Projects, stories, memories and myths of knitting and crafts

Thursday, 23 June 2011

An accidental pleasure.

Somehow I hurt my arm. I awoke on Tuesday morning with it offering me pain and little movement. This meant no knitting, no weaving and no spinning. I moped around on the couch all day, watching meaningless television, feeling very sorry for myself.

That evening, I was on the Ravelry forums and I saw that one of the members had posted a woven band. I had been watching her work for a couple of weeks. It had lead me to download Laverne Waddington's ebook, Andean Pebble Weave which I had glanced at. I looked at her work and inspiration struck. It was small, easy and would not require wide arm movements.

I have been wanting to try this. I had discussed it with my weaving teacher. She told me that on the day that Andean Pebble Weave was taught, she was struck with altitude sickness. So I knew I was on my own.

As it turns out, I was not. Laverne has an amazing blog with great advice, instructions and tutorials on it.
You can find it here if you would like to take a look.

Yesterday morning, having read all the info on getting started and the finding the Backstap Group on Ravelry and explored that too, I rummaged around the house to find bits to fashion into a backstap loom.

I found a wealth of bits, the best being an old tapestry frame that I could use as the main frame.

I got my ancient inherited warping board out and wound a 26"warp in No 5 crochet cotton, with a cross in the middle, according to Laverne's instructions for double weave.  I decided to dive in at the deep end and try this first even though easier projects are recommended. I have woven double weave on my loom so I felt confident.

I inserted wooden skewers as cross sticks and taped them together before removing the warp from the board. I placed the warp ends on 2 large wooden double pointed knitting needles that I seldom use, one on either side and attached them to the pieces of the tapestry frame.

I do not have many heavy pieces of furniture in the house and my body does not allow me to sit on the floor for long periods of time anymore so I had to improvise a tie on area where I could sit comfortably supported in a chair. A dining room chair proved to be perfect and I added ballast by using Borneo's current carving project (that is a chameleon emerging from the wood) in its huge vice grip.

Now I was ready to tie myself in and start. That chair did not budge.

The first step was to make the heddles.

These open the shed to weave in.

I then got so excited that I forgot to take any more photographs of the process but here is my first row of weaving albeit it a bit blurred

and then it grew to this....

I had to leave home at this stage to attend a friend's birthday celebrations. This is how I left my loom hanging.

You can see all the improvised equipment quite nicely. The three small shuttles tied together at the top are the shed stick. They work very well because they can be secured in the yarn hole. The heddles are secured on another wooden skewer. The bigger shutter below is my beater which is holding the shed so that I know where I am when I start this morning, and the final shuttle next to the warp beam provides space for the fringe which I want at the bottom of the band.

I think it will be 2 key fobs when it grows up, or maybe a book mark or maybe I will just sit and admire it.... I am undecided.

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had. It has been doubly pleasing as it is such a versatile technique and is mobile.

I loved that everything I needed was available in the house and I did not need to purchase anything. I did buy cotton as I wanted stronger colours than I had in my stash. It all came together beautifully.

I struggled with the start as a result of my laziness and inability to read instructions properly!! I was, however, able to figure it out and then I saw that it was all there in black and white. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS PROPERLY. In my haste to start weaving, I skipped a couple of vital paragraphs.

Thank you, Laverne, for your wonderful instructions and your advice on the Ravelry group. It has made this so much fun.

I am off now to attempt a pattern....

Monday, 23 May 2011

A Dance with a Flat Pack

There was great excitement when The New Loom arrived promptly within 48 hours of being ordered. It arrived flat packed.

I had to wait until Saturday morning before Borneo could assemble it in peace and quiet and well rested. This thing with the levers is called 'the castle' I like that because it kind of looks like one.

Here I am threading the cords that hold up the shafts.

It took no time at all and it was looking beautiful. I keep on forgetting to say - please excuse the hideous wall paper in the background.

The loom is so clever. It folds flat for storage and transportation.

Every loom deserves to know that it will be well loved.

This is the test run. Again the threads are on the raddle, separating them before they are wound onto the back beam so that they come out the same size as whatever it is that you are going to weave.

She is now all threaded and ready to go in the morning when I will weave a small sample to decide on the final pattens for the scarf. She is an absolute dream to use, just so easy, and the threading was not arduous either.

I may be falling deeply in love.....

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A weaving adventure.

First one gathers the yarn and plays with colour until the perfect combination is realised.

Then one winds the colours around some cardboard in combinations to see what the warp is going to be like and if one really likes the colours. I am aiming for something cheerful and primal.

This is the warping mill where the warp is wound to the length of the required cloth plus extra for samples and waste. There is a cross on each side to help to keep the threads separate for threading and to keep the shed (the threads apart for the different layers) open when weaving the weft.

This is what 308 threads look like.

The raddle is not an instrument of torture although many beginners believe this. It is tied securely to the back beam of the loom to aid with the threading process. This funny shape string actually holds it more tightly than any other way I have been shown so I REALLY want a record of it.

Now you can see the threads are being separated into groups to make them wind onto the back beam in their allotted place so that the warp is evenly wound across the beam. I hope you are not falling asleep with boredom...

This is what 616 stitches look like wound through the raddle around the back beam with brown paper to keep each layer seperate. This is a two person accomplishment. One holds the warp while the other winds. Those funny sticks are cross sticks which are inserted into the cross which I told you about before to keep the top and the bottom open. Now - let the threading begin......

Each thread is threaded from the back of the loom, through a heddle which is one of those silver things in the photo. There is a lovely little hole for it to pass through on its journey to the front of the loom. The heddles are on the shafts of the loom. The threading is not over yet

There is still the joy of threading them all through the reed, the silver and wooden bit at the front of the loom. The reed keeps the threads in place during the weaving process. The reed beats the weft into place too.

The ends of the warp are then tied to the front beam keeping the tension as even as possible and then the warp is tensioned. Let the weaving begin...

The first bit of weaving is a check that the threading is correct and makes all the threads stand to attention in their correct intended slot on the fabric. Here one holds one's breath............................... and sometimes very rude words escape before one tries to breathe again. If there is a threading error, it is undone at this stage and corrected and then checked again. Threads can be isolated and rethreaded.

Let the weaving begin....

This piece has 15" of sample warp so here I am playing with colours before the proper weaving begins. It is going to be a my first tubular cloth if I am clever enough to manage not to weave the front and the back together. I had forgotten just how much I love doing this!!

The project has started.

Monday, 7 February 2011

A Haven of heaven.

Last week, I took off to the Weavers Loft near Stockbridge to learn how to spin on a spinning wheel. I had a lovely chat with Julie before I went.  She has three wheels which I could try. There may just be a spinning wheel in my future....

Robyn and I went through for my first lesson on Wednesday morning and the second on Thursday because my hip is still mending and I did not want to place any strain on it. I had so much fun both days that I forgot to take photos and was admonished by everyone who I spoke to about it.

I went back on Saturday and spent 4 hours spinning in this little craft haven. It is a lovely comfortable place where people are encouraged to try things and to work at their own pace. It is one of the loveliest learning environments that I have spent time in. One of the things that I enjoyed the most was the sharing of knowledge.

I sat here while I was learning to spin on the traditional Ashford wheel. I seem to have fallen in love with it despite my thoughts of wanting something completely different.

This is some yarn that I spun earlier in the week. I filled the whole bobbin, well almost.

The Weavers Loft is a working studio. It has equipment and craft supplies everywhere which I love. There are baskets of hand-spun yarn,

baskets of bobbins for lace making,

baskets of embroidery thread

and a wall of beads along with the other craft supplies.

Then there are all the beautifully handmade and wood-turned gifts that abound, displayed in creative ways around the studio.

Lastly, there are looms, especially this beautiful floor loom which I covet.

This is a little haven of heaven for anyone who enjoys fibre crafts and wood. I look forward to my next visit on Thursday.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Forest Spring Echo FLowers

I joined the Historical Craft KAL for this project and it has been great fun. It is one of the nicest ways to knit something as there is a lot of help and and great comments on the forum. It is the first time I have done one of these and has promptly encouraged me to join Taziana's mystery KAL which starts in a couple of weeks.

Here are some lovely pics of a shawl that I thoroughly enjoyed knitting. It was a lovely intuitive pattern and worked so well even when my brain was absent. I loved the way it looked like a ball of yarn before it was blocked and if my brain was operational, there would have been an photo of it before it was blocked.

Blocking in France is an adventure. I finally settled on the clothes airer which I pinned a towel too and the stretched the shawl out after it had been soaked and spun in a pillowcase in the washing machine.
Here it is drying in the weak sun today.

Trudi quite fancies it. It is in her colours. When I saw this yarn I knew it wanted to be an Echo Flowers. It reminds me of a forest spring with autumn leaves in it.

My photography skills are not great today. I seem to be out of focus in places.

A close up of the edge.

Draped artistically.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Borneo's Bright Blues

After I had finished knitting my mittens there was a great humphing beside me when I wore them. SOMEONE noticed that it was much easier for me to operate my camera..... I quietly ordered some yarn online and when it did not arrive in time before the French Trip, I rushed in to C&H and bought some. SOMEONE accompanied me and was quite sulky until I waved the yarn under his nose and said, " This is the colour blue that you wanted?" The sunshine came out in his grin and all was right with the world.

So now they are waiting for him when he arrives next week to join me here, hanging on the lemon tree.

I used my pattern from the early blog post and adjusted it accordingly. Thank you Trudi, for the loan of the hands.

Robyn tells me she is holding the yarn that arrived at home as hostage. She thinks it is some wonderful painted lace weight that I ordered.