Saturday, 22 July 2017

Sheep Show 2017

I’ve managed to find some time for a Sheep Show update before it’s too late.

Last Saturday I drove to Castlemaine to stay with an old family friend on Saturday night and next morning I drove to Bendigo in time to meet friends at the parade of hand crafted garments.  I decided to take photos with the phone instead of the camera but with hindsight I would have done better with the camera as it’s faster and it wouldn’t have flattened the phone battery as much

Here are a few highlights from the parade:

A felted jacket with a border of  coroboree frogs

A very smart man's jumper

A beautiful felted dress, apparently each section was felted separately

A dramatic cape

A two piece with felted lattice

A cape with the music of 'It's a small world', the 2017 theme

Ending up with my jacket, the judges seemed to like it as it won its class and was awarded best garment from commercial wool

Here are some better photos taken at home with the camera, it’s hard to capture the pleats at the back with the dark French navy but though this one is a bit over exposed, at least it’s easier to see the pleats at the back.

Here's my modest collection from the Sheep Show

– some merino/cashmere roving, a couple of cones from the bargain box, a ball of silver viscose and wool yarn, I’m sure it will be good for something and a knitted blank going from purple to teal, just my sort of colours.  As well there were a couple of balls of yarn from Biggan Design and a gift voucher from Glenora as part of the prize.  The best garment from commercial wool was sponsored by Bendigo Woollen Mills and I believe there’s a surprise from them on its way.

There’s always a bit of a gap between when the Sheep Show closes and the exhibits are available for collection so I had a little trip round Bendigo, bought some petrol, had some afternoon tea, went to the gallery, sat in the street listening to my audiobook waiting to go in and collect my jacket when the audiobook stopped for no good reason.  Despite having my car serviced a couple of days earlier so that I would not have any car problems on the trip, I found myself sitting in the dark and cold outside the showgrounds with a car that wouldn’t start, and an almost flat phone battery.  I was imagining the worst – major mechanical problems that would mean I had to stay overnight, but knowing that all the accommodation was booked out, maybe even sleeping in the car – when the automobile association man arrived told me that I had a flat battery, started the car in about 2 seconds and told me not to stop until I reached home, about 2 hours away – Whew!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Where did the warp go?

I really did mean to start on my project for the Sheep Show early this year – but, as usual, life intervened.

Months ago now, I found a Burda pattern

that somehow reminded me of the Nina Ricci Jacket and dress that my mother made somewhere around 1957. 

Maybe the reason it reminded me of the 1957 pattern was that it was also 1950s inspired.

I realised that if I planned the fabric to be cut weftwise rather than with the warp, I could place a panel of pattern precisely to the edge of the pleats at the shoulders at the back, make the front pattern panel meet at the shoulder and have plain sleeves and side panels,very likely to have a slimming effect.

I started to make a test jacket with a piece of fabric I found in the stash.  I could swear I’d never seen it before so maybe it made its way into the stash by osmosis.   I made enough of it to confirm the size and fit but must finish it when I’ve got more time as it definitely has potential.

I’d already found an 8 shaft draft, Snowflakes by Susan BH from Weavolution, that looked as though it would work both with a contrast weft 

and with the same warp and weft

so I did very careful calculations for the length, adding 20% and another half a meter for good measure.  I removed the draw loom shafts from my 8 shaft loom, wound a warp and started to weave a sample.  I cut it into 3 pieces, washed one by hand, one with a load of towels and left the third alone.  There seemed to be around 5 to 7% shrinkage giving a 38 mm repeat.  

I planned my weaving to the required number of repeats plus one extra for each panel and away I went.  First a front, then a sleeve and a facing and then the back, placing 11 repeats of the pattern carefully in the middle.  As I wove the next sleeve and facing the tie on rod started to appear

– clearly there was not enough warp left to weave the front panel.

What to do?   I’d read about tying a new warp to the old and this seemed like the best option as the treading was complicated and I’d already fixed most of the mis-threadings.  Then I made a fast trip to the local yarn shop, fortunately they had more of the yarn, and wound another shortish warp. 

I looked to the web for advice, Madelyn van der Hoogt  recommended weaving a plain weave heading, thanks Madelyn, so I did the best I could as there was no plain weave in the draft.

I realised that I needed to support the weight of the apron rods so that they didn't fall and pull all the ends from the heddles so I tied one to the castle and the other to the breast beam

and I used a ruler and a short lease stick to keep the cross in order and taped it all to the breast beam to keep it secure

while I tied the 719 knots.  Mostly the knots held but around 2% failed – note to self, learn to tie proper weaver’s knots or learn to get the length of the warp right in the first place.

When I took the cloth off the loom, the crucial centre back panel measured 17 inches, not 16 as I had planned and even after wet finishing what was clearly a machine washable yarn, it did not seem to have shrunk at all, certainly not 5 to 6% as the sample did.  I re-measured the pattern piece and realised that 16.5 was probably closer to what I needed and fortunately by the time it was dry next morning it was exactly 16.5.

Sewing went smoothly, helped by an extra half day off work, and it was finished one whole day before it had to be delivered.

And here are a couple of very hasty photos of it on me, just before I took it to the Guild for transport to Bendigo,  but hopefully I will have a picture of it on a tall slim model after my visit to the Sheep Show on Sunday.
I realised that the warp disappeared into poor calculations – If the front panel needed to be 11 motifs wide in total, why did I plan for 11 pattern repeats and 4 plain ones? 

Just one extra repeat to get the beat consistent would have been plenty.  I planned 5 panels – two fronts, two sleeves and facings and the back.  I think I added an extra repeat to each panel for good measure and that’s where the warp went.  It would have been so much easier to get it right in the first place, there’s probably a lesson there.

Since this post seems to be a lot about measurement and calculation, I should share that I saw over at Threads that today, July 14, is National Tape Measure Day.  I must have at least 6 in various places round the house/studio and in varying states of repair after fights with sharp implements.  When I need one, they all seem to be missing, maybe they’re at a party celebrating National Tape Measure Day or possibly even Bastille Day, that’s what I always thought July 14 celebrated.  However it seems that it’s the day in 1868 that Alvin J Fellows patented his new improved tape measure – who knew?

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Getting it right

Sorry for the silence but I have been working on scarves for the Geelong Scarf Festival and although they were sent off in good time, they have to stay under wraps for a bit longer.
I decided that my stock of tea towels was getting a bit low so decided to try some in Bumberet in 6/2 cotton.  I worked out that I wanted to do stripes of 27 ends, 15 in one colour and 12 in another.  This meant lots of colour changes while winding the warp but straightforward threading and weaving, or so I hoped.  I was working under some difficulty with a head cold but eventually got the warp wound and on to the loom.  There were of course, a couple of threading errors but recently I made a few reusable safety pin and string repair heddles

and these worked beautifully.  I wove the plain weave hem and I was congratulating myself on how well the repair heddles had worked when I launched into the pattern.  With a simple 6 end repeat in the threading of 2,3,2,1,4,1 it should be easy to get it right but, and I’m blaming the head cold here, I managed to insert an extra 2,3,2 or maybe miss a 1,4,1.  The error was just to the left of the centre (of course) and because of the colour stripes there was no easy fix apart from unthreading right back to the error and starting again.  I’m glad I did, the stripes look good, the shed is good, and the 6/2 is a bit thicker than the 8/2 I normally use, so I’m finally making good progress.

I guess the lesson is to check the threading constantly and especially after taking a break.

What else has been happening?  Each May, the traders’ association where I work have a sculpture festival.  We all give up part of our window display and it’s always a surprise when the sculpture arrives.  This year we have Dianne Thompson’s ‘Stars in your eyes’, not only appropriate for an optometry practice, but it’s a ‘winged sheep soaring over a lunar landscape with indigenous names for the stars’, so also very appropriate for someone who spins and weaves with wool.

The weather is getting cooler and I need to work on the loom in the cold garage if I am going to make something for the Sheep show.  In the meantime, the crepe myrtle in my garden is in full Autumn dress


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Glenferrie Road Festival 2

Wendy and I survived our outing to the Glenferrie Road Festival with the Hawthorn Craft Market, our first outdoor market.  We had our own tent, just like this one across the way from us.  The weather was kind to us, just one shower early to show us where the tent leaked but not badly, and then it cleared to sunshine and blue skies.

We had plenty of space, the new items were finished and we were glad that we'd taken an extra small table for display

There was a lot happening - there were Chinese dragons with a very loud drum on wheels bringing up the rear

There were camels and camel rides.  I went to school just across the road but I'd never seen the school spire, on the left, with camels in the foreground before

There were lots of people, especially young families. The street was closed to all traffic including the trams, for about a  kilometer (half a mile) and was full of attractions and people

There were plenty of food outlets, the coffee was directly across the street from us, ice cream was nearby, we even managed to find a healthy lunch.

We didn't have any sales in the early part of the day but after lunch we made enough to make the day worthwhile and it was great publicity for the craft market.  All in all it was a good day and if it happens again next year, we would probably take part.  Given that there were lots of children, a weaving demonstration on a small table loom or inkle loom would be a great addition

A good day was had by all!


Saturday, 4 March 2017

Glenferrie Road Festival 1

I mentioned in my last post that our next market was at a street festival – actually it’s in Glenferrie Road – and suddenly it’s here.  The Festival is tomorrow and the weather forecast is exactly what I hoped for, mid 20’s, almost no chance of rain and a cool breeze, just as long as the forecast is accurate.

The paint box tea towels are finished, shown here from just on the loom

weaving in progress

to that wonderful point where there’s a fat roll of towels on the cloth beam

and no dramas with the last of the warp on the warp beam.

 I had the perfect ribbon in the stash

and manged to get 7 tea towels

and a hand towel/bread cloth from the warp.

I wanted to make something new just for this market and decided that triangle purses, more correctly tetrahedrons, made from left overs would be just the thing.
They’re not hard to make and become addictive very quickly although I had 2 problems – how to finish off the end of the zipper and finding a purpose for them.  Made from bands or leftover fabric, around 10 to 12 centimetres or 4 to 5 inches wide and twice as long, they end up a reasonable size – but for what?  As I was driving home the other day, inspiration struck, as it often does when I’m driving or under the shower.  They are just the right size for the collection of cords, USBs, chargers and assorted computer/phone/tablet bits and pieces.

It’s a great way to keep them altogether but I might have to put a warning on the label to warn of the consequences of losing all those bits and pieces in one moment of carelessness. They are also the right size for make up.

They could almost be used for these 2 little toy mice to go camping,

or for any other small treasures.  I hope to make a few more tonight but it’s hot upstairs where I sew and I’ve been avoiding it. 

I should go and get everything else prepared for the market but just had to include this picture of a Golden Orb spider

outside my window one night this week.  They seem to be active at the moment and make the most fantastic webs, I might have to nominate this one for the Spinners and Weavers Guild, but fortunately it’s not quite as big as it seems here


Monday, 9 January 2017

New Warps, New Year

It’s the beginning of a new year, so it’s a good time for reflection on the past year, a look at what is in progress and plans for the new year.

In 2016 I managed to weave 12 scarves, here's one of the Geelong ones

18 tea towels,

6 meters of yardage for a jacket,

a warp for felted hats/pots,

a band for glasses cases,
just finished, 

and worked out how to use the double harness attachment on my loom.

I also worked on my sock knitting skills and completed 3½ pairs socks, and sent 4 scarves to the Geelong Scarf Festival and sold all of them.

Oh, did I mention that in my ‘spare time’, I worked full time?

What’s on the looms at the moment?
One of the new warps in the title has just gone on to the 4 shaft floor loom.  I need to replenish my tea towel stock for a market coming up at the beginning of March, more about that later.  I thought some tea towels in turned taqueté with a white background and a rainbow of stripes in what I like to call gelato colours would work.  It’s been very hot the last couple of days and it was hard work getting it threaded and sleyed with the help of a fan. 

Fortunately it has now cooled down and it’s amazing how much more quickly things get done when the weather is kinder.  The first tea towel is half done already.
I’m thinking of calling them the paintbox tea towels.

There are still 2 scarves to finish on the second double harness warp, and as soon as the weather is cool enough, I want to get back into the garage and finish the 2 red scarves on the loom. 

What’s coming up in 2017?
I’ve been going to the Hawthorn Craft Market for a while now, initially in the suburb of the same name, then a move to a new venue in Hawthorn and then to the adjacent suburb but still with the same name.  It’s fair to say the some of the customers are confused and some probably think it’s closed.  Every March there is a street festival in Hawthorn and in 2017 the Craft Market is returning to the suburb of its name.  We’re hoping some of our past customers will reconnect with us and new ones will find us.  We’re already praying for a dry, warm but not too hot day with a cool breeze if that’s what’s needed for a successful outdoor market and working on extra stock, hence the need for tea towels.

I’m enjoying using the double harness attachment on my Toika loom and I have some other ideas to try with the attachment.  The other job I really need to do is to fix a problem with a couple of the treadles.  My loom has a homemade system for tying up the treadles, a bit like the 20+ system.  One of the cords on treadle 1 has pulled out and the cords on treadle 4 have jammed, I suspect a fallen pin from a broken warp is the culprit.  I’m sure it can be fixed if I crawl under the loom for long enough.  At the moment I am restricted to 8 treadle drafts, with a straight treadling on 2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10.  It seems a bit odd but the mind does adapt.  Sooner or later I will see a draft that needs the whole 10 treadles and is so good that I will be forced to fix the problem.

The Geelong Scarf Festival is coming up in a few months with entries due at the end of April and after selling all the scarves I entered last year, I’m keen to enter again this year.  It would be great if I could start a bit earlier and not leave everything to the last minute.  Having said that I’d like to avoid the last minute rush, I guess it applies just as much to the Bendigo Sheep Show although that’s a couple of months later.

I have started planning for both events and will need to have a dyeing day in the near future and while I had the warping mill out for the tea towel warp, I wound the warps I need for some of the projects which need to be dyed first.

I think that should be enough to keep me entertained for the next few months, I’d better get back to the loom 


Monday, 28 November 2016

A little weaving and a little gardening

I wrote a while ago about the tea towel weft I wound while my brain was occupied with recovering from a cold and I have to confess that it has turned out to be rather boring weaving.  Using the double harness attachment and a bright red warp on the big loom on the other hand has proven to be much more interesting.  I have finished the first of the red scarves and have started the second. I’m very happy with the first red scarf here

and showing more detail here

However it’s the last market for the year next Sunday, so I have reluctantly returned to the tea towels.  I managed to do the first 3 with small squares

but I’ve moved on the other designs with longer blocks

and fewer colour changes

in an attempt to get them finished before the weekend.  They are looking quite good in a slightly boring but classic way and will no doubt improve with wet finishing.  I rather like the idea of tying ribbons around them but then I looked at the price of even a simple unbleached tape at my local shops. I decided that at those prices the tea towels will probably have to stay unadorned.  I can find some really good ribbons on the internet but I don’t think they would get here by the weekend.

Earlier this year I replanted the garden bed at the top of my drive and included some kangaroo paws, called that, because they look like, you guessed it, kangaroo paws.

They are an Australian native, but Victoria is still a long way from their home in Western Australia.  They were just in small tubes when I bought them and I’m surprised how well they have done,

my only worry is that they are very close to the foot path, I’m hoping some passer-by doesn’t decide that they need them more than I d