A Virtual Friend becomes a Real One in Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting one of my virtual friends Michelle, who blogs at Sleepy Cat Hollow. We started following each other’s WordPress blogs some years ago, then exchanged a mail or two and connected on that other social networking site.

This weekend we got to meet Michelle and her lovely husband. They were kind enough to introduce us to geocaching and to the historic silver mining town of Virginia City in Nevada. It was delightful to have the opportunity to turn a virtual friend into a real one and to meet some people with a knowledge of the area that goes back to their childhood years. 

Thank you Michelle and Lee.

Nomadic Weaving Sami Style

I’m away from my big looms right now. My temporary status as a nomadic person gives me the opportunity to try my hand at Sami style band or tape weaving. The Sami are the nomadic peoples of northern Scandinavia but the tape weaving tradition is well established  in Sweden also. 

If you’re interested in getting up and running with this technique yourself, this Band Weaving site, written in Swedish, has photos that illustrate the components clearly enough that you could get by without reading the words. 
Here’s my kit.

Wooden band weaving supplies, backstrap and heddle

Portable. Perfect!

Here’s my warping board. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to make a cross and I paid the price with tangles later, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

And here’s the work in progress. 

Tape weaving showing heddle harness and  shuttle

Not bad for my first project

I plan to apply steam to finish the tape to try and get it smoother but first there is a lot more weaving to do. Next I will experiment with different fibres and colours. The fine holes on the Stoorstålka heddle are a bit limiting on using heavier yarn for the pattern threads it seems to me. I wonder how others have dealt with that. I can’t be the first.

Butterick 5347 – A Breezy Summer Dress

This has already proven itself to be a very wearable summer dress. I found the pattern at my local thrift store and used the smallest multi-size available, which was 16. 

I read recently that the big pattern companies haven’t changed their sizing in a very long time and that you need to use the measurement charts rather than your normal dress size when selecting a pattern. Based on this experience that sounds about right. I wouldn’t buy a ready-made garment in size 16, but this dress was a reasonable fit. Admittedly it is designed to be loose fitting, so there’s a bit of intended wiggle room (aka pattern ease).

Pattern and construction adjustments: roughly two inches of length removed from the bodice, bust dart extended, longer zipper than recommended as I used a zipper from my stash, no hook and eye closure above the zipper, French seams on the side seams which resulted in seams of about 1.8cm instead of the called for 1.5 cm.

What I would do differently next time: slightly lower the bust dart, make a small full bust adjustment, better workmanship on the zipper, stronger stitching at the start and end of the sleeve, follow the construction instructions.

I got myself in a spot of bother by inserting the zipper before sewing the neck/arm facing, which meant I couldn’t turn the two back sections through the facing. I got out of trouble but not turning the facing at the armscye and instead sewing through all thicknesses from the right side. developing the solution took a bit of thinking and was a valuable learning experience. I should, of course, have anticipated the problem, but I didn’t.

Cotton summer dress with cap sleeves

I had the perfect button in my button box

This dress was my first project with my new Janome sewing machine. Rather than spending time sewing scraps I decided to just get on with a real project to get familiar with the machine. I had to unpick a little more than usual but I had a wearable dress at the end of the process. Happy with that.

Fancy Fox Finished


Seems we’ve hit winter here in Melbourne and the available light is not great for photography. The maximum temperature in Melbourne today was 14 C  (57F) and when I got up this morning the living room was not far above that temperature. So far I’m layering with woolens and resisting the temptation to turn the heating on but I expect to weaken soon.

I’ve been chipping away at hand sewing the binding on the Fancy Fox quilt. It’s a task I quite enjoy but one I prefer to do in natural light, which means on weekends, generally.

The quilting was done by professional long armer Pam Hammer, who suggested the modern design to go along with the modern quilt. Tinkerer dropped this one off to her so Pam and I chatted on the phone. Initially Pam thought it was a strange variety of house quilt but then she turned it around and the foxes leaped out at her.

I’m looking forward to handing this one over to a beautiful baby girl who I haven’t met yet, even though she must be getting towards a year old now.

Now, it’s back to the looms.



From Learner of Weaving to Teacher of Weaving

One of the most useful courses I have participated in in my professional life was a people management course where one of the requirements was to take one of the learning modules back to our work groups and teach the material. The objective was for us to observe how we learned differently when we had the role of teacher, rather than of student. This was in the days before budgetary constraints forced most professional development onto the online space. Online and intranet based training might be appropriate for compliance training, such as the requirements of the Competition and Consumer Regulations Act, which my employer requires us all to understand, but there are only so many ‘soft-skills’ you can learn via online learning. In my opinion, the same applies to hands on skills like weaving.


Introductory Weaving: Class in Progress

It hasn’t been long since I completed the Hand weavers and Spinners Guild introductory weaving course, but with a little experience under my belt and a pretty decent reference library in my studio, I was happy to offer my services as teaching assistant in the current introductory course that is being offered over four full day Sundays.

Being a teacher has, indeed, made be a better learner. In addition to getting to know a charming and varied group of students, including an artist, a student of fashion and an early childhood educator, I have had the opportunity to help others with their warping, fetch and carry for the teacher and inspire others. I brought along my waffle weave scarf to show the class members my first project. One of the group decided she wanted to do a similar design so I added waffle weave to the class sampler. You can see the student’s sampler below. One of the major leanings for this student was the importance of an even beat, which she is well on the way to mastering.

The student had already done part of a previous introductory course at the guild. She brought in her work from that previous class and it was evident how far she had progressed since then, as the quality of her current work was way above what she achieved the first time.


Student Sampler

A beginners class puts a big load on the teacher, especially at the warp preparation stage. We all learn at different paces and I was able to help one student who needed to understand the why as well as the what, while our teacher guided those with a faster learning style.

It’s been great fun and I recommend teaching to those who might be interested in seeing what they learn as a teacher, not a student.

All photos were taken and published with permission.


New Dorset Folding Loom

One of my guild friends is moving house and decluttering. Somehow we got to talking about that and she asked if I might be interested in buying her folding loom.

I didn’t have to think long about that one as I have coveted her loom (in the nicest possible way) when she has brought it to guild workshops. She seemed so comfortable and self sufficient sitting at her fold up loom while the rest of us cramped each other’s style and gave ourselves shoulder fatigue with our table looms all in a row.

Now that beautiful loom is mine.

Dorset Loom

I thought it might be a Dorset, make in New England, USA and an application of Scandinavian oil to the wood over the Easter holiday confirmed that. The Dorset name was stamped into the wood under the raddle. I think the raddle storage position on top of the castle is an innovation from my friend’s engineer husband, who like my beloved, is an enabler of her loom and yarn collecting as well as a provider of technical support.

The shafts move smoothly and the folding loom is easier to transport than my Ashford table loom. I’m also really pleased to have something that was owned by my friend, as she’s a terrific person and a good weaving mentor. We haven’t been able to spend much time together yet, but I’ve offered her loom visitation rights whenever she wants.

Mt first project will be two tea towels from the Ann Field book.

The Ashford table loom is on notice – behave or get sent to to an online auction.

The Origins of my Druva Floor Loom

I couldn’t be happier with my Druva floor loom. One day I might want a countermarche loom, or more shafts or a beater that’s hinged from above, not below, but for where I am in my fibre journey now, it’s perfect. The heddle eyes are big, the footprint of the loom is small, and it’s all put together in a straightforward way. I like the directness of one pedal, one shaft as that helps me learn directly how different treadlings result in different weave structures.

I bought the loom from a weaver who was planning to downsize but then didn’t. She later replaced the Druva with an eight shaft loom that required a road trip to bring home. I’m sure that will be a familiar story to some of you.

The latest (No. 657, March 2016) edition of Treadles, the newsletter of the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria taught me a bit about the origins of the Druva loom. Druva was the family name of Harry and Rasma Druva, who hailed from Latvia but emigrated to Melbourne in 1947 after meeting and marrying in a displaced person’s camp.

A medical student before the war, Rasma became a weaver and Harry made looms.

Rasma died in August 2015. Her obituary was published in the Sydney Morning Herald.