Sketching at the NGV

A few Thursdays ago a friend from Brisbane, Kathleen, was in town. She’s an artist and writer, and does the most adorable drawings wherever she goes, so I proposed an afternoon of sketching at the NGV’s 200 Years of Fashion exhibition. We met at Senior’s Art Supplies, where I bought some Copic markers.

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Then we headed to the gallery. I stuck to black ink for this one:

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The rest of my sketches I coloured later from memory, my photos and pics of the exhibition on Google Images. This one wasn’t so successful – should have chosen a better viewpoint than front on:

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I love this:

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The next one was a colour challenge, with the limited number of markers I had:

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We were there until closing, and I did this with four minutes to spare, finishing it from memory as the guards herded us out:

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Later I couldn’t find a picture online for the colours. It was only a week or so ago that a photo finally appeared.

I’ve never produced so many sketches in such a short time! It was fun having a sketching buddy for the afternoon, and it was a great way to experience the exhibition. I’d like to go back to see it again, and perhaps draw some more.

Final Weaving Class

Sunday before last the third and final Intermediate Weaving Sessions was run at the Guild. I’d woven my overshot project until I ran run out of the orange yarn, played a bit with substituted yarns, decided I preferred the orange, dyed more and wove to what seemed like closer to the end of the warp.

I wasn’t sure I should finish it for the class or not, since that could leave me with five hours of nothing to do. I asked Ilka, and she suggested I start another project. I decided to leave myself an hour or so of weaving to do in the class.

After we all went around the room to see how everyone’s projects were turning out, I had lunch then started weaving. It didn’t last as long as I’d hoped, as I ran out of orange yarn again. Here it is after I dyed yet more yarn and finished weaving:

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I was surprised and pleased to find the two lengths of orange pattern were exactly the same length. I must have been beating consistently this time!

With no weaving to continue with in the class, I helped a few fellow weavers, and when I got to chat to the teacher it turned out the project I had in mind wasn’t likely to work. So I switched to my back-up project. Since I’d bought the Katie because it’s an 8 shaft loom, I want to do a project that utilised all shafts. I’ve also wanted to try using doubleweave to make a cloth with solid coloured squares inside squares.

Ilka ran through a method of working out the draft using blocks, which I only just comprehended – and felt like my brain was being stretched into a new shape.

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I took this home, thought about it for a day, then the next night used it to map out a draft on graph paper. A few days later I recreated the draft in Illustrator.

Print

Like with overshot, it’s like doing two things at the same time. Unlike overshot, which is something very simple (tabby) alternating with something more complex (the overshot pattern), it’s a complicated interaction of two moderately simple tabby patterns.

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It is, however, perversely enjoyable. I’m keen to get a warp wound and onto the loom.

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I joined Instagram a year or so ago because a writer recommended it as the Place to Be on the Internet, where people were still friendly (compared to Twitter). It’s been fun and, being on the visual side, the crafting ‘grammers’ I followed soon outnumbered work-related ones.

Now there’s been talk about algorithms and monetisation and such. Of non-chronological feeds and advertising. I haven’t noticed a sudden change, like I did with Pinterest and Twitter, but based on what happened to them I expect social media to change. And that if I really like it, chances are the changes in future will turn it into something less suited to my needs.

Perhaps because of P and T, I haven’t got as sucked into Instagram. I don’t want to get invested in something that will probably go the way of other social media. Which makes me wonder… will I even bother trying the next one that comes along?

I’m not sure I’d bother. Does this make me wise or just cynical?

I worry that if I don’t keep up I’ll fall behind. Few people thought, 25 years ago, that the internet would become integral to everyday living. Now it’s a handicap to not have access to and an understand of it.

Perhaps one day all the social medias will merge to form one digital monster, which we’ll all have to participate in to meet our most basic needs and communicate with our loved ones, where the algorithms will decide what we buy, sell, learn and believe, and who we interact with.

That probably sounds like heaven to some people. One person’s dystopia is another’s utopia. But on the other hand, trying to get all people to do the same thing has to be like trying to herd cats. I don’t envy anyone who takes on that challenge!

Recent Sketches

A couple of drawings from our recent trip to Lake Hume. Both lunchtime sketches. The first done on the way up, the second of Tallangatta’s main street during our drive around the lake.

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I didn’t bother colouring them – sometimes they come out okay enough to leave as they are.

Old Loom, Better Stand

Having untied the Ashford Table Loom from the pedals of the homemade stand, then dismantled the stand, I was left with a few questions.

Do I sell the loom?

That was the plan. However, it left me with another question:

What do I do with the homemade stand?

There were issues with it. Now that I had a floor loom my suspicion that the old loom’s stand was too high was confirmed. Added to that was the need to move the supporting beam across the front that made it uncomfortable to sit at. I probably couldn’t sell it as it was, but I could give it away with the loom. But what if a friend wanted to buy it? I’d rather give them a stand that worked well.

After a bit of measuring up, I figured it wouldn’t take much to fix the problems. So Paul and I spent a few hours shortening the stand, adding a support beam under where the loom’s castle sits to simplify the pedal tie-up and a beam under the pedals to make the stand sturdier and easier to transport.

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Now all I have to do is decide how much to ask for it and advertise.

Though I have to admit, I am tempted to keep it. And I should at least try one project on it, to make sure everything works, right?

New Old Loom

Two weeks ago a hole appeared in the craft room:

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And a loom appeared on the dining table:

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Then all these bits and pieces turned up in the garage:

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The scent of rust converter and furniture oil filled the air for the following week, along with the occasional curse and muttered doubt that anyone would remember how all this went back again:

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But it did. Around 15 hours of hard work later what had been a rusty, dusty old loom became a gleaming, reconditioned one with several part replacements, like chain instead of musty old ropes for the tie-up and brake release.

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New aprons were sewn. Heddles arrived before Easter, then today the reed was delivered:

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It’s a bit bigger than the former occupant, but took surprisingly little rearranging of furniture for it to fit.

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Now to plan the first project.

After a Decade of Blogging: Into the Future

After finishing my overview of the last decade of blogging, all kinds of questions came up.

On Blogging:
Why do I do it? How is it that I’m still blogging without losing enthusiasm for it after all this time?

At it’s most basic, it’s a record of what I’ve made that I can refer back to. If I don’t write about it, it’s easy to forget how much I’ve done, or the process I went through.

Would I still blog if it was private, so nobody but me could see it?

Probably. I keep a writing diary, too, and nobody sees that. But I like being able to show people what I’ve made when I’m out and about just by picking up my phone and searching for a post, and that someone might read something I posted about and be inspired to create.

Is it extra wear and tear on my hands and back that I ought to avoid?

Not really. I don’t write overly long posts – at least not very often. Mostly they’re a few paragraphs and a picture.

What have I learned from a decade of blogging?
Don’t be opinionated online – keep that for friends in person.

Any regrets?
That I didn’t try to get a couple of sock knitting designs published in a magazine.

On Craft and Art:

How does blogging change my attitude toward both?
It makes me accountable. If I write that I’m going to do something I’m more likely to do it – of if I fail, writing about it makes me consider what went wrong. Needing something to blog about can be the extra push I need to tackle or finish a project. I certainly need that when it comes to art!

What is more important to me: craft or art?
Art. Not that craft isn’t important, but I get a different kind of fulfilment from art that I think is more essential to my well being.

So why craft?
It’s stress-relief! And it gives me the satisfaction of finishing something when my art and writing projects take so long to complete.

Why tackle longer, more challenging craft projects then?
Because learning something new feels good and is good for my brain.

What have I learned from the last decade of craft and art?
Life’s too short for bad yarn!

Any regrets?
That I stopped regular weekly sketching.

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Other observations:
I was very interested to see that the signs of growing repetitive strain injuries were there early, but I didn’t recognise them. Now I know that breaks are essential, as is staying physically limber and strong, and varying the kinds of movements I do – which justifies being a creative fidget!

Something I’ve had to learn over the last ten years is to avoid spending more time looking at craft and art on the internet than actually doing it. And not letting the internet (ahem, Pinterest) tell me what and how to create. It’s better to go seek information when I want it than be passively fed a stream of what some company’s dodgy algorithm thinks I want to see.

Is there another ten years of blogging in me? At this moment, I can’t see why not. So long as I have craft and art in my life I’ll want to record and share it. Physical limitations brought on by age might slow me down, but I suspect I’ll have the urge to create for many years to come.

A Touch of G(rrr)lam Shawl

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Sheesh! Did this project kick my butt. What should have been straight-forward, enjoyable weaving wound up being tortuous for most of the project.

1) I didn’t have enough yarn. In fact, I fell so far short I had to combine two cones of Bendy 3ply for the warp and buy a 500 gram cone of black for the weft. I blame this on being too tired and distracted at the time to calculate my way through the project preparation.

2) Black wasn’t really what I wanted, but because Bendy don’t sell 200 gram cones any more and this was a stash-using project, I didn’t want to end up with more purple yarn left over than what I was trying to use up.

3) I ran out of heddles ridiculously early and had to attach about 100 string ones.

4) Because the string heddle eyes weren’t exactly the same level as each other and the texsolv ones, and I’m new to throwing the shuttle, the shuttle kept falling through the warp.

5) I fudged a race, using a piece of my warping board first then, when I needed to measure a warp for another project, swapped that for a long stick shuttle and a metal ruler. This worked, but because my beater swivels from above the race scrapes across the bottom of the fabric, meaning I can only weave 4-5 cm before I have to advance the warp.

6) The metallic thread was a b*tch to weave. It pulled the fabric in, no matter how much extra yarn I left at the sides or angled the weft. Using an extra long stick shuttle, because the yarn ends unravelled and I didn’t want to cut it any more than I had to, meant it kept getting tangled in the curtains on one side.

7) I discovered too late that I made a threading error at one side. Too late because I wasn’t going to unweave and reweave all the metallic thread after all the struggles with it.

8) Thanks to the dodgy string heddles, I have skipped threads at the other side.

9) I didn’t notice I had stepped on three pedals instead of two, not long after the first stripe of metallic, and sewing in a substitute pick didn’t really fix it.

10) Once off the loom I realised I had beat really hard at the start, making a far denser fabric at the start to the end.

Because of all these errors I’ve come to despise the shawl. However, it is lovely and soft, especially after washing, and proof that the yarn is a good one to weave. I kinda want to make another, to prove… something. That I can get it right, maybe?

And the up side to some of the frustrations is it has motivated me to get over my fear of floor looms. Throughout the project I came to long for a tie-up system. Lamms! I want lamms! And a beater that swivels from below, so I can have a race. And a removable front beam or folding back beam so I can thread the loom without hurting my back. I’d had the idea that floor looms were too big for the small bedroom size craft room I have now, but as I looked around I saw that some weren’t much bigger than my table loom and it’s stand combined.

Where that led me, however, is fodder for another post.

A Decade of Blogging: Adapting to Change

2012

Thanks to RSI in my hands, I gave up knitting.

Well, except for machine knitting on the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine and the second hand Passap knitting machine I bought that year to make socks on. Weaving continued, and I tried straw, card and inkle weaving. At a convention I did my first weaving demo.

After revamping my jewellery storage, I started making and refashioning jewellery in a big way. I did more stamp-making and wrapping paper printing.

In 2011 I’d tried a method of crocheting around twine to make a basket. I noticed through the Stat Counter that the photos had been pinned on Pinterest. So I joined up and for a while there I was quite addicted to it.

Researching family history caught my attention for a while. Unfortunately I never went back to it.

At life drawing classes I started drawing heads in preparation to start portrait painting, but I abandoned Sketch Sunday.

It was a year of working out what I could and couldn’t do with my hands. I’m pleased to see it didn’t entirely limit my creativity, and led to exploring crafts I might not have tried otherwise. I’ve not used the Passap much after that year, unfortunately. My attention turned more toward weaving.

2013

The year started in a reflective mood, with me adjusting my wardrobe to allow for some weight I’d put on. (A few months later I started the Fast Diet.) I discovered I have a heart condition (very minor, as it turns out, but I didn’t know that then) and became officially menopausal, so it was a year for health discoveries.

In craft, there was a lots of culling of things – bags, books, clothes – and questioning what I spend my time and energy on. The Bond and I got to know each other again, leading to a handful of rapidly made garments, the making of weights, and buying another machine to make the double width Mega Bond.

After buying and padding out a dress form, I re-lined a jacket, made a dress out of a postal sack, and sewed up a Regency gown. A couple of quilts and a day bed cover also got sewn. I was officially over my dislike of sewing.

I painted two portraits – or three if you count the test piece. During camping in December I used the ponchard box for the first time.

The embroidery bug caught hold of me, and stuck around.

In a kind of personal challenge, I set aside several weekend days to tackle the craft to-do list, concentrating on sewing, printing, dyeing, jewellery-making and bookbinding.

We went to Japan for eight days around Christmas and walked so much that I got plantar faciitis. So much for walking more to prevent osteoporosis!

It was definitely a year for fidgeting creatively, switching from one craft to another. But also of stretching myself to try new things.

2014

Because of the plantar faciitis I couldn’t get about much for months. Maybe that’s why, in a moment of insanity, I decided to participate in the Handweavers & Spinners Guilds’ mystery box challenge. Far too many hours went into making a rather ugly fairy. Whenever I get a hair-brained idea now I ask myself ‘is this another ugly fairly project?’.

More refashioning, weaving, embroidery and jewellery-making happened through the year. I did three portraits and two ponchard box paintings.

Then we bought a house. And moved. Oh, so much moving house. And fixing up the old one. And renovating the new one. And clearing weeds. And expensive landscaping. By the end of the year I was utterly worn out.

2015
I took stock of my craft materials and ambitions, and did some culling and planning. Lots of tackling projects that had languished for ages came about from this. There was also weaving, refashioning, embroidery and jewellery-making.

After getting pedals onto the table loom I decided to tackle more challenging weaving projects with finer yarn, making tea towels for Mum. I tried pin loom weaving and made a tapestry hat – all do-able in front of the tv.

Pinterest changed in a way I didn’t like which led to a big rethink about where I get inspiration and ideas from. I decided I didn’t need it, and at the worst it was directing my creativity rather than being a source of inspiration. I closed my account and don’t miss it at all.

I sprained my ankle badly in February. Fortunately, it was better by the time the garage permit came through, so we could get stuck into preparations, landscaping and gardening. Which were exhausting. It meant not much crafting happened for a while. When I finally had energy I decided to make ’100 cards by Christmas’.

At the end of the year I bought an 8 shaft Katie loom, deciding it was time my weaving got beyond twill and the occasional huck lace project.

2016

I had my first weaving classes. Paul brought home an abandoned loom, and I fixed it and a friend’s loom up. But an old neck and back problem suddenly got much worse, and I’ve been struggling to get much craft or even work done since.

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What a decade! Going over the last ten years’ blog posts has been very thought-provoking. It has me contemplating why I craft and make art – and blog about it. RSI restricts the type of craft I can do, and now this sudden worsening of my back problem has me questioning what I’ll be capable of, for work and creative fulfilment, into the future.

Loom Delivery Weekend

Last weekend we headed to Lake Hume:

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I took Donna’s loom, my Knitter Loom and two inkle looms. Donna and her partner, Matthew, joined us in a lovely cottage with a fantastic view. The sunsets were gorgeous:

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In the late afternoons and evenings Donna and I wove. I taught her how to do leno lace on the rigid heddle on the first night, and she produced this beautiful bamboo scarf:

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While she warped and wove that, I started a clasped weft scarf so I could show her the method. I didn’t make a lot of progress because I’d underestimated how much yarn I needed:

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On the second day I taught Donna how to weave on the larger inkle loom. I was quite rusty, and stuffed up the warping on the small loom by winding it around the warping peg, but Donna’s warp was fine. She, as always, picked up everything really fast, and finished this ribbon by the end of our stay:

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We went for a drive around the southern half of the lake on the second day. The lake is really a dam, and it’s very low, so there were old dead trees everywhere. An eerie sight, but quite beautiful:

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By the weir the water was deepest:

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There are signs of a defunct railway line, and these relics from the past:

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It was a enjoyable, relaxing weekend with good friends, and I’d love to go back to the area one day.