Wednesday, 13 June 2018


The theme for this year’s Geelong Scarf Festival was ‘Life on the Land’.

My first entry was My Grandmothers Meat Safe. 
Years ago there was a bad storm in my grandmother’s neighbourhood and my parents who were away at the time asked me to check on her.  I told them she would be fine as she was a resilient woman but went anyway.  As I expected she was just fine and told me that it wasn’t nearly as bad as the 1925 Balranald tornado.  

Apparently she could see the storm coming and gathered her young family into the house and started to wash the dishes in a bowl on the table. The storm hit and the chimney collapsed through the ceiling leaving her with a bowl of broken china, bricks and soot.  Then she said ’we never did find the meatsafe’.  Clearly it had been caught up in the storm and was never seen again, probably taking the meat for the evening meal with it.  This was before refrigeration when food was stored in a mesh sided cupboard often covered with wet cloth strips in an attempt to keep the food cool.  The mesh of the canvas weave in the scarf is for the mesh sided meat safe.

The second entry was a man’s scarf using eco dyed yarns from Charly at Ixchel in a Fibonacci inspired block twill.  The colours reminded me of burnt paddocks

The other entry was a fancy twill in fine cotton, hand dyed in blue, similar to a another scarf I'd made in thicker cotton that matured in the stash for a very long time

Although the official opening was last week and the scarf of the year was announced, there have been no further updates and I’d really like to see something of this year’s entries

We just had a long weekend and the next ‘under wraps’ project – for the Sheep Show this time – is under way.  It will be under wraps for a while, but I can say that I remembered with painful clarity the problems I had last year running out of warp.  I bought yarn on Tuesday and it was a little thicker than my original plan.  I redid the calculations, thought for a moment that it would probably be OK, remembered last year and made another trip to the yarn shop on a wet afternoon to buy some more.  I managed to make a wide warp of fine yarn, about 1000 ends, and get the draft planned.  It’s now wound on and I’m half way across with the threading, seemingly with no errors - I do hope there are enough heddles.  It’s a bit cold in the garage where the Toika loom lives but at the last market I had enough sense to buy a pair of fingerless gloves, they’re working a treat, thanks Monnie.

Colours changed to maintain anonymity but they also match the warp, even in real life.

There’s a bird bath outside my kitchen window and if I don’t keep it filled with water the birds gather on the fence outside until I run out and fill it up.  Nothing works faster on me than 2 rainbow lorikeets, one sitting on the fence and one on the rim looking pathetically into the empty bird bath. These ones are probably holding a meeting to see if they can get it filled

As I was admiring them one day

they turned into my next project – tartan tea towels in lorikeet colours.  I had most of the colours in the stash but needed the right green for their bodies.  None of the colours on my UKI or Brassard sample cards was right.  There was a colour on the Webs website that looked better, but I was worried that the yarn in the hand and the colour on the monitor might not be the same.  On my previously mentioned trip to the yarn shop there was a yarn, a combination probably of a slub and a 20/2 that looked just right.  I bought one cone but realised that I needed more so another good excuse for the second trip.  I’ve been to the ‘Tartan Designer’ site and while there should be a wrapping, yarns going over a peg on the warping mill are almost the same.

I just might have wound that warp instead of working on the Sheep Show project. I had worked out the colours by looking at the pictures and estimating 50% green, 50% other colours and more orange and blue than yellow, lime and rose.  The balance worked and when I saw my finished warp chains, I thought they might just get up and fly away. 

Back to the Sheep Show warp


Friday, 1 June 2018

Lessons from the stash

A couple of weeks ago I saw some yarn advertised by someone who was sorting out her stash and knew that I could use it.  I’d made some simple scarves using a yarn from Spotlight – Moda Vera Fiordaliso, a mix of wool, acrylic and viscose – now discontinued, and colours more like those in the picture of the scarf below

I kept one of the scarves and it’s one of my favourites so when I saw the yarn at a reasonable price, I decided to make some more of the scarves.  I had a look in the stash and found some fine black wool for the warp and the stripes.  I started to make the 10 m warp and that’s where the trouble started.  I hadn’t got 2 lengths on the warping mill but had had several breaks.  I looked more closely.  I hadn’t wound off short lengths from bobbins back on to the cone.  There was no sign of moth damage.  I was using yarn from 2 cones, one already doubled to get the weight I wanted for the warp.

I tested it for strength and even the doubled yarn broke with almost no pressure at all.  I’d read that yarn does get past its use by date, particularly black yarn because of the chemicals needed to get a good black.  The horrible truth dawned – I had about a kilogram/2 pounds of yarn, definitely past its use by date – and not even strong enough to be used as weft in something I hoped to sell.  I guess there’s a lesson there, yarn doesn’t just mature in the stash sometimes it ‘over matures’  I’m reminded of the labels on the yarn I used to get from Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang CA, where they had re-purposed food labels which said something like ‘refrigerate after opening’

My other concern is that I think the yarn in question was left over from the coat I made as my final project in the certificate of hand weaving.  I really like it but probably only wear it about once each winter.  I’d better start wearing it a lot more.  Hopefully as it’s been wet finished, there aren’t as many chemicals in it and my favourite coat won’t collapse

All was not lost however and there was more black yarn in the stash so I made my warp and got it on the loom as soon as I finished the last scarf on the warp I’d used to make a scarf for the Geelong Scarf Festival and a couple extra.  I did mention ‘frog hair and yarn chicken’ a couple of posts ago.  Here’s what was left from the warp of one after I’d had two broken warps,

not that bad in 7 metres plus of frog hair yarn, or for that matter how old the yarn was.  My guess is that it was from the 1980s, another reason why the problems with the black yarn surprised me.  Photos of the scarf will have to wait til the festival opens in a couple of weeks.

We had another good market last month.  The new venue is settling down well.  Our stall has been in different parts of the market each time and in June we’ll probably move again, hopefully to a regular spot  in what might well be called ‘fashion corner’, just inside the main door. The other good news is that the stall holders who were somewhat isolated down in a basement area, remote from the rest of us in the main area, will be re-joining the main market from next month.

I can’t believe that it’s a month since the last market already and that I have only managed to produce 2 scarves, the one below, aptly named ‘Tiger Eye’

and another from the Fibonacci blocks series, this time with a weft of 2/20 tencel doubled to make a very classic scarf.

I've also been planning an entry for the Sheep Show and survived a major computer upgrade at work, maybe next month will be more productive


Friday, 4 May 2018

It’s almost Mother’s day

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost a month since the craft market returned to its old home under its new name – Hawthorn Makers Market.  It was a great day for a market – warm and sunny but not too hot - and plenty of people. There were of course a few teething troubles as we got our bearings in new surroundings but eventually we all found our places and were ready to start trading at 10. 

One of the major problems was with the café.  They just didn’t understand the 9.45 coffee rush where the stall holders have got everything in from the car and arranged to their satisfaction, and there’s a 15 minute opportunity to grab a coffee before the doors open officially.  I suspected that they also underestimated the number of people and the amount of food needed so we made sure we had lunch early.  Hopefully things will be a bit easier for everyone for the market on Sunday.

Wendy and I had a good day with a reasonable number of sales – tea towels this time but no scarves.  Here are a couple of happy stall holders,

thanks to Gerlinde who paid us a visit, for the photo, and another photo of our stall bathed in morning sunshine

Over the past few weeks I’ve finished and delivered my scarves for the Geelong Scarf Festival, but it’s a long wait until they open and even longer to see if they have sold

I’ve made a new shop fitting for our stall.  For the past couple of years we’ve had 3 cardboard boxes clipped together with a black jersey cover sitting on the back edge of the table to raise the display a little and provide discreet storage for phones, cords, stationery, scissors, bits and pieces and of course cups of coffee.  The cardboard boxes are bulky to carry and almost past their prime so I decided it was time for a change.  I already had 2 folding IKEA boxes, some cord and a toggle. I bought a piece of thin laminate and some firm black jersey fabric. I cut 2 narrow pieces from the laminate, just a little longer and wider than the 2 boxes, cut the jersey just a little smaller to make a firmly fitting cover, put a hem round the edge and inserted the cord and fastened it with the toggle.  I’ve now got something that still provides the discreet storage but is easy to cover because it’s flat with the boxes folded. 

Best of all it will probably save one trip to and from the car when setting up the stall.  I’d include a photo of the finished masterpiece but black boxes are hard to photograph so here it is ready to be transported, including the food container which was just the right size to fit between the 2 boxes and also to hold out ‘office supplies’.  It will probably save one trip in from the car and one another back to the car at the end of the day when every extra trip really counts

As it’s Mothers Day next week, I always like to have some potential gifts at the May market.  I’ve been playing with block twill and eventually found this cone of yarn on the bench, almost within arm’s reach.  The warp is fine black wool and the yarn on the cone was a fine slightly textured viscose.  I used the yarn double and finished it last night.  Off the loom it was a bit firm but after a wash, a press, a cold mangling on the stone benchtop and a few minutes in the spin dryer, it feels just the way it should. It's hard to capture the sheen in the picture of the scarf but it shows up nicely in the detail shot - by the way, the waves are from the drape, not from dodgy weaving

I almost hope it doesn’t sell as there’s not enough of the viscose yarn left to make another and as it was probably a mill end, I don’t think I’ll be able to get any more

There's time to finish a couple more bags before tomorrow, I'd better get on with it


Friday, 6 April 2018

New market, new bags

I’ve started working on some scarves for the Geelong Scarf Festival but of course they have to stay under wraps for a while.  All I can say about them is ‘frog hair’ and ‘yarn chicken’ – the yarn is very fine and there wasn’t quite enough of it.  I had planned both projects carefully and there should have been enough yarn, maybe the warp was longer than I thought.  I had to adjust the borders according to the yarn available and had to move groups of 5 yarns across the warp so the borders will be equal.  It’s all working well and there should be a couple of scarves for stock as well as the ones for the Scarf Festival.

I wanted to make some bags for the re-launch of the market from the various scraps of hand woven fabric that just seem to appear around the place.  I finished the prototype a couple of weeks ago

and then went into production over the Easter break.  I thought that I would get them all finished and do some weaving as well but I got distracted by other things such as gardening, a wild goose chase after a tree that I knew was just right for my garden but which was out of stock, and sourcing the things I needed to finish the bags.

A few days out from the market there was just the one finished bag and lots of panels ready to make the rest of the bags.

I was curious to see just how much time was involved in making each bag and as I was making a batch of 10, the maths is really easy.  I averaged 33 minutes to make the panels for one bag, including cutting the fabric and interfacing and sewing on the borders.  It’s far more efficient to make 10 at a time as I can sit at the sewing machine upstairs and machine as much as I can before going downstairs where the cutting table and iron live to press what’s been done and move on to the next step.  It would of course be even more efficient to have everything on the same level but my house just isn’t arranged that way and going up the stairs is good exercise. 

Progress has been good, I’ve finished the first four

and may get a couple more done before tomorrow. 

They can be worn on the shoulder if you’re tall, cross body if you’re short and with a knot in the cord or some cord removed, on the shoulder if you’re short. 

There’s a full size zippered pocket

and I did remember to secure the bottom of it so that possessions can’t escape. There's a few beads to keep them closed if needed

It will be interesting to see if the customers like them

– or maybe it will be a tea towel kind of day.

There's lots to do before tomorrow when the Hawthorn Craft Market is re-launched as the Hawthorn Makers Market and returns to the Hawthorn Arts Centre which is where the market started in 1979 when the building was still used as the town hall


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Glenferrie Festival 2018

The Festival on Sunday was a great success.  It was a beautiful day.  The small chance of rain turned out to be a few tiny drops on the windscreen as I drove there, not even enough to wet the road, and the temperature was a balmy 20˚C/70˚F with just enough cool breeze to move the scarves near the front of the tent.

I teamed up with another stall holder and we organised adjoining tents so that we could watch each other’s belongings while we moved cars to and from the car park, about 10 minutes away.

I was all set up by starting time

and I was just admiring the way the sheer scarf looked against the white tent wall and moved gently with the breeze when someone walked up and bought it.  

A great start to the day, and later in the day the one in a similar position on the other side of the tent sold, as well as 3 other scarves, including one of the chenille ones I’d just finished.

I wrote in the last post about making tea towels in 17 different colours and how they fitted into every colour scheme I could devise.  Clearly I must have missed a few colour schemes as I took all 17 with me and brought all 17 home again.  

That’s the amazing thing about selling at markets, some days it’s all about scarves, some days it’s all about tea towels – and some days the customers seem to have left their purses at home.  Not that I really have any concerns about last Sunday, 5 scarves is a very good day and it was great to be able to talk to people about what was involved in weaving scarves and tea towels, and about the Makers Market and its imminent move to its new (but actually back to its old) home.

There was a lot happening at the Festival, plenty of people,

lots of kids,

and lots of dogs. Directly opposite my tent was someone selling organic dog treats.  She also had the good sense to provide large bowls of water. 

The dogs were queuing up for a drink and then, if they sat nicely, got some organic dog treats as well.

We had a Chinese dragon,

but it seemed a bit smaller than last year and I was quite taken by the three small daughters from one Chinese family who were all dressed up for the day in their tiaras and eating blue fairy/candy floss.

We had the mascot from the local football club

and lots of small boys, and a few small girls as well, dressed in their club jumpers and clutching helium balloons.  I saw one small boy lose his grip and the balloon floated away.  He was last seen eyeing off his even smaller sister’s balloon.

We had the local Scottish pipe band which has been going for over 100 years, helped no doubt by a regular supply of new recruits from the nearby Presbyterian boys’ school where one of the music options has always been bagpipes.  I tried hard to include a couple of snippets for those like me with Scottish blood but unfortunately Blogger had other ideas.  I could upload the videos but they wouldn't open so just imagine the skirl of the pipes!

There were Thai, dancers, Spanish dancers and Colonial dancers.  There was food of every description and camel rides again although I didn’t have much opportunity to explore anything except our immediate neighbours where I found good coffee, a tasty lunch and a very welcome mid afternoon ice cream

A good time was had by all although I was very tired at the end of the day and was fast asleep by 9 pm, which is several hours earlier than my usual bed time


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A rainbow of tea towels

The tea towels are finished, even hemmed and wet finished.  In the end there were 17 exactly with nothing left over for a bread cloth, all different colours which probably says something about my stash.

I think that as I chose the colours, at the back of my mind was the market customer who claims that ‘they wouldn’t match my kitchen’.  I’ve covered a lot of bases this time.  The only towel which wasn’t really great was the yellow one, simply because there wasn’t enough contrast between the yellow and the natural.  On the other hand, it would have been perfect in my 1970s kitchen, the very first room I decorated in my first house.

I had already woven the light orange and the lime towels, the other colours in the wallpaper and knew I had to do the yellow one just in case anyone is still in their 1970s kitchen or maybe it’s come back into fashion again.

I can do modern classics – black and greys

I can do naturals

I can be patriotic – red, white and navy

I’m ready for Christmas

I’ve also got:
Cool colours

Warm colours

High contrast

Low contrast



A rainbow

The purple one which works well by itself

and the terra cotta one which is another loner

And here’s the complete collection

I’ve had fun with these and even if the colour isn’t an exact match, well it can always contrast and show that ‘tea towels are the cushions of the kitchen’ 

I’ve still got a few days before the Glenferrie Festival, the forecast is a coolish day with 30% chance of 1 mm of rain so all things considered, not too bad.  I’ve still got scarves and glasses cases to finish, so enough playing around with colour schemes, there’s work to be done