Dreams

Lately I’ve had a string of dreams where I’m trying to get organised for something and just can’t seem to manage it. Firstly it was a trip to somewhere – I couldn’t seem to get my back packed. Then it was a house move where no matter how many times I returned, even after the new people had moved in, I kept find more things to take with me. Finally it was a public speaking engagement, which wasn’t the source of stress – choosing an outfit and remembering to put on make up was the problem. I vividly remember trying to polish my shoes only to have my fingers covered in black goo and the soles fall off.

What’s up, brain?

Well, it’s kinda obvious, really. I have Christmas gatherings to cook and/or arrange gifts for, then a New Year event, a weaving workshop to prepare for, another one I’m teaching, then the next 4 shaft class. There’s a work trip happening a few months later, and the parties involved are being frustratingly vague.

Yesterday I finished preparing the Jane for the next 4 shaft weaving class, to that’s ticked off the list. I also wound the warp for the rug weaving workshop. The most pressing deadline is Mum’s tea towels. I should get them off the loom this week at least, ready to sew and wash on Monday.

This week… that’s what I need to focus on. The last rigid heddle sampler and warping for the rug workshop can wait until after Christmas. Trip planning is mentally slotted in for January. That leaves tea towel making and shortbread baking by Friday, and salad making for the weekend.

I got this, brain. Stop with the nagging.

A Good Day to Dye

I’ve had a slowly growing pile of items to dye for maybe two years now, and it’s been large enough to tackle for a few months. Last Sunday I decided it was time to tackle it.

The majority of dye-able items were to be indigo dyed with the leftovers of the kit used at the Kay Plus Fun workshop I organised at the beginning of last year. Part of the reason it’s taken me so long is I’d assumed the kit was one of those overnight fermentation deals, and I tend to dye spontaneously. In fact it was a ‘mix up and wait 20-30 minutes” one. So I set it going and wet down all the pieces I wanted to dye. That included the last bit of shibori sampler I wove on the leftover warp from the workshop. There were definitely a lot of fond memories of Kay as well as wistful, sad thoughts about not being able to tell her I was finally getting that last bit of shibori done.

Other pieces to be dyed included a tshirt, two long-sleeved tops and the chenille scarf I wove earlier this year. I tie-dyed the tshirt and tried for uneven coverage with one of the long-sleeved tops. I dip-dyed the scarf, but it came out so dark that contrast was too severe, so I dipped the rest laster when the pot was growing weaker.

When everything to be indigo dyed was done I still had plenty of liquid left, so I grabbed some ripped hemp/cotton sheets and sopped up the rest to use in rag weaving.

After a break for lunch I tackled the Procion dye lot. I had four other cotton items: one of Lucy’s jumpers and three factory-produced lace table cloths. The jumper was white with colourful embroidered flowers around the front… that had bled when I washed it. The table cloths were too stained to give to the op shop and I had a vague idea of dyeing them black and making something goth-y out of them.

The jumper came out great. The dye didn’t produce a proper black – more a dark indigo blue, ironically! It took aaaaages to wash out the dye, so it clearly didn’t set well. Which meant the flowers, as I hoped, retained some colour.

The table cloths came out a disappointing grey-blue, even lighter when dry than this photo shows:

Oh well, that’s dyeing for you! I’m chuffed that nearly everything came out well, and maybe I’ll still find a purpose for the table cloths.

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.

Swings & Roundabouts

I’ve had a mild case of finishitis lately. The part of me that wants to get current projects done is winning the battle against the one that wants to start something new. So what do I have in progress?

The Handwoven Skirt
Currently stalled because my back has been cranky, and sewing is worse for it than weaving.

The Krokbragd Rug
Stalled because I’m waiting to see if I can buy some more carpet yarn from a weaver.

Clasped Weft Fringe Scarves
What I’ve been spending most of my craft time on. It’s been… interesting. Is there such thing as ‘anaesthetic brain’? Because my short term memory was atrocious after the second eye operation. I was incapable of following the draft, and after a number of sessions in which I unwove almost as much as I wove, I gave up and just started making it up as I went. Thankfully, the result is good. Kinda groovy.

Taupe Jacket
Mainly weaving this one in the evenings, while watching tv. I’m warping up the Knitters Loom with a natural wool and for weft I’m using stripes of natural through to brown coloured yarns. I’m intending it to become a jacket. We’ll see.

Eye Embroidery
It’s been the project I grab when I need something portable. However, I may regret not finishing it before now, if my eyesight remains bad for close work.

Swimmers Clock
I need to get back to this. It wasn’t warm enough to work out in the garage, and now it’s too warm.

Weaving Bits and Pieces
I’m making a weaving sword, or wavy beater, inspired by a recent demonstration by Mr Tanji at the Guild. Which I didn’t get to, but the Weavers Matters gals showed me the ropes at the next meeting and it was a lot of fun. Also, working on the idea for the Vari Dent Reed.

Blogtoberfest

You know, I don’t have trouble coming up with things to blog about and somehow I always find the time. Blogging is more of a naughty distraction for me. Not only do I spend time blogging that I perhaps ought to spend working, but I spend even more time making things to blog about.

I’ve seen these blog-every-day things before and not succumbed, but fear of procrastination excuses isn’t the reason. Or the only reason. I admit, I was kinda worried it would take the fun out of it, and make it a bit of a trial. Or that once a day was too much, I’d run out of time and, I dunno, start blogging pictures of my feet or something, and end up putting my regular readers (hi!) off.

Well, sometimes you’ve just got to give something a whirl. I’ve signed up to be a part of Blogtoberfest, hosted over at the I Saw You Dancing blog. I suspect I’ve been sucked into the bandwagony aspect of it. Well, bandwagonyness can be fun, so ‘why not?’ says I.

I promise no pictures of my feet. Only stuff relating to craft, art, gardening, DIY and other kinds of domestic bliss.

Knittin’ Like a Machine!

I gave Dad his socks this morning. They don’t fit! They’re so big on him they looked ridiculous. Turns out his feet have shrunk a fair bit these last few years. The cause is age, which is disturbing to think about.

They fit the beau, and he’s happy to have them (good thing I changed to a plain blue!). I took measurements of Dad’s foot and I’m going to make him another pair. (Though he still wanted to take the oversized ones home anyway – he loves handknit socks.)

That should leave me with one project to finish – the Must Be Reversible Scarf. The pattern is Palindrome and it’s a fun, easy knit. I’m about 3/4 through:

But I’ve been naughty. I now have two knitting projects on the go. You see, I wanted to make something more complicated (or, at least, bigger) than dishcloths on the knitting machine. (Oh – I mustn’t forget to mention it this time: I got the machine through American Yarns.)

I’ve seen a few versions of a shrug/vest design about the internet. The Circular Shrug is one version (look in the sidebar), and the Shawl Collar Vest is another. It seemed like the perfect garment to start on the machine and finish on the needles. The back is a square, which you fold over and join at the sides, leaving room for the arms. Stitches are picked up and knit into a collar that goes right around the garment.

So I swatched, and discovered that things are a lot wider on the machine than what they end up like off the needles.

Last night I did the math and started machine knitting, and within an hour I had the back of the garment done. I won’t say there weren’t a few moments of dropped stitches and curse words said between teeth, but all in all it went smoothly.

Then I transferred the stitches, top and bottom, to one circular needle and joined them up, doubling the number of stitches by doing a m1 between each stitch.

This is more seat-of-the-pants garment construction than I usually do. Both patterns have a ribbed back, so I’m only guessing that my adjustments for plain stocking stitch will work. Once the collar is a bit wider I’ll slip it all onto a bit of scrap yarn and try it on.

If all goes well, I reckon I have enough yarn to machine knit some sleeves. Just plain rectangles again, with some bell sleeve ribbing at the cuff to match the collar.

I’d be happy to take either of these projects away with me, if it weren’t for the issue of suitcase size. I’m taking a medium rather than a large case, for reasons too complicated to cover here. I’m also going to warm places, so once the projects are done they’ll just sit in my case, taking up room (that could be used for yarn). I’m going to see if I can at least get one of them done. The other will have to wait until I get home.

Dad’s Socks

The first pair in my Socks for Others Club are done:

Not soon enough for Dad’s birthday (last Monday) but I’m very happy to finish them in time to give them to him before I leave.

Yarn: Heirloom Jigsaw, reinforcement thread
Pattern: plain toe-up with short row heel

I’ve selected the next parcel in the club. It’s a plain purple yarn, and I think it needs a stitch pattern or they’ll be pretty boring socks. Off to Ravelry for inspiration…

I Made It!

On Friday I joined the lovely s’n’b girls for a trip to the Bendigo Sheep & Wool Show. I got a lift up there and caught the train home, so it was a bit of a whirlwind visit for me. Before we even got to the show there was some yarn shopping in Kyneton, and some stash enhancement at the Bendigo Woollen Mills.

Once at the show we roamed around the Woolcraft sheds, occasionally succumbing to yarn fumes. In one particular shed I was so overwhelmed by the sock yarn goodness I didn’t see that the Ixchel shop was in the corner, and I’m rather disappointed I didn’t go over and get my first look at yak yarn.

But I was entranced by ms.gusset’s lusciously chubby hand dyed sock yarn.

And Ewe Give Me The Knits sock yarn.

And then I ran into these guys:

And then it was a choice between racing around the rest of the show or taking pictures. Shopping and fondling yarn won out. So here’s the haul:

From the mill: a test ball of the new Bendigo Luxury 10ply yarn, some Neon that was too pretty and cheap to leave behind, and some dpns.

Sock yarn: a ball by Touch Yarns from the shop in Kyneton, ms.gusset’s and EGMTK’s.

Buttery soft Llama yarn from Cranite Haven Llamas.

And weaving tools from Ron West (spinningwoodie on Ravelry). A stick shuttle, rag shuttle, threading hook and a shuttle design I think Ron may have come up with on his own.

By the time I got home I was utterly worn out, but happy to have made it to the show and to have had a lovely day in great company.