Skip to content

Scrap Happy September

September 14, 2019

September – and half way through!

summer has drifted away – the weather has changed suddenly

time to pack away the sun hat

the white linen summer jacket was bought in a second hand shop – I’ve wore it for years

next year it will get freshened up with several dips in the indigo vat

for years I’ve woven flowers on a 4 inch Weavette loom

the loom was bought in a charity shop – they are no longer available

 but several companies are making new looms (google pin looms)I’ve always used small leftover balls of yarn and used beads  in the centers

for scrap happy I used thrums- they are short and have to be knotted

but there is a never ending supply

and for the centers I raided the button jar

even the pins sewn on the back were from the stash

they sell well at studio tours so I’m planning on a dozen new ones for the next tour

it takes 3 squares to make a flower – it doesn’t take long but they are a bit fiddley (is that a word?)

I’ve woven wool squares , sewn them together and felted them to make bags

the possibilities are endless

if you are interested in joining the happy scrappers go to Kate’s blog

or want to see what others are doing;

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.  


trial and error

September 13, 2019

working along at a snail’s pace

the tapestry loom is now wider

from a 12 inch weaving width to 18 inches

when I started I never thought I’d want to get that big

but really, in the history of tapestries, it is still very small – it is just very slow weaving

then I modified the warping technique for a Fringeless warp

instead of inserting a wooden jig to support the actual warp and the supplimentary top and bottom warps

I used Texsolve cord and steel rods borrowed from my table looms

it really needs S hooks on the top and bottom horizontal loom pipes to hold the cord

  I bought the largest ones the hardware store had but they weren’t big enough so I impatiently tied the cords to the horizontal loom bars

definitely not a good idea – terribly difficult to get the holes in the cord to line up

the finished tapestry may not be exactly square – will get the bigger S hooks for next time

a big thank you to Alison Irwin for the idea and how-to pictures

and now a new beginning

I tried resist tying a small skein of yellow wool – dyed with Lady’s Mantle

the picture is as close to the colour as I could get – the yellow is a little bit brighter

but this indigo vat definitely doesn’t like my wool -it is green but not as dark as I hoped

next I’ll try the technique on silk

frustrating blues

September 7, 2019

the weather is changing -I’ve been busy in the garden – and building another deer fence

the Fall crocus is abundant this year

they look so fragile but thrive on neglect – and apparently the deer don’t eat them

back in the indigo

2 yards of this fabric has been in the stash for several years

many dips in the vat and it didn’t get any darker

conclusion – it isn’t 100% cotton as labeled – that’s what you get when you buy at a discount store

it looks like faded denim – a good top for next summer

one skein of handspun Icelandic wool resist tied with Japanese ikat tape

a couple dips to get a pale blue, then more ties and more dips

it was a very greeny blue and wasn’t getting very dark

so I dyed a cotton hankie to check the vat – only two dips and it was a good strong blue

so it’s not the vat, it’s the wool

but I’m still trying to get a feel for this fruit vat – I refreshed it with more indigo and fruit

found it takes approx. 48 hours to start working again

removed the ties and am happy with the result although it could be darker

I want to use it in a tapestry so think the tied lengths need to be shorter which will take more ties, more time

will overdye a yellow skein and see what kind of green I can get

warping the backstrap loom for September

the warp is a huge cone of European linen singles that is very strong and wirey

the weft is handspun 2 ply wool

I thought this was going to be quick and easy

ha! it was the worst warping yet and I almost threw the whole lot in the garbage

with 2 days of fussing it is finally weaving

my challenge this month is to include some tapestry – I had a fancy pattern ready to go – but!

frustration forced common sense and I’ve settled for multi-coloured squares

hope I’m still sane by the end of the month

and now the tapestry loom needs warping


time to celebrate

September 1, 2019

Happy, happy 18th birthday Iainand very best wishes for your start at UVic

spinning for Sheep to Shawl at the Saanich Fair on Saturday

Bob carding wool – starting at 9:30 am

the Fair theme was bees – people wore yellow and bee antennae

lots of happy spinners, spinning honey coloured local wool

getting started with the weaving – the pattern is Honeycomb

at 3:30 pm Beatrice was ready to cut off

the whole crew – with a couple missing

voila – the shawl needs finishing and washing

thanks to Judy for all the organizing

 to Brenda and Beatrice for weaving and more organizing

and to all the spinners, weaving demonstrators and those who were there to help

the weather is changing – you can feel it in the air – summer drifted by far too quickly



natural colours

August 30, 2019

one month is long enough to have dye pots hanging around

Birch bark (I don’t know what species)

soaked, cooked then solar dyed for 1 month and cooked again

too much work for brown!

on the right – dark purple hollyhock

wool and silk (grey/grape) both from the same pot, alum mordant – surprise again

solar dyed 1 month and then simmered 1 hour

left – Walnut bark, wool and silk , simmered 2 1/2 hours

(click on picture to see the colours)

walnut bark – wool felt samples show the difference between solar dyeing and adding heat

the fibres in the felt are so dense that the colour is darker in all the natural dye samples

last but not least, shibori dyed wool felt in the walnut exhaust

a baby bear in the making

the felt shrank so much during the dyeing he is a little smaller

and he has a tiny indigo scrap teddy to keep him company


August 25, 2019

natural dyeing is always an adventure

surprises are part of the appeal – unless you are a control freak

I’ve dyed with dark purple hollyhocks many times over the years

the plants self-seed and I let them take over the back of the dye garden – they grow very tall

 gather the blossoms as they drop and dry them until the plants have stopped blooming

add water and sit in the sun, they have started to go mouldy

a square of wool felt and small skein of silk (alum mordant) have been in the pot for a week

it gets slimy but the plant material is easy to shake out – silk is center bottom

this is the surprise – the wool felt is green – soaked and washed and it is still green

samples from years past – no green

the plants didn’t get much water and it has been hotter than usual – climate change??

the indigo fruit vat is also a surprise

it has a thick – really thick – scum/foam on the top – is the fruit fermenting?

indigo wine!

the foam was easy to scoop off

 the vat underneath looks good – pH 11

this cotton fabric is as big as the small vat can accommodate

2 dips  and many more to go

think I’ll have to order more indigo after this

be thankful

August 21, 2019

the backstrap weaving for August is finished

it’s the strip at the bottom

woven with 2 ply handspun yarns, wool for the weft and a hemp warp

 all the pieces woven so far are sewn together

as this is very rustic (that’s what I’m calling it!) I’ve been experimenting on different seam stitches

might as well learn something

at the beginning and end of the warp I hemstitch

in order to attach the next weaving I press the hemstitch knots to the back and secure with a running stitch

this is not elegant but a useful and warm way to use the samples

there is 465gms. of 2 ply handspun wool and silk (on the right) waiting to be alum mordanted

white Icelandic, brown Corriedale and silk hankies

the only purchase I made at Fibrations was 200gms. of beautifully prepared Cotswold roving

Cotswold is an old British breed, now considered a rare breed

read more about it here

click on history and then Cotswold

it is a pleasure to spin on my IST Crafts rim weighted Turkish spindle

I had to order 2 longer galvanized pipes to make my tapestry loom wider

 while waiting, the time is well spent researching and working on a new design

as each tapestry gets a little larger and weaving takes more time it is important to be very sure about the design

this is a start – the baby dress (right) was taken to the hospital by my birth mother

she died and my adoptive mother kept the dress for me

I hope to weave it in the background

the book “Threads of Feeling” is the catalogue from an exhibition at the Foundling Hospital, London, 2010

 the Selvedge article (issue 36 Sept/Oct 2010) gives more details on some of the fabric scraps

left by mothers to identify their babies in the improbable chance they would come back to claim the child

it is a heartbreaking story – more on my blog here

there are still too many children in the world who desperately need help