Wednesday, 18 September 2019

New toys

The first new toy, one that has taken up quite a lot of time, and the reason why there’s not been much weaving, is a new and very small electric spinning wheel. 

Back in December last year I decided to back Maurice Ribble’s Kickstarter project for a very small electric spinning wheel, known as the Nano.
  I looked at all the online reviews and everything was very positive.  I followed the design process, the manufacturing and even the shipping – who knew there was a website to track ships?  

Finally the package arrived, probably within a week of the estimated date, and it did have to come all the way to Australia.  Fortunately there were no problems with Australia Post or customs unlike some German backers who were summoned to the customs office, shown their new wheel and told they couldn’t have it because it didn’t quite meet all the regulations.  Other German customs offices were less rigorous and happy to hand them over.  How annoying would that be?

It worked straight out of the box but like many others I tried changing a few things to see if they improved its performance – some worked better, some didn’t.  I converted a Decor plastic bucket into a light rigid case/lazy kate for travelling and made a cover using a remnant of fabric from a window display at work and some lighter fabric from the stash.

All I know is that I haven’t done as much spinning in years, and I learned to spin in early 1976.

Here’s my new toy posing with my large Ron Blyth wheel for scale. 

They make a great team, using the Nano for spinning but the large wheel with its large bobbins for plying.  

Here it is at the craft market

And here’s all the yarn I’ve spun in the past 6 weeks,

including the cowl I knitted because the yarn was just crying out to be knitted

There hasn’t been a lot of weaving around here with all the spinning and the marathon effort for the Sheep Show.  It’s still a bit too cold to weave in the garage and I’ve had a sore shoulder.  It hasn’t improved at all with a break from weaving so I can now keep weaving without feeling guilty.

I did manage to get a warp for glasses cases on the 4 shaft loom and decided after the success with the warping valet for the bigloom, that I needed something better for warping than draping the warp over the loom bench weighted with a bottle of water.  I had a nice aluminium mop handle and bought another, unfortunately not an exact match, but it wasn’t expensive and I will get a matching one and use the odd one as the bar as they’re very smooth and the warp runs over it easily.  I slid the mop handles into my folding loom so they rested against the wood at the back. 

My loom was made here in Melbourne by the Druva family but I’ve always suspected a common ancestor with the folding Dorset and Schacht looms.  I tied the handles to the most convenient part of the loom

and suspended a rod from the ends.  I weighted the warp with a bottle of water and had it wound on in no time,

much better than draping it over the loom bench.  The warp is black cotton and gold chainette, nothing like a bit of bling, even if the bling doesn't show up well here.

I should go and get on with the weaving but there's some very nice roving tempting me from the stash


Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Sheep Show 2019 - Part 2

Here’s the second part of this year’s Sheep Show report with the details of my jacket for all those who want to know a bit more about it.

I wrote earlier this year about making a pattern from a jacket.  I bought the original jacket years ago in the US.  It was made in a very drapey polyester georgette, and has been a wardrobe favourite, great to wear over something sleeveless when it's hot. I thought the shape had possibilities for other fabrics, especially handwoven ones.

I traced a pattern off the first jacket and made it in much stiffer upholstery fabric. 

The latest woollen version is actually a better balance between body and drape

I had taken Nancye Whitman’s workshop on Iridescent Weaving at the Guild’s Summer School, and with some information from Heddlecraft May 2018, the 4-colour Echo weave issue, and Bertha Grey Hayes Jitterbug draft as a design line, I came up with a draft.  I had to search to find 4 colours that I thought could work together and added a strand of silk or viscose to the wool yarns to give a bit of extra shine.

Here are the colours for the warp

The warp itself

Weaving, with a black weft, in progress, 

helped somewhat by a few days off work with laryngitis. The echo weave is really starting to show here (thank goodness!)

I based the bands  on a weft face weave I’d used for glasses cases but  if I were doing it again, I would look at a different glasses case draft to give softer stripes in the band. 

I calculated carefully and used 2 repeats so that the band would have stripes inside as well as outside, see picture of inside below.

I finished weaving and wet-finished the two fabrics. I didn’t even have enough time for my usual trick of rolling it onto a cardboard tube to make me think the fabric is ‘store bought’ but I did make sure I measured everything at least twice, if not more, before cutting it.

I’d made the jacket before so the construction went smoothly and the jacket was completed and delivered to the pick- up point at the Guild with at least 45 minutes to spare. 

I showed a couple of the runway shots in the last post but here are a couple posed on Polly, my model, with the 'oil on a wet road' effect of the Echo weave showing up well, especially on the larger area of the back.

Here's the inside. I managed to find some silk/viscose fabric, probably meant to be a garment in its own right, but it was just the right weight and colour to make a great lining and it feels very luxurious

I should probably start designing something for next year now - maybe I can deliver it to the Guild with more than 45 minutes to spare.  I see in the catalogue that the theme for 2020 is 'Vision'. I can probably come up with a few ideas for that one.


Monday, 22 July 2019

Sheep Show 2019 Part 1

Here's the promised report on the 2019 Sheep Show.  I left Melbourne bright and early on a beautiful Winter morning, and it turned out to be the warmest Sheep Show I can remember. Halfway there, I felt I needed a break and left the freeway but didn't find the next entry ramp so went to Bendigo via the scenic cross country route.  I arrived in time to meet Norma and Virginia at the parade as we do each year. I don't think I got a photo of every hand crafted garment on parade but I've got quite a few of them. I was too busy taking photos to record the names as well but a look at the catalogue, including the results might help.

Our male model and his daughter stole the show, and the crocheted rabbit was very cute too.  Have a look at the front of the catalogue for a better picture of the rabbit

 This one was the most beautifully knitted cable cardigan with a multi coloured removable neck piece

And just one more garment and I do know about this one as it's all mine.  The body is in Echo weave with warp faced plain weave bands. I'll write more about the details in the next post but the judges liked it and it came first in the Handwoven Garment section

After the parade we did a little looking and shopping until it was time for lunch so we met in the dining room for a hearty country lunch of roast lamb and vegetables - delicious!

Then it was time for a bit more shopping and a final coffee.

Here's my haul for the day

- I keep saying that I really didn't buy this much, in fact I was quite restrained but I bought some raffle tickets to support the Woolcraft Committee who work hard to bring the Woolcraft competitions to us. As I was sitting drinking my coffee, the phone rang and a Committee member told me that I'd won a National Wool Museum rug and wanted to know where to post it.  I was able to tell her I was just a few steps away and she didn't need to waste money posting a heavy rug as I could take it home with me.  The yarn on the right was part of the prize for the jacket

I'm sitting writing this post with my pink pixie slippers on - very cosy and comfortable

And I'm already thinking about what I can do with the painted rose fibre braid which I bought from Mosely Park

because I thought it would co-ordinate with the rose fibre and cotton yarn, under the braid here, I bought in Canberra last year

I had time to drive over to Castlemaine to have afternoon tea with my old friend who has moved into aged care since last year.  Then it was back to Bendigo to collect my jacket and carpet and home to Melbourne.  Fortunately everything went smoothly this year, not flat batteries as in 2017 or bad accidents like last year.

Friday, 19 July 2019


In the past few weeks I have finished the Tencel scarves on the 8 shaft loom and the glasses cases on the 4 shaft loom so that I could weave fabric for my entry for this year's Sheep Show in Bendigo - that's about 25 meters altogether

The Tencel scarves were a success and have the expected drape and shine – I do wish that I could take photos that do them justice.
Based loosely on scarves in Handwoven March/April 2006, and with a silver grey warp, there was one in pink,

probably my favourite,

one in slate with diamonds

and one in greyed teal with waves.

The warp on the 4 shaft loom – a weft faced plain weave for glasses cases – was inspired by the distinctive stitching on cricket balls and I couldn’t come up with a better name for it than ‘Cricket Tragic’. 

Hopefully some of the finished cases will become gifts for Fathers’ Day, celebrating on the first Sunday in September in Australia.

I’ve been to the Hawthorn Makers Market in June and July with reasonable to good sales.  It really seems to be settling down well back in its original location.  Even better they've finally finished adding an air look to the door where all the cold air was getting in on cold days, and that door is closer to the carpark than the one we've been using the past few months.  Much appreciated when moving out at the end of a long day.

My entry for the Sheep Show is still under wraps but was finished and delivered to the pick-up point at the Guild with at least 45 minutes to spare.  I managed to catch a cold that turned into laryngitis a couple of weeks ago.  I had no voice at all so couldn’t work but felt well enough to stay home and weave, maybe not such a bad thing

Next weekend is both the Sheep Show and the annual optometry conference and trade show and I really want to go to both – why does everything happen on the same week end?


Saturday, 11 May 2019

Catching up

The choice tonight was to weave in the garage where it’s started to get quite cold, wind a new warp or stay where it’s warm and take the time to catch up with the blog.  Guess what won?

The past couple of months seem to have been particularly busy so this is what’s been happening around here

In the last post I mentioned that I’d been allocated a stall for the annual outdoor market

and if I had written a post just for that outing, the title would have to have been ‘Too good to last’.  On the 2 previous occasions, here and here, we’ve been up the ‘better’ end of the street.  No trams, good cafes, good ice cream shop and kind weather as well.  I guess it was our turn to be up the not so good end of the street at what was more a foot path (sidewalk) festival than a street festival.  For readers not familiar with the workings of a tram system, there are a few points where the trams can reverse and go back down the other side of the track and clearly, when part of the road is closed to trams, they need to reverse somewhere to service the rest of the line.  The reversing point was just at the back of the row of tents, so close in fact that when there was a barrier extending from the back of a tent a couple up from mine, the tram hit it and caused half the tent to collapse.  However the problems started even before the tent collapse.  We had been sent instructions to use a parking area quite close to where the tents were.  We arrived in good time complete with the directions we had been sent, to find a very cross woman, who was just trying to run her business using the same parking area.  We said this was what we had been told to do, waving our instructions and she told us sternly that it wasn’t a legal document and we were not parking there.

Rather than facing the street and being part of the action, our tents faced the footpath and there was a step down to the gutter for anyone who wanted to look more closely. Fortunately  for us, we looked into the church yard. 

There were not a lot of people going past, and we had trams behind us, about a foot from the back of the tent, at very regular intervals. The local shops were very limited and it was just so hot. Surprisingly, I did manage to sell a couple of scarves even though I thought it was far too hot to even think about trying them on.  

At the beginning of the day I had managed to get everything to the tent with assistance from some of the members of the Rotary Club who run the market and had then parked some distance away.  During the day I realised that getting packed up could be an issue as I had brought a few extra things, thinking I would just be able to park outside the tent.  I didn’t want to leave everything unattended in the middle of the road so I took the suitcase full of weaving and my favourite folding table back to the car with some effort. I moved the car a bit closer, and the market gods must have been looking after me as the parking place closest to my tent was vacant when I needed it. Somehow, I managed to get everything else back to the car in just one more trip – but I know I had at least 3 trips worth of stuff to move.  Never underestimate a determined woman who just wants to get home and out of the heat!

I’ve finally finished the white runner, including proper hemstitched hems.Here’s a couple of photos though it’s hard to show the detail well when it’s white on white

I’ve managed quite a bit of sewing, possibly inspired by Polly my new assistant although I now realise that having gone to all the trouble of adjusting her to fit me, I’ve managed to lose enough weight that she’s probably now bigger than I am.

I wrote last post about using the pattern from Burda 3/2016 to make a knit dress, then a woven top.  Since than there have been 3 more knit tops,

all successful

especially the last.  At a distance, it just looks like a repeating design

but up close the little cat faces become obvious,

much to the delight of cat lovers.

I saw some upholstery fabric that spoke to me and managed to draft a jacket pattern from a favourite in my wardrobe.  I’m happy with the result

and can think of other ways to use the pattern as well.

A couple of weeks ago I needed to have a day procedure, nothing drastic and results all good.  It was at least 20 years since my last encounter with the hospital end of the medical system.  I remembered the long wait last time and went prepared with some kumihimo braiding. 

I got some strange looks but just kept on braiding and 5 hours of waiting later I’d done about a metre.  In case you're wondering the design is my kumihimo version of leopard skin, here's a close up

As I was in recovery, I studied the heavy cotton blanket and was able to analyse that most of it was leno,

with what appeared to be a summer and winter border that included the name of the laundry in very long floats.  When I moved on to a critique of the border – floats far too long to withstand the rigors of a hospital laundry – I knew I was just fine.  I even took photos but clearly I was not quite as fine as I thought, because I was sure I took a photo of the other side where the floats were much worse but somehow ended up with this one

of the better side.

Apart from all that I've been to the April and May Hawthorn Makers Markets with reasonable sales.  There's some renovation going on near our usual spot.  Hopefully by the time winter comes the second set of doors will be finished and it will be a warmer inside

My tea towel stock has been replenished with the Neutrals with a touch of spice range finished

as well as a set in blue tones, using every blue, green and aqua yarn in the stash

I still have lorikeets in my garden, when I looked they were playing close attention to the lacrosse game on the oval

I'm off to wind a new warp