Thursday, 30 April 2009

Show your colours! (Farbe bekennen...)

I don't usually take part in group projects via my blog - but I like colours and thought that following this idea might be fun: every day a different colour "rules", i.e. participants are supposed to show art, crafts, drawings, paintings or photographs of any kind in the colour of that particular day. this is fairly easy - though choosing one picture (no drawings or paintings from me:)) might not be so easy! there was nothing in the rules against putting up more than one - so this is the series of colours I am supposed to follow:

tomorrow - May Day - will be white. not a colour, but finding motives is not a problem. what to choose though...that's a different story! I took the liberty of taking pix today, because I will be using my garden for this a lot - and tomorrow is supposed to be rainy. the one thing that "bothers" me a bit: it's going to go rather dark and a bit dreary towards the end of the month - according to our colour listing! well, maybe the weather will still oblige then, wouldn't surprise me at all!

Monday, 27 April 2009

it works...

... much better now!
today I received the wooden "stackers" I ordered for my bobbin lace in germany, from here. (available in english, too!) I had seen them somewhere ages ago, but couldn't find them anymore on my usual links. I finally found them under 2nd hand equipment - though they look brandnew! I tried them out immediately - finally enough space on the pillow, no tangles and no mess anymore! of course they're not suitable for transport, but perfect for stacking when working! I can separate the bobbins according to the lace pattern - which makes controlling the large (ok, for me at least!) numbers of bobbins much easier.
I did a good bit - but will take a break now, my finger is suffering in silence:))
I also finally used the dyebath with alderbuckthorn berries - but I can say already that the fresh berries give nicer colours. it looks like a muddy brown, which is entirely my fault. I kept them for a while after defrosting (had no choice, because we got a new freezer and they had thawed through by the time the new freezer worked), simmered them after they fermented a bit.. and then left them for quite some time, until the top layer was lovely greenish-blue mould:(( I took that off, strained everything through old fabric nappies - but of course the nice colour is gone... I was told mould does change the colour of avocado peels - so why not my berries as well. pix to follow once yarn is dry....

Friday, 24 April 2009

a little progress

I finally managed to start my bobbin lace fan. it's not a terribly difficult pattern - but the material, silk, is quite slippery and also rather fine. with all the needles in between I am not entirely certain that the yarn works well, at the moment it looks a bit loose... I hope it works, I won't have time to order other materials and work the whole shebang again!

the other problem is the number of bobbin pairs I need! there isn't enough space on the pillow to lay them all out, so I have to fasten and undo groups of them as I need them... every time I do this the half hitch loosens and because the silk is so smooth, they tend to slip off the bobbin tip:( annoying - I realise I should have ordered those tiny rubber rings to avoid this! I am also waiting for several wooden "racks" to keep order within my bobbins. they look the same as the one on top: a "U" with two very long branches, but the new ones I ordered have a needle at the closed end! which means that I can stack the bobbins I don't need upright (by pushing the needle into the pillow) = saving a lot of space in the process, which makes it easier to work with the rest!
of course I could have chosen a different pattern to avoid the amount of bobbins. there are patterns, where you work a "ribbon" with only a few bobbins and crochet the bits together continuously - but I don't really like the fiddly crocheting much.
"luckily" the weather isn't great at the moment, which leaves a bit more time for inside work - no fun crawling around in the garden during heavy rain! isn't it sad when you're hoping for rain to get on with other work?:))

Saturday, 18 April 2009

bobbin lace

this mysterious photo is not a new lampshade - it's the pattern for the bobbin lace fan I am about to start (well, not just now, but later this evening!)... each of the small holes stands for a pin around which I'll lead the threads for the lace. winding the bobbins (esp. 56 pairs!) and doing the pricking - are the two jobs, I like least in lacemaking! it takes a lot of time, because it has to be accurate - I pricked for nearly three hours to finish the comparatively small fan pattern!

this photo shows the black and white photo of the finished pattern - it also serves as a guide for me - I can see which patterns I have to use to achieve the result I want. the upper part is done the same all over the fan, but in the lower part the "pyramids" have three different patterns, to keep the lace making interesting. of course the pattern could be varied, either by using different "stitches" or by changing the "spiders" etc. it's quite easy to change torchon lace; it can be done at any time and often there is no change necessary in the pricking. of course one could use colour effects too - but I prefer the black silk lace I have planned, to give an elegant finish to the whole fan.

this shows the finished pricking from the upper side - it's the actual size (about 40 cm wide and 16 cm high) of the fan when held open. (if you're interested in the pattern, I ordered it from here, where they offer the silk and the base for the fan as well)

I stopped making lace for a while, because I don't really use lace doilies, collars etc. that much. spinning and dyeing was more practical at the time. but compared to the times, when I started lace making (nearly 20 years ago!) the offer of yarn and patterns has changed a lot! of course, white and black cotton and linen are still in use today - but there are gorgeous silks on offer, some even multicoloured, also colourful cotton yarns - and wearable patterns, too - even though most of them take quite a bit of work to make them. I ordered patterns for blouse sleeves, some scarves and even berets from here several years ago - and when I saw the beautiful shawl pattern, I couldn't resist and ordered it as well:)) of course the yarn used is a bit thicker than for tiny doilies - but still, my eyes widened a bit, when I saw that the full size pattern spreads over 13 A 3 pages:)) but I'd still like to do it (after working the fan), though not in reds and pinks - blues and purples are more my colours. there's plenty of choice in either schappe or tussah silks - or maybe even one of those multicoloured ones, where I could concentrate on the pattern alone? it's done in continous lace with only 33 bobbin pairs, so not too bad really.

in the enlarged photo it's easy to see that the lace maker can change the pattern, either by choosing different stitches, or by changing colours - or by outlining certain areas with thicker threads or different colours. it reminds me a bit of freeform knitting or crochet - the pattern is the base and the lacemaker works it out the way she wants.

of course I still keep knitting my jacket, but progress has slowed a bit - due to the large amounts of work in the garden - where I'll go in a few minutes to keep the war on weeds going:)) the weather is brilliant today - warm and sunny and only a very light breeze - a perfect spring day!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

happy easter!

for me Easter is about colour - and lots of it! the weather normally picks up at that time of the year and the garden is more colourful as well. this year the garden is quite green already - in comparison to last year, when Easter was so early that I barely managed to scrape together a few twigs for our Easter deco! spoilt for choice I was - and the painted eggs are barely visible in all the greenery and flowers!

I also managed to get my plate of cress ready in time - after being either too early or too late in the last few years. mind you, it's not only decoration - we all like cress, be it with the hard boiled eggs (we have to dye eggs the evening before, even if it's already midnight:)), in salads, on sandwiches - or just on its own!

then there is the cake - I made a poppy seed cake with topping - but had a lot of yeast dough, too much for one baking sheet. it's quite difficult to find fresh yeast over here, so I was delighted when I saw some in the shop in Ballyhaunis, where they sell a lot of Latvian, Russian and Polish foods! the size of the pack is odd though - 100 g, too much for my usual recipes, so I cut off smaller amounts, wrapped them up and put them in the freezer - stash of a different kind:) I haven't used fresh yeast for a long time, so I was rather surprised how fast the dough rose - one time it nearly "crawled" out of my bowl! anyway, I made cinnamon swirls with the rest of the cake dough - and they went down a treat, even better than the cake!
a lot is happening in the garden, too! I was rather surprised to see one of my "bleeding hearts" in full flower, while the 2nd plant has only started to show some new shoots! the lockets look old-fashioned, but it's quite easy to grow and the bumblebees seem to like it too!
one of the typical irish spring plants is the wild yellow primrose - the yellow dots on the stone walls are visible all over. the cowslip on the other hand isn't as easy to find, but I raised several plants some years ago and they seem to like it here - they started to spread out a bit and I found those two self-sown plants in one of my self-built stone troughs (made from cement and some peat).

and this is one of the colourful delights I am waiting for each spring now - one of the berberis plants we grew from seeds. the leaves are dark green and the flowers and buds are such a bright orange, that the plant looks "on fire" when the sun shines on it! I love the contrast and also that this is the first very strong colour in springtime! usually the flowers of spring have lighter colours and this shrub really stands out. there are many other varieties though, another one has huge spines and bright yellow flowers, but somehow it looks pale in comparison. I tried to dye with the ripe berries (they are blue, attractive too!) of this plant - but they only gave a rather unspectacular beige, nothing worth picking the berries for. they are edible - but very acidic too, not surprisingly they are sometimes used as a replacement for lemon juice:)
not much is happening on the craft front. I have done a lot of spinning - but nothing new, I just needed more yarn for the grey jacket/coat i am working on. I also finished the first bobbin of merino/possum blend - and started with the brown BFL - all materials for a vest I have planned.
I am still waiting for the bobbins and stuff I ordered from Germany. though I wound all the free bobbins I have and prepared the pricking for the fan - I couldn't start the lace without the rest of the bobbins:(( I hope they'll arrive in the next few days... I also ordered the pattern for a shawl made in bobbin lace and a waistcoat - we'll see if I ever get around working the actual project!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

2 entries in one day...

... and two awards at one time! though admittedly - Janet gave me the award some time ago and I nearly missed it, because I didn't read a lot of blogs (due to a new weaving addiction *wink*). so thank you to Janet for giving me this award:
I am supposed to tell you about 5 addictions - not easy, I probably could list far more:))
so, here it goes (I am trying to be clever - to cover more by grouping things that go together!)
1. fibres and yarns
2. all my textile interests
3. liquorice (did I mention that one before?:))
4. books and reading
5. listening to classical music
I hope this covers most of my addictions...
naming 5 other blogs is difficult for two reasons - first of all I don't like to push people to keep the ball rolling - and also, I like reading german blogs too, which makes it difficult for english readers to follow. so I hope noone is annoyed if I stop this here, but I am grateful for receiving them anyway!
the second award came from Leigh:
and this goes with it:
"This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!”
thank you to Leigh - I appreciate it, but the same goes for this award. I am sure the balls keep rolling for both awards...

my new hobby

this is my 2nd weaving project on the rigid heddle... much better than the first one - but still far from perfect. I had chosen handspun tussah silk, dyed blue, for both warp and weft. originally I had planned the warp wider, but of course I did no calculation for the yarn beforehand (nothing like on the spot weaving, eh?:)) and became slightly worried when the first ball of yarn diminished rather faster than expected when I started the warping! given that I had only two balls, I decided to change the warp width in the middle of warping. in hindsight - that wasn't the best idea. first of all it took me quite a long time and a lot of fiddling to move the whole warp into the right spot on the heddle. and then - it turned out that I needed far less yarn for the weft - so that I still have 3/4 of a ball leftover now:) well, I finished a rather narrow scarf, but that wasn't the only problem.
I should also have tied the warp differently to the teeth on cloth and warp beam. I tied each pair to one tooth, which spread out the warp wider on both beams than it did on the heddle! stupid, I know (now!)... well, anyway, I rolled up some of the warp close to the cloth beam without weaving and only started weaving when it looked nearly like the rest - which ended up giving me a slightly wider start to the scarf - the other end wasn't that much of a problem, because I couldn't weave down to the warp beam anyway! the photo shows most of the scarf finished and rolled onto the cloth beam.

this is the start of the scarf - where I put in some stripes of handspun silk noil. the same pattern follows close to the end of the scarf of course.
this photo shows both ends - I knotted the warp threads for finishing. it's obvious that the start is wider than the end, but other than that - it's wearable:)

this shows the main part of the scarf and also another mistake with the warp - the tension on both selvedges is too loose in comparison to the rest of it! (at least that's what I think the reason is for the "wobbly bits"!) which led to a loose weave on the loom - and slightly wavy, loose edges when I took it off. not ideal, because the weft yarn slides a bit on the warp if handled, but there you go - I hope to learn from my beginner mistakes!
I should also admit that it would be a good idea to follow advice like this: do take notes during weaving, when you add patterns - or count rows etc.! it's not easy to find out again how many stripes you wove at the beginning - when you roll up the rest of the project on top of it:) I assume anyone with more weaving experience is "lolling" about now:) but at least I admit that I made mistakes... I don't think anyone would believe me, if I said that the design was planned that way - and the loose selvedges are special lace?
I have to take a break from weaving for the moment. there is just too much to do in the garden - and the weather is good! of course I still keep knitting and spinning, where I can, but I need at least a few longer nights, where no loom waits on the table and lures me into late-night stands when passing by:)