Often found in front of a computer, loom or sewing machine.
My usual routine for doing any crafting work that needs a sewing machine or loom involves clearing the dining room table. This only takes 5 or 10 minutes but I'd noticed that it was enough to prevent me from getting started.
We have a spare room which was rarely used for anything other than drying laundry. As part of a plan to reclaim the room we recently bought a washer dryer. So the room is available again. I wondered if I could use it as a crafting space. The morning light streams through the window in this room. And weekend mornings is when I do most of my weaving. So it sounded like it was worth a try.
I bought a light but strong folding table as a work surface - I figured I could store it under the bed when the room needs to be a spare bedroom again. It fits under the window perfectly and is wide enough to rest the loom on. I've got space at the back of the table to store my sewing machine, sewing box and cotton caddy. And that still leaves enough space at the front of the table to hold my loom, or other stuff.
This is my second weekend using this space. And I love it. It's great having a space that I can leave in a bit of a mess. I guess it is time to think about making a sewing machine cover.
The first yarn I bought was a John Arbon Textiles Hayward DK in blackberry marl. I thought I could crochet a hat out of it, and the marl idea intrigued me.
The other was a ball of Blacker Elegance. I'd heard of Blacker Yarns via the craftsy Know your wool tutorial and had looked at their website but wasn't sure what to get. It was brilliant to be able to talk to Sue Blacker and get some advice and suggestions (and to be introduced to her book which I'm adding to my gift list). My intention is just to use this as a sample to get an idea of how it would weave up with a view to ordering some other yarns at a later stage when I have a project in mind.
There were a lot of wonderful yarns around. Lots of squishing and stroking happened. My mistake was that I hadn't given any thoughts to projects I might like to do. So I didn't want to spend such a lot of money on gorgeous skeins of yarn that I wouldn't be able to make the most of. It seemed wasteful both in terms of money and of yarn. So, I limited myself to yarn for a hat. I enjoy crocheting hats although this is becoming a bit of a problem as I think I almost have a hat for all occasions now.
One of the things I liked most about this show was that a lot of the stalls had made up sample squares or garments from the yarns they were selling. Which meant that not only could we squish the yarn in skeins, we could also see and feel what a finished object would look like. I should have made notes, or taken more photographs. I'm half tempted to go again today.
All in all a good visit to a good show. And if Unwind returns next year, I'll be there again, maybe with a few more plans.
Whilst talking about yarns, I should also mention that a friend bought me a couple of balls of gorgeous soft yarn. She'd been to the Wool shop in Bath and brought me a gift of some Artesano Alpaca Silk 4 ply and some Cumulus. The Cumulus is so soft that it may just become something I stroke when I'm feeling stressed rather than something I make something out of. A great gift that I look forward to finding suitable projects for.
This is my 3rd attempt at a dog treat bag. And the 2nd for myself. The one I made myself last year is finally looking a bit worst for wear. It has lasted well. I did do some remedial stitching on the attachment tab at the top but that was all. The canvas backing I'd put into it had caused the most damage as it had worn the fabric away.
I liked the design of the bag I made for Richard so decided I'd use that as a base. On using it Richard had discovered that the attachment tab didn't hang well. It tended to hang open meaning it was nice and easy for a small dog to get her snout in and steal treats. Not ideal!
For my 3rd attempt, I used another of the deckchair canvas squares. Actually I used half of one of them. The treat bag isn't huge. I used some blue fabric I had left over as the top section. And I lined it with some orange fabric I had left over from this. The only thing I bought for this bag was a tiny bit of ribbon to use as an attachment. And I could have just used fabric - it was just an excuse to buy some ribbon! I even made the ties by fringe twisting some existing yarns. So a good stash busting project.
I made two changes to the design I'd used for Richard's version. Change 1: I attached the tab to the top most part - where the inner meets the top section. Change 2: I added an internal divider. This is to divide treats from bags (tho isn't visible in the photos).
I haven't tried this out yet, so I can't report on it's function. But at least someone likes the look of it!
The original intention for this project was to use up a lot of yarns out of my stash and make a cushion cover that was all woven - front and back.
This was the first project where I used my new warping board. I watched the section on my Slots and Holes video and got to work. And struggled somewhat. But I have a clearer idea of what to do next time. New things are always hard to get your head around I guess.
I used a lilac acrylic yarn left over from this project. And some Garnstudio Drops Loves You IV in blue that I'd bought to crochet a cowl from but decided that the floaty bits were going to be way too itchy. I'd bought some Stylecraft Special DK in Wisteria as a filler because I wanted to try this yarn out. Then having done my maths and worked out that I didn't have enough yarn for the weft I went to my local yarn shop. And left with some Sirdar Snuggly DK in grey. And I loved how all of these colours worked together.
The weaving started well.
But the blue Drops yarn turned out to not be particularly well plied and so wasn't strong enough to be a warp thread. Or even a weft thread used for hemstitching. I learnt this whilst weaving. I implanted a repair on the first warp thread to break and continued to weave. When the second and third started to look rather thin I decided to give up. As a result the piece of fabric didn't end up being long enough to be both front and back. But it was big enough to make the front of a cushion cover. So it was a change of plan, rather than an abandonment.
I wet finished this by hand washing and then rinsing and spinning at a low speed in the washing machine. I didn't block it but just let it dry flat.
When it dried it was obvious that it was quite a soft fabric. And that the textured stripes had worked well. But that the acrylic yarns hadn't given as much as the more natural fibres did. So, not quite the expected pattern. But it was definitely worth making that cushion cover out of. So, I popped to my local fabric shop and bought some blue fabric for the back and got to work.
I used the same method as I have for all the other cushion covers. An envelope back. I used the weaving as the guide for the finished size. So there is a Wisteria stripe at the top and bottom. And a lilac stripe at the right and left. The envelope back has ended up being rather lower down that I'd planned . This was because I pinned it all together and then cut down to size rather than pinning, checking and finally cutting. A bit too impatient I'm afraid. But, the stitching in contrasting lavender ended up being pretty straight.
Despite that assembly mistake, and the larger warp thread problem, it has ended up being a soft and comfortable cushion cover. It looks like it'll fit right in to colourful "hand made stuff" corner. (The crocheted blanket at the back isn't my work - that was Mum's work)
Overall, I'm really pleased. I still like the pick-up stick patterns and all of the potential they bring. And I love the colour play in this project. And most of all, this is the end of my weaving backlog. So I've cleared the decks and ordered the yarn for my next project. Yay!
At some point towards the end of last year I started thinking about making a blanket on my loom. I knew I couldn't make it in one piece so I thought about making it in panels. My original idea was to have three panels which each had some feature colour at the same point so that I could line them up on assembly.
One of the projects in the Best of Handwoven: Rigid Heddle Pattern book is a blanket. It says:
Usually, when you are weaving panels (or garment pieces) with horizontal stripes that are intend-ed to be sewn together, you have to measure as you go and worry a lot about exact matches. A much easier way to deal with horizontal stripes is to plan for them not to match. A design with horizontal stripes in a random pattern can be balanced using an odd number of panels.
So that's what I did. It is all made out of three DK weight Blue faced Leicester wools. The two natural colours (light and medium brown) were by West Yorkshire Spinners. And the red one was Debbie Bliss. I roughly planned what kind of weaving each panel would be and then made up the heights as I went.
Weaving Project 51.
This is the central piece. I wove it with plain weave but continued the theme of the Colour and Weave Sampler. The warp was set up as 10 red threads on either end. And 180 threads alternating light and medium. The weft then alternated light and medium depending on the pattern I was following.
I had a lot of problems with the tension of my warp on this panel. It was a bit saggy in places. And the fell of my weft wasn't lying flat. As a consequence I invested in the Slots and Holes video so I could learn a bit more. This video is excellent. It helped a lot.
*Weaving Project 52. *
This is the panel on the left in the photo above. This was my first play with pick-up sticks. I'd planned a set of patterns to try based on the chapter in The Weavers Idea book. And I loved it. Lots of different patterns. Loads of potential. This used a light warp and a medium weft. And every one of these panels used a single pick up stick.
Having adjusted my warping method, thanks to the video, this was much better to weave. And I thoroughly enjoyed using the pick up sticks. So much so that I had a break before starting project 54 to make a scarf to match my bobble hat.
This was quite amazing. Under tension the patterns look one way. When relaxed some of them - especially the ones that are lace variations - look completely different. The book did tell me this would happen, but I hadn't been prepared for quite how much movement there would be.
Weaving Project 54.
This is the panel on the right in the photo above. This used an all medium warp and a light weft. I also had an aran weighted light Blue Faced Leicester wool so some of these panels used that as a supplementary weft. Some of these panels also needed two pick up sticks. This was ok for the scale of this project but I can imagine that the inserting and removing of the second pick up stick gets tiring.
I set this project up with an extra thread - 201 rather than 200. This was so that I started and ended in a slot. This was a recommendation in either a book or the video. It did make a difference and so has become something I'll try and do every time I can.
These were all finished as they came off the loom. My house isn't big enough to have three panels like this pinned out. I hand washed it at my usual hand finishing temperature and then rinsed and span them in the washing machine on the gentlest spin speed. Then pinned them out on the floor. They dried well. And started to take up a lot of space in my craft cupboard.
When planning to make a blanket I had always assumed that I'd need to have a backing fabric. This was because I wasn't at all convinced that I'd have straight enough edges to be able to stitch them together without having a seam. I was right. In part because of my weaving skill. But mainly because the pick up stick panels all shrank at a different rate. This depended on how much extra yarn was packed in to the fabric. I bought some burgundy flannel to act as a backing. This gave me a width of 44" to work towards.
I had also always planned to hide the red selvedges. They were there to give me some guidance when I was weaving on how far the pick up pattern had to go. When I measured the panels out I worked out that I was going to be losing quite a bit more than just the edges to get it to fit. That was fine, it just made the stitching a bit trickier.
Attaching the flannel to the blanket was the kind of job that makes your back ache just thinking about it. It took two attempts. The first just ended up with a bulging mess. The successful one involved pinning the blanket, right side up, to the carpet. Then laying the flannel on top and safety-pinning them together. I then tacked them together in contrasting thread. The flannel has lines on it. I need to remember to never try and stitch something with straight lines on it to the back of a particularly wobbly weaving project. I couldn't work out whether I should use the lines on the blanket as a guideline, or the lines on the fabric. In the end I think the true answer is I used neither!
Having tacked the flannel to the blanket, the sewing together wasn't as bad as I feared. My little trusty sewing machine ploughed on through the many layers of wool and cotton. I did two rows of straight stitching and then zig zagged between to give strength. I left a gap down one side to pull the blanket right side out and then closed that gap with ladder stitch.
I'm pleased to have got this finished. It's taken a long time. 4 months from putting the first warp on. It isn't the best blanket I've ever seen. But it is the best I could do. There isn't any of it that I look at and think I could have done better if I'd just undone a bit. I'd like to think that I could do a better job now but that's what learning is all about right? I wouldn't do something quite like this again. It is great to have a blanket that doubles as a sampler. I have a whole load of notes that tell me which panel used which pattern so I can always use it for inspiration. But I think if I did another blanket I'd do the three panels all using similar methods. So that I could join them in a simpler method and didn't need to do the fabric backing bit.
Of course, today is the warmest day of the year so far so I'm not feeling the need to snuggle under the blanket now. Shame!