Weaving experiment Gone Wrong!

It is not my intention to instruct you on how to weave using a rigid heddle loom. There are plently of blogs and YouTube videos out there which will do that. I’m going to tell you about my triumphs and disasters, my frustrations and accomplishments, my silly mistakes and my happy ones.

This is my forth post about weaving. You can see my previous post here

I’d followed instructions to the letter and finished a couple of scarves which I was reasonably pleased with. Now I needed to try something for myself. Perhaps I was running before I could walk but if you don’t try you wont know.

A few years ago I decided to have a go at felting a bag. The bag is still lying around forlornly in a cupboard, unused, and missing a handle (I’ve retrieved it for this photo) but I love the way the knitting turned into a felted fabric.

I wondered whether I could do the same thing with a woven scarf but I had no idea how to go about it.

I decided to weave a test piece. I had some 100% wool in my stash. The ‘pull’ test with some black and red wool proved it wouldn’t be strong enough for the warp. But I had some ferociously strong plain black wool.  The strength must be something to do with the way it’s woven. I’ll put this on my need-to-find-out-more list.

As this was just an experimant I wove a piece roughly 73 cm (29 inches) long and 34 cm wide (13 inches). Looking back I wonder why I didn’t make it smaller as it was no use to me that size and I’d wasted a load of wool. Anyway, too late now.

The wool band said ‘hand wash’ so I stuck it in the washing machine on a wool wash. It didn’t shrink at all so I had another go on a 40′ wash and it worked. It worked a little too well. My own fault. I haven’t learnt by a previous, similar, mistake when I was wet felting a cushion cover. The key here is patience. I really should have put on the rubber gloves, ran some water as hot as I could stand and fulled the fabric by hand. That way I could have controlled the amount of felting. Anyway, too late now (again!).

I love the finished effect and the feel of the felt but it’s far too thick for a scarf.  It’s perfect for an autumn or spring coat but at 40 cm (16 inches) x 22 cm (8.5 inches) it might just do for a small dog. 

 Experiment – fail – learn – repeat.

I’m not sure quite what to use it for. I might cut it up, finish the edges and get four coasters out of it. 

                                                                  

                                    

On a positive note I haven’t bought any new yarn. I’m making my mistakes using yarn that was lying around doing nothing and taking up precious storage space. It’s costing me nothing and I’m freeing up space for lovely new yarn which I keep eying up at my local market. 


 


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Wednesday

Chatting about the gubbins of my daily life, my rummage through the moments in my day which bring me pleasure.

In the days, weeks and years to come I hope to be able to look back on these posts with fondness. Perhaps you will enjoy reading them.

Christmas is coming!

Sometimes I am so busy enjoying my life that I don’t have time to write about it. That’s got to be a good thing but I do enjoy writing and miss it if I don’t have time.

Our Wednesdays are usually spent doing the morning and evening school runs and food shopping. A couple of weeks ago we had Wednesday off in exchange for extra duties on Thursday and Friday

It turned out to be one of those almost perfect days. Everything had gone to plan and I was feeling happy with my lot.

I’d woven my latest scarf and was pleased with the result. Plain weaving is an easy going sort of craft. It takes a bit of concentration but not too much so my mind can wander off onto other things. It’s not hard physically, and best of all it’s quick. If all goes to plan I can easily finish a scarf in a few hours. 

The Christmas dough shapes I cut out on Tuesday were dry.  I’d had a go at colouring them with felt tips and it worked. Admittedly paint would have covered better but I was hoping I could persuade the grandchildren to go with the felt tips. I get twitchy when the kids get out the paints!

Experience tells me that a really good day has to be balanced somewhere down the line so it doesn’t pay to be too smug or self satisfied.

Anyway on Wednesday night we are all prepared for Thursday and Friday with the kids. 

We have four fabulous grandchildren but we only look after my step-daughter’s three. Our eldest – my step-son’s daughter is older and more than capable of looking after herself.

So we have G who is an eight year old girl and S and L who are five year old twins – a girl and a boy.

Thursday morning was a bit fraught. G was upset because mummy was going away for a few days. She still looked in need of a good cuddle when we got to school. S was also unhappy but soon came round and L decided to get in on the act by insisting his school shoes were too tight and refusing to put them on. I ended up carrying him to the car and putting his shoes on when we got to school. 

After school the dough colouring went down well and we cut out shapes from some new dough to bake later. Then off to the local chippy for a fish and chip tea which was supposed to be a treat. L wanted a hot dog but they didn’t have any and S felt sick so I took her home.

Just a typical day really.

BUT … Friday morning was definately pay back for Wednesday.

Non uniform day at school and nobody could decide what to wear. G was soon sorted but she lulled us into a false sense of security.

S wanted to wear her ballet dress but no tights or cardigan. It was just too cold, but as is the way with children, she refused to engage with me in choosing anything else. After much cajoling and persuasion we settled on a party dress (with long sleeves) and thick tights. All was well.

Now to L – our little boy. He wanted to wear football shorts but grandpa, daddy and I said it was too cold. He chose something else but changed his mind. We had every pair of trousers out of his wardrobe but, no, he was having none of it. With time running out we compromised with shorts over a pair of trousers and his foorball shirt but by this time he had got himself into a state and wouldn’t be consoled. He was still crying when he went into class.

‘Never again’ I said as we finally got in our car to go home for a welcome cuppa.

To Friday afternoon assembly and G was recieving an acheivement award presented in front of the school and parents. S and L also got prizes for spelling and 100% attendance that week. The whole thing was a joy. Everyone was happy and it was the weekend – yey.

By the end of the evening all three children and daddy were at ours for tea. There were toys all over the lounge, paint and glue in the conservatory and half eaten plates of food in the kitchen. 

Ice cream time and we were playing a game that involved thinking of names for letters of the alphabet. All starts off sensibly and we are getting around the alphabet without too much arguing about who said what. We are on to the letter ‘P’. Someone shouts ‘Penny’ and grandpa asks what’s a longer name for Penny. Quick as a flash, with absolute certainty L shouts ‘pound!’. 

Well; we all fell about laughing. You can’t fault his word association can you? I’m guessing you had to be there to appreciate how funny it was but this may well make me smile for many years to come.

After that it developed into chaos with eveyone shouting out any name they could think of. 

‘I’ve got one beginning with C.’

‘but we’re onto R.’ 

‘Well I’ve got one beginning with J.’

‘but we’re onto R – Oh never mind.’

Life’s good.

Todays best bits (4/12/18)

Unexpected walk in the sunshine.  I went to the wrong shop to pick up a parcel and had to walk for another half hour to get to the right place. Its a best bit because it should have been annoying but the longer walk was actually a bonus.

Todays boring bits (4/12/18)

TV – not boring at all actually: Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas: The Christmas Chronicles

Weather – Lovely morning. Cold, clear and sunny. It’s been wet for a few days.

Tea – meatballs and linguine

 

Weaving – Football Scarf

It is not my intention to instruct you on how to weave using a rigid heddle loom. There are plently of blogs and YouTube videos out there which will do that. I’m going to tell you about my triumphs and disasters, my frustrations and accomplishments, my silly mistakes and my happy ones.

This is my third post about weaving. You can see my previous two here and here

‘How about making a Leeds United scarf for my brother’s birthday’ suggested hubby.

OK, I had some blue, yellow and white yarn in my stash but it was 100% acrylic and not my favourite. I’m not sure why I have such a lot of cheap acrylic yarn but I have a big bag of single balls in a rainbow of colours.

You know the recommendation you are given to keep the wool band? Clearly not advice I had heeded as there is no information about this yarn. I think it’s double knit. It certainly seems thinner than the aran I used for my first scarf.

After scrutinising my first attempt thoroughly I identified a couple of areas for improvement. There were perhaps more than two, but these were glaringly obvious.

  1. Selvedges:- I joined a lovely Facebook group when I first bought my loom and from the discussions I already knew selvedges were difficult to master. My selvedges on the first scarf were loopy because I was concentrating on not pulling the sides inwards. I finished up with scarf uniformally wide but with messy edges. My (Handwoven Home) book gives me plenty of advice and I decided to concentrate on my weft angle. 

2. Uneven beating:- I think this is all about practice but my research did help me to deduce I might be bashing away with too much gusto. Holes are necessary, gaps are good. They will close up after washing. (I have subsequently discovered more about beating but not at this stage of my learning curve)

So I’m off on my second attempt. 

The warping didn’t go to plan! I started on the right hand side happily walking up and down looping my wool over the peg. My two tables to which I clamp the peg and the loom are a bit lightweight and I hadn’t realised they were creeping towards each other. By the time I worked my way to the left hand side the right hand loops were as limp as cooked spaghetti! 

I tried to even out the tension by running my fingers through the individual strands. It wasn’t ever going to be perfect but I didn’t want to start again. 

The wool was all over the place when I wound it around the back beam but, in the spirit of learning, I carried on to see how the end result would be affected by the uneven – no downright messy- warping.

 As it happens, when I started to weave the individual strands they seperated nicely and the tension seemed quite uniform. You can see from this photo that I didn’t change the weft very neatly.  I have a row which is thicker than its neighbours. I’ve found out since that I should split the yarn. 

I don’t think the yarn bloomed at all. I’m guessing it was some sort of superwash stuff that doesn’t alter much after wetting.

Below is a photo of the finished scarf. I am reasonably happy but the selvedges are still uneven and the beating isn’t regular. I had trouble with knotting the fringe because the weft started to unravel.

I didn’t enjoy working with acrylic yarn but the thinner ply gave the finished scarf a softer drape than my first which I really like. 

I’ll definately use double knit with the 7.5 dent heddle again but a wool/acrylic mix.


Weaving – My first scarf

It is not my intention to instruct you on how to weave using a rigid heddle loom. There are plently of blogs and YouTube videos out there which will do that. I’m going to tell you about my triumphs and disasters, my frustrations and accomplishments, my silly mistakes and my happy ones.

This is my second post about weaving. You can see my first post here

Warping a loom takes space which I’m a bit short of. If you want to weave a scarf that’s, say, 1.5 metres long you need a couple of metres to stretch your yarn out. A big table is useful here but I don’t have one.

I hadn’t thought this through. Would I have to go out to buy a new table – Ikea? second hand?  Ahh but why does it have to be one table? All that I needed was two ends to which I could attach clamps. So with a flimsy folding pinic table at one end of the conservatory and our ‘Christmas’ table at the other I was ready to go. (Our Christmas table is a white melamine affair with screw in legs that we put together at Christmas to be piled up with goodies).

My loom came with a booklet explaining how to weave a scarf and at 3.30pm on 2nd November (I know this because my camera tells me what time I took the photo) I was starting to warp for the first time. 

I used yarn (aran 25% wool 75% acrylic) I bought from John Lewis several years ago to knit some cushion covers. The cushions are still waiting for covers and now the wool had a new use. I didn’t know whether the yarn was the right ply for my heddle but it went through the holes and didn’t seem too loose so I ploughed on.

All went well until I was told to get a friend to help me. I didn’t have a pal within reach but luckily there is a video here to cover this situation. 

After I had wound the warp around the back beam I had to cut the yarn and let it go! This was the most nervewracking moment so far. Maybe the wool would spring round the beam and disappear in a tangled mess of ends. As it was it just gently sank onto the table. I tied the ends onto the front beam, settled the loom against the edge of the table and the exciting part began.

 I finished the scarf within a few hours and triumphantly waved it in front of my husband who declared it as ‘great’ and claimed it for his own.

It’s a little too short and the selvedges are a bit wonky. I’ve spotted a mistake where the weft has passed over two threads instead of over and under.

The rows are uneven which, I assume, is because I don’t beat evenly and maybe my warp tension isn’t consistent. I actually quite like the variation.

On the plus side it’s the same width all the way along, and all in all, I’m happy.

I didn’t think it bloomed much after washing but the low wool content probably affected this. 

This must be one of the easiest crafts I have tried. Easy to start, but I suspect, very difficult to master. Wool is fluffy and stretchy and because of this covers a multitude of sins. I have aspirations to weave with cotton and linen which, I think, will be challenging.

For now I will keep practising with plain weave scarves.

 

 

Cruising

Chatting about the gubbins of my daily life, my rummage through the moments in my day which bring me pleasure.

In the days, weeks and years to come I hope to be able to look back on these posts with fondness. Perhaps you will enjoy reading them.

 

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Photo of the Day – on board Aurora

We returned from a cruise on October 10th 2018

Whilst we may not be completely decision averse, we do have difficulty in taking the plunge. Sometimes we can’t decide whether to buy Cross and Blackwell or Heinz beans so booking a 24 night holiday was momentous.

I’m not sure when I first had a hankering to sail into New York City. We visited for the first time in 2009 specifically to see Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at Madison Square Garden. That alone made it special. The places we visited and the friends we made during our stay are another story, but those few days are still the best days of my life. Perhaps that’s why I fell in love with NYC. 

We thought about booking for our Silver Wedding Anniversary in April 2017, but in the end, decided to go for my sixtieth. As it happened we were in the middle of the Atlantic on my birthday so it worked out perfectly.

When I started looking, the only crossing I could find from the UK was on the Queen Mary.  It was important I sailed over from the UK but if you were to ask me why, I couldn’t really explain. Perhaps it was the romantic notion of immigrants sailing over to the land of the free. Just as well we weren’t planing on doing it for real, given the current situation in the USA.

The Queen Mary had it’s drawbacks though, not least of which was no convenient return sailing. We would disembark in NYC, transfer to a hotel for a few days then fly back. Not a problem really but we talked ourselves out of it. We love New York but did we want to spend time there on this holiday? Would there be a problem over the weight of suitcases for the plane? What about the hassle of unpacking on the ship only to have to pack again for the hotel transfer, unpack at the hotel and pack again to fly home.

I had forgotten about it, but presumably hubby had not. One evening he spotted a cruise which sailed from Southampton into NYC then sailed up the eastern coast of the USA, on to Canada and back to Southampton. It seemed perfect. 

After much procrastination we were in the Travel Agents – our local independent is a cruise specialist so we decided to draw on their expertise.  We convinced ourselves we didn’t have to make a decision straight away. We were just fact finding, testing the waters (an appropriate idiom I thought) but when I started searching for our perfect cabin – not near the launderette, not near or beneath the disco or the theatre – we knew it was getting serious. 

So it was on 24 September 2016 we booked a transatlantic cruise, sailing on the P&O Aurora, on 16th September 2018 – almost two years away.  Plenty of time to get used to it and change our minds!

 

Today’s best bits

Making salt dough Christmas decorations

Booking a cruise around New Zealand for our visit to the Australian relatives in 2020.

 

Today’s boring bits

Weather – cold, wet, windy. Worst weather for a long while

Tea – Home made chilli (from the freezer) and baked potatoes

TV – Robin Hood (the one with Russell Crowe). Well – I was only half watching between weaving

Lego builders thingy

 

Visitors – sketchy memories

Chatting about the gubbins of my daily life, my rummage through the moments in my day which bring me pleasure.

In the days, weeks and years to come I hope to be able to look back on these posts with fondness. Perhaps you will enjoy reading them.

 

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Photo of the day – The family

Friday 3rd August 2018 and beyond.

Today’s post is a perfect example of how easy it can be to forget the details of what happened only a few months ago. Heaven help me if I ever need to provide an alibi to the police –

‘Where were you on 10th August 2018 at 7.00pm?’

‘Errr ummm I can’t remember officer’

Whist Melinda and Greg were with us we went out for a curry one night. We had home-made lasagne another night. It was dry and unappetising and I usually make a great lasagne. I can’t remember which we ate on Thursday and which on Friday.

We had nothing planned for the Friday so hubby and I thought it might be an idea to take Greg and Melinda for a short walking tour around our neck of the woods. Visiting stately homes might be lovely but it didn’t give our Australian visitors a real feeling of life in small town Yorkshire.

Hubby and I are really disorganised when it comes to daytime meals. We often forget to eat at lunch time. Hunger sets in mid afternoon so we have a cup of tea and a sandwich, then we’re not really ready for our evening meal.

So we set out for a walk to our local park, and whilst we were strolling through, hubby and I realised it was well past lunch time. We knew there were pubs round about but had never eaten in any of them.  The first we arrived at had stopped serving food and we didn’t like the look of the second. The third place had always looked lovely from the outside so we ventured in. It wasn’t very inviting but by this time we were desperate. In any event the place was so small we couldn’t sneak out without being seen! We had a horrid sandwich and a quick drink.  The less said about it the better.

Note to self for future visitors – always factor in a picnic lunch.

Time for the big family get together on Saturday.  Hubby’s relatives all live close by and from time to time we have everyone round for our ‘famous’ chilli and curry days. We prepare several big pans of food, together with bread, baked potatoes, tortilla chips and always chicken nuggets and pizza as a stand by for the kids. Everyone just digs in and helps themselves. It’s very informal, always a bit chaotic but fun.

The weather was lovely so we opened the conservatory doors and we all spilled out into the garden. I’m sure Greg and Melinda had to answer loads of questions about life in Oz. The boys – from 5 years to 65 played football in the street. The girls played with our stash of toys and did a bit of drawing. The rest of us ate and drank.

Everyone seemed to have a good time. I always enjoy these days. We should do it more often.

We had a full day again on Sunday. Lunch at a pub in a local village for the four of us and hubby’s brother and wife (Trevor and Val), then the six of us off to Elland Road for the first match of the season.

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At Elland Road

The only special request we had for the visit was a trip to see a football match. Perhaps Greg was hoping for Premiership but the season hadn’t started so Leeds United in the Championship it was.

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Greg in Leeds Utd polo shirt – the Leeds salute

 

It was a great match.

Leeds won and Greg bought the t-shirt – well a polo shirt actually.

 

We rounded off the day sitting in Trevor’s and Val’s garden, eating takeaway pizza, drinking beer and Prosecco, relaxing and chatting. It was perfect.

So Monday came and it was time for goodbyes. We had been working on the jigsaw a little every day and it was very nearly finished. We needed more hours for the jigsaw and at least five more days to fit in everything Mike and I had planned

You might remember I said I wasn’t relaxed about having visitors. Well if they are all like Greg and Melinda ‘bring it on’ I say.  They were a joy to have.

 

11th November 2018

Todays Best Bits

Visiting my step-son and his wife and daughter (our granddaughter). They are opening a sandwich shop tomorrow and we wish them all the luck in the world.

Finding out more about the First Word War. I’m an information junkie so today, realising how little I know, I did a bit of research and I’m better informed tonight than I was this morning.

 

Todays boring bits

Weather – wet and dull this morning. Cheering up this afternoon with a bit of blue sky and sun.

Tea – Spanish style chicken bake. It’s a Hairy Dieters (Bikers) recipe that we come back to again and again.

TV – Man City v Man Utd – City won. We liked Pep Guardiola’s knitted jacket!

Darkest Hour – a film about Winston Churchill which we had recently seen on our cruise. Good film so worth a second viewing.

 

I can’t let today go by without mentioning that it’s the centenary of the end of the first world war.Version 2

At the going down of the sun and in the morning 

We will remember them.

Weaving

 

Anyone who knows me well, will be aware that I am a craftaholic. I love handicrafts of any kind and I’m at my happiest when I am creating.

About three months ago I decided I would like to try my hand at weaving. I’m not sure why this idea came to me. I think I saw something on TV.  I had a look around the internet to see whether I could weave at home and, yes, there is a way.  

I bought a book. It has lovely photos but could have been written in a foreign language. I have a cupboard full of craft books some of which have never been used and this could very well be joining them!

I did some more on-line research but didn’t really get to grips with the workings of the loom and the terminology used. Shuttle: picker: warp: weft: front rest: back bar: reed. I’m not usually phased by anything creative and willing to give most things a go, but this all seemed a big investment in time and money for a craft I might not be able to master. I tried to put the idea to the back of my mind but it was never too far from my crafty brain cells.

My mother-in-law gifted me some money for my birthday. She worked in the Lancashire cotton mills in her youth so it seemed fitting that I put this money towards my loom. My hubby talked about her weaving skills in his family history blog.

Back to the research and it seems that a rigid heddle loom is good for beginners.

I didn’t know what a heddle was – rigid or not.

I wasn’t sure about ordering on-line when my experience was zero but I went for it, and three days later, my loom arrived.

So now I have a book and a loom.

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It stayed in the box for a while, partly because I was busy with something else and partly because I was a bit intimidated by the bits and pieces that needed to be put together.

Finally on 1st November 2018 I got everything in the right place and I was ready to go.

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   Oh! By the way this is the rigid heddle.

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