Friday, 29 August 2008

How plans change

Had this weekend all planned, well no plans really, that was the point! One crazy idea....well I thought it was crazy......revealed, and what do you know, I'm spending Saturday and Sunday afternoons, spinning and knitting at Incube8tr (12-4pm).
So in preparation, this is meant to be also an opportunity to go to work!, I've been cutting up silk to use in my silk scarves. I've dyed the first lot, and I've practiced my woollen spinning, so I can create a yarn to ply with the silk. I think the wool gives a better fabric with some of the bounce of wool and it doesn't detract from the silk.
My next dyeing will be with some Rosemary, inspired by India Flint. I always have rosemary in my garden, for remembrance, and my bush is somewhat overgrown, though, right now in glorious flower. It's supposed to give a green, we'll see!
What adventures! So, if your in the area, pop into Incube8tr and see this gorgeous shop with me in it, it might just be the shop for you.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Dyeing with plants

I've been diving into the new book by India Flint, called 'Eco Colour', courtesy of the HWSG library. (One of the very good reasons to join the guild - a fabulous library).

The book is proving to be quite inspirational. The detail on colours that can be obtained, whilst covering wide ground is not extensive, however, the technical information on dyeing is terrific and the ideas included well worth reading, all with a very strong eye to the environmental impact and harm minimisation is excellent. I still have to read further and check some information, but so far this has been very worthwhile and got me looking at all the plants in my backyard.

I then went back to the books I have which cover dyeing: 'Natural Plant dyes' and 'Dyemaking with Australian Flora', both excellent references. Their lists were much more extensive and complete. For example, 'Eucalypts' are one reference for 'Eco Colour' and pages in 'Dyemaking with Australian Flora'. Having said that there are some plants mentioned by India Flint that I couldn't find in the other books. (Weeds in my back yard - hooray), and, I don't think that is the purpose of her book.

Surprisingly, I did find myself getting overwhelmed by the detail in the reference books I have and want to get back to India Flint, for her inspiration. She is trying to do more extensive research into colours by enlisting people around the countryside. I hope she's successful, as that would be a terrific companion to this book. Have a look at this book, it's terrific.

'Eco Colour - botanical dyes for beautiful textiles' by India Flint.

Murdoch Books, Australia, 2008

'Dyemaking with Australian Flora' by The Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria

Rigby, Adelaide, 1974

'Natural Plant Dyes' by Judith V. Hallett

Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, 1992

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

SnB fun

SnB was a great deal of fun, but it did start disastrously for me! The boys had a curriculum day, so it was a bit of a crowded and slow start to the day. Having finally sorted them and myself out, I went to grab my knitting to head off to SnB. I am only the raglan top of the second sleeve away from finishing this off. To my horror, after furious searching of house and car and the gradual dawning of the realisation that I had left the knitting at the beach. No problem I have some socks, which were meant to be my next project. These were found...missing one four needle...more hunting....found. Hooray! Headed off to SnB, 20 minutes (of good knitting time) late.
I could hear them as I rounded the corner. We had a bumper crowd, already well into their projects, enjoying each others' company. Terrific morning.
For those of you that are interested, our new knitter has completed 63cm of her scarf, which is looking gorgeous.
I went home and finished the socks. I like my socks, they were knitted with some bargain basement Bendigo yarn, obtained on last year's trip to Bendigo, at their shop. I need new socks and am a bit disappointed at the commercial stuff. It's either too thin...I have cold feet....or, uninteresting, so I'm going to knit my socks. There is nothing like handknitted socks. Everyone should try at least one pair, just to know what everyone is talking about. So I'm off to Woolybutt today to get some sock yarn, ready for next Tuesday.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Country Conference at Phillip Island

I have just returned from a long weekend at the beach house for the Kooromon Groups' Country Conference, held at Phillip Island.

Friday night was at the house with friends and a wonderfully cooked Sri Lankan meal. Saturday morning was spent over at Churchill Island's Farmers Market. This was fun, sampling and purchasing wine, cheese, olives, bread......a lucky coincidence and a very pleasant way to spend the morning.

The afternoon was spent at the conference centre, catching up with friends, and attending a workshop creating beautiful yarns with a tutor who is extremely experienced and knowledgeable and gentle with those that were experiencing these techniques for the first time. It's interesting that in the hands of a good teacher, I managed to learn some new things, including a new yarn. Wouldn't it be sad to get to a point where you thought you'd learnt everything about a topic. I hope I never get there. Conference dinner, then home for supper and a very late night!

Sunday was a visit to Churchill Island, the animals showing off to the best advantage.

Surprising little spinning and knitting was done....but much discussion was had with ideas, information, fun and family tales providing a much needed spirit raiser. So much to do.....

All in all, worth doing again.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

It's a white board

Yes it is a white board. This is my latest challenge. A friend is curator for the Heidelberg Theatre Company and they're putting on the play 'Don's Party'. An iconic Australian play set on Federal election night in 1969. For the foyer 'exhibition' she's asking artist's to paint a board to reflect this time, and, I'm one of them.

That year was interesting for a number of reasons. I was turning 12 and starting my first year of high school. (Yes, I was a year early, wouldn't recommend it, but don't get me started!) It was also when man first landed on the moon. I don't remember much about starting High school (Williamstown Girls' High) but I do remember the moon landing. We watched it on my girlfriends' portable television, which she brought to school. It was a fabulous moment in time.
However, back to the board. I think I'll just take it one step at a time. First, the background colour. An obvious choice is lime green, pink, mission brown......I'll look through some photos of the time and see....

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Finally some yarn

Remember this bobbin...yes the bobbin spun from the fibre sandwich, from Harrietville, way back in March. Well, I didn't actually spin it in March, but....Anyway, remember I couldn't decide on the colour of the single to, purple??? I finally decided on purple and spun....

this. It's First Editions Merino top in their colour Merlot. I had great difficulty photographing this, but it's much darker/dirtier purple. More like the purple you can see in the first bobbin.

I spun the 100gms fairly finely and plyed them together, allowing the fibre sandwich single to wrap gently around the merlot single. Just to get a little bit more texture into the resulting yarn and to try and minimise the effect of the merlot. It's supposed to 'sit behind' the fibre sandwich, just enough to give the resulting yarn some consistency.

It worked and these are the resulting two skeins. The purple is showing alot in the picture, but I'm happy with the result.
I was going to navaho ply the remainder of the merlot, but there is far too much. This was supposed to be an exercise in cleaning up my bobbins. I think I'll now stash hunt and find some matching top and take it to Country Conference on the weekend.
Today is SnB, I'm having such fun knitting for myself....half a sleeve to go!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Knitting for love

Sometimes it's just nice, knitting a basic pattern, with wool from your stash for family. A no-brainer with a happily satisfied receiver.

My oldest son (17) is obviously feeling the cold at the moment and put in a request for some gloves. Could I make them for tomorrow?, but I'll do them on the weekend.

He didn't want fingers as he wants to wear them in class and even short fingers can be awkward, so we modified the pattern, kept the thumb, left off the fingers. Did both of them yesterday, met with approval and we're all happy.

It did mean that I had to find this very safe and reliable pattern book. I don't know how many times I've used this book for measurements, patterns...just the basics. I even lost it for awhile and HAD to buy another before I eventually found it.

It is a bit dated, but what the heck!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The garden is bursting

Despite the cold, wet weather we're having...we do need the rain, still only around 30% of capacity in our dams....where is all this water going?....the plants in my garden and all around know that something has changed.

This wattle has been teasing me with beautiful little buds and finally is bursting out.

Once that happened, these two have also decided to show their particular style of flower.
Walking around my neighbourhood, the magnolias are just magnificant and blossom is appearing on trees. I love the way plants herald what is to come, so somewhere there is Spring.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

9"x5" Quality Makers Market - 1st birthday

Tomorrow is market day and we're celebrating our first birthday. It should be a fun day with balloons, cake and champagne. There'll be a raffle and hopefully lots of people will come and enjoy our market.
In honour, I've made a bunch of wrist warmers with new special packaging and a special price for the day. Hopefully they'll work out.
If you come to the market, come and have a chat, I'll have my spinning wheel going and I've been threatened with some cat hair to spin!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Solar Dyeing surprise

Well now I'm intrigued. I pulled out the 'solar dyed' skein and rinsed it out. More of a 'want a look' rather than any surety that the dye had taken. I rinsed it out....not much dye came out....good...

As you can see, the left is the heated with strong bits of colour, fairly well defined, the right skein is the solar dyed, the colours have mixed in alot so it is uniform and 'muddy'.

I did not expect this as I had done the two skeins at exactly the same time with what I thought were similarities in both technique and dye quantities. However, it was not a scientific test, and this result suggests that I should do another lot!

I have some commercial yarn, crying out for change in colour, I'll just have to sacrifice that to the cause!

Using the heat of the oven after cooking and turned off, what a good idea, though that does suggest I cook! Further suggestions for 'free' heat are gratefully received.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Woollahra Sculpture Award

Well it's done. I've sent off the entry form for the Woollahra Sculpture award. That was hard. The award attracted over 400 entries last year, with only 40 selected for the $10,000 first prize. So it's difficult to imagine that I'll make the cut, so motivation was quite difficult.

I am, however, very pleased with what I have submitted. I had been worried that I haven't been doing as much sculpture over the last year as I've concentrated on the 9x5 market and other retail opportunities, and that, as a result, my work wouldn't be strong. This is probably one of my best resolved pieces with the ideas coming together and the construction falling into place as well. And it is alot better submission than I put in two years ago.

I do need to keep working on this, I do want to finish, so I have something available if other opportunities arise. And I wait for the 22nd August, when the final 40 are announced.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Cramjar dyeing

Saturday was Experimental spinning, however, as there was a very interesting 'secret' event happening at the guild, it was a very truncated meeting.
The topic was cramjar dyeing and I managed to give it a try on the Saturday morning. I did two dyes, one so we could see the finished product and the other to show how I'd achieved the effect.
Essentially with cramjar dyeing you want the yarn, fibre or fabric to soak up all the dye. To aid this I first wet the skein, damp but not wet. I did the dyeing in thirds with three different colours. I mixed the dye first, making sure it was well mixed. (Always difficult for me, as I just want to get on with the dyeing, but I was patient!)
The first third is easy as there's no possibility of mixing with anything. Subsequent thirds are more tricky, so careful pouring and gentle squeezing to distribute the dye. We're trying to have minimal mixing, which obviously doesn't happen. Then the last third was the same.
I then heated my beaker, very gently, so it wouldn't burn, then rinsed the skein.
The second beaker, I'm experimenting with 'solar' dyeing. As it's the middle of winter, this hasn't been easy, so I've had it in the car and sitting on top of the ducted heating vents. I do this for several reasons: one of my favourite guild members, who is no longer with us, used to solar dye everything and I'm honouring her memory. The other is just the idea of minimising my impact by not using electricity. (There's a lovely article on with further references for making solar ovens)
I'll have to take the skein out soon. See what happens, hope for the best!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


I've been working on my sculpture, nominally titled 'Watching'. The proposal to Woollahra needs to be sent off on Wednesday, so there will be pictures for tomorrow. Love the sculpture so far, have found it difficult to do all the paper work, but it is coming along.
I have been to painting. It's still not finished, but only a bit more to do. I'm happy with it, for a first attempt in a long time.
The use of colour in painting is where I fall down. It's used to suggest shadow and depth in a way I'm still not sure about. This painting has come more easily than usual, a very helpful teacher is good. We'll be trying fabric next!

Friday, 1 August 2008


I had been wanting to go to the Art Deco exhibition at the NGV International, and a friend, who had been said that it was fantastic, made me so determined, I went on Wednesday.

It was fantastic. It covers an amazing array of articles from jewellery to clothing, ceramics, paintings, textiles, even a car and the front door and stairs from the Strand Hotel in London. All were fabulous pieces, well presented with a really good use of modern technology scattered through the exhibition. I particularly liked that they had scanned one of the sketch books of a designer, and you could, electronically, look through the book.

Most of this has come from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, with the Australian experience woven into the exhibition. It gave it breadth and relevance. The pieces were exquisite, some of the jewellery.....well all of the jewellery was amazing. I only managed to go through the exhibition's also large, so I don't have a favourite piece. Worth a very long visit, or repeated visits.

Note: Art Dec 1910-1939

NGV International. 28th Jun - 5th Oct 08 (Cost: $22)

I also received a beautiful gift in the mail, in exchange for some information, for which I had already been rewarded, so a double bonus. Lewis Harper made this yarn wrap measuring instrument which includes 1/2 inch and 1 inch lengths, beautifully woodturned in pittosporum. I love it. Give him a ring if you want one!
Note: Lewis Harper - Woodturner
Phone: 52784606