Booted

If you follow me on Instagram, you might want to know that I no longer have control of my art/craft themed account. It has been decoupled from the writing one for no apparent reason. I’m still trying to regain access but, now that I know this can happen, I will delete it once I’m able to. If I am ever able to.

I wasn’t using Instagram much due to the explosion of ads, and stopped posting art once I heard about AI. Now I’ve learned – not directly from Meta of course – that users will have to opt out of having their work used for AI training, which is a real faff or else impossible to do (like regaining access to an Instagram account), and once source says Australian users won’t be able to opt out at all.

I do miss following artists on Insta, so when I heard of a new social media called Cara I had a look and was delighted to find some of the people I followed are over there. I’ve signed up and will be lurking for a bit, but once I have a feel for it – and some time – I’ll try posting some art.

Shifting

The room rearrangement here is done but for the sofa bed – Lotas loom swap. Most of the large furniture was moved over one weekend, which left me very sore and tired. Then I tried to concentrate on getting a room as organised as possible before moving on to the next.

The Guest Room

This was the first and fastest room to organise (apart from switching the Lotas Loom and sofa bed which had to happen at the end). I moved the smaller zed desk in for my writing computer but it was still quite large for the space, especially with a sit-stand mechanism on top, so I bought a sit-stand desk from IKEA. Only to find it was too big. Somehow communication between the sales person and me got garbled – I think we had different versions in mind when I said I wanted the smallest. Fortunately, disassembly was fast and easy, and IKEA let me exchange it for the right size.

Next up was moving three bookshelves and the contents of a wardrobe. All I can say is, by the end I was determined to re-home a number of books and cull a lot of filing cabinet content.

The Textiles Room

This room had to accommodate the most stuff, and it just didn’t all fit until I’d done a lot of organisation, culling and made another trip to IKEA. The main bit of culling was of project leftovers and materials to repurpose. I keep leftovers from projects in case I need to repair or refashion, but I was able to cull yarn and fabric from things I don’t have any more. I also went through the materials for repurposing projects and asked myself if I actually liked them, and removed two-thirds.

By attaching the sewing table top to an old EXPEDIT unit I was able to remove two table legs blocking access to the shelves, which made a surprising difference in getting stuff to fit.

The Art Room

This was the room I am least sure of. I’ve never had an entire room reserved for art. I didn’t want to get rid of my zed desks, the pine table that my Dad and I restored, or the Lotas loom, but they wouldn’t all fit in there. After watching several art studio makeover videos, one thing an artist said struck me as relevant. She said she liked working on her old glass-topped desk, as it was easy to get the paint off. So I decided both zed desks were staying.

That meant choosing between the pine table or the loom. I was having a hard time picturing how the room would function and decided I need to work in there for a while, trying furniture and lighting configurations. It would be impossible to do that with a huge loom in the way, so it has to go elsewhere, at least for now.

As for worrying about ruining the carpet… in IKEA’s “As Is” room I found a I found a rug made of wool and cotton, in neutral colours so no risk of it influencing paintings, and on sale at a price that means I won’t mind too much if I stain it.

Final Touches

A pegboard and fittings had been sitting in the garage for a while, waiting to be installed… somewhere. Instead, I got Paul to cut it in half and add hanging brackets. I painted them white and hung one in the textile room and one in the art room. I’ve not used a pegboard before, but they feature in plenty of art and craft videos and we had it already, so I’m giving them a try.

I finally had space for the big h-frame easel. Once I’ve had time to get a feel for the room, I might be able to rearrange things so the giant canvasses can be stored in there rather than in the hallway.

It’s been an interesting but exhausting two weeks. I think it’ll be worth it. The test will be working in the rooms. Hopefully that means I’ll have a craft project to post about soon!

Making it Easier – May

One thing I’ve begun to understand about making things easier, is that it’s hard work. It’s the ‘making’ part of that intent – thinking of the change that would make something easier then doing the work and organisation to get that change to happen – that takes all the time and energy. It’s only after you do the ‘making’ that life gets easier. If all goes to plan.

If I’d decided ‘take it easier’ was the motto of the year, things would have been much more relaxed. As it turned out, May was a month in which I worked very hard to make life easier.

For ages now I’ve been looking at the rooms I use for work and play and feeling something had to change. For a start, two were dedicated to activities I wasn’t doing much any more: writing and weaving. It seemed crazy that I was making art in half a laundry while those rooms remained mostly unused. Adding to the pressure was our cat getting old and suddenly refusing to go outside to toilet. Having the litter tray in the bath isn’t fun for cat or humans. The laundry is a better location, but it was full of my art stuff.

The physical roadblocks for change were mostly physical: I couldn’t see where to relocate the Lotas loom, I worried about doing art in a carpeted area, and I didn’t want to ruin the comfortable combination of furniture I had in place for sewing. I hadn’t realised there were mental blocks, too. (Other than simply knowing it would be hard work.) It turned out that changing anything to do with my writing set up was an acknowledgement that a significant era of my life had probably drawn to a close, and I hadn’t been ready for that until now.

What removed these roadblocks was staying overnight at Dad’s place after he’d had a minor procedure with anaesthetic. It was so impractical, compared to having him here, for reasons too long to list. To make staying overnight at our place appeal to Dad, we needed a proper guest room again and a bathroom free of cat toilet smells.

That meant reducing the area I was using for work and play from 3 1/2 rooms down to 2. Or did it? I realised that a pared down set of office furniture and contents could easily exist in the guest room. Guests would only limit my access to them a couple of times a year at most.

While getting 3 1/2 rooms down to 2 1/2 sounded easier, or 2 1/2 rooms dedicated to hobbies down to 2, it was still an intimidating prospect. I reminded myself that I’d had one room for hobbies when we first moved here (ok, I’d painted in a classroom and hadn’t owned a floor loom) and when we eventually downsize I’ll probably have the same. I’d watched The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. I could do this.

The strategy was this: the office would become the Textiles Room, the craft room would become the Art Studio, the Loom Room the Guest Room. It only involved moving every piece of furniture. Since I don’t have Illustrator any more and probably wouldn’t remember how to use it, I mapped out a floor plan and made cut outs of the furniture. After working out where most things would go, I did a mock move and found that everything had to be relocated in a particular order to avoid double-handling.

The Lotas loom was never going to fit in the Textiles Room. It might go in the Art Studio, or in another part of the house. I can put that decision off for a while because moving everything else is going to take plenty of time and energy, and moving the sofa bed to where the loom is now is the last item on my list.

May’s making it easier tasks will become June’s. And this is a classic example of how ‘making it easier’ turns out to be hard work, both physically and mentally.

But in the end, easier.

Bazaar Times

So ask I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve been doing some yarn culling. First there was the big rug yarn/fabric cull last year that triggered the Summer of Quilts, thanks to me thinking it would be easier (ha!) to just sew up all the flannelette strips into quilts. Then in April I culled some dyeing supplies and knitting yarn. As May arrived the rest of the stash got thinned and I figured it all may as well go into the yearly weaving guild sale. I added magazines, a pin loom, a 16 shaft loom I was going to fix up but no longer want, and circular knitting machine to the pile.

And it was quite a pile.

More like a wall.

Estimated total number of items was topping 100. Aside from the possibility it wouldn’t all fit in my car, the thought of filling in ten forms, and deciding on prices, and labelling it all, and carting it to the guild sapped my will to live. It had me wondering if I should just have a studio sale instead. That reminded me that I’ve seen people hire a table at the Bazaar and have their own eftpos machine. Both Paul and a friend have organised such things before so it didn’t intimidate me. Doing it that way would remove the need for filling in forms and I could change prices or put together bundles as the day progressed. I called the guild and asked if I could do that instead.

After a few days they got back to me, and the answer was ‘no’. So I looked at the pile/wall and figured I had to reduce it to a more manageable size. I decided to donate the knitting yarn to op shops and toss the magazines into the recycling (I’d got them for free at the Bazaar two years ago when nobody wanted them). I was all ready to take the rug yarn to the tip when a weaver I know said that friend of hers would take it. Perfect.

That got the items down to just under 70. It took me 4 hours to fill in the forms and write and attach the tags. It and the rug yarn (which I delivered the same day) filled the back of my car.

And, thankfully, most of it sold.

Looking at the Loom Room now, the difference is obvious. Only half of the shelving and little wardrobe contain weaving things. The rest holds either knitting/crochet, embroidery and spinning items, or empty tubs. I’m not sure what my next move is, but it might involve even bigger changes.

As I always remind myself: nothing in life is more sure than change.

Gradient Slouchy Hat

Going through my weaving tools looking for things I don’t want any more, I came upon the box of pin looms and some unfinished projects woven on them. One was a scarf with which I had been teaching myself a join-as-you-go technique. I wasn’t interested in finishing it, so I carefully unwove all the pieces, matched the thread up according to the colour gradient, and tied it into one piece.

I only had one 200 gram ball of the yarn, which might be enough for a scarf. I perused a few stitch guide books and bookmarked a few, but the ones I tried demanded too much attention or formed overly stiff fabric.

So I figured I’d let other crochet designers do the hard work and went looking for patterns. I found this beanie pattern designed for multiple yarns, but I thought the ribbed look might work with a gradient too.

I love it.

The only change I made was to make the main part – the sides – just be alternating FYDC and DC (US terminology) rows. I’m now wondering if I can make a matching accessory with the rest of the yarn.

Colour-blocked Corduroy Jacket

Or is it a shirt? I guess it’s a ‘shacket’, as it works as either.

It felt like I had a lot left to do when I tackled the next stage, since the sewing up is the main part of garment construction. But in truth, it was no more than an easy day’s work. I took breaks for cuppas and lunch, and one to write the bulk of this post before tackling the buttonholes.

This was a ‘just for the fun of it’ project. Though it was done in the spirit of using up fabric, the main aim was to play with colour-blocking. I bought fabric for it and have enough of five of the six kinds to put to other uses, though not for any full garment.

What’s next? Well, some sewing thread I ordered for topstitching a quilt back in January has finally arrived, so that might be next. Or perhaps I’ll fix the wool skirt that got shrunk last year first.

Cutting the Cord

I was all ready to start cutting out fabric for the patchwork corduroy shirt when we went away for a long weekend. When I got back I was tired and bound mess up the task and then I got into an organising and culling state of mine. It wasn’t until two weeks later that I returned to the project.

The catalyst, I suspect, was going to a second hand and vintage sale looking for nice pants and long skirts and not finding any. That sparked some ideas, both of garments and of creative challenges I could set myself, and the next day I was back at the cutting table.

There were a lot of pieces to cut. Six colours and textures of corduroy. It took me most of a morning and then I really needed a mental break so we went for a walk then for various reasons I was drawn away from the sewing room again.

I didn’t get back to it until the following weekend, when I sewed it all into pattern pieces and got the pockets and front yokes attached. I’m hoping to make more progress this weekend, but I’m not in a hurry. It’s nice to sew at a relaxed pace.

Making it Easier – April

This was supposed to auto-post. Well, better late than never!

For the first third of the month it seemed like I was only making life more complicated. I volunteered to arrange the plein air/still life sessions while the organiser was on holidays, which wasn’t helped by sudden and inexplicable email problems, and the weather switched to winter mode so it was cool enough to do the weeding… at the rare moments it wasn’t raining.

Making things easier seems to require ongoing work. A while back I realised that if I always paint on the same sized canvas sheets I can just swap then around in inexpensive frames from IKEA or Kmart. But I’ve started participating in exhibitions where the art is on sale, and those works are supposed to hang from a string or wire. The cheap frames only have a ‘hook’ on the backing board, and the composite board the frame is made of is too weak to hold a screw and wire. I’ve found a framing shop that sells wooden frames that look the same. They’re more expensive, of course, but at least I can still switch art around.

We went away for a long weekend, which disrupted my sewing momentum and I came back in what my painting mentor used to call “right brain mode”. The wardrobe got a mild cull and that was made so much easier using Stylebook ap. I started preparing for the weaving guild’s yearly sale, which was a very tiny bit easier for having already culled a heap of rug yarn and some dyeing materials, then harder because I figured I ought to cull the rest of the stash and suddenly I had a LOT of items to tag and record on forms.

At that point I started seriously considering forgetting the Bazaar and having a big studio clear-out sale. It might just be less work overall.

Cord on Bleu

This project began with two remnants of corduroy in my stash. One a navy-based floral pin cord with light blue, white and pink in the pattern, the other a plain burgundy with a quite broad cord texture. I searched online for corduroy colour blocking and up came pics of men’s shirts.

Which I like the look of. The colours and pattern I’m going to use are going to be different, of course. The pattern I’m going to use is one I traced from an old corduroy shirt, but adding pockets and leaving out the waist shaping. The colours are taken from the navy floral fabric: pink, a dusty light blue, a light burgundy, the dark burgundy leftovers from my stash and – because I wanted more than one patterned fabric – a mid-tone aqua-blue with little flowers and mushrooms.

Texture is going to be another factor. The two batches of leftover corduroy are a fine pin cord and an unusually broad cord, so I figured I’d embrace textural difference and have a variety of cord widths. The corduroy I bought to go with them are a mix of medium and fine cord.

I did some sketching…

The first two versions were deliberately riffing off the men’s shirts to see what I liked and disliked about the blocking and colour placement. I really didn’t like it having one dark and one light breast pocket – that’s going to matter more on a woman than a man. I also preferred seam lines going along the arms rather than around them. The third sketch is my own choice of seam lines and colour placement, and I like it much better. The arrangement of colours seems more balanced.

The next step was to tweak the front and work out an arrangement for the back.

Once I was satisfied with that, I spent an afternoon making a tracing of the main pieces of the pattern and creating pieces for the pockets. Then I drew design lines on the front, back, and sleeve, and traced off a pattern piece for each block, adding 1cm seam allowance. Why go to all that trouble? I just knew that if I simply cut up the front, back and sleeve, I’d forget to add seam allowance later. And I’d have had to make two more copies of the front and sleeves, since the pattern isn’t the same on each.

Then I went alway for a long weekend, so there was a bit of gap between making the pattern and making the garment. The latter will have to wait for another post.

In the Navy

It was time to change the thread on the overlocker again, and tackle the navy knit fabric leftovers. They consisted of three kinds: enough plain to make a skivvy, enough gum nut print to make two sleeves or some side panels, and a small amount of a thinner striped knit that might work with the others if I used it like the gauze in the recent t-shirts.

I drew up some options and worked out there was only one combo where I got two garments out of the fabric and didn’t need to draft a new variation on the patterns I’m using. The first was a t-shirt with the striped fabric as puffed sleeves and neckband, the second was a skivvy with the gumnut fabric for arms and collar.

However… the day I started cutting out I didn’t realise I was too tired to be sewing until I’d cut out the plain navy fronts and backs at 90 degrees to the grain. Oops. I decided to go ahead and make the t-shirt anyway.

While it looks good and is wearable, the stretch being so generous along the length of the body is a mistake I don’t want to repeat, so I decided to abandon making the gumnut skivvy.

At that point I decided I was done sewing stretch. I was starting to feel a bit over it anyway. Most of the knit fabric in my stash had been sewn up. Aside from a small amount of leftovers, I had one recently-purchased batch of fabric that might make a dress, and I wasn’t in the mood for tackling a dress.

So what next? Well, I’m still enamoured of colour blocking. I have two kinds of corduroy in the stash and an idea I want to pursue, so I’m thinking it’s time for a projects done purely for fun.