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.


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.

It’s a Bond, a Sweaty Bond

Look what arrived yesterday:

It arrived just before lunch, so I spent my ‘lunchtime’ assembling and trying it out.

I used the practise yarn, and tried out some increasing and decreasing. Then I frogged that, got back to work and considered what sort of project I could start at ‘afternoon tea’. It ought to be small and simple.

A washcloth fit the bill, so I dug up some Lion Brand Cotton. Being less flexible than the practise yarn, it was inclined to jump off the needles now and then, but that gave me a reason to work out how to rip out, pick up stitches, and generally troubleshoot problems.

When I had a square, I threaded some yarn through the top and bottom stitches and put it aside. Last night I crocheted around the edges.

The stitches are far from even, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a washcloth. But it’s also my first piece of machine knitting.

And you know what? This sure is a fast way to make washcloths!

Double Troubleshooting

I’m onto my third wine bottle cosy now. I felt very clever, adding more warp by tying it onto the old one and easing it through the heddles.

A problem with doubleweave tubes is it’s hard to get a nice even fold at the edges. Below is a pic of the first and second wine cosies. The first, on the left, has a very uneven, bumpy line where the edge of the warp was. The second is more even.

This is the reason the first is so bumpy. On some of the picks, the weft doesn’t have an end right at the edge to wrap around, so it can easily pull in. You can’t wrap the weft around the last warp end because it’s not actually a selvedge – you want the weave to continue around the tube without the weft doubling back on itself.

You can leave a little loop of yarn there to compensate, but it’s very easy to overcompensate.

What I wound up doing, which looks fiddly but quickly became a habit I barely noticed, was stick a finger inside the tube and tug on the weft (at an angle) before beating.

This made for a much smoother fold.

I’ve nearly finished the third wine cosy. There might be enough weft yarn left for another one, which will mean tying on another warp. But I could use the yarn to make handles, instead. Hmm. Decisions, decisions.