Today I have an unexpected slice of time to myself and I am under the weather.  How weird to spend and morning dozing in bed!  Anyway I’m up now, with only a short time until Kindergarten pick up…. so here I am, ready to update you on some of my textile work.

Recently I reached a milestone in a long standing project.  This cloth was handwoven by me, using yarn spun by me from fleeces that I washed and prepared.

Handspun Yardage The warp was a fine yarn that I spun from a beautiful dark grey fleece.  There were no warp breakages at all, which is very pleasing.  The weft is spun a bit fatter and was from a light brown/oatmeal coloured fleece.

I fulled the cloth in the bathtub, using my feet to stomp it – grape style!  The resulting cloth is lightly and evenly fulled.  When I consulted my weaving buddies about whether I should have another fulling session they all voted NO.  The cloth is light and has a good amount of drape.

So, next stop…. sewing.  I need to gather a bit of courage first.

Last year my partner went to Finland on business and trekked all over Helsinki looking for presents to bring home for us.  He got it 100% correct for me with some hand dyed merino, a couple of weaving books and a Marimekko bag.  A good fella.

Finland Scarf

The yarn wrapped at about 21 wraps per inch and I sett it at 16 – which is closely spaced for plain weave but it worked really well with the fine mill spun wool that I used for the weft.
The idea is to let the colours of the handspun take prominence and I think it worked very well.

Inkle BandsAnd I have also tried my hand at inkle weaving.  It is so quick and easy to warp up for a band the results can be very striking.

I borrowed two inkle looms from my guild and each one had wobbly pegs.  Maybe my tension was too high?  I also ended up with a sore shoulder from changing sheds so I feel my technique can’t be right.   Anyway, I glued the pegs back in and returned the looms to the guild.  My inkle itch has been dealt with for the time being.

I am working on other stuff too (always!):

My sock knitting has been continuing.  Currently I’m working on my third pair, this time with a handspun Border Leicester.

I have a Very Big Project underway.  Currently I’m in the wash, dye, prep, spin phase… with an emphasis on PREP.  I’ve borrowed a drum carder from a friend and need to get it back to her as soon as I can… the carrot dangling in front of me is that I wont test out her collection of Majacraft spinning wheels until all my carding is completed… and boy o boy and I busting to test her wheels.

I will try and put together a post about this project as soon as I can.

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Fossil Hunting

In a brief moment between winter ailments (cough cough, sniff sniff) this weekend we went on a bushwalk / fossil hunt / mushroom spotting adventure.

I regularly walk this track on the lower slopes of Mt Wellington. It leads up to New Town Falls and it takes me about 1.5hrs there and back or 2 hrs if I take a circuit returning by various fire trails. I’ll take this over going to the gym any day.

Last time I was zooming up the hill I noticed that someone had placed a small rock on top of a post and, in the millisecond I glanced at it, I realised it was a fossil of a shell! So I looked down onto the track, picked up a blocky shaped rock and it was a fossil too!

So I had to take the kids for a look – especially since we now have the pressing need to produce kindergarten show and tell on a weekly basis. Jasper did spot an impressive specimen and is now all set for school this week.

However, the biggest interest for everyone on this walk (apart from the hot milo in the thermos) was the enormous number and variety of fungi for us to find next to the track. I have a copy of a field guide to Tasmanian Fungi so we could even look some of them up when we got home.

My next aim is to walk all the way to New Town Falls with Jasper. I think he is ready 🙂

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Little Knitting

Hand dyed (by me) sock in progress.


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In Context

Wool Rug at Exhibition 2014Photo by Valeri Pain

The rug was completed in time for the submission cut off for the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyer’s Guild of Tasmania exhibition at Design Tasmania in Launceston.

I think the Design Tasmania staff and the Guild coordinator have done an excellent job in putting together an exhibition with a very diverse range of items from craft makers across the state.  The theme was Tasmanian Stories – Coastal and Inland.

I really love the way my rug has been installed – as it would be in use, but of course elevated just a bit.

I have yet to take a photograph of this rug that shows the colours correctly!  I’ll have another try when I get it back in August.

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Getting going

I have been ignoring my loom – the rug was growing too slowly so I stopped weaving on it. Not exactly logical!

A decision to enter it into the guild exhibition and the realisation that I would surely miss the deadline has been a massive motivator. So every morning I install the kids in front of the TV for an hour and get a suprising amount of weaving done!

I’m nearly halfway there now but the tension has suddenly become uneven – the back of the loom is a sorry sight with all sorts of jerry-rigged weighting devices dangling, clamped and wedged in the offending areas. Gawd I hope it all works out!


The greens are wrong in this phone photo, but you can at least get an idea of what I’m doing.

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A Rag Rug

I have finished the rag rug 😀

Striped rag rug

Starting Notes
I had planned to make a taupe and white rug but I wasn’t happy with the way the taupe fabric frayed, even when cut with a rotary cutter.

So I decided to wing it with the strips I had already ripped for my last project.

The colours are a straight 2×2 twill and the white is plain weave. I got the original inspiration for this from an old Vav Magazine 😀

Final Notes:

Finished Dimensions:
135cm (53”) long and 78cm (30 3/4”) wide

EPI: 5epi in a 10dent reed

Warp: 6/2 cotton given to me by a weaving friend.

Weft: The white fabric was a sheet that was given to me by my partner’s mum. The coloured fabric was hand dyed by me when I was into quilt making.

This rug was fiddly to weave with all the colour changes. However I’m pleased with the outcome.

My guide string for length must have been incorrect because I was expecting the rug to be 150cm! However, it works well in front of the couch and covers the bald carpet nicely ;-D

I note that off the loom the stripes in the centre of the rug are a bit bowed (more noticeable in photos than real life). I used a temple but I think I could have been a bit more generous with my weft, making a few ‘hills’ rather than a straight diagonal. Something to take away for the future.

Nice for dancing on:

Ada on RugI have sourced some rug wool and I’m keen to try that out as weft for the remainder of this warp 😀  I can’t wait to go up and tidy my workroom – I find that working with rags is very messy.

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Persistence and Potential

Some time in the middle of 2013, probably about the time of my last post, Ada suddenly stopped having a day time nap.  The effect on me being the lack of space to think and read and do…. to weave.

Ada Xmas 13However, I am a lucky mother;

I am able to use my spinning wheel when my children are around me.  I am happy for them to help me with the treadling and now Jasper is able to draft a little bit too.

Jasper Xmas 13I am happy for them to fiddle with my wheel when I’m out of the room (kerThump goes my patient Ashford Traditional as Ada once again tries to shove a handful of wool into the orifice!).

And, in general, they are happy to play or watch TV when I’m at my wheel, leaving me to get on with it. So:

Spinning2 2013That is 18 skeins of handspun wool.  Waiting to be turned into cloth.

What a lucky woman I am to have all this to look forward to.  All this planning, weaving and maybe even sewing.  And definitely more spinning 😀

I wish you a happy, healthy and productive 2014.

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As Planned – Some Spinning

I have been glued to my spinning wheel this week and the grey fleece (my major project) is nearing the end.  The little sample of white merino is finished, it was difficult to spin due to the short staple length – but I did learn alot.TdF Day9 plying2 TdF Day9 plying In fact this week has seen my spinning skills improve enormously.  Putting in the hours and watching a few Interweave DVDs has given me some great tips and a bit of confidence.

I am spinning on the smaller whorl now and I have modified my drafting to be a backwards draft with the forward hand providing tension only.  I’ve previously used a forward pinching draw which is pretty tiring on my hand and forearm.

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I’ll Be Spinning

I watch the Tour de France every year (even though this doping stuff pisses me off and tests my patience) and this year I’ll also be participating in the Tour de FLEECE at the same time!  This is a preview of what I’ll be spinning:

TDF Day 1 pliedGrey Wool for a woven sleeveless jacket.

TDF Day 1 previewReally, really fine merino with a really, really short staple. This one is tricky and sort of fun.  I only have 8g of this fibre so it is just a sample but I may also try out some other merino bits and bobs I have saved from my felt making days.  Merino is just a diversion though.  They grey wool is the main game 😀

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Grapevine Tea Towels

Some ‘finished’ photos:   Grape vine towels

I used a draft called 8 Thread Herringbone from A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite P. Davison.  I used this draft on the little twill tape I made a few months ago and decided to revisit it on my floor loom… with interesting consequences:

Cloth 1, 2 and 3 – left to right in the group photo:

Cloth 1)GV 1

The weft is a dark brown cottolin. In the first cloth I followed the tie up and treadling as shown in Davison. It uses 8 treadles tied up as follows:

My first issue was that I couldn’t see treadling errors on the face of the cloth. Those single shaft treadles meant the weft nestled in really snuggly with it’s neighbour. I was feeling pretty unhappy about this and mentioned in the warped weavers forum on Ravelry. Bonnie Inouye very kindly shared some of her thoughts about this tie up (ie it’s strange) and suggested I try some different tie ups.

(While I’m talking about this fabric I’ll also note that it has a very heavy hand and is too firm to use as a tea towel. But I think it will sew up nicely into a pair of oven mitts)

Cloth 3)GV towel3

Weft is purple cottolin. I untied treadles 1,3,5,7 and had a very happy weaving experience. I treadled a diamond pattern in a 1/3 twill producing a cloth with a predominantly green face and purple back. I love this cloth, it is soft and cushy and will make a delightful teatowel.

Cloth 2) GV towel2

I untied treadles 2,4,6,8 and reinstated 1,3,5,7. This produced a 2/2 twill that I treadled as a straight herringbone. The weft is a blue swedish linen. The hand is thinner and ‘floppier’ and has a pleasant sheen after I gave it a ‘very hard press’.

Not pictured here (but fairly prominent in my last post) is a sample I wove at the end of the warp using 5/2 mercerised cotton in ORANGE. It is a gorgeous bit of cloth and I wish I’d woven a whole towel with it! I’ll be going for the purple/orange combo again very soon – stay tuned!

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