Cullbriated

I have an ap called Stickies that puts post-it note like pages on my computer screen. In one I have a list called “Big Cull”. I started it before we moved in the hope I’d get through every category on it and have less stuff to shift. Of course, I didn’t get everything culled in time, so I’ve been revisiting it every time I have the itch to tidy up.

The wardrobe in the craft room has two hanging sections with, for no good reason, have three narrow doors each where two would have been fine. That meant there was a vertical beam for the middle door’s hinges that stood 2/3 the way across the space, always in the way. It ran up through the shelving above the hanging rail, too, so I had to do box tetris to get some things out.

So we turned a pair of the doors for each section into a concertina door by attaching hinges, and removed the beam. The new double door didn’t quite sit flat, partly because I had extra fabric spilling out of the fabric tub and my trims box had become two trims boxes.

Time to tackle the “fabric” category on my Big Cull list.

Oh body, did I chuck out a lot of useless fabric scraps. Turns out that a glass of Pinot Gris is a good primer for culling. I thought it would weaken my resolve. Instead it made me ruthless.

Though thinking about the fabric stash differently helped, too. I have everything in zip-lock bags labelled by type. They include denim, corduroy, felt, velvet, muslin, lining, facing, knit, silk painting scraps, fancy fabric, fake leather, polycotton, cheesecloth, calico and costume scraps. Most are leftovers from projects, though some is fabric from abandoned projects or ones I found a better fabric for, and a few are leftover from my 20-year-old self’s addiction to discount bins.

I decided I’d stick a post-it note on each bag with a possible project/s for the contents. Let’s just say I didn’t use many post-it notes. Lots of small scraps went in the rubbish. Any decent sized piece of fabric that drew a blank had to be pretty special to avoid the op shop pile. A few did. Call me deluded, but I’m still sure I will find a use for stretch fake leather – probably for a costume.

The tub not only closes now, but the fabrics aren’t crammed in. I was so pleased with my culling success I had another glass of Pinot Gris and attacked the trims, getting them to fit into one box.

Fortunately by the time I was done there was no more wine, or it could have got scary.

It’s a bedside table. No, it’s a bookshelf!

It’s inevitable that when you move house there’ll be a couple of pieces of furniture that take a while to find their spot, and new pieces of furniture to buy. We’ve spent so much on fixing up the house and garden that I’m trying to reign in the spending elsewhere, and that includes furniture.

We sold our old bedside tables and matching chests of drawers to the buyer of our old house, and needed to replace the tables. Some of the book shelving at the old place was built in, so we had a couple of boxes of books with no place to go. I hit on the idea of fixing both problems at the same time: bookshelf bedside tables.

Looking at furniture websites, I couldn’t find anything that was both attractive and reasonably priced. I suggested to Paul that we make them ourselves out of the wine boxes sold at the local liquor merchant, as we did with my craft side table and magazine rack.

So Paul did the carpentry and I sanded, painted and varnished. With the addition of a few planks of wood and some feet from Bunnings we had these for less than $200 each:

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They look great filled with books, which will hopefully encourage me to read more:

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Hmm. Books. I haven’t done my “Books Read in 2014″ post yet.

Memory, Reminder

The Memory Yarn Scarf is done:

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Remind me never to attempt one again.

Warping was challenging, but managable. It was the weaving that was tedious, demanding that the two weft yarns be tweaked constantly to keep them aligned. I could have done something more interesting than plain weave, but that would have just made it even fussier and slower, and I couldn’t wait for this one to be finished and off the loom.

The result is lovely, though – soft despite the stainless steel that imparts the ‘memory’. The metal is supposed to allow you to shape the fabric. With knit that look interesting and sculptural. With woven fabric is just looks, well, creased. Still, I don’t mind a crinkly scarf and it does have an interesting story to it.

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Next!

Pedalling On

Weaving, I’ve decided, is my friend. It doesn’t involve a lot of intricate finger movements. It would even less so if I used foot pedals for the table loom rather than levers. We’d always intended to add them to the loom stand we made ages ago, but didn’t get around to it.

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A few weeks ago I flirted with the idea of buying the Ashford stand and pedal kit, but when I told Paul it costs around $550 pre-postage we concluded it was worth having a go at modifying the existing table. So we did some designing, carpentry, varnishing and knotting of washing line rope…

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After a bit of tweaking I have working pedals, though the shafts don’t always fall back down completely. Still, it cost us nothing since we still had the parts from when we’d first made the table. And even with having to push the odd shaft down it seems much faster and a lot less work for my hands.

And that makes me very happy!

Bunny Mink Scarf

Last year I visited a friend in Canberra on the Australia Day weekend to teach her how to use a 4-shaft loom she’d adopted. This year she came to visit me over New Year and brought her Knitters Loom. We spent the last day of 2014 and the first of 2015 weaving.

While she whipped out two scarves over the stay, I managed just one. I chose an Ixchel yarn “Bunny Mink” spun from angora and mink – a soft, resilient laceweight yarn I’d fallen in love with at the Bendy Show a few years ago. It wove into a beautiful scarf.

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I had no head space for deciding on a fancier pattern than tabby, what with surviving Christmas, hosting three friends and arranging a New Year’s Eve party. But the yarn was quite slippery so tabby meant I had only one challenge to meet.

Toward the end I decided to try inlay. Well, kind of a cheats inlay, where you stitch the inlay yarn in rather than weave it at the same time. I did a simple pattern of staggered rectangles.

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This one is definitely a keeper. Unless I need a gift for someone I really, really like!

Summer Refashioning

I often get the refashioning bug in Spring, but this year I had no time for it. Once on ‘holidays’ I enjoyed a few days at the sewing machine. These green shorts were the main achievement, but I also tackled some basic mending and garment tweaking – taking in at the sides or removing sleeves. Most was too simple to bother blogging about. Except this long sleeve shirt refashion:

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It involved shortening the long sleeves and using the pieces as side panels and binding around the armholes. I tried folding the armhole seams first, as I’d had good results from the stretch stitches on my new sewing machine. But this time it went all crinkly so I had to cut it off and try again, using overlocking stitch to attach a binding.

I seem to have moved on to weaving now, but I’m sure I’ll switch back to sewing soon as I still have the sarong shorts to make that I bought the pattern for.

Inevitable Startitis

At first, when my ‘holidays’ started, the desire to craft was strong. I managed to tick several projects off the to-do list, including some WIPs. But I also had six months worth of new ideas brewing, and that brought about a bout of startitis. Also, my weaving session with Donna led to the stash review which led in turn to me warping up both looms. So here are some of the new projects on my WIP list.

Ribbon Scarf:

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I had the idea to turn a handful of ribbon scraps of varying sizes rescued from a costume that went in the rubbish and a scrap of gauzy fabric into a scarf by sewing the ribbons on in strips. The basting is a good tv watching craft activity.

Jacobean Kit:

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Wanting to explore embroidery more, I figured the best way to learn more is to try a few kits. So far a bit of unpicking has happened, as the instructions are probably not aimed at a novice and the photo is a bit too small for me to work out what I’m supposed to be doing. But I am enjoying it.

Stitchy Shirt:

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I’ve been loving the look of blankets and clothing covered in a kind of freeform running stitch and sashiko that I think is called ‘boko’. This vest was originally a man’s shirt that I refashioned to fit me, then bleached. I liked the blotchy look, but not the sleeves so I recently removed them. The stitching doesn’t require much brain-power, so this is one I turn to when I’m too tired to tackle the kit above.

Memory Yarn Scarf:

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I bought this yarn to try out on the knitting machine and have decided to weave it instead. It is fiddly to work with mainly because you use two strands together. I’ll be glad when this one is done.

Paua Shell Scarf/Collar:

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I’d always intended to put a collar on the Paua Shell Ruanna, but it took me so long to weave that I couldn’t bear the thought of warping up again in the same yarn. Now it feels like an easy, quick project I can knock off the to-do list, and the yarn is lovely to work with.

Mental Cull

A little while ago I had to go to Ravelry to check on the meterage of some yarn. I visit less and less these days, though it is still a very useful site. Sometimes, though, the sight of knitting makes me sad. (Which is a bit unfortunate when well-meaning friends send me pics or links to articles about knitting, not realising that it can feel like rubbing salt in the wound.)

Looking at my queue, I decided to delete all the projects I’d lined up for knitting machines. Then I culled the favourites back to patterns I’d made or projects I’d seen that I still thought were amazing. Then I trimmed the friends list – some I no longer recognised, some I only followed for the knitting, and some whose blogs I now follow in Bloglovin’ instead. The forums were next – down to a handful of weaving and machine knitting ones. Finally I took out all the books I’d given away from the library.

Basically, I had a big mental cull.

At the same time, I marvelled, as I always do, at how great Ravelry is. It’s still a useful and fun place to be even though I’m only weaving now. I really admire how user-friendly and intuitive the interface is. The creators did – and are still doing – a brilliant job.

Test results came through a few days ago and I’m immensely relieved to learn I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t have the symptoms for carpal tunnel, either. But the RSI is bad enough all on its own. I’m supposed to be back at work next week, and I don’t feel I’ve recovered nearly enough for it. It’s going to be… interesting.

Stash Overview Conclusions

Here’s the overview:

(I’ve noted the final destination I have mind for them, too. Yarns I’m thinking of culling are in italic. Intended loom in brackets.)

Scarves:
Frogged Inca (AKL) – donate
Vintage Hues (AKL) – donate OR FELT TO MAKE FABRIC
Frogged purple-blue silk (AKL) – keep
Leftover Ruanna yarn (AKL/TL) – keep or gift
Red cashmere (AKL/TL) – keep
Blue silk handspun and white silk (AKL) – keep
Purple laceweight (AKL/TL) – gift or donate
Blue cobweb (AKL/TL) – gift or donate
Sari silk (AKL) – gift or donate
OR MIX WITH BLACK COTTON TO MAKE A TABLE RUNNER
Memory yarn scarf kit (AKL) – keep
Particularly nice sock yarn (AKL/TL) – keep and/or gift

Blanket/shawl:
Cormo (TL) – keep or gift
Bendy Neon and green-dyed Country 8ply (TL) – keep or gift
Bendy Luxury and Hunky Hank (TL) – keep or gift
Navy Bendy Luxury 4ply (TL) – keep or gift OR SAORI JACKET OR SKIRT
Undyed sock yarn (TL) – (colour gamut project) keep

Shawl:
Purple Bendy Alpaca & handspun (TL) – keep
Olive handspun and brown weaving yarn (TL) – gift?
Silver metallic yarn and Bendy classic 3ply (TL) – keep or gift OR MAKE EVENING BAG
Pewter metallic yarn and Bendy classic 3ply (TL) – keep or gift
White gold metallic yarn and Bendy classic 3ply (TL) – gift
Blue boucle cone yarn (TL) – shawl to keep or gift OR SAORI GARMENT

Towels or Baby Blankets:
Bendy Cotton 8ply (TL) – baby blankets to gift
Bendy Cotton 4ply (AKL) – hand towels? OR PLACE MATS
Green cone yarn (TL) – blanket or towels to keep or gift OR PLACE MATS
Red and white cotton weaving yarn (TL) – tea towels to keep
Blue and green cotton weaving yarn (TL) – tea towels for Mum

Garments:
Blue Country 8ply – vest (on the Bond) to keep
Red Totem and black Bendy Classic – accessory (on the Bond) to gift OR TABLE RUNNER
Sock yarn (AKL/TL) – saori jacket to keep

Now I can see that I was wrong in thinking I had nothing to make on the knitters loom – I have plenty!

But I can also see I’m in a bit of an end-product rut. Mostly I’m thinking about making more scarves, shawls, blankets and towels? What about table runners, place mats, bags and fabric to cut up and sew? I’ve added alternative project ideas in all caps – and I’m liking some of them better!

Now to add these to my to-do list and prioritise…

The Stash #2: Thinner Yarns

These yarns tend toward the finer side, though there are a few exceptions, and include cones of weaving yarn. Once again, the yarn’s intended purpose is between brackets.

4ply yarns
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Left: Bendy Luxury (meant for a cardigan on the Passap, now… a blanket?)
The rest: various thinner or handspun yarns, including some sari silk, 4ply cashmere (scarf), laceweight and cobweb yarns (scarves), three kinds of metallic yarn (borders on shawls) and a merino cashmere I bought at Dimmeys a very long time ago.

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Sock yarns. (Here’s the thing. I bought the Passap because, of all things I used to knit, I thought I’d miss having and giving handknit socks the most. Well, I had quite a stockpile already, that I didn’t dip into in three years. Since I’ve not touched the machine in nearly two years I’ve just bought other things for Paul and my Dad. And even with knitting most of them on the machine, there’s always a bit of handknitting involved. So now that my RSI is back I’m thinking I’ll weave all this instead.)

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Left: A kilo of Knittery undyed sock yarn. (I never got around to dying this, but the yarn is lovely. It was top of my ‘possibly to sell’ list until I realised I could still dye it – only with a colour gamut project in mind instead.)
Middle and right: leftover sock yarn scraps (warp for yet more scarves).

Weaving yarns
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Left: cotton yarns (tea towels), memory yarn kit (scarf) and rug yarn (rug)
Right: wool yarns (shawls, scarves, etc.)

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Some cotton yarn I bought from a weaver’s destash (towels).

All in all, I have quite a few scarves, a few shawls, a colour gamut blanket or shawl and some towels to make.

Overall… I have way too many scarves lined up. Either I make them to gift or donate, or come up with something else to make, or sell/gift the sock yarn. Though the sock yarn could be combined to make a larger project. I’ve been meaning to look into saori garments, made from uncut lengths of woven fabric. I’d love to make a jacket. Hmm. Perhaps I’ll explore that in another post.