Frog Cabin

The log cabin scarf is done and I’m really happy with it. As I said in a previous post, the fabric drapes very well for something woven with bulky yarn.

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Weaving thick and thin is interesting and I’d like to try it with other patterns. I wasn’t excited by the colour combo of blue and white, worried they were too contrasty, but they combined much better than I expected.

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I finished it on Sunday, and also cut a new warp for the table loom:

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At the Guild weaving group meeting on Saturday there was a talk about long warps. Inspired by that, I decided to try weaving two double weave baby blankets with one warp, using the three leftover shades of Bendy Cotton 8ply in my stash then black weft on the first blanket and white for the second. They should look quite different to each other.

Mystery Box Challenge – The Autumn Fairy

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I’ve been working on the Mystery Box Challenge project since I picked up the box in mid-January. As soon as I opened the box and inspected the contents…

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… they seemed to suggest to me a kind of rustic fairy doll – or rather, a figurine, since this wouldn’t survive being played with – with feathers for wings and red hair.

The challenge was to use at least 50% of the contents of the box. I thought I could use everything – including the box.

I’ve been working on it nearly every week. It has involved a lot of weaving shapes by sticking pins in foam core, winding yarn between them for warp then sewing in the weft – like with the sleeve here:

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The shawl was my first try at frame weaving. Rather nifty process, actually:

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The copper wire and beads became a crown. The wire was VERY fiddly to weave. I used string heddles:

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The playing card became a book, with the entry form as pages and the silver thread as binding:

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Everything I didn’t use became stuffing, mixed with some felting fleece:

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The box became the chair:

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The tubes the yarn was wound onto were rolled up squares of paper, so I unwound an stuck them over the back of the box, covering the box handle, which I’d taped onto the back to give it rigidity.

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The upholstery was woven directly onto the chair, and the chair painted with acrylic paints:

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I managed to use up all the brown wool. The last item I made was a little mat. Boy, was I sick of weaving this way by the end!:

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The feathers became wings, attached with more copper wire. The smaller feather became a pen:

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The eyes and mouth were stitched out of some of the silk threads.

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However, the face is, well, not brilliant. The wool made for a very rustic fabric, which I think I got away with except in the case of the head. But these were the materials I had, and I was determined not to add anything obviously new – stuffing, tape and paint didn’t add significantly new objects to the figurine.

What is very obviously new is the bird cage I put her in to deter small people who might believe she is a doll to be played with:

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The cage is the only thing that doesn’t quite meet the requirements. There is a size restriction and the cage is a little bigger.

All in all… well, it was a lot of effort and I enjoyed maybe 60-70% of it. But I had to dedicate two afternoons of the weekend before last to finishing her and I was utterly sick of the project by the end. Dolls/figurines weren’t my thing before this and they still aren’t. Still, I was trying something new and I did use all the materials!

If I learned anything (apart from not getting sucked into mystery challenges) is was that frame weaving is something I might want to have a go at. Oh, and not to weave with copper wire.

Thick & Thin

I’ve been wanting to try thick and thin weaving for a while now. It’s where you have both thick and think yarns in the warp and weft. Once before when I wove log cabin someone suggested I try it with thick and thin yarns, so I’m giving that a go.

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The blue yarn is from the frogged sleeves of the Sunrise Circle Jacket and the white is Bendigo Classic 3ply. Being a chunky yarn that’s felted a bit, weaving the blue with itself would have produced a thick, hard fabric perhaps only suitable for a rug or blanket. Except there wasn’t enough of it for that. Weaving it with a thin warp would have helped, but been a bit boring. This combination of yarn and weave structure seems to be resulting in a light enough fabric to work as a scarf.

If it does, I have a weaving option for bulky leftovers in my stash. Hmm…

I Weave You, I Weave You Not

I’ve been trying to decide what to put on the table loom next.

Olive Handspun Shawl
The handspun is the yarn from the frogged Handspun Wrap Vest. I’ve bought some fine, strong wool from a weaving supplies store to use as warp. But I have no ideas for a weave structure beyond simple tabby.

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Hunky Hank Shawl
The colourful yarn will be the warp and the black Bendigo Luxury the weft. I want to try an undulating twill.

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Metallic Border Shawls
I want to weave finer yarns, and when I matched up these metallic threads with Bendigo Classic cones I started to get excited about the possibilities. I’m thinking of a twill forming diamonds, which will show up most strongly in a stripe of the metallic yarn at either end of a shawl.

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Cotton Baby Blankets
I still have a lot of Bendigo Cotton 8ply in my stash, and I’d like to weave more baby blankets out of it. I’m wondering if I could do a long warp and weave two or three in one go.

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Cotton Tea Towels
A few years ago I decided to make tea towels like what I’d seen in Handwoven and ordered some yarn. When I realised how many ends I’d have to wind and thread with the fine yarn, I lost courage. But I’m determined to do this one day.

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But the decision must wait until I finish the Handweavers and Spinner Guild Mystery Box Challenge, as that’s due soon. Here’s a glimpse of some of the weaving I’m doing for that:

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Yes, that’s the copper wire. Fiddly. As. Anything.

The Big Blue

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Yarn: Vintage Hues (discontinued, I believe) and Dale Garn as warp and for the black stripes
Weave structure: doubleweave
EPI: 5
Comments: This is the biggest thing I’ve woven. Using doubleweave allowed me to make it twice the width of the loom – 160cm – and it’s about the same length. Unlike with previous blankets made with this yarn, I decided I wouldn’t bother to try and match the graduation of the yarn from one ball to the next, instead putting stripes of the warp yarn between them. This did mean I had to reject any ball that had a knot and sudden colour change, or the stripes wouldn’t have been an equal width.
Conclusion: I love it! It’s soft and cuddly and I can wrap myself up in it!

I also wove a scarf with the yarn as a sampler:

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The project has been on my to-do list for a few years, and now that it’s done my stash has reduced considerably. Not quite down to my comfortable baseline of 10 kilos, though.

I’ll Have One of Everything

A few years ago I ordered five years worth of Handwoven magazine as digital issues. They came on cds so I still had to wait for them to arrive. I never quite got around to reading them all, so I didn’t rush to buy more. Part of the problem was that the files weren’t all named in the same way, or even in a similar way. I’d try to keep track of what I’d read by reading a year at a time, but with all the issues out of order I kept losing my place.

I finally got around to renaming them recently. Then I noticed that Interweave was having a sale and I could buy another five year’s worth – four and then fill the holes in more recent years – for around $60. So I had even more renaming to do, but it was worth it. Suddenly I was tearing through them, five or ten issues a night.

It’s been interesting see the trends that have come and gone over the last 12-13 years. Chenille. Deflected double weave. “What is a blog?” articles. The inclusion of more rigid heddle projects. The Ashford Knitters Loom (January 2006). Ponchos! More in depth articles. Reader challenges.

When I first started buying the magazine there was so much in it that was beyond me. There’s still so much that’s a mystery. Nearly everything was directed at experienced weavers. Heck, I’m not a newbie any more but I’m a long way from calling myself ‘experienced’.

At the Guild a few weeks back I was asked where I’d learned to weave. I said I was mostly self-taught as there wasn’t much on offer about weaving at the Guild when I began. I learned and was inspired by blogs, videos, weavers forums on Ravelry, a couple of books and Handwoven magazines.

Two friends have asked me for advice or lessons recently, and that’s had me feeling more inspired to weave. I’ve moved the table loom down into the tv room to use on days too hot to be in the workroom – there certainly have been plenty of those lately! – and have a doubleweave blanket in progress.

After the huck scarf and the lessons, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ready to upgrade my table loom to 8 shafts. There’s still a lot I haven’t tried yet with 4-shafts, though. Perhaps I should set myself a list of weave structures to try before I do.

Huckleby Hemp Scarf

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy (warp and weft)
Source: My Secret Pal in 2006!
Loom: Ashford Table Loom
Weave structure: Huck lace
Sett: 10 dpi

I’ve woven so many big things on this loom that it’s always a pleasure and surprise to whip through a scarf. My selvedges are a bit uneven but not from pulling in. More the opposite – probably because I’m used to stretchy yarn and allowing for a lot of drawing in with wide projects.

I have quite a backlog of posts waiting to be published. The successive heatwaves and a broken air conditioner are to blame. I’m stuck in the tv room on hot days, so I craft. Which would be great if I wasn’t itching to write and worrying about deadlines. I’m tempted to bring the laptop down, but past experience tells me that I’d stuff my back up so badly I wouldn’t be able to do anything when the weather cooled again.

So I have the table loom set up on a folding table. Weaving is great for thinking. I chew over story ideas. Since finishing the scarf I’ve warped up the loom again, this time with a very different project – a doubleweave blanket using the full width of the loom woven with bulky wool yarn. It’s going to be reduce the size of the yarn stash substantially.

Weaving Lesson

Donna, a Canberran friend, was given a 4-shaft loom last year and has been inviting me to come up and stay, and give her a lesson. So on Australia Day I took her up on the offer.

By then she’d treated herself to an Ashford Knitters Loom as well and had whipped out three plain weave scarves. I brought mine with me as I figured it’s easy to teach someone if you can demonstrate and get them to mirror a tutor’s actions.

On the first night I had a look at the 4-shaft loom. The apron cloth was mouldy so we gave it a good clean with vinegar and a surface spray containing bleach. Some of the heddles were rusty, but most were okay. The shaft levers are positioned at the side, but otherwise the loom isn’t too different to mine in structure, and it appeared to be working fine. It did need a bit of a clean up, though.

So the next day we removed the rusty heddles on the 4-shaft loom and I gave it a good dusting with a new house-painting paint brush. We removed the heddle frames and divided the good heddles up between them, then Paul treated the rust on the frames with Killrust and sanded them smooth.

In the meantime I showed Donna how to read a draft by getting her to warp up and weave log cabin on the Knitters Loom. She picked it up pretty quickly:

Once I was sure she knew what she was doing I left her weaving that and had a closer look at the table loom. One of the cords had been replaced with blind cord, and there was a bundle of it left. The rest of the cord was old and stiff, and thinner. So I replaced it all with new but thinner cord and made sure the heddle frames were all level.

By then I was feeling a lot of affection for the loom. It had a few nifty features, including a cord you could pull at the front to release the back ratchet, an easy system for adjusting the heddle frame position, a movable reed/beater, and it’s own raddle. I’d have liked to have sanded and revarnished it, and replaced the apron fabric, but since I wanted to get Donna weaving on it the next day there was no time for fabric shopping and varnish drying.

The next day we planned out a twill sampler, measured the warp, put the warp on the room (front to back) and Donna got weaving. Though a bit more challenging for a newbie, she was soon engrossed, getting more excited as she started to see pattern emerging.

In retrospect, I would have got her to put 8ply yarn on the loom rather than 4ply, as it would have been a little easier to see the twills forming, but overall the lesson went pretty much to plan. Like me, Donna has a yarn stash she can’t knit since getting RSI, and she’s keen to see what she can weave with it.

I’d love to do another lesson showing her some of the fun things you can do with the Knitters Loom. Maybe something for the future.

Mystery Box Challenge

While at the Guild I succumbed to the lure of the Mystery Box. Well, it has been a while since I participated in a crafty challenge not of my own devising. There were only three boxes left, all labelled ‘W’ for weaver:

And inside…

Quite a collection of odds and ends:

The playing card made me laugh – it was right at the bottom. The rules state that you must use at least 50% of the contents. Any knitted or crocheted items must be handspun, which is a pity as my first ideas involved weaving, knitting and crocheting the provided commercial yarn. You see, the first thing that popped into my head was a figurine:

These are early sketches. I’d like to be able to use all of the materials. The glitz and handful of short threads are the only things I can’t see a particular use for, so I suspect they are going to become stuffing.

In other news, I put something on the table loom last week:

My second huck lace project, using hemp yarn. It’ll either be a scarf or a table runner, depending on how much it softens up in the wash.

Miniature Tapestry Weaving

Last week I finally got to a summer school workshop at the Victorian Handweavers and Spinners Guild. For years I’ve either being away at a writing retreat or chasing a deadline at this time of year. Or there weren’t any weaving-related workshops on offer. This time there were a couple of weaving workshops and I had the time, so I chose Mini Tapestry Weaving because I wanted to try some kind of tapestry weaving – though the idea of making small, quick tapestries appealed, too.

After about five hours of guidance, nattering and weaving we all had little experimental tapestries well underway or finished and attached to a card:

Sue Traylen, the teacher, had made many little artworks this way. Hers are much more precise than this, of course, and she has a artist’s eye for composition. I got to thinking of ways this method could be applied to wearable things, so I bought some of the embroidery floss she uses.

Being able to use stranded cotton embroidery floss would have been great as I have heaps, but Sue told us it doesn’t work as well. With these I started stitching a bracelet, using a strip of thick leather and a press stud closure. You use sewing cotton for the warp.


The pins Sue provided have little coloured heads. My pearl-topped ones were too big to fit next to each other.

You can use plain pins, but I decided to try making some of mine into coloured pins by dabbing on a bit of nail polish.

It seems to have hardened well enough to stay put.

While I had the leather working gear out, I made another bracelet based on something I saw on Pinterest:

I’m thinking of adding a charm or chain to it.