one willing to pose for me. With it taking at least five months to finish a portrait, I’ll be happily occupied for nearly a year.

While I was there, the friend I was staying with took me to the Old Bus Depot Markets where they were holding a Celebration of Wool. I certainly know how to time my weekends away! We fondled lots of lovely yarn and grew dizzy on yarn fumes. But we were both admirably restrained in our shopping choices – me keeping in mind I only had a tote bag rather than a suitcase. I bought some skeins of cotton chenille, a cone of fine alpaca, two skeins of hand dyed alpaca, and some cat buttons.

Ikat Leftovers Scarf

Some years ago I make a scarf with an ikat effect by laying a skein of sock yarn out so the stripes matched. For some reason I can’t recall, I had three bundles of eight warp ends left over. When I found these recently, I had the idea of including them as stripes in a scarf.

So I warped up the Knitters Loom with it and other balls of leftover sock yarn and wove this:

I really like how it turned out, but I have too many scarves already. It’s plain enough to be a man’s scarf, and I admit I was rather hoping Paul would express a liking for it. He hasn’t, so it’ll probably become a gift.

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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Flax Basket

A friend from Canberra, Donna, came to stay recently, and having heard that I’d been trying out basket weaving brought me an armful of New Zealand flax from her garden.

I’d done a bit of research on how to prepare it, mostly late at night when I couldn’t get to sleep. But when I went to find the instructions again the internet wouldn’t cooperate, so I had to do it all by memory.

I’m rather impressed with my memory (which is something I never thought I’d say) because I remembered them pretty well! There was a certain amount of just doing what felt right, as well. An hour or so of fiddling later, using pegs to hold things in place temporarily, we had these:

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Donna’s is on the left, mine is on the right.

It was much faster to weave a basket this way than use the coiling method. However, you waste a lot of the leaves in getting pieces of an even width and length. I’ve kept the longer offcuts, which I’ll dry and then see if I can shred and use them for coiling.

A friend has offered me some flax she wants to remove from her garden. I have a spot I think it will suit. If all goes well, maybe in a year or two I’ll have my own supply.