A Heaping Pile o’

December 20, 2011

-yarn.  Yes, I am throwing away a skein of 100% wool yarn.  Hard to say what kind.  It came from an animal, I know that much.  You can tell that much just by looking at it.

And now you will be asking how it is I retained such a fine thing to throw away for so long, thrower-awayer that I am!  (No, no.  Don’t try to stop me.)  Two reasons.  First, it is 500% harder for me to get rid of something entrusted to me in a touching faith that I will love it and use it than something I got myself.  Second, I really, really wanted to make it into a doily.  And give it to someone.  Perhaps just leave it someplace unobtrusive in their house to find later–a little Christmas surprise from the angels.

This isn’t the only yarn I am throwing away, but it is the best.  And that’s really saying something, since it came in one of those “I found this bag of yarn at a yard sale and I know you like yarn so here you go” bags of yarn.  About half the yarns in the bag were exuberantly textured hand-spuns stiff with lanolin and unidentifiable particles which may once have been alive.  The rest were less-valuable machine spun yarns that only appear spun by monkeys.  It’s hard to guess what their original owner may have had in mind, but I’m pretty certain they are leftovers from that part of 1970’s when people were making woven-and-macrame wall hangings on hoops, because you know there is simply no conversation-starter like poop on a hoop.


Circle, Worked

November 25, 2011

I finished working the circle the day after I started it; what held me up was finishing finishing it.

But now it is washed and blocked.

Can you tell there are 5 different blues here?  A couple are very close in this light.

As I made it I began thinking of Medieval cosmology, celestial spheres.  Last night Der Mann and I watched a program about quantum mechanics.  Now it makes me think of quanta too.

Here is the back before finishing.  There were so many ends to weave in I couldn’t figure out where to put them all, so I cheated and made a few knots.

Oh, yeah.  I forgot to say–it’s a trivet!

Working the Circle

November 12, 2011

Working the circle: inside out, and outside in.

Locker Hook Experiments

November 10, 2011

Through a curious sequence of events a nominal weaver may find herself in possession of a locker hook.  Locker hooking is a technique for making stable looped pile rugs.  Unlike regular rug-hooking, which results in rugs held together merely by the friction of the wool poking through the ground cloth (rugs that can be unraveled by pulling really hard on a single loop; I scorn them!), locker hooking locks loops in place by sewing through them after they are fetched up through the cloth.

Why am I doing this? It’s complicated.  How am I doing this?  The hard way, as usual.  Instead of using pre-made mesh rug canvas, I have been making my own by drawing every third thread from pieces of burlap.  Instead of rags or bulky roving, I have been working with vintage tapestry yarn too skinny for the resulting mesh.  Working in a spiral instead of back and forth, etc., etc.

Here are my first washed samples.  The rectangle taught me I have to bind the edges of the burlap before I do my drawn-work.  Folding it over and whip stitching it isn’t enough, it unravels during washing.

The coaster is what taught me you can’t find the center of a drawn-work burlap circle just by measuring it; the mesh isn’t arithmetical–this is why the central circle of the coaster is off center and I had to make it into a sort of a blobby flower by adding those blobby leaves to fill up the lopsided space.  Oh, and the coaster taught me that the (dark green sock) stitching yarn has to match the (light tan tapestry) yarn because it won’t be fully hidden by the loops.

Both samples reminded me that I am sort of allergic to jute.  I now know keep a hanky handy when I am concentrating over allergenic work or my nose will actually drip on it.

Nothing daunted, here’s what I started next.  Atchoo!

Halloween Countdown: 0 days!

Happy Halloween


Halloween Countdown: 1 day

This is the fabric that started it all.  Everything: me thinking about my nieces and costumes, the whole project.  A Goodwill remnant of flaming rose velour!

I lied.  This is my favorite garment, not the chiton.

The chiton required more ingenuity, but this took more time.  Probably something to do with my need to hem things by hand.

What can I say?  I was brought up that way!  I don’t always give in to the hand-hemming compulsion, but I always feel I ought to give in.  In this case the fabric was much too pretty to crush and stretch with seam lines, and much too fuzzy to use with the blind-hemming foot on my machine.  Did you know here is a lot of hand-hemming in a nearly circular cape?

There is.

Halloween Countdown: 2 days

Perhaps it’s time to explain that I meant to make more boys-type outfits, but the medieval hat on the right is as far as I got.  I left my planned Robin Hood tunic and velvet tabard and trailing black and silver villain-cape for last, but by the time I finished the garment you will see tomorrow, I REALLY wanted to be done and get everything to my nieces.  I told myself I can sew the other boys’ things and send them later; maybe I will.  My sisters loved to play Robin Hood when they were little, darn it.  I even had all the fabrics.

The blue velvet hat is made of trimmings from a curtain from the ever-popular As Is bin at IKEA.  I used the same pattern that produced the Viking Girl Outfit: Simplicity 8004.  Heavy duty interfacing for stiffness, blind-hemmed partial lining for the brim.  I found the hawk feather on a walk a couple of days before I shipped The Box.  It’s the first I’ve found.  I love hawks.

The conical princess hat is from the same set of cross-dyed taffeta curtains as the queeny wizard robe.  1” fake fur trim from the fabric store.  Floaty ribbon streamers.

Aaand the mob caps.  Let me just tell you, a lined mob cap is a fussier lot of sewing than it looks!  I had all the round things out of my kitchen cupoards, trying to find the right combination of circles to trace for cutting lines and casing seams: trays, mixing bowls, pizza pans, pot lids. . .  Like the eyelet apron, my sister tells me the exotic-ness of the mob caps made them immediately interesting to my nieces.

The wire tinsel tiara was from my own costume box, and the black thing behind it is a boughten witch’s hat.  Which just about covers it, don’t you think?

Halloween Countdown: 3 days

The skirt was a women’s eight-gore skirt with a hidden side zip at Goodwill–so full and cheap I couldn’t resist, even though I could see it might be some trouble to cut it down.  First I cut off the fitted waistband.  That was easy.  The hard part was picking out the many criss-crossing layers of serged seams securing the zipper For The Ages.  I sewed up the side where the zipper had been and added a top casing from wide black bias tape to hold a new elastic waistband.  The skirt is ankle-length on my older niece, just the way the gypsies wore them.

The child’s peasant top and the wool/polyamide and velvet embroidered vest were both eBay finds.  I think the vest is darling.  I had a thing for vests when I was little.  I badly wanted the kinds worn by cowgirls and organ grinders’ monkeys.  Here, even the back is nice; have a look:

Were you fixated on any particular category of clothing in grade school?  I never did get the vest of my childhood dreams, though I did get a very nice weskit when I was 13 or so.

Halloween Countdown: 4 days

Two below-the-knee tutus purchased on eBay.  Again I must excuse my camera.  The pink one is a nicer rose color in person.

The real costume is the leafy skirt.  It can worn pixie-like over a plain leotard, or over skirts like these for flower fairies.  The waist band is satin blanket binding stiffened with fusible interfacing in the middle section.  The leaves are made from a remnant of polyester double-knit.  I fused two pieces together with a middle layer of “Heat-n-Bond Lite” to bulk it up to the right spongy stiffness, traced and cut leaf shapes, stitched them to the waistband.  Beforehand I had cut and arranged random lengths of translucent light green ribbon to go underneath the leaves.

None of this is botany, certainly, but I was thinking of sepals when I added the curls of dark green wire-edged ribbon on top of the leaves, sewed the ends to points (Fray Check stabilizes the the raw edges), and tipped them with faceted plastic beads of dew.   Finally I stitched the waistband shut finished it off with beaded ribbon trim.  It ties like a sash behind.

Halloween Countdown: 5 days

In assembling this costume box I was determined to avoid the tyrannical pinks of little-girldom: pepto, hot pink, and my own particular emetics (my tenderest years were spent in the 1980’s) the urply-purply “jewel-tones” of the family: fuchsia and orchid.  The easiest way to avoid overused pinks is  to avoid all pinks, but then I thought, that’s silly.  As foolish to fear pink as pimp it.   I would much rather rehabilitate pink, promote diversity of pinkness!  What about coral?  What about salmon, raspberry, and rose?  Should they suffer for the sins of candy-floss?

Which is my preface to telling you the photos are over-saturated, the fabric is actually a very pale shell pink.  Spotting this material at the fabric store–its partial translucency and interesting drape–was what made me decide to try making a classical garment of some kind.  As it turned out, a modified chiton.

It can be worn belted:

Or unbelted:

I thought of making up a muslin to make sure my idea of how to accomplish the garment I had in mind would work, but was too impatient.  Anyhow the fabric was only something like $2 a yard.

Two pieces of fabric went into the construction, front piece wider than back for a drapey front neckline.  Graduated hem, two casings at each shoulder with stitched-in pull cords made from matching bias tape, and a tiny bit of shaping of the back neckline.  Everything worked as I’d hoped except the curve I cut into the back neck.  Once the hem was turned it made the neck hole too large.  I made a box pleat in back to fix this.

It’s off center!  Know how it is when you measure two, three, four times, and still end up somehow not getting your tuck in quite the right place?

Despite its straying pleat and pinkness, this is probably my favorite of the garments I made for my nieces.