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.

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!

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!

Learning, Teaching and Fixing

A few weekends ago I started the four shaft weaving certificate course I signed up for. The first class was both fun and interesting. Though I know most of what was covered I also learned several new things – and got an answer for something that has puzzled me for some time.

Once at home I finished warping my loom and got weaving, finishing most of the exercises and leaving a few for the next class, as requested. I also typed up my notes and sourced articles and books that covered the topic (twills). I’m not entirely sure how to approach these notes. Do I just type up what I copied down from the board in class? Do I add more to that, based on the articles and books I found? Do I comment on what happened when I wove the sample? It’s been decades since I did anything resembling notes for a course, and even then the classes and subjects I studied required very little in the way of written work.

The student next to me was pretty new at weaving, having only done the Introduction to Weaving course prior to this one. I offered to tutor her if she needed it, and she came over yesterday for guidance on warping up her loom. She also brought an old Dyer and Phillips loom she had been given. Paul replaced some missing and rotten pieces of wood and I re-stringed the shaft-to-lever mechanism. It should have been useable at that point, but I found the shafts kept getting caught on each other. A closer look revealed that the shafts weren’t the original ones. They were aluminium rather than steel, and while the design was clever they were 1 1/2 times the thickness with protruding bolts – the source of the problem. So Paul and I brainstormed the problem and he decided to get larger screws, cut a thread into the holes and countersink the screw heads so nothing would protrude.

In the meantime I cleaned and oiled the loom. It had a warp on it that had been separated with newspaper – nowhere near thick enough for the job. We had to remove the shafts to fix them, which meant removing the warp. When I smoothed out the newspaper much amusement was gained. And I didn’t feel bad about cutting up and tossing a dusty, nearly 40-year old warp into the compost!

The Lotas Position

One of the looms Kay had recommended to me was an eight shaft Lotus loom. I was going to try the one in her studio and see if it suited me. They don’t come up for sale very often, however, so when one did a Facebook group I was pretty excited.

Only trouble was, it was in Western Australia.

I almost let it pass by, but I’ve heard about people having looms shipped interstate before and wondered how hard it could be. Looking into it, I quickly worked out that furniture moving companies were the ones to call. They can ship single pieces of furniture whenever there’s some room left over in a truck. I got a few quotes, proposed the idea to the seller, and she kindly agreed to prep the room for transport. I made the arrangements and then had to sit back and wait.

About a week later it was delivered in a very large cardboard box. We unpacked and partly dismantled it so it would fit through the doorways here, all without remembering to take photos. I gave the whole loom a rub down with Danish oil, then reassembled it in the former guest room, now known as the Loom Room.

Now, assuming I have no issues weaving on the Lotas, I have to decide whether I will keep the LeClerc jack loom or sell it.

All I need to do now is buy or make a loom bench. Sitting on a carpentry horse works, but isn’t exactly comfortable.

Sakiori Runner II

After finishing the sakori runner, I had more kimono rag strips left over than I anticipated. So I considered how I could use them up. Placemats? I did the math and found I’d only be able to make four. Another runner? It wouldn’t be as long, and I didn’t have any more of the light blue warp in the centre of the last one. But I knew it would weave up fast, and if my friend didn’t want a third runner, then I could sell it in the Guild shop.

So I wound the warp, dressed the loom and got weaving. I had it woven in two days.

And my friend said “yes, please!” to another runner.

Spot Bronson

Well, I was able to cut most of the blue stains off the ends of the napkins before hemming. I have four mostly matching napkins:

One is a bit shorter than the rest. I think I was beating harder at the beginning. When weaving the fifth napkin I accidentally did an extra repeat of the pattern, so that has become a table mat.

The last piece is the first napkin, full of mistakes, which has become a sampler.

Just two weeks to go before I start the four shaft weaving course. I’m looking forward to it!

The Sakiori Runner

Among the fabric my friends donated for the Memories Rug was a kimono that I didn’t end up needing. So, of course, I’ve been wondering what to do with it. I found a kimono-to-vest sakiori project in an issue of Handwoven, and decided to rip up the kimono to make it. But in the weeks since I did, it kept bothering me that I really don’t need another vest. What else could I weave? The idea of a table runner appealed. When the 40 Hour Fun Runner came off the loom and proved a bit short, I decided that I’d make another runner out of the kimono fabric and give it to the same friend.

I used up some 8/2 cotton winding the warp, and when that ran out I added a darker blue to the edges.

The weaving was easy – and so much faster than weft-faced clasped weft. Good for podcast listening. And something happened that hasn’t occurred with my floor loom before. I was able to release the spring holding the tension brake from the front, and crank on the warp, without any threads snapping. I still had to stand up, reach over the loom and press the brake back in place afterwards, but it was so good not having to crank from the side of the loom.

I wondered if the runner was going to be a bit plain, but when I took it off the loom I found it looked great. It was 3 metres long pre-washed.

After washing, I finished the ends by sewing on a strip of the kimono’s collar. It shrank a little, down to about 285cm. I have quite a bit of kimono rag left, so I’m thinking of weaving some placemats to match it. Not exactly, as I ran out of the middle colour. But I have a slightly different blue that will do perfectly well.