Friday, June 30, 2017

And so it goes

Anyone who knows me knows I love the connection my work makes with all the crafter las who came before. I love the continuity it gives. When I found an article in a 1931 magazine giving an old pattern from Godeys, it made me feel even more connected to the ancestors who were also suckers for an old pattern. 

I've been wanting a crochet project for quite a while, so when I came across this pattern I knew it was meant to be. It's been such a joy to work (even if I actually made enough stitches for 2 projects, with all the ripping out I had to do). Keeping your eye on the prize over 110 blocks across was quite the challenge. Ha!

Although it's now called filet crochet, when this pattern was first published, it was referred to as "block" or "block and space," or so says the accompanying text. 110 blocks by 110 blocks is daunting but, as you can see, very worth it. 

I was just going to do a couple of rounds with single crochets and be done with it but now it's done, I realize it should be a centerpiece for a larger project. It will be very easy to surround it with panels of floral designs that could eventually be a bed topper or something similar. 

But for now I'm quite happy about how it came out and can feel the same pleasure of those ladies in 1865 who completed it back then. For that matter, I can feel the pleasure my Grannie would have felt had she attempted this pattern. And so it goes. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Years in the making

Many years ago in what seems now to have been another life, I made feeble attempts to learn to do tambour embroidery. I did okay with my size 14 crochet hook and open weave linen. But then I had an ambition. 

The book had a pattern that I think was supposed to be a doily where the pattern would be mirror imaged for a long rectangle. But I saw it as a purse. I got the fabric, drew out the pattern and then realized the crochet hook wasn't really working with the material. I got frustrated and distracted onto something else. 

But I never took the material out of the frame. I packed it away because someday I was going to work it. Someday. 

In 2017, the technique caught my eye again when I found some YouTube videos by Robert Haven demonstrating tambour beading. I had to find that piece. 

Do you know how happy I am that I got frustrated and distracted that decade ago?  At that time I didn't have the skills or know how to do what I've now done. It was waiting for just the right time, just the right motivation to do this. 
As I was finishing the tambour embroidery section at my Mom's a few weeks ago, I started trying to see what the purse might look like. During a trip to the local Joann's where the staff and customers were so lovely and helpful in helping me decide colors and materials, I envisioned…well, this!

It's not often that a design happens exactly as I see it in my mind, but in this case it absolutely did. There are a couple of things I would tweak if I could but this is what I saw in my mind. 

I didn't like the purse handle to begin with but it was the only one I had or could find that was wide enough to fit and now I love how it works. It's not competing with the pattern, it's just fulfilling its function and staying out of the way. Perfect. 

The easiest thing to do with a purse is to ruin the look by how you sew the material into the frame. Again, I decided on subtle. I used the silver glass beads to hide the stitches and carry on the bead scheme and I think it works. So much tidier that visible stitches would have been. It's all hand stitched using silk thread (initially because that's what I had handy) and I couldn't be happier really. 

So there you have it. A decade in the making and from my point of view, worth the wait. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Old becomes new

Several years ago I started teaching myself Tambour embroidery/beading. I did a few projects and started on a more elaborate design that was going to be a purse. I didn't make much progress on it so I put it away. 

Forward to the present and I've gotten re-energized on Tambour work and what did I find in my sewing stuff but this project. The material I was using was completely inappropriate to my skill level but I still had the paper pattern so I decided to use a material that was more my speed. 
You can sort of see the pattern laid out here as well as the working side of the seed and bugle beads I'm using for part of it. 
And a close up of the front side of the beads.  In this style, the work is done from the back side of the material, which is why having a sheer fabric makes life so much easier for the beginner!
You can see the pattern a little better from the paper master. Some of it will be worked with beads and sequins and some with thread. Might take a while, though!  

The pattern was taken, I believe from this standard book, now sadly out of print. 
Unfortunately with these more obscure techniques, there aren't a lot of printed materials. We treasure the little we can get. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Now that I finally feel more confident about warping, I can't get enough of weaving. 

I finished my warping class project made from linen. 
It's washed and and put away now. I have a plan for it but I'm not ready to start. 

Then I did a project with tencil and some hand spun. 
Again, finished, washed and put away. 

Now I've just finished warping for a scarf, which if I can get the hang of the beat, will be beautiful. Merino wool and silk yarn. Soooo soft. 
The warp will be the dark blue shown here as dividers between the color strips. God willing and the creek don't rise, it will be this. 

I managed to warp the loom with 3 colors and very few tears. Good start!

I've also started playing again with Tambour Embroidery again. I first saw it practiced at Lincoln's New Salem but I've put it away for quite a few years. Now I've come across a YouTube Channel by Robert Haven that has me excited about it again. 

First steps:  

It's on a sheer piece of material so I can see what my hands are doing. 

This site gives a little history and some photos. You actually work from the back and it can include beads and sequins but it can also be just thread. It's a beautiful technique most often used in haute couture design. It's kind of like me - a bit different but nice!!  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Error and a Home Run

As I continue the section called, Decorations in Half Stitch, I've hit a sample that I just couldn't figure out and could not find any additional information on. 

It's referred to as Gravenmoersche appears to be a half stitch ground that has a little different orientation than a regular half stitch ground. Honestly the variation seemed almost indistinguishable but I gave it a go. And then took it out and gave it another go. And so on. I finally admitted defeat and finished the piece with the old standard. 
Even if I couldn't do the proper stitch, that would have looked like this
It's still a lovely pattern. 

Fortunately, that miss was followed by a lesson on something I've long wanted to learn - how to start and end a piece with a border that runs all the way round. There's a fan I'm going to do one day that needs to start like this. 

On this technique the diagrams were very clear indeed and I'm so happy to have this reference point for the day I begin The Fan. 

This lesson had a whole array of variations for the ground sections that could so easily be substituted for basic rose ground and add a little bit of fancy to any pattern. Trails, border, grounds. This one had a bit of everything!

And what does tomorrow hold?  Perhaps the warping of a loom?  Perhaps the start of a new lace?  Time, as they say, will tell.

For now I'm happy with whatever comes. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sample, sample, sample

I know people are probably getting sick of me talking about it but I'm still loving the patterns in the Torchon Workbook. I'm on the 9th chapter, Decorations in half stitch. 

I've just finished a group she has labeled Escalator. The name comes from a section made up of a row of half stitches that are worked uphill. 
In this example, you work the section above the line all the way to the end and then use the pair at the base of the line to work half stitch to the point at the top of the line. Now you're ready to work the section below the line. And you get this one in the middle. 
Each of these samples uses this escalator technique, although in different ways. 

My absolute favorite of this trio is the edging at the right. It has some of my favorite techniques like the spider ground and the Scotch broom trails. I would have carried on with it but I'm anxious to get moving on. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Two experiments

My sample warp is finally finished, off the loom, and washed. My main objective was to get a feel for the materials (the tencel yarn) but it ended up becoming a wider learning experience. 
  1. I learned how to beat the weft to give the balanced look I'm going to want when I make my tartan-patterned scarf. I tested how an ultra light beat made it look messy. Maybe if I had fewer ends per inch (I warped at 24 epi) the lighter beat would have seemed more airy but not so much with this. I knew I didn't want a weft-faced fabric (which would have happened with a heavy beat. So a light squished of the beater seemed to produce the best way forward.    
  2. I learned that I may want a slightly less dense fabric so I'll warp to 20 epi instead of 24. I think that will make a nicer scarf fabric.  
  3. I am working on a table loom which means you don't have to go far until you have to advance the warp. The mistake I was making was advancing it too far so that I got weird wiggly bits in my fabric. Once I figured that out and started leaving a couple of inches in front of the front beam, hey, presto, I got a much more even fabric.   
  4. I learned that it all feels different after a good wash. I guess that's why teachers are always talking about washing your samples. Good call, teach! 
  5. I learned that using a spare variegated skein of hand spun works fabulously with the base color of the warp.  
I'm going to use some of this strip to make a coin purse and part of it is going to be used to make phone holders. Here's the type I mean. 
I was given a similar holder that has microfiber on the bottom to clean the screen. In trying to work it out, I tried all sorts of gyrations. That is until I realized that a simple tube of fabric seamed on one end and the closed at the other end in the opposite direction would do the same thing. 
Now I'm experimenting with filler so that it has enough weight to be steady without going nuts. I'm thinking that it could double as a pin cushion depending on the filler used. 

Again with the pin cushions?!?


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Appearances can be deceiving

I started a new sample this week. There was a section that even the text said was tricky so I worked to that point and left it that night. I decided I needed to wait until I was rested to attempt it. I had already worked the whole left side and then the right side. Then I completely undid the right side because I'd made a mistake at the beginning then I'd worked the whole right side again. 

The "complicated" section involved working a pair half-stitch through six other pair. Not so bad except that it had to go backwards through the pairs before heading into the 8-leg spider. 

When I sat for a minute to look at it the next morning, the light bulb went on and I worked it with no problems at all. 

You can never tell. 

Last night I got involved in watching a couple of fascinating shows on YouTube and actually finished the whole dang thing. 
I never realized working in whole stitch was so fiddly to keep the tension right. 

Everyone should see these films. I couldn't stop watching. 

Edwardians in Colour (First of 4 episodes)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Weaving on

I have been working on a little side weaving project. Since take #HopewellWeaving's warping class, I've been inspired to tackle a project I've had in the back of my mind for a while now. 

Several years ago, I bought these cones of tencel yarn but I hadn't done anything with them yet because I wanted to make sure I could handle them properly. 


Lovely, shiny, softee yarn. Thread. Whatever. 

I've decided on a simple Bruce tartan pattern from the book, Tartans - Their Art and History. It uses two main colors with the third color making the occasional thin stripe. I'm going to use the purple and tan as the main colors with the green as the accent. 

Before I dove in head first with it, I wanted to make sure I understood how to handle the materials and be clear on the sett. So I wound a small warp with the green (since I knew I wouldn't need as much of that for the final piece) and I've been playing. 


I'm using a 2/2 twill, since that's what you use for the tartan (over 2 threads/under 2 threads). Here I've done a 2/2 twill and then a reverse 2/2 twill to give the herringbone sort of pattern. 

I'm so glad I did this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I understand better now how to handle the warp with this thread. Second of all, I've got all sorts of ideas about what I want to make from this 5 inch or so strip. Coin purse, glasses case, etc. 
I'm also playing with how the colors play. Here it is with the green warp and tan weft. 

You don't see it here but in person it has more of a pinkish hue. (Is there a pinkish hue? - George Constanza)

Scotch Brooming

Sometimes you like something okay but you just don't LOVE it. It's all very nice and you wouldn't mind having a coffee every once in a while but it's never going to be a grand romance. 

That's what this edging does for me. It was kind of fun to work and went along very easily but I'm done with it. I still have thread on the bobbins so I may work until I start to run out of thread but it's not one I'm going to make yards of. 


The thing it did do is make much more sense out of the Scotch Broom stitch. There's a definite rhythm to it and once you get that logic, it's no trouble at all. 

A few more inches and then, I think, it will be time to move along. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Too much of a good thing

I've been trying my whole life to learn that details matter and that if a little is good, it doesn't necessarily mean that more is better. 

The lastest project from the Ulrike Torchon Workbook is a case in point. 
 I really love it and think it's pretty. I also think I almost have a handle on the Scotch Broom stitch (the part that forms the diamonds). But you'll notice that it's quite a long piece for a sample. The reason?

Instead of pinning up the 2 pieces of the pattern like this…
Like it was supposed to be, I pinned it up like this…
It make a minor difference not only to the length but to how long it takes to work it. 

I kept peeking under my cover cloth thinking, "Is this some sort of magically growing pattern?"  Come to find out, no. It's me being a silly beggar and not paying attention to what I was doing. 

So, while I ended up with a lovely piece, I shall be paying much more attention from now on. Really, I will. Really. 

Too much of a good thing

I've been trying my whole life to learn that details matter and that if a little is good, it doesn't necessarily mean that more is better. 

The lastest project from the Ulrike Torchon Workbook is a case in point. 
 I really love it and think it's pretty. I also think I almost have a handle on the Scotch Broom stitch (the part that forms the diamonds). But you'll notice that it's quite a long piece for a sample. The reason?

Instead of pinning up the 2 pieces of the pattern like this…
Like it was supposed to be, I pinned it up like this…
It make a minor difference not only to the length but to how long it takes to work it. 

I kept peeking under my cover cloth thinking, "Is this some sort of magically growing pattern?"  Come to find out, no. It's me being a silly beggar and not paying attention to what I was doing. 

So, while I ended up with a lovely piece, I shall be paying much more attention from now on. Really, I will. Really. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sweet experiment

I never thought I would become a pin cushion whore but I was wrong. Now that I've had some time to think about the cute pin cushion my friend Jennie gave me, I thought I'd try my hand. 

At the craft store I found this little box. Now when I travel with my bobbin lace stuff, one of the things I have issues with is the pin cushion and keeping it from getting caught on things. What about if I could close it up?

A few weeks ago I found some pin cushion filler made from crushed walnuts with lavender. So I did this. 
Now I have a pin cushion that can be attached to my pillow but then be closed up when traveling. I need to finish the box itself but I'm happy. 

Since I still had walnut shells, I decided to do another type of pin cushion - just a plain old square. It smells like heaven (if heaven smelt like lavender - and I'm pretty sure it does). 

It's a good thing I have enough pins for all these cushions. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Peaceful breezes

Some patterns are sent to try us and some are sent to soothe us. It's not that the trying ones are bad. They challenge us and teach us and victory is oh so sweet. 

But the ones that soothe us bring a whole different level of sweetness and accomplishment as they take us by the hand to wander through fields of lavender, on to beaches with just the right amount of heat and a cool breeze, then to the mountain's clean, crisp air and clear view across the horizon. 

The thing is, when you start a pattern, you never know which it's going to be. My current project from the Voelker Torchon Workbook says that the Scotch broom stitch is challenging so I was ready to have to do and undo and redo and repeat. 

It hasn't been that at all, in the end. I felt the cool ocean breeze starting up this morning as I worked a couple of little sections to this…

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New things

I love starting new projects. Going from the general of looking at patterns, finding one that moves you, preparing materials all lead you to that moment when you Start. 

There's something engaging about Starting. That's probably why so many of us are so accomplished at Starting things and not so much about finishing. The promise of something beautiful that comes out of the effort of Starting. 

Maybe the fact that we've had unseasonably spring-y weather adds to my excitement about Starting. 

I'm back to Ulrike's Torchon Workbook, working on chapter 9 focusing on Scotch Broom, which is an element of ground. I'm just Starting so when I get to that part of the pattern. I don't know much about it yet except it's pretty. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Watching over

This post is going to be a bit of a mishmash of things going on right now. Works completed and those in progress. 

First of all, a project completed. 
Not perfect but I'm quite happy with this little angel. I definitely need to work on the braided/plaited diamond filling. 

I actually did a practice piece to work out where to start, how many pairs to use and how to space the pairs at different points. The pattern didn't come with any instructions and had only a few hints on the pattern. 
I think if I did it another time, I would use the same number of bobbins and spacing but I would focus more on the diamond filling and be a bit more careful on the picots. 

The practice piece was done in silk and the finished piece was cotton so I think I would do the next piece with silk. It's such a joy to work with. 

Speaking of bobbin lace, I've taken advantage of the warmer weather to work more on the bobbins I've been making. The project is moving along. 
Here are 5 pairs in process. I've got 10 pair in process right now (with 2 pair completed and in rotation) finishing up now with sanding before I finish them with oil. I think I've got another 8 pair marked out but not started yet. 

The other recent project I was involved in was not mine but came as an ask from the Choi&Shine design team.  They did a beautiful lace installation as part of the Amsterdam Light Festival and were working on an upcoming Light Festival in Singapore project. They asked for help in making crocheted motifs. The twist was that the working thread was actually marine rope. Here's a finished motif. 
Using a 5.5(I) crochet hook, it took me almost 10 hours per motif. I made 6 motifs in about 2.5 weeks. It was all down to the wire but hopefully they got it all put together and shipped on time. I can't show you the new project but here's a link to the Amsterdam project. Pretty amazing, right?

Friday, February 10, 2017


I can't believe how much this workshop changed my attitude to warping for the loom. It just seems so doable now. 

As to the current warping, I tried a few different variations of the houndstooth pattern I wanted to use and decided to do four patterns of one (green/purple/green/purple) houndstooth pattern and then four of another, slightly longer pattern. 


I'm now about 2/3 of the way into the warp and will hopefully be able to finish it this weekend (during rest times for my poor hand that is about to fall off from helping a crochet project that has me crocheting with rope - long story for another day). 

I just can't wait to do the next warp!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ready to roll

We had an absolutely lovely day at Hopewell Weaving yesterday. I love Jennie's common sense approach to weaving and how she can do easily move between teaching absolute beginners (there were some of those) and experienced weavers (there were a couple of those), including those inbetween (the rest of us). 

This was one of those classes where you don't come away with one big revelation but loads of little gems about the warping process. 

A few of my new gems:
  • You can wind small sections of warp. You don't have to wind and manage the whole of the warp at one time. I know this is going to sound silly to experienced weavers but I didn't know this. I've wound large warps where the strands were popping off the warping pegs because it was too much. Just wind smaller sections. BAM! Problem solved. Need to warp with different colors or yarns?  BAM!  Problem solved. 
 My purple and green linen warp fully wound on. 
  • How do you hold the warp and keep it organized?  Use the loopers from the little potholder looms, of course. And super important to wrap one all the around the cross. 
  •  Loopers and slip knots work just fine. 
  • Before tying the final knot on the front beam, lift the shafts to make sure there are no crossed threads. 
  • No one really knows why plain weave is also called tabby and the terms are interchangeable. There are theories but no one really knows. 
There's more but the main lesson is that when you get 9 people in one room who are open to learning new things for a day, it makes for a darned enjoyable day!