Friday, July 31, 2009
A friend of mine is working with bushfire victimes from Healsville and Kinglake, so I've asked her to find a good home for it. I'd like it to bring some hope as well as physical warmth to people who are managing the aftermath of the fires.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Way back in first term I taught a beginner patchwork class at the Neighbourhood House. The plan was to keep it simple, so we made nine-patch quilts. That means all the blocks were made of squares. At the end of the course, the students were keen to learn more, so I promised a follow-up class to teach the basic techniques of working with triangles. I kept an eye out for my sanity and resisted the pressure to do it right away. First I needed time to work out a design and make up a sample. So the triangles course was scheduled for August. At the time, August was ages away. But the last few months have been really messy for me and now it's just about August already. I've had a few polite calls asking for the requirements list for the new class. But my sewing room isn't in a fit state to be used yet. Yesterday I had another look at the sewing room and threw up my hands in despair. Then I scrounged out the things I need to make a sample block and cleared off the kitchen bench:
I found my quilting rulers and rotary cutter--they were under the insurance files on my desk! The cutting mat was in the shelf with my fabrics and I had a selection of fabrics in a "to be sorted" box left over from my last project back in March. I'd found the graph paper and sketched out a design last weekend. Now I have done all the cutting and I've marked and pinned the pieces for the centre star. I think I can have it all done this weekend and mail out a requirements list on Monday. OK, I think that's achievable.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
On the textile front: I finished the camel-wool blend woollen sample yesterday. I'll need to go back and have a look at our requirements lists from previous sessions to see what to do next. I know I have gaps all over the place, but at least I've got one session completed.
. . . and I have a Castle Report: Town Planning gave me ticks on all of their main requirements for an upper storey extension! Now I just need a lot more zeros on the end of my bank balance, and we're away!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Last week I took two tentative steps in making the dream a reality. I rang a home extension company: they gave me a very rough and rather large figure as a ball-park cost estimate. Then I spoke to my neighbours: they gave me big smiles and all the encouragement they could. Those smiles are worth a lot! I'll see if I can take the next step this week. The next step is talking to the town planning department at the local Council office. I don't have any definite plans and I don't have the money, but I've been dreaming about this space for so long that I feel I need to at least know if it could enter the realm of reality. If it's a possible thing I can gradually work towards it. If not, I'll have to grieve it and let it go--and think of another way to accommodate the floor loom and workspace of my dreams.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I can't take a proper action shot, since I only have two hands and when one is operating the camera, that only leaves one to do the spinning. So this is my left hand holding the fibre and you can see the spun single on its way to my wheel. That's my thumb in the picture to give an idea of size. The background is my purple track pants.
Cashmere is a down fibre--it's the undercoat of the goat--so it's soft and fuzzy and very warm. I prepared the fibre on my hand carders and spun it worsted, controlling the way the fibre joins the single by pinching it between my right thumb and index finger--at least that's what I would have been doing if I hadn't been using that hand to take the shot.
I've actually finished this sample now--it's had its little wash after being plied and is hanging in the bathroom waiting to be labelled and put away. Today's task is a camel-wool blend. I've got that carded and waiting to be spun. I only need to spin it to a medium thickness, though--not fine like the cashmere, so it won't be as demanding.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
You can also see where some of the fabrics have deteriorated. Apparently the iron mordant used in some of the dyes accelerates the breakdown of the cotton fibres. If you're thinking the colours are a little dull, you can mentally add a few degrees of colour--particularly yellow--since this is the colour that is lost first from the dyes.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Eight sets of knitting needles. Each set consists of six sizes: 4mm to 7mm. Cost? $1 per set. They will be perfect as a class set for beginner knitters. All the sizes they're likely to need are there. And with six sizes I can demonstrate and teach about tension squares (swatches) without students having to buy a whole bunch of needles they're not going to use. Then they can go ahead and buy nice needles in the sizes they'll need. For now they're all sitting on my big table. I haven't worked out where to store them--the perennial problem of space--but I'm still pretty proud of my bargain buy, so that's ok.
Friday, July 24, 2009
When I snapped her, I asked whether it would be ok to put the picture on my blog. I showed her the first picture I had taken. Her response was, "just as well I was behaving myself!". That's when I snapped this cheeky grin. Her daughter was proud to tell me that at 93 years of age, she may well have been the oldest woman at the show. If I'm in that sort of shape when I'm 93 I will be a happy woman.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I came home with these: Rosehips! I don't normally think of roses as fruiting plants, but there they are. And to compensate for these grey cold days, they are so warmly coloured.
I don't know if my walk will happen this morning. It's been raining steadily for the past half hour, though I can see a bit of blue sky coming across. As for spinning, I've been working on a fine cashmere yarn for my folio. Spinning it feels like some sort of fairytale challenge: it's as if I'm spinning in miniature, but with my own hands--which feel enormous compared to the fine, light fibre. And like a fairytale challenge, the task seems to go on and on! 25g of fibre doesn't sound like much, but it is a LOT of very fine spinning. The only magic I have to look forward to is the yarn itself. I have several more hours of spinning before I'll get to enjoy that.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This marveous felted wrap . . . I'm sorry, I don't have any details. All I can tell you is that it's felted and its WOW!
Apart from the colour, it's the drape and texture of this piece that impress me most. It seems that felting is getting more and more popular and more and more subtle. There's one day set aside for felting in our Spinning course. My first reaction was, "why a day of felting, when there's so much to learn about spinning?", but now I'm looking forward to getting just a taste of this versatile craft.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
How to sum up the fashion parade? There is such a range of styles, ideas and intentions. Maybe this pic will tell you what I want you to know:
I took this while we were waiting for things to get underway. It's my row of spectators. From zebra-skin tights to felted bag--and everything in between! That's the Fashion Parade.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
But first, my journey planner:
Going to the wool show on the train means at least five hours of travel. I did that sum on Friday night as I was setting the alarm to wake me in time to make it to the station. So, before I did anything else, I made provision for five hours of fibre-loving travel.
First I packed my favourite drop spindle with the Finn-cashmere tops I'm currently spinning on it. That was perfect for my first class seat on the way up in the morning. Then I packed this Alpaca-wool-mohair yarn and a pair of knitting needles. The yarn is hand-spun, semi-woollen, so it's nice and fluffy and quite soft. you can see there's lots of variation and interest in the yarn itself, so it was just the thing for the journey home. The roomier first class seats were booked out and I was too tired to concentrate much. So a garter stitch scarf filled my hands and mind beautifully while we talked over our day and got to know our fellow passengers a little.
We shared a carriage with a fantastic sock-knitter: interlacing cables in a wonderful red!--and a family who were cooperating on a project made from their Bendigo treasures: he was flicking out the dyed English Leicester fleece while she twisted it in her fingers and incorporated it straight into a crochet piece. Meanwhile the little boy "helped":) I wasn't even the only knitter on the suburban train which took me home!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
As for take-home beauty, I picked this sprig of lavender:
I must say, it didn't look like anything special until I got it home and subjected it to the macro treatment. I'm testing the limits of the macro lens--and so far, I'm pretty happy.
No walk today. I'm off to the Wool Show at Bendigo. I need to walk out of the house before 7 am. I'm rarely out of my bedroom by 7 am these days, so it's a bit of an effort, but it should be a great day.
Note to self: I don't need any more fleeces! Oooh, well, . . . maybe just one?
Friday, July 17, 2009
The technical difficulties of taking this photo with my compact digital reminds me that I have a multi-page manual to read. I wanted to use the macro manual focus setting, but to do that I would have had to find the settings for aperture etc. I looked around, but no luck. I'm sure the manual clearly shows where the setting are. Oh well, I'll get there eventually.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
One of the great benefits of my regular walks around the neighbourhood is the chance to observe everyday beauty. Most of the gardens around here are nothing special, but there are plenty of lovely details which I can appreciate up close when I'm moving along the footpath at a walking pace rather than driving by on the road.
I've chosen this rosehip as today's pic:
It's from my own front garden--the "rhapsody in blue" roses need a trim--but I hadn't noticed it until I came home from my walk. I'll look forward to more inspiring scraps of beauty in days to come as I get back into my walking routine--one step at a time.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
This is the stage that comes in every dyeing day, when time, energy, fabric and dye solution are nearly all depleted. But somehow I can never stop until I have used the very last bit all of them. I was out of white cotton homespun and nearly out of dyes, but I raided my box of plain coloured cottons and crammed whatever I could find into the nearly empty jars of dye solution. In this case the fabric was jacaranda blue and the last bit of dye was a cool red. I didn't add soda ash to fix the colour until the next day--I'd run out of that well before.
What I really want to know is how to reproduce this textured effect. I've only achieved it in the one jar and I did about the same thing in each of them. I guess it's just the ratio of fabric to dye liquid that determines how the colour travels through the fabric. I'm guessing there was less liquid in this jar. I suppose I'll just have to accept it as serendipity, unless I have the patience to do a controlled experiment with different quantities of dyes. So there you have it, my favourite, uncontrolled experiment!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I bought my first pair of knee-high boots last winter. In case you're wondering, I just turned 45, so, yes, they were a long time coming. The only way I managed to get knee-high boots to fit me after all these years is that some clever, thoughtful designer put a gusset of strong neoprene in the calf area. My calves are substantial. Whether you put it down to cycling or genetics, most boots just don't have a hope of fitting over my lower leg.
I love these boots. They are comfortable and warm. I feel strong striding around in them. So you can imagine how I felt when I dropped the cordless drill and put a hole in the leather upper. It wasn't a huge hole--only about a centimetre across--and none of the leather was missing, but it was right at the base of my big toe and it went right through to the inside.
I won't go into the details of how I managed to drop a cordless drill on my foot. Yes, my foot was inside the boot at the time. No, I wasn't working with the drill while wearing my favourite boots, but remember, I've been using the word, "chaos" a lot lately. And yes, it did hurt a bit, but my major concern was for that boot.
I didn't have much hope of getting it fixed. The shoe repair man at the local shopping centre said he could put a patch on the inside, but that would rub against my foot. I had creative ideas about patching and decorating the boot on the outside, but it's a really clumsy spot and I don't really have the experience or equipment for stitching leather. I desperately asked around to see if anyone knew of a real bootmaker. D, from the Neighbourhood House suggested a place just in the next suburb, so yesterday I went to explore.
It's a stand alone shop-front and residence on Bell St, Coburg. It doesn't even seem to have a name. The door was closed and there were half a dozen conflicting hand-printed notices hanging in the window. The clearest one said, "Opening hours 10-1/2; 3/-5.30. I'm still not quite sure what that means. The door was closed and one of the signs said OPEN. But there was a phone number also written in black felt-tip pen. I pulled out my mobile phone and called the number. An old-man's voice with an accent--Eastern European?-- answered and said, "wait there", so I did. Well, he looks as though he should have retired long ago, but I'm so glad he hasn't. His assessment was that he could put a patch of fine leather between the lining and the outer leather! Time-frame? Lunchtime. Cost? $10! When I sounded excited and impressed--how could I help sounding excited and impressed?--he just said, "that's my job". I handed over my $10. He carefully wrote "paid" on a bit of masking tape and stuck it to the bottom of the boot and off I went. Two hours later I was back and my boot was mended. There it is in the photo looking almost as good as new.
I'm going to wear those boots today. While I'm wearing them I'm going to think grateful thoughts for the little old man and his skill. I'm going to hope that he lives a long and happy life--and keeps his funny little shop open for many years to come!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
You can't really see that it's a double weave while it's on the loom like this, but believe me, there's another layer of weaving underneath!
It's been threaded up as block weave and this exercise is mainly to demonstrate the arrangement of the blocks in a kinetic design. In the next exercise I will separate the coloured blocks with strips of the darker colour on the top of the weaving. The back will be the reverse. The instructions after that are "play"! We have a spare week before our next class, but I also have the Summer and Winter block weave to complete, so I'd better keep track of my time.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I'm just going to go back and add the makers name to the tags on this morning's blog. Could I get lucky and hear from her?
I love this textured scarf: I tried to imagine how it was made and looked for more information on the swing tag: The only technique I can think of that would produce that sort of puckering involves using different yarns in the weft. If one yarn shrinks significantly when washed--or fulled--and the other doesn't, then the areas that don't shrink would be gathered in. The swing tag only tells me "superfine merino wool". That leaves me with a few possibilities to puzzle over:
- was the same wool spun in different ways in the different strips of weft?
- is there another fibre involved that hasn't been listed?
- or is there a technique that fulls and shrinks some areas while leaving othere areas untouched?
Friday, July 10, 2009
I unexpectedly had the day at home yesterday, so out came the dye pots.
I mixed up the colours combinations yesterday and added fabric to each bag. I only added the soda ash fixative this morning, though. I've read that adding the fixative later gives a better variation in colour, since the dyes get to travel through the fabric before they react with the fibres. Besides, I didn't really have much energy yesterday and I'd run out of Soda Ash solution.
Rinsing will have to be a task for another day. I can leave the fabrics in bags as long as I like and it won't affect the result now. I guess I will need to clear the table at some stage, though. And if I don't tidy up a bit in the bathroom, any night-time visits there will be extremely hazardous!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I photographed this double cloth scarf at the Scarf Festival showcase on the weekend. I'm sorry I didn't note the name of the maker. I've tried to catch some of the layering in the pic. The point of double weave is that the whole piece is woven in layers on the loom at the same time. The layers interact in different ways throughout the piece. So in this red and blue scarf you can see separate layers of red and blue at the edges, but in the middle, the blue has been woven through the red layer to appear on the surface.
I'll let you know more once I've had a go myself. It's been fun imagining the possibilities as I thread up my loom.
- denting the double weave project
- woollen spinning my alpaca sample for my folio
- teaching a friend to make risotto
- unpacking a bit more--even if it's only half a box
- relaxing a little!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I'm happy with the way the colours have remained distinct in my spinning. If you're interested in the technique, look carefully in the middle of the skein. You can see how the spun single is folded back on itself to make a 3-ply yarn.
Today's task is to thread at least some of the warp for my double weave project. We have class again on Saturday and I'm already behind with my Summer and Winter block weave. The threading is fine and fiddly, so best done in natural light. I'll try to make it a priority this morning.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
. . . and lots of amazing pastries and gorgeous people . . . and me sitting there with a friend, catching up and watching it all happening around us.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I think the floor looks good. It's solid underfoot, since it's stuck down to the concrete slab. And it is easy, easy, easy to clean. It is a bit cold for me in comparison with the carpet, but I'm more than happy with the trade off. My spinning student got off to a good start.
My next challenge is to make space in the sewing room for a spare bed for my friend to sleep in. I've hardly done any unpacking in this room, so I'm afraid it's going to be a bit make do. Note to self: this is not the time to contemplate the significance of all the boxes of fabric in here! The plan is to just stack them up and pull out the bed. There! Now I have my instructions in writing. I'd better get on with it.
Friday, July 3, 2009
I knitted myself a hooded jacket--in my early knitting days. When it was ready, I found it was too itchy to wear--OK, I've learned a bit about wool since then. In my frustration I decided to turn it into felt, since I loved the colour and didn't want it to be entirely wasted. I used some of the felt for a teddy bear and there's some left in my collection. I've thought of making a bag out of it, but it hasn't happened yet. The hood was irresistable, though. Lining it with velvet solved the itchiness problem, but what to do with a thick felt velvet-lined hood in a smaller than average size? It would be perfect as a party hat for an eskimo girl! So there it is. It sits well on my paper-mache manequin head.
This morning I rescued it from the spot on the floor in the hallway where it ended up a week or three ago. I guess I just need to find a shelf to display it on, but really it's one of many things that might call for a shelf of their own, and there are only so many shelves in the house. It's made its way onto the table now, so I could photograph it, so I'll see where it goes from here.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
. . . but I actually bought this much:
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Here's what I ended up with:I've never had a front-loader before. Let's face it, I've never had a new washing machine before! But I can dial up a deep rinse option on this one--good for washing out dyes--and I can set the spin speed as low as I like--good for spinning out my wool without felting it. I can also set the water temperature. So I think I've covered all my bases. And it does also wash clothes:).