Monday, 30 December 2013

It’s been a nice week away – feels like we’ve actually had a holiday. But it will be really nice to be going home. I miss my cats. There I was, saying, ‘when/if we move to Canberra, I’ll leave the cats behind; they’re just a couple of SPCA 10 year old moggies ...’ but truth is, they’re MY moggies. And I miss them, and they’ll come too.

It was a long night last night. When I went to bed I had ‘speed-wobbles’ – almost like the aura precourser to a migraine, and dreadful indigestion and stomach cramps which got worse thru the night. Around 0300 I got up and spent about an hour on the loo. L 0400 I grabbed a large, fluffy red dressing gown and curled upright on the couch, to doze on and off for the rest of the night. I think it was a combination of dehydration (I usually drink at least a litre of water a day, but here I’ve only had the odd glass), coffee/jarrah/lactose free milk (soy, wheat, casein), prunes (FODMAPS), and maybe some lamb that was off, and possibly dodgy bacon.

GOING HOME: Jobs are deputed – David to deconstruct fence, Becca to pack car and sweep floors, me to vacuum and put load of washing on.

WEAVING: This is not going so well. Talk about a learning curve.

There are two main ways to warp a table loom. The easiest one, and the way I used first, is called direct warping. You have a ball of yarn, the heddle on the loom, and some sort of post a couple of metres away (depends on the length of the warp) that you wind the yarn around. You take a loop of yarn, pass it thru the heddle, around the post, and back thru the next heddle, wrapping it either over or under the rear loom bar as you go. The yarn lays out nicely in order. One done, you cut the far end, wind the yarn onto the rear loom bar, and thread alternate yarns thru the holes of the heddle, then tie off to the front loom bar. Done and dusted. 

About 2-3 hours work.

Then there’s indirect warping, where you (in my case) use two wooden chair backs 2 metres apart. Once you’ve wrapped the number of ends you need, you then have to transfer that to the loom bar, then thru the heddles. Add #20 yarn, doubled (bloody fine!), and it twists and turns. Tie that onto the loom bar, and you have a great big lump of yarn. Wind it on, then try to lay out the pattern and it turns itself into a tangled knot. Oh, and of course, I miscounted the ends I needed.

This photo shows two sets of warps on the loom. 

One set of warps, but it's all bunched at one end, and I think it's going to turn into a knotty thing. You can see one of my warping plans underneath.

I tried to break it up a bit, but that didn’t help. In the end, I undid the whole thing completely, and broke it up into groups of warps that match the pattern. All this was probably about 6 hours work (going until about 2300 last night!). Because I was going to be cunning, and make two Inklebands of bookmarks at once, I stuck the warp on one end of the loom bar. Now I’ve realised just how long it’s going to take to set the other pattern straight, I’m only going to do one at a time. But that means taking the warp back off the loom bar, and moving it along into the centre, so it’s balanced.

The warp threads laid out on the warping plan.

Since everyone is still asleep, I might play with it for awhile.

This has pretty much consumed my week. Haven't had a chance to play with encaustic. Maybe next week.

Oh, and I forgot to repack deodorant after we went home. Doh.


Saturday, 28 December 2013

Not a lot to write home about today.

Great BBQ at James & Rebecca's place last night. Shame it ended with one of their kids going off to Emergency with a puncture wound from a nail. Rebecca seemed quite blase about it - I guess with 3 boys, stuff like that is common.

Went out for a bit this morning, got a couple of pairs of sandals from #1 Shoes - a replacement black pair for Becca, and pink ones for me - my jandals make my feet hurt. All the junk shops were closed, so I couldn't check out the pressure cooker Julia said she saw at ... Salvation Army?

Made two plastic shuttles from my $3.00 plastic chopping board, and a new wire heddle. That was quite satisfying. As you can see, functional, but not classy. I have two more like the wooden one with red yarn on order from Wheels & Whorls, plus a hooky thing. And of course I left my new crochet hook at home. Sigh.

I spent the afternoon trying to untangle the knot of white yarn I want to use to warp the loom for Inkle bookmarks. There's still 1 small knot left ... grr. But I've had enough for one day.

Just got back from taking the dogs for a walk along the beach path - everyone had a paddle, of course, and Kama found himself a fish skeleton - at first we thought it was a stick, but he never carries sticks!

About to sit down and hopefully watch an episode of Bones from "Watch Online Series" dot com. Once it finishes loading. Plan B is read a book ...

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day 2013

That has to have been one of the best Christmas Days I've ever had. Sleeping in till around 1100. A leisurely brunch. (Bacon for me, bacon and eggs for David and Becca). Pottering with wax (melting off the ugly stuff) and weaving. Cheesy bacon things for afternoon tea. More weaving. A leisurely dinner of lamb patties, kumara and potato chips, and a large salad. Taking the dogs for a walk along the beach. And reading. Lots of reading. Did I mention it was a leisurely day?

No rushing around tidying, picking up parents, cooking and otherwise preparing food, making sure everyone was entertained and playing nicely. No dropping off parents. No being nice to people. NO NOTHING.

And today ... woke up about 11.00. Another leisurely day ahead ...
It rained again last night, and there’s no sun today with quite a cool wind. But that’s ok. The water-tank keeps getting refilled, and I had inside things to do!

Because I wasn't at home, I was missing most of the tools I’d normally have (like a needle and thread), so had to figure out how to take the bookmark I’ve made off the loom, and tie its ends up, and then rewarp, so I can make some ‘pretties’. In the end, I waited till I got home to do this.

This wasn't much room in the car with 3 people, 3 dogs, my loom, Becca's computer, and other stuff.

My long term goal is to weave cloth to make shawls. I want to learn how to process harakeke flax, with its long, strong fibres. I think with the right preparation, I can get it as soft as linen flax. It will probably involve caustic soda and a pressure cooker (which is on my ‘list of things to buy’. I don't want to get a new one!) I think it would be really cool to make fabric with hand prepared, hand spun, native fibre – thinking big here!

This is what the harakeke plant looks like, and the fibre:

The yarn I bought down in Christchurch while visiting Alex in October is Patons Regal 4 Ply Cotton, 50g, 10/3 in ‘Cream’ and ‘Spices’. It gives 26 wraps per inch/2.5cm. The other yarns are Sullivans Royal Rayon Crochet Yarn 3 Ply, 50g, ‘Claret’, 32 wpi; Sullivans Candlewicking Cotton for Embroidery, 25g, 'cream', 42 wpi.

The patterns I’m wanting to do are from “The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory’ by Anne Dixon. She uses 2/16 cotton or 3 x 2/16 in her patterns. She notes that 20/2 pearl cotton is a good substitute for 2/16, and 5/2 is excellent for the 3 x 2/16.

The theory is that because only half the warp threads are on the surface at any one time, and as these threads crowd together, the width of the inkle will be about half the total width of the warp threads wrapped around a ruler. However this is only approximate because the width the warp draws in may vary, and some threads are softer than others. A general rule is to wind just under twice as many threads for the warp as are needed to wrap around the chosen width.

Bah humbug. I hate maths. Especially maths associated with crafts. I think this means the yarn I have is too thick. When I tried weaving a narrow band about 2” wide, it turned out to be about 9½” wide – too wide to be a bookmark! It's taken me about 3-4 hours to work this out. L

I think I’ll have to use the cream and claret threads for the bookmarks, and the other threads for ... something else.

Nearly time for bed!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Day 2013

So, when is the last time we woke up at nearly midday?

The fact that it was suddenly midnight when we went to bed is irrelevant, lol.

There is only 1 clock in this house - on the stove, in the kitchen.

Bacon and eggs for brunch. Dogs fed. Lovely overcast day.

Must be on holiday!

Oh, that's right ... "Bailey sleeps out in the hall" ... Bailey much prefers to sleep IN the bedroom, beside me - competing with Tara, as she thinks that's HER space.

David comfortably ensconced on the couch, Tara on the couch, Kama on the floor, Bailey with his butt to us. Brunch dishes cleaned by dogs, waiting to go in the dishwasher.

Took a drive over to Beachlands to buy some rubbishbags, then up the road about 5km to get some fresh fruit and veges – strawberries and blueberries – nom!

Then home for a nap. The headache I’d gone to bed with, woken up with, and had stayed with me finally went away with the help of some maxigesic. All three dogs curled up with me.

There's quite a nice view over the gully to the other side:

Weaving – well, its plan 76. Despite all the fancy calculations, that worked out the sett (how wide it would be), the piece I wove was 11cm wide instead of 5cm. Far too wide for a bookmark. It looks quite cool, but not what I want.

I’ve cut off 6 cream warp threads, and 12 ‘spice’ warp threads, leaving 6 cream warps. The warp is 2.00m long, so I’ll make a few bookmarks with that. I’ve wrapped the cut warps around the back loom bar, and will work on them later.

Found the book on Inkle weaving I'd purchased a few weeks ago - it was still in my Downloads folder. 

After dinner (slow roasted beef, yorkshire pudding, kumara, spuds n salad), we took the dogs for a walk along the beach, this time heading south. They all went paddling, and of course Tara had to go in very deep. It was great watching Tara and Kama playing and enjoying themselves.

Mr B’s external hard drive has thrown a tanty and he can’t access data that he wants. He’s very frustrated. I’d bumped the damn thing earlier – hope it wasn’t my fault.

Done a wee bit of work on my CV – bah humbug. My ‘relevant’ job experience is pre-1996 – a lifetime ago.

Feeling like I/we are in limbo. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

I’m on holiday. What’s a holiday, I ask.

Well, I answer, it’s when you don’t go to work, and, just for a change, you don’t stay at home, either.

You go away to someplace else. And, of course, you take your toys with you.
Oh, and of course, you take the dogs with you. And husband. And child. Who bring their own toys.

Today, I finished constructing the weaving loom I’ve been making for the last few weeks. It’s based on an Ashford Table loom. I found detailed plans on line, and rather than buy one (about $250), I thought I’d make one. Of course, in the long run, it’s not much cheaper. But for FIXSUE, it’s so much more fun-er-er! It’s probably cost close to $120, but I’ve had hours of entertainment. It needs a bit more tidying up, but it’s now functional.

This evening I finally got to warp it up (the long-ways threads). I discovered that one I put some tension on it, the strings that I’d put the warp-bars on pulled thru their holes. Hurrumph – plan 75B (there have been a number of cunning plans making this thing, lol).

There’s a dreadfully complicated mathematical equation (well, it seems such to me!). What I WANTED to make were some bookmarks. Bookmarks that were meant to be 5cm wide and 20cm long. Well, they’re 11cm wide. I’m not really sure why, but I think it has to do with the width of the gaps in the heddle (the bit the threads go thru).

So, maybe they won’t be bookmarks. Maybe they’ll be ... something else.

Here’s some pretty pictures:

We're 'holidaying' at a friends house. So, we’ve been down here at Maraetai (well, it’s downhill from where we live!) since about 2.00pm. Our dogs have taken themselves for 3 walks. We THINK we’ve plugged the gaps. Unfortunately they don’t have much respect for fences that are only a couple of feet high, when there’s children laughing and screaming somewhere over the valley. Sigh.

This evening, we took all three dogs (we’re dog-sitting with Bailey, a large golden retriever) for a walk down near the beach. Of course everyone had a quick swim. Soggy doggies.

Projects this weekend – besides weaving, include doing some encaustic painting, and working on my CV. David has applied for a job in Canberra, digitising film and videotape. So far, he’s had an I/V with the recruitment agent, a phone I/V with the prospective boss, and he’s expected to fly to Canberra for a face-to-face and check out the job at the end of January.

We can see potential for me getting a job with them too, as a lot of the work involves taking old cassette tapes and machines apart and putting them back together – which is definitely something I’m good at doing. So I need to tart up my CV, as it’s been nearly 7 years!

We can’t make the TV here work, so I suspect there’ll be more blogging tomorrow.