A cleaning we will go…

So apparently getting a housemate has put my brain into re-organisation mode… and that meant re-organising, well, every cupboard! But most time-consumingly: the craft cupboard. No, not the yarn stash… that’s in the other cupboard. This is the cupboard that contains my million¬†other hobbies. Yes, there are more!

In truth though, I don’t do all of them anymore, so I did a bit of a cull as well. Crayons were handed to the neighbour’s children. Tissue paper was recycled. Old, dried out pens were removed. Coloured leads were put aside for family who use draughting pencils.

Curiously, among all the stuff in there were 2 circle cutters, 4 scalpels, 12 erasers (including no less than 4 retractable ones), 3 glue sticks, 3 bottles of white-out, 2 packets of Tip-Ex Correction Sheets (for typewriters), 7 types of paper clips (including ones shaped like pigs) and, well, a truck load of papers including notepaper with matching envelopes! Apparently I hoard.

Post cull and clean, the cupboard is so roomy! I was even tempted to start a new yarn area, but right now the space constraint stops me buying more yarn so… maybe not. Actually, maybe that’s where my finished scarfs could go…? That’s an idea!

Strangely, I do feel… lighter… for having culled. Partly because I can see and reach everything again, but also because I’ve reassessed what I want to be doing craft-wise. Other than weaving. Scandalous, I know!

Weaving at home, with materials you already have!

Whether you’re looking to occupy kids, fill newly acquired spare time, or just get in touch with your creative side, weaving is an easy thing to do. Importantly, most people can do it without buying anything!

So here are some ideas to suit what you have on hand (the internet can provide further instructions where you need them):

“I have paper, scissors and glue…” – Take your paper, fold it into equal sections and then cut along the folds to make strips. You can then weave these over-and-under each other and glue the ends to hold it in place. Make paper place mats, a table runner or a bit of minimalist art for the wall.

“I have a small box / shoe box and wool…” – Wind the wool yarn around the box trying to keep the strands an equal distance apart . Pick a side of the box to create your weaving on, then use more yarn to weave over-and-under the first threads (easier with a needle, but you can use your fingers!). Slide off the box when you’re finished. Make a bit of wall art, a mat, or a little bag.

“I have an old picture frame and some wool…” – Wind the wool around the picture frame and weave, either one set of threads like in the box example, or weave the front and back strands of wool together to make a piece of art.

“I have some cardboard, craft knife, different coloured yarn/thread…” – Cut a rectangle of cardboard that you can hold comfortably, wind the yarn/thread around it. Cut your yarn into different lengths and weave it (fingers or a needle) over-and-under the first threads, in sections to make areas or lines of different colours, pushing the yarn/threads close together. This little tapestry can then hang on the wall, or be propped on a shelf.

“I have a matchbox / shoebox, thread, some small beads, a needle and something to make cuts with…” – Take the base of the box, cut little slits around the top edges to hold the yarn. Cut strands of equal lengths (you can go longer than the matchbox) and lay them across the base, using the slits to hold them. Weave over-and-under with the needle, adding a bead here and there. With a matchbox: Once you’ve woven the part on your tiny loom, carefully take it off, put a new section in the slits and keep weaving! Good for bracelets, teddy bear collars and other small decorations.

“I have some dense foam, nails and yarn/string…” – Make a pin loom using the nails as the pins and inserting them firmly into the foam. Then you wrap the yarn in a zig-zag between the nails. You can then weave over-and-under using your fingers or a crochet hook. Again you can make a little art piece, a bag, or make lots of squares and sew them together.

“I have a sturdy shoebox, craft knife, ruler and some yarn…” – This is all you need to make rigid heddle loom! Use the base of the shoebox as the frame and create slots and holes in the top of the shoebox, cutting it down in size to fit inside the bottom half. You can use the left over card to make small back and front bars if you want to get fancy! A bit more of a project, but a lot of fun. You can use it to make cloth for little bags, mats or pieces to be sewn together into a larger piece.

“I have a stiff cardboard, a craft knife, a hole punch and some yarn…” – This one is a bit more full-on, but with these materials make yourself cards for card/tablet weaving, and a cardboard shuttle. You can create a warp using your body and a doorknob back-strap weaving style, or make a frame out of a box. It come with a learning curve, but this makes beautiful bands.

“I have a picture frame / some wood for a frame / large piece of solid board, nails, a hammer and two colours of yarn…” – This is what you need to make a pom-pom blanket! It’s not what you’d traditionally call weaving, but includes a frame and the enclosure of threads so I think it fits! Worth watching a video on how to do this, but essentially you make a big version of a pin loom, and use one colour as a base and the other colour gets wound on, tied down and cut to make the pom-poms. Makes a fluffy fun blanket!

Happy weaving!

A little craft distraction

So, there’s not a lot of weaving happening at the mo, but there has been some “french knitting” action! Yes, after many years in storage, the “knitting Nancy” that I’ve had since I was a kid is back in action.

I’m (attempting) to make a hat. We shall see how the construction phase goes, but first yo have to knit the tube. Good thing I like doing stuff with my hands while watching movies…

A ball of 8ply cotton and a wooden knitting nancy

 

Commission delivered!

So, here is the set of scarfs that I’ve been knitting…

A pink, knitted scarf for mum and for bub

I’m very pleased with how they turned out! This photo makes them look like they’re different shades of pink, but that’s just the lighting; they’re the same yarn. Well, one is 4ply and the other 10ply, but you know what I mean.

This is cotton, knitted on oversized needles for the ply, in a 2-2 rib. I’ve knitted a scarf for myself like this in the past and the result is a lovely “squishy” fabric. Also gets an almost scalloped edge going on the ends which is kind of nice.

Not the warmest, true, but a nice bit of extra cover around the neck. I’m hoping my friend’s wife like’s them.

What a fascinating fibre

So, following on from my last post I have now seen and touched some lotus fibre!¬† Here’s a pic:

Brown and white woven lotus fibre scarf

It is definitely a lot like linen in feel, but has a sheen that’s really silky. The cloth had a great drape and that surprised me because it had a… stiffness? density? I’m not sure what the word is, but it was like I could imagine linen of a similar ply feeling like.

The muted colours of this scarf are lovely too, don’t you think? And the pattern is part colour and part different ply yarns which made for a very attractive scarf!

Lotus flower fibre

Someone I work with, who is a keen traveler, has found out that I weave. As a result I’ve been shown a range of wonderful photos of the workshops he visited in Myanmar where they make cloth from lotus flower fibre!

The locals harvest and process the lotus plants and then spin it and weave the yarn into cloth.

With any luck he will remember to bring in the scarf he bought for his wife and I will be able to report back on what this interesting fabric feels like! Having a look online it gets described as a cross between silk and linen in feel, which sounds fascinating.

Undoing a bendy scarf

About four years ago, I decided to knit myself a striped cotton scarf. Carrying the three colours up the sides was a lot of fun and I was loving how it was coming together. Then I put it down one day and noticed it had developed a curve!

Obviously this was something to do with carrying the colours and one side had developed a much tighter edge than the other. Incrementally this had caused my scarf to curve.

With great sadness I began to unpick it…

Jump to a recent tidy up where I found the half unpicked project languishing in a bag. It was a sad sight. Three balls of unravelled scarf and a big tangle of yarn leading to the considerable amount yet to be unpicked.

the stripey scarf in blue, green and purple

Unpicking three colours is not so much fun, but I’ve been quietly doing bits and I’m almost done now. Once finished I think I’m going to use those balls to warp my loom and see if I can’t do an enjoyably stripey scarf that way!!

Amigurumi – the cutest yarn craft

Super-cute yarn animals might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have to say I love making amigurumi! A couple of years ago I learnt some basic crochet stitches, and bought a bag of stuffing, so I could create these little guys and it was so much fun.

The best ones went under the charity tree at my office in the hope they’d brighten up the holiday season for a child somewhere, but I quickly had a surplus and had to stop. Here are some yarn friends that didn’t make it to the tree…

A cute yarn sheep and bearProbably the funniest thing about my amigurumi exploits is that you make them in many sections, so I have a leftover box of tiny ears, arms and legs. Gruesome and cute!

A knitter’s love of chunky yarns

A few weeks back my mum was talking about making herself a sort of ‘knee-warmer’ to keep her problem knee warm and I suggested she might use some chunky yarn I unearthed recently. It seemed like a good idea because it’ll knit up fast and be warm.

The funny thing was that she has many a set of needles, but none intended for 14ply. In contrast, when I went hunting through my needles I found no less than 5 sets!

So some of my needles are on agistment at her place (well not really but I do love that word) while she designs her knee warmer.

Why do I love the big yarns? Partly because they are quick to knit and that’s great for scarfs, but also they often have such a pluffy, lush texture.

Now that I’m weaving they aren’t featuring as often, though I did put one on the loom recently. It was something like good-planning that could do this because, in anticipation of my continued love of large yarns, I got a large dent reed when I bought extras last year!

How to felt wool

Felting is a remarkably simple process, though it does take time and therefore requires some patience. You also can’t undo it, so once your wool begins to felt you need to keep a close eye on it.

The essentials of felting are that you need something made of wool, some hot water and a way of agitating the piece. Very simple.

Some people put their wool into a pot and boil it, letting the bubbles do the agitation. Others put it in a bucket with the hottest water their hands can take and stir it. For more delicate felting you can apply hot water and then rub it by hand, with or without the addition of exfoliating gloves (or mesh like in the nuno method).

Oh, if you have the right kind of washing machine then you can felt that way too.

The basic formula for felting though is the hotter the water the less agitation required and the faster things move, but if boiling it appeals, remember that dyes can leach out and may not be great to breath! Also, you need to fish the wool out of the pot all soggy and dripping scorching water. If you’re me that probably means burns.

Whatever the method, it takes a while before anything starts to happen (the first sign is that the cloth will get looser). Once it does, the felting can happen quickly. The degree of felting you want will take a little practice to achieve, but the main thing to avoid is taking it too far when it’ll start to fall apart (or so the interwebs tell me).

How do you know when it’s actually felting? It’ll get a bit fluffy on the surface and visually the weave will start to blur. Though that’s just the start.

Really that’s it. Well, you do need to keep in mind that felting will cause the cloth to thicken and the further you take it the stiffer it will get. Of course that thickening also means it shrinks quite significantly (30% + isn’t unusual) and this is proportional to how far you take the process (thicker felt = higher shrinkage).

Not sure how much more felting I’ll do, but I enjoy thinking of it as extreme fulling!