Category Archives: Journal

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 borders 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.

Rosepath Revisted in Dish Towels

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The first towel

My first attempt at rosepath didn’t yield the results I was expecting. The only thing to do was try again, this time with a series of four tea towels (dish towels) in mind.

I am using 8/4 carpet warp cotton for the warp and weft. The borders are 8/2 cotton doubled. I chose to use 8/4 carpet warp after reading Tom Knisely’s baby blanket project description in Handwoven Magazine (Nov/Dec 2016) where he describes it as a yarn that is cost effective and one that softens with use and washing. I used the 16 epi twill sett that is in the project notes and warped my loom using Osma Tod’s ‘authentic way of weaving rosepath’ draft, detailed in her wonderful book The Joy of Hand Weaving. Her drafts are written for a sinking shed loom and I was glad I noticed that before I started weaving on my jack loom.

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Effective but Ugly Pirn Winder

This project had brought different mistakes, new learnings and another first. I am using a boat shuttle for the first time, with paper pirns, wound using Tinkerer’s battery-operated drill. It’s an ugly solution but it seems to be effective. I bought a piece of 3mm brass rod to use as a spindle and am attaching the pirns to the spindle using a small piece of masking tape (painter’s tape.) I’m sure the purists will disapprove but it will do for now. One day I might have a fancy bobbin winder.
The weaving width is 18 inches in the reed and I am weaving each towel to a length of 30 inches under tension. The goal is that each towel will measure 17 by 28 inches after wet finishing and hemming but as I’m still weaving towel #3, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

By the way, the border element in the first towel pictured above has a mistake (one of many) that is visible if you zoom in on the photo. The second towel has no mistakes that I know of at this stage and the third seems to be coming along nicely.

The Big Design Market Melbourne

I visited the Big Design Market last weekend, mostly out of curiosity rather than with buying goals in mind, but I did make a couple of purchases.

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I bought this cute rope bowl to put thread ends in when I’m sewing. I had planned to make some kind of fabric bucket but this one was too lovely to leave behind and I was happy to support this Brisbane based maker who makes these rope bowls herself.

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design-market-melb-2016The market was held at the Victorian Melbourne Exhibition Building which accommodates a huge number of vendors and is always a treat to visit.

As the name makes clear this market promotes more ‘designery’ merchandise than handmade crafts. The production quality was high and tended to reflect large production runs and stock levels in the hundreds, with exceptions like a precious metal jeweller. The aesthetic was modern and urban, rather than folk or traditional.

Both sellers of handwovens that I visited had their wares manufactured overseas. One sold terry towels handloomed in Turkey to the vendor’s own design, the other appeared to be a reseller of high quality Indian pashmina type shawls.

The market was definitely worth a visit and would be a good way to source holiday gifts and support local designers.