Redo

Aaaaages ago I crocheted a scarf called a Curly Whirly. It was a brief crochet craze that spread through the online knitting/crochet world. While it is fascinating how the scarf curls around itself, it’s not exactly a practical scarf – more a decorative one. I never wore it, but the yarn had felted too much to frog, and since I’d bought on my first big trip overseas, I didn’t want to discard it.

Four years ago I embellished this cardigan:

It’s had plenty of use. I was growing tired of it, though. I’d nearly sent it off to the op shop a few times, but recently I found that Curly Whirly scarf and, well…

I did make a bit of hole in the cardigan when removing the chain stitch lines, but a bit of visible mending fixed that. Bring on winter!

Year in Review: 2020

I’m a bit late doing my usual review, but better late than never!

January

The first creation I mentioned in January 2019 was our house number mosaic. I’m still pretty chuffed about this one. The next is one I also still love – the embroidery I sewed to the back of a jacket.

February

Feb was all about decor, with me making these cushion colours and most of my weaving time spend making the Memories Rya Rug.

March

Which I finished in March.

April

I did a big cull of my hats, scarves and shawls. Some frogging and embellishment happened, and many were given away. The scarf below gained some pom poms, which were exactly what it needed to transform from nice to wonderful.

And I went to the Fibre Forum in Ballarat, for what was to be my last workshop with Kay Faulkner.

Once home I finished the bird bath mosaic.

May

And soon after, finished the mosaic clock I’d been working on for two and a half years.

And went on a jewellery-making jape.

June

Kay died. I learned the news on a day of unusually intense physical pain, and came to a conclusion and decision that I hope will change my life for the better. (So far, so good!)

I finished a honeycomb scarf on my AKL.

July

I finished a runner I wove as a gift.

Wove two more using the sakiori technique, using rags from an old kimono.

And wove off the remaining warp from Kay’s workshop by trying spot bronson for the first time.

August

I started a four-shaft certificate weaving course at the guild.

And I bought another floor loom.

September

And before I had a chance to try it out, my Dad’s neighbour died and I had to help him clear her estate. With the much appreciated help of friends, we sent as much as possible of her unwanted belongings to various charities, and later raised money for charity by holding trash’n’treasure stalls and putting vintage clothes in a shop on consignment.

October

This and work took over my life so that I blogged mostly updates with no photos. But I did agree to run a rigid heddle class at the guild’s Summer School, and started making samplers and course notes.

Oh, and I turned 50.

November

I bought another table loom. And when I wove off the warp on it I’d made an unexpectedly beautiful, iridescent table runner.

December

As if to make up for August and September’s drought, December was intensely creative.

My friend KRin and I had fun making new candles from old.

I dyed some things.

I wove tea towels for Mum for Christmas – the first project on the ‘new’ floor loom.

At one point I had to write up a weaving schedule, so that I could prioritise and place the weaving of four projects: the tea towels, warping up looms for the 4-shaft weaving class and rug weaving workshop, and weaving samplers and examples for the rigid workshop I was going to teach. I made all my deadlines with a bit of time to spare, and had a Christmas season I enjoyed more than I had for years – apart from that one year we went to Japan!

Fun With Rugs

A few weeks ago I got to be a student at the guild’s summer school, attending Gerlinde Binning’s two-day rug workshop. Unfortunately, the second day was a scorcher up in the 40s. Fortunately, the tram works outside the guild had finished so the class was moved from the scout hall back to the airconditioned guild rooms.

I had camera amnesia again, but at least I have the sampler I wove to take pics of. We started off with rag weaving. I’ve done this before, but it was a good warm up.

Then we moved on to weaving with fleece. This I didn’t like as much. I’ve done it once before but used roving, eliminating the need to comb locks.

Our homework was to make a rag plait, which we wove the next day. That was followed by Soumak.

I skipped rya, as I’ve done that already, and tried weaving krokbragd using tshirt rags. It worked well enough to prove it would be possible, but the warp would need to be threaded to a wider sett. Sampling will be required.

I had to move my car when Gerlinde taught giordes knots, but she gave me a quick demo when I got back. But time was running out so instead of doing that, I concentrated on learning double-faced twill. I’d come across the technique when researching for the twill project in the 4-shaft weaving certificate course, and was determined to try it one day. Now I had my chance.

To finish there was a brief discussion of finishing techniques. Too brief for me, as discussing the many methods and their pros and cons was one of the reasons I wanted to do the class. But I did learn what Gerlinde’s favourite ones were, and why.

A bonus to the class was that the guild’s supply of donated rug weft was being sold off. I bought some berber wool and two batches of 2ply. I picked up quite a bit of rug weft at various places last year, and I’m looking forward to getting everything together and planning some rugs. But I’m still getting through giving it all a week in the freezer to kill moth eggs.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of warp on the Katie. A few days later I described what I needed to Paul and he gave me a length of plastic with a u-shaped profile to try weaving giordes knots. Then he sawed a groove along a piece of dowel to make a tool close to what Gerlinde had used in the class. It was slow weaving, but fun – and a great way to use up scraps of weft.

Then I wove with strips cut from a rug liner from IKEA, designed to stick rugs to the floor. After a few years they get dusty and smelly, and when you wash them most of the ‘stick’ goes out of them, leaving you with thin pieces of slightly tacky, plasticky felt. Well, they weave well enough, so I have use for it now.

All in all it was a great workshop and I’m all inspired to weave more rugs. However, I have one stumbling block: I want to sell the Osbourne loom but the Lotus loom’s tension brake is barely tight enough to hold against normal beating, let alone what’s needed for rug weaving. I had a close look at a Lotus at the Guild, and it has a ratchet and pawl on the back beam as well as the tension brake. Maybe I can find a way to add one to mine.

Anyone know of an old Lotus loom that’s only good for parts?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. But who knows? I might be lucky enough to find one. After all, a sectional warping beam, tension box and bobbin holder for a Lotus loom came up for sale recently – and yes, I snatched them up eagerly. (Unfortunately, the sectional beam doesn’t have a ratchet either.)

Cranking

Switching from making possum pouches to beanies has had a huge added benefit. Though I used the knitting machine to do most of the work for the pouches, it still took me an hour to add garter stitch to the top and knit the tapered base. I’d been wondering for a while now if I could go back to knitting again without rsi flaring up, but the answer is a definite “NO”. I couldn’t even finish one hat per night without my hands burning.

Still, I managed seven of them. And sewed up about ten liners. My sewing pal has made a great deal more. We’ll put them aside until the call goes out for more possum pouches.

But I really needed something to do instead, as Melbourne was swathed in smoke for days and days and I couldn’t go out. (Last year I discovered the cough I’d had for three years was due to asthma, which I’d had no idea I had.) I was twitchy with cabin fever and the knitting machine was set up and ready to go. So… beanies.

A screen grab from the EPA website on the worst of the days.

The first ones I made had latched up ribbing brims. Even that was enough to set my hands on fire. Then I remembered that you could make a long tube, gather the ends then turn one half inside out within the other to make a lined beanie. Hardly any hand work to do. Crank half of the tube from a complementary colour yarn and you had a reversible hat.

Also, I had lots of leftover yarn I’d bought for the workshop in case students hadn’t brought anything suitable. This is what’s left after making several beanies already:

I’m having fun matching colours. Though all the cranking is making my neck and shoulder hurt.

There’s no hurry. Winter is months away.

Nearly DD Cowl

When I had only time enough to weave one more example project for the workshop I intended to weave face washers or a doubleweave project. Or maybe a nicer swaps scarf with the vari dent reed. But instead I sponteously decided to try making something using a deflected doubleweave method on the vari dent. I started and wove more than half of a scarf when Ilka sent back her feedback on the information sheets. Turns out that method wasn’t actually correct.

It wasn’t far off. I was able to achieve the correct effect with pick up sticks. But I couldn’t fix the sampler. Instead I removed that section of it and removed the instructions in the class notes.

I could have finished the scarf as it was, but I decided instead to weave far enough that I could make a cowl then cut it off. So that’s what I did:

I like it, but there are quite a few loopy bits that could get snagged. I definitely need to find some non-machine washable thin yarn so I can make a deflected doubleweave scarf that fuses into the classic, familiar structure.

Once the loom was free I put a cotton warp on so I could demonstrate making daisies with Danish medallions in class. By then I didn’t have enough time to weave any more examples, and I was a bit tired of rushing to get another example project done.

Workshopping the Workshop

Yesterday’s rigid heddle workshop went well! A quick skim over the feedback sheets revealed that the main criticism was not enough time to learn everything, which isn’t a bad complaint. It could have gone another hour, I reckon. Maybe two, but then I think I would have lost the ability to make any sense at all if it had.

I learned some valuable things:

Problem:
In the course description I said attendees should know how to warp their loom. I’d planned to help those warping for the variable dent sampler while everyone else tackled the standard warping for the rest. But two students needed assistance with the standard warping, which meant I did not have much time to help the one trying variable dent sampler. What surprised me was that the lack of warping familiarity was due to the weavers coming from a shafted loom background, not because they were raw beginners. One was fine once she had her loom warped, the other did well but progressed more slowly.

Possible solutions:
Ensure my assistant knows how to do direct warping. (The lovely weaver who was to be mine called in sick – poor thing! But as she doesn’t know direct warping or rh looms it wouldn’t have solved this problem if she’d been able to come.)

Get students to warp their looms beforehand. This would be a shame, as I was able to show them a few ways to make the warping easier. I suspect there’d always be a weaver who signed up then discovered they couldn’t warp and then expected to be shown anyway, or else expect me to show them in my own time before the class. I couldn’t include varident weaving… or could I?

Do a separate rh loom beginner/refresher class.

Problem:
The organisers of summer school assured me twice that the tables would be the solid kind suitable for clamps. They weren’t. If I’d known they wouldn’t be, I could have come up with a solution beforehand.

Possible solutions:
Buy clamps with a longer reach and loan them to students on the day.

Get students to warp their looms beforehand. (Ditto on the hitches listed above.)

Problem:
The temporary shop at the scout hall didn’t have any of the weaving accessories students wanted to buy. The shop at the Guild doesn’t have some of them either. Well, I was only able to get a list of suggestions to them last week, so I wasn’t relying on the shop having anything. But in future it would be good if there were accessories for sale.

Possible solutions:
Sell the more basic tools myself.

Get my list of suggestions to the shop organisers earlier.

Problem:
I forgot to take photos!

Possible solutions:
Get the assistant to take them.

Set an alarm near the end of the class to remind me.

Problem:
Not all the techniques in some of the samplers are of similar difficulty. Tapestry may be too fiddly for the easy sampler. Krokbragd is harder to understand than the rest of that sampler’s methods.

Solution:
Review and remake three samplers. Include just three methods on each. Move inlay to easy sampler. Move overshot to texture sampler. Move Krokbragd to an advanced class.

Problem:
The Schacht Cricket loom was wide enough for the variable dent sampler, but didn’t allow room for chocking the heddles.

Solution:
I know now that if I do a variable dent workshop I’ll need to get Cricket owners – and probably SampleIt users – to use three heddles instead of four.

Problem:
Eight was a lot of students to wrangle.

Solution:
Reduce classes to six unless doing a single technique.

Potential problems:
Most of the students asked for the instructions of samplers they didn’t choose. I let them, though I was not sure it was a good idea. They also asked if they could email if they had problems. The notes are written specifically to be used in class, not tacked without any assistance. This could become a problem, if they expect a lot of assistance when they really ought to do another sampler in another class.

Also, some students switched to another sampler midway, which I minded less and could see it was partly because the samplers need tweaking. However, I think this might have given the impression that they didn’t finish something and therefore felt like they hadn’t done enough over the day.

All this might make it sound like the day wasn’t a success. It was. Most of it went to plan and I expected to be adapting on the day and watching for ways to improve. Many of the students were having fun and getting excited about the potential of rh looms, which is the main aim after all. I’ve come away thinking I could teach again, and better, and that the demand for rigid heddle weaving classes is strong.

I just need to work out how and where I’ll do it.

Start Stop

Everything creative seems to be stop start lately. Or start stop. Trying things. Failing. Trying something else.

I warped up the AKL with my homemade divided heddle reed to weave a deflected doubleweave sampler only to discover what I was going wasn’t quite doubleweave. So I cut it off the loom and made a cowl, then removed that bit from the class sampler and information sheets. I didn’t have enough time to make any other example items for the class, so I put on a warp to demonstrate one of the methods.

Then I went through everything for the class and extracted anything I didn’t think I needed so I could pack it in such a way that I can carry and roll it all from the car to the hall in one go without wrenching my back.

I’ve been slowly turning knitted tubes into possum pouches, and recruited a friend to sew around 60 pouch linings for them that I cut out of old sheets and pillow cases. Though one pouch took only an hour to finish, I’m getting RSI twinges. Then a post appeared on the Facebook group saying that the number of donations were getting out of hand, and though that post disappeared again I’ve switched to making beanies. Latching up dropped stitches to form a ribbed band then cinching the top of a beanie is much easier on my wrists and hands than knitting a garter stitch top and decrease rows for the base of a pouch.

In other news… A few weeks ago I knocked together a still from an old pressure cooker, copper tubing and an electric stove, and extracted lavender oil. My english lavender hedge had produced a huge amount of flowers, and I had to find another way to process it than spending many hours rubbing dried flowers off heads. I got one small brown essential oil jar’s worth of lavender oil over three distilling batches, and nearly 2 litres of lavender water, so I’m pretty chuffed.

Then today I tried distilling geranium oil since I have heaps of geranium plants that need pruning… and got too little oil to extract anything from the hydrosol (oil infused water). Oh well.

I’m hoping to find some fallen gum tree branches and try extracting eucalyptus oil. I don’t want to cut any branches from my trees, and certainly not from anyone else’s so I must wait. Even if I don’t get much oil, the water that boils the leaves in the pressure cooker should be usable as dye.

I spent a few days last week tackling the sewing pile, shortening a skirt, taking the collar off a dress, fixing a carry bag for outdoor furniture mattresses, refashioning a cardigan. Then I started an idea for a convertible dress/top/skirt. I stopped at dinner time, and the next day all my enthusiasm had dried up. So that’s sitting there in the craft room, looking forlorn and abandoned. But it was good to make a dint in the pile while the urge was there.

In the next few weeks I have a workshop to teach, another to attend as a student, and then the first 4 shaft weaving class of the year. It seems like all the looms are occupied. But not quite… I’d warped the Lotus for five tea towels but wove three. I didn’t feel like making more tea towels and we certainly don’t need them, so I looked at the crazy long straight twill sampler I did a couple of years ago and decided to weave one of my favourite drafts from it, and just make a long piece of white cotton fabric. Who knows what it’ll be. I’m just enjoying the no-pressure weaving.

The Osbourne loom? It’s still empty. I have an idea for something to weave on it, after I ask a particular question at the rug weaving workshop I’m doing next week. If the answer is ‘no’, I’ll move on to my next idea… weaving canvas for paintings.

Start. Stop. Start. Trying things might mean failing, but it might also mean success. It might be a little frustrating, but I’m learning stuff in the process.

Black Sand Scarf

The second scarf I’ve woven as an example of using the methods I’m teaching in the summer school workshop is done:

It’s inspired by the black sand beaches I’ve visited while travelling the world.

The yarn is a deep charcoal Filatura Lana Zephir wool that I adopted from a friend’s stash bust. It’s lovely and soft.

I’ve started another sample scarf. I might be overextending myself, but we’ll see. More on that in another post.

All the information sheets for the workshop are ready to be printed. I’m at the point of sitting back and considering whether I’m mad to offer so much in one workshop. There are 25 techniques available to learn, but they’re bunched into six samplers, so there can only ever be a maximum of six methods taught at the same time – and there’s always the possibility that several students will choose the same sampler to do. Also, two of the samplers are more advanced and require particular tools – two heddles or a variable dent reed – and there’s less chance students will have those.

If I was to remove one sampler it’d be the doubleweave one. It’s more of an advanced than intermediate method. But I have it and the info sheets there in case I get a student who has tried everything else and wants to learn to weave with two heddles.

In other news… bushfires. I don’t need to say anything as it has all be said already. Having been a teen living at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges when Ash Wednesday happened fires have made a deep impression on my memory. Then 1997, the Canberra fires, Black Saturday… every time we have a bushfire season it is so much worse. What’s new this time, however, is the vile disinformation. Urgh.

Little wonder, then, that the need to do something hopeful and helpful has spread and grown faster than ever, too. I’ve donated money to a variety of charities but I’m wary of getting too enthused about making anything, having seen how drives to create stuff for people and animals can end up causing more problems than they solve. I’ve joined a Facebook craft group for wildlife pouches, etc. that seems pretty well organised. Over the last two days I’ve cranked out tubes of knitting to turn into possum pouches or beanies, depending on the need. Even as I did, the FB group put up a notice saying to finish what you’ve started but don’t begin making anything new until they had a chance to do a stocktake.

So maybe I’ll be making beanies out of those tubes instead. After the Black Saturday fires there was a call, a few months later, for winter woollies. I wove a big batch of scarves and took them to a drop off centre. It might not be a bad idea to get started early, so I’m ready for when the call comes. If it doesn’t, there are always charities asking for beanies and scarves for the homeless as autumn arrives.

Books Read in 2019

I only managed to read thirteen books last year. Four non-fiction and nine fiction. Since I don’t tend to read much fiction when I’m writing or editing, I was hoping that once I had none of either to do I’d tear through my to-read list. It felt like I was, but the books per month ration didn’t change. Possibly that’s because the last two fiction books I read were quite large.

Entanglement Emma Tarlo
Vardaesia Lynette Noni
City of Lies Sam Hawke
Stormdancer Jay Kristoff
Kinslayer Jay Kristoff
Endsinger Jay Kristoff
The Conscious Closet Elizabeth Cline
Suited Jo Anderton
Guardian Jo Anderton
Roy G. Biv: An Exceedingly Surprising Book about Colour Jude Stewart
The Last Stormlord Glenda Larke
Stormlord Rising Glenda Larke
Minxy Vintage Kelly Doust

I’m hoping to increase the number of books read next year. I need to set a ratio rule for how many to-read list books I must read before I add a new book. Maybe 3:1.

Getting There

12dpi reed cut, de-rusted and threaded for rug weaving workshop – tick!

Samples for rigid heddle loom workshop finished – tick!

Information sheets for last sampler done… not quite yet. But I made this:

Having a free rigid heddle loom at last, I decided I needed more examples of items made using the methods I’ll be teaching in the workshop. I didn’t have any examples of lace weaves, only one from the Fun With Texture and Double Your Fun samplers. So I rifled through the stash and found a skein of red Turkish cashmere I bought in Canada ten years ago. Very pricey it was, and I’d hesitated to weave with it until I had something wonderful in mind.

I decided it was time to weave it. Though I didn’t have anything specific in mind, I warped the loom with half of it. Then I played about with different approaches using leno and brook’s bouquet techniques until I hit upon one I liked:

It’s brooks bouquet that never continues across an entire row, making wedge-shaped gaps. I call this the Red Bouquet Scarf. It was fun to weave. I did it in spare moments over Christmas, Boxing Day and finished it the following Friday. The scarf is so, so soft. I wish it was winter so I could wear it. Anything but this crushing, ominous summer heat.

Next I wanted to weave an example of inlay, so I’m rifled through the stash again and started another scarf. But that can wait for another post…