It’s not a new hobby, just a variation on a theme.

Up until the other day all my current knitting projects are shawls & I’m feeling a bit shawl-ed out. All of them are at varying stages of doneness, but working on them was feeling like a slog & I needed something different for a change of pace.

During yet another reorganisation of the Girl Cave, I excavated a huge bag of my early attempts at handspun yarns. Most of it is spindle spun with some early super lumpy wheel spun. There isn’t quite enough of anything in a consistent enough yarn thickness to knit something, so these yarns just sat in this bag, some for 10 years. I was looking for a use for them & figured they would be best used for weft in a weaving project. I considered a rug, but again the inconsistencies of thickness would not work out well & the thinner bits would fray very quickly. I decided to mull things over a bit longer…then I got a newsletter from The Workroom with their new class list & they had added an Intro to Tapestry Weaving class! Unfortunately, it was being held at a time I couldn’t make, an annoying side-effect of working weekends. So, I did what I always do when I can’t make it to a workshop/class to learn a new skill, I looked for tutorials online & in books then assembe a list of supplies.

I had considered using my rigid heddle looms, but after a lot of reading, discovered they are not able to maintain the high degree of warp tension required for tapestry weaving & I didn’t want to risk breaking them. A bunch of tapestry weaving blogs suggested Archie Brennan’s copper pipe looms as being a very good DIY tapestry loom. Being made of copper it is better able to support the higher tension required for tapestry weaving. I printed the plans & headed out to the hardware store…

IMG_20150718_203340

Liam even got in on the action!

IMG_20150718_204042

After assembling the copper pipe loom, both Liam & I discovered it was a bit heavy & unwieldy. The lack of a drill press to make the holes to put in bolts to stabilize it was also a problem. I was staring to consider just ordering a proper tapestry loom/frame loom from one of the two weaving supply shops in Ontario, turned out both Gemini Fibers & Camilla Valley had just closed for 2 weeks for their Summer breaks. Back to the internet to searched for other DIY Plans for a tapestry loom. MAKEzine’s tutorial to build a lap loom was the second result.

A quick trip to the arts supply store & hardware store, a bit of assembly and 30 minutes of glue drying time & I had a workable lap loom for making small tapestries/wall hangings. I picked up the “gallery stretchers” as they 2” & sturdier than the regular frames. My final size was 24”x16”.

IMG_20150720_182904

All that was left was to warp it

IMG_20150722_091207

and make with the weaving

IMG_20150722_224528

The instructions called for string heddles, but I found using pick-up sticks to be faster especially when I was making the hills since I only needed to pick up some of the warp threads.

IMG_20150726_212427

I’ve been puttering away on it for a few weeks & quite enjoying it. Am not using a pattern & just playing it by ear, but I will need to order a proper tapestry beater and some 20” pick-up sticks. I currently have 10” & 30” pickup sticks, which are causing a bit of a Goldilocks situation where they are too small & too big, I need some that are just right. A comb with the handle snapped off is sort of working as a tapestry beater, but not quite.

IMG_20150727_172411

Some of the tapestries I came across in my searches were amazing & very inspiring. Am now keeping my eye out for a 2nd hand Leclerc Tissart vertical tapestry loom, so far all the ones I have found for sale are in British Columbia…

Multi-Craftual

I need to keep my hands busy…mainly to keep me from placing them around certain people’s necks & squeezing till their eyes bug out…Suffice it to say with the Summer Holidays and currently all 4 of us in our 750sqft house I’ve been keeping myself quite busy.

The frantic sewing pace I had going for a while has slowed down as other projects took over.

The months started with Tour De Fleece (yes, I know that is a 5 year old link, all organizing of Tour de Fleece has now moved to the Ravelry forums) prep. I have a rather large collection of batts and braids of hand dyed or hand blended fibers and decided it was high time to deal with them. Before I started spinning, I needed to find a pattern to use up as much of the eventual yarn as possible. I figured an afghan was a good idea, but didn’t want to have to lug around a massive bit of knitting! I needed small bits of knitting that would later be seamed together. May I present The Barn Raising “Quilt”. I’m not at all concerned with the squares being symmetrical.

088 076 014 003 094 090

After 2 weeks of near constant spinning, I was running out of space for all the singles I had spun as well as bobbins. I am currently waiting on the delivery of a bulky flyer and some extra bobbins for my wheel so I can continue to the second stage of the process by turning the singles into 2 ply yarns or possibly Navajo plying to keep the long colour repeats in some of the fiber.

As I wait for the delivery, it’s going to be a bit as my local-ish spinning supply store (Gemini Fibres) are on vacation…So I moved along to another project… crochet.

Cal Patch has recently put out a crochet rag rug tutorial video on Creative Bug which was well timed as I had a lot of left over fabric scraps from my sewing binge.

051

I worked on the rug for about a week…then had to stop as my right wrist & shoulder were SCREAMING at me. Clearly the previous two weeks of spinning and the week of crochet had not been ergonomically correct…Stretches were done, things are less stiff and the rug was ripped out to be given a new life as a woven rag rug.

The floor loom was dusted off, a warp was wound off, then I lost the cross while warping the loom…a frustrating learning experience…One cannot have too many ties on their warp! The kids acted as Loom Minions and helped me get a very arsed up warp onto the loom and then I was off…

063

Abi even asked to be shown how the floor loom worked!

080 086

My progress on the rag rug was briefly interrupted yesterday by Liam having a play date…3 boys between the age of 6-8 don’t need strict supervision, but a parental presence in the room acts as a deterrent for the occasional wild idea. Thankfully, the rigid heddle loom was in the living room where the boys were playing and it had a very near complete project on it. I say “Had” as I was able to finish the Rothko shawl. This was the painting that inspired it.

088 090 092

I woke up this morning filled with a bunch of ideas for more weaving projects which will also help in getting the assorted stashes of fiver & fabric under control and give my shoulder a nice break…

 

 

Keeping it between the ditches…

Things at Gauhaus are…trying right now…But as I understood one of my Great Grans was to often say, “At least you have you’re health…”, I will also add “and my craft stash, because crafting is what is keeping me between the ditches right now.”

Often when a crafting friend is going through a rough patch the rest of us will ask if they have easy access to cashmere yarn. We don’t ask to take the piss, it’s because we all know that crafting/making is a stress reducer and the meditative effects of  making help us to often come up with solution we wouldn’t have necessarily thought of.  Even CNN has cottoned on to the benefits so, as things are a bit nutty here I’ve found myself on quite the run of making things.

Once the kids are off to school and the chores are done, I have about 3-4 hours of free time on my days off & I have been taking full advantage of that time in front of my sewing machine. Two-ish weeks ago I banged out 4 dresses in a week using a production line process that would have put a smile on Henry Ford’s face. I don’t actually recommend this approach to sewing as I was very much sick of the sight of my machine by the time I had snipped the threads off Dress#4.

086 092

The Dala horse dress is my favourite!

I used The Staple Dress pattern for all 4 dresses, I love this pattern! I didn’t shirr the waists as I can never get it right & end up with a misplaced waist, I also prefer shift style dresses which gives me a bit of flexibility to wear them over jeans or belt them for a fitted look. The only other modification I make is to place the pockets down about an inch from where the  pattern wants them. Most of the dresses have already seen some wear & I have received lots of compliments on them.

A bit of a weaving break happened after this. I warped up the Flip loom with some Wellington Fibers yarn I picked up at the Knitter’s Frolic. After warping, I realized the colors & pattern are a bit Rothko inspired. For the longest time I was not a fan of Rothko until I stumbled across a biography of him which totally changed my perspective & I rather like his work now.

029

The shawl is mostly done, I probably need another hour or two to finish it, but I have been distracted by a few more dress patterns & some Frida Kahlo inspired fabric…

094 093

Yeah…They are just gorgeous! The fabric on the right is what prompted the search for a new dress pattern as I want the 14″ tall line of Frida’s along the hem. I knew what pattern I wanted to use, but the fact that it was ALL IN JAPANESE had me a bit nervous, but I needed a challenge to keep my mind from obsessing about everything else that was going on so I tracked down a copy of the pattern book and got to work figuring this all out because this is the pattern page I had to work with:

128

Once I had sussed out which pieces I needed, I traced them using Swedish Tracing paper (Love this stuff!) and eventually made a wearable muslin since I didn’t want to mess up my lovely Frida fabric. The dress came together quite quickly considering I made some brainless errors & had to rip a few seams out to resew. I am pleased with it but will make some adjustments to the length of the top before I use the Frida fabric as it comes a bit short on me.

138

The blue fabric will be used to make Made By Rae’s new Bianca pattern, which I will lengthen to just below my knees.

This manic burst of productivity has been really, really helpful in keeping me level while life stuff is being sorted out and perhaps one of these craft sessions will result in the perfect solution, but until then I will keep at the stitches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet another chunk of time flies by…

I’m quite convinced that time is having a serious go at me or it’s my stellar lack of organization…probably the latter & I should get back into the “To Do List” habit as that keeps me on track.

Since I last blogged, I have been a semi busy crafter, I have a goal to get the stash down to a reasonable size so I can make better use of my Girl Cave and so far it seems to be working. I’m only buying supplies if all attempts to use stash yarn has failed and even then I have a serious think about if I really need to make the project in question or if there is something in my Ravelry queue that would be a better choice to work with the stash.

Since New Year it has been quite the roller coaster here, between the broken washer, perpetually sick kids (one of whom has recently busted out  in all over hives), leaking newly renovated basement and most recently the passing of a grandmother, I’m ready to call 2013 a complete write off! Through out all this insanity I have kept myself mostly sane (there have been a few break downs) by knitting up a storm…my plans to show everything with photos is not going to happen as the camera battery is in need of charging & if I wait for that, I will never get this long over due post up.

In a nut shell, since January, scarves, hats & a set of hot pink legwarmers (ie: instant gratification projects) have been flying off the needles as well as a red Bulle for Abi and I’m also dealing with the groaning pile of WIPs before the kids out grow the assorted sweaters in there I started Gods only know how long ago!

It wasn’t all knitting though, I managed to get Edna II warped & have been puttering away on her, unfortunatly as the basement can get quite cold, sitting at the loom long enough to accomplish more than a few inches weaving before my hands are too cold to catch the shuttle is a challenge. However, the coolness of the basement bodes well for lots of time spent down there once the heat of Summer hits! In the mean time, I have woven two scarves on Filipe, both using unspun fibers for the weft.

175

Silk hankies from WoolieBullie for the weft & Viola Viola lace weight warp. I spent two days attenuating the hankies (awesome Knitty article on working with silk hankies) & winding them onto a stick shuttle.

111

After the success of that scarf, I busted out some Fiber Optic Yarns pencil roving I bought at Rhinebeck 2 years ago and a skein of Northbound Knitting fingering weight for another go.

194

I’m quite chuffed with this one!

As I have a bunch more unspun fibers in my stash, I’m plotting a few more scarves…this will be the next one:

SAMSUNG

Northbound Knitting silk hankies & fingering weight yarn…it’s going to be lovely!

I’ve started a Shetland Ruffle scarf/shawl using 2 balls of Jawoll Magic in graduated shades of purple, grey & black as my new TTC project & an Innisfil cardi using some of the oldest yarn in my stash, Rowanspun aran in a nice Springy green.

Let’s see if I can get these two done in a respectable amount of time & get back to a semi regular blogging schedule…

 

 

Warped

My only resolution this year was to get a grip on some new textile realted skills and so far I seem to be holding it up nicely.

In March I signed up for a weaving course so I could finally know how to use my floor loom Edna II. The 10 week course is run by the city of Toronto and held at the Cedar Ridge Creative Center (the old carriage house has been converted into a super awesome pottery shed) which is about 20 minutes by car from my house, or 40 minutes by transit. The other four ladies in my class have been taking weaving courses there for a few years, so that told me something about the quality of the classes! Since I have been weaving on a rigid heddle for a few years now, Christine (my instructor) decided to not make me do the standard first two projects she assigns and gave me the option to choose what I wanted to do. As I’ve never woven on a floor loom I chose to make a set of placemats in a light pink & grey 8/2 mercerized cotton.

After my 5th class I cut my first project off the loom.

Four placemats (two with just the grey thread as weft and two with alternating weft of pink & grey) with just enough warp left over to weave a mini mat that I can put the salt & pepper, assorted condiments in the center of the table.

After the show & tell at class I got down to business of winding off the warp for my next project, a houndstooth plaid wool blanket. The draft came from The Pinwheel: An Exploration in Colour-and-Weave Design which I picked up a few years ago from Camilla Valley which is where Iordered the yarn I’m using as well, Canadian Collection in chocolate brown & raspberry.

By the end of class lat week, I had 1/2 the heddles threaded. The plan for tomorrow night is to finish the threading, sley the reed & start weaving…we’ll see how that works in reality…

 

 

 

 

Making Lemonade

Many moons ago at my first ever Royal Fleece Auction I bought two Lincoln fleeces from a shepherd. They were dispatched that day to a  wool processing mill, some months later they were returned to me…Being a very new spinner at the time and just learning the intricacies of each sheep breeds fleece, I didn’t realize that this particular mill may not have had equipment that could process a long wool variety so the condition of the fiber didn’t register with me right away. I tried to spin some of it up…to call it “difficult” was a bit of an understatement, after consulting with the experienced spinners of my acquaintance they agreed that the roving was rather felted and felt rougher than a Lincoln should (especially the lamb fleece). Well, Crap! What was I going to do with almost 10 lbs of mostly felted and not so nice feeling  roving?

I came up with a solution about two years ago while talking with a co-worker who studied textile arts and my Mum brought me in a few buckets of black walnuts. I had become interested in natural dying, but was not overly keen on the use of some of the heavy metal mordants required to fix the dyes, black walnuts have a naturally high tannin level which means no mordants!  As I was heading off to school, any time I had was very quickly absorbed in text books, then came the full time job, but now that we have rearranged things at home, suddenly I have time to dedicate to my little plan!

In a nut shell my plan is to dye this less than stellar roving with my well aged stash of black walnuts and then use it as the weft in either a blanket or rug…am still undecided as to which way that will unfold, guess the final colour will have a large effect.

The first stage was started today when I hauled out the bucket of black walnuts from the garage,

divided them up over 2 pails,

filled with water & have left them to soak in the sun.

I figure in a week (providing the local wildlife leaves the buckets alone!) I should be ready for my first test run/Stage 2. You can see the deep chocolaty brown on the side of the one bucket so I have some high hopes!

Stage 2 will involve a run to the hardware store for some equipment then everything will be strained, the walnuts will be returned to the buckets & soaked again for the next batch. The dye liquid will be placed in a pot with some of the roving where it will simmer away till the dye has been exhausted.

Stage three, is the weaving…

 

825yds, 98gms & 2.5days

When Stephanie knit her silk mittens I was intrigued, when I got the chance to fondle them at knit night…I was REALLY intrigued, but was coming up empty in the mawata (silk hankie) dept.

One night while window shopping on Etsy, I found WoolieBullie‘s shop…and she had hankies! In a bunch of different colourways! It took me a bit to decide…I chose this:

 

 

 

 

 

Not the greatest picture as I was losing the light and fast…

My plan for some silk mittens of my own were a go…until I went to SnB last night…and found this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ViolaViola 100% superwash merino lace weight in Dew Drop (I may or may not have picked up a second skein in chimney smoke…)

Suddenly all my mitten plans evaporated…and were replaced…by a plan to weave!

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got 825yds of yarn, 98 gms of silk hankies and 2.5 days off next week…can’t wait to see what it looks like!

Feeding the weaving deamon

I love my looms. Yes, that would be looms in the plural.

I love that in as short a time as one evening have a completed project and make a serious dent in the groaning fiber stash!

Looms are a simple yet sophisticated piece of machinery, I can totally see why many a retired engineer becomes smitten with weaving. With the most basic of set-ups and a solid reference book you can create some truly amazing pieces, I have some deep love for the loom…

Although I’m itching to get weaving on the 4-shaft floor loom, I’m currently contenting myself with some simple tabby weaving on the 25″ rigid heddle loom. After my last exam on August 20, I came home and promptly warped Fillippe with some Wollesyarncreations. I wanted to see if I could get a colour shifting scarf out of this yarn.

IMG_1474

Used my 10 dent reed, put on a 14″ wide by about 150″ long warp starting with the dark green on the outside. The second ball used in the warp was the reverse colour order of the first ball. I used the same plan with the weft yarns, but miscalculated and ended up being about 10″ too short to get through the final few colour repeats of the last ball, as it is the scarf/shawl is almost 3 meters long including fringe, it could double as a table runner…which I just might use it as instead of a scarf…I’m undecided.

IMG_1476

The total set-up and weave time was all of maybe 10 hours of joyously relaxing work. My plan is to do a few more simple tabby weave scarves to get my selvedge under control then I’m going to get all wild and crazy with the techniques I learned in the workshop Jane Patrick taught at The Spinning Loft a year and a half ago with Denny.

006

Girl who gets crap done!

That’s the theory I’m running with.

My school break was not the restfull break I was hoping for. The plan was to pick up some extra shifts at work, go through my clothes to sort out what fits and what is too big, donate the too big clothes and to get a bunch of WIPs off the needles, crochet hooks and looms. Due to Mother Nature having a sick sense of humour, only some of that was accomplished and relaxation became an abstract concept as we had carpenter bees munching the house (they were chemically evicted) and the basement flood with (thank the Gods) rainwater during a particularly heavy rain storm which led to a two day clean up. I may have done some heavy drinking and heavy petting of some of the finer examples of yarn in my stash to keep me sane…

In hindsight, I have taken these events to be blessings in disguise (or something along those lines) as particularly in the case of the flooding, it led to a bout of decluttering as a dumpster was required. Now that the house is a bit less cluttered, I’m a bit less edgy…but am still longing for a studio to set up my looms (yes, plural, DON”T JUDGE ME!!!!) with shelving to hold the stash, making it easier to find what I need when the fancy hits.

Amidst all this chaos I did manage to get two projects off their respective tools. The Colonnade shawl from the previous post and this little number came off my Cricket loom:

The yarn is Noro Sekku that Abi and Liam gave me for a birthday gift. Although I love the effect of the yarn, in the future I wouldn’t use it for warp as the less spun parts tended to drift apart under the tension of the warp due to the silk and cotton being slippy type fibers without much give. Have a bunch of Noro Kureyon Sock I’m going to experiemnt with next as I have a theory that the wool will create a stickier yarn with a bit more elasticity.

Breakage issues aside, I do love this scarf and look forward to wearing it out as a rustic accessory once this heat wave has broke!

It’s always better the second time…

I have a new-to-me floor loom…and this time it has all the parts & it even works!

That right there is a Made In Canada 36″ LeClerc Artisat purchased from Michelle.

We’re talking 4 shafts of Jack Loom-y goodness that can (for a fee) be upgraded to 8 shafts!

It can fold up even smaller but with the two loom obsessed midgets who I live with, it was a bit too unstable and I had visions of one of them tipping it over and breaking my loom.

I’m very impatient for my current semester to be over so I’ll have two whole weeks free to get to know Edna II before I return for my final semester.

I have me some plans for this puppy! But first I need to learn how to warp it…will have to call in some experienced help for that.

As for Edna I, she’s currently in the garage. I would love to one day  get her properly assembled or find someone who can use her for parts.

Although, my Dad would take her in a flash, order the replacement parts and have himself a grand old time. He studied Engineering and I’ve discovered a lot of male weavers (an wheel builders, for that matter) have either studied or worked as engineers. I think there is something about the mechanics of the looms and the act of weaving that really appeals to their type of brain.