Chenille Scarves

When the Venne scarves came off the loom I wasn’t sure what to weave next. I have a few linen projects I’d like to weave, but the heating here is very drying so I’m waiting until spring. I’m not ready to weave another rug yet. I also didn’t want to tackle anything mentally challenging when I was about to launch into the 8-shaft course.

Opening my stash spreadsheet, I looked at the oldest yarns there and found a few potential sparks of inspiration. Maybe I could weave up some of the small batches of interesting yarn I’d been procrastinating over for years. Taking out whatever appealed, I wound up with three batches of indigo blue and white yarn – clearly something about the colour was attracting me. I chose the chenille that was ikat dyed in one of Kay Faulkner’s workshops.

I’ve woven this yarn (undyed) into a scarf before, using it as both warp and weft on a rigid heddle loom. It was hard to beat and the warp was a twisty nightmare, and the scarf came out a little stiff. Then I tried dip dyeing in indigo later, didn’t like the look and dip dyed the white end… and hated the result.

A different approach was needed. I’d seen chenille woven as weft on a 8/2 cotton warp in a project before, so based the sett and structure on that. I chose a simple 4-shaft 2×2 point twill with a straight treadling on a blue warp, which was easy to warp and fast to weave. When the scarf came off the loom it had the perfect drape for such a cushy yarn.

However, I had only used up one of the two balls of chenille. I decided to weave another scarf using a white warp. But then I thought… just one scarf? Wouldn’t it be more economical to warp up for two scarves? But what to use for weft on that second scarf? I could try unweaving that stiff chenille and use the weft to make a new one. Or, if that didn’t work, there was plenty of white slubby cotton in my stash that I could weave – and perhaps dye.

The second chenille scarf is much busier, because the white weft makes the twill more obvious and breaks up the blue.

In the meantime, I tried to unweave the old chenille scarf. It turns out chenille locks in pretty determinedly when woven with itself. I abandoned the task went looking for another yarn to use, but something about the unwoven chenille, which had a speckle effect thanks to being tightly woven then overdyed, kept calling me back to the old scarf. So I gave unweaving another try and found if I trimmed off the warp every 2 cm it was not so laborious that I wasn’t prepared to do it, over a couple of days.

Turns out I was right. It did weave up nicely. This time I wove point twill, which gave it a kind of flowery feel. However, it barely wove up to a cowl length. I added a bit of denim at either end and buttons to make it easily removable.

Which left quite a bit of warp on the loom. Not enough for a scarf, possibly too little for a cowl, but too much to just cut off and ‘waste’. This was an opportunity to play, I decided. I then played around in Fibreworks until I had a pattern I liked, and decided to weave it in black.

I’m thinking maybe fabric for a small bag.

Ribs & Shadows

Once the rosepath warp was off the Lotas, it was time to plan a new project. Two, actually, because I’d decided I wouldn’t keep rethreading and sampling blended drafts on the Jane loom, which needed to be free in time for the start of the 8-shaft certificate course. Though that was two months away, I didn’t want to risk that a distraction, back flare up or something else stop me from weaving off the sampler warp.

What to weave? Something not too challenging, I decided. The latest Heddlecraft theme is ribs, which reminded me of one of the sampler I wove of half the first chapter of the Strickler book. Two of the twills formed ribs and a slightly stretchy fabric, which I’ve always wanted to use in a project. Going back to the source, there’s a note with the draft saying that it was used as a kind of knitted rib substitute. I decided to weave a simple ribbed scarf with the rest of the sampler warp, which only required rethreading the loom in a straight twill. Then I chose purple and aqua-blue weft yarns and started playing.

It’s easy to weave and you can see the ribs forming in the plain white section. You can also see my beat has been a bit variable. We had our covid shots a few days before, and my body did not react well.

For the Lotus, not wanting to tackle anything too challenging steered me toward weaving a Venne kit. I’ve woven shadow weave before, but I haven’t woven a kit. This one makes two scarves. I’m planning to do the first in the treadling provided then a variation for the second.

I replicated both drafts in Fiberworks so I could print at a bigger size, and play with shadow weave drafts. Once I’d threaded the shadow weave scarves I found I’m going to have to wait until the faux rib scarf is done to have two free shuttles for it. That’s fine. After all, I can only weave on one loom at a time!

StaSHHHH!

There are a couple of posts I usually compile at the turn of the year. There’s the yearly summary, the list of books I’ve read, and the stash flash. It’s a bit early for any of these, but I’ve just examined my yarn stash so I thought I might do that post now.

The latter was inspired partly by a friend’s efforts at clearing the estate of a crafter. It’s an overwhelming job even though the deceased’s husband is still in the house so it’s not a full clear-out. The woman must have had no financial limit to the money she could spend on her hobbies, and the belief she would live forever. Yesterday I looked through a box of of beads, all of one size, that together would have cost over $500 to buy new. Most of the bags were bulk size and unopened. And that’s just one box of many. I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn the deceased had run a craft shop that closed and she kept the remaining stock, by the sheer scale of what she owned.

It’s had my friend and I thinking about craft and hoarding. I don’t feel bad for the woman for having so much stuff. I hope it brought her joy. But I don’t want to be like her. So my thoughts turned to my stash. Especially to the yarn I picked up at destash sales in the last few years. Most of which is knitting yarn.

Knitting yarn? What was I thinking?

Well, I can answer that too easily. I wanted yarn for my new circular knitting machines. I was also thinking that I could use it on the Bond, or weave with it, and it would be good for teaching rigid heddle weaving. I was thinking that they don’t make yarn like they used to and non-machine washable yarn is getting harder to find. I was thinking that brown may be out of fashion but I like it. I was thinking ‘Oooh! Purty! Soooft!’.

For each and every batch of yarn I bought I could see pictures in my head of what it could become. I still do. It was all entered into my stash spreadsheet, carefully categorised. It all became part of my impossibly long project to-do list.

It’s comforting, though, knowing that if I can’t go out and buy yarn there is enough in my stash to keep me busy. Whenever I thought about it realistically, I had to admit it was unlikely that I’d ever be in that situation. Then this year happened.

But isolation hasn’t validated this reason for having a stash. There was still mail order, even if it was slow unless you paid for express post. Did I use stash instead of buying more yarn? No. I bought more yarn. For workshops. (I have no regrets. I learned so much!)

The other reason I looked at my stash was to consider what to make next. I’m thinking of maybe taking a break from weaving by setting up the Bond and machine knitting a garment or two. Or picking an easy project I can weave when I’m not feeling alert enough for the Echo sampler on the Jane. Rugs. Throws. Scarves. Fast, gratifying weaving that will use up some of the knitting yarns I probably shouldn’t have bought.

What I wound up with was a list of projects I could make, with notes on whether I’d keep or gift the item or learn something from making it. Then I culled the stash based on that, with 2 1/2 kilos of yarn going out. It’s in a giant bag with some of the yarn I culled last time, mid-year, but couldn’t find homes for most of it because of lockdown.

Familiar Weave, Old Yarn

Doubleweave is the subject of the current weaving class sampler. I love doubleweave. I’ve been weaving it about as long as I’ve used twills.

In our class project we chose a combination of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ colours for the warp, so the top and bottom layers will be more visible. Having established that most of my Bendigo Classic 3ply was a decade or more old and should be used up, I was pleased when it was one of the suggested yarns. I wasn’t so pleased when one turned out to be thinner than the rest, however. I doubled it up with a fine yarn only to find it, and the thin 3ply, had breaks in it and, on closer inspection, were moth eaten. I had no other light 3ply. So instead of having one layer of mid-dark coloured yarns and the other all light naturals, I had to add dark brown. I figured that meant my laters were ‘dark colours’ and ‘naturals’.

After doing the class samplers, I started exploring further. I wanted to try pick-up, so I researched the structure and made myself a picture to weave.

Well, in my defence, a TARDIS has a lot of straight lines. Only the words have curves and by the time I got to them I had a good grasp of the method and the confidence to tackle them.

What next? Well, stitched doubleweave seemed like it might be similar to pick-up. All the information I’d found on it was for eight shafts drafts and I was restricting myself to four, but by using the pick-up method I’d just learned, I was able to get a passable stuffed stitched doubleweave. Then I moved on to try interlocking doubleweave, double-faced twill and colour and weave.

Then I ran out of warp, and wound another ready to try doubleweave blocks. I wove check, colour and weave and tubular log cabin. Then I started playing, doing alternating bands of floats, hopsack, interlocking doubleweave and double-faced twill, and finally wove a net of warp and weft floats with plain weave between and filled the ‘pocket’ with a fabric strip.

Finally I rethreaded the warp with a doubleweave overshot pattern.

“Stop weaving and play with me!”

By this point I’d well and truly exhausted my options and energy for doubleweave. I decided it was time to turn my mind to other projects, both weaving and not. The pantry was looking like it needed a clean and reorganising, for a start…

Use it or Lose it

Having gone through my stash spreadsheet to note the yarns that were more than ten years old or were bought second hand, I figured I should examine them in person before deciding whether to use or cull them.

First I said ‘hello’ to a few cones of 16/2 cotton bought new in 2008. We’d been reacquainted recently for Mum’s tea towels and the Little Puffy Clouds fabric. I see myself using them. They can stay.

Next I surveyed the cottons and muttered “What’s with all the yarn for baby blankets?” Most of my friends are way beyond having babies, and while I could sell blankets through the guild I have more exciting things to weave. I’ve adopted waaaay too many possible baby blanket yarns at destashes and op shops, and even new last year. Most of it will be culled.

I have a multitude of cone yarns bought second hand. Most are worth keeping, but I found two small ones of cabled yarns, which is puzzling, since they just don’t play nicely as warp (unravelling fringes) or weft (hard to deal with the ends tidily) have got to go. Don’t know what I was thinking the day I picked up those. Out they go.

Discovering that most of my Bendy Classic 3ply is from 2007 or 2008 was a surprise. It’s a staple weaving yarn, and would only take a couple of projects would use it up. Possibly in the next weaving course samplers.

As I beheld the sock yarn stash, I heaved a melancholy sigh. Most are nine years old. I SO loved knitting socks before rsi came along. I keep telling myself I’ll get the Passap knitting machine going again and remind myself how to knit socks on it… when I don’t have more exciting things to weave. Still, it does make nice scarves so I’ll be keeping most of it, though I do wonder if I’ll ever get around to dyeing that 1 kg batch of sock blank.

Next ‘Hmm’ moment was the mystery yarn for weaving a collapse weave shawl that was supposed to be super stretchy, but isn’t. I think it’s just lace weight. I don’t know if it’s wool or not, so it’s going in the cull pile.

The big batch of Bendigo Luxury 3ply in navy is nine years old. I was going to make a cardigan on the Passap. Really, if I’m not getting around to making socks it’s even less likely I’ll tackle a cardigan. But it is nice yarn and a shawl I spotted in a book the other night has given me an idea.

To the old, slightly very dark brown bulky wool I said “Maybe your role in life is to be rug yarn”. Out of one stash and into another, then.

Uncertainty kicked in when I got to the knitting yarns. I went through them twice. They all whisper ideas for Bond machine knitting, some even have printed patterns with them. I do like to use the Bond, and I might need something other than weaving to do soon, as the loom room is going to be emptied and painted soon.

But the mustard-coloured 8ply should probably go, as it’s so not my colour. I could dye it, though. Well, it’ll be a while until I can find homes for the yarn, so it can sit with the culled yarns and if I get interested in dyeing I’ll sling it in a pot and see what happens.

Post-cull, the stash is 3 1/2 kilos lighter, and a little less deluded, indulgent and potentially decrepit. I only wish it was that easy for me!

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.

The Ins & Outs

It doesn’t seem so long ago that I went through my yarn stash and reduced it to 35 kilos. I recall I wanted to reach that weight by the Bendy Show. That was around ten months ago. Since then I’ve added quite a bit of yarn to the stash. A few weeks back I added it all up and realised I now have more than 46 kilos.

46 kilos! How the heck did that happen?

Destashes. That’s how. Other people’s destashes. The Handweavers and Spinners Guild bazaar. Two recent markets. It seems I completely lose all sense when faced with inexpensive second-hand yarn. It also seems I have a weakness for tweedy brown yarn of all shades and weights, from cone yarn to super bulky. I tell myself it won’t take long to weave a blanket out of them. Trouble is, I only have one blanket-sized loom that will be occupied for a couple of months, and I already have plenty of blankets.

Needless to say, the stash storage spilleth over. I’ve been putting new acquisitions into the freezer in batches to kill any moth eggs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also have several bags of yarn lurking in corners of the craft room. I’ve even employed that old gem of starting a project and leaving yarn in a basket so that it ‘doesn’t count’.

I can see another stash cull in the future, but at the moment I am too clingy. More likely the knitting machine will emerge soon, as many of the ‘new’ yarns speak to me of cosy winter jumpers or jackets. In fact, that may be the source and solution to the problem. Cooling temps always bring out a craving in me for new woollens, making me weak in the face of cosy yarn, but also inspiring me to bring out the Bond.

But no, I must not get distracted from finishing weaving projects and freeing up looms!

A Bath for Birds

Funny how the mosaic project that involved using a hammer to smash the tiles unsuitable for the swimmers clock was finished first. It really was quite therapeutic! And it fixed the problem of the bath’s mysteriously pitted inner surface.

I’d set up a folding table in Paul’s studio to do the swimmers clock, and then this one took over the space. Once I’d grouted the bath I moved it into the garage for sealing when I got back from Fibrearts. Then I cleaned off the folding table and asked Paul to vaccume the studio while I was away. (Having a sore shoulder, I wasn’t keen to do that bit myself.

I kinda hoped the vacuuming would lead to some cleaning up, and it did. I also hoped it might lead to some photography-related activity in there. It didn’t. Instead, Paul spread his diorama-making out onto the folding table. This meant I going to have to tell him to remove it or resume my mosaic-making elsewhere. Probably back to my area of the garage, where I used to do it. Which isn’t a big problem except when it’s really hot or really cold. Which seems to be most of the year, these days.

Could I possibly set up in our laundry? Paul has not entirely satisfactory ways of using it as a darkroom. Perhaps we could build a darkroom into the back of the studio. I raised it with him one morning. He didn’t like the idea. He said: “Do you really think you’ll continue with mosaics?”

After a shower and a think, I asked pointedly: “Do you really think you’ll continue making dioramas?” He conceded that his question – or rather, the way it had been phrased – hadn’t been very fair.

Because it was a relevant question for both of us. We’ve both have adopted a new hobby since moving to this house and modifying it to suit the hobbies we’d had at the time. We need to consider how to most sensibly incorporate our new hobbies into the space we have, and consider how much time we actually spend on each of our hobbies, not how much time we wish we did.

And perhaps even more importantly, how much stuff we store that relates to them.

It’s a Given

Post accessory overhaul, I had lots of repurposing and rehoming to do. Mostly rehoming, but I had put aside a few things to frog, unweave, or refashion. I also kept finding more scarves! All were in the craft room, already awaiting refashioning or frogging.

I didn’t want to add a pile of yarn to my stash. Neither did I want to turn everything into new accessories for me. I was fine with making some to give away, so that’s mostly what I set out to do.

One very long scarf was shortened to make two. A scarf, neckwarmer and two pairs of wristwarmers were frogged. A scarf was unwoven. Out came the circular knitting machines. I turned the neckwarmer and wristwarmer yarns into a beanies to give away:

I bought an extra ball of yarn so I could add pompoms to the ends of this scarf:

And I brought out the Knitters Loom and warped up to weave a honeycomb scarf using handspun from a frogged scarf as the feature yarn:

That left me with a ball of very colourful handspun and a batch of blue speckled alpaca to repurpose.

The blue speckled yarn has already been knit on the circular machines several times, and is beginning to feel a bit worse for wear. Though I love the yarn, I’ve just not loved anything I’ve made from it so far. Time to try weaving it, I think.

Assortment

In the midst of all the accessory sorting I also did a big cull of a box stuffed with batches of leftover yarn from projects. When a project is done I tend to just open the lid a crack and stuff in the remains. I keep them in case the item I’ve made needs repair, but of course I don’t need the ones for garments I’ve frogged or passed on to the op shop. Now and then I’ll do a cull and tidy, but often I can’t remember if I still have the object I made.

This time it was much easier, thanks again to Stylebook. I only needed to have my phone next to me as I went through and check if I still had the item I’d made from it. That made the task quick and manageable, so I even put each batch of yarn into a reused zip lock bag and (shock! amazement!) labelled it. The labelling then helped when I started making things from the frogged accessories, as I was able to locate the leftovers to use if I didn’t have enough frogged yarn to finish the new item.

Being so organised feels satisfying, but I had to admit there’s a rebellious part of me that pffts at such tidiness. Maybe I should blame it for leading me astray at The Open Drawer Destash Market last weekend, where I picked up a whole lot of yarn despite not having room for the stash as it is, and some ceramic tiles for mosaics despite the fact that I’d supposedly decided I wasn’t that keen on mosaicing with ceramic tiles.

I did leave the inkle loom and warping board behind, though. I don’t need multiples of either.