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Monday, 29 December 2008

Challenges

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, celebrating with friends and family. To all those that sent messages, thankyou, I do love to hear from people, even if I don't always respond quickly.

My challenge for Christmas was to weave rugs for my mother and mother-in-law. This was successfully achieved, sorry no pictures...only just achieved.....steamed at local dry cleaners on Christmas Eve, and picked up just before leaving for Christmas Eve party....

I have difficulty giving presents, not that I don't like letting things go, I just get the sinking feeling that they won't like the gift. I think sticking to a non-wearable item was good and they did like them and admire the work.


I'm not particularly attached to the things I make. I find that once made and exhibited in some way, I'm happy to let them go and find a home and move on to the next challenge.


Speaking of which, my LYS has a summer knitting competition. I chose this sort of watermelon red for mine, the real difficulty is what to do with it before February, when the competition ends. As the results will be donated to charity, they need to be useful in some way. At the moment can only think of icords...don't know why. Wish me luck. For more information see http://www.woolybutt.com.au/


For my summer reading I have found a new magazine. It's called 'Yarn Forward', is English, is not expensive and has some really interesting articles.

For example, it had an article on steeking! Must try it some day!



There were a number of exhibition revues which looked wonderful.



The actual knitting patterns, I thought were rather tame. This is not a drawback for me as it is generally the articles that are interesting, but if you're looking for patterns, I'd check before buying.



As this is the 7th issue, and comes out monthly, I thought I'd wait to the next issue to see if it is worth adding to my favourite magazine list.



Textile Fibre Forum arrived on my doorstep, this week. Yes, I know, it is late, it was very nearly a tragedy as I'd forgotton to renew my subscription. The situation is now rectified and I'll be reading as I lounge at the beach.

I did like this photo which is one of the tutors at Geelong Fibre Forum this year.

















Challenges for next year:

1. Build an extension for our house
2. Get son number 1 through year 12
3. Start Diploma of Visual Art

I think that's enough!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Side-tracked again for Christmas




I haven't blogged for a few days. With a wide variety of events, some wonderful, some feeling on the disastrous side, my motivation is low.

Saturday, however, was lovely, with the guild Christmas party at which I was presented with my 20 years badge. I knew I was getting close, and, it was a nice surprise to get my badge along with another member who had introduced me to teaching and we share a passion for the library and related matters.

Sunday's market, for me, was not good. Last year I had done very well, with people buying presents. There were plenty of people, plenty of good comments and interest, but no sales. This is extremely disappointing and I'm still trying to figure out what to do. Next year we're trialing opening on Saturdays, instead of Sundays. Hopefully, I'll be able to figure what to sell in February when we restart.

I did start some weaving. I took this lovely yarn, picked the colours from my stash and have warped up enough for three knee rugs, two of which will be for my mother and mother-in-law for Christmas. The first is a straight tabby with black for the background, just to get me in the swing. However, I've threaded for an 8-shaft twill and will weave different background colours for the other two.

I do miss weaving larger pieces, and, despite not having woven on this scale for a while I'm feeling very happy. I am a weaver and it really calms and revives me.....it's also a great stash busting exercise. If the tabby works out, I have two very large boxes of blues and greens which may well contribute to a pile of knee rugs for my stall.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Just a little side track

Ever get that feeling that you don't know what you're doing? That's me this week. So I decided to have a play with Tunisian crochet.

I learnt this intriguing cross between knitting and crochet only a few months ago. I really like it, however, the fabric can be quite firm. Great for a blanket...I've seen one that another SnBer made for their little one, however, I felt it could be limiting.
As usual when you think that there's a limit, you either have to reassess your ideas, or, someone else reminds you that there are no rules or spinning (read tunisian knitting) police.
I had this lovely fluffy yarn and a 12.5mm beautiful Lewis Harper tunisian crochet hook. (Lewis Harper, wonderful woodturner, often seen at Bendigo and other woolly meeting places) They combined beautifully, and I managed to produce a lovely scarf, which requires a little blocking and some sort of finishing.
The pattern for this was the basic 2 row 'base row' of Tunisian crochet. I started with this and then went on to the pattern I had selected, but returned to the base row and continued it. Love the fabric....feeling better.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Magazine heaven

Four of my absolute favourite magazines are all out in their latest editions. I'm in heaven.




Looking through them has made me think about what I like the most and why.

Selvedge was the first to arrive and I do like the stories of these wonderful enterprises where industries are kept alive. There was a wonderful article in the British magazine 'Country Living' (September 2008 issue) titled 'Bolt from the Blue' which was about a couple who've reopened a woad mill and are selling the dye and dyed products.


This article on handwoven woollen blankets also had that flavour. You just want to go and live on an island somewhere. (or a small Scottish town on the coast - oops sorry, that's the movie 'Local Hero' - favourite movie, great Mark Knoffler music)


Then Yarn magazine has this article on Ruth Marshall who has knit this Amur Leopard completely accurately as she works at the Bronx Zoo.





I'm not usually a fan of exact reproduction, except where beauty and heart come into play.


Her website http://www.ruthmarshall.com/ is worth a look.


Object magazine feature indigenous art in this issue, however, I chose this piece as something quirky.



And Vogue Knitting has a lovely article about Nicky Epstein.

Her aesthetic is very different from mine, but she is exploring knitting in her own way.






So, what is the common factor? I think that it's the passion behind each of these. People finding, following, exploring something they feel passionate about. Shouldn't we all be doing that? Would it work?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Fibre sponge cake

Yesterday was our last Experimental meeting for the year and I thought we could do another fibre sandwich, except that we would have a theme. With a wonderful sponge cake maker in our midst, it wasn't hard to decide on making a fibre sponge cake as a celebration of all things experimental.

These 'sandwiches' are a group effort, where everyone brings along fibre, or extras, in this case, related to our theme. The resulting batt is divided amongst the participants.



We had cake, jam, cream, icing and sprinkles on our cake.


And this is my resulting skein.








And we did have the real thing, as well. Thanks to everyone who came for making it a lovely afternoon.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Last skeins

Well, they're finished. I filled two bobbins and managed to ply off three skeins. Thought I could do it in two....how does that work?


The first bobbin, which was spun in long lengths of colour has meant that the 'background' colour stays the same for awhile but completely changes by the end of the bobbin, as can be seen from the very blue last skein.


To try something new, I divided each colour in half and then took a quarter and blended on my handcarders with a quarter from the previous colour and another quarter from the next colour and spun them in order. I did this for the second bobbin.


I did manage quite a few splits, (sorry, didn't count them) and at the end just completely blended them together. Again, I'm going to have to knit it up to find out how the colours work together.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The odyssey of fractal spinning

Fractal spinning does appear to have created some interest and I must admit to it being slightly addictive.

I used the skein from the red to make this neck warmer complete with buttons.


I knit a young friend a hat from 'Hats - a knitter's dozen' called 'Chill chasers', which is actually a hat with a draw string that converts into a neck warmer. She is off to France (mountainous and snowy regions) for Christmas and, like most Australians will feel the cold. So her early Christmas present will hopefully help her enjoy this wonderful trip.


However, in the process, I sort of got the idea about neckwarmers and quite liked it. They seem very popular and I can understand why now. The little bit of yarn required (50gms about), simple shape and then it would really add some lovely colour to all those winter coats. So, I knit one.


The hat has already gone onto Etsy and the neckwarmer will today, after I take a couple more photos. I did feel that they needed to be worn, so a photo of me (yes, ME) is accompanying the entry. I just hope it doesn't scare anyone off!


I have started, what I think, will be my last fractal spin, for the moment. To be honest, it has been a useful stash buster, but I do think some different yarns might be in order. I do need a bit more texture!
This is a bundle of very mixed colours from First Editions and it will be interesting to see what happens.
I'm spinning the second bobbin, which does tend to show a bit more of the colour mixing and at a quick glance, when walking past, it looked just a bit muddy.
All will be revealed!

Friday, 28 November 2008

The tale of the fractal hat

This fractal spinning is strangely addictive. However, this time I wanted to change a few of the parameters.

1. Big blocks of colour that I wouldn't need to work too hard to split, and I hoped would show up the effect gained by all that splitting.



2. Thick spinning. To be honest, I just wanted to spin something that wouldn't take too long. I ended up with a yarn at 4wpi, and it was quick!







3. I actually wanted to make something with the resulting yarn, just to see what happens.

So I spun my yarn, and I knit a hat. I just love it. It sits very nicely, even though this is just a bit small for me. That's OK, because I have a big head....and yes, I've heard all the comments about that one.......

So a lovely couple of days spent making this and I've got most of the second skein left over. Just don't know quite what to do with it.




On the inspiration front, I am kicking myself as I missed the opening of the RMIT Studio Textiles and Screen Print Graduate Exhibition last night. (Don't know how, as I've been carrying the invite around with me all week) I will be going, just not sure when. It's always inspiring and you get to see really innovative and new work. If you can, go!

Unfold - RMIT Studio Textiles and Screen Print Design Graduate Exhibition
28th November - 19th December
Counihan Gallery in Brunswick
233 Sydney Road, Brunswick.
Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm
Sunday 1pm to 5pm

PS I've added the blogs of people I know to my front page. There are regular and irregular bloggers and I like them all.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Spinning Chocolate

I've had a little bit of chocolate fleece sitting there waiting for a suitable project. As it was a gift, something at least interesting was called for. Chocolate is obviously the answer.

I spun two skeins. Each created in the same way but with different chocolate crops. The first was some chocolate coloured tops. I just pulled a little out, made a soft knot and sandwiched these between two layers of the fleece, then drum carded, just the once. The second was drops of colour from some multi-coloured alpaca fleece tops.

Spinning was a breeze, as I just wanted a rough, thick spun yarn. I'd like to knit a hat, but I don't think I have enough, so I might create a third yarn using the chocolate top with alpaca drops.

Whilst working on these, I have been delighted by the way the online community works. I've been reading the lovely Kat (www.thestoryofkat.blogspot.com) purchaser of my fingerless mittens from Etsy. Entering someone else's world, a world away, is just amazing.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Spinning all weekend

With a wet weekend, cancelled sporting committments and no reason to go out, I decided to spend the weekend spinning. Remember this...


...well it turned into this....

I was, however, disappointed. The tops that I'd bought were a beautiful colour, however the dyeing had caused some felting, not too bad and it may have actually helped with splitting the roving. However, the dye had not penetrated evenly through the roving which meant that there were a lot of pale areas which dulled the final skein.

This is a good lesson for when buying dyed tops or rovings, just check how well the dye is distributed by doing a little digging.

As this was more fractal spinning, I managed to split the second half quite a few times though my guessing of half was a little out, so you can see that I have a small skein that I Andean plied.

The next exercise with the fractal spinning that I want to try is to use distinct colours and see what happens. I have a bag of red in the garage!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Chocolate

3D5S visited Handorf's chocolate cafe (http://www.hahndorfs.com.au/) and were able to take pictures of this beautiful product.

As inspiration they have everything: beautiful to look at, luscious to taste, sticky to touch, I'm not always sure what smells of chocolate conjur up, and I must say that they are a bit silent, though descriptions of each of them do elicit 'mmmmmmm' sounds.



Chocolate itself reminds me of silk and of course, what delightful colours are dropped into the centres. The repetition of shape also can suggest pattern.



I have a small amount of chocolate coloured fleece that was given to me and I did want to do something special....All I have to do is find the right filling.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Christmas is coming


Ok, I've made some Christmas decorations. I'm very pleased with them. They knit with gold lurex, and if someone would tell me where my silver lurex is, I'll be very happy and make some more.
However, for something really gorgeous to look at try this online exhibition: 'Van Gogh and the colours of the night' at www.moma.org/exhibitions/vangoghnight
It's gorgeous and very well designed. I haven't quite had a good look yet. If you're computer doesn't want to view it, there is some neat programming here, don't miss out, head off to your library or best geek friend for a view.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Inspiring textile artists and socks!

I managed to make a start on my new pair of socks, yesterday at SnB. Aren't they bright. I've had to use a smaller size needles than recommended for the wool, 2.5mm fours seem to be as rare as hen's teeth. As they fall between the traditional English sizings (12 and 13) this might explain it.

As usual, I've had trouble deciding on the start. I'm following the Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book 'Knitting Rules' and decided on my cast-on, which varied considerably from her own sizes. This put me in a bit of a tiz...fortunately I decided to go with my measurements and have now decided that all is well. So some happy bright knitting as SnB for awhile.

I also picked up a copy of Craft Arts International (Issue 74) as it does contain several articles on textile artists. This is a love/hate magazine for me. I love it, because it is always beautifully photographed, it's full of craft shown as art, it covers Australia and surrounds. I hate it, because it doesn't always show textiles and currently there seems to be alot of glass and woodwork. Both of which I love, but sometimes a little too much.





There is much to love in this issue, in particular an article on an artist by the name of Nora Fok titled 'Organic wearable forms'. They are stunning. As my final pieces for my diploma of art were inspired by sea creatures, these are particularly relevant to me. They're made of monofilament mostly and are knitted, knotted, woven and dyes. They are outrageously wearable and have inspired me to take another look at my scarves, etc, and see if I can push them a little further.













A profile, again of interest, is on Kim Simon of Fibre Red http://www.fibrered.com.au/ , as she was a contemporary at RMIT where we both were studying our Diploma of Art, both of us very part time. Her clothing is fabulous, I should own a piece before she gets too famous.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Christmas decorations

I have been convinced by those wiser than I, (and lack of sales at the 9x5 market) that I need to make something little for Christmas. Something that people can spend a little bit of money on. Whilst not making my fortune this way, it may make me feel happier on a quiet sales day, especially when there are lots of people!
However, I find it very difficult to contemplate making Christmas trees and cute things. Finally, I started playing with hyperbolic crochet. Basically, starting with a chain or circle, keep increasing to see what you get.
This is my first attempt. The curly thing! has been done before but is quite effective and the other curls in on itself so that I almost get a ball.


My second attempt with green, red and gold was a bit fine and the two colours together, started to look like mud, and nearly a ball.
My last attempt with red and gold gave me a curly thing that is satisfactory, though I want to make one more set of changes to make it a bit more 'mine'.
The balls have evolved into a flatter thing with curls, which is starting to feel quite good.
This is the process of making sure something is going to work and allows me to give things a particular flavour and still make something quite fun and hopefully decorative.
The next part of the process is to get the colours right. A real red, a bright green and white as white. I have lurex in gold, white and silver (can't find the silver...it's somewhere!)
I would also like to make some with beads, but maybe I'll leave that for another time!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Mosaic knitting

The first UFO is finally finished...if only there weren't so many buttons! I've had some good suggestions for a group name...I like a 'fleet of UFO's' or a 'distraction of UFO's'...the only thing I have to say, is that it's still there.

I had leftover yarn from another project and decided to try some Mosaic knitting. It ended up being quite successful, with all that leftover yarn disappearing, there's now only a small ball of cream left and just enough yellow to go into the compost bin, a fine effort!

I did try this stitch at first thinking I would make a scarf, but, of course, the back is fairly unattractive. Making them into these fingerless mittens was just perfect. Using the fairisle idea of only changing one colour at a time ensured that the colours used in each one matched sufficiently to look purposeful, even though the original colours were not chosen to match each other.

Off to the guild today to 'work' in the library. A pleasurable pastime.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Another pair of socks


What happens when you're heading into Summer, we're all knitting socks. Well a few of us at SnB are, here are my finished socks.


They just need some ends sewn in and they'll be wearable. I learnt a new cast off, a knitted Kitchener stitch. I was a bit awkward, as it isn't designed to be used by a Continental knitter, but I'll manage. I was a bit tight, but that's the 'P' work - practice!


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Seaweed is endlessly fascinating


I hope you all had a successful flutter on the Melbourne Cup. Two of the four of us managed to pick 2nd and 3rd place getters. Good luck to you if you picked Viewed.

We usually spend the long weekend at the beach, this time managing to get down on Sunday afternoon and staying till Tuesday afternoon. It's always a relaxing atmosphere and I always wonder how to maintain the feeling when I get back to Melbourne..????

Anyway, this was another chance to add to the seaweed collection. Not many different types, though I always love the colours and forms of those I found. A new discovery was, don't do this when walking with someone else...."I thought we were walking.."......"We are, I'm just stopping to take photos...."

Saturday afternoon was Experimental Spinning and we spun with cotton, wrapping it around a core. I love cotton, having spun it a few times. It is challenging because it is such a short fibre, but creating punis (mini-rolags using your hand-carder) or using a core, as we did, makes spinning so much easier. Ginned cotton has a very satisfying texture, being full of lumps and bumps. (Question: I do wonder how cotton is processed to remove these?) The resulting yarn is beautiful and soft.

Off to SnB today, yes, we couldn't miss it for a week!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

What is the name for a group of UFO's?

There has to be a name for them, doesn't there.


I'm not talking about the individual UFO's out there. You know....start off knitting that jumper for a significant other, or, in my case, for me, and then you realise that there isn't time in the day for it, if everything else is going to happen, or it's just not working and eventually you'll have to do something....


No, I'm talking about all those, 'gees, that's a good idea, I'll just try that...'. Doesn't matter that they seem to increase daily, or that the deadline to finish something looms. No you'll just have to try it and see.......and before you know it you have....



A great idea for using up those leftover yarns. Just do a little mosaic pattern and change when you run out of yarn, just like in fairisle. Oh, they'll look good as fingerless mittens.




Or, I can't take needles on the airplane, so I'll crochet a background for the crochet and weaving sample. (Yes, Australia is in the dark ages...they took my nailfile!) Maybe that will make an interesting scarf. I do have some lovely yarns to weave.



Or, maybe I'll make another knot scarf with this knot yarn. Oh gee, it's not quite working, so I'll make a reversible lace scarf, but now it needs blocking......WHEN IT'S FINISHED!



And then, finally, there's the one, that's been sitting around for ages. The lovely twisted single, knitted so that there is extra twist, but I can't finish it because, I want to embellish it, but I have no idea what to do, and, if it isn't finished, then I don't have to come up with ANOTHER IDEA!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Back from Sydney

I've come back from an arty weekend in Sydney. Two friends and I went up to see the Woollahra Small Sculpture award, including attending the opening and artist talks, as my friend was an entrant...no, not I.....

It was worthwhile going on many accounts. A beautiful building and a beautiful view. Finding out the winners. I loved the highly commended, but the winner provoked much discussion! The Woollahra Council and Award committee people were very friendly and helpful and seeing all the entrants was worthwhile. I felt that I could make it into this award, I just have to get it right? It was alot of fun attending and supporting my friend, whose work stood out well, including being well displayed...another plus for the organisers.

We also got to be tourists for the weekend, visiting the Gallery of NSW with it's beautiful Monet exhibition, which was well worth a visit, and the permanent collection, including an excellent Contemporary section and some good iconic Australian work.


Took a trip on a ferry. You sort of have to, don't you? Though I think this is more iconic of Sydney in my mind than the big showpieces.


However, you can't go past the Opera house. Though it looks like it needs a bit of a spruce up, it's still amazing and beautiful. Love it.


Great weekend. I'm tired now!