Summer and Winter at Rug Weaving Summer School

Once again, Summer School  at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria was a great learning experience and a highlight of my summer.


Don’t you love the colours? Yarn from Velieris

This year’s theme was Summer and Winter. I  got going early with dressing my loom, using a supplied warp that had three (?) crosses in it. The early start was a good thing as I found that (more) rust had developed on the metal bars that hold the heddles. I’m sure those bars have a name. Don’t know what the name is, though. If you do, leave a comment.

The rust looked unattractive and stopped me moving the heddles easily. Tinkerer gave some furniture wax to treat the bars with and that helped. Now all I need is some way to clean up the reed, which is also a bit rusty.

The rug yarn was a beautiful colour and quality, tightly plied and perfect for the task. It came to me via a beautiful act,  a random act of kindness from my fellow blogger over at Reduce reuse recycle who was given the rug yarn samples by Velieris. She didn’t have a use for rug yarn and offered it to me, even bringing it around to my home on a hot day when there were crazy roadworks in my area. Thank you cheliamoose.

Before class I wove a heading and had a play with a pattern. It wasn’t looking right and it took me embarrassingly long to work out I should be weaving with two shuttles. This picture from Nutfield Weaver helped.

I’ll post pictures of my class samples when I’ve cut them off the loom. I might also show you my loom transport solution and the fold up loom table that Tinkerer made for me.

Small Format Rag Rug

My summer project is a test rag rug which will work as a bath mat or in a child’s room. The warp was a gift from the Textile Bazaar where it was lying in a storage box with a bunch of discards.


I got all the width out of the warp that I could which is about 45cm on the loom.

The warp is made up of strips of old business shirts and a few old tops of mine, cut into 4cm strips, sorted by color and stitched together. The ski shuttle is a joy to work with. It came from a yard sale, most likely a deceased estate. I like to think the previous owner would be pleased to see it being used by the next generation.

The cutting and stitching is tedious.  My grandmother tore warp strips from old fabric and joined the strips with a low profile knot.

How do you prepare your rag rug weft?

Fancy Fox

One of my friends gave birth to a baby girl four months ago, providing me with the perfect excuse to make some fox blocks. I first saw the fancy fox block on a quilt made by Wombat Quilts and fell in love with it then.

 Fancy Fox  Quilt Top made up of Four Fox Blocks  in Pink and Grey  

If you want to buy the pattern, it’s available from Oh Fransson. It’s easy enough to make the blocks. Each large fox block measures 20 by 24 inches, which is a whole different scale to what I’ve worked with before. I like the amount of negative space though and the blocks come together quickly once you’ve done your cutting. They’re also a good way to use up your stash though the amount of waste involved in sewing the muzzle/background triangle does trouble me a little. 

This top will be going off to the long arm quilter due to a shortage of free time and because my Singer quilting machine has developed a timing problem, one that’s too expensive to have fixed by a professional. Tinkerer and I are planning a DIY repair session over the summer. If we can’t fix the Singer ourselves it might be useful as a boat anchor. Meanwhile I can continue piecing with my trusty Husqvarna. 

Heatwave Project: Christmas Stocking

It’s hard to believe but we had a heatwave in Melbourne in the last weekend before Christmas. Temperatures got up to 41 C.

As a city dweller with aircon, I was very fortunate. I was able to stay home and work on a craft project.

Here’s what I made. After taking a look at some photos on the internet, I made a pattern for a Christmas stocking and then I made a Christmas stocking.  It will be a gift for a workmate whose first two children have stockings but whose latest arrival didn’t. Until now.

It’s fully lined and has fusing to keep it stable. I even practiced some couture techniques, sewing the inner lining with a slightly larger seam allowance than the outer, and clipping curves through a single layer of fabric so that the cuts were distributed. It wasn’t necessary to go to those lengths, but it was fun to see what I could do.

Happy Holidays.


A different kind of gold in the Victorian Goldfields

My kind of gold – fibre from Bendigo Woollen Mills and historic kilns at Bendigo Potteries.  

three balls of carpet wool from Bendigo Woolen Mills

Carpet Wool

Carpet wool seems to be a rare commodity these days. I am not aware of any wool processing plants that still make carpet wool in either New Zealand or Australia. When I see some rug wool on sale I tend to grab it. In the case of the lovely blue wool in the photo above, I took all they had in stock, which was ten 50g balls. There was no more of any colour on the shelves. For good measure I also grabbed a couple of cones of 3ply which weaves up beautifully in scarves. Having said that, Bendigo Wollen Mills cater to knitters much more than weavers and have some beautiful yarns.

The photos below are from the nearby Bendigo Potteries where a miner was digging for gold but found clay and decided to return to his original trade of being a potter. 


two brick bottle kilns and a horizontal kiln  at Bendig Potteries

I learned that these are called Bottle Kilns

close up of a brick bottle kiln at Bendigo Potteries

Bottle Kiln


Collette Dinnigan at the Powerhouse Museum

Sharing my photos from the Collette Dinnigan exhibition at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

Dinnigan Gowns Dinnigan Dresses

The exhibition was beautifully staged and featured lovely gowns for tall, willowy women with tiny waists and no bust – people like Nicole Kidman, who was pictured in one of the gowns on the red carpet.

Ms Dinnigan has moved on from high fashion and has applied her design skills to a large number of other areas including girls wear, which is being sold by the German discount retailer Aldi, in an unexpected alliance.

Dinnigan Girls

Notice how muted the dresses appear in contrast to the background.

The girls wear at the Powerhouse was charming and traditional. It’s no surprise that when the designer’s clothes went on sale at Aldi they attracted a huge amount of interest, including, reportedly from shoppers who would not normally go shopping at a discount supermarket.

Crochet Dish Cloth

dishcloth2I took a crochet project along on my recent trip to Bangkok, wanting a project that was portable and didn’t involve any tools that might get confiscated by airport security.

You can’t do too much damage with a 2mm crochet hook and a ball of mercerised cotton. I actually don’t believe you can do too much damage with a pair of nail scissors, either, but I once had mine confiscated on my way  to board an early morning domestic flight. I see it as security theatre …but that’s another story.

This dishcloth measures 29cm x 24cm and I plan to use it as a pot holder. We’ll see. I stopped crocheting when I ran out of yarn and selected a rectangular shape so I can fold it double to protect my hands. I also added a hanger in case I decide to use it as a general wiping cloth.

I modified the pattern by starting with a chain of 75 stitches rather than 25 and took it from there. It was easy to make, though the finer yarn I used meant that progress was slower than if I’d used the kitchen cotton yarn referenced in the pattern. I can also attest to the fact that the pattern is very forgiving of errors. I made several, but I can’t find them now without looking very hard.

Cotton Dishcloth

Cotton Dish Cloth

The crochet hook came from Spotlight and was a last minute purchase on departure day. It was the worst quality of bendy lightweight aluminum. Yes, it was cheap, but it wasn’t worth any money and I won’t be using it again, except maybe to clear a blocked drain. My grandmother used stainless steel crochet hooks. I need to go and find hers.