Hung Up

The housewarming we had a few weeks back gave us the push we needed to tackle more artwork hanging. We’ve now used most of the methods I covered in this post about avoiding putting nail holes in walls: this post.

Shelf:

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The wall shelf is from IKEA. I’m not 100% happy with it. For a start, our level was not level so the shelf is slightly off straight. And it’s too shallow to safely overlap artwork of this size, which I was hoping to do here. But I’m planning to repaint this room in a few years, so this is only temporary anyway.

Top of a bookcase:

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You can just see that I have wooden picture supports, that Paul made, to ensure these don’t slip off.

Picture rails:

We decided against installing any, as combined with the dado rail it would be a bit too busy.

Picture hanging system:

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This was the main pre-housewarming project. It’s not cheap, but the versatility of the system makes it worthwhile. We can put artwork anywhere along the walls, and put two or three pieces on each set of wires. It’s not so good for clusters of small artwork, however, but…

Removable plastic hooks:

I’ve used these all over the house:

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The cat art wall is a work in progress. As we get more I’m adding them to the wall. And the map and paintings below are in the toilet, ’cause why not?

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And the hooks are great for more than artwork:

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The clear ones are practically invisible from a distance, so much nicer for items where the hook shows, like with the old traveller’s coat hangers above. And you can get removable velcro strips, which I used to hang the map in the toilet. However, the paint in the kitchen did not like the removable hooks, and even very light pictures like the small fruit ones below kept falling off so I had to use hooks.

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Display easel:

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I was hoping to get all of this related artwork on the wall, but there just wan’t room, and the odd sizes weren’t coming together in a balanced arrangement. I had a few pieces leaning against the wall while I was working this out, and realised they looked good like that. So I dug out a display and table easel. It’s another way to overlap artwork.

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This is where I’m displaying finished portraits until their owners claim them.

So I’ve utilised nearly every hanging option I thought of last year. We’ve still used nails for mirrors, clocks and heavier artwork where there’s no hanging system, and I’ve reused existing holes as much as possible, like in the passageway:

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There are still more pieces to go up – we have a dodgy shelf to remove in another room which will free up some more wall space – but most of it is hanging now. Funny thing is, after filling the living room and hallway walls, along with having the housewarming, I feel like we have finally settled in to this house.

Reed Easy

I thought I’d get sick of winding warp for these, but I’ve made enough big blankets that use all of the heddles on my table loom (and more) now that I felt like an old hat at projects with lots of ends.

And 300+ ends doesn’t look like much, when the yarn is this thin:

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I think this might be the first time I’ve removed the reed while threading. It let find a more comfortable position, so I’ll be doing that more in future. There’s no trick for making threading the heddles more ergonomic, however so I’m tacking them a stripe or two at a time.

Misfits

Try as I might, I can’t just throw out knitwear that doesn’t fit any more. If it’s in good condition I might donate a piece to the op shop, but if it has felted I end up keeping it in the hopes I can refashion it into something else.

In the last few weeks I’ve transformed two pieces. First this origami bolero:

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It was made up of rectangles, which I pulled apart. I widened a narrow piece with garter stitch, then attached all but one piece into a strip with some garter stitch ‘gathering’ to make a long, chunky scarf:

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Close up of the garter stitch areas:

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This cardy, which I dyed a little while back, was inspired by the above bolero. It too was made of rectangles:

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The sleeves were too tight, so they’ve become a scarf:

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The rest was knit from machine washable yarn, so it hasn’t shrunk:

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So I’m thinking of replacing the rectangle that had formed the arms and back with either some ribbing knit on the Bond, or a looser sleeve/back piece of woven fabric. Inspired by this book, which arrived in the post last week:

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The Seduction of Simple Squares

The pin loom has proven to be quite addictive. Most nights, while watching the telly, I make a square. Sometimes two. I’ve now got enough for a 4×5 square lap blanket, and hoping I can get enough squares out of the yarn I have left to make it a 5×5 blanket.

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I went to the guild last Saturday and had a peek at the other pin looms they had in stock. This one came home with me:

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Perhaps I’ll soon be writing a blog post called “A Hedonistic Host of Hexagons” or something equally silly.

Make It All

A video came up on my Facebook feed today that couldn’t be more timely, since I had this blog post written and waiting.

First, go watch Make it All

That video had me cackling and cringing in equal measure. A bit of googling has revealed to me that people are now having “Anti-Pinterest” parties (a party without Pinterest inspired themes, decorations, etc. not a party where you sit around and bitch about Pinterest). And it seems there is such thing as a Pintervention. Thankfully, my addiction never got that bad!

It’s been four months since I extracted myself from Pinterest and I haven’t looked back. Well okay, maybe once or twice, but I was quickly repelled by all the things that bugged me about the new feed. I expected to miss my nightly browse and worry that I was missing all the latest crafty trends, but after a week or so all I felt was relief. I’ve realised that what I thought was a big time saver was a big time waster that was stunting my creativity. In particular…

1) Too Much Project Pressure!
I wound up with a to-do list so long I was constantly overwhelmed by it. I hadn’t realised how much until I stopped browsing Pinterest. At the time it felt like I had lots of options – and that is true to a point – but there were projects on my to-do list that were only there because I saw them on Pinterest. Just because something is cool and clever doesn’t mean I have to do it too.

2) Sheeplike Creativity
Too many of the projects on my to-so list were born from other people’s ideas, because Pinterest was my first and often only source of inspiration. Now whenever I have materials to use or something to modify or put to a new use I starting think of a solution myself, and when I find inspiration I find it in all kinds of places, not just one.

3) Bookmarking Fail
And when I do look for inspiration or solutions now, I use Google Images, and when I find something useful I bookmark it. No longer do I have to stuff around checking whether pins link to the info I need. When I want the info again the chances are it’s still there, not mysteriously changed or blocked because someone has incorrectly reported it as spam (yes, that happened to some of my pins).

There are plenty of other ways to wind up spending more time reading about craft on the internet than actually crafting. Blogging anyone? But Pinterest is like a big black hole for anyone with that weakness. I’m so glad I escaped before I got sucked in so far I was crushed by immense gravitational forces. Or something.

New Projects!

Yeah, I’ll admit it. I started a few new projects before declaring my WIP finishing drive finished. How was I to resist when the pin loom was sitting there beside my tv-watching armchair, all new and interesting?

I tried some cotton weaving yarn first, thinking I’d make some washcloths, but the weaving part was really tough on the hands and the yarn turned out to be too thin.

Then after dividing the stash up into fullable and machine-washable yarns I had a few no longer destined for their original intended projects. I decided to try the Bendigo Woollen Mills Neon on the pin loom, and it worked very well:

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So I’ve been making one or two squares a night:

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They come out a bit bumpy, but the frogged yarn has quite a kink in it and they settle down a bit with blocking.

The other project I started was also inspired by my yarn contemplation. Since scarves are the most likely to contact my skin, and don’t need to have stretch, one of the best fibres I can use for them is silk. I had a skein I’d bought back in 2008 as art yarn – that is, yarn with the primary purpose of being on display. It is by Ixchel Yarns and is 100% silk with a thread of silver through it.

I bought some fine undyed silk at the Bendy Show a few years ago thinking I’d try it on the knitting machine. Now I decided to match it with the Ixchel silk. So I warped up the rigid heddle:

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I’ve found trying to use a ball winder on silk is an exercise in slippery frustration, so I just warped straight from the skein holder. All of the art silk went into the warp, mixed with the white. The weft is all white:

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I hem stitched the beginning, staggering the stitch length, too. And I’m doubling up the picks every now and then to add a little more interest:

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It feels lovely to work with, and hasn’t been any trouble. I doubt I’ll use up even half of the fine silk, which I have two skeins of, so I can see more silk woven scarves in the future.

Though I didn’t finish all the WIPs before starting new projects, tackling the list has not only cleared out a few stalled projects and helped me decided to abandon ones I wasn’t feeling much love for, but the anticipation had eager to get into something new.

Maybe hurrying to finish projects before I go away just means I’m confronted with an intimidating list of possible starting points when I get back. Having a couple of WIPs waiting for my return might help me get back into the craft groove when I do.

The Arty Necklace – Inserts

I started the Arty Necklace in 2012. Let me recap…

First there was the preparation, then the linking.

Next I was supposed to fill the frames with… something. I’ve been changing my mind on what I want ever since. First it was mini artwork, then photos, then embroidery, then mirrors. Each kind of filling has difficulties to overcome. None are particularly quick to do. In the end I came full circle and returned to artworks, so I brought out the acrylic paints and got to work.

First I filled all of the frames with pieces of acrylic board – cardboard with a surface that mimics the texture of canvas.

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Then I wrote down a list of as many kinds of traditional paintings I could think of, and started painting.

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This is going to take a while, so I’ve decided my WIP Wipeout is over and have begun a few new projects. More on that soon.

If it’s Worth Doing, it’s Worth Overdoing

We had a housewarming party last weekend – nine months after we moved in. I made a gingerbread house.

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The main structure is two of the IKEA gingerbread house kits, and I made more gingerbread for the verandah, pergola and paving around the pool. The pool water and pergola roof panels are hard lollies, which melt in the oven. The solar panels are Lindt chocolate and the deck is chocolate-covered liquorish.

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It was a lot of fun, though by the end I was a little over it and more than ready to enjoy and share the demolishing and consuming.

The party was a huge success. Now, with the house thoroughly warmed, I feel we’ve truly settled in.

Yarn Shrink, Rethink

It’s been three and a half years since RSI set in and I had to give up knitting. In that time I’ve culled a quarter of the garments I made because they no longer fit well, partly because I grew, and partly because they shrank despite gentle, careful washing. So far this year I’ve culled three more garments for the latter reason. I really hadn’t worn them that much, so it’s disappointing.

And that got me thinking that if I was still knitting now, I’d be much more choosy about the yarn I made my clothes out of. But then I remember how I used to be intimidated by using expensive yarns in case I wasted them on a bad design, and that knitting was as much about enjoying the process as having a garment to wear a the end of a project.

Taste and fashions change, too.

Then there was the little discovery I made about the Paua Shell Ruanna. The green and black yarns I used are machine washable. The blue is not – or it is not as machine washable. The result is a slight shrinkage of the blue stripes, despite the fact that I’ve only washed it twice. It doesn’t bother me, but it is a mistake I don’t want to make again.

So in the spirit of learning and moving on, I’ve had a more critical look at my stash. Sure enough, I’d matched machine washable and non-machine washable yarns for a couple of other projects. I’ve now added the info to my stash spreadsheet, designated those yarns for other projects, and even shuffled the stash into tubs for ‘feltable’ and ‘non-feltable’ yarn.

From now on any garments and hats I make will use machine-washable yarn. But since most of what I weave isn’t garments and hats, that’s not a big change. I have a few projects in the to-do list for the Bond Sweater Machine, though. All but one use machine-washable yarn, thankfully. I just have to rethink one project.

Dyeing To Fix Them

Ah, those fibre craft puns…

What with all the culling I did before and after moving house, I’ve been accumulating things to over-dye for over a year now. Last Saturday I woke in the mood to do a one-off, cook-something-in-a-pot kind of craft. I wanted to try using up the candle-making supplies, but I want to try wet sand casting and I have no sand, so that’d have to wait.

So instead I cooked up some dye pots:

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First I had the Bison Scarf, which I didn’t wear because of the colour:

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I like this dusky burgundy-purple much better!

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Then there was the more recent Two Heddle Leno Scarf which was too pink for me (in the photo it is a bit less pink than in real life):

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Now a deeeeeep blue:

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Lastly I had made the mistake of spinning the water out of the Gift Yarn Jacket at the same time as something I’d dyed, leaving faint pinky-red patches:

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Overdyed with a diluted brown dye:

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I like it, but am considering refashioning it as well because the sleeves have been fulling and shrinking. (That’s why there’s a cuff missing).

With each dye bath, once the main item was out I threw in a silk scarf or scrap. They’d been solar dyed with leaves ages ago, but came out a dirty, unappealing yellow-brown. The result was surprisingly nice:

The blue one’s a keeper, I think:

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The pink one is destined for a friend who it will suit perfectly:

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I’ll need to seam the scrap of brown, but I think it’ll make a nice short scarf:

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