Bigger Bargello

A friend gave me some canvas for stitching tapestry last year, and then a book on Bargello embroidery. (Thanks again, Elaine!) I bought some tapestry thread to try on it, in a gradient of greys and another of blues.

I had this beside my tv watching armchair for a month or so, and finished it a few weeks ago.

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The canvas and yarn work well for Bargello. The vertical lines on the canvas show through lighter colours, which isn’t a huge problem because now I know they do, I can paint over them before beginning.

The pattern was fun to stitch but the result is rather uninspiring. I have no idea why I decided to buy a gradient of grey. How boring! But it’s just a test piece. Next I want to buy a whole lot of different colours and do something much brighter. And curvier rather than zig-zag.

I have heaps of this canvas, and the finer stuff I used for my earlier samplers is very expensive, so I’m thinking I’ll stick to using it and start hunting through op shops and ebay for people’s leftover tapestry yarn. It’ll be cheaper and I like the idea of letting what colours I find influence the design.

Pinwheel Tea Towels

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Another weaving project begun when we returned from overseas last October is done. I’d finished the weaving late last year, but the fabric needed cutting into three pieces and the hems sewn, then a good wash in hot water to shrink it.

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I’m very happy with the result. Now that the fabric has shrunk, the threads sit closer together and the pinwheels became much more visible. They’re also thicker and cushier, and suck up water well when used.

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I can see more tea towels in my future!

Thoughts on Fibre

While my main aim for weaving this year is to try new structures, I have a secondary aim in mind. It has come out of a collision between my fibre allergies and interest in ethical textiles.

I’d like to weave fabric in order to make garments from non-wool, ethical fibres.

Why non-wool? It seems like I’m growing more sensitive to it. This really annoys me, as I love wool*. It’s easy to spin, scores well on ethical issues when it’s processed locally and is wonderfully warm. I’ve managed to wear so far it by donning thick, high-necked long-sleeve cotton tops beneath. Fortunately my hands and feet are free from irritation. I think I’d cry if I had to throw away all my hand knit socks.

Why ethical fibres? Last autumn I set out to buy cotton substitutes to wool jumpers and my shock at how hard it was to find anything that wasn’t acrylic propelled me into reading up on ethical textile issues. Since then I’ve aimed to make most of my clothing purchases ethical and to avoid buying new clothes as much as possible, which has been surprisingly easy.

Why garments? Last year the Guild hosted a talk about Fibreshed and 1year1outfit – a challenge to make clothing entirely from materials sourced within your local area. I was inspired, but with no non-animal fibre products available in my Fibreshed, and after spinning silk hankies gave me hand pain, I abandoned the idea of being able to participate. But I can buy ethical fibre from further away, and I like the idea of making clothing from fabric I wove.

The question of fibre sensitivity hovers over everything I weave or machine knit now. I still have heaps of wool knitting yarn in my stash. Now that I’m weaving fine cotton with confidence, a part of me wonders if all that wool knitting yarn is a waste of stash space. Of course, I can use the wool to make gifts, but to be honest, I don’t have people to weave for and I usually end up giving what I can’t wear to the op shop.

A few years ago I realised my stash was becoming more of a weavers stash than a knitters stash. Now maybe it needs to become more of an ethical, non-wool stash.

*I’m still not 100% sure about alpaca. Sometimes it’s made me itch, other times not.

Books Read in 2016

Once more, I only managed to read around 15 books over the year. About half of those were non-fiction.

This post is really just to keep of a record somewhere.

Black Sun Light My Way Jo Spurrier
North Star Guide Me Home Jo Spurrier
Wardrobe Crisis Clare Press
To Die For Lucy Siegle
Overdressed Elizabeth L. Cline
The Alchemist in the Shadows Pierre Pevel
The Dragon Arcana Pierre Pevel
Stitches in Time Lucy Adlington
The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg
Quiet Susan Cain
The Well of Ascension Brandon Sanderson
Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club Alison Goodman
The Hero of Ages Brandon Sanderson
Shadow’s Edge Brent Weeks
Beyond the Shadows Brent Weeks
Perfections Kirstyn McDermott

Graduation Blanket

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I finished this just before NYE, but then decided to redo the sewing together of the squares. Just lifting the blanket made the stitching gape, so I looked up other ways to attach the squares and found one that worked better.

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It’s woven from mostly Cleckheaton Country – balls I picked up in op shops and a few extras I bought when I ran out of the two darker browns. Paul has it now, in his office to use as a knee rug on cold winter days.

The Photo Album Project

Some years back, when I was on Pinterest, I followed a pin to a website with sensible suggestions for getting photos organised and into albums. I thought I’d managed the first step: getting all photos into one spot. After that I got busy, and the enormity of the task overwhelmed me every time I thought about tackling the next step. Especially this last year, when I had to start limiting my time on the computer. Making photo books was never going to rise high enough on the computer time priority list to ever happen.

As January arrived, I got all enthused again after I got some photos printed to use as photo references. It hit me that if I gave up on the idea of photo books and just had photos printed and slotted into album, the albums might actually happen.

Then I had a look at my old albums, and saw that some of the photos from my childhood are fading. I really ought to scan those or get a hold of the negatives and print replacements that’ll last longer. They’re in one of the old photo corner style albums, and I still haven’t got around to adding the corners for the last third of the album – the photos are just slotted loose between the pages where I intended to put them. So there was that to do. I started a list:

Photo project #1: finish first album

Once that album had filled up, I had kept the rest of my photos in plastic envelopes and a couple of albums for specific holidays. I really ought to put the photos in the envelopes into albums, so that went onto the list:

Photo project #1: finish first album

Photo project #2: put photos in envelopes in albums

Most of my holiday pics from the late 80s to 00s and are slides, because I used to take pics with Lonely Planet books in mind (employees and ex-employees were encouraged to, but eventually they started an image library and became very fussy about the style of photos accepted). Getting them scanned to print as photos was too cost-prohibitive in those days, but a friend scans slides for a modest fee so I recently had her do all mine. I just needed to select what I want printed. That became a task all of its own:

Photo project #1: finish first album

Photo project #2: put photos in envelopes in albums

Photo project #3: select, scan and print slides and put in albums

It occurred to me that my photos really fit in three categories: birth to independence, independence to Paul, Paul onwards. The Photo Album Project was growing rapidly larger, so this division seemed a good way to break a big project into smaller chunks. I also decided that the holidays from the ‘Independence to Paul’ era would be combined, chronologically, with photos of friends, family and events, but holiday photos from Paul onwards would be in separate albums since we’d already made a few photo books. So the list suddenly became more complicated:

Photo project – Birth to Independence

#1: scan and print fading photos

#2: add corners and insert rest of photos

Photo project – Independence to Paul

#1: move post-independence photos from first album to new one

#2: select, scan and print slides

#3: select photos from envelopes

#4: fill albums with #2 & #3 plus holiday album contents, chronologically

Photo project – Paul Onward

#1: select images of non-holiday subjects (family, friends, pets and events) from 2002 onwards, print and place in albums

#2: select images from holidays not yet in albums and either make albums or photo books

I could break the last task into the separate albums, too, but for now the list is intimidating enough! Of course, a lot of the work involved requires using a computer, so I’m delegating as much of that as possible to Paul.

I’d like to concentrate on one chunk of the project at a time, but so far I’ve wound up concentrating on bits of all them. I can’t do much on the Birth to Independence album because Dad is looking into whether he has negatives of the early photos. I’d start moving later photos from that album to the Independence to Paul albums, except we don’t yet have albums. I’ve found some nice-looking acid-free ‘slip-in’ photo albums online, but the shop doesn’t open until mid-January.

So I’ve been tackling the slides. This had me going through old diaries to date them, going through holiday diaries to caption them, renaming files and sorting them into folders (so much for avoiding the computer!), and I’ve just started selecting what I want to print.

As for the Paul Onwards albums, I’ve selected all my non-holiday photos. Once Paul chooses his we can print everything and start filling albums. It might end up being the easiest of the projects chunks to finish.

Wednesday Art Evenings

Fro the last two Wednesdays, I’ve held my arty evenings in the studio. The first was a great success. Despite the awkwardness of people meeting for the first time, everyone settled down to make art and chat and were happy with what they produced.

Six friends joined me that first Wednesday. One was the mother of one of the artists, so not doing any art herself. A wide variety of mediums were used: pastel, brush and ink, watercolour, pencil, Copic markers and oils. Subjects included landscape, people, fish and feathers. Most of the artists worked at the folding table we’d set up, so I was the only one using an easel.

I managed to get over an hour’s painting done, which was less than what I’d hoped but more than I expected, when there were introductions to make and friends to catch up with. Afterwards I was all inspired, and took a long time to get to sleep.

The following Wednesday everyone was to busy to come or away on holidays, so I painted alone. I was determined to do it even if nobody joined me, and I was glad I did because the progress I made was good. But I don’t think I’ll be alone every time. Those who came the first week had such a good time they want to come again, and they’ve attracted the interest of a few more friends, too. I won’t really know if the idea has legs until school holidays are over and people get into a more ‘normal’ routine.

Posted in art

Craft/Art Aims for 2017

The closest I get to making resolutions is a vague list of new things I’d like to try by the end of the year, and I’m happy if I manage to cross off a few. Since I have a pretty substantial craft To-Do list there’s no point adding a resolution list on top. So what’s on my vague want list?

1) I want to paint more. More people portraits. More cat portraits. I’ll continue going to classes, but I’m also going to try painting every Wednesday nights. I’ve invited friends to come join me in our studio, both for the company and because it’ll make me get away from the tv and do it!

2) Last year I wanted to try some new weave structures, and I achieved that mainly thanks to Ilka White’s weaving sessions class. I’m continuing that aim into this year.

3) I also want to spin, sew, embroider, machine knit, dye, print, make jewellery and try new crafts. Weaving is my main hobby now, but I’ll always dabble in others to keep things fresh and fun.

Whatever I do, the health of my back takes priority. I have to avoid too much sitting down and typing or extending my arms, and the best approach I’ve found is to move from task to task every half an hour or so: sitting for one, standing for the next, then doing something that gets me moving like gardening, walking or swimming.

And, of course, once my summer ‘leave’ is over, writing goes back to having priority over craft and art.

Craft Projects of 2016

I started 2016 with my usual optimism, stating that I’d get more time for craft. But most of my plans were uprooted by a stuffed back, the concreter not finishing the garage base, and the book edit from hell.

In January I did my usual overview of the previous year, and a stash portrait. Paul brought home a little loom and we refurbished it and a friend’s loom. The Glamour Shawl was on Ashford Table loom, convincing me that I don’t like weaving with metallic yarn, and I wanted a loom with a race and lamms.

Weaving: Giotto Scarf. Using some ribbon yarn unravelled from a failed knitting project.

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Crochet: I-cord Headband. Using some i-cord that had been hanging around since I first got the cord-maker.

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Embellish: Pockets on the Houndstooth Scarf. Wove the scarf ages ago, the pockets while teaching a friend how to do log cabin, and finally got around to sewing them together.

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Weaving: Dyer & Philips Loom. New heddles and tape.

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In February I bought a pile of fine yarns for weaving. What I wanted to achieve on looms was changing. Not so much choosing projects to reduce stash and more experimentation and learning new structures.

Weaving: Hibiscus Scarf. Test piece on the D&P loom.

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Weaving: Rep Runner. A sampler – too loosely sett.

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In March I started my first ever weaving class. It was this blog’s tenth bloggiversary, so I wrote about all the ways my crafty life has changed since the beginning. We spent a lovely weekend at Lake Hume with that friend and her partner, she and I weaving together.

Refashion & Embroidery: Cheesecloth Top. This has attracted lots of compliments.

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Weaving: Touch of Glam Shawl. Not happy. So many mistakes. Inconsistent beating. Thinking of dyeing it black to hide the errors.

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Weaving: Floor Loom. I love it!

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In April I finished the weaving class, and ever since have been buoyed by a new confidence while frustrated that I couldn’t get time to keep exploring weaving. A shopping trip where I couldn’t find non-acrylic winter woolies set me on the path of researching fast fashion.

Weaving: Overshot Sampler

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In May and June, inspired by ethical fashion, I did some sewing and refashioning.

Embroidery: Finished Unfinished Cardy

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Sewing: 50-50 A-line Skirt

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Refashioning: Denim Skirt

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Sewing: Inkle Band Top

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Sewing: Handspun Vest

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Weaving: Undulating Scarf

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In July, inspired by 1outfit1year, I bought an electronic spinning machine and found I was much more comfortable using it than a foot-powered one. I finished my first woven-by-hand braided rag rug and some Bargello samplers.

Weaving: Braided Spectrum Rag Rug

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Embroidery: Bargello Samples

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Spinning: Electronic Hanspun

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August contained a mix of spinning, weaving and sewing – and a big landscaping project. I gave a Zoom Loom to a friend’s daughter interested in weaving and taught her how to use it.

Spinning: Silk Cap Handspun

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Sewing: Handspun Handwoven Jacket

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Weaving: Reddy Runner

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September was a quiet one, craft-wise, because I was in Norway and Denmark for most of it. (The posts were mostly pre-written and scheduled.) However, I learned nalbinding while I was there.

Weaving: Electric Boogaloo Scarf

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Weaving: Fanspun Shawl

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Spinning: Blue & Linen Handspun

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Embroidery: Blackwork Bookmark

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Embroidery: Black Rose Red Cardigan

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Nalbinding: Nordic Mitts

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Embroidery: Traveller Pendant

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In October I reviewed what I was capable of doing in work, art, craft, DIY and gardening, since it was clear my back wasn’t going to go back to pre-2016 health. I sold the D&P loom at the Guild sale (and found out later that they sold it for $10 cheaper than I’d specified – no idea what happened there but it’s not enough to bother quibbling over.)

Spinning: Owl of Athena Handspun

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I didn’t finish any craft projects in November and December, thanks to the Edit From Hell. I almost did. The pinwheel tea towel fabric came off the loom. It just need washing, cutting up and hemming. I also finished the Gamp Pin Loom Blanket – even had it washed and dried before NYE – but I’m not happy with the sewing together of the squares and have decided to redo it.

Overall, 2016 was a good year for weaving. Though I didn’t get as much of it done as I’d hoped, I learned a great deal and I like my table loom. I seem to be growing more focussed on it, only dipping into other crafts occasionally – and mostly those that have a relationship to weaving (like sewing fabric I’ve woven).

That’ll continue through into 2017 I hope, but that’s a subject for a different post.

Stash Portrait 2016-2017

Recent thoughts about where I want to go with weaving, and my fibre allergies led to a bit of a stash assessment. So I laid out all the yarn on the office floor and took a picture:

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(Wool yarns are marked in red, cotton in yellow, and everything else or yarns I’m not sure of the fibre are in orange.)

A sort was in order. I moved cones to the larger boxes and divided everything into wool and non-wool. All non-wool, non-acrylic yarns had instant keeper status. With those put aside, I considered which wool yarns to keep or cull. Sock yarns are keepers, since my feet don’t get irritated by wool. Recent handspun stays, too. The Bendigo Classic 2 & 3 ply does weave up into a nice blanket and makes good warp yarn, so I’ll retain that.

The rest I sorted by softness. The Tonne of Wool Cormo is the softest, Bendigo Luxury next, Cleckheaton Country and Paton’s Inca next, and the rest became one batch of ‘least soft’ yarn. From that I culled the Bendigo Serenade, Patons Shadow Tweed, Lincraft Cosy Wool, a cone of fine boucle and the metallic yarns I hated weaving with earlier this year.

I also culled my knitwear, removing two vests I don’t wear, a cardigan and a jacket. The jackets were unravelled. The yarn I got from them is wool, but I have plans to turn it into pin loom blankets. Since one is a bulky yarn, I’m currently making a pin loom 150% the size of the one I have, so the nails are spaced wider apart and I get bigger squares.

The stash doesn’t all fit into the boxes, but with the wool yarns hanging about in the way rather than the cone yarns, I’ve got more of an incentive to either use them up or cull them.