2013-01-08: A Taste of Weaving
Trying out yet another new craft.
Lawland lassie, wilt thou go- Robert Tannahill, aka "The Weaver Poet"
Whar the hills are clad wi' snow;
Whar, beneath the icy steep,
The hardy shepherd tends his sheep?
Ill nor wae shall thee betide.
When rowed within my Highland plaid.
So it's not exactly plaid or tartan that I've woven, but it is a simple twill check pattern which is similar to how one would produce plaid. The thing that I'm referring to is my first handwoven garment, a wool scarf.
In January of 2012 I took a class through the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild of NSW's summer school program called "A Taste of Weaving for Beginners." I spent five days learning how to weave with a four shaft table loom.
When I was very young, I remember my mom had a loom, even when we lived on a sailboat. It was a small one that folded away and I don't recall much else about it other than watching with fascination as she made a belt for me and begging to learn how.
As an adult, I can kind of understand why she never showed me, I think a 5 or 6 year old is going to struggle a fair bit with a loom, but I remember asking, and asking, and probably driving my mother insane. So finally being able to make my own fabric with a loom was pretty exciting.
I didn't make much time for weaving in 2012, so the scarf lay largely dormant until I finally managed to get myself in gear and finish it off over the Christmas/New Year break. It's not perfect, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out! And it's long! It took me a year to complete, but the actual time I spent working on it was less than if I had knitted a scarf that was half the length.
Alas, I was only renting the loom (my packed to the rafters tiny house does not yet have an appropriate space for my very own loom), hence my hurry to wrap up the project and stop costing myself $20 a month. However, tomorrow I will finally dip my toes into card/tablet weaving which will not require a loom and looks to be potentially as gratifying. And when my house is finally fixed up & there is extra room, I think I'll blow a ton of money on one of these, oooooh…
2012-08-18: And Now For Something Slightly Different
So June marked 6 years with my current employer and they wanted to mark the milestone by giving me something significant & special. I was given a budget which I applied toward the Woodwork for Beginners course through Sydney Community College.
I spent four Saturdays from 9 am to 1:30 pm learning to cut shapes with a coping saw and chisel out lap joints, enjoying every second of it.
Our first project was to build a simple bird feeder with pine. The techniques we practiced were:
- Cutting a circle out of the centre of a board with a coping saw
- Creating a mitred joint
- Creating a biscuit joint
- Counter-sinking screws
- Finishing with putty, sanding, and oiling
I still need to give it another coat of oil before I hang it up out in the back yard and put some seed in the bowl to see if I can attract some birds in the neighbourhood.
Project number two was a small box made with Tasmanian Oak. Everyone got their choice of style for the box, I decided to make this one with a little handle & lift-off lid. We practiced:
- Cutting the sides of the box to the correct measurements
- Creating a lap joint
- Finishing with putty & sanding
The box needs another round of sanding and then to be oiled or varnished (I'll probably just oil it.
I had lots of fun & gained some new skills and a lot more confidence about working with wood. I hope to do more in the future!
Our instructor Phil was really friendly and helpful. After the last class I showed him my turkish spindle & he gave me some pointers for trying to make my own. Another project idea is to make a little card weaving loom. I can't wait!
2012-07-22: Tour de Fleece
Racing along with my spinning. Sort of. Relativistically.
Yay, me. I participated in the Tour de Fleece for the very first time, and I achieved my goals. Now I'm tired, so I'm going to be lazy and just paste in my TDF updates from Ravelry so you too can experience the blow-by-blow spinning action.
I may regret this, but I'm joining in. I have too much stash & haven't been spinning much lately. Here goes nothing.
My overall goal for Tour de Fleece:
I have lots of stuff sitting around my house needing to be spun. For my main project, I plan on spinning up a Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep 2 Shoe sock kit. My only goal is to just spin every day, but if I manage to complete my sock yarn, then my secondary goal is to spin up anything else in my stash.
I will measure my progress by a) time spent and b) weight of fibre spun.
My Tour de Fleece Goal/Progress
Sat 30 June Prologue
OK, nearly there with fibre prep. I have separated out the main colours in the roving & blended in my drum carder to get more even colour effects. I'm 90% done with that & need to finish a little of the lime green. I then need to figure out what order/combinations I'm going to spin in & divide everything up for 2 sets of 3 ply yarns, one for each sock. There will be scales, head scratching, and calculators... Oh yeah, and I need to weigh my empty bobbins so I know how much I've spun each day!
Sun 1 July Plain
Due to a series of boring and tedious circumstances, I got almost completely diddly squat done. Little drop spindle project with silk & cashmere to the rescue!
Time spent on spinning: 10 min right before bedtime
Weight of fibre: < 1 g
Not quite a fail but pretty close!
Mon 2 July Plain
I knew today was going to be tricky due to the fact that it's my weekly games night & we host 6 friends for snacks & games. I managed to sneak in a tiny bit of spinning on the train home.
Time spent spinning: 5 stolen minutes on the platform at Central Station
Weight of fibre: < 1 g
Tuesday night - no excuses! I will get some sampling done for my sock yarn.
Tues 3 July Med mountains
OK, tonight finally got into gear & set aside 9 grams of the green colour (since that's what I have the most of) to spin a small sample length of yarn so I can keep everything consistent as I go along. I took it pretty slow because a) I am trying to be careful and consistent, and b) I'm spinning really finely to make a 3 ply sock yarn.
Time spent spinning: 32 min
Weight of fibre: 3g
Wed 4 July Plain
Ply #2 of sample yarn done.
Time spent spinning: round about a half an hour again, I didn't keep track because I paused in the middle so we could read excitedly about the Higgs Boson.
Weight of fibre: 3g
Thurs 5 July Plain
Guh. Miserable weather killed my willpower and I had to fall back on the drop spindle so I could huddle under a blanket on the couch. I didn't dare poke my toes out to treadle.
Time spent spinning: 45 min on drop spindle
Weight of fibre: ~ 1g
Fri 6 July Plain
Got a flat tire, aka winter did me in & I spent the whole evening snuggled under the doona on the sofa watching TV. Couldn't even spindle.
Perhaps I will try & make up the difference on a rest day.
Sat 7 July Med mountains
Ply #3 of 3 finished! But before I can actually ply them together I need to finish winding off leftovers from last spinning projects, so that will be Sunday's goal.
Time: ~30 min
Sun 8 July Med mountains
Sample yarn finished. It was a little fiddly at first remembering how to do a 3-ply yarn, but over all I'm pretty happy with the result.
Time: ~20 min
Weight: 9g plied
Mon 9 July Individual time-trial
Games night with friends over, so I just went back to drop spindling. Even did a little during the game!
Time: ~30 min
Weight: no idea, forgot to check. Oops! Probably around 1 g at the most.
Tues 10 July Rest
Made up for my "flat tire" on Friday. I feel like I'm really in the swing of it now!
Today I started on my "real" yarn; I am going to do a 3 ply of the green & gold colours first, so a fair chunk of my time tonight was spent on:
- Winding off my sample yarn
- Dividing up colours & weighing things
- Then trying to spin whilst watching Hugo (it's set in France, close enough to the Tour de France?)
Time spent: ~1 hour
Wed 11 July High Mountains
More green & gold on the Mach III.
Time spent: ~ 1 hour
Thurs 12 July High Mountains
A bit of drop spindly plying.
Time spent: ~20 min
Weight: ~2g plied
Fri 13 July Med mountains
Had to work late, yuck :-p
Did a bit more drop spindle plying.
Time spent: 30 min
Sat 14 July Plain
Open Day was fun, but I chickened out on joining the last spinning race. Why? I don't know. The tribulations of being an introvert. Then it was on the train to go up to a friend's place, so I had a lot of time out & about & not at the wheel. Instead I finished plying what was on my drop spindle.
Time spent spinning: Not really sure, at least 20 min or so here & there on the train
All up I have a new little skein of silk & cashmere weighing around 6g, it's slightly over plied but very pretty.
Sun 15 July High Mountains
A bunch more on my first green/gold bobbin.
Time spent: ~1hr
Mon 16 July Plain
Games night moved to Tuesday this week. Finished first green & gold bobbin, prep done for bobbin 2 of 6.
Time spent: 45 min
Tues 17 July Rest
I had forgotten this was a rest day. I ended up without any time to spin & the next day realised with a start of guilt — until I checked the calendar & realised I was off the hook!
Wed 18 July High Mountains
Started bobbin #2 of green/gold singles.
Time spent: 40 min
Thurs 19 July High Mountains
I was really going gangbusters on Thursday.
Time spent: ~1 hour
Fri 20 July Plain
I can't believe I've nearly made it! Closing in on finishing green/gold bobbin #2 of 6.
Time spent: ~1 hour
Sat 21 July Individual time-trial
My first woodworking class from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM. Walked from home to Leichhardt, 6 km round trip! Phew! To rest up I only did enough to finish bobbin #2.
Time spent: ~20 min
Sun 22 July Finish
Basking! Glory! I am so pleased that I stuck with it and that I have an in-progress spinning project. I will try and use this excitement and momentum to finish the whole thing.Also, thanks to everyone on the team for providing inspiration, kind comments, and amusement along the way. Well done all of you!
2010-10-16: Handmade Wardrobe: Introduction
In which I attempt to do battle with my sewing demons.
Sewing and I are not friends. We are nervous allies that occasionally nearly come to blows. My mom taught me the basics of sewing and using a sewing machine many years ago, after which I proceeded to remain fairly neurotic about actually sewing real things for myself.
This mainly is because sewing requires attention to detail, patience, and dilligence. These are things that I suck at, in general.
But my mom spent a lot of hours sewing clothes for me when I was growing up, and I always appreciated having handmande clothes. I could pick out any pattern I wanted, and any material, and show up at school wearing something totally unique. (For which I would get mercilessly teased, but that never deterred me, since I got mercilessly teased about other things anyway.)
Clothes shopping and I have an even worse relationship. Shopping I associate with people everywhere, usually directly blocking where I want to go. I associate it with shops where I feel embarrassed and unwelcome and not cool enough to be a customer. I associate it with trying to find something I like and completely failing, because it either doesn't exist or is two sizes to small for me. Shopping I associate with finally bringing home something I like, for a reasonable price, and having it fall apart on me six months later because it was poorly made.
I finally got to the point where I pretty much have decided to pick sewing over clothes shopping. My eventual goal is to have the majority of my wardrobe handmade either by myself or someone else (with likely exceptions for specialised clothing like sailing gear, and I have no idea how I'd tackle shoes).
So it was synchronicity that I spotted this great guest post over on Whip Up by a woman who had pretty much already done the same thing not only for herself, but for her entire family as well! What a great piece of inspiration to rally me onward.
My primary tool thus far into my sewing foray has been the very approachable Sew U by Wendy Mullin. Even though I know how to sew hems and seems, this book has really broken down garment construction into clear, digestible steps and has provided several useful tips for me that have made my first steps a bit less painful (although there have still been tantraums). I have already made a skirt from the basic pattern & instructions in this book, and am starting on a shirt.
My job has unfortunately been taking up a lot of spare energy and time this year, but I hope that things will slow down after the holidays arrive, at which time I'll be able to really swing into full gear with my new obsession. And hopefully be able to blog about it with photos, too.
As for my old obsessions, handknits and crocheted items are very much on the list to be part of my future wardrobe, so those skills should not end up too atrophied either.
So, sewing, what do you say? Shall we have a go?