Monday, 10 September 2018

I'm a Weaver

Over the years the painting that started this blog off has morphed through mixed media to quilting, art quilting and two years ago to weaving.  Having come back to this blog after a bit of a break I realise I have a two year gap in my journey as a weaver and have shown very little of my weaving here.  I have been sharing it over on Facebook but I thought I'd try and keep a record here too.  So far most of my weaves have either been for myself or for presents for unsuspecting friends and family.  As I mentioned previously I am going to be selling weaves for my niece's charity Evie's Gift.  I have such a stock of yarns that it will be a relief to move some of the results of my weaving on and to raise funds for an important cause in the process.

So, where to start with the fruits of my labours over the last two and a half years?

I love this fabric that is made with mostly wool and silk (mostly Noro yarns).  I think it will end up being a jacket but it is still waiting for me to finish the sewing.

This lovely turquoise and blue confection was woven on a rigid heddle loom and is a cotton weave.  It doesn't know what it wants to be yet.

My lovely husband modelling this cotton length for me.  This has been made up into a short bolero style jacket.

I was inspired to try this seaside themed shawl by some work I saw online.  The yarns were mostly a blend of merino and silk so it was very soft and light.  The warp does all the work here and the weft was done with clasped weft so I could use 3 colours and place them where I wanted them.  This was given to a very dear friend.

The blue shawl above is a merino/silk mix with insertions and was made for another friend for the cost of the yarns.

I really like this shawl which again has a high silk content.

All the scarves above were made on the Saori loom and have various fibres in them.

I do like the shawl above.  It's on a cotton warp but the yarn is a merino/silk blend with the details/rectangles done in a wool from Drops.

I'm not sure about the shawl above.  It's not my cup of tea colour-wise and was a bit of an experiment.

This shawl was on a warp that I made at The Saori Shed in Diss and was given to another very special friend a while ago.  I do love playing with colour and inserting textures and shapes.  Saori is such a fun way to weave.

Finally I have made myself a card/jacket similar to the red one I think I shared here some time ago.

It's a boxy jacket made from straight pieces of cloth and is very comfortable to wear.  Again, it's mostly Noro wool.  Yummy!

Washing handwoven garments and shawls

Goodness me it's dusty in here!  How long is it since I popped in?  Really?! Gulp.

I've recently sold a shawl and have also forced my woven creations onto various friends and unsuspecting relatives so I thought a post about caring for handwoven might be long overdue and timely.

Many of my weaves are done with wool and often have a silk content too.  Some are done with mainly a cotton content but with inclusions of mixed fibres.  Many people, me included, are naturally worried about washing this type of cloth.

I follow a fairly simple approach to washing these apparently delicate fabrics.  Generally, I place the item in a laundry bag so it can't move around too much.  I then wash it in the washing machine at 30 degrees on a hand wash.  This is the shortest programme on my machine and so far it has worked well for all my handwovens.   The spin part of the programme tends to be at a low revolution so I usually give a follow up spin at 800 or 1200 rpm.

When the shawl comes out of the machine I press it straight away using a cotton pressing cloth (a pillowcase works just as well) or a sheet of baking parchment (my preferred method) and a steam iron.  You may need to ease the shawl to shape as you go.  The idea is not to iron it with force but to press gently so it comes back into shape and any creases from the wash disappear.  I use a steam iron on a high enough setting to get steam.  It probably seems a bit strange to use steam over paper or cotton but I find it suits me.  It also means I can give the fabric a light iron over if I need to to help the drying process.  I leave it to you to gauge whether your particular fabric can cope with this.  I probably wouldn't put the iron directly on an all wool cloth.

Once the fabric has been pressed almost dry I hang it over a hanger or maybe on an airer, depending on the length, to finish drying.  All of my fabrics are washed as part of the finishing process and so far this gentle treatment has worked well.  My only catastrophe was a cowl that fell out of its pillowcase and ended up somewhat felted.  The upside was that I got some lovely, unexpected effects and it fitted far better than before its slight shrinking.

You can, of course, gently wash the item by hand in warm water and a gentle washing liquid.  Gently move the fabric in the water but resist the urge to squeeze it too much.  Rinse in water the same temperature as you've washed in and, if you have a spin dryer, give the item a short-ish spin.  You could still spin in a washing machine in a laundry bag.  Alternatively,  squeeze gently to remove the excess water and roll in a towel.  Press as already mentioned or, if it's too damp to press, lay it flat to dry a little and then press.  Always ease back into shape while damp.  (Yes, I know, the washing machine rinses in cold water but so far I've found the fabric is ok with this).

As a general rule of thumb you should launder for the most delicate fibre in the weave.  I do attach a tag with details of the fibre content in my weaves when I gift or sell them.  I am hoping to sell more weaves in the future and will give the proceeds after deducting the cost of the yarns to Evie's Gift, a special charity set up this year to support parents when their child is suddenly taken seriously or even terminally ill.  You can follow the link in the side bar to read more about this charity which was inspired by our niece who tragically died at the age of 13 of an aggressive brain tumour in January this year.

Last Sunday we were at Easton Walled Gardens Autumn Market on a demonstration table.   Usually there's several of us demonstrating various sewing skills but this year it was just me.  Easton very kindly welcome us every year and it's a lovely day out.  I took along little starter sewing packs that I made up from my stash with the hope that people might be tempted to 'take a stitch for a walk' and also took some of my weaving along.  As this was a demonstration stand I wasn't able to sell but people were keen to support Evie's Gift for which I was very grateful.  It is surprising and sad how many people have personal or family experience of brain tumour when you start talking.

Now I've found my way back here I'll try and come back with some more weaving photographs soon.  Yes, I know I've said that before, several times.  Life gets very hectic and social media takes time away from blogging but I have been missing blogging recently. A bientôt.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Rosslyn Chapel

Way back when, I promised to write a post about our visit to Rosslyn Chapel (of Knights Templar fame) when we were at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival earlier this year.   Having just seen a post about a friend's visit to said chapel I thought it was about time I kept my promise.  Sadly, my memory hasn't retained all the interesting details we heard and overheard from the guide as we went around but I'll do my best.  You can link to the Rosslyn Chapel website for more information and there's also an App that gives you photographs of the interior, since the public is not supposed to take photographs inside.

 The exterior is almost as ornate as the interior.

 The stained glass was beautiful but I had to content myself with photographs taken from the outside.

 A sneaky glimpse through the door with visitors listening to a talk by one of the guides.

 This is the south aisle (I think).

 There are said to be over 100 Green Man figures inside the chapel.  There are also many carvings of musical instruments.

 This is Woman with Goose.

Carvings inside and out appear to show corn which was not known about when the chapel was built but other opinion is that it is an idealised carving and only coincidentally resembles corn. 

Photographs are actually courtesy of my lovely husband as my camera wasn't up to the job.

One story of the chapel has stayed in my mind and that's the tale of the Sculptor's apprentice who, while his master was away, finished one of the columns in the chapel to a higher standard than his master and without reference to the original design pattern.  When the master returned he was so enraged that he hit the apprentice on the head with a hammer and killed him.  Legend has it that the master's image was carved on a column opposite so that he could forever gaze on his apprentice's work (Wikipedia link here).

Here's the link to Chris Gray's blogpost that spurred me on to finally blog about our visit.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Easton Walled Garden

We've been out to Easton Walled Garden today, a very blustery but mostly sunny day, for a bit of a photographic foray of the late Spring/early summer flowers.

 The terraces below where the house would originally have stood have been planted as wild flower meadows and the wind today made the grasses look like they were windblown water.  The ox-eye daisies were beautiful.

There were lots of allium in various stages of flowering and seed both in the borders and among the wildflowers.
These guys were having a breather from zooming around capturing flies.  (Swallows).  A red kite made several passes over the gardens but I wasn't able to capture him with the camera.

 This intrepid photographer kept getting in my way!

The gardens are about 7 miles or so south of Grantham just off the A1 and they have a great tea room.    Unfortunately they don't take passing trade at the tea room but it's well worth paying the garden entry, you'll find you'll stay longer than you intended.