Lunch box project: The lunch problem

I have a lunch problem. It has a few parts to it, but the heart is the conflict between my desire to take lunch and my hatred of dirty lunch containers.

You see, I used to love buying lunch because I’d go out with work friends and we’d sit somewhere and let off steam. It seemed like good value for the $ spent. But then I went over to doing contract work and poof! work-friends became less common, bitching about work became less therapeutic and lunch shifted to take-away, so my environmental footprint went up a boot size or two!

Sadly, no matter how hard I try to take lunch, what stops me from succeeding is the dirty lunch container.

They hide. Only to be found later in a gross state. They resist cleaning. My containers are plastic and love chicken and other fats (chicken is the worst). Sometimes they leak. Which sometimes means they leak on other stuff because I don’t have a dedicated lunch box carrying receptacle/bag.

The observant reader might be wondering why I don’t just wash them at work. Well… I have three reasons:

  • seems daft to wash them twice, so a work wash needs to be a proper wash

  • I need to wear gloves to wash dishes (sensitive skin)

  • the work dishcloth is often a bit feral… okay, it’s always feral

  • if you dry things with paper-towel it leaves an odd smell behind, but I’m never using a communal work tea towel (see comment about dishcloths) and that’s assuming there is one!

So, a big part of the lunch box project is solving these problems. I have some ideas… Before I share these though, I’d like to explain the other issue I’m hoping to tackle; frugality. Stay tuned.

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Scarf in a day

As it has been a bit hot (40C/140F) the past days, I hid in the aircon with my loom watching movies. Wonderful thing about having a rigid heddle loom… you only need a table and your lap anywhere in the house!

I’d actually measured and wound the warp onto the back beam earlier, but something was niggling at the back of my mind… I’d glimpsed a broken thread somewhere… note to self: don’t listen to extremely interesting podcasts while dressing the loom!

Anyway, I unwound and discovered:

Broken yarn in the heddles of the loom
My phone wouldn’t focus on the yarn… but you get the idea

The yarn gods were smiling though, because I had one more warp end than I needed so I could just pull this end out.

Despite the broken bit, it is gorgeous wool. I’ve not woven a vari that is a ply of multiple colours and then crossed it with itself. But this was the yarn I sampled last year. I’d thought it’d look good with purple – which it did – but against itself it was stunning.

What fascinates me, is the interplay of the colours… the long change of the variegation gives strong warp strips and these don’t blur or get muddied by a weft that’s going through the same changes.

The variegated yarn in the warp showing strong stripes

Here is the scarf, just waiting for a wash, with the stripes still strong:

Finished scarf on the table

The colour twist gives it such a lively surface too. Up close it almost looks busy.

A close up of the unwashed cloth

I’m looking forward to seeing if it changes at all when fulled!

Lunch box project: It may just be an excuse for craft!

2018 appears to have delivered me a new project to work on. One that will involve a mix of problem solving, philosophical reflection and craft!

Hopefully you’ll enjoy coming with me on the journey to solve one of my biggest challenges in life…lunch.

Why this seemingly simple part of a day is any kind of problem, will be revealed over the next few lunch box project posts, but lunch has been a thorn in my paw for quite a few years now. It needs a solution and I think I might have found one. We’ll see.

The funny thing is that my original instinct to blog about this was rejected by the part of my brain that recognises a “first world problem” when it sees one. Then I looked more deeply at my lunch issues and realised they are actually tangled up in bigger questions like waste, health, financial security and charity.

So, here we are…and while I might not get to the craft aspects of this project straight away, that’s the part I’m probably most excited about!

I wish I could take my loom to work

The way I make a living involves project based work and if you do this kind of thing then you know it has quiet times. Particularly if a stage is running behind.

What I’d love to do during those quiet times is fold my loom, pop it in the carry bag, and try not to do actual bodily harm to anyone on the train getting it to the office! Then I’d have it all day to just unfold against the edge of my desk to fill the “I have nothing to do right now” times. I’d be more focussed in meetings too if I wove.

Others would be curious to see what I’m working on, so that would help break down the “silos” within the business and I’d be more productive because I’d never be bored.

See it’s all wins.

Except office jobs don’t work that way. Like a woman who explained she got told off for reading a novel in the copier room while the photocopier compiled hundreds of documents. Why? “You aren’t being paid to read a book.” No, she was being paid to stand beside a photocopier for 45 minutes!

Once-upon-a-workday I might have agreed it’s risky to blur the lines between personal and work in the office, but the people I come across in workplaces spend so much time on their phones – responding to social media notifications and answering text messages and emails, not to mention taking calls from kids and partners – that I think the argument is long lost.

So I will dream of a day when crafters can feel inspired at their day job. After all, I bought a folding loom to take it places!

The graph-paper gene

Happy 2018 peeps.

I keep thinking that it’s almost 2020 which, to a sci-fi fan like myself, seems like we’ve almost reached the date in which most imaginers-of-future-us saw hover boards, robots, rocket packs and colonies on the moon. We might not achieve that by 2020, but I’m sure someday soon they will discover the crucial ‘graph-paper gene’.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you probably lack this gene. It predisposes you to using graph-paper for working out ridiculously complicated things that anyone else would just buy instructions for.

My dad has it. Usually it expresses itself in squiggly electrical diagrams that he could probably download from the internet.

My mum has it. Many an hour has she spent working out a design (she’s a lace maker) with painstaking dot and line confections.

I have it. I know I do, because there are no less than 4 types of graph paper in my cupboard. So it wasn’t a surprise when I saw a bit of weaving online recently (a 32 shaft pattern!), decided I wanted to adapt it for my loom and reached for the graph-paper.

Some of you will have totally stopped thinking about graph-paper at this point and are thinking “you can’t do stuff like that on a rigid heddle loom… has she bought a floor loom?”

The answer would be “yes you can (potentially)” and “no she hasn’t”. Of course it won’t be exactly the same pattern on the rigid heddle, but I have hope that it’ll be close enough to capture the wonderful yumminess of what I saw.

Many sheets of graph-paper may go to their doom in the process, but we who have the gene see that as necessary sacrifice.

Last project for 2017

So I finished the year with a bit of an experiment… and because I like doing two things at once it was a spacing and a felting experiment!

It started with my wondering what would happen if you wove a course web with spaces in the warp and weft. Would the yarn spread out when you fulled it to fill the spaces? I had a theory it would, but how evenly?

This is how I started:

Web on the loom with inch spaces between sections of warp and weft

The problem with doing a spaced web like this – with a heavy yarn (this was unplied but about a 12ply equiv) – is that the warp and weft will shift easily. That was why I decided to take it off the loom very carefully. So, I rolled it:

Weaving in a roll

Obviously I didn’t want to have the same problem with the final cloth and that was why I decided to felt it lightly, so the web wouldn’t deform.

What I got was a lovely, squiggly cloth where the spaces were filled in and the weft tended to pair. You can see a bit more separation in the warp, but most of that went too:

You’ll also notice that the cream yarn went blueish. That’s because I decided the gentlest way to felt it was to boil it and that meant the dye spread itself around a bit!

I was pleased with the final cloth, which is rough and squiggly but quite even. The felting might need to go just a bit further, but overall the yarn is sticking in place nicely.

The only disappointment was how dull the colours are now… the dying of the cream gives it a dullness – the heat may also have affected the dyes and dulled them – so it’s not as pretty as I might have liked. Still, I like the end result.

Once I’ve finished it properly, I’ll do a post showing the final web in all its glory.

Weaving colour #4

If you mix red and yellow you get orange and if you mix yellow and blue you get green, right? Most weavers know the answer to this question, because they’ve messed about with paints at some point or watched others do so. Some of you will even have created or used a colour wheel at some stage. If not then this post is for you!

Essentially a colour wheel shows how colour moves gradually from red to blue and blue to yellow and yellow to red with all the gradations in between.

It’s not just an exercise in paint mixing though; the colour wheel has long been used as a ready-reckoner or quick-reference tool for choosing colours that work together.

So should you rush out and buy a colour wheel? Well they are fun to play with if you like colours! But (sadly) they’re probably only of use to people who really struggle with colour.

Okay, so why did I do a post about them? Because they are used to explain key colour concepts that I’ll be talking about in future posts in this series!

colour wheel