Saori-inspired Spring Sampler Scarf

Some weeks back when I warped up pretty much every loom I own, I put a simple 3ply wool warp on the Knitters Loom and gathered together thrums and yarns in pink, cream, brown and burgundy. I was inspired by Saori weaving, and hoped that a simple project would be within my abilities post-eye surgery.

As it turned out, I had so much fun that I wove a fair bit of the warp before the surgery happened. After the op I didn’t weave for a few days, but I put the loom near by tv-watching armchair and eventually I gave it a go.

I had a thick cream cotton, three strands of very fine grey, burgundy and yellow-brown boucle wound together, and some handspun to play with along with the thrums. I also used the warp yarns – using up the pink with plain weave sections between each bit of ‘play’.

Initially I played with using the thrums and seeing how the different yarns wove up. I also went through most of the weaving methods on a rigid heddle I’d tried before. Clasped weft, basketweave, thick and thin, rya knots, tapestry, danish medallions, leno and Brook’s bouquet had a turn. Then I began to mix the techiniques. I used a pickup stick to weave plain weave with half the warp as a background for Brook’s bouquet. I wove leno as the same time weaving another yarn over and under the leno twists.

I had so much fun! I didn’t think much about what the fabric would be. I figured probably not a scarf, as it would be one-sided and maybe a bit lumpy in places, and not have an overall even appearance. But when I took it off the loom, I was surprised to find it does make a nice scarf. All the different kinds of weaving hang together well, and the textural elements haven’t stiffened it up or made it overly lumpy.

The colours are not what I usually wear, so I’m thinking I might sell or give it away. But I will take lots of photos, because I came up with some combinations of techniques that I’d like to use in other projects. Also, I had a birthday recently and received an Ashford Vari Dent reed, and I have an idea I want to try with it.

But first, I have three other weaving projects wanting my attention. I want to get at least one of them done before I warp up another one. I’m definitely experiencing the ‘fidget’ part of my blog title!

Spiral Mosaic Sphere

For my second mosaic sphere, I initially wanted to do one in black and white, with six spirals connected in pairs. But while browsing through the results of “mosaic sphere gazing ball” on Google Images I saw a sphere that was one continuous spiral using two rows of tiles:

I realised that this would require no measuring up. All I’d need to do was start the spiral and each row of tiles would sit next the last, until they reached the opposite end I’d started on. Easy peasy.

My intention is to use up leftover tiles on spheres. The only kind I had enough of for this design were the glossy black glass ‘mosaic’ tiles left over from our bathroom renovation. When I found I could easily cut these in half at an angle with my glass cutter, I knew they were the right choice for this project. For the narrow row of tiles, I decided to use the larger batch of millefiori I’d bought not long after I’d done the mosaic class because they were pretty, without any idea what I’d use them for. So far I’ve only used a dozen or so millefiori, and mostly ones I’d bought later because they were star shapes. This looked like a good way to use a larger quantity.

So I began with a black droplet, then cut one black tile in half and stuck it down. I worked backwards to taper the tiles back to the droplet, then I got the smallest millefiori and glued it at the opposite point to the tile starting place.

From there it was a matter of swapping from millefiori to black tiles and back again, going around and around. But because of the curved surface, I had to do it in batches or the tiles might move or fall off. Later, Barbara from my art class, who also does mosaics, suggested I stick dressmaking pins in to hold the tiles in place, which allowed me to do more each time.

However, when I reached the middle, I ran out of millefiori.

A hunt for more started. I thought I’d bought them from Bunnings, or Zart Art. But both had a different kind of millefiori in stock – all opaque wheras mine were transparent. I was fairly sure the brand I’d bought was Mandala, so I called them and it turned out that yes, they’d recently changed their millefiori as the transparent ones were more prone to breakage.

Fortunately they still had two packs of the old style ones, so I bought those. When they arrived I got back to work. A few more rounds and I was able to ditch the pins, as all the tiles were now resting on the previous ones, and I got the last 25% done in one sitting.

After letting it dry for a few days, I grouted it with black grout.

I bought a few more polystyrene balls when I went looking for more millefiori at Zart Art, but the vague idea I have for the next one might require me buying more tiles. And now that the weather has warmed up enough to spend time in the garage I’d like to get back to the swimmers clock. And then there’s the ventilation floor patches to do in the kitchen. And I’ve bought enough tiny ceramic tiles to do a matching wave pattern frieze around the bathroom. And I have a large bowl I want to do as well…

Krokbragd

At the moment, the floor loom is occupied with a Krokbragd rug. Krokbragd is a weft rep technique – rep in weaving is where the yarn going one way along the cloth completely covers the yarn going the other way.

That might be an overly simplified explanation, but it’ll do for this post. I’ve tried warp rep twice before, and hated it. (Though technically inkle weaving is warp rep, and I do enjoy that!) But I like the look of warp rep. Weft rep turns the pattern of crammed threads on its side, which means there are far fewer warp ends to thread and there are no cranky, sticky shed problems, so I’ve been wanting to try a form of it for ages.

I’ve been seeing lots of references to krokbragd lately. There’s even a Ravelry forum weave-along happening at the moment. The last Ashford magazine I saw had an article on doing krokbragd on a rigid heddle loom. Earlier this year I found a pile of carpet yarn in an antiques and second-hand market. A lot of it was moth-eaten, but I bought the least damaged cones anyway. I washed it, wound it into cakes and froze it for a month in the hopes that would take care of any moth larvae. I found some more of the same yarn at the Guild Textile Bazaar this weekend, too.

When I wove denim rag rugs some years ago I wound up with an extra cone of thick cotton rug warp. I put that on the floor loom, wound some of the carpet yarn onto rag shuttles, and got weaving. The first attempt was Not Good. Though the pattern was coming out fine, the selvedges were terrible, even though I was using a temple and ‘bubbling’ the weft. On closer inspection, there were even a few threads that doubled back on themselves, missing the floating selvedge, and where I’d bubbled the weft loops had formed.

I unwove it and started again, this time concentrating instead on making sure the yarn always caught the floating selvedge. The selvedges looked fine. I bubbled the picks again, but each time I pressed them in gently with the beater, checked the selvedge and for loops, and corrected if necessary before closing the shed and beating harder to cram the weft in.

I’m liking how it’s turning out so far. There’s a momentum to it, too. Just as I start to get bored with one combination of colours it’s time to switch to the next. I was worried that, what with three picks to a row of pattern, it would take up my floor loom for ages. I suspect that won’t be a problem. More likely having my attention and time split between so many looms will do that!

A Dior to Another World

I awaited Kathleen’s visit with anticipation not just to see my friend, but because we planned to do some sketching. Last time she visited we went to the 200 Years of Australian Fashion exhibition at the NGV. This time we headed to The House of Dior.

The previous time I was impressed with myself for getting five sketches done. This time I did nine!


The classic Dior ensemble. It was at the start, when I hadn’t really warmed up yet.


Watercolour added later. You can’t bring paints into these things!


Hat’s too big, though it was an overly large hat for the model. Was going to add a second figure next to her.


Surprisingly goth for a Dior gown.


I started drawing the goth gown but realised I’d started too bit and began again. Managed to cover the first marks with this one, which I really like.


Dotty dress! My favourite of the show. Borrowed Kathleen’s red marker for the dots


A very red, lush dress. Red added later.


This was a brightly coloured dress that I was going to colour using a photo as reference, but I didn’t get around to it.


Accessories!

Revisiting Bookbinding

A few weekends ago an interstate friend, the lovely Kathleen Jennings, came to say. I gave her some of my concertina sketchbooks a few years ago, and she loved drawing in them. So in the evenings, after gallery and historic home visits, we grabbed my roll of watercolour paper and various pretty papers I’ve collected and made a pile more.

As before, the strips of paper being cut from the roll make for an amusing image:

These are the ones I made:

I’d intended to make five, but mistakes in measuring the page widths meant I wound up having to cut two of the strips in two and make shorter concertinas. Funnily enough, I did that last time as well. Measure twice, cut once! Still, it meant I got to make two extra covers out of some lovely paper I’d been saving.

They Call them Gazing Balls

I prefer ‘mosaic sphere’, but I do like the irony of choosing to make a ‘gazing ball’ while recovering from eye surgery. It just happened that I found some polystyrene balls at Zart Art in Box Hill – and their special ‘will glue anything to anything’ Supertac glue – a few weeks ago. After the surgery I decided to give the mosaic sphere thing a try. It’s much easier to see tiles than warp threads at the moment (not that this is stopping me weaving). Since the spheres aren’t going to be touched or walked on, I could happily use broken tiles with sharp edges and glass tiles with the colour on the surface – which gives me a good use for the tiles I’d bought for the ventilation hole patches that turned out to be unsuitable.

For my first sphere, I had no plan. I just made it up as I went. First some yellow lines to break it into quarters, then flowers out of orange, green for leaves, and lastly filling in the remaining spaces with blue and green. I used up most of the triangle and square glass shapes in those colours, and added some cut glass tiles from Bunnings. I only needed to cut tiles smaller at the end, when I was filling gaps.

The grouting was, er, educational. One day I’m going to learn not to make two to three times as much grout as I need. I also made it a bit too wet, so at first it sagged out of the cracks on the underside of the ball. But I kept adding and smoothing and wiping until it had stiffened up enough to stay put. I did a second coat when the grout had thickened a bit more, too.

I’d watched YouTube tutorials that said the ball should be covered in mesh and mastic so the tiles have something to stick to. I tested the Supertac glue by sticking one tile on then holding the tile and seeing if I could shake it off the ball. It held, so I figured it was worth the risk just using that. The one time I tried to remove a tile that had shifted, I couldn’t even carve it off with a knife. Eventually it came loose, but only by taking a chunk of polystyrene with it. Fortunately the glue stuck it back on just fine. The grout wasn’t inclined to stick to the polystyrene where the gaps between tiles were wide, so for my next sphere I’m making sure all the surface is covered in glue.

Yes, I’ve started another one.

It’s rather addictive.

Eye, eye, aye!

Well, having a cataract removed and a lens installed was an interesting and somewhat uncomfortable experience. Not painful, thankfully, and most of the disturbing bits happened under the influence of a ‘relaxant’ that had the extra bonus of making time speed up so it seemed done in no time.

Thanks to groovy modern technology my ‘new’ eyes had 20/20 vision. I can see that I will probably need glasses for close work, like threading a needle, however. My excellent close vision is being sacrificed for me not being blind in a couple of years. I can live with that, especially when glasses with magnification are cheap and available in most chemists.

For the month until I get the other eye done I’m in a bit of visual limbo. The day after the op I took the lens out of the side of my glasses that my ‘new’ eye sees through, but immediately wound up with a motion sickness headache and dizziness. I’ve been able to get around wearing no glasses, but I can’t drive like that, so today I’m trying to wear my glasses again. I’m not getting the headache, and while the dizziness is still there it’s not as bad. Maybe if I persist my eyes will get used to it.

I took the week off work, and I’m glad I did. Every day I’ve been so tired I wound up having a long nap in the afternoon. Concentration is a challenge. I’ve filled the days with sorting out my cd collection – making sure I have everything in iTunes and updating playlists – and working on a mosaic ball which, because the surface is curved, I can only do a bit at a time on or the tiles fall off.

I’ve done a little bit of weaving on the saori-inspired project in the evenings. It’s a bit hard to focus on fine lines, so I don’t trust myself with projects where skipping a warp thread would be a bad thing. More complex weaving might have to wait a bit.

This weekend we have two social events to go to, so I should be well occupied. I’ll get working again on Monday. If I’m still struggling with my vision after that… I’ve got my yearly wardrobe assessment and cull on the list of things I can do that don’t require seeing well close up or wielding sharp objects. I’ve started my yearly washing of knitwear, too. And I have to say, having a nice long laundry bench to lay garments out on to dry is wonderful! No more taking up the kitchen table for weeks and weeks.

Do You See What Eye See?

A few weeks back I had a huge bout of startitis sparked by ideas for using up thrums. Just about every loom in the house wound up with a project on it. I finished the dishcloths then a busy fortnight arrived, with an interstate friend staying over and another friend’s 40th birthday party to organise and host, and suddenly I didn’t have much time for weaving.

It was a fun two weeks. There’ll be a post some time with the sketches I did at the Dior exhibition. September had been really lovely, socially. It zoomed past as a result… and possibly because I was dreading today, the first of my cataract removal surgeries.

So there might also have been a bit of “DO ALL THE THINGS WHILE YOU STILL CAN!” anxiety behind me starting so many projects. The thought also occurred to me that if I had a range of projects warped and ready then something might be doable during the recovery time.

So I have:

A clasped weft using thrums twill scarf on the Ashford 4-shaft loom. (Though I need to dye up a third colour to add to the thrums, because I don’t have enough of them to make a good scarf length.)

Krokbragd on the floor loom. I wove a good ten cm but had to unweave most of it because the selvedges were VERY bad! But I consider those cm a ‘sampler’ I was learning on and expect I’ll do better on the second attempt.

A saori-inspired project on the Knitter’s Loom in which I’m using up more thrums as well as some leftover yarn. I’m doing as many different kinds of weaving I can think of. Clasped weft, rya knots, thick and thin, danish medallions, and brooks bouquet have all made it in there.

The Falling Feathers scarf hasn’t been touched since all this thrum-using inspiration hit, I admit. But I haven’t lost interest. Now that I have more time, and so long as my new eye settles in well, I’ll be back to it again soon.

Ventilation Patch Mosaics – Day & Night

The holes for the old under floor heating in the entertainment room were different sizes and not very square. I guess the installers figured that the covers would hide any inaccuracies. The mosaics didn’t have covers to hide the flaws. We tidied one up as best we could with a dremel, but mostly I figured we’d have to live with the crookedness. Thanks to the thickness of the floating floor, the holes were actually quite deep. We added 9mm thick pieces of wood to bring the mosaics up to level with the floor, but that still left quite a bit of space for the grout to fill.

The daytime one is on the south side of the house, which is the side that faces the pool:

The nighttime ones is on the north side, near the bar we made from an old organ.

I love the nighttime one, but the daytime one came out a bit dull. I used mid-grey grout on both, and maybe it’s a bit too light for the pale blue tiles.

This leaves three ventilation holes to fill in the kitchen. I’ve still got a few trials using slate and cement mortar to do before I attempt a final mosaic. That’ll have to wait for the weather to warm up, as it’s going to be waaay to messy to do in the house.

Thrums Dishcloths

I’ve finished using up two batches of thrums!

One was very thick, the other thin. The thick batch had some longer pieces as well as the remainder of the red and black balls. I wove these on a pin loom, using longer pieces to make a warp, then weaving the shorter pieces through that and tying at both ends. I worked out pretty quickly that it was easier to tie two pieces of thrum together before weaving them through then knotting both together on the other end.

The thin batch of thrums was all short pieces, so I used it as weft in a warp of Bendigo Cotton 4ply on my Knitters Loom. I enjoyed coming up with different patterns for each dishcloth. The last one was entirely random.

I’m amazed at how many dishcloths I got out of the thicker batch. We’re not going to run out of them any time soon. Overall, I made some useful cloths out of waste that could easily have wound up in the trash. I’m rather chuffed at that!