Yet Another Kind of Weaving

When I was a child my mother added basket-making to the seemingly endless list of crafts she had tried. My Dad took one of her cute garlic baskets to work and came home with an order for 99 of them. By the end Mum’s hands were a painful mess and the gloss had thoroughly worn off basketry as a hobby.

It was the first warning I had not to turn hobbies into work. Not that I listened, having worked as an illustrator and now earning a living as a writer.

When I saw that the Handweavers and Spinners Guild had a one-day basketry class in their summer school schedule, I decided to sign up. I’ve been a bit wary of cane basketry, because I’ve heard it’s a bit hard on the hands. But these were coiled baskets, which involves stitching materials into place not wrestling them into a weave. I like the idea that I could use plant materials from the garden rather than much harder cane.

Well, it was great fun. We started with polymer clay bases, as starting is the hardest and slowest part. We used cordyline (cabbage tree) leaves, which I have the red version of in the garden, and stitched it all together with waxed linen thread.

creativefidget811

I finished it by leaving some leaves sprouting from the rim, adding another bunch and sewed around to the opposite side before finishing off, leaving another tuft of leaves.

You can use this method with other long, flexible materials, like rags and rope. I have a pile of old garden hoses. I’m thinking of using a plant pot drip tray as the base, and sewing it all together with wire or heavy plastic twine.

But I do love the idea of using plants from the garden. I’ve already got some of the recommended plants growing here: cordyline, lomandra longifolia, dianella, lavender and aram lily. I already planned to grow red hot poker. Maybe I can find a place for New Zealand flax and canna lilies as well.

Indecisive

It’s took a while to decide what to put on the floor loom next. For every idea I had there was a major impediment. A project comes together for me when I have a good match of weave structure, yarn and object to make. If one of those three isn’t inspiring me it’s hard to get motivated.

I’d like to weaving some non-wool fabric to sew clothing out of, but without a specific garment in mind for it I had no idea how much to make and how wide the fabric should be.

I could just weave a length of fabric as wide as the loom. But I’d get bored pretty quickly if it was just plain weave and if I’m going to use a weave structure I have to consider what sort of garment I’m making.

I have a list of weave structures I haven’t tried before, but I don’t want to make sampler after sampler. But if I’m not making samplers, what will I make.

So the big sticking point is what to make. I have a vague idea about making garments when I need to decide to make a particular garment. I already have plenty of blankets, floor rugs, towels, table runners, placemats and scarves. I don’t have many people I can make things for, either.

One of the projects on my to-do list is to use a green cotton yarn in my stash to make a waffle weave baby blanket. But with nobody expecting a baby, had I dismissed it and looked further down the list. When nothing inspired me, I decided to make it anyway, ready for next time there are new parents to weave for.

And then a few days laster I ran into someone who has recently had a baby, for whom the blanket would be perfect.

So I wound a warp, and started threading:

creativefidget807

And today I finished warping and started weaving.

creativefidget808

It’s weaving up well, waffle weave boxes forming nicely.

Next I need to decide what to put on the Katie loom, not that the Doubleweave Boxes sampler is done. More on that soon.

Pinwheel Tea Towels

creativefidget806

Another weaving project begun when we returned from overseas last October is done. I’d finished the weaving late last year, but the fabric needed cutting into three pieces and the hems sewn, then a good wash in hot water to shrink it.

creativefidget805

I’m very happy with the result. Now that the fabric has shrunk, the threads sit closer together and the pinwheels became much more visible. They’re also thicker and cushier, and suck up water well when used.

creativefidget804

I can see more tea towels in my future!

Thoughts on Fibre

While my main aim for weaving this year is to try new structures, I have a secondary aim in mind. It has come out of a collision between my fibre allergies and interest in ethical textiles.

I’d like to weave fabric in order to make garments from non-wool, ethical fibres.

Why non-wool? It seems like I’m growing more sensitive to it. This really annoys me, as I love wool*. It’s easy to spin, scores well on ethical issues when it’s processed locally and is wonderfully warm. I’ve managed to wear so far it by donning thick, high-necked long-sleeve cotton tops beneath. Fortunately my hands and feet are free from irritation. I think I’d cry if I had to throw away all my hand knit socks.

Why ethical fibres? Last autumn I set out to buy cotton substitutes to wool jumpers and my shock at how hard it was to find anything that wasn’t acrylic propelled me into reading up on ethical textile issues. Since then I’ve aimed to make most of my clothing purchases ethical and to avoid buying new clothes as much as possible, which has been surprisingly easy.

Why garments? Last year the Guild hosted a talk about Fibreshed and 1year1outfit – a challenge to make clothing entirely from materials sourced within your local area. I was inspired, but with no non-animal fibre products available in my Fibreshed, and after spinning silk hankies gave me hand pain, I abandoned the idea of being able to participate. But I can buy ethical fibre from further away, and I like the idea of making clothing from fabric I wove.

The question of fibre sensitivity hovers over everything I weave or machine knit now. I still have heaps of wool knitting yarn in my stash. Now that I’m weaving fine cotton with confidence, a part of me wonders if all that wool knitting yarn is a waste of stash space. Of course, I can use the wool to make gifts, but to be honest, I don’t have people to weave for and I usually end up giving what I can’t wear to the op shop.

A few years ago I realised my stash was becoming more of a weavers stash than a knitters stash. Now maybe it needs to become more of an ethical, non-wool stash.

*I’m still not 100% sure about alpaca. Sometimes it’s made me itch, other times not.

Graduation Blanket

creativefidget802

I finished this just before NYE, but then decided to redo the sewing together of the squares. Just lifting the blanket made the stitching gape, so I looked up other ways to attach the squares and found one that worked better.

creativefidget801

It’s woven from mostly Cleckheaton Country – balls I picked up in op shops and a few extras I bought when I ran out of the two darker browns. Paul has it now, in his office to use as a knee rug on cold winter days.

Stash Portrait 2016-2017

Recent thoughts about where I want to go with weaving, and my fibre allergies led to a bit of a stash assessment. So I laid out all the yarn on the office floor and took a picture:

stash2017

(Wool yarns are marked in red, cotton in yellow, and everything else or yarns I’m not sure of the fibre are in orange.)

A sort was in order. I moved cones to the larger boxes and divided everything into wool and non-wool. All non-wool, non-acrylic yarns had instant keeper status. With those put aside, I considered which wool yarns to keep or cull. Sock yarns are keepers, since my feet don’t get irritated by wool. Recent handspun stays, too. The Bendigo Classic 2 & 3 ply does weave up into a nice blanket and makes good warp yarn, so I’ll retain that.

The rest I sorted by softness. The Tonne of Wool Cormo is the softest, Bendigo Luxury next, Cleckheaton Country and Paton’s Inca next, and the rest became one batch of ‘least soft’ yarn. From that I culled the Bendigo Serenade, Patons Shadow Tweed, Lincraft Cosy Wool, a cone of fine boucle and the metallic yarns I hated weaving with earlier this year.

I also culled my knitwear, removing two vests I don’t wear, a cardigan and a jacket. The jackets were unravelled. The yarn I got from them is wool, but I have plans to turn it into pin loom blankets. Since one is a bulky yarn, I’m currently making a pin loom 150% the size of the one I have, so the nails are spaced wider apart and I get bigger squares.

The stash doesn’t all fit into the boxes, but with the wool yarns hanging about in the way rather than the cone yarns, I’ve got more of an incentive to either use them up or cull them.

Looking for a New Home

Not for me, for my table loom!

I advertised it in the Australian spinners and weavers Facebook group a few weeks back. At once point I had someone interested in the loom and not the base, so when someone else wanted just the base I agreed to sell it separately. The first person then had second thoughts about the loom. Still, that’s better than trying to sell the base with no loom!

If you’re in the market for an 80cm Ashford 4-shaft table loom, let me know. Here it is on the base (no longer included). Excellent condition. One owner. A couple of shuttles, metal rods and the original threading hooks included. All for $750 AUD.

ashfordtableloom1

And the piano stool is your’s too – if you pick it up!

Spring Weaving

I’m liking how this sampler is turning out, with the colourful rows followed by reversed, black and grey rows, and that it’s reversible.

creativefidget791

I made a small mistake in the first few rows, but it’s a sampler and if I do think of something to make out of it those rows with probably end up in a seam.

The Pinwheel Tea Towels are growing:

creativefidget789

I ran out of yarn two squares short for The Gamppa Rug, and one of the colours is discontinued. So I bought what I hoped would be the right colours on eBay. The dark brown is pretty close, but the lighter brown is a bit redder, but from a distance not so easy to pick as a different colour.

creativefidget790

I’ve started sewing the squares together.

Textile Bazaar 2016

I just realised I haven’t shown off my purchases from the Textile Bazaar a few weeks back. Well, here they are:

creativefidget783

Two temples, one handmade ($5) one manufactured ($25). Both are too big for the pinwheel tea towels, which I need one for, so I was going to cut the handmade one down to fit. But it turns out to be a good size for if I weave the full width of the floor loom, so I decided to keep it as it is and have ordered a smaller temple.

creativefidget784

I bought this book for $1. There was a bit of a crush by the book bins, so I didn’t take a close look until later. It is hilarious.

creativefidget785

All I can see is a Hypnofrog eye, or if I turn them 90 degrees, the Eye of Sauron.

creativefidget786

A friend who likes sharks was rather intrigued by this one.

The technical information is useful, however, and I do like the idea of breaking free of convention. But maybe more along the lines of less rigidly symmetrical stripes and zig-zags or kaleidoscope-like patterns.

I also bought some 8/2 cotton and a skein of thicker orange cotton, but they’ve already disappeared into the stash.

Looms In, Looms Out

Last weekend I joined Ilka White and her weaving students over lunch, to catch up on our progress (or lack of it, in my case) since attending her classes. I brought the renovated loom in to get Ilka’s opinion on how to thread the shafts. It was well worth doing, as she suggested a different, better way than what the loom originally had.

creativefidget777

Since I was intending to sell the loom in the Textile Bazaar, I left it there. However, during the week one of her students, who she’d put me in touch with a while ago, contacted me to ask if she could buy it.

So that loom didn’t end up in the Bazaar. I still intended to put the Dyer & Philips one in as well as the Ashford Table Loom and its base. However, when I found out that the Guild’s commission was 30%, I realised it wasn’t going to make sense to sell the bigger loom at the Bazaar.

It all comes down to maths. With the Dyer & Philips loom, I got it free and the only parts that cost me money was $40 for the heddles. I hadn’t spend a big chunk of time fixing it up either. Add $20 for commission and I’ve got my money back.

With the Ashford Table Loom, I bought it new and spent money and time making the stand. It now costs $1025 for a new one. For an item that’s in excellent condition, I’d hope to get 2/3 to 3/4 the current price of a new one. If I reduce the loom to 3/4 the price of a new one, then add 30% commission, I’d be asking for more than a new one costs. Even if I reduce it to 2/3 the price of a new one, I’d still be expecting someone to buy a second hand loom at the new price.

The stand makes it more complicated. An Ashford stand for this loom costs $615, but of course mine is handmade and not particularly attractive (though I’d wager it was much sturdier). I would like to get something for it, but with commission forcing the asking price below 2/3 of new as it is, I’d have to give it away for free.

So I wound up taking just the D&P loom in for the Bazaar. Which sold to a weaver I follow on Instagram. Hello Mary!

In the meantime, I’ve been weaving. Thanks to edits being two weeks late to arrive, and Sunday’s lunch, I had lots of time and enthusiasm last week. I decided to get both the Katie and floor looms warped. I’ve put some 8/2 cotton onto the floor loom to weave tea towels in a pinwheel pattern:

creativefidget778

And warped up the Katie with a doubleweave sampler:

creativefidget779

I’ve made a few more squares on the pin loom:

creativefidget780

And I’m eyeing the Knitters Loom, thinking maybe a hand-manipulated lace scarf would be an interesting contrast to the other projects. I’m even thinking of warping up the little inkle loom. Just how many weaving projects can I get in motion at once?

Hmm. Time to get that Ashford Table Loom advertised before it winds up with another ‘test’ project on it.