Extra Post

I’ve not posted many FOs lately, because I’ve not finished anything in a long while. And that’s because I’ve been too busy or tired for crafting for several weeks.

April was a month of highs and lows. Supanova was great but I picked up a cold with a cough that lingered for weeks and weeks – I still get that catch in the lungs now and then – on top of the shingles that hit me the week before. Then the plans I’d made for the weeks after Supanova started to backfire, and I wasted a lot of time on ideas that weren’t as successful as I hoped or took longer than estimated, and wound up putting aside other good ones. I went through a two week period around the start of May feeling stressed, dejected and lacking in energy and enthusiasm.

Things perked up in mid May, though. And at the same time, in one of those ‘did this have to happen right NOW’ moments, we went to a house inspection mostly to divert ourselves and keep learning more about our area and really, really liked the place.

Four weeks later, we bid for it and won. So now we have moving house, fixing up a few things in the ‘new’ house, fixing up a few things in our ‘old’ house and selling it to add to a book deadline I probably can’t make thanks to the stuff mentioned at the beginning of this post, and Paul completing the rather full final year of his photography course.

We joked the other day that we have a knack for putting ourselves in stressful situations.

But… the new house is lovely. Not much bigger than this one, but better laid out, single level, bigger windows yet on an orientation that should be cooler in summer. I’m giving up my big workroom for two bedrooms, but I think that might suit me better, as it means craft won’t distract from work and visa versa. We lose a wonderful view, but gain a nice front yard with big trees. And it’s a much, much quieter area of this suburb, especially now that so many units have been built around the ‘old’ house.

Portrait Update

Both of the portraits have progressed since I last blogged about them two months ago:

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I’m not avoiding Jason’s face and hands, I just love painting clothing too much. And it amuses me that, with the underpainting showing, it looks like I’m painting a green man.

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I’d worked on Rachel’s face three times at this point and there’s still some work to do. Her eyes are more open on the reference, for a start. Her lips need refining. The balloons will get more tweaking, too. They’re still a bit flat, texturally.

Leno with Two Heddles on a Rigid Heddle

I got to thinking, thanks to the weaving group at the Guild, that it must be possible to weave bead leno on a rigid heddle loom if it has two heddles. After all, it’s possible to weave leno on a table loom so long as you have three shafts, and the extra heddle effectively adds more ‘shafts’ to a rigid heddle loom.

Well, as I learned from an afternoon of experimentation, it’s not that simple.

The first problem is, the heddle on a rigid heddle loom is also the beater. But that can easily be solved by using a lease stick to push each shot into position:

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Or use the shuttle:

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The second problem may be too hard to explain here. All threads on a shaft loom are controlled like the ‘hole’ thread on the heddle, and that effectively means two heddles gives you only two positions. I just couldn’t get bead leno to work, but I did find a way to do doup leno.

The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving contains a project using doup leno using one heddle as a spacer – the warp threaded through slots only. Loops of string tied to a length of dowl behind the heddle are used to get the leno twists. And you can only get leno twists – no tabby.

The method I worked out allows you to have tabby bands between your leno twists, so it’s a slight improvement.

Warping:
1) First, warp the loom with two heddles of the same epi, the rear one with threads in slots and holes, the front with two threads in each slot and none in holes.

2) Place the back heddle in the neutral position and the front on the up position.

3) Then at the front of the front heddle, select the first warp thread that goes through a hole of the rear heddle and bring it underneath its neighbour – a ‘slot’ end – and up again. Tie it to the top of the front heddle with string so that you get a shed just big enough to slip the end of a shuttle into.

4) Continue across until every ‘hole’ thread is tied into position. It should look like this:

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Weaving:
1) Place the front heddle in the neutral position and use the rear heddle to get your weaving started with some tabby. Put the rear heddle in the bottom position and weave a shot. It should look something like this:

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The string loops allow the shed to open to almost its fullest extent.

Now place the back heddle in the up position and weave a shot. It will look like this:

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The string loops will be loose enough to pull under the ‘slot’ threads, allowing the ‘hole’ ones to move into the up position. Again, the loops allow the shed to open to almost it’s fullest extent.

2) For the leno twists, return to the position the heddles were in when you tied on on the string loops, with the front heddle in the up position and the back in the neutral position, and slip the shuttle through the shed. It’ll be a tiny shed, so you’ll have to work the shuttle through close to the string loops.

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The loops should have twisted pairs of threads around each other. The resulting leno shots spaced between tabby should look like this:

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3) Now return to tabby weaving.

I used silk for both warp and weft, and the slipperiness helped the warp threads to slide around each other. Even then, sometimes they didn’t want to go into position. I found two things helped combat this. First I’d run my fingers over the warp threads like they were harp strings. This often flicked them into position. Secondly, to get a good shed for the tabby I’d slip an unused shuttle or warp stick into the gap between the heddles or behind the rear heddle to encourage the shed to open to the fullest.

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The leno twist shed was very small and it was fiddly to get the shuttle through. To make it bigger would be to reduce the tabby sheds. I’d rather fiddle with the occasional leno shot than the more common tabby ones. Doing leno this way is still much faster than manipulating the threads individually by hand, which was the object of the exercise, really.

Craft WIPs

Tapestry Bracelet – Abandoned
I went off the boil with this project. The trouble is, though I’ve sewed in the ends, the flower yarn is slippery enough that they worked their way out again. And it’s was such slow work. This is about five or more hour’s worth. Zzzznore!

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Art Necklace – in hiatus
I was going to fill the frames with little paintings of eyes and ears and mouths, then after I started embroidering I got the itch to stitch something instead. But I couldn’t think of a subject. Lately I’m thinking photos of my ancestors might be better – and much faster.

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Double Trouble Baby Blankets – picking up again
Inspired by a weaving group meeting on multiple projects on one warp at the Guild, I cut a warp for two baby blankets late March. I lost momentum for this project for a little while, but resumed warping a few weeks ago. Last weekend I finally finished and started weaving. I’d really like to give one of the blankets to a friend who had a baby in April.

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Two Heddle Leno Scarf – established
Another project inspired by the weaving group, after a meeting in which we explored bead leno. I got to thinking that bead leno should be possible on the rigid heddle loom if it had two heddles. Well, I didn’t manage to do bead leno, but worked out a way to do doup leno with tabby between.

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Gift Yarn Jacket Modification – current tv project
Adding another band of ribbing to this:

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Eye Embroidery – poised to begin
The skull was a great ongoing brainless portable project that I could pick up while watching tv or work on while travelling. Now that it’s done I’ve got this eye ready to go.

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Lookin’ Fly Clutch

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All kinds of odd things end up in my stash of art and craft materials. A while back I got playing with a scrap of plastic fly screen. The folds that had been pressed into the mesh while in storage suggested a simple clutch bag shape, and reminded me of the cross-stitch iPhone cover I stitched last year. A bit of a trim and sewing in some side panels with waxed linen thread was all it took to make the clutch. Then I had to come up with a cross-stitch design.

So I measured the proportions of the grid and created a graph in Illustrator, which I exported to Photoshop. Then I modified a cross stitch pattern to a shape and colour I liked and put it on a layer behind the grid so I could colour the spaces in the fly screen graph with the fill tool.

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Then it was just a matter of cross-stitching the design onto the bag. I used sewing cotton to mark out every fifth row and column of rectangles so I could keep oriented to the pattern. Stranded cotton turned out to be unsuited to the job, as the individual strands would eventually separate and misalign, so I turned to the flower threads I’d bought at the mini tapestry weaving and on ebay. There were a few gaps in the colour range, so I had to order in some more thread, but I was able to get started while I waited for them to arrive.

It was a good tv craft project, taking me about a month of half-hour to hour stitching sessions. I’m very happy with the result.

Making Dates With the Garden

The landscaper who did the heavy work in our yards came around a few weeks ago to take some photos and get a reference. I was a bit embarrassed at how untidy parts of the garden were, as I hadn’t had the time or motivation to start the usual post-summer clean up.

Autumn is the time of year I get enthused about gardening, spurred on by the return of Gardening Australia (which seems to happen later and later each year), mild weather and plants putting on new growth. Being sick and then away for a few weekends delayed this by a month or so this year, and then it rained quite a bit. One one of the rainy weekends I did some plant research instead.

Since I can never remember when I should be feeding and pruning, I concentrated on making a quick list of general plant types in our garden and their maintenance requirements.

The plant categories, from highest maintenance to lowest:
Citrus – They need regular pruning and feeding. I’ve been fighting and losing a battle with gall wasp on the lemon tree. The lime is doing okay, though not immune to galls.
Succulents – more work than I expected because I have to move all the pots around the side of the house in summer to allow more rain and less sun to get to them, then back to the rear in autumn. I’m also always potting up new plants from the old and replacing ones that have died off. I don’t mind this too much because they are satisfying to grow.
Spider plant – gets out of hand from time to time, so it needs flower spears cut off a few times a year and occasional plant removal to stop it spreading. Hard to remove from between pavers.
Herbs, woody – the rosemary, bay, lavender, oregano, catmint and geraniums all need pruning and feeding once or twice a year. I tend to forget to feed them, but they are pretty forgiving. Low maintenance and high satisfaction.
Herbs, soft – the parsley, peppermint, cat grass and chives die back or go to seed and while cutting back helps they often need repotting. I probably don’t feed them often enough.
Roses – a winter pruning and occasional deadheading required. I’m okay at remembering the winter feeding, but not at other times. I need to replace some that didn’t survive transplanting, and remove or move a few others.
Natives – they are so low maintenance that I forget to do any, when I really ought to tip prune and feed more often.
Trees – the camellia, maple, flame, and umbrella trees all don’t require maintenance part from the occasional prune. The tree at the front door is getting too mature for the spot it’s in, but I might get a few more years out of it. The flame tree might grow to 20 metres, so it’l have to be removed one day. The umbrella tree is in a pot – and I just learned that it’s NEVER a good idea to plant these in the ground! And it’s poisonous to cats. It tends to lose it’s leaves in summer, but they always grow back.
Bulbs – ignorable!

The list turned out to very useful, as it revealed which plants were not worth the maintenance they require, and which I should pay more attention to.

-I love lemon trees, but mine is a sorry specimen that has never produced fruit. I can do without it if the lime keeps doing okay, and I’ll have more time to lavish attention on that one.
- It’s probably worth the trouble to remove all the spider plant in the cat run, too, as it’s rather boring and not worth the effort keeping it under control.
- Since the umbrella plant is toxic to dogs and cats, I need to move it out of the run.
- I need to feed my garden more often, and that may come down to adding reminders to my calendar.

Once I have the existing garden under control, perhaps I will introduce some new plants. I like the idea of vertical gardens at the back of the garage and in the cat run, growing potatoes in a barrel, and maybe even a little aquatic garden.

Stitchy Skull

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I’ve been working on this since … well, I transferred the image to the fabric last June and blogged about working on it in October, so it’s been a while. Stitching something like this, small and all in one colour, is almost a perfect replacement for knitting socks – something I could do without thinking too much while watching tv, in a waiting room, during meetings, and travelling.

On the other hand, I don’t know what to do with it now. Though I rather like the idea of hanging a collection of skull artworks somewhere in the house, since I have some oil stick paintings in a sketchbook somewhere. In fact, it’s long past time I refreshed the collection of artwork I have in the workroom.

Hmm.

Anti-social Media?

A month or so ago I was finally persuaded to join Facebook by a friend, who lured me in with talk about a ’99 projects’ group where everyone’s aim was to get 99 projects done in the year. I joined with a made-up name and only followed the closest and craftiest friends.

Yesterday I concluded that there was too little crafty inspiration and/or social interaction with those friends to justify the stuffing around you have to do to interact on Facebook. Pinterest provides far more inspiration and Twitter is much easier and quicker to interact within (though some recent changes have made it less intuitive).

That got me wondering… what happened to the ‘social’ in ‘social media’?

The answer is pretty obvious. There’s no profit in hosting a site that only lets people interact socially. These sites are about connecting people with people only so far as that helps connect them with products and services. Or rather, seeing how much advertising people will put up with, whether from companies or from friends ‘liking’ products and services, in order to keep up with their friends. For those who signed up early maybe it was good to begin with, then got worse slowly. Like raising the temperature of the water the frog is in, so to speak, without going too far and cooking the frog. You have to be in it early or it’s like jumping into boiling water.

Are there any social media sites where socialising is still the main function?

Ah. It all makes me miss the days when blogs were The Thing, before everyone started putting ads on their sites.

Hooked on Yarns Brooch

A little thank you gift for Ineke, the literary guest manager at Supanova:

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Yesterday I attended another weaver group meeting at the HW&S Guild. This time the discussion was about tips and tricks. Lots of good ideas. It gave me a boost of weaving enthusiasm, so when I got home I wound up working out how to do leno with two heddles on the rigid heddle loom.

It got me thinking about my sources of inspiration. Groups, blogs, Pinterest, friends’ work. I wonder, sometimes, if I would do the crafts I do if there was no internet or people around to inspire me. Maybe I’d read, garden and paint more. Or maybe I’d find I needed something, and visit the library to find out how to make it.

Moongazing

So it’s over a week ago now, but…

With the iPhone:
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With the point-and-shoot:
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With the SLR and a zoom lens:
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I couldn’t be bothered getting out the tripod. Besides, last time I photographed a lunar eclipse I found that the moon moved too quickly to get a sharp picture anyway. So I just took a dozen or so shots and hoped one would look okay.