Re-Candle

My friend and I have taken to calling my Dad’s deceased neighbour “Late Lucy”, as we know a couple of living Lucys and it prevents confusion. Anyway… Late Lucy had a LOT of candles. KRin managed to give away most of them, but discovered one forgotten box later. We put them in our local market stall, but they didn’t look that appealing all piled together and nobody bought any.

I got to wondering if, for our next market, they would appeal more if we bundled them into matching sets and tied them with Christmas ribbon. I messaged my friend to suggest it. Turns out the bag they were in had busted and some were now broken. We tossed ideas back and forth, and next thing we knew we were in my laundry hovering over saucepans on the portable stove top I use for dyeing.

I do love a spontaneous craft day!

We melted down the broken candles and saved the wicks. I found some old candle-making supplies and we used the wax dye and powdered food colouring to colour the melted wax.

The first thing I tried was dribbling wax down an old tapered candle. It produced a nice ombre effect. I used the same method on a fatter candle and the hot wax adhered and solidified differently, creating more of a dribbled coating. Next I tried coating three candles in hot wax then quickly rolling them in sand. I quite like the way they look, and reckon they’d be even better with shells pressed into them. Only I didn’t have any shells.

Why did I even think of sand? Well, when I was a child I made sand mold candles at school, or Brownies, or something, and I loved it. I’ve wanted to try it again for a while now. I’ve had a bucket of play sand sitting in the kitchen garden for a few years, waiting for me to get around to it. So I sieved out the dead leaves that had blown in, found some yoghurt containers to hold it, and once I had work out how damp to make the sand I began pressing objects into it. The results were varied. The blue and green candles came out a bit too rustic, but I rather like the yellow one.

I decided to try dipping short pieces of wick to make little fat candles, but it was taking ages for the wax to build up. I settled on making rustic birthday cake candles instead. I think these are hilarious!

My friend and I then joined forces, me dribbling green and her wielding red wax to coat two sets of candles with a Christmassy colour scheme.

Then she used up most of the remainder of the wax making red and green striped sand candles. Curiously, the sand stuck to the green but not the red.

We were pretty chuffed with our efforts overall, and had a fun afternoon of playing around with melted wax.

The next day I decided to package up the candles, making half boxes out of card covered in paper and wrapped in some florists cellophane.

I decided to keep the roughest two sand candles. The rest went into our market stall. Did anybody buy them? Yes! The matching six red and green ones, and the three blue with sands ones. I gave the long tapered one away as a gift yesterday.

Pink & Blue Table Runner

The Jane came with a warp – mercerised 5/2 cotton in a pinky purple threaded in rosepath – and the seller included the draft for the project she’d intended to weave. I tossed up whether to weave it, or remove it to use later so I could get my homework project on the loom. It seemed a shame to waste the former owner’s efforts, so I decided to weave a little and see if I liked it and could weave it off in time.

I don’t have any 5/2 mercerised cotton, but I do have unmercerised 5/2 saori warp in many colours. The tie up was a bit more complicated than a straight zig zag. I tried both, in four colours.

I didn’t see a lot of difference between the complicated tie-up and a simple zig zag, so I stuck with the latter. The matt yarn against the shiny appealed, and when the blue yarn produced an iridescent effect it was too exciting to stop weaving. The sampling also showed up a bit of extended twill in the threading. Maybe it was deliberate, maybe an error, but I liked it. I decided to make it seem so by reflecting the ‘error’ in the weaving:

I did the same at the other end. It took me a week to finish the warp.

The colours and length suggest ‘scarf’ to me…

… but the hand says ‘table runner’.

I have to go with the feel of the fabric. It’s really not soft enough to be a scarf – even after washing. So table runner it will be.

Serendipity

At the last weaving class one of the students brought a Louet Erica loom for us to look at. I’ve seen a Louet David before, and I like the brand’s aesthetic. I got chatting with another weaver about the other looms in their range. She has a Spring on order. I think she has a Jane, too – the 8 shaft table loom.

In class we wound the warp for the next project during the afternoon, and I realised that this and the following project were 13 inches wide. The maximum width I can weave on the Katie is 12 inches. I asked if I could do the next project at home on my floor loom, and the teacher agreed.

When I got home, I decided to visit the Louet website. I compared the weight of the 16 inch Jane (8 kg) with the Ashford Katie (6.5 kg – plus a bit more for mine due to modifications). For 1.5 more kilos the Jane offers 4 more inches of width. I prefer the way the Jane folds up into a less awkward suitcase shape, but I like the way the entire front of the Katie folds down for warping. The Jane is more expensive, however, and newer on the Australian market so finding a second hand one would be pretty rare indeed. But I checked eBay just in case. Nope. Nadda.

I wasn’t seriously shopping for another loom, however. I could make do with what I had.

That night I started my usual forum reading on Ravelry and there it was… a post advertising a second hand Louet Jane for sale that had only gone up an hour or two before. So I asked if was still available, and several messages, emails and txts later…

Now I have to decide if I will sell the Katie. It might not be a bad idea to keep it until I’ve finished the 8 Shaft Weaving Certificate course a year after next. I have all the parts I took off it when I modified it, and can return it to it’s original state. But if I do sell it, I will give a buyer the option to acquire the altered version.

The Youth of Old Age

“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” So said Victor Hugo. Well, I’m officially old, in that case. The young end of old, but still old.

Paul and I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on my birthday, which was very enjoyable and appropriately fancy for a zero birthday, and involved none of the preparation, clean up or recovery of a party.

The week before I’d discovered a Melbourne vintage clothing shop that sells on consignment, so I took photos of everything and emailed some thumbnail sheets of what I have to the owner. She said it was exactly the sort of stock she sold, so Paul and I took it all in the next day. She took everything except reproduction clothing, a caftan (not popular) and winter-weight clothing as we’re heading toward summer. When I saw she sold costumes, too, I mentioned I had culled some from my wardrobe, and she said she would have liked to see them.

The following Sunday my friend and I had our stall at the local market.

We made a small profit, which went to charity, and decided to do it all again the next month. I took the leftover vintage clothing along with with my culled garments and costumes but sold only one top. That convinced me to put the winter weight vintage clothes and my costumes aside to see if the shop wants them in autumn, and donate my clothes to the local op shop. The next stall will be some vintage scarves, tea towels and brick-a-brack, jewellery and such.

Craft-wise, I’ve been making samplers for a rigid heddle loom weaving workshop I’ll be running at the Guild’s summer school.

And doing my 4-shaft weaving class homework.

And I decided it was well past time to put a first project on the Lotus.

It’s going to be tea towels, using the 16/2 cotton I bought in 2008 only to discover that I didn’t even have half the heddles I needed on my Ashford table loom. The yarn has been sitting in my stash ever since.

And speaking of stash… it is now over 50 kg. Waaaay too many destash markets/Guild bazaar/freebies came my way these last couple of months, which only makes me more determined to GET ALL THE LOOMS WARPED! But then I remind myself that there’s only one weaver here, and I can only use one loom at a time, and I still have a stuffed back that won’t let me weave for hours at a time anyway.

I think there may be a stash review in my near future. And probably a stash cull.

50/50

Next week I’ll be having a zero birthday. I have had mixed feelings about this up until a month or so ago, when I decided to ditch plans to have a party. I simply did not have the time or energy to organise one. Deciding this was a huge relief. Ten years ago I held an amazing party and, to be honest, I don’t think I could top it. Nor could I recover from it as easily. I’m ten years more inclined to hangovers.

Still, there is something about zero birthdays. They require some reflection time. Contemplation of the past, present and future, and all that. This is particularly bittersweet thanks to my perhaps-temporary-perhaps-permanent retirement for health reasons. But not too much worrying about things I can’t control, either. Ironically, the older I get, the less I want to dwell too much on the past. Eyes forward. Seize opportunities. Etc.

The weaving course is proving great for boosting my well-being. I have something to challenge me. Something to look forward to each month or so – which I am doing very much.

I’ve also been culling my clothing. I thought this was just the result of reading Elizabeth Cline’s The Conscious Closet, but to be honest the itch to overhaul my wardrobe has been growing for a while now and buying the book came out of that rather than visa versa. Spring is a good time for a review, as you see what you didn’t wear over the winter and what you’re not excited to wear again in the coming summer. My impending birthday must be an influence as well, as I’m weighing the age-appropriateness of my clothing at the same time as removing what makes me feel old and dowdy.

I still have to find homes for Lucy’s clothing, and in an effort to do so well a friend and I have hired a spot for a stall as the local trash’n’treasure market. I doubt it will all go – maybe not any of it as there are always plenty of $2 fast-fashion cast offs there – but it’s a test to see if we want to try selling at a vintage/retro market. I am not nearly as excited about this as I was back when we were clearing Lucy’s house. I’m half tempted to donate it all to op shops and save myself the time and effort.

Ketchup

Catch up continues. Mostly domestic stuff, but there has been some craft. Let me see…

I finished weaving a chenille scarf. What chenille scarf? Well, I ikat dyed two skeins of chenille at the Kay Plus Fun workshop a year and a half ago, but then couldn’t decide whether it should be warp or weft. Eventually I bought two more undyed skeins. Some weeks ago (Pre-Lucy’s House?) I warped up the Knitters Loom with an undyed skein and started weaving with a dyed one. I was hoping a weft ikat pattern would form, but all I got was a random speckled pattern – and not an attractive one. So I unwove the dyed yarn and wove with the second skein of undyed yarn, figuring I’d dye the finished scarf later. So not a finished project, as such, so no photo yet.

Of course, that leaves me with two ikat dyed skeins to figure out what to do with. But for now, there’s more important things to weave.

Because I agreed to run a rigid heddle workshop at the Guild’s summer school. And being a glutton for punishment, I decided not to pick one weave structure but TEACH THEM ALL! Well, not all of them. I’m putting together a range of samplers and instruction sheets, so students can pick something they haven’t tried before. Most use the same basic warp, and there’ll be a double weave and vari dent version (if I get the samplers and instructions sheets done in time).

Last Saturday was a double destash market day. First up was the Open Drawer, where I bought a ton of mostly 8ply yarn and a sewing box footstool. Next was a CWA destash market where I helped a friend man (woman) her fundraising stall, selling off mostly craft stuff from Lucy’s house for whatever donation people wanted to make. We made a surprising amount to send to the Women’s Property Initiative – crafters are generous! I added to my ton of 8ply yarn there and bought a beautiful kimono.

The third 4 shaft weaving class was held on Sunday. I was tired from the market, but I’m enjoying this course and being around other crafty people so much it wasn’t long before I pepped up. And Project 2 is about colour theory and rosepath – both which I am familiar with. Lots of homework, which I’m amazed to find I’m really pleased about.

Craft is usually pretty slow this time of year thanks to having an acre’s worth of garden to weed and prune and feed and plant and water and harvest and rip out for the compost, but at least I don’t have any large projects lined up. I’d like to get some sewing done. I have both refashioning and sew from scratch summer clothing projects I’d like to do. And to weave something other than course and workshop samplers. Maybe something to sell at the Guild.

And then, of course, there’s preparing for and running a vintage/craft stall my friend and I are holding at our local market at the end of this month.

Right now, though, I’ll be content to just catch up and keep up with the things I’ve already got on my plate.

Catching Up

Things are slowly settling down here. Lucy’s house is nearly empty – the last contents just have to be put out on the nature strip for the hard rubbish collection. I’ve finished the proof of my book and sent it off to the publisher. Project One of the weaving course is done and I’ve warped the Katie ready for Project Two. And a dozen other things have been done, organised or planned for.

I’ve been feeling bone-achingly tired for weeks now. I figured all that work at Lucy’s place was to blame, but I never quite recovered. Then last weekend was very busy and on Monday I was so tired I felt like I was coming down with the flu. I wasn’t, but at the moment no matter how much I sleep and rest I can’t seem to shake the fatigue. I’m a bit worried I’ve triggered another bout of chronic fatigue.

There shouldn’t be much more work to do on the book, so I’m proscribing lots of rest through October. That means no party for my 50th birthday. My heart’s just not in it. I’ve been saying the best birthday present might be to not have to organise or be a peppy hostess at a party.

Of course, I’m not very good at resting. For a start, if I sit around a lot my back gets worse. And Spring has arrived with it’s constant unending weeding. I’ll be involving myself in my parent’s lives much more now, and I have the weaving course and homework to do. And I’ve agreed to run a rigid heddle weaving class at the Guild’s summer school.

Yeah. My first weaving teaching gig. Yikes.

Between now and then I want to weave up five demonstration samplers, and make some instruction sheets to go with them. I’m also going to provide some tools. My idea is to give a small number of students five different choices of sampler to do, so that the intermediate students get to try something within their ability, and the advanced ones have something challenging to try. It would be easier to teach one kind of weaving, but that might restrict the students to only those that haven’t tried that particular kind yet.

Or I might be making too much work for myself, teaching five different techniques at the same time. I’ll just have to wing it and see!

And Also…

I bought a new iPhone 7 so I could give my Dad my old one. To my surprise, Bloglovin’ doesn’t have a version that works with iPhone 7. So I’ve downloaded Feedly. Unfortunately it wants me to upgrade to a pricey paid version in order to follow any blogs I search for, rather than find them via the hashtag search, so there are some blogs I couldn’t put into my feed. Any recs?

Distractions

For the weeks leading up to the start of the weaving course I was in a bit of project limbo. The Katie loom was out of bounds, as I needed it for class. I didn’t want to put anything on the floor loom, as there might be a task set in the class to do at home that I’d more easily weave on it. The knitters loom was free now, but I’d been intending to use it to teach a friend weaving so I didn’t want to put something on that yet.

I did a lot of planning of projects on my To-Do List, but you can only do that for so long. I bought some leather conditioner and, with Paul’s help, treated the leather sofas. I baked. I did some mending. I planned out some knitting machine projects. And finally, I knit a scarf out of some colourful i-cord I bought at a destash sale.

And then forgot to take a photo.

Three weeks ago my Dad’s neighbour died, at 87. Last year she decided he should adopt her cat when she died. He agreed so long as it was written in her will – no chance of fights with her relatives over who got the cat. Off they went to a solicitor and it was revealed that her last will had everything going to a cult she had been involved in previously but wasn’t any more, and didn’t want her estate going to now. When it came to choosing a new executor she didn’t know who to choose, so Dad volunteered.

Oh boy, is he regretting that now. So much work. So much stress. When it first happened he was so wound up that I was truly afraid he’d have a heart attack. And the woman’s house… tiny but filled with so much stuff, all mixed in together. Like a fractal, really. Every room, every cupboard, every drawer, every shelf, every box, every bag, every basket filled with the same combination of objects: cards, letters, cat calendars, Christmas decorations, ornaments, jewellery, stationary, craft supplies, crocheted and knitted soft toys, snacks, religious item, table linens like doilies and such, scarves, candles, soaps, money and documents. The only kinds of objects that weren’t mixed together and spread through most parts of the house were her clothes (her wardrobe was surprisingly well-ordered) and cooking utensils (she didn’t cook).

It was like someone had got her old house, picked it up and shaken it vigorously, and tipped it into this one.

She had no children, her niece is sick and her nephew said “just chuck it all in a skip”. That’s the point where Paul and I got sucked into the vortex that is clearing someone’s house. And it’s a good thing we did. Among the mess we’ve found some amazing old things.

Most of the work has been sorting things into categories. I spent half a day with a friend culling and sorting craft supplies, only to find several baskets and boxes of it later. I spend another half of a day sorting Christmas decorations, only to find several baskets and boxes of it later. She had eleven Christmas trees. ELEVEN. I think she’d saved every greeting card and letter and calendar of her entire 87 years – all mixed in with everything else – as it filled two large recycling bins. I never want to see another greeting card, and my dislike of Christmas has deepened into a full-bodied loathing. I’m beginning to shudder when I see yet another cute picture of a cat or a dog, cut from a magazine or calendar or pet food packaging.

And yet… everything about her belongings spoke of a woman who loved life. And people. And animals. She had a zany and colourful fashion sense and was creative and artistic. She was spiritual but not set in her beliefs, as she had items relating to just about every religion that exists and even a book on alien abduction. She lived in the moment. She didn’t own much of worth but she enjoyed what she had. People near and far loved her. There wasn’t a snobby bone in her frail old body. I’d like to have met her more than just the once.

But I am very thankful that Dad has agreed that he won’t become anyone’s executor again!