Thursday, December 23, 2010

Baby and bugs

Only I could pick up a virus just before Christmas; coughing my lungs out which really annoys me because I've been going to Power Plate exercise since April and have felt so well.  Hope I don't feel so bad tomorrow as I'll have to do a grocery shop for the weekend which means a 20 Kilometer drive each way.

The great news is that Jack Andrew arrived on 17 December and is a really cute little garden gnome treasure.  I had forgotten just how tiny bubs are.

On the weaving front I really worked hard and got 4 blankets off to Pauanesia before we had our family Christmas get together just before Jack arrived.  But there was so much going on I completely forgot to get photos and one was onsold before they even got to the shop.  This is one as seen on the loom.
Shock, horror.  My studio has been reinfested with carpet beatle.  And its appeared in other parts of the house as well.  Where ever wool has been left on the carpet its been munched so I had to take everything out of the loom room, shake it in the bath and now the floor has been sprayed.  I've reorganised my yarn shelves to try to make more space but I really must use up at least some of the stash soon.

One thing which has been taking up quite a lot of space was some knitting I had done using loom waste all knotted together.  The plan was to make a jacket but it made me look the size of a house so I've stitched up across the shoulders and the front opening, frogged the sleeves and am now knitting an edge on the sides and it can be a knee rug or animal blanket.  I'll take it to the SPCA op shop which has just opened in Waihi.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and will look forward to sharing more fibre adventures next year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sewing, dyeing and spinning

A very long time ago my lovely daughter in law asked me to make cushions from her wedding frock - what else can you do with a frock no one wants to buy.  I procrastinated for a long time because it was just too pretty to cut up but have finally made a start with three cushions, using the beadwork from the frock and using a grey thread to machine embroider to break up the white.
As you can see the cushions are sitting on the Tree of Life throw which I threw (well placed carefully) into the dye pot and it (along with a pair of boottees) is now a lovely minty bluey colour (Landscape dye called Tasman).  Also another pair of boottees in a varigated green, mint, blue yarn.

I've been spending the evenings spinning after waffling through the days not being able to focus on anything and spending a lot of time just sitting.   This is how I spend my springs due to pollen allergies and lack of sleep due to heat and humidity.  Thank goodness I'm coming out of it with the start of summer.
This was a sliver from Little Wool Company, 50% halfbred wool, 30% kid mohair, 20% silk.  I'd query the kid mohair bit, more like grandma but very pretty.  The wool was black and deep navy running together and the mohair and silk different pastel tones, gold, olive, green, mauve, pink and more.  I've Navajo plied it to keep the quite long bands of colour running reasonably true.  There is over 400 gms so I'm thinking maybe use it for weft in fabric or ...?  Why do we call it Navajo plying?  I assumed it came from the American Indians but I've read American literature where its called "chaining off".

This was a tiny bit of singles left on a bobbin so I plied it with commercial navy cashmere and everytime I came to a bit silver I made a bobble.
I have been weaving but no pictures yet.  I've made a piece to put into the Waihi Summer Festival Exhibition in January.  I've started weaving a pale pink cotton scarf in bead leno on the table loom which, if it works out OK, it can be used to raise funds for breast cancer at the Waihi Garden Ramble in January and I've just tied a cherry red warp on the dobby loom for more blankets.  No rest for the wicked.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Knitting projects completed

Lion Brand Yarn's Tree of Life baby throw for Kicky McFidgit.  Now I have to decide, or rather let DiL decide, whether to leave it white or paint it greens and browns.  There is a mistake in the cabling but I'm not going to cut threads to fix it.

I chose to make this because I loved the pattern.  Excuse my ignorance but does the tree motif have any religious significance? 

This is an awful photo of this project partly because I'm nearly twice the size of the dummy but just to show I did persevere from the post at the end of July and complete the tunic.  (I can't make the link work.)
Maybe a little more stitching where the plait crosses and it stretched from a jumper to a tunic.

Continuing the tale of November

The exhibition "Oarsome Waipa" hung for nine days and out of 30 pieces we had 5 sales so that wasn't bad odds.  Many things went wrong in that things promised didn't eventuate, but it was a great learning experience.  If doing it again I (or the group I was with) would want full control, with maybe a small committee with overall say and onsite to pick up the pieces when things went haywire.  I was proud to have been part of the exhibition.

Bikes Te Awamutu
About midday on the last day of the exhibition approximately 70 motor bikes came around the corner into our street and parked up just opposite the venue.  They only stayed about half an hour and as they were leaving I beetled out and asked anyone standing around if they had 5 minutes to view our exhibition.  Quite a few came in and as I was talking to one lady it transpired she lives not far from where I grew up and new my folks well - small world!

I had hardly got my breath back from Oarsome when I packed the car again and went off to Whiritoa early Wednesday morning to set up a display of my weaving at my friend's home and helped her serve tea and scones to a bus load of gardeners from Avondale.   About the third lady off the bus announced "my daughter tells me you have a blue jacket I should buy" and that was the last I saw of Esther until the bus left.  She had a very successful morning sales wise.  Me, naught.  (Emma, the dummy, was dressed but the poncho sold.)

Esther's studio
On to the next project - a haberdashery sale to raise funds for the Waihi Museum.  I sorted through embroidery fabrics and books from my mother's stash and went along.  Needless to say my best customers were the ladies from the Waihi Embroidery Guild on the stand next to me.  It was a long day though; by 11 we were saying "another hour to lunchtime".  It was enjoyable talking to my next door stall person who is a spinner/knitter from Hamilton and has a bach at Waihi Beach so hopefully we'll meet up again before long.

Homunga Bay
The past week has been a blur of making the most of fine days to go bush walking, shopping in Tauranga and working on the Poutama (Stairway to Heaven) blankets in between times.  I might add that the walk down to Homunga takes 45 minutes and over an hour to walk straight up a very steep hill.  I was nearly crawling by the time I got to the top but had no choise but to keep going.
Rocks at Homunga

No pics of weaving as Pete has flown to Wellington today to his Aunt's funeral and taken my camera.  Later in the week maybe.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oarsome Waipa - a Weavers' Response

To continue from the last post, we were walking along the beach and as we neared people I was handed the lead and told "its a woman's accessory".  I ask you!

This knitting project has been so much fun.  Baby Tree of Life Throw from Lion Brand free patterns.  I've actually finished the body of the throw (another row of trees at the top) and about 1/3 of the edging is done.  Only 7 more weeks but I think I'll get there. 

I don't think members of the Loom'nUs weavers cooperative will mind me showing pics of our exhibition on in Te Awamutu at present.  We had the opening of Oarsome Waipa last Friday and it runs till next Sunday.  This exhibition represents each artists interpretation of what the Waipa area means to them in terms of land, rivers, lakes, outdoor activities.  Just incidentally the World Rowing Competitions are on at Lake Karapiro at present.

Two very clever members did the display for us.  It was a challenge as the screens I had been promised were nonexistent as was a lot of other things including signage.  I think we got a more interesting display by having to think outside the box.  There are a couple of other areas with work displayed as well.  The blue striped blanket is my work, Karapiro - Morning Mist and I have a couple of scarves in the top image.

The opening was the start of the Te Awamutu SCREAM Festival and our exhibition was included in that.  Shock, horror, I had to make a speech!  As we had already had the Mayor and someone else talk I was short and sweet.  While in Te Awamutu I met up with quite a few people and friends I had known from way back.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The week that was

Spring has not really sprung; its warm enough but cloud and rainy days making photography trips to the bush frustrating.  This rainbow was straight out from my deck; maybe there's a pot of gold in them there dunes.

Early in the week I went to my daughter in laws baby shower which was very enjoyable.  I was surprised to hear that the new mothers can't buy wool boottees bigger than size 3 months and at this time of year no wool boottees at all - not in season.  Guess NanD better get the needles clicking.  I have tried a lovely pattern called Hodge  from Stella which she has refined to stay on.
I thought these looked so tiny and now I see they should have been made with 4 ply, not 3 ply.  I think I will make the feet longer though and as Kicky McFidgit is very likely to be tall with feet in proportion.

I'm not the photographer on our bush walks but I love the lace effects of looking up through the punga ferns.

This weekend is a holiday weekend and we have a guest.  As you can see from the sky the day was perfect and I'm off to enjoy the rest of the weekend.

PS I have been weaving and dyeing yarn but they're either secret projects or for the shop.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thames Spin In

On Monday I left my car in Waihi and went to the Thames Spin In with Esther and her friend Gretta.  It was a really fun day and if that was a practice for festival next year we're in for a real treat. 

Of course some obligatory stash enhancement happened.  The first enticing stand was a lovely young lady, Jessicah Win, with fabulous fibre on Spinning a yarn.   I bought a plait of green variegated silk to spin and ply with the merino I bought at the Opotiki festival back in July.  Now I feel I have enough to spin a decent yardage.  Best of all Jessicah has been learning to weave.

Another trader was Raeleen of Woolrae Studio, Kihikihi Road, Te Awamutu.  A great range of wool sliver, merino, merino/silk, corriedale, polworth but most important for me she has taken over the franchise for Landscape dyes, an Australian range which I use a lot.

And who can resist sliver from Anna Grattons wonderful colour range.  Also Sentosa Silks were there so I got a couple of hemmed  Paj scarves to try shibori on.

I have been weaving blankets but as they are for Pauanesia I can't show photos; maybe after the brochure  comes out. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Workshop with Yoshiko Wada

I've been reluctant to write this post because I've felt so flat about the workshop.  I don't know what it was but it just didn't gel from start to finish.  Yoshiko was delightful, fellow students great, we made some wonderful samples, learnt quite a bit but its still flat.  Someone asked me to give it a number from 1-10 and I impulsively said 3 - that's not good. 

I might be wrong but Yoshiko had been teaching on the east coast of Australia for about 3-4 weeks before coming to NZ.  We were the last of three workshops here and I think she was exhausted. 

Our class started 3 days before the main forum so we didn't have the excitement of other classes going on at the same time and I guess I'm used to attending classes where everyone is a weaver or spinner so have a common bond to start with.  I did think we were given a bum stear at the end as the next tutor wanted to set up in our classroom so we were moved to another room.  Had hardly finished our windup (before 4pm) when we were turfed out of there so the new lot could have their glass of wine so everyone just scattered.  A bit poor as we had paid good dosh to attend and didn't need to be treated like second rate citizens.

Enough moaning!  I enjoyed the stitching but it is slow so had to do a lot in the evenings and soak and part dry the samples overnight ready for the indigo bath the next morning, early before the days talk started at 9am.   Haven't decided what my favourite would be, perhaps the folding and stitching, katano.  Clamping is instant gratification - minimum effort for maximum result was Yoshiko's quote - minimum for maximum.  We briefly touched on pole wrapping at the end and the notes give many variations for this so much still to try.

Kanoko dots

Karamatsu and maki-nui - another favourite

Clamp resist
This was an old fushia coloured scarf, folded and clamped and dyed with a square block.  This was removed and the circle clamped and a second dip dye.
This was preprinted cotton lawn, the sample on the right looks like pegboard, the left hand sample works very well.  Fabric is folded, layers of calico placed on each side and its stitched to resist the dye.

I enjoyed the indigo dyeing, especially as I find it so hard to dye cotton with procion dyes but it seemed very hard to get solid information on looking after the indigo.  Yoshiko seemed to instinctively know how to look after it, just how much lime or zinc to add and when from long experience.  I wouldn't have the patience for it now.

Having ironed the samples and been through the photography process I think I'm going to give the overall experience of the workshop a 5!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Catch Up

Its a while since last talking.  Spring is here with the spring bulbs almost finished flowering, the trees are leafing up in many shades of luscious green and most days there is some rain but its warm.
Recently we decided to make the most of a sunny day and took a thermos and picnic lunch and walked a track in the Karangahake Gorge starting at Dickey's Flat.  A lot of time was spent watching Pete watching the river through his camera - I said next time I'd pack my knitting.  Very peaceful and the birds (which aren't plentiful at all) were brilliant in their spring plummage.
Blankets galore.  Red Pohutukawa were on the loom in the last post.  One has gone to its new home and the other is to be shown in a joint exhibition called "Endangered" at Inspirit gallery in November.  The darker blue one in the foreground went to the gallery on Thursday and was sold by Monday (called Karapiro Lake).  These were all an exercise in emptying cones but as a gap appeared on the shelf it was filled with a cone of yarn from the floor.  These three all had angora (from rabbit) weft giving a slight haze and very soft.  The fourth lighter blue has a mohair (from angora goat) weft and has been put aside for another exhibition in November - Oarsome Waipa to be held in Te Awamutu.
After the Low Tide exhibition at Inspirit I was asked to be guest exhibitor at Creative Fibre Experience which has just taken place this last weekend in Hamilton in association with the Craft and Quilt Show.  Not so much craft on show, most stalls were geared towards quilting.  When I found out how much a stall cost my idea of taking one next year went out the window fast.  The whole show now travels to Christchurch.  The CFE exhibition was great to see and very well displayed by Shona Schofield.  Well worth a visit to see it.  I was proud of my little corner among some elite company.
Two scarves, one shibori, one echo weave and two works done in Theo Moorman and then machine embroidered over.  You can just see the edge of a monofilament hanging with angel wing shells.
Finally persuaded Pete to buy some new shirts.  I learnt that if we get three the same I can use one to add length to the sleeves and body.  You might see in the bottom left the two flat fell seams where about 4" have been added in.  This works well as he usually wears a jumper or rolls the sleeves up.
And thats about it.  I've done more samples for the Poutama Stairway to Heaven blankets and hopefully will get the next brief on colourways today.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More weaving

The red blanket mentioned at the end of the last post.  Hard to photograph I discovered and doesn't show the many tones and shades of red.  This was to be a stash buster, 1 kilo of wool per blanket in the warp and 350gm angora in the weft of each blanket.  Didn't make a dent on the shelf.  In fact, there is enough of this yarn for at least one more blanket.  Its all hand dyed.  These are now off the loom and waiting for ends to be tasselled.

And for a change of colour scheme, this olive cotton/linen warp was left over from another project threaded 1,2,3,4 so am trying this 1;3, 3;1 stripe with a teal cotton.  Have no idea how much warp is left maybe a metre maybe 2.  Aimee, if you read this, its the same warp you played on but whereas you had the shuttle go over 2 threads, under 2, I'm going over 3 under 1 for the teal stripe and over 1 under 3 for the olive stripe and its the reverse on the back.  Its quite neat to go back to basics as a change from the rather complicated projects I usually tackle. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's been happening in the last two weeks

Oh dear, I'm not very consistent with this blogging.  When exciting things happen and I get busy I miss posting about it.

The first thing is I've been asked to be Guest Exhibitor at Creative Fibre Experience at Claudelands show grounds in September.  A surprise invite but excited to be part of the exhibition.  Have included some pieces from Low Tide and a couple of new scarves, one shibori from the warp I quickly wove off recently.  Hope people enjoy viewing the work. 

                         When we went to collect my work from Low Tide a couple of weekends ago we made a day trip of it with friends and visited the Waitakaruru Arboretum and Sculpture Park for several hours.  This Park is built in an old quarry, has been landscaped wonderfully and the sculptures added a very interesting dimension to the garden wandering.  In summer there is an onsite cafe.  Some of my favourite sculptures.
Parlez lentement by Niko Thomsen
Ups in downs by Matt McLean

Stairway to Heaven (Poutama) finished and looking rather wonderful, I think.  Unfortunately I have to go back to the drawing board as the mohair weft is making the floats too long so now I have to use two shuttles with floating selvedges and two layers.  I've nearly got my chains sorted and the wool for the weft is in the dye pot so we'll see how it goes.       

I was so enthused after my daughter in law brought two lovely friends to see my looms (they are so keen, its wonderful) and Aimee brought her spinning to show me I got my wheel out, dust and all, and produced this.
It was the remains of some sliver from Little Wool Company which I plied with a fine black alpaca thread.  At some stage I had pinched some of the red from the sliver so the very beginning of the skein has a lot of green.  I have just under 500 metres of ?10 ply thickness - what to do with it?  I have to say I enjoyed spinning thick.  I've always spun as fine as I could so the thread would go through my knitting machine but this was very satisfying to have a product finished quickly.

There seems to be a lot of red on this page and there are two more red blankets on the Nitschke loom so I better go finish them while the dyed wool dries.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Can you see it?  In the red stripe!  Horror of horrors, a mistake and it repeated with the repeat of the chain and every repeat of the 4 block pattern.  Just what you don't want to see when you cut a complete blanket off the loom and it really only showed on the inside of the fold so it wasn't seen till the end.  One pin was missing from the dobby chain, either I never put it in or it fell out before I got to hammer them in securely.  It was just on dusk as I was finishing off so either could have happened.

Its put me a day behind schedule but I cut each thread and needle wove them back correctly.  Fulled the blanket today and its looking great.  It'll be in Pauanesia before long.

This pattern is Poutama or Stairway to Heaven and, in Maori mythology, its symbolic of a climb made by a dude called Tawhaki to collect three baskets of knowledge from the Gods.

The indignity of it all!

Hi, I'm Ted and I've been woken from hibernation and its still winter.  Guess I've been asleep about 30 years give or take a few.  Been rather indignant at the things being done to me lately; cotton buds up my nose, a soak upside
down in warm water but the bubbles in my eyes were no fun and the worst of it - to be hung on a wire line by ... my ... ears - how undignified!
I must be getting on in bear years, not much substance in the limbs and cataracts on both eyes but I was well loved once and maybe Reggie would like me to keep him/her company in the nursery.

Really enjoyed knitting this garment, haven't done lace for forever.  Of course, I do have two operating knitting machines so don't hand knit a great deal.  The body is all in one piece to the armhole, including the front bands, which saved a lot of stitching up.  The shoulders I used three needles and knitted the stitches together and cast off (what's that called).  I did the same around the armhole which just left the sleeve seam which I used a flat seam.  Not perfect but at least something is finished.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What have I been doing?

What have I been doing?  Probably not what I should be.  Lets see, knitting.  I started knitting this jacket

(Vogue pattern) last winter but had to put it aside through the summer as it was just too hot to have so much fabric sitting in my lap.  Picked it up again in the autumn and finished the body but now I find the armhole slits are in the wrong place.  I could graft the slits shut and open for armhole in the middle of the garter stitch band but I just am not interested.  Have gone right off the garment!  Its in the frog pile.

So started knitting this jersy loosely based on a pattern from Rowan magazine.  What's with those plaits?  They'll have to be stitched at the least.  Gone off that too.

So now I'm knitting a jacket for baby Reggie, due in December from bamboo yarn, size 3-6 months with length for the next size up.  I'm enjoying this and it does seem to be proceeding OK.  What are the best seams to use on babywear, anyone?

Weavingwise, I've done about 200 samples [well 8] (a miracle for me) to work out a pattern in Summer and Winter in two layers, joined at one side, with the pattern following through correctly on the reverse side.  This is an order from Pauanesia and the colourways will be chosen by them.  I used scrap yarn for the samples.  Also the more astute will see its not true S & W as I have put alternate thick and thin wool threads in the warp to reduce bulk and the weft is all mohair as I didn't want to use two shuttles with two layers - that would have been too much.  This sample was made to get the fold correct so I threaded the least needed to test.  The bands will be wider and the vertical and horizontal areas equal in the project.  You'll have to put your head on the side, the fold is down the centre.

The shock of so much sampling, and the thought that my dobby loom will be tied up with the above project for some time I quickly designed and put on a warp for three shibori scarves and am weaving my way through them at present.  Will pull up and dye at a later date.
See the diamond and "X" shapes that will hopefully offset by the dye process.

While putting the photos on here I've taken a second look at the knitting and maybe it is worth persevering.  Rather than frog the jacket it could be a blanket!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Opotiki Fibre and Fleece

The Opotiki Fibre and Fleece show has been running alternate years for more than 20 years and I've never managed to get to see it until this year. On Saturday a friend and I drove to Opotiki (2 1/2 hours from my place), a pretty drive along the Bay of Plenty coast.

We did a little retail therapy.
 Merino sliver (100gm) from Awakeri Woolcraft.  It looks a bit washed out on this screen, the brown is a rich chocolate and the greens brighter.  Apparently it is becoming very difficult to get merino sliver here as manufacturing is being sent off shore to China.

The exhibition was amazingly well set out with lots of space for every creation.  Most 2 metre tables had just one or two pieces on them allowing you to really appreciate the work.

After lunch we set off for the Theatre where the fashion parade was being held.
I was really taken with the old buildings in this town (old by New Zealand standards), many of them dated 1912, 1914 and this 1926.  Many of our early buildings were built in timber, often kauri, and have not survived.
Images from previous years fashion parades taken through a window, we weren't allowed to take photos on the day.

Home about 7.00 to find DH cooking dinner.  The most fun day I've had in quite a while.