Woven Wraps

I’ve been mentioning my weaving projects for a while now so I thought I’d better get them all photographed, resized and sorted (this takes a long time). I’ve been alternating between my 30cm and 50cm Ashford Knitters looms.

These wraps were done on the 50cm loom.

The warp is two balls of Ashford Tekapo 100g 8ply in black and the weft is two balls of Noro Silk Garden 50g. Love the rustic look of these two yarns.

Noro Black 01 Noro Black 02 Noro Black 07The warp is 4 balls of Cleckheaton Country 50g in green and the weft is two balls of Noro Silk Garden 50g. I must say Noro is an awful wool that is full of VM but it does have some lovely colour changes and is perfect in a woven garment. It does become a bit softer when washed too. It’s quite expensive and not worth all the hype.

Noro Greens 01 Noro Greens 02 Noro Greens 03I’m so pleased I attended a couple of weaving workshops recently as it has helped me to finally master this hemming stitch which gives such a great finish. And the fringes were all done on my Ashford Fringe Twister. It is amazing and worth every cent!

Noro Greens 04 Noro Greens 05The warp and weft are a mixture of Lotus Yarns Winter Sun Aran, Lotus Yarns Winter Sun DK and Cleckheaton Riverina 5ply. I just made up this pattern. It was a bit tiresome tucking in all those ends but the end result was worth it! These yarns are all so soft so this wrap is incredibly soft and has a lovely drape.

Browns 03 Browns 05 Browns 08The warp and weft is six balls of Poems 100% 10ply wool. This is a rather long scarf. The colours are lovely muted autumn shades. I’ve had this wool in my stash for ages and now it’s finally been used!

Poems Wool 01 Poems Wool 02 Poems Wool 05 Poems Wool 07The following scarves were made on the 30cm loom.

The warp and weft are a mixture of Lotus Yarns Winter Sun Aran, Lotus Yarns Winter Sun DK and Cleckheaton Riverina 5ply. Similar to the one made on the 50cm loom but there’s no dark brown in this one.

Mocha 02Mocha 06 Mocha 07The warp is handspun mongrel alpaca (grey) and merino (Peacock blue) and the weft is all the handspun mongrel alpaca. I used a double thread throughout as this is some of my early spinning and was a bit uneven in places. The double thread really made a difference.

Grey Alpaca with Blue 02 Grey Alpaca with Blue 05 Grey Alpaca with Blue 07 Grey Alpaca with Blue 09So, as you can see, I have been quite busy weaving up a storm! Once the warp is on the loom, I love how quickly a garment is woven. And you can use so many textured handspun and commercial yarns. This is definitely a quick way to use your stash and believe me I need all the help I can get to do that!

I picked up a bit of 8ply cotton recently so I’m going to try and weave a kitchen mat in greens and oranges (what else!)

If you’ve ever thought about learning to weave, I can highly recommend it. And if you live in Brisbane (or Australia for that matter), one of our spinning group members is an Ashford representative and gives a 15% discount on Ashford looms 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

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Weaving Tales

Weaving was always something I wanted to learn but I thought I’d put it on the backburner until I was fully retired and had the time to devote to another craft. Things changed when the stars aligned and I managed to pick up a new Schacht Inkle Loom and then my dear friend Rona offered to show me how to use it. The warping was lengthy and boring at times, however, once I started pushing that weft through the warps these amazing patterns emerged and I was captivated and hooked!

Brown reddish 01-tileAt our January spinning camp, another friend of mine, Catherine, offered to show me how to use the Ashford SampleIt loom which I jumped at enthusiastically. Again, the warping seemed to take forever but once I sat down and started weaving I was immediately drawn to the pattern that emerged.

Uh oh! This wasn’t supposed to happen until a couple of years down the track!! Needless to say, I started looking into the Ashford Knitters’ loom and absorbing myself into all things weaving! I particularly liked the idea that it was a rigid heddle loom and yet it could be folded in half even if you still have a project on it. So it was a quick email to Lindy, who’s an Ashford agent and also a member of my spinning group. At our next meeting I was the proud owner of a new 50cm Ashford Knitters’ loom, the stand and carry bag.

Meanwhile while on one of my many visits to Facebook I found someone who was selling a 30cm Ashford Knitters’ loom plus four reeds for a bargain price that included postage so I quickly snapped it up. This loom will be so easy to take to Knit and Knatter if I so desire.

30cm Knitters Loom 01 The very first project I wove at camp was this scarf made with Ashford Tekapo 8ply.

Weaving Melanie 03Once I had my 50cm loom I wove this project. It’s made from some very old wool that I had dyed with Queen food colours as a first dyeing experiment.

Queen dyed old wool 16I’m so pleased with the end result! I can’t wear it as a shawl as it’s a bit scratchy but I’m sure I can use it as a table runner.

Queen dyed old wool 18My sister gave me a stack of acrylic to make some beanies for charity and I found these three colours which I rather liked so they became more practise on the 30cm loom.

DSC08946Very pretty don’t you think?

DSC08948I was on a roll! My next project was made from my huge stash of sock yarn left overs.

Sock Yarn Left Overs 03In hindsight I shouldn’t have used all cream as the weft as it’s washed out the colours a bit but on the positive side, it is incredibly soft!

Sock Yarn Left Overs 04My final project was woven on the 50cm loom using some early handspun of mine: the grey is alpaca plied with rayon and the purple/blue is merino plied with rayon. The black is Patons Embrace 2ply. The warping was ‘lots of fun’ as I have limited space in my  home.

Grey Purple Black Warping 01Grey Purple Black Warping 08The end result was so worth it!

Grey Purple Black 03This time I used three weft colours which has made it so much more interesting to look at. It was a bit tedious at times as I was using one 50cm shuttle and two 30cm shuttles on a 50cm loom. Need to invest in a couple more 50cm shuttles methinks.

Grey Purple Black 04I had to quickly work out how to add a new warp as the alpaca from one of the warps simply wore off the rayon. As I mentioned, it’s my earlier handspun when I was still learning and it probably didn’t have enough twist in it. I have since heard that if you use hair mousse on the alpaca warp it helps to prevent the ‘fluffing’ tendency and then once it’s washed the alpaca blooms nicely.

Grey Purple Black 05 I really love the colours and am so pleased I’ve been able to use this handspun. My only fear is that I don’t snag it on anything as it’s so delicate.

Grey Purple Black 06Grey Purple Black 07 Grey Purple Black 08I also used my Ashford Fringe Twister. It’s so easy and a saves all that finger twisting.

Fringe twisterMy next projects will probably be using the same grey alpaca with the black Patons Embrace on the 30cm loom to make a long narrow scarf and then maybe the same with the purple/blue too. I’ve stacks of this handspun and this is the ideal way to use it up.

I am still going to attend the two day beginner/advanced weaving workshops in mid April so that I can pick up some more useful tips and techniques 🙂

More sheep joined my flock in the last couple of weeks. I found this huge sheep in my local Woolies (thanks Lindy for the heads up). You can see the size by simply comparing her to the chair and surrounds. The little sheep next to her used to be my largest sheep!

Huge sheep 01And when I was grocery shopping in Coles yesterday, I found these sheep in the Easter section. I succumbed but I only bought one of them!

Coles sheepUntil next time…

Melanie

Summer Spinning Camp Frolics!

What do you get when you add a few women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and one in her 30s, a lot of spinning wheels, looms, fibre and wool and five days at Bribie Island?

You get a lot of laughing, fun, spinning, weaving, knitting, eating, drinking, sharing knowledge, renewing friendships and making new friendships 🙂

The Redlands Spinners & Weavers held their January camp at the House of Happiness, Woorim,  Bribie Island from 25-29 January. The weather was overcast at times, humid at times, with sun and also a bit of rain.

On the first morning I took a visit to the beach at around 5.30am and had a quick dip in the ocean, which I hadn’t done in many years 🙂 It was surprisingly warm and so quiet at that time of the day.

Bribie Surf BeachThere were about 22 of us with some day visitors as well. Our spinning room was lovely and large with plenty of space for all.

Spinning room 01I’m going to have to get back to my daily 5-7km walks as we were fed so well! Six meals a day!! Breakfast – morning tea – lunch – afternoon tea – cheese and biscuits – dinner!

We did some more solar dyeing and I elected to dye some sock blanks.

Solar Dyeing Melanie 02Solar Dyeing socksAs usual, we had some lovely raffle prizes. I was lucky enough to win this prize in the red and white bag.

Raffles 02And inside the bag was this gorgeous ram.

Raffle sheepPlus this gorgeous hand towel as well as many other bits and pieces.

Raffle hand towelCatherine, one of our more experienced weavers, was kind enough to guide me through the process of warping the Ashford SampleIt loom. I’m so glad I took these photos as they’ll guide me when I want to warp again 🙂

Weaving Melanie 01Weaving Melanie 02As I had already had some practise on the Inkle loom, it made the process that little bit easier. This is the scarf I made which I am quite proud of 🙂

Weaving Melanie 03Weaving Melanie 04Weaving Melanie 06Lindy, our wonderful Ashford agent also showed me how to make the twisted fringe 🙂

Weaving Melanie 05I also met Pam, one of the Redcliffe spinners, who has a collection of over 60 spindles. Pam brought along a handful for us to admire 🙂

Spindles 16Weaving was quite popular at this camp.

Weaving BettyWeaving Catherine 03Weaving Lindy 01Weaving Lindy 02The humidity has finally hit Brisbane and it’s awful! It’s a real battle for me to use the air conditioning as I hate it when my home is all closed up; I love the windows and doors open and the breeze coming through. I hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re having fun!

Until next time…

Melanie

My Inkle Weaving Progress

Since my very first inkle weaving lesson on 1 December I have become kind of hooked on ‘inkling’. I have also proven the adage that ‘practise makes perfect’….well in my case, not perfect, but definitely a marked improvement from my very first woven strap which is this two tone blue using Bendigo Woollen Mills Bamboo. As you can see I even misread the pattern!

First Inkle Weaving 01a-tileLook at those very rough selvedges! The left hand side of the strap was the start and the right hand side the finish. It’s gratifying to see I improved with my first project 🙂

First Inkle Weaving 01bBand # 2 is a two tone cream/beige Yatsal cotton and I’m pleased to see I am getting the hang of the selvedge tension, although nowhere near perfect!

Beige Mocha Inkle 01a# 3 project was slightly different. I tried making bookmarks using Moda Vera Gelato. My sewing leaves a lot to be desired. I will need to find a better way to finish them off if I make any more! However, at this stage I am still just in practise mode 🙂

Bookmarks# 4 woven strap was made with a variegated green and solid green Yatsal cotton. I’ve since learned that using variegated cotton is not ideal. As you can see, it makes a bit of a mish mash of the colours. All a huge learning curve at this stage!

Green variegated 01 Green variegated# 5 woven strap was certainly a lot better when it came to the selvedges. This time I used Milford Soft cotton which is a lot better quality than the other Yatsal cotton I had been using ($2.50 from the cheap shop). This pattern is one of Annie MacHale’s also known as ASpinnerWeaver. As you can see, I still couldn’t get the hang of reading the patterns so I emailed Annie and she very kindly got back to me very quickly with an easy explanation on how to interpret the patterns. Despite the fact the pattern is incorrect, I do love this strap!

04 BrownCoral 01 04 BrownCoral 02I’m actually using this strap on a project carrier.

04 BrownCoral 03I used some scarf pins to clip the strap to the carrier so it’s easily removed.

04 BrownCoral 06# 6 strap is a two colour one which is actually a pattern that I repeated to make the strap wider. It’s another pattern from ASpinnerWeaver which can be found here. If you look closely at the centre of the strap you can see the last heddled warp of the first pattern and the first heddled warp of the beginning of the pattern repeat. After I’d finished the strap I thought to myself it would have looked quite nice if both these warps were in the green. Again, another thing to consider in the future 🙂

05 Taupe n Green 01Those selvedges are gradually improving.

05 Taupe n Green 02# 7 is one of my favourite straps. I love the retro colours! This pattern can be found here.

07 Retro 0407 Retro 01# 8 strap has three different greens and I rather like the effect. This pattern can be found here.

08 Greens and Mocha 01a 08 Greens and Mocha 02# 9 is my current project. Again, I repeated the pattern to make a strap as wide as I could handle. This one took ages to warp (wrapping the cotton around the pegs). The warping does take a while and is the preparation time. Once the loom is warped and you start weaving the pattern magically appears and it’s a wonderful feeling knowing you’ve read the pattern correctly!

09 Green Red White Yellow 01And here’s a close up of those gorgeous colours and selvedges 🙂 Check out the middle two heddled warps. That’s the finish of the first pattern and the start of the repeat. Technically they should both be green but this time I changed the colour to create a bit more interest. This is what I was talking about earlier 🙂

09 Green Red White Yellow 02As you can gather, once I learn something new I tend to go overboard trying to perfect it 🙂

Next week I will be at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers’ January spinners camp. This camp is very laid back and informal and is usually only attended by our members with a few other special spinners 🙂 It’s a wonderful time to fully relax and do as you wish; whether it’s spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, reading, eating, shopping, chatting, swimming in the pool or the ocean or just sleeping! The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy each other’s company.

Until next time…

Melanie

Ixchel and Inkle

Over the last few years I have managed to find quite a few Aussie artisan yarn dyers and some great online stores. However, since joining the Australian Handspinners and Knitters Facebook group I have discovered even more very talented artisans selling their wares either on this Facebook page or through their Etsy shops. One very clever person who attracted my attention was Ixchel Angora Bunny and Funky Fibre Art.

Ixchel is an Australian Fibre Farm in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, breeding their own fluffy animals pesticide free and organic. Charly McCafferty (Ixchel Bunny) does all the spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving and loving every second of it: Angora Rabbit, Cashmere, Mohair, Merino, Alpaca, Camel or even Yak. Paul McCafferty is constantly juggling work on the fibre farm and is the brain behind making all the animal housing and organising the farm harmoniously. Paul also makes wonderful handcrafted wooden spindles and other goodies. His wares can be found on his Facebook page Lair of the Bearded Dragon.

I bought this rather little nifty “Twist it Little Helper”  from Paul. It’s an orifice hook, WPI meter (gauge) and a spinning yarn parker. As well as an orifice hook and WPI meter you can with the grooves ‘park’ your yarn when you have to stop spinning and you don’t want your yarn to disappear back on the bobbin. Just hold your “Twist it Little Helper” over your yarn and twist around the grooves in the handle.. and there you have it! It’s parked. The handles are made from different types of timber. I bought the camphor.

Twist it Little HelpersI also bought this lovely drop spindle not long ago…

Drop Spindle 05Paul has just finished a small job for me which I will show you once I receive it next week.

I have digressed slightly; back to Ixchel. I am in the bad habit of checking my Facebook feed nearly every night and this is when I stumbled upon Ixchel’s beautiful fibre. Every Friday night Ixchel releases a blog post which features different blends. The photos of the fibre are preceded by a wonderful story of the sheep and various animals whose fibre is featured that particular week. Who said spinning wasn’t educational?? You can learn lots from reading these blog posts.

Now the secret is that you have to be very, very quick as there are only limited numbers of each colourway and they go FAST. As soon as you see something you like you need to immediately message Charly of your interest and then wait patiently until she gets back to you. I really don’t know how she manages with everyone either messaging or emailing her. I have missed out on a couple of my preferred colourways but I have also managed to snaffle some beautiful buys such as these..

These were my first two buys from the week Time For a Little Madness. Happy Tiger Bunny Tops are made from a blend of Hemp, Suri, Silk, Eco Merino, Angora Bunny and Llama. I  bought March Hare…

March Hare 11and Tweedledee…

Ixchel Tweedle Dee 01I think it was only the next week I stumbled upon Ixchel’s blog release called Don’t Blink and sucumbed to these lovely Cashmere Fling Tops which are a blend of cashmere, tencel, bamboo and glitzy nylon. I bought the colourways Minions…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Minion 01and Absinthe Fairy…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Absinthe Fairy 01Enough is enough I said to myself. This is getting into a habit!! So the next couple of weeks I avoided my phone but alas on Friday night I was back on it and I seem to pick the time when the Ixchel blog release is happening because I stumbled across last Friday’s post called Imagine and bought these GaGa Bunny Tops which are a blend of Blue Faced Leicester, Cashmere, angora bunny and Glitz in the colourways Peacock in a Pear Tree…

Peacock in a Pear Tree 01and Very Zen of You…

Very Zen of You 01Can you see how very addictive this could become?? The top I really wanted but it was sold out is called Imagine and here’s a picture…

Ixchel ImagineSigh…oh well you can’t get everyone you want can you?

By the way, Ixchel has has a Fibre Club, a Sock Yarn Club and a Funky Bunny Batt Club which all run from January until March 2016. Details are on the website. I must resist!! 🙂

You’ll be pleased to know that I have already spun March Hare and knitted a shawl. It’s been blocked and is awaiting a story to be written about it which will happen in the not too distant future. Here’s a sneak peak of the spun yarn which I plied with a gold metallic thread…

March Hare 03Remember the Schacht Inkle Loom I picked up for a bargain a couple of weeks ago? Well, last Tuesday one of my dear friends from my spinning group offered to each me and another spinner how to use the inkle loom. It was a lot of fun and I learned how long it takes to warp the loom and also what heddles are. The hardest part was keeping the edges tensioned correctly. Thank you Rona for spending around six hours teaching Vanessa and me 🙂

Yesterday, I sat down and actually did some more weaving and found it strangely meditative. I would do a bit,wander off and do something else and then back to the weaving.

First Inkle Weaving 03I actually warped it incorrectly as this is not how the pattern should be but my aim at this stage is just to get the hang of it, especially the edges but I think I am improving looking at these two photos.

First Inkle Weaving 01a-tileI’ve already ordered this book…

The Weavers Inkle Pattern DirectoryThat’s another hobby started 🙂 Next it will be looking at a little loom 🙂

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend and I have whetted your appetite for some spinning or weaving.

And by the way, I have started a MelsNattyKnits Instagram account which I am quite enjoying. It’s a whole new way of interacting with other like-minded crafty people. There’s  an Instagram button the right hand side of my blog page 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie