Sunday, 26 January 2020

Woolly activities

I've finished the hooking part of the basket weave rug.   I'm quite happy with it so far.   I still need to steam it so it's flat.   Then I will baste a cord wrapped in the backing, around the edge of the rug.  The final steps are to whip stitch wool yarn around the edge to cover the cording and backing, to give a firm finish, which will frame the rug.  

I don't have the yarn yet, which will likely be black.   I was thinking about spinning it.  It won't take a lot, maybe about 150 yards.  But it will have to be dyed.  The fibre that I have which is suitable, is still raw fleece, so it will need to be washed.   By the time I've washed the fleece, let it dry, worked out the calculations to spin it to the necessary twist and grist, and then spin, ply and dye it, spending the $7.45 for the single skein of yarn that I'd need, seems to be an easier solution.  

I'm happy with the rug though.   Now to find a local dealer for Briggs and Little yarn, Regal weight.  

This is the end of the blanket project which is on the loom.  I wove this blanket it 2 halves.  Because I only have 4 shafts and my loom is only 36 in wide, I can't do a twill double weave project.   So if I want to do a twill blanket, I weave it in two long strips and stitch them together.    It's not really sewing it together, it's more like running an extra warp thread down the middle, picking up the little loops along the selvedge, where you reverse the weft.   It's easy and takes only a long thread of warp and a tapestry or darning needle.

Joining the two halves
The seam line from joining using this technique is almost invisible.
You just pick up one loop on the selvedge of one piece, and then the next one on the selvedge on the second piece.  The reason I like joining two woven pieces this way is because the seam is nearly invisible.

My finger is on the seam.  Despite the bit of extra bulk at the selvedges, it's still really hard to see.

I thought that I wove the blanket halves to 95in, knowing there would be a lot of shrinkage when it first came off the loom.  Obviously I wove the first half to only 92 inches because the second half it a few inches longer than the first.    It's an easy fix though.  I'm joining the two halves together first.  Then I will pull a weft thread where I want a cutting line to even up the two blanket pieces.   I'll then stitch along the blanket side of the little gap to secure the threads before cutting the extra off.  

I hem my blankets these days, rather than twisting fringes.   If I were to sell blankets, I'd likely twist the fringes as people seem to like the look.  However, I want my blankets functional and I find the twisted fringes get in the way.  They tickle chins and noses, get caught up in fingers, and other things and of course are the perfect cat toys.   Hems are far more utilitarian as far as I'm concerned and I'm willing to give up a pretty finish in order to not wake up with a fringe bit caught up where I don't want it.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Holiday Projects.

Over the holidays, I did a bunch of spinning.  The small orangey skein is some pumpkin coloured fibre I spun a while back.   There wasn't a lot of it as I was just playing with colours, so the skein is small.  The white is Merino, very fine and very soft.  It was the end of some sliver that was leftover from another project.  Most of this was spun with a long draw.  I really should have carded it first, as the sliver and fibre was old and a bit compacted in places.   The resulting yarn is a bit uneven in places, but still soft, springy and will make awesome mitts or a hat.
I've started into a bag of grey superwash merino.   I'm guessing there was about 100 g or so, but I didn't weigh it first.  This is the second bobbin and I'll be ready to ply it soon.  It's rather nice because the colour is a bit variegated and interesting to both spin and look at.

The guild is looking for ideas for an upcoming class.   We have had suggestions of pin weaving jewellery, cute woven buttons and stick weaving.  Here is my contribution to ideas, which is a coiled basket.   If it were in the late summer or early autumn, I'd have used either ditch lily leaves to make cording or tried to find a bale of Timothy hay, which would also work well.  However, they are wet project materials and ours needs to be dry, so I used para-cord for this one.  I had this small 1/4 in size on hand for this sample.  I tried most of the feed stores and hardware stores locally but I couldn't find larger  hemp or even jute rope around anywhere.   I have a larger poly braided cord to do another sample at some point.  This little basket took about 3 1/2 hours to finish.

I've dressed the loom with a wool warp in a simple herringbone twill.   It will become a blanket.   Because it's a twill and I only have 4 shafts to work with, I'm doing the blanket in halves and will join it in the middle.   The red stripe was a second choice.  My first was a lighter blue, but it turned the other colours were just a tad thicker in grist.  It felt odd as I was winding the warp and it was easier to just switch out the colour that try to figure out if it would work as is, or did I need a different sett.  This is a couch blanket for cooler evenings and for the kitties to sleep on.


Saturday, 21 December 2019

Merry Christmoose!






I was so not on the ball when it came to Christmas cards this year.   I finished these 2 days ago.    I only printed up 5 of them, because obviously I didn't have time to mail them out.  So please excuse my tardiness and enjoy my silly card and the honest sentiments sent with it.

Happy Christmas to all. 
  Best wishes for a  New Year full of Joy and Sunshine.  


Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Hedeby Bag

Every time I've tried to update my blog, something has happened to distract me.   There was even a power flicker, shutting down the computer just as I went to start writing.   So right now, I'm just ignoring everything else and just sitting down and doing it.

I'd love to say I woke up early to get this photo, but really it was 7 am and still dark out, but the moon was incredible.   Because I could see the sun starting to rise behind me, I didn't have time to grab the tripod which would have made the photo so much better. The view lasted only a few minutes but it was pretty and intense while it did.


I stumbled upon some information on Haithabu or Hedeby bags, and got drawn into finding about more.  I decided to weave some fabric and turn it into a bag, based on some of the information.   I realized that I wasn't going to be able to weave reproduction  fabric for the bag, in the timeline I had in mind, so I went with all wool, in a sett much coarser than the extant fabrics, but in a checked pattern which was my interpretation of a description of an extant textile find.

I decided to only put one project on the loom.  That wastes fibre in loom waste, but is much faster to wind, thread and weave.   Since I really only was doing a single project, I felt it didn't matter.    It took only 1 day to wind the warp, and dress the loom.  I was ready to weave but getting dark out, I decided to wait until the morning to weave.

The bag has wooden handles, which I didn't get a photo of before I assembled the final project.   Normally I would have tried to make them myself but as I'd given myself only 5 days to get the bag completely done, I asked my husband to cut the handles out.

 His first thought was that we'd do it on the weekend, only I had wanted to use the bag on the Saturday, so as I started on a Monday, that evening we ran out to get some 1/4 in wide wood.  I drew the pattern, traced it onto the wood and he drilled out the holes on the Monday and then cut it out on Tuesday.  I sanded it, stained and oiled it during the rest of the week.  I used tung oil to finish it.   I'm sure there is some varnish someplace around here, but I use the oil on one of my wheels, so I knew where it was. It seemed easier that way.

Weaving should have taken no time at all, despite the checks, but Phil kept "assisting"me.  That meant lots of tea breaks while he kept watch over the garden.   As soon as he was bored, I could get back to weaving.


I lined the bag with some hand woven cotton.  It was a tea towel which for some reason, was funky on one end and never got hemmed.  I put in a totally non-period zippered pocket to hide things like my keys.  

I sanded the handles and had them ready to stain on Wednesday.   On Thursday, I coated them with tung oil.  I didn't have time to put a second coat on though since I was assembling the bag on Friday.

I had been hoping to sew the bag and lining on the Thursday, but it was an off the chart hectic day, where I was hardly home and crazy busy.  Sewing instead happened on Friday.  

I wasn't sure how to attach the bag to the wooden handles, so I used the leather and rivets I'd used for banjo and guitar straps.  I cut some thin ones for the centre slot, but the bag seemed to be sturdy enough without those particular bits, so I left them off.  All I needed to finish it off was a strap.  I need to make a new one, but this was a piece of tablet woven trim I found in my trim bag.  It's too narrow and the wrong colours, but if I was going to use it on the Saturday, then I needed a strap.

Saturday I was sick so ended up staying home.  Go figure.

  Still, I'm happy with the bag and I will get to use it.  I have time to make a proper strap, as long as I don't put it off too long.  I have to admit that I so loved doing this project.  It was a lot of fun.  It didn't take forever to make and I'm thrilled with the results.  It brought back lots of memories and urges to do more.




Sunday, 1 December 2019

CP Holiday Train

 The CP Holiday Train has been running for 21 years.  It's an effort to raise funds and food for local food banks across southern parts of central and western Canada, and parts of the US.  The highly decorated train goes into towns, large and small where local charities collect food and monetary donations from the event attendees and also get a large donation from CP Railway. 

Besides having a train decorated with all sorts of lights,  musicians perform a mini-concert, and the whole event is free.   Mind you, if you want to see the performance, you need to come early and our weather is unpredictable, so it could be cold, wet and sloppy.  But it's free and fun.  There are people of all ages out to enjoy the event.

Last year we showed up shortly before the train rolled in.   We were actually still walking to the old train station when we had an amazing view of the entire train coming in to town.   It was incredible.   We got to hear JoJo Mason and the Sam Roberts band.  I say hear because we were at the back and I'm short, so I got to see the shoulders of everyone.  It was still fun though.

This year we arrived early and still only made it to the second row from the safety barriers.  However I was able to see and had enough space to stick my camera between  bobbing heads to get a few shots.  I actually took a ton of photos, because people were sort of dancing, kids were bouncing and there was a lot of crowd movement.   Alan Doyle and Beautiful Band played.   It was a concert that wanted a lot of crowd participation, but there were a lot, and I mean a lot of children and he played a song or two, which nobody seemed to know, so the crowd was pretty quiet.    It was fun though, and worth the 35 minutes of hanging out in the cold waiting for the train.   

The train itself is quite a view.  It's more than a couple of cars, and there are lights all over it.  It is a great way to get a start to the holiday season. It did make me wish I knew more of low light photography, and had a faster, closer lens.  It's always something lol!

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Fall crafts and colours

I finally found enough copper jelly moulds to be able to display them on the wall.  Only one of them on the wall looked really odd, so I took a few trips to various thrift stores when I was out and about over the summer and autumn, and found these.   There are a huge number of different designs, but the curved fish, the heart and the fluted circle with flowers are on my hopeful to find list.  They are fun, pretty, the copper alloy colours are often quite different and they are inexpensive.  The most I've paid for one was $2.

 My Christmas wreath was looking rather sad.  It's been in use for a couple of years and we forgot to take it down last winter and it stayed up until I put the autumn wreath up in September. That means it's weathered, worn and wilted.   I made it from an old wire hanger and some old artifical pine  greenery garland.   Today, I grabbed my pruning secateurs and trimmed back a bunch of Bittersweet vines which were trying to grow up a Lilac.   I wound the larger ones into a circle.  To secure them, I wound smaller vines around the circle.  I slipped as many vine ends as I could inside the wreath.

It's a little lop sided and there are a few places where the vines snapped when I tried to twist them around and they didn't want to bend that way.   The vines aren't very flexible this time of year and soaking them would have helped immensely, but while it's warmer outside today than recent temperatures, being about 4C, it is still too cold to be dunking my hands in a bucket of water outside.   This is definitely an outside or at least studio appropriate craft.   I left it on the patio table for a few hours to help it dry, but it gets little sun this time of year. It's now drying in front of the fire.  I know it's going to warp a bit and won't dry flat, but at least it will dry.  I've some holly and some glittery silk flower poinsettia picks to hide the uneveness.   

Bittersweet has a lot of little pointy things and sharp bits, so you need to wear gloves.   In the past, I've used a lot of Virginia Creeper vines to make wreaths, and they work really well.  However any viney thing can be used to make a wreath, as long as it's not too thick.   This time of year it would be easy to mistake poison ivy for benign vines, so make sure you know for sure, what you're snipping off.

The leaves were just starting to fall when we had snow.  Not just a flurry, but enough to stick to the ground.  The leaves all fell quickly and got covered with more snow.  Finally, it's melted and dried up enough that they can be dealt with.   Leaving them on the lawn isn't an option, if at all possible, because it encourages mice to run about safely.   With the lawn short and the leaves gone, the crows and neighbourhood kitties seem to be able to find rodent snacks much more easily and they tend to stay away from the house.  A win/win situation in my opinion.

My man has been out on his little tractor, mulching the leaves.   We used to bag them with a mulching push mower, and using them as mulch in the garden.  However, that is a lot of work.   With this little lawn tractor, it chops them up and they can be pushed to the side hedges.  It's fast and efficient.  Considering I don't even know if we have  a working push mower, this works just fine.

While I told myself that I really didn't need any more lustre ware doll dishes, I found this little teapot for $4 when I was Christmas shopping.   Almost all of my doll dishes are in sets, mainly full but some partial.  I think this is the only single I have.  But it was cute, in good shape, had a lovely and clear identifying and dating mark on the bottom.  I've rarely seen them with clear Made in Occupied Japan stamps on them.   It just slipped into the basket full of gifts I was purchasing and before I realized it, it was cleaned up and in my china cabinet.  Oops!

From when I was a kid, I've always had a thing for china doll dishes, and there were a couple of other complete sets which I lusted after, but left behind, so I'm telling myself I was good.


Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Crazy small projects

 I used to make soap.  Lots of soap.  Mainly cold process, although I did try hot process once.  I didn't like the hot process as it just took too long, and I wasn't in a hurry to have soap ready.   I haven't made soap in ages though.   However, I found some melt and pour soap supplies on sale and thought I'd play around a bit.   The clear base didn't even look all that clear in the block, and it certainly didn't finish clear.   I'm not horribly impressed with my first efforts.     I have some shea butter base and another base which I'll try next.   If nothing else, I have lavender oil to add in them, and the bars of soap can be used in wool storage bins to help keep the moths at bay.

And yes, they do have little toys embedded in them.   The round one on the far right has a snail in in it, while the shark and whale ones were obviously too big for the moulds.  The turtle was just a tad too tall but the lobster and frog were perfectly sized.

I whipped up some placemats.  I used cotton warp and the weft was commercial yarns or home made t-shirt yarn from new t-shirts which were on sale for cheaper than the thrift store.  The solid coloured yarns was a new recycled t-shirt yarn which I tried out.   It's great fun to work with, fast to weave up, but turns out to be quite expensive if you wanted to do a large project with it.

I made a wool worm holder.  Wool worms are the strips of wool used in traditional rug hooking.  After cutting the wool into worms, I was stashing them in large zip-lock bag, depending on project.  That meant there were a bunch of colours in each bag.  As I was hooking away on the rug, I realized that I had no idea how many worms I had left.  So I made an organizer to help keep some semblance of order.   I quilted up a mat, adding snap tape to the inside.  Then I bound the whole thing in bias tape.   It works a treat.   For this particular project, I would need either a larger one or a second one though as it doesn't hold all the colours and textures that I need.   I've also been working on a smaller project, still working out of the bags since the worms are much thinner that these ones.    It looks like I'll need to make a couple more holders in the near future.  They take up less room than the plastic bags and make it easier to find the particular colours needed at any time.  Plus the worms just slide out of the holder with a little tug, which is so much easier than prying them out of a ball of thin strips of wool in the bag.

Currently the loom is empty.   I need to make a rug, as per a family member's request but I just finished a run of rugs, and am dithering over my next project.    The wheel has cotton on it, and I need to finish up some rug hooked ornaments.   Sometimes what I picture in my mind's eye, doesn't actually materialize when I work on it.  Thus my embellished with beads and embroidery, hooked ornaments don't actually match my expectations.  Now if they'd been felted, it would have been a different story.

We've been running both wood stoves with the unseasonably cold and snowy weather.   It seems between loading the stoves and keeping the humidifier running, that sometimes there is little time for anything else.  But we're warm and the humidifier runs in the corner with the instruments, so they are looked after.  The cats like to cuddle in the cooler weather, so there is that as well.   Phil has no issues in coming up to me and demanding that I sit on the couch so he can curl up on my legs.    I don't always give in to him, unless it's lunch time or I'm ready for a tea break.  He is a darned good snuggler though.