January sure has been a busy month for me, with a lot of time away from home. I got a lot of knitting done on the first trip, but no more than a few rows of a sock on the second.

In between trips I finished this:

Last Easter our local Kmart sold ‘dalek’ easter eggs. The packaging contained a little device that, when pressed, let out a loud “exterminate! exterminate”. So when I knit the base of my Extermiknit! dalek, I left a little circular hole, inserted the device, then sewed on a circular patch.

Then I gave it to the beau as a late Christmas present. He seems rather chuffed with it, occasionally patting the dalek as he walks by, to which it protests ‘exterminate!’ loudly, and scares the cat.

Fortunately I don’t seem to have any trips coming up until early March, so I have all February free to get back into the knitting and weaving. I’ve still got a front and the back of Sylvi to knit, and this new plain sock, and I’ve yet to take the denim rag rug off the loom. And two weeks of blog reading to catch up on. Plenty to keep this arty-crafty gal occupied.

Here and Gone Again

I’m back from the writing retreat. But I’m about to head off again, to Brisbane, for four days. I have heaps of things to organise, so this has to be a quick post.

During my two weeks in Gippsland, I visited a few yarn stores and second hand bookshops. First there was the second hand bookshop in Bairnsdale, where I got these:

The encylopedia is a little sad in that there must have been a low budget for photography, and some of the illustrations are a bit pointless. But it’s interesting in that the variety of techniques of knitting and crochet is surprisingly wide.

At Jolly Jumbuck in Bairnesdale I resisted buying stash and instead bought some lovely lanolin hand cream and two Ashford weaving books I’d been wanting to look at in person before buying. The book of projects is a little strange in that it doesn’t supply the sewing patterns – an approach I’ve never seen before. But there are some interesting ways of getting garments out of strips of fabric in there.

The rigid heddle weaving book has some of the techniques I’ve explored already, and lots I haven’t. One is a variation of leno I’m going to have to try out in order to understand completely, which is why I bought this:

Boucle alpaca yarn, from Stitches’n’Things in Lakes Entrance.

(Remember, yarn bought for weaving doesn’t count in the knitting yarn stash diet.)

At the retreat I finished the first and second sleeve of Sylvi, knit one front and started the second. I also knit most of a dalek. Photos to come… er, next week?

Blog Break

I’m heading off to the writers retreat tomorrow, so unless we can find an internet cafe I doubt I’ll be blogging here for the next two weeks. I will miss reading knitting/weaving blogs, and Ravelry, but most of all I’ll miss the cat and the beau.

I finished weaving the denim rag rug, but right now I’m deliberating whether to take it off the loom now or wait until I get back. I’m not sure how I should tackle the ends. Fringe or weave in? Hmm.

Take care, everyone and hopefully I’ll return with some yarn store capers and knitting progress to blog about.

Warping Solutions

I decided to warp up the table loom in order to weave the first denim rag rug a few nights ago. First there was a bit of measuring up and calculation to do. The rug was supposed to go in the tv room, but we’ve recently rearranged the furniture and now a big square rug would suit better than a long rectangle. The loom is only about 80cm wide. I considered doing three strips and sewing them together, but it turned out I don’t have enough warp for that.

The lounge room could do with a rug between the couches, so I measured up that space and found the 80cm width would work well. So I did the calculations for a 2 meter long rug.

The measuring and cutting of yarn happened on New Years Day, with a lingering hangover and lack of sleep. Not a day for trying out new warping methods. But there’s one step in the Ashford instructions that I hate. You have to pull loops of the warp through the reed and hook them over a lease stick. The loop pulling requires two hands. The lease stick requires one hand. Guess what? I don’t have three hands. So I’ve been tying and taping the lease stick into place. But the other problem I have with this method is that the lease stick doesn’t quite fit between the loom and the side wall. (You can see it touching the window in the pic above.)

I came up with a solution:

There’s a weaving tool called a raddle. I have no idea what it is. But one side of my warping board/space dyeing tool/doovy looks rather like one if you put all the pegs in. I clamped this behind the reed and looped the warp ends over the pegs instead. Then when all were threaded, I just slid the lease stick across, transferring the loops as I went.

Lots of threading of heddles and reeds later, finished yesterday, I was ready to weave:

I’m not quite managing to get no gaps between the picks of denim rag, but I can live with that. Perhaps a hot wash will shrink everything down to a tighter fabric, too.

I’m taking my time and enjoying the process. After all, I’ll be heading off next week to a writing retreat so it may be a few weeks before I get a weaving fix again.

Unless, of course, I figure out how to fit the knitters loom in the mini with two suitcases, my office chair, food supplies, and my fellow retreater’s golf clubs…

The Arty

This is a painting I started in 2006. It has been 95% done for over a year. A few days ago I finally made the last changes and pronounced it done.

I used to paint regularly, at a weekly ‘class’ where all the students worked on whatever they wanted in whatever medium suited them, and our fabulous teacher would give guidance and advice, nudging us constantly toward improving our skills.

But then several things happened at around the same time to throw me off: my teacher had to cancel the night class due to lack of interest, moving in with someone who is an even greater hoarder than me left me not wanting to clutter up the house with any more paintings, the whole house extension thing left me too depressed to paint anyway, and, strangely, visiting all the galleries and museums during our UK trip in 2005 left me feeling like it’s all been done before – and that the world certainly doesn’t need more paintings!

None of these are, ultimately, good excuses for not painting. They have had me questioning why I paint, though. And, in contrast, why I craft. I suspect the latter is a type of creativity that doesn’t feel self-indulgent because it produces useful things. Or more useful than something pretty to put on the wall and look at, anyway.

When I paint, however, I don’t want the usefulness of the piece to be its main purpose. Then it’s not art, it’s interior decorating. It’s what the piece has to say – or evoke/illustrate/record – that must be the main purpose for creating it, for me.

The trouble is, I haven’t thought of or stumbled upon anything to evoke, illustrate or record that inspires me to paint for a long time. Oh, there have been ideas, which I’ve recorded in my sketch book. And now that I think of it, a lot of those ideas revolve around useful things as subjects for art. Or turning useful objects into use-less art.

Hmm, I could be onto something there. Or not. I’ll keep you posted.


A friend of mine has started a little business, Konstant Kaos, making very cool children’s shoes, purses and bags, and after I saw a money pouch she’d made in map print fabric (me being an ex-cartographer) I went a little weak at the knees and ordered two pencil cases.

Last week she popped in to deliver them, and they are fabulous. So professional-looking. One is going to be my new knitting notions bag. The other is a gift for a cartographer/geographer friend.

It turned out that she had also tried out a bag pattern I’d sent her a link for, and gave me the result.

Red, of course, which is one of my favourite colours.

She’d sourced some awesome lining fabric:

I love it!

Stash Flash (KFYS 2009 Begins!)

It’s that time of year again. The time of year for flashin’ the stash. I could just show you this:

But photographing the stash when it’s all tidily packed away doesn’t really show the true size of it. And it’s useful during a big stash diet to have more detailed pics. During KFYS 2007 I took pics showing all my yarn so I could cross it out as I used it. I also found that noting if I had a purpose for a yarn was also useful.

So here’s the stash broken into three bigger pics – with my notes:

Oh, and I almost forgot my yarn for Alex, which has been sitting in a separate bag ready to start:

There are some smaller projects I haven’t noted, for the sake of the pics not getting too crowded, and because my priority is getting large ones done. I didn’t separate weaving yarns from knit/crochet ones because there are some yarns that I could do either with, and I might try a yarn for weaving and find it’s not suitable.

Looking at the stash photos, I’m a little bothered by all the small batches of yarn with no purpose. But already I’m getting little sparks of ideas for combining and using them without ending up with yet more hats, scarves or gloves. I may end up with too many woven rugs and blankets instead, but I suspect it may be easier to find them homes, especially as winter draws near.