Back to Single Digits

In the last couple of weeks I’ve sold two looms. First the Voyageur 16 shaft table loom, which was just too big for the loom room, and was bought by a weaver in NSW who was very excited to have it. Then the Osbourne 4 shaft floor loom, which became redundant once I bought the 8 shaft Lotas, and was adopted by a new weaver to weave rugs from the fleece of her sheep – for which it will be very well suited.

I hadn’t used the Ozzie since the Lotas arrived, and what I missed about it the most was the removable castle shelf. Recently I asked Paul if he could make me one for the Lotas, and though it isn’t quite finished (the wood for the edges that prevent things rolling off is out of stock at Bunnings) it’s finished enough to be used and, oh my, am I delighted to have one again! I can put the project draft there, or an iPad while Zooming, and tools, and I don’t have to twist to the side for all those things any more.

So now I am down to 8 looms: two inkles, two Knitters Looms, two 8 shaft table looms, the Lotas and a 16 shaft table loom in the garage awaiting rebuilding. I could get that down to 7, since I don’t need two 8 shaft table looms. But part of me worries that while the Jane is reserved for the 8 shaft course next year I might need the Katie for one-off workshops.


On the other hand, if I get that 16 shaft loom rebuilt and it proves light enough to carry, I won’t need the Katie as my ‘spare’. Trouble is, my left hand is still very painful and I won’t be doing any woodwork for some time. I’ll be having a cortisone injection in a month’s time. Maybe, if it’s successful, I could get the loom fixed up by the end of the year. But I don’t want to undo any of the benefit of the injection by overdoing it. It’s not so much a matter of deciding whether to sell the Katie, but when, and that’s something I can’t predict yet.

Pants from Sheets

Finished yesterday. Wearing them today.

The pattern instructions lost me where the waistband attaches to the waist. I matched up the notches but there was no overlap for the button. I thought maybe I’d misinterpreted the zipper part, but it turns out the notches were wrong and the extra cinching in of the gathering thread would have got me the overlap. Which also explains why the pants were so big around the waist that I had to take them 2cm at the sides and add elastic across the back.

I didn’t discover the mistake until after I’d taken them in, so there could be no unpicking and regathering. So I just added an extra tab. The elastic will add a bit of room around the waist for varying girth.

The legs were about 5cm too short so I did as small a hem as I could manage. I noted all the adjustments on the pattern.

Though I’m kinda chuffed to be wearing a garment made from old sheets, I’m not a big fan of light coloured pants, so these will be dyed at some point. Natural dyed, if possible. It’s a pity I didn’t make these a few weeks ago, as all the windfall from recent stormy days has got a bit dried up now. Maybe the leaves still have dye potential, but I wouldn’t be able to do eco printing as they’re all curled up and brittle.

Now that the test pants are done I intend to make ‘actual’ pants from the pattern. They’ll be made from a dark grey cotton table cloth with an interesting grid texture that seems to be about the same weight of fabric.

I Know it’s Spring When…

… I start thinking about my wardrobe again.

Coming out of winter, I always feel a bit over my cool season clothes and eager to start wearing warm season ones, but that itch seems to amplify into wanting to shake up my whole wardrobe. Inevitably I open the Stylebook app and siphon off some of that energy playing there.

Every year the way I’ve used Stylebook has changed. Initially it was all about getting pics of my clothes and accessories into the app, and my head around what I own. I tackled one or two categories at a time, culling as I went. The next Spring, after having logged what I wore for a year, I concentrated more on what I didn’t wear.

This year it’s more about maintenance – what’s looking worn and whether I need to replace it. And instead of individual garments, I’m thinking more about outfits. Tim Gunn’s and observation in this books that separates are more versatile than dresses has got me thinking.

So I turned to the Looks feature of Stylebook. I had the looks divided into casual/neat casual/formal categories. That, at least, made two things apparent: I had half as many cold season Looks as warm, and I hadn’t entered oft-worn combinations like knitwear and pants/skirts/ts and jeans. Both are because there’s not much use in creating obvious Looks. The feature is better for coming up with matches I hadn’t thought of.

I decided to re-sort them into skirts/pants/dresses, then divided those into casual and dressy categories. Also, I’ve found it’s more efficient to include several tops to go with one bottom rather than create multiple Looks for that bottom, so I made that my general approach, aiming to have a Look for all skirts and pants.

Now it was obvious that Looks that felt sad were based on tired, old pants. No surprise, really. I’ve resist retiring them because it’s hard to find pants that are comfortable and look good. What to do, then? Hmm. It would be a whole lot easier if I had a casual pants pattern that fit well and was quick and easy to sew.

The last time I attempted to make pants I used a commercial pattern and it did not go well. But I have a shorts pattern I like, and the pattern for one of the pants that needs retiring. And it turns out I have a jumpsuit pattern I picked up somewhere. Maybe by laying them on top of each other I can come up with a pattern that’s worth adjusting, and eventually develop one that actually fits and looks good.

Hmm. I must be in a particularly optimistic mood!

Rainbow Rug Ready

For months now I’ve been creating a big pile of rags in the colours of the rainbow. Back in May I posted that I’d been cutting rag strips from the big bag of flanellette for weeks. I wove the Country Rug in June, as a test rug. Since then I’ve been preparing rags for the second rug.

Of the usual rainbow colours, I didn’t have much orange, yellow or green. Nor could I find much flannelette in those colours in online stores. So I bought solid colours of fabric and used fabric pens to add pattern. And then I dyed a pile of mostly white strips.

Several sessions followed of carefully laying out even sequences of pattern in each colour then and sewing them together with the overlocker.

And many hours of using a bias maker tool to fold over the edges of the strips so I could iron them flat. I now have a huge basket full of rag strips ready for weaving.

Next came winding the warp.

And finally, four months later, I’ve started weaving. But I’ll leave that to another post.

Bumps in the Road Scarf

Waay back at the Kay Plus Fun workshop, I dyed a pre-wound warp of 8/2 cotton in a gradient of green and purple.

I’ve always wanted to weave a deflected doubleweave scarf like this:

It’s the “Bumps in the Night” scarf by Madelyn van der Hoogt, published in Best of Handwoven: Deflected Doubleweave. The trouble was, finding a non-machine washable yarn for the black warp and weft wasn’t easy. Eventually I worked out that two of the cones I’d picked up at a sale were feltable, and if used doubled were close enough to the 8/2 cotton to suit.

I wish I’d taken a photo to show the efforts required to divide a black warp up into 4 x 2 thread batches, placing each batch between 8 thread batches of cotton that had every second batch reversed. It was… amazing it didn’t turn into an unusable tangle. Using the raddle as a comb to loop each batch over made it a little bit easier.

Once I overcame the weft colour issue mentioned a few posts ago, the weaving progressed steadily. It looked great and I knew I’d made the right decision.

Then it was just a matter of tossing it in the washing machine and hoping the black wool would shrink enough, but not too much, to produce the ‘bumps’.

Which it did. Which is a relief and very satisfying. I love it and will definitely play with deflected doubleweave again.

Craft Room Purge

Last week the urge to purge came over me like a roaring tornado and I turned my attention to the Craft Room. I was tired of having an unused floor loom taking up so much floor space. I was sure the cupboards were full of tools and materials I didn’t use or need. And I wanted to make it a sanctuary for making art.

My easel and painting stuff have been in Paul’s studio for some years now. They’ve moved from one end to the other, but aside from a few sessions and the Art Nights I used to hold, mostly it was just a convenient place to stow my art class paraphernalia.

When Paul expressed relief at the end of Art Nights I was surprised. It seemed he resented a little the intrusion into his space. I thought my urge to bring the art stuff inside had to do with it being winter and not wanting to heat the studio to use it. But to be honest, I didn’t feel like it was my space. And when I considered how I’d feel if I had a studio and Paul wanted a corner… I wouldn’t like it but I’d tolerate it.

So the loom and the art stuff exchanged locations. Hopefully the loom will find an owner once the lockdown is over, and Paul can have all the studio to himself.

The big bookcase went into the office and then the purging began. I went through almost everything, including some containers I hadn’t cleaned out since we moved. Most of what I purged went into the rubbish or recycling. I have such a habit of collecting little containers and other junk that “might come in handy one day”. I also had an old laptop I thought I might put Fibreworks on, but when I charged the battery the hard drive made an awful groan and died.

In the end, I didn’t get rid of as much as I thought I would. I really ought to get rid of two mini sewing machines, the Passap knitting machine, the Lincraft circular knitting machine, a cutting machine, some books and lots of decorative paper. But I have the space so they’re staying for now. It’s reassuring to know I could cut back more if, say, my Dad had to live with us or Paul wanted all the cupboards in the laundry for his photo processing gear.

And as an inevitable side effect… I’ve now got the urge to do a bit of jewellery-making. And calligraphy. And bookbinding. And machine knitting…

Twill Silk Fabric

Whoops! I should have posted this before the last post. The Seta Soie Silk fabric came off the loom some time ago.

It’s been washed and draped over the dress model for a few weeks.

It’ll be the non-identical twin of the The Little Fluffy Clouds top… when I get around to sewing them. How non-identical? Well, they were woven at 90 degrees to one another. By that I mean the LFC’s neckline and hem will run weftwise and the SSS will run warpwise.

Why the difference? Well, the top design can be shorter but not narrower. The weft for the LFC fabric ran out sooner than I hoped, while the warp for the SSS ran out faster than I expected. But for the SSS, the bonus is that adding black to the sides of the warp means I’ll have an interesting band across the neckline and hem.

Rookie Mistakes & Simple Solutions

The current project on the Lotas is a deflected doubleweave scarf, following the “Bumps in the Night” project in the Best of Handwoven book on the technique. The project uses many different colours of warp for the non-shrinking cotton areas. I’m using a warp I painted at one of Kay Falkner’s workshops.

When it came to choosing the cotton weft I wasn’t sure what colour to use, so I took inspiration from the project and did alternating stripes of green and purple.

However, I soon found that this obscured the colour gradients in the painted warp. I wound up cutting out the cotton and unweaving the black wool (because I only have a limited amount of it).

Then I started weaving with black cotton. Overall the fabric is a bit darker, but you can see the colour gradients.

I’m surprised I made this mistake. I know colour. But, like so many odd decisions or moments of floundering, I’m blaming it on the distraction of the anxiety of the times and part of my mind occupied in blocking pain.

My left arm now looks like this:

Which I must wear for six weeks. Fortunately I managed to warp the Voyageur for class before it went on, with the help of this:

After asking friends on Facebook for ideas to attack a hook to the end of my finger, I wound up making this doovy inspired by butterfly guitar picks and knitting yarn guides. It helps me draw individual warp ends from the lease sticks to the heddle hook, avoiding the pinching movement of thumb and forefinger, which was one of many causing pain.

Thankfully I was right that I can weave with the splint on, so I’ve finished the class sampler. The deflected doubleweave scarf is keeping me entertained. And I’ve started painting again, which uses only my ‘good’ hand most of the time.

And Another One

One of the forms of doubleweave I didn’t intend to try when I was sampling was pleated doubleweave. When I heard one of the other students ask questions about it during a lesson, I got the itch to try it. I’d had enough of a break from sampling to have recovered my interest and enthusiasm.

So I put on a new warp. I was rather distracted by a family matter and completely forgot to wind only one layer of warp onto the back beam so I could weight the other. I had to unwind, cut the red yarns and rewind with just the blue.

I used an old hand weights base rod for the red warp:

I tried a few different ways to make the pleats and found that sandwiching the fabric for the pleat between two rulers then tying them to the front beam worked the best when the pleats were large.

I tried using dowels, too. The dowels were actually a little easier. Better for smaller pleats.

Once off the loom I turned in the hems and sewed them, then gave the sampler a wash.

The wash didn’t close up the gaps in the back as much as I’d hoped.

All in all, it was an interesting experiment but I reckon there are probably easier ways to achieve pleats of fabric on a backing, whether using a loom or not. I’d need a lot more dowels or rulers to make something larger, and I’m not sure how well tying them to the last one would work once the fabric began to turn around the front beam.