Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I finally figured it out!

Saturday was the HWSG Christmas party and I'm always happy to catch up with all the wonderful people at the guild. So many people interested in all things textiles is just inspiring.

Our inspiration for the day, among lots of others, was a bag that was made, and I quote "from fabric 1/3 the width of its length" and "you just fold and sew here and just fold and sew here".

It was one of those simple Japanese style bags that I love. You tie the ends and it's a very versatile bag.

Well, over coffee later, could we figure it out? It has taken me days, but I've finally got it. Yeah!

1. First the paper. the width, 1/3 the length.

2. Fold the end squares across the diagonal, just so.

3. Just fold diagonally across the middle. This will show you where you need to sew to create a pocket.

This is the bag I made from a length of machine knit fabric. You can see that it fits all sorts of shapes. You do need to make it up first in something firm, but it works rather well like this. I've made another in slightly heavier fabric.

Just a bit of fun when I have tax to sort out......quickly!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A silky gift

What a wonderful place Snb is! The delightful Dr. Bones has given me the most wonderful bag full of moth cocoons. They come from her kindergarten child's teacher who has these growing, I assume, much to the delight of her charges. I'm fascinated by the different colours, ranging from a creamy colour, through soft palest of pale greens through to the vibrant yellow. I wonder if these differences will be seen in the final product?

I'm so excited. Now I have to go and find out how to turn these cocoons into spinnable silk.

PS The boys all liked their new Christmas tree....hooray!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas is coming

It doesn't feel like Christmas until the Christmas tree is up. Nobody has been asking about the tree, so, I guess it's up to me. For the last couple of years we haven't had a permanent tree and have bought real Christmas trees. This year, however, I wanted something that reflected the year, the things I did and the things I'm interested in.

So, I extracted a branch from some Wattle that had been trimmed in our garden. Well, nature trimmed it for us, we just cut it up further! Trimmed it up further and gave it a coat of silver paint.

So, it's a handmade sculpture from found materials and the spray paint was only $7 and is probably the only environmentally unfriendly part of my Christmas tree.

It has decorated up electric lights...and I'm very pleased with it. I am getting my 18 year old to contribute something to the tree as his first adult Christmas, a momento of the year. Can't wait.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


It seems to have been a very chocolatey (?) year. What with spinning chocolate yarns earlier in the year, and ending the year with Chocolate at Experimental Spinning on Saturday.

For the last couple of years, we've been finishing off in December with a celebratory fibre sandwich. This is a wonderful way to do something as a group, to bust a little stash and generally share.

This year the theme was Chocolate, of course! We started with a layer of chocolate, consisting of chocolate fleece, tops and some caramel fleece. Then a layer of strawberry was turning into a chocolate cake. This was made up of silk waste, wool top, cut up fabric, all red, then a little bit of cream, another layer of chocolate and caramel. We finished it off with sprinkles, cut up cotton threads.

This was split up into the number of people who participated and we each spun our portion of the cake.

At the same time we managed to indulge in some real chocolate sponge with home grown raspberries.

And this is my bobbin full of chocolate. Spun directly as it came from the cake. Sometimes I've carded a sandwich before spinning, but this time I just wanted it straight. It's waiting for me to spin a very fine chocolate fleece single which I will use as the second ply.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Don't you just love that, not what you do with a bike and a mountain, but something just a bit better than recycling. That's what I'm hoping to do in my quest to find a non-winter item for my shop and stall. So, in order to further the quest.....

I have bought myself a brand spanking new overlocker!

I've been doing some dressmaking at a local shop and they suggested that I have a look at this very marked down machine from Janome. A great deal is going at the moment on this and also an electronic machine. (Yes, I was sorely tempted, but.....) I went along and came home with the new machine.

Immediately, dearest, came out with a pair of pants that needed fixing......on the normal straight sewing machine. I did give him a quick lesson on the difference and I did fix his pants.

Because of Christmas they're not running their introductory class. Next year I'll learn all the intricacies of overlocking. So right now I'm just keeping it simple.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

On the art of selling textiles

Selling textiles is a very seasonal pursuit. (And let's not talk about selling woollies in Australia....think hot climate, short cold winter...) In the warmer months, it's enough to try and get people to talk to you. On a hot day, they just walk past. This is one of the reasons that I've taken October and November off from the market. December is Christmas, even this has it's problems, as you have to give a present that will not be useful till the winter, but I am ever optimistic.

That's one of the reasons that I have an Etsy shop, to try and break into the Northern Winter. This is not having the desired results, at the moment. The GFC, high value of the Australian dollar, postage costs and this is starting to look like a long term assignment. Four sales, of which two have been cancelled is starting to make me less optimistic than I was last year.


One of the good things is that I've had two months to think of what I might to that could sell during our Australian summer.
I always think that it should be something I'm interested in. And I think earings! I didn't get my ears pierced till my 40th birthday, but my love of earings goes back to my college days. Every party was an excuse to buy an even bigger, more outrageous and cheap (I was a student!) clip-on earing.
Finally, I think I've got a good idea and here are the first complete set:
They're a little rough around the edges, but these are mine! They're handspun silk, handknit and finished with the buttons.
Hopefully, I'm on to something!

Monday, 23 November 2009


I did get back to the DVA 1st year exhibition on Friday and managed to take a couple of pictures. Unfortunately, one of my drawings didn't take to the camera, so I can show you only one.

'Forest' is the title of my little knitted sculpture. I finished it off with 'cupric nitrate'. I think that's right, my chemistry isn't too good. Suffice to say that you heat up the copper, paint on the cupric nitrate, quite a few times, without burning the copper!, and you get that lovely green copper look.
Happy as Larry and a good number of nice comments made.
This drawing was done in two parts. Firstly, the soft toys, then the following week we had to add something 'odd'. I thought scissors and my hat add that strange tension. Sort of worked.
My second drawing was a skeleton holding some soft toys. Sounds like a trend, but my drawing teacher has a very young daughter, from whom he brings in props and shows her photos of the resulting drawings.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Exhibitions galore

Wednesday night was the opening of the DVA first year exhibition at Pigment Gallery. This is a showcase of all the first year students, and each has at least one work in the exhibition.
I am lucky enough to have my little copper wire knitted sculpture titled 'Forest' sitting very nicely on a plinth. Also two of my drawings.
So if you're in the city this weekend, come and have a look.
Details: Pigment Gallery, Level 2, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston St. City
Weds/Fri: 12-6 Sat: 12-4
I was very lucky to have a look at the Banyule City Council, Works on Paper Art Award yesterday. This is an excellent exhibition with an incredible variety of work and a number of artists that I know. In particular: Marco Luccio, Debra Luccio and Mandy Gunn. I also liked the work by Katie Hill. This consisted of individually etched leaves, with charcoal covered backs pinned on a wall, the label for each is a word from the papers around concerning the February bushfires. Both beautiful and poignent.
Oh, and Mandy wove the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
Speaking of Mandy, by good friend Leanne is having an exhibition at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick and by coincidence, Mandy is exhibiting with her. I'm looking forward to this exhibition and hope to catch it soon. Both artists are well worth a look, here are the details:

The Gallery has two exhibitions from 20 November – 20 December 2009, with the official opening on Thursday 19 November.

Mandy Gunn: re-source
In keeping with the pattern of Mandy Gunn’s work over the past fourteen years, re-source focuses on art works constructed from found materials, principally paper. The materials are sourced from the left overs of everyday consumerism, the sort of products which usually find their way into bins, often wrapping or packaging, tickets, envelopes and printed materials.

Leanne Cole: I want, therefore I need
I want, therefore I need examines the culture of consumerism within our society and the excessive need to continually fill our homes with consumerist items. A series of perspex houses containing ceramic objects cast from household refuse, will explore our rampant consumerism and its effect on our living spaces.
Lots to be inspired by

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Doesn't it conjure up pure luxury....cashmere......

I was very generously given a very large amount of cashmere (dehaired, long guard hairs taken out, time saver....) by a member of the HWSG. It was way to much to keep to oneself without feeling extremely selfish...sigh.....So I decided that we could have a session at Experimental Spinning playing with this beautiful fibre.

That was on Saturday and we had lots of fun. Because it is both a very expensive and very short fibre, it is often combined with other fibres. We used silk, silky wool, fine merino and even pink! Beautiful rolags were created and I can't wait to see all the resulting yarns.
I went home and decided to split my 20gms into four and spin a yarn with four different treatments.

1. Mixed with Silky wool (optim), a treated wool that I thought would work well, but it didn't really card well with the cashmere and separated a bit from the cashmere when spinning.

2. Mixed with 18micron merino. This was immediately nicer than the Silky wool and whilst there is a slight different in the pictures, both carding and spinning were much improved.

3. Mixed with Tussah silk. As you can see from the rolags it is beautiful. I wasn't sure that this would work. Even though it came in top form it was still quite long, but I suspect that the critical factor in both the carding and spinning is the thickness, or in this case, fineness of the mixing fibre. For best results they probably do need to be close in micron count.

4. I just spun the cashmere as it came.

I did wonder if I'd put in too much twist for the this skein. Too much twist and I'll lose the softness of the cashmere. I also wanted to keep the different treatments together, so I decided to Navaho ply my single, creating a relatively thick yarn.

This could be a problem as these fabulous fibres are very warm. The resulting scarf will be knitted in a very open lace. I'll show you when it's done.

Oops, forgot.....some things I'd like to try: silk noil and cashmere, what about silk waste with cashmere, fluffy around a core......what else?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Treats and Filous

I love treats, perhaps too much, but there's nothing like knowing your going somewhere and you can combine it with a lovely treat. The treat when going to the Handweavers and Spinners Guild in Carlton is to have coffee and cake at Filous.....just around the corner on the next corner of Lygon St and Fenwick St, Carlton.

This delightful little bakery makes the most wonderful coffee, great cakes and their spinach and mushroom slices are just heavenly.

Disaster has struck. Early Friday morning (3am according to the news report), a car lost control and crashed into Filous. Today is Experimental Spinning, I haven't had a spinach slice for just ages.

In the scheme of things this isn't a great tragedy, except for all the people who work there. However, repairs are already underway, and fortunately, where the car crashed through wasn't where there was expensive equipement and they look like that they'll be back quickly.

The guild meeting is in two weeks, we can just hope.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


This scarf is a culmination of several different threads coming together.

The yarn was handspun and a gift from one of my lovely customers. I decided to dye it using the colours 'Flax' and 'Coral'. This turned out a bit pinker than I'd imagined. The skein, which I forgot to photograph before I wound the ball didn't show this up, but once it was wound, there was the pink. I'm really not sure how that happened?

I had an idea that started with the idea of Autum, though with the pink, perhaps Spring is more appropriate.

That was the first step. These lace leaves occur in lots of pattern books. They consist of increasing without the mirror decrease. This creates a raised leaf, then decrease to bring the end down. I like the idea of playing with the fabric surface, and these are a good way to start.

I decided to knit this lengthwise and with leaves all along. I swatched and it worked well.

The next part of this was to use the provisional cast-off so that I could knit the leaves in two directions. I haven't done this before so I was glad to finally have a reason. You can see the white line is a crochet length from which I picked up the stitches. This was pulled out as the stitches were picked up and I started knitting the leaves in the opposite direction.
So far, so good...but this is a tale of changes, frogging and different endings.
Half way through the second length, it became patently obvious that I was going to run out of yarn. As the scarf is short anyway, some other design feature was going to have to complete the design. (I will do a double row of leaves another day, it was a good idea).
Second idea............frog it again.
Now, you might be thinking that I should have sampled and checked, but sometimes you just have to go with it. It really depends on how much time you're prepared to lose. In this case just a couple of hours to get what I really wanted, and swatching wouldn't have told me if I was going to run out, well not with some great scales and good math!
I finished off one side with the wiggly little cast-off all the way along. For each stitch, cast on three stitches, then cast off four. It created a gorgeous wave.
I undid the other cast-off edge and used the same technique as the other side, except on the tip of the small leaf I did two six-stitch cast-on and off in the one stitch. For the bigger leaf I did three nine-stitch wiggles. Two different edges, I love it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Last Days

Today my exhibition comes down. I'm going to the gallery at 1pm to take photos and bring anything that's not sold home. I don't know where they're going to go, but I do have a few ideas.

I just wanted to thank everyone to wished me well, came to the opening or went and had a look at the exhibition. I have really appreciated your comments. I think I have sold a piece which means that it has been a success all round.

If you want to come and have a last look and a chat with me, there's plenty of time, meet me at 1pm.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Nearly sculpture

How fast has this year shot by. This is my last week of classes, then I have a week to finish the work and then everything has to be handed in on the 9th November.

Monday was my last sculpture class for the year. None of them are finished, but I'm happy with the progress and will be able to finish them on time.

Here they are, in their current state:

There's the plaster sculpture,

the bronze,

and finally, the free choice piece. This is knit copper wire. I'll be doing about 6 or so and need to figure out how to finish them off.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

End of year crazy

No, not me, my young man (not a child anymore) has finished his school days. All that is now left are the exams. They've had muck up (oops), celebration week starting with a costume day and finishing, yesterday, with a big school assembly and being water bombed?

His costume, for Monday was 'the Doppler effect', a suitably nerdy and obtuse reference in a television program. The names of which I have completely forgotton (and he's sleeping in after having dinner and drinks at the Old England Hotel, so I can't ask him).

Sunday was spent buying a cheap t-shirt and tracksuit pants and cutting up interfacing and ironing it on. (He did most, I did the ironing.......he had a party to go to, so ran out of time!)

It did turn out rather well.

He's had a good week and it is strange to now stand back and watch him make his own way in the world. The last event with the school is the valedictory dinner in November, when the exams are over and we can celebrate these wonderful young people.

Good luck to all the VCE students taking exams this year.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Summer School crazy

I've been invited to run a class at Summer School for the Handweavers and Spinners Guild, so I've finally done some samples and decided that the class I had decided to do was doable in a day.
I decided that combining a whole lot of techniques into one yarn would give people a range of new skills or ideas, have a wild yarn and finish the day by knitting it into a simple neckwarmer.
So, first, spin a fat single:

Then, create a wild bat full of allsorts of bits, in this case, very simple, silk waste:

Spin that up:

Then I thought that we could add in some extra commercial yarns to give either texture or colour, and whilst we were plying we could create some great knots.
The resulting yarn looks like this:

You can see the big fat knots (I love them):

Then I thought that we could knit a simple neckwarmer, on really big needles. I think it's good to show how these crazy yarns are really easy to use. They knit up quick and have a fabulous wow factor.

And here's another I did earlier, which is a bit more sedate?

I hope the class runs, as this is going to be fun!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


No, I'm not participating in Blogtoberfest, but I really wanted to. My good friend Dr. Bones, is, and I am trying to increase the number of posts I'm doing this month!

My favourite post from the said Blogtoberfester (?) is the most gorgeous picture of two of her boys. (One big and one small)

As well, I've been meaning to post about Dr Bones' web site, Luv Lees Knits. We've been following the progress at Snb and it's now up and running. She knits classic styled baby clothes in the most gorgeous luxury fibres.....we all get a look as they come off the needles and suitably ooh and aah. So go over and have a look.

PS, how weird does her logo look on my background......hers is much nicer!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Pouring bronze

I was going to blog about Blogtoberfest and friends, but today was so exciting that will have to hold over till tomorrow.

For the past few weeks in my sculpture class we've been working on creating a small wax model in order to cast a bronze statue. Well today was the day we got to travel out to the foundry and watch the pouring.

Creating a bronze sculpture seems exciting enough, however, the process of pouring was something else. Richard, our wonderful teacher, had already taken our wax models to the foundry where they create a ceramic mould around the wax and then heat it up and pour out the wax.

We travelled on the train and bus to Fundere in West Footscray where they were just finishing cleaning up the moulds. We waited as they heated up the bronze to an amazing temperature which produced the most irredescent green flame, cleaned up the bronze (leftover bronze is recycled) and poured the bronze which had a consistency of watery liquid. I'm sorry I don't have pictures but it quite blew me away, that you could heat bronze to that extent.

Left to cool, they then water blasted the ceramic off and cut off the base (the bit that is reused) and we went home with our, yet to be cleaned up sculptures.

And, here is mine.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Fibre and Clay launched

Well, it's up and running. We had a fabulous night last night, plenty of nibbles and drinks and, of course, friends coming to help celebrate. I must thank everyone who came, I do appreciate the support.
I was really nervous beforehand, hoping that everything would be alright, but I needn't have worried. The room was full and there were plenty of appreciative remarks about both Heather and my work.
I'll go again and get some more photos of the individual works (and see if any get sold?) over the next month, as it is up till the 3rd November.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Fibre and Clay

I have been quite busy of late turning these beautiful nylon warps into hopefully, some lovely works. I've been working toward my first 'not quite' solo exhibition.

I do love warps, they often intensify the colours and textures you're using and they hold such promise.

The thinner is 60 ends and the larger is 540 ends. However, after much angst, accidents (don't drop partially dented warps!) and redesign, the big warp was slightly smaller (320 ends!) Despite all this, all the new works that I've made have ended up achieving the result I wanted.

Today was the hanging. I spent all morning trying to get it all just right. Thank goodness the lovely Heather Wilson is there with her wonderful pots and dragons. The Bolin Bolin gallery is much larger when you have to put the work up. Finally, it's up and even looks OK.

If you're free Thursday night 6-8pm, we're having an opening, so please come along and help us celebrate our achievements, we'd love to see you.

Fibre & Clay
Teresa Bennett& Heather Wilson
9th October to 3rd November
9am to 5pm, 7 days a week

Bolin Bolin Gallery at Bulleen Art & Garden,
6 Manningham Rd W., Bulleen. 98505155.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Inspired colours galore

Hugely busy, in need of some gentle recreation, off to Experimental Spinning for the afternoon. Whilst the lovely Charley of Ixchel Angora Bunny and Funky Fibre gave a talk to the spinning certificate group, we carded colours to create all sorts of colours, using basic blue, red, yellow, black and white wool top.

Charley even had one of her absolutely gorgeous, fluffy Angora Bunnies to show.

So an excellent afternoon all round.

On one of my trips to Angus and Robertson in search of bargains I had picked up this book, full of the most wonderfully colourful pictures.
I chose this picture and these are the colours I managed to create.
When the rush is over I'm going to create some more and combine them into a single yarn, full of wonderfully exuberant colour.
Recharged, ready to go, thanks everyone.....

Monday, 21 September 2009

The x-factor team wins!

Sarah, Jen and I competed in the Sheep to Shawl competition held yesterday at the Royal Melbourne Show, and we won, in a time of 3 hours and 15 minutes, setting a new record and being the first winners of the Crossfibres Perpetual Trophy. What a day.

The aim of the event was to spin enough yarn (we spun too much!) ply it, and knit it into a simple shawl. We were provided with a beautiful fleece from the Black and Coloured Sheep Association, and was a beautiful grey from Helen Wright. It was a lovely fleece to spin from.
Everyone had the same pattern, which consisted on three triangles and 3 diamonds, which we could lace together.
In the end we won by 1 minute.
We all went home tired and happy and planning to compete next year!

Friday, 18 September 2009

A busy weekend

Yes, it's going to be a busy weekend. Saturday is the Ivanhoe Makers Market, new name, bright new logo and hopefully a busy day to celebrate the end of Winter and the start of Spring. I'm going to have a 20% off everything sale, to celebrate. I hope that everyone comes and says hello.

These are the latest neckwarmers that I've been working on. Handspun, dyed, knit and finished with a button (of course).

And a few more fingerless mittens.

Then on Sunday, I'm part of a team that will be competing in the Sheep to Shawl competition at the Royal Melbourne Show. The competition starts around 10.30am and finishes when all the teams have spun and knit a shawl, however long that takes.

I've always wanted to have a go at competing, should be fun. It would be nice to have a cheer squad?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Snb dyeing

Last Friday, a few of the members of our Snb group came over to my house and we did a little random dyeing, by way of introduction for them. It was alot of fun and some ordinary yarns were transformed into a myriad of colours.

The basic rule for random dyeing is to minimise, as much as possible, the amount of water in the dyepot to reduce the amount of movement the dye particles can make. Dyes are sprinkled on in varying levels of randomness. (I know, it's either random or not.....but bear with me!) You then continue dyeing as usual, with some housekeeping (read 'poking') throughout to ensure that all parts of the yarn has some dye.

I did my dyeing after they'd all left, trying to get a good red. Again, I did succeed but couldn't help adding a little green. I love the yarn and am ready to knit it up! (Apologies for the picture....I'm recharging my battery....)

I have been determined to use the travelling vine pattern. You know how something gets into your head and won't go away, well....

I've rewritten the pattern adding four more rows to the pattern to give bigger blocks of colour, and, changed needle sizes several times.....back to 4mm needles, sometimes the right size IS the right size.

I'm happy....hope I can finish this by the next market.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I do love stitch patterns

Two projects this month have given me the joy of having to find an appropriate stitch pattern to highlight the yarn. As you may have gathered, I do love stitch dictionaries. I can walk past many a pattern book, but will walk over hot coals to get to a new stitch pattern book.

The first yarn was bought from Wendy Dennis at this years sheep and wool show. I had no idea what sort of pattern might suffice.

I have a lovely book: 'Traditional Knitting Patterns from Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, Italy and other European Countries' by James Norbury, which I do love. I found a pattern called 'Mrs Hunters pattern. It's a lovely simple four row pattern and it worked. However, it did skew to the left and would need a little blocking when finished.......This is where I made my mistake.

I decided, in my folly....I had found the perfect try and find another. Of course none worked and eventually, giving in to common sense, went back to Mrs Hunter.

It only needed light blocking and is just gorgeous. Lots of movement and of course the yarn is just gorgeous, as you would expect from Wendy Dennis. The joy of knitting is every single length of a beautiful yarn passes gently through your fingers as you watch it grow.

The next yarn is my fine fractal yarn. If you recall (I think I blogged about it?) I was a bit disappointed with the result. However, I now have a request that I knit the yarn up, if the person requesting can have first choice. I am very happy to do this.

The journey for this yarn was a little different. I knew exactly what I wanted and explaining to a friend, found it in a Barbara Walker book (which I don't have, but will one day....), but I then was able to find it in my Traditional knitting book. Hooray! I just love the way the fabric moves, it will work perfectly.....

No, it didn' needed larger areas of colour, so I went in search about this one?

Yep, I think I like it!

aaaagh, knitting.................