Category Archives: Journal

The Good Old Days

Here’s a little throwback to the good old days of quality workmanship and pride in your product, in the form of cotton bias binding. I bought it at my local thrift store. 

Bias binding is something I look out for in thrift stores as it’s generally a polyester cotton blend when I buy it new and that is not my preference. The older bindings also tend to be better more stable, either due to starch or simply a tighter weave.

Bias binding and its accompanying label

Love these stripes

The binding is made by WM. E. Wright Co in Massachusetts. This company stood by their product.

This material is fast colour and perfect in workmanship. Should it be faulty in any way, making the article on which it is applied unusable, we will reimburse you for the reasonable cost of your labor and all materials used in making the article.

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Cutlery Roll

Knife, fork and spoon stored in a fabric roll. The roll is open.

The slot on the right will fit a twill hand towel

Floral fabric cutlery roll closed with a knotted fabric band

All rolled up and ready to go to work 

This was a quick upcycling project. I got a knife, fork and spoon from my local Salvos Store and made up a cutlery roll to leave in my desk drawer at work. 

Cutlery roll 2.0 will include chopsticks.

Weaving with Novelty Yarns

 

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What defines a novelty yarn? I’m going with:

new to me and having an interesting composition

Here is a photo of a scarf I recently completed using Bendigo 3 ply as warp at 8 dpi and Tirchonaill as weft. The Tirchonaill is pure wool and came in a 100g ball. To me, it meets the definition of being a novelty yarn, and a lovely one. Exactly half the ball of Tirchonaill got consumed for this project, meaning I will be able to make another scarf. I’m happy about that as I love the green colour.

I picked the Tirchonaill up at a guild member’s stash sale. I didn’t sample but I did have a plan in mind. I wove an open structure in plain weave, intending to have a soft drapey fabric at the end of the process. That worked. The selvages looked a bit loopy on the loom but came good after the finishing step.

The contrasting ends are Bendigo 3 ply, doubled. These were a bit of a concern at the hemming stage as this part of the weave didn’t pull together as much as the green during the wet-finishing stage. A bit of steam-pressing evened out the width sufficiently that I could hem the fabric without sacrificing the splash of colour contrast.

 

 

Mission San Miguel Arcangel and its Loom

My vacation is long since over but I want share a few pictures from Mission San Miguel Arcangel, located in San Luis Obispo county in California. Just off the highway, this mission is in an agriculturally rich area. There must also be an army base nearby, based on uniformed personnel we saw eating at nearby Leo’s Cafe.

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The loom below was part of a display of how the mission operated. Sadly it’s not in a usable state.

Lace Weave All by Myself

After completing the linen and lace course with Kay Faulkner I felt confident and eager to get started on a project I had put on the Dorset loom over the Christmas break, an Atwater Bronson table runner in 3/2 cotton.

Working in the coarser 3/2 cotton was a joy because it was easy to spot and correct mistakes. It was also good to be working with a coloured yarn. The finer white linen we used during the course added another little hurdle for a beginner such as myself as errors were tricky to spot. Weaving in my own space, at my own pace further helped to reduce the error rate.

My own design variant

I made two runners, one following faithfully the project instructions in Pattie Graver’s Next Steps in Weaving and the other to my own design.

The projects in the Next Steps book are particularly well described and tell you everything you need to know, such as sett, width in the reed etc in a way where you can find the essential information quickly, without having waste energy scanning the text. I do recommend the book for anyone beginning their weaving journey, as I am.

This runner was done by the book

A Scrubs Top using Simplicity 4101

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Animal Print Scrubs Top

In the sleeve photography and on the pattern envelope, Simplicity 4101 bills itself as a pattern for unisex work wear. If you are sewing it for a man or woman of small to average proportions, you would be wise to check the fit before you start cutting the fabric.

While non-stretch work wear needs to have a lot of wearing ease to allow movement, even the small size of this pattern was too large for me to use unaltered.

For my size 14 frame, I adjusted the small size pattern by removing 1 inch horizontally at the armscye and another 1 inch horizontally at the waist, and took a further 1 inch out of the garment width, from shoulder to hem on the front and back, with corresponding sections taken out of the front and back sleeve.

This resulted in a scrubs top that still had a dropped shoulder and still had plenty of wearing ease but which was roomy without being oversized. It’s a comfortable fit, even with the modifications I made.

The pattern illustration shows the woman wearing the crossover style with a tee-shirt underneath.  There’s a reason for this. A tee-shirt would be good to preserve modesty when bending over, as care and health workers often have to do. Even then, the flapping front would get in the way. I chose to solve this problem with a snap fastener where the right and left front crossed.

I was happy with my decision to use cotton twill tape instead of facings at the front and I used a bias edging at the back neck, again instead of a facing. This reduced the garment’s bulk and gave me a better line.

The roomy pockets are perfect for work-wear though next time I would probably also add some a tape to affix an ID card on the front chest.

I made this scrubs top as a skill building exercise and to practice pattern alternation. Now that it’s done I will use it for lounge wear and doing home-based chores.

Lessons in Linen and Lace

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Class Samples

I spent last week in the greater Brisbane area attending a weaving workshop taught by Kay Faulkner, who is both an expert weaver and an expert teacher.

Over five days our group of four students learned the theory and practice of huck, spot Bronson, Bronson and Swedish lace using beautiful 18/2 Swedish linen.

Kay had warped the looms for us in advance and we rotated between them to make our class samples.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to compare an eight shaft jack loom and an eight shaft Glimåkra countermarche loom. The pressure was on though, as we had five days to make our samples and almost all of the information was new to me. Kay provided correction and guidance on technique. Apparently there is no need for a temple or stretcher when your shuttle technique is correct. All I can say is that my selvages improved over the five days.

Sadly for me every sample I completed had at least one mistake in it, the worst sample being the first I attempted and the one I named The Spot Bronson of Shame. That sample was the first on my steep learning curve and I came away from the course a more informed weaver with a thirst for more learning and more time at the loom.

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I would recommend Kay’s workshops to anyone wanting to intensively focus on developing their skills, especially if you have some weaving experience and your goal is technical mastery.