Tag Archives: finishes

Pandora’s Box – a manly (and belated) Birthday Gift

This one has been a long time in the making, even by my standards. It was intended for a male friend’s fortieth birthday and that friend is now 42. It’s a good thing he got an interim gift to tide him over.

pandoras quilt make with a jelly roll of batik fabrics

Pandora’s Box

The quilt is made using a Robert Kaufman Roll-Up, comprising 40 strips and equivalent to 2.8 yards, according to the label. I was disappointed at how ‘thin’ the strips were – they barely measured 2 1/2″ wide even at the pointiest bit of the zig-zagged edge and I had to adjust my cutting to allow for this. I wasn’t happy about that.

I used the Mineral Mining Colorstory (RU-182-40) and feel happy that it looks manly. The blue is homespun from my stash, bought originally at Spotlight. Next time I’d make the blue frame a little narrower. The Pam & Nicky Lintott pattern didn’t call for a border but I wanted to make a visual separation between the batiks.

My friend has a black leather couch, which is why I chose the black batik border and used the same for the backing. I hope he likes it.

First Quilt Finish of 2014

Taking inspiration from Textile Ranger who recently posted her first finish for 2014, here’s mine. I just managed to get this log cabin quilt done (and posted here) within the first quarter of the calendar year. Doesn’t that sound like an office worker talking?

barn raising log cabin quilt in blue and ivory

Measurements: 50 by 50 inches

This time the centre ‘hearths’ are a mellow orange colour and I chose a binding of a darker orange to continue that theme. The label still needs to be attached but other than that, I’m done.

It’s the first quilt I’ve made where I haven’t pre-washed the batting and I’ll be interested to see how it responds to washing. But first, I plan to use it a bit.

A Big Finish and a Little One

The charcoal warp that I put on my four shaft Druva floor loom measured 4.5 metres. After completing the pistachio chevron scarf I cut it off the loom so I could re-tension the warp, something that was sorely needed.

Cappuccino Scarf

Cappuccino Scarf

I did my best to apply the lessons of the pistachio scarf to the cappuccino scarf, in particular maintaining an even and light beat, and keeping a close eye on the width of the weave. The effort paid off and I am much happier with this weaving.

In addition to the technique changes, I did 8 picks of charcoal plain weave at the start and finish of the scarf, changed the pattern and used hemstitch in place of overhand knots for the fringe.

The cappuccino scarf measures 132cm by 23cm after wet finishing. That’s 52 inches by 9 1/4 inches for those of you who think in those terms.

table runner in pebble weave

I had a bit of warp left after completing the cappuccino scarf so I had a play with pebble weave and made a little table runner. It’s a 9 1/2 inch square and I rather like it but calling it a runner seems a bit over the top for such a small item. Any suggestions? What would you describe it as?

Hydrothermoplasticity: Tell me more

Some people are happy to follow the instructions and make beautiful things. Others need to know why.

I’m firmly in the ‘tell me why’ camp. Maybe it’s down to unresolved issues from my childhood, maybe it’s down to a general distrust of authority and maybe I’m just a scientifically-minded gal. When my weaving teacher didn’t provide a whole lot of insight into the ‘why’ of wet finishing, I wanted to know more.

Now, thanks to the late Allen Fannin and his book Handloom Weaving Technology I know that the magical results achieved by wet finishing are all down to wool’s property of hydrothermoplasticity.

In short, weaving introduces tension to fibre. Water and warmth relax that tension and cause the fibres of the weave to meld.

handwoven pistachio chevron scarf

The pistachio chevron scarf

In the case of my chevron scarf, the greatest miracle this project brings is the miracle of increased skill. While the finished scarf looks OK and feels lovely and soft, the main benefit is how much I learned from this project:

– The weave can split of the warp tension is too tight. A light ‘bounce’ in the warp is enough, don’t tighten the warp further.

–  Advance the warp often (relates to the splitting I mentioned above.)

– Keep a vigilant eye on the width of the weave and measure it under tension. If the weaving width decreases as you weave, you risk a broken warp thread at the selvage. This happened on the chevron scarf but wasn’t a disaster as all the books tell you what to do to fix a broken warp thread. One day I’ll have a temple (stretcher) to help maintain the weaving width.

– Be gentle with your beat.

I am applying all these lessons to my current project, another scarf, using the same warp but a different treadling.

scarf on the loom

The blue tape in the photo is my measurement guide. Each line of machine stitching marks 10cm. I move the pin each time I finish another 10 cm.

The weave may turn out to be too loose this time as I’m using a very gentle beat. If it is, maybe the miracle of hydrothermoplasticity will fix it.

Light Denim Heather Scarf

I’m celebrating another finish and it’s a first for me. Pictured below is my first completely independently devised and executed weaving project.

Handwoven scarf with light blue weft and cream warp

Finished, but before wet finishing and trimming the fringe.

The warp and weft yarns were both acquired from the Handweavers and Spinners Guild sale, which I felt was a good way to get my hands on some inexpensive yarn for early experiments.

I can’t be 100% sure the ball of weft yearn was complete when I bought it as it had clearly been knitted, unraveled and the ball rewound before it made its way into my hands. Half way through the scarf I was winding a shuttle and unearthed the label. I was delighted to learn it was Icelandic yarn, a brand called Álafoss Lopi, made in Reykjavik, Iceland. Their web site describes the colour as light denim heather. Assuming the ball was complete, the weft consumed 100 m. (109 yd.) of yarn, woven at two strands per pick (hope I’ve got the terminology right).

scarf_calipersChallenges along the way were managing the change over from one shuttle to the next and how to manage the weft joins/overlaps and how to keep the width of the piece even. I found an innovative and possibly unusual way to address the even width challenge by using my pottery calipers to monitor that the width was staying true. I didn’t do so well with the joins and tried the ‘overlap method’ (too bulky in the weave) and the ‘unravel, twist and spit method’ (fiddly and a bit yuck.) If you are an experienced weaver reading this, I would welcome your tips on starting and stopping elegantly.

Technical details

Planned finished length: 55 inches or 140cm (before I ran out of weft yarn)
Actual length before wet finishing: 50 inches or 127 cm
Actual length after wet finishing: 50 inches or 127 cm

Planned width: 11 inches
Actual width before wet finishing: 11 inches
Actual width after wet finishing: 10 1/2 inches or 26 cm

Ends per inch: 6
Reed: 16 epi
Sett: 101001010010100
Total number of ends: 72
Warp length: 220 cm

I’m happy with it but I see areas for improvement. It’s always part of my workflow on any project to step back and ‘live with’ the finished item for a while, leaving it in a place where my gaze will fall on it and where I will be prompted to reflect on what was done well and what could be done better.

I redid the hem stitch at the start of the weave as I felt some of the stitches could have been more even but I remain less than 100% satisfied with the result. I need to work on my finishing techniques.

The warp was a little unevenly distributed. I chose to blame the loom not the weaver.

The Dyer & Philips table loom will soon have a new home thanks to eBay. Charming though it is, I decided to part with it to make room for my latest acquisition – a second hand four shaft table loom with movable wire heddles.

Post and pix of my new acquisition coming soon.

Red & White MYO Charm Quilt Finished

Started late in 2012 and painstakingly pieced and finally finished. MYO Charms Quilt 2 Finished

The dimensions are roughly 110cm by 120cm. I wanted to quilt it myself about a quarter inch from each seam line but I realised that would require more time than I had available. My professional quilter expressed a preference for an edge to edge design because it was easier for her to execute. I regret agreeing to that as I feel my design vision wasn’t delivered. I like this quilt, but I don’t love it as much as I was hoping/planning to.

MYO Charms Quilt Finished 1

The batting is Quilters Dream Poly (throw sized) in mid loft which was quite inexpensive and can be quilted as far as 12 inches apart. It will withstand lots of washing and doesn’t require pre-washing but I find it little stiff. So far I have not found a polyester batting that drapes in the way I want it to, ie like cotton batting. I have a packet of low loft Quilters Dream Poly ready for a jelly roll quilt that is yet to be started and I’ll be interested to see how that compares.

MYO Charms Quilt Finished 3

Note the quilt stand in this last photo. It’s my brand new (to me) Druva four shaft floor loom and it came home yesterday.

A Finish Just in Time to Pack the Projects Away

The last finish for 2012 and the third anniversary of this blog. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for so long. Thanks to all of you who have joined me on the journey. It’s been fun.

The time of year has come when the cutting table moves to the living room and becomes a dining table. I’ve packed away the projects, done an audit of the tablecloths and made many lists as we work out how we are going to seat and feed 14 people on Christmas Eve, for our big family celebration. This year we will be joined by family members from overseas, making it extra special.

There will be a smaller picnic on Christmas Day. The menu for that meal is certain – whatever we didn’t eat on Christmas Eve – most likely ham, ham and more ham. My beloved’s employer has preserved the tradition of giving their employees a ham before they close the plant down for Christmas. It’s a lovely tradition and I can’t imagine that it happens very much any more. Of course there are now many new Australians at that workplace, people who were born in Cambodia or Afghanistan or somewhere else where Christmas doesn’t feature on the calendar and where, in some cases, pork is considered unclean. I’m curious if those staff members get a leg of lamb instead, or if they just find they get a fresh boat anchor each year.

Here is the bento box quilt, finished, bound and ready to be wrapped. I machine sewed the binding this time as it’s for a little girl so needs to withstand play and laundering. I prefer the finish of hand sewn binding but this turned out OK.

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If you are among those who celebrate Christmas I wish you all the Compliments of the Season.

Peace on Earth and gun control in America. Surely it’s time.