Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dragon's Breath Outfit

 Dragon's Breath is the outfit I made and had accepted for the Runway Show at Creative Fibre Festival in Christchurch this past weekend. 
The outfit consists of an over tunic, skirt and gauntlets.
I imagined the tunic as a kind of coat replacement, to pull on when venturing outside, or just as a roomy, comfortable garment.

The handwoven fabric (4 colour double weave) is highlighted by the contrasting shaggy hand knit collar.

The skirt, 5 x 5 rib, and gauntlets, plated rib, are machine knit.

And that is the end of the secret projects I've been working on the last wee while.
Now back to working on my annual range of scarves for Pauanesia.

Kakabeak Wrap

This wrap, Kakabeak, was submitted for selection in the Creative Fibre Exhibition at Entwine Festival in Christchurch.  Several weeks ago I received a phone call from the Convenor saying it could be displayed in the exhibition if it was not for sale.  The reason given was that the beating was irregular.
Well, of course, I got huffy and just said "send it back to me please".  My reasoning being that if the selectors thought it wasn't good enough to sell then I would think it not good enough to be displayed.

Then I waited to get my hands on the wrap to see if I, as a selector, would agree with their decision.
Yes, there were a couple of rows which weren't beaten quite evenly (I've now evened them out, don't ask!) but overall, no, I don't agree with their decision.  

Kakabeak is woven on a networked warp with an echo of 8 shafts.  The tie up is a plaited twill with 3.1, 1.3, 2.2 twills and a lot of tabby and these do look like uneven beating when held to the light but they are quite correct for a plait.

What about things like Suitability for Purpose, Visual Impact, Design etc.
If anything I might have asked, Where is the Magic?

I think its a pretty delightful versatile garment with the red moon shapes reflecting the Kakabeak flower.

In the end its part of the deal that we accept the selectors decision but I do think the time is coming where guide lines/rules are necessary for participants and selectors.

Kowhai Wrap

Kowhai Wrap has just won Complex Weavers Award at the New Zealand Creative Fibre Exhibition.  There, I've said it.  I've been working towards this award for many years and so excited to have finally achieved it.
The award is for excellence beyond plain weave.
Kowhai is woven in a 4 colour double weave, that is two colours in the warp and two in the weft using 40/2 cotton doubled.  The warp is a medium taupe and light silver threaded in an advancing twill echoed by 8 shafts and the weft is navy blue and yellow.
Ever since the book "Echo and Iris" by Marion Stubenitsky came out I have been intrigued by the changing of colour on the fabric using the tie up.  I find Marion's way of working out the tie up difficult to read so have figured out my own way.  In this wrap there are 6 changes to the centre, or yellow to navy and another six taking it back to yellow.  The other side is the reverse so, depending on how your wardrobe feels, there are two options to wear it.
Picture below shows the subtle blending of colour change.
I've had three sleeps since getting the news and am still smiling, very thrilled.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Moerangi - Sleepy skies blankets

I thought you might like an idea of how my blanket colour schemes come about.  Basically Heather, owner of Pauanesia, sends me a brief and I work from there.  Sometimes the details come from a conversation or it might just be a word that gives me direction.
 With this brief I loved the shots of very bright blue and turquoise so included them and the dark leaves and edges with a hint of teal and royal blue gave a frame to the blanket.
After I've dyed and dried my warp threads (8 metres) I spread them out on the lounge/dining room floor to get an idea of how they sit together, they have to speak to me.  Luckily Dear Husband is tolerant enough to step over them for a day or two. 
Then I had to wait for the downgraded cyclone Debbie to pass before I could full and press the blankets.  They haven't been pressed here on the deck rail.
And then we had more rain and rain so couldn't get outside to photograph them.

And just before Easter we have had another cyclone.  It came straight down from the tropics and was expected to hit us full on.  There were all sorts of warnings to evacuate if on low ground, have food and water for 5 days, etc.  We are on the highest bit of dune so stayed put.  DH prepared by finding the candles and I took a torch down to the loom room so I could find my way upstairs if we lost power.  Lucky for us, but very tough on the Eastern Bay of Plenty the cyclone centre hit land further south.  We got rain, not much wind and kept the power but the seas were majestic.  Supposed to be 2.5 metres above the normal wave.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March has marched away

March is nearly over, I've been busy, busy, busy but not many photos to show for it.
We made the most of the few sunny days and went walking in the Karangahake Valley.
I always love this lime and orange ?lichen growing on the rocks, sometimes its vivid and others unnoticeable.
And to finish off the walk I was taken up the Scotsman Valley hill kicking and grizzling all the way.  It was very pretty but I'd had enough after 3 hours.
Orokawa Bay is always majestic.  Look at the sky colour and the ocean.  We hit the tide at the right time and as the waves pulled back all the stones and pebbles went rumble, rumble then a wave would crash; like listening to nature's orchestra.
Mid last year I was invited to take part in an Altrusa Exhibition at Te Awamutu (where I grew up) as a fund raiser for the Cancer Society.  So I tied a warp on to a previous project,
a few sharp tugs straightened it out,
and ready to go.
The finished wrap I called "Spoon Drift" as it reminds me of the bubbles on the water after a wave breaks.
The rescue cotton came from Agnes and it weaves beautifully.
Double threads, 32 epi, echo threading.  It drapes well, a wrap for summer evenings or scarf for colder moments.

Peter and I drove through to Te Awamutu on a rather stormy day to deliver my articles.  The rain wasn't as bad as it had been during the night but it was a fight to keep the car on the road due to the wind.
Next morning I packed my suitcase and was on the road again heading for the annual Professional Weavers Network weekend Seminar in Waikanae.  Four of us travelled together so there was much nattering and laughing and dare I say some yarn was acquired on the way.  The Seminar acts as a recharge for most of us.  Wonderful talking to and swapping ideas with like minded weavers.

We started by training in to central Wellington and a visit to Te Papa, our national museum.  We were taken to back rooms and got to see many pieces of hand weaving from the 50s to 70s.  The staff had limited knowledge of the works but some of our members had known the artists and their work.  Disappointing that no woven works have been acquired since the 70s.  Other items on the program for the weekend included a talk on weaving in Greek Cyprus and Ruka taught us how to extract muka from flax, harekeke, spin and ply the fibres down our leg and then weave a wee kete or bag.  Someone commented to me its the first time its been useful to have big thighs!!
Since then I've had visitors and more visitors and a sore throat that knocked the stuffing out of me but is nearly better.
I have had a garment/outfit accepted for the Fashion event at Creative Fibre Festival but not heard about the exhibition yet.  More to talk about when that news comes through.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Secret sewing

There has been some secret creating going on.  Later this month work has to be ready for two exhibitions and a fashion parade (its not called that now, its a runway event or something like that).
Anyway I got out the plastic fantastic and have been sewing for the "runway".
I decided if us weavers don't make an effort and enter garments we will be swamped out of the consciousness of the organisers by the multitude of felted and knitted garments.  And the consequence will be no weaving tutors.  So I'm putting my money where my mouth is and (at least) trying.

It was pretty nerve wracking cutting into the fabric I can tell you.
More on this garment later.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Kereru - Kingfisher

At last the weaving has started for the year.  It has been such a strange summer with the warmer drier weather being very reluctant to arrive.  Good conditions to weave in but before that can start I have to skein the mohair outside so the loose fluff doesn't go everywhere including getting in the food and then dye the yarn and get it dry.
 And, of course, the blankets need to dry after fulling.  These Kereru were all ready for the wet finish and we had five days of rain.
 So hope the fans at Pauanesia are enjoying the new colourway for an old favourite.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What I discovered using 40/2 cotton

I'm writing this as it may help some who bought Japanese cotton from Agnes recently.  As you know my stash grew considerably!
1.  I found it easier to unwind from the skein to a cake when the skein holder was vertical (like a ferris wheel).  My horizontal winder is wooden and not very free wheeling so tended to snap the threads especially the finer 60/2.

2.  Keep some tension on the thread as you wind it into cake.  Loose tension produced knots as I wound the warp.

3.  I used two threads together from separate cakes when winding my warp.  It would be better to rewind the two threads together into one cake or onto a cone as I was constantly stopping for tangles mostly caused by 2. above.

4.   I used 4 skeins 40/2, two threads together, to wind a 9 metre warp 768 threads with very little left over.  My warp is a 16 shaft networked draft with an echo of 8 sett at 32epi (32 double threads).  

5.  While winding the warp onto the loom there was a little twisting of threads with their neighbours and also a little pilling.  I put a row of tabby through the warp and separated it into two halves horizontally which helped a lot.  2 broken threads in 9 metres and one of them was my fault for not fixing a couple of crossed threads.

6.  I've woven one wrap with a tencel weft and it wove like a dream.  Next I'll use the cotton as weft.
Edit 7. Take your jewelry off.  Caught a thread on my watch clasp.  Flat ring even made trouble.

Edit 8.  I actually closed the sett to 36 doubled threads per inch and its much better.
Hope these thoughts help when using your fine threads.

Monday, February 6, 2017


Over the past few months, way too many months actually, I've been working on some wall art.  I have done more samples for this project than I ever thought possible.  Some were necessary, some to use up warp.  But finally the commission is finished and delivered.  Here it is hanging in a shaded corner of my lounge.
The yarn is hand dyed Romney, 4 ply in the navy and turquoise warp and 2 ply light blue and chartreuse in the weft.
The warp is threaded in a networked line with an 8 shaft echo woven 4 colour double weave.  The treadling has five changes starting at the top with five end advancing and finishing with one end advance or straight draw.  Two end advance is basket weave which, in the hanging, gives nice texture.
At the same time I had seven changes going on in the tie up starting with 1:7, 2:6, 3:5 etc finishing with 7:1.  Quite a mind game keeping all this going and finding the correct place in the treadling to keep the waves flowing.
I look forward to seeing it in its new home soon.

Friday, January 20, 2017

2016 in Review

This review of 2016 is rather late but here goes.
2016 started with creation of stock for the Cargo Shed.
This machine knit poncho disappeared quite fast.
Scarves were also needed for stock.
Always working on blankets, this one reflects Lake Tekapo.
Professional Weavers Network had been planning an exhibition titled "Cloak" for about 3 years but guess who left her entry till the last few months.  I was thrilled with my concept titled "Enchanted Forest".
Also included two hangings in "Cloak"
and "Tui".
Another style of poncho made with a weaving stitch on the knitting machine.
I partook of a workshop tutored by Rene Corder-Evans using "Magic Fibres" to make very textural fabrics.
Again I was asked to weave a series of scarves for Pauanesia, this time with the theme Dawn to Dusk, Night and Day.  I had a lovely play with colour.
There was a little spinning and knitting of this Pfeilraupe scarf.
Tauranga Guild had an exhibition so I wove "Astrolabe Reef"
and a fun shibori number.
Also entered this wool/angora blanket reflecting the beach dunes.
Jenny waited way too long for her Kereru kingsize blanket but loved it when they met up.

To make some headway into my yarn stash I wove several lengths of fabric for ruanas but then the Cargo Shed closed so I lost interest  added them to the fabric stash!
Blankets for Pauanesia continue to be woven, I think 18 this year.
Finally finished this jumper for my daughter
and grand daughter really rocked this tunic.
About August I gave myself sciatic nerve trouble and was totally off the loom for 6 weeks and then a very slow recovery.
Te Henga blankets.
Rata blankets.
More stash busting scarves.
A change of pace for me led me to a series of baby blankets instigated by a commission.
This one of Zephyr silk/merino.  
A blanket for a single bed knitted from thrums
and more woven blankets.
And to finish the year a jumper machine knitted for DH.
Its now 3 weeks into 2017 and I'm finally caught up on orders, commissions and exhibition work for 2016.
Now looking forward to new adventures this year.