Spotty Napkins

When I named these napkins it was just a silly reference to spot bronson, the lace structure I used. But when I washed the fabric, the name gained a new, less fun, meaning.

The colour of the blue threads I’d added to mark where to cut the napkins bled. And not just to the nearby threads, but all over the napkins.

After zig zagging next to the blue threads, I cut the fabric to separate the napkins and bleached them. It wasn’t 100% successful. I also bleached some dishcloths without great results so maybe the bleach has gone off. Maybe I’ll try again with fresh bleach. Or maybe I’ll just hem and added them to the Indigo dyeing pile.

At least this means the Katie Loom is free, ready for the 4 shaft weaving course starting in a month.

The 40 Hour Fun Runner

It’s done!

It’s rather hard to get a good photo of it. This is three photos stitched together:

The division line between the two blues is the horizon as seen from the recipient’s balcony. The grey stripes represent rain squalls coming through.

Though it was a slooooow project, it was perfect weaving between work sessions, and for listening to podcasts. Not too mentally challenging, but getting the clasp to land where I wanted it and the wandering line of the horison stopped it from being boring.

Technically, some problems surfaced after it was washed. The runner should be 3 metres long. It’s 2.65. Since the weft weaves around the warp threads, not distorting them, I didn’t need to stretch the cartoon to compensate for shrinkage. So the shrinkage that did happen must be from the warp shrinking when I washed the runner. That’s 18% shrinkage just from washing, and I didn’t even use warm water. I’m wondering if rug yarn is supposed to shrink, to help tighten up the fabric of rugs, but it has shrunk widthwise even more. From 30cm to 24. That’s 20% lost. I’m nots surprised that it came out narrower, but I am that it shrank that much.

I can live with a shorter, narrower runner. It’s not what my friend asked for, but it’s not far off. The flaw in the runner is that one side seems to have shrunk more than the other, making it a little bit ripply. I’m hoping that will sort itself out through use and further washing and pressing.

This combination of weaving methods was entirely new to me, and if google is any indication it’s pretty rare. Maybe the above issues are why. Still, the finished piece works for the purpose it was made for, so I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

Rigid Heddle Honeycomb Scarf 1

In Syne Mitchell’s book Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom she has a formula for weaving honeycomb on a rigid heddle loom. Intrigued, I warped up the AKL some months ago and wove a scarf.

A wash let the yarn relax into the honeycomb pattern.

From the start, I wondered if it was possible to turn things 90 degrees and have the feature yarn as a supplemental warp. After I finished the first scarf, I immediately started exploring. I warped up the loom with the same yarns. And warped it again. And warped it again. And warped it again. And rethreaded the supplemental warp another time. After all that faffing about, I seem to have a working honeycomb happening.

I learned quite a bit about designing on a rigid-heddle loom. The tricky thing with rigid heddles is that the warp threads you manipulate with pick up sticks have to be in the slots, not holes, of the heddle. The supplemental warp threads sit next to threads that need to manipulatable, so to make both manipulatable I had two choices: spread the warp out by skipping two holes, or putting the supplemental warp threads into the same slots as their neighbours. And then I still had to rig up a separate ‘heddle’ of loops on a dowel for the supplemental warp.

Though the set-up is a little more complicated, the weaving is no more time-consuming and slow than the weft honeycomb – and no wrangling of two shuttles.

Weaving Off

Of all my looms, the one I most urgently need to free up is the Katie Loom. I’d put a six metre warp on there for Kay’s class, intending to sample then weave eight napkins. Well, best laid plans and all that. I wound up doing a metre and a half of sampling and a half metre table runner, so I had four metres of warp left to weave.

I was intending to weave six napkins using the six summer and winter designs I’d come up with, but I had to put it aside while I chased a work deadline. As soon I was free, I printed off those designs and surveyed what I had, and decided three things: I should do something quicker than summer and winter, something all white (so the napkins can be bleached to get inevitable food stains out), and something that made a lighter fabric than the runner.

Lace made sense. I’ve done huck already, Swedish looks a bit complicated, Atwater-Bronson appeals but a Spot Bronson threading looked not too dissimilar to summer and winter. At least, it was made up of blocks of four threads and that might make rethreading the loom simpler. (It didn’t, but it was worth trying.)

I found a project in an old Interweave that, if I only did two rounds of the repeated bit of the pattern, used almost exactly the same number of warp threads I had. I just needed to add a few more, and since I already had eight supplemental threads added to the left side, they could just join those.

Rethreading went fairly well. The biggest hitch was that I ran out of heddles for shaft one and had to make a whole lot of string heddles – and I hate making large numbers of string heddles. I had some issues getting the supplemental threads weighted enough to match the tension of the rest, and there were some miss-threadings, but eventually I was able to get weaving.

I like it, and I think it’ll go fast.

In the meantime, this arrived:

My teaching/photography loom. It seems weird buying another of the same loom, but when I considered what I want to use it for, it made the most sense. I want to get the napkins done and maybe the honeycomb scarf finished before I start anything new, but at least I have the loom I need now.

Section Necklaces

The jewellery making itch has well and truly passed, now. The last few pieces were section necklaces. I’d bought a mini beading mat, which was great for the short sections and bracelets but too small for the longer sections. So I ordered a full size one, and it made designing much easier:

I finished the black one:

I now have three necklaces with interchangeable lower sections. The green one was made by a friend with a few sections made by me. The purple I made out of beads I had and some given to me by another friend. The black one is mostly made from jewellery I bought from an op shop:

That’s enough, I think. I’m keeping them in these old wooden dishes because there’s no room left on my costume jewellery pinboard and the pins don’t hold heavy pieces well:

Vale Kay Faulkner

The relationship between a student and a teacher is usually fleeting. Sometimes it transforms into an ongoing bond between novice and mentor. I’ve only experienced the latter once in my life. My painting teacher, Carol, was as much a life coach as an art mentor. In the last three years, I felt like a similar link might be beginning between myself and a wonderful weaver named Kay Faulkner.

I had plans to fly up to her studio once my current work commitments were done, and do a workshop. Every time I learned from her I made huge leaps of comprehension. We also planned for me to try out the floor loom models she thought might suit, and perhaps I’d order one from a loom maker she knew. I was also going to offer to help her update her website, to make it more mobile/tablet friendly. We’d drink wine and eat chocolate and talk about living a creative life.

I was really looking forward to it.

Last week I learned that she was in hospital, in a coma. A few days later came the news I was fearing: she had passed away.

It affected me more than I expected. After all, I’d only known her for three sets of about five days, on top of a few email conversations. I don’t make new friends that quickly these days. But there was a feeling that here was someone who ‘got’ me on a certain level, and perhaps I had a bit of the same in return. And, well, she was a really nice person.

So after feeling a bit lost for a few days, I worked my way through lamenting missed opportunities to being grateful for the ones I’d been able to take, from worrying that so much of her knowledge would be lost to wondering if I could help spread and preserve it. The undeniable truth is, I could never, at my age with my physical limitations, catch up with such an accomplished weaver. But I can, in my own small way, introduce more people to weaving – and maybe a young student will go on to make a career out of it and become as knowledgeable as Kay was.

So I returned to an idea I had several months ago, to teach rigid heddle weaving. I’ve been making notes and considering buying another, different model to the one I own. As for getting an eight+ shaft floor loom, it’s tempting to think the fates don’t want me heading in that direction yet, but Kay would have wanted me to continue learning, so I’ll just have to keep looking for one.

Stringing Along

More jewellery-making has been happening here. I’ve wrapped a gemstone slice with wire, strung a bag of tiger-eye pieces onto wire to make a necklace, and joined more spacers together to make a bracelet:

I like the tiger-eye one, but the other two aren’t me so I’ll see if friends want them.

I made more sections for my green bead necklace, then more section necklaces. I’d already added a chain to the black bead necklace to mimic the structure. Next I made a purple version with two options for the short section:

I’m now gathering beads to make black and red version. Or a black and red version.

But I can feel my interest in making jewellery is waning, now. I’ve been weaving the runner in pod-cast length sessions. (Not even halfway done yet. About a third, I reckon.) There’s been some work on the knitters loom, too, but that’ll go in a separate post. I want to weave the summer and winter placemats on the Katie loom, and for that I need to clear the craft room table of jewellery things.

Big In, Small Out

A friend of mine makes really cool customisable necklaces and when I asked if she’d make me one if I provided the materials, she agreed. So when I saw a multi-strand bracelet at a destash market containing lots of beads I liked, I knew it was a great opportunity to have that necklace made. The result was fabulous…

What I like about this necklace idea is that the main part can be a shorter necklace on it’s own, and the short section could be a bracelet. I could even clip on a pendant. Since the spirit of the design is that you can swap out sections to suit your mood, I got out my jewellery-making box to see if I could make some from the supplies I had. I found that I needed to order more bead stringing materials, like crimps and jump rings and a pearl doubler.

Well, if I was going to order jewellery supplies, I’d better look in the bag of unfinished jewellery projects to see what I needed for them. Some I could do straight away, so once the order was made I started working, and soon had a few completed pieces:

When the supplies arrived, I finished more:

I started making swap-out sections for the new necklace, but got stalled because the beading wire and crimps I bought were waaaaay too fine, and the bead mat I’d bought was too small for the longer lengths. So while I waited for a new mat, I had a big clean out of my supplies.

You see, I’d learned something while finishing all those projects: embroidery isn’t the only craft I have to rethink post eye surgery. My new eyes really don’t cope with smallness. I made a huge mistake in my ordering, buying that really fine beading wire and crimps. I simply couldn’t see the crimp holes or the ends of the wire, and was reduced to moving the wire in the vague direction of the bead and hoping to eventually thread it. Yes, I could use a magnifying glass, but when I did that with embroidery I just got a headache.

I’m not interested in craft that is uncomfortable. I know now that small beads are out and soft lighting is vital. Nearly all the seed beads, some larger beads I didn’t care for, beading needles and thread, and the mistake purchases, went into a bag to destash. Then I reorganised the rest. Since I’d finished most of the unfinished projects and a few new ones, my jewellery-making box suddenly had room to spare.

Which may not last for long. Small is out, which means big is in. And refashioning second hand is pretty much my thing these day. A few days ago I bought some necklaces and bracelets with medium to large beads and charms from a charity shop to cannibalise.

Because this isn’t about giving up a craft, but taking it in new directions.

Which is why I’ve also got out the silver metal clay kit I haven’t had the courage to play with yet and started playing with that.

Tick Tock

What a journey this one has been.

Two and a half year since I started. Long breaks when I got plantar fasciitis and couldn’t stand in the garage to work on it, then discovering that the tiles in the pale blue were discontinued and a long hunt for a replacement. Eventually I found that one of the online mosaic supplies stores sell a tile very close in colour, and by adding glass ‘bubbles’ I hid the change from one to the other.

And then I had to hope the clock mechanism would work. So far it seems to.

Now to decide what to begin next.

A Loom in the Hand is Worth…

Recently a weaver at the Guild announced she wanted to sell her floor loom, a Leclerc Colonial. I’ve been wanting to replace or supplement my loom with an 8 shaft one for some time now, so I arranged to visit and see it. Looking up the loom on the maker’s website, I could see nothing to concern me except that I would have to not just sell my current one, but remove the tables in the craft room as the new one would take up most of the space. She sent me pics and I noticed something familiar about the pedals and asked for pics of those.

Unfortunately, on this old version of the loom they were exactly the same as the pedals on mine, so I cancelled the viewing regretfully.

In fact, I’d realised two things about my loom: there are too many similarities between our looms for mine not to be a Leclerc 4 shaft loom of the same era, and that it definitely has been adjusted to suit a shorter person. I can’t remember exactly the context in which the seller told me Harold Osbourne had a part in the loom’s making, but I’m pretty certain now that he only adjusted it for her.

Knowing this, so much makes more sense. While disappointed, I did gain something from all this: more information about my loom and the reassurance that I’m not crazy or using the loom incorrectly. The adjustments Paul and I made make perfect sense, as they add the height that was removed from the loom.

The other thing I gained was more clarity in what my options are. If I replace my floor loom with one that can handle fine, 8 shaft weaving as well as rugs, my craft room is going to be completely dominated by a very large loom. The second choice is to retain my current floor loom and buy an additional lightweight 8 shaft floor loom. I already know the Louet David would fit and I won’t have to sacrifice both tables. The third is to get a Louet Spring, or equivalent, and hope it can handle weaving the occasional rug.

As I told myself over a year ago, I’ll take my time over this. Try as many looms as I can. Wait until the right one comes along.