Back & Forth, Up & Down

After my stash cull, I chose a new project for the table loom:

Instead of selecting a project based on using up stash, I asked myself what I’ve been wanting to try and the answer was “twill using one colour”. Could I do that with yarn in my stash? This camel yarn left over from a vest sprang to mind. I’d overdyed it with this fabulous blue, and it had a shine to it that would help make the texture show up. There wasn’t much of it, so the only choice was a scarf. That just meant one less decision to make.

However, I stuck to my former plan of weaving some houndstooth fabric on the rigid heddle, from some yarn I bought in Canada:

The plan is to felt it a little, then sew it into a bag. I took this with me to a friend’s house last Saturday, and her daughter kept coming over to watch me weave. So I asked if she’d like to try a simple form of weaving, and we gathered together some yarn and straws. I got to try out a little modification to the method and see if a child her age had the attention span and dexterity for it. She scored a big tick for both, and enjoyed it enough to keep going when I had to stop weaving because my hand was starting to hurt.

My hand is a lot better now, though I don’t have full flexibility back in the wrist. The ice dipping seemed to do it a lot of good. I didn’t do it for ten days as recommended. After three days I felt as though I’d got all the benefit I was going to get, and interruptions every ten minutes just isn’t compatible with writing. If the RSI flares up again I’ll definitely do the ice dipping again, but I’ll keep a bucket of ice water next to my desk for easy access.

The Handknitter’s Guild is holding their annual fair tomorrow. Brunswick Town Hall 10am to 3pm. I’m thinking of going and hovering around the machine knitters’ table. I should get some oil for the Passap, and if the Handweavers and Spinners Guild have an inkle loom for sale it might just come home with me.


It seems a lot longer than a months since I left my hand therapist’s office feeling pleased with myself, my hands almost completely back to normal. Surely if I stuck to the stretches and didn’t overdo anything it would stay that way.

Then that female unpleasantness happened and some time during my week on progesterone every muscle/tendon/joint problem I’ve ever had flared. Neck, shoulders, small of back, hips, knees, wrists and ankles. Most of it went away once I was off progesterone again. All but the RSI in my wrists. I kept doing my stretches, started wearing a brace at night again, applied Voltaren and Neurofen, stopped my hour long evening ‘fix’ of knitting and pared back on writing time. But it kept getting worse. Eventually I had to stop the stretches and start wearing the brace during the day, and started having a serious case of WTF!!!

Trying to work out why is a big guessing game. Have I been doing anything to aggravate it? Maybe. Avoiding one things means I do another. Weaving always seemed a safe alternative to knitting, because it doesn’t involve much in the way of fiddly finger movements. When I’m not writing I tend to get stuck on the internet, but that usually makes my back hurt more, not my wrists. Not this time. And this time it’s flexing my wrist that’s bothering me the most, rather than finger movements.

I’m trying something different this week. In the Carpel Tunnel group on Ravelry there’s a physical therapist who recommends ‘ice dipping’. You dip your hand and forearm in a sink or bucket of ice water for five seconds several times over a couple of hours, once a day for ten days. Sounds unpleasant? Well, five seconds is easily bearable and it is rather soothing. Whether it makes a difference in the long run remains to be seen.

Faster Pussycat! Cull! Cull!

It’s odd how bagging up a kilo of yarn from the stash and giving it to the op shop can make me feel better. I spent some time yesterday going through the stash and deciding which weaving project to start next. Then last night, as I was waiting to fall asleep, I realised I’d selected a yarn I wasn’t in love with and paired it with another that wasn’t a great match, all for the sake of just using it all up and reducing the stash total.

And I decided that was just plain silly. Since getting RSI I’ve started to see my time as the greater commodity. Why spend it on anything less than a yarn I love and a finished object I want? The only reason I can think of is to try a method I haven’t tried before, but it doesn’t need to be while making something I don’t like or need.

But I let myself take one yarn back out of the bag. It eases that nagging feeling I’ll regret the cull.

And, of course, I bought some more yarn, too.

Weaving Exploration

I’ve been trying a few other methods of weaving to demonstrate at the convention craft market coming up in June.

Stick Weaving

I first saw this method in 2005, at a traditional crafts display on one of the Orkney Islands. The example I saw used twigs with holes carved in one end for the warp yarn to be tied to. There are lots of tutorials on the internet of a similar method using straws, suggested as an easy way to teach children. A bit of fiddling later and I had a hybrid method going. I’ve had another idea to simplify it further. I’m hoping to have some straws and yarn on hand so people could give this a try, but I’ll test it out on friends kids first to get an idea of what age group it suits best.

Card Weaving

This involves threading yarn through four holes at the corners of square cards, then turning the cards one way or the other to twist the yarns around each other and the weft yarn. The far ends of the yarn are secured to something, and the near ones tied to a belt around your waist. Imagine several barber poles lying next to each other, the stripes lined up so you get diamond or chevron patterns, then binding all together with string threaded through holes along the sides of the poles. The effect is rather similar to friendship bracelets. I found this method rather tedious and prone to tangling, so I won’t be in a hurry to do it again.

Inkle Weaving
‘Inkle’ is another kind of woven tape. I’ve been thinking of buying or making an inkle loom for a while and the demonstration was a good incentive to look into it. While searching for instructions I came upon some other looms used for making inkle tape: tape looms and knee paddle heddles. The paddle heddles gave me an idea. Ages ago, when I was trying to thing of a way to make a mini loom I could take on a plane, I was a bit stumped on how to make a heddle for it. It occurred to me that ‘afro’ style combs look an awful lot like heddles. I bought one and got Paul to drill holes halfway down the tines, but I never got around to making the loom. (The tensioning was the bit I couldn’t find a good solution for.)

Afro combs look spookily similar to paddle heddles. So I dug out my DIY heddle, stuck a piece of tape across the top of the tines, cut some yarn and threaded it. Like with the card weaving, one end the yarn needed to be secured to something and the other to me – I pinned it to my waistband – then it was just a matter of lifting or dropping the heddle to make the shed and weaving the weft yarn back and forth. The effect is a warp-faced fabric – basically the yarn woven back and forth is pulled tight enough that the long lengths of yarn crowd together and hide it.

This was so much easier than card weaving – beautiful in its simplicity and quite addictive. It’ll be a good way to use up longer lengths of loom waste (yarn that is left on the loom after a project is cut off). And if I substitute another clip for the safety pin, I can probably take it on a plane.

Other plans…
I still want to make an inkle loom, for the sake of adding knowledge of how to use one to my repertoire and because it’ll enable me to make wider tape. As for the rigid heddle and table looms, I’m thinking of setting up a basic scarf on the former and letting people try out weaving – perhaps offering up the result as a prize or charity auction item at the end of the con, and do something more complicated on the latter to demonstrate the potential of looms with more shafts.

Current Likes/Wants

Short dressy boots
Colourful tights
Striped socks
A dress for the Aurealis Awards
The infinity dress
Paint-dipped furniture and wooden kitchen utensils
Macrame owls
90s ethnic-inspired music
My new knitting machine
An inkle loom
Pinterest (I’m there as Trudi Canavan)
An ultrasound machine (yes, the RSI flared up again)

David & Lisa’s Baby Blanket

My doctor has given me progestogen and it has worked a treat. In fact, this stuff is like crack (not that I know what crack is like). By the end of the first day I was bouncing all over the place, having regained energy, optimism and a sense of humour. I was worried I’d be so hyped I wouldn’t sleep, but that hasn’t been a problem, though I’ve been having crazy dreams in which I’m flying or have superpowers.

I’ve been playing catch-up, and one of the things I hadn’t been able to do was deliver a gift to friends who are new first-time parents:

Weave structure: log cabin in double weave on 4 shafts, 2 ends per reed slot
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills 8ply cotton

Using double weave to weave a metre wide piece was an easy solution to the loom being a little too small for a baby blanket. I’ll definitely do that again.

I didn’t quite get the log cabin pattern to work over the centre fold. What I should have done was warp for an even number of squares across the blanket rather than try to make the central one go around the fold.

But I like the way the two narrow central stripes breaks the regularity of the log cabin grid, and in fact I think it improves the design. Because it’s still log cabin, it looks like it was meant to be that way. I might do this deliberately next time!

I finished it with a quick cold wash, laid it flat until it was mostly dry, then fluffed it up in the dryer. It came out soft and cushy. I hope Alistair enjoys his cuddly new blanket.

And now the loom is empty, and I can’t decide what to make next.

Paul’s First Machine Knit Socks

The weekend before last I whipped these up on the knitting machine.

Top down, short row heel and toes. Finished over a few nights by kitchinering the top edge of the toe to the foot and hand knitting the cuff. The yarn is Regia Royal Colour and black Patonyle.

I recently finished the knitwear alterations I’d started pre-RSI and when I was done with these socks I missed my little half hour handknitting fix each evening. So I intended to whip up another pair of socks for myself the next weekend so I had cuffs to knit this week.

Except by the time I got to the weekend I’d had a very heavy period for thirteen days and was too exhausted to concentrate. After botching one sock I frogged it and despaired. Then the next day it occurred to me that I could just churn out tubes now and add toes, heels and cuffs later. So I started on the sock yarn leftovers I’d matched up last year:

The knitting machine colour changer is fantastic, and makes knitting stripes so easy. Seeing how the colour combine and watching the rows grow is dangerously addictive. I may be in danger of building up my arm and shoulder muscles.

It has me wondering how well scrappy socks would go on the machine. I couldn’t do small stripes, as stopping to thread new yarn would get tedius. But if I did bigger stripes it might be a fun way to use up smaller amounts of leftovers.

Ah, Social NotNetworking

Waaaaaaaaay back in 2005 I created a LiveJournal blog in order to plan a holiday. It made it much easier for me, Paul and two friends living in another state and another country to coordinate. When the holiday started, I used it as a travel diary, then when I got back I changed the settings to ‘friends-only’ and used it as a diary-my-friends-could-read. (Later I started a separate craft blog so I could participate in craft swaps and web rings – gosh, remember web rings?)

I went through the process of friending lots of people followed by the guilt of un-friending the TMI posters, over-posters, meme/joke-addicted posters and people I, well, didn’t like in real life anyway. Most fellow LJers didn’t friends-lock their posts and I remember the frustration of the ‘What? You expect me to log in to read your posts?’ objection from them.

Now all those people are off in the evil You Know Where and I’m the one saying ‘What? You expect me to sign up in order to read your posts?’. Hardly any use LJ any more so I extracted myself from it to write here and get ‘What? You expect me to work out how to sign up to an RSS feed?’ objections instead, to which my response ‘At least you don’t have to sign up now’ falls on deaf ears.

Once Ravelry came along knitting blogs began vanished. Blogging in general seems to be a bit old hat. While I don’t measure the success of this blog by the number of comments or visitors. But it annoyed me to discover a few days ago that StatCounter no longer shows me who has been visiting, just how many of my images have wound up on Pinterest. (Either that, or suddenly all my regular visitors have stopped dropping by.)

Pinterest! What’s up with that? Micro-blogging? Hmm. I had a bit of a snoop and found some interesting articles about how Pinterest gets you to agree to only post content that you own, but the site just wouldn’t work if people weren’t downloading stuff from everywhere to pin on their page.

I was amused to see that this is, by far, the most-downloaded-to-Pinterest image from this blog:

Which came from a post about how I’d found a book on Fishpond about the technique and, thanks to Google Preview, the entire instructions were visible. Sure, it’s a simple technique and I would have worked it out just by looking at a basket made that way, or even a photo of a basket made that way, but I feel a bit guilty about it anyway because, rereading my post, it sounds a bit like I’m advocating consulting the instructions, not buying the book. Perhaps people are hearing about and buying the book anyway. I hope so.

But I digress…

It seems like at the beginning of social networking it was all about getting yourself Out There. Pretty soon the down side to that became obvious, and we started reconsidering exactly what we want to share or give away. Used to be the advice was to not put anything on the internet you wouldn’t shout out to a crowd containing your family, employer, corporations and the government. Now you shouldn’t put anything on the net that you mind someone else taking – and perhaps even claiming it was their own idea, as I’ve seen happen in the craft world.

Not that I’m saying I don’t want to share anything, but I’m realistic about what I put up here. After all, even if you don’t put something on the internet, you can’t be sure it won’t be ‘shared’ anyway, because someone else could post a photo or write about it.

So once again I’m questioning why I bother blogging at all. I consider all the aims I’ve had in blogging or putting up galleries of my artwork. Keep in contact with friends? Not once they moved elsewhere. Sell more art? Nope. Find a place in the craft community? Not really. Help other crafters? A little. When I achieved any of those, it was in a small way and/or didn’t last.

But I kept blogging because I enjoy it. It’s a fun way to keep records of what I’ve done, and to occasionally get something off my chest. It bothered me, though, that I may be spending more time blogging about art and craft than actually doing it. Maybe it’s not as beneficial as I thought. Maybe it’s a distraction, sucking away attention and time.

I started writing this post a few days ago. Then the company hosting this site called yesterday, trying to get me to renew nearly a year early. It made me realise something else: the domain name and hosting cost money, and though I can afford it there isn’t enough traffic to justify the fee when the main pay offs could be achieved other ways.

I can get things off my chest in my diary (which may be more therapeutic with less self-editing for public consumption). I can keep project records and to-do lists on my computer. Keeping the patterns and tutorial online is important, but I can put them on Ravelry.

I probably won’t shut up shop straight away, but I’m thinking it’s likely I will before the domain name comes up for renewal next January. In the meantime… I’m going to go check out Pinterest again. Perhaps micro-blogging is the way to go.


My first Etsy purchases arrived last week. First the Scrabble tile pillows by Countercouture arrived. I ducked down to Spotlight to buy inserts, then stuffed and arranged them on the couch in the tv room.

Seven letter score!

(The London/Underground pillows that used to be here are now on the guest room bed – they match with the old train maps on the walls.)

A few days later this little slightly crushed box from macraMe turned up.

Inside was a lovely little card and a bag.

And in the bag…

Which Paul actually admitted to liking, saying that it’s cool in a kind of silly way. You mean cute and kitschy, I asked? Yes.