Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Post Christmas blues

[Sigh] Is it just me or does anyone else find the time between Christmas and New Year a little sad? Every year I get sad in this week and I never know why! There's a strange limbo between the festivities of Christmas and the start of the new year. It's silly to feel blue, I really am lucky not to have anything in particular to feel blue about.

Here's some pics of our dining room at Christmas. We managed to get lots done on the house and it feels great to have achieved something on it.
I don't have any photos of the bookmarks I made as presents which is really silly! I gave them all away without taking photos so I'll have to track them all down again.

Do you know what I'd love to do now? I'd love to spend a few days just sitting at the loom and having fun. That would be bliss. But it's not going to happen for a while yet. Oh well.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the very best for 2010.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Radio silence

With a half-finished house and Christmas fast approaching I've not been blogging very much lately! We've been painting and doing general DIY in an attempt to make our dining and living rooms inviting for Christmas.

Weaving etc have had to go on the back burner, however I have very nearly finished a series of bookmarks (a project which morphed out of my previous attempt) and these will be little gifts for my family. Looking forward to posting pics of those soon!

It's now 10.30pm and Ivan has taken all the steps off the stairs - in fact he removed them at lunchtime - and he promised they would be back on by 9.30pm.

I'd quite like to go to bed now!! In the meantime, I'm going to catch up on everyone's blogs :)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Um... I'm stuck!

I still don't get it! Here is a picture of page 237 of The Handweaver's Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.

It's a weft-faced pattern and as you can see it uses 4 shafts and 3 treadles with a straight draw but when I weave or draft it, it doesn't even appear to be very weft-faced let alone the pattern pictured.

Maybe someone can tell me where I'm going wrong?

You might need to click the image to see it in detail.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Confused of West Chiltington

Ok, at the weekend I decided to do a short weaving project and I decided on bookmarks - namely because they're narrow and it's warping the loom that seems to take me a while, plus I need some. I also found a pattern in the Handweaver's Pattern Directory that I had had my eye on for a while.

The bonus of this pattern, time-wise, was also that it's only using 4 shafts and three treadles. So in no time at all I got it set up and started weaving. I thought I would just vary the colours for each bookmark but stick to the same pattern.

Anyway, I started weaving and what's coming out on the loom isn't anything like the picture in the book!!

I checked the tie up and I don't think I've missed anything and the draft was straight so I can't have gone wildly wrong there. I keep looking at the book thinking have I missed something? Am I on the wrong page? Have I got the book upside down?!

The best thing is to draw the draft myself and find out what went wrong - I might then learn something new. I'll try to post some pics and maybe the findings of my draft a bit later on.

In the meantime however I started playing and made a little sample. Unless I manage to get back on track I will stick to elaborating on my samples and make a bookmark for each one. Watch this space for pics.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

This is Lottie's Loom Room

Woohoo - the delivery man brings nice new furniture for my loom room! I've got a nice open bookcase type of thing for all my weaving, jewellery and fabric bits and bobs.

I also went to Ikea yesterday and picked up a little light which I can bolt onto the side of the loom - these dark nights play havoc and although my eyesight may be already bad, I'd like to not make it worse by threading heddles in poor light!

The excitement seems to have infiltrated everyone else, here is Ivan fighting with Margot - it's no wonder she knocks over my makeshift lamp-based warp board!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Baby blanket

On Sunday I finished off the baby blanket which I made for a relative's Christening as an alternative to the usual white bible approach. It uses blue and cream cashmere / merino wool mix - it's lovely and soft.

Following the scarf I made for Ivan which I was quite pleased with, I wanted to continue to push myself rather than playing it safe as scary as it is when it's a gift! So I wrote a draft which I've done before but never actually seen into fruition! The draft isn't as sophisticated as it sounds - it's a diamond shape using 4 shafts with a tabby weave border. The challenge here was to combine the two and trust myself to get the draft right. As basic as it sounds, I haven't done this before!

I took my usual approach to making the warp - improvisation in light of my warping board being about 250 miles away. Here is a photo of that taking shape - my main worry was that the dog would knock over the top-heavy green lamp which she duly did!

It turns out that I hadn't taken into account the reed width. There weren't enough dents in my reed to handle the width of the blanket despite the warp being capable of a wider piece. So that meant I had to cut chunks of warp out while it was partially threaded. That was scary!

Anyway, no real harm done. The blanket is just a bit narrower than I had anticipated. The upside is that I have some leftover wool :)

Once on the loom I struggled a bit to get the tension right and you can see that in the next photo. It's all a bit wobbly!

Also you can just make out a mistake running through the warp. I accidentally missed one of the reed dents when threading so it left a gap. It looks worse on the loom though - when I took it off it just about disappeared.

Where's Margot? Hiding in the corner from the storm outside.

I like the diamond pattern and I'm pleased that the scale turned out well - I was a bit concerned that the shapes would be too small but they seem quite bold. The tabby border helps a lot too because it means I can get straight edges for once!

Finally I wasn't sure how to handle the ends. I opted eventually to tie knots and have a really short fringe, although I originally anticipated hemming the ends. However I rather like having the bold solid blue at either end because it highlights the blue throughout. So the fringe won.

Overall I'm quite pleased, hope baby likes it!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Goodwood Sculpture Park

I managed to steal my husband for an hour so we scuttled off to a sculpture park at the Goodwood estate near Chichester in West Sussex (on the south coast of England).

We'd never been before although we had heard good things about it. It was really impressive - it was set in a few acres of woodland and all the sculpture was very modern and interesting. Also it was all for sale, so if you have a spare £500k you could treat yourself to a piece of art for the garden!

Here are some pics. I love seeing sculpture outside, seeing it interact with the elements and be seen under outdoor light. Hope you've got good download speeds!

This one was stunning with the chrome bouncing all the light around.

This elephant sort of thing was so realistic (at least for an elephant missing a head) - there were in fact two, this is the baby and the large one was about 25ft tall.
These guys were funny.
I wouldn't like to get too close to this one - the main body pivots in a strong breeze and in a light breeze the smaller part spins too. Very hard to capture on my camera!
A pig field next door.. too early for the pigs maybe.

This white one was huge - about 15ft tall and it had a really milky texture, it looked amazing as the light caught it.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Thanks everyone

Thanks everyone for your kind comments on my last post. I decided to remove it though because I've just realised that Google searches blog text and I don't really want to blast it across the internet any more than I already have!

Feeling much better today and I really appreciate your kind words. I might go and take a look at that blanket now :)

Friday, 6 November 2009


I think I've caused some confusion about my last weaving post. The black and grey piece was a scarf for my husband - not a blanket for the christening! The blanket (which is still only half a warp!) is in baby boy blue and cream baby wool.

As it happens I can't make it to the christening this weekend because there's been quite a bit of swine flu around among some people going and until I get my jab my doctor advised me to steer clear. It's a shame but at least it buys me time to make the blanket and give it to them afterwards!

Anyway would you like to see some pictures of Ivan's new scarf? Here we go:

Ivan posing hand on hip

It's a man-sized scarf and is probably a good 45cm wide (I can't double check because he's gone to work in it) and a metre and half long.

In all I'm quite pleased with how it turned out - it feels like it was quite a defining project in my weaving life because of the process of starting again with the loom. I've learnt a lot doing this project and there was more emphasis on the design of colour and pattern than I've tried before.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Thriller night

It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes
You're paralysed

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'alls neighbourhood

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

He he he! I'm waiting for some photos of my husband too - now he really was scary!

Lyrics from Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

Monday, 2 November 2009

Sunday weaving

I've now got a bit further with my latest project. It uses merino wool which I wasn't sure of because I decided to use it on the warp as well as the weft. Although it's strong it's very stretchy but it seems to be ok... so far so good.

I've also been adjusting the shed as I go along so when I notice that a thread is hanging low or too high on a particular treadle I can adjust it. It looks so obvious now! What was all the fuss about?!

I have to say though that I found when sitting at the loom and pressing treadles I didn't realise how bad my shed was - it looks different when you sit looking down on it and I was constantly having to fiddle with threads. My boat shuttle was getting stuck in high seas rather than aqua-planing like it's meant to! I only realised how bad it was when I ducked my head down and looked through the shed and saw that it was a complete mess. Anyway it's much better now and much faster too.

Can you see the pattern? It uses a combination of tabby with a straight twill in black, dark grey and light grey wool. I don't like the horizontal stripe but I really like the verticals switching from tabby to twill and back again. I might use that again somewhere but without the horizontal - it just seems messy somehow. Maybe it's the tension changing from tabby to twill.

I'm also being really careful to move the warp on every few centimetres so the tension remains even and it works much better than it has before.

Another thing I like/don't like is the edges. On the left the edge is tabby for 6 ends which looks neat and on the other end (should have thought of this when I made the warp) the piece ends on a twill which seems to have twisted and made a bulky cord. I've noticed on other pieces using a twill that this happens but at least previously both ends have been the same. I'd be interested to find out why this happens and what I can do about it.

I've got to crack on with this as I'm meant to be weaving a blanket for a christening present - this weekend! Argh!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Back to basics

Yesterday I put a new warp on my loom but as usual wasn't happy with the shed I achieved. I've never totally got to grips with the mechanics of the loom - I've just sort of bumbled along and fiddled with lengths of cord here and there. Usually to no avail.

Also the previous owner had attached little slices of cardboard between the countermarch and the little plastic pins. This she said was to give fine adjustment on the length of the countermarch cords but I'm not convinced they did a lot of good.

So the upshot is that I put the metal rods back into the countermarch and basically took the whole thing apart.

I left the harnesses where they were but straightened and levelled them up properly.
I took out all the pieces of cardboard and adjusted the cords so they didn't need them anyway.
I levelled out the V shape that the countermarch loop cords make as they were all over the place before.
I detached the lams and started again to get them level.
I detached the treddles and retied them so they were near perfectly level.
I simplified the cords between the lams and the treddles so I didn't get met with about a million identical cords hanging down when I tied them up.

I tried to be methodical and get everything level while reading the instructions in broken English (the loom is Swedish) and decided that I'm better to follow my instincts!

I thought it would take ages but actually it was pretty quick and I really wish I'd done it sooner. I don't think I had the confidence before to detach everything and re-level all the cords for fear of making it worse.

Also I realised that a big mistake I was making - it sounds so stupid now - was that I was taking the metal countermarch holding rods (I'm sure they have a proper name) out too soon. I was taking them out before doing the tie up so as a result the treddles and lams were kicking out in all different directions.

This time however I left them in and took them out last and to my surprise everything stayed level and how it's supposed to be - balanced.

I checked the shed and it's much better.

Ah I'm so pleased and strangely it feels like I've finally taken ownership of my loom.

A question to the weavers out there - what is your preference on the treddle cords? On each project do you leave them all in place (i.e. hanging down from the lams) or do you prefer to remove the ones you aren't using? I find I get lost with all the surplus cords in the way but I suppose to have to retie them for each new project takes too long.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Dashing to Dorset

My husband is working on a film in Dorset at the moment so this weekend as he just had Sunday off, I went to visit him. We stayed at an amazing B&B in Burton Bradstock - a little village on the coast. I've stayed in a few B&Bs before but I wasn't quite prepared for this one!

The house was built in 1902 during the Arts & Crafts movement - the interior was so sympathetic and tasteful. Stupidly I didn't take any photos of the house but this is their website - Norburton Hall. It was such a lovely treat!

I did manage to take photos of the coastline - which is Jurassic. Wow, you couldn't look at a rock without seeing ammonites and fossils. They were everywhere.

I love the texture and the layers. Knowing that they were millions of years old certainly gets you thinking too!

Lovely to see Ivan, lovely trip away.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Where can I find Bernard's Watch?

I've been so busy doing other things lately that I have rather neglected my loom. It reminds me every time I walk past it by looking empty and bereft of even a warp.

So what have I got to show for my elapse? Not a lot!! I just seem to be working all the time or walking the dog - maybe it's because the days are getting shorter now and it always takes me a while to adjust to the dark evenings.

So last night I made a new warp - it's meant to be a surprise although I have no idea how to keep it away from the intended recipient - considering he's going to see it as soon as he walks into the room!!

My solution is to find Bernard's Watch. What on earth is she on about now? Bernard's Watch was a kids TV program where a little boy called Bernard had a magic pocket watch. If he clicked a button on it, time would stop. Everyone except Bernard and whoever he was holding hands with at the time would stop literally in their tracks, making it quite amusing because the actors had to stop dead when they were running or whatever and you would normally see the more precariously balanced ones wobbling about.

So Bernard and his little friends were free to go and do whatever they wanted or needed to do - usually some scheme that would involve a frantic rush in the normal world but which could be achieved at a leisurely pace with the watch.

If I had the magic watch I could pause time, finish my weaving in time for Ivan's return tomorrow and of course release everyone to carry on with what they were doing.

Ever since I saw that program I have thought about what an indispensable item that watch was. Hey ho.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Goodwood Revival

On Saturday we went with a couple of friends to Goodwood Revival which is a classic car racing event in Sussex in the south of England. We've been going every year for several years now and it's guaranteed that we will have a brilliant day!

For those who haven't heard of it, it's a classic car race weekend that celebrates car racing between 1948 and 1966 when Goodwood Racecourse was in its prime. All the cars are of the era and are all picked by the organisers for the event because they are extra special examples and so on. Plus (and this is the best bit for me) most people who attend dress up in the clothes of the era! Of course it covers quite a range of styles - post war 40s, military, 50s and 60s.

It's just an amazing spectacle and people put so much effort into looking the part - everyone uses their imagination. There are special acts too like the Dad's Army guys (some of them are the spitting image of the TV characters) and policemen, spies, taxi driver girls.

If you haven't been but get the chance to go, then go! Here are some photos....

You'd definitely see in the dark on that scooter!

My 50s dress bought on eBay that was originally from a shop in New York.
Hubby Ivan looking rather dashing!
Sarah and Craig enjoying the local beer.
Dad's Army!

Friday, 4 September 2009

A jewellery interlude

So my weaving has been rudely interrupted by my wandering mind...which rested on my jewellery projects. I finally picked up my jewellery stuff from my parents house where it's been out of sight, out of mind and I can feel myself getting carried away.

Here are photos of some necklaces I made a while ago which I've just been reunited with.

This is the last one I made and is my favourite. I actually made it for my mum for Christmas but I think it's a bit heavy and extreme for her! It's made of red coral - ethically sourced I'm led to believe - and it's really very long. The white beads are sparkly and give it a bit of a glam edge. The big sticks of coral remind me of chillis!

This is a little neat necklace that I often wear when I go to visit clients - it's business-y enough to wear with a shirt but the glass gold beads brighten suits up a treat. Again I used the red coral pieces to punctuate it.

I wear this one most. It's large turquoise pendants all the way roumd with coral chips and sparkly beads. Looks nice with a white dress or shirt but again is very heavy! Also because the coral circles all the way round, it scratches your neck and I usually end up getting frustrated and take it off half way through the day!

I also collected boxes and boxes of stones, findings and all the paraphanalia that goes with it. Ivan might be coming home to a big mess of beads all over the bed and floor........

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Hmm... I feel a new project coming on

These three spools of cotton have been staring at me for the past few weeks. I quite fancy weaving a dog tooth table runner for my dining table - albeit the table is in storage at the other end of the country.

I'm supposed to be doing things like painting the house at weekends but all work and no play make Lottie a dull girl. So we shall see...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Cheerful autumn scarf

Last week I took a week off work and as we weren't able to go on holiday I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to play with my new toy and get lots of weaving done. Of course, things don't always turn out how you imagine but I did manage to squeeze in a short scarf project. Short in both senses - the turnaround and the length of the finished article itself!

A little while ago I bought 3 balls of quite coarse knitting wool. I find that whenever I spot a lovely wool in a knitting shop they don't tend to have quite enough in stock of the one I want but it was so cheerful that I decided to buy it anyway.

I used one and a half balls on a warp:

In the absence of my warping board (it's in storage) I had to improvise and used the loom to make the cross and positioned my bench at the other side of the room to wrap it around. Quite why I ended up making it virtually on the floor I don't know as it involved a lot of crawling from one end of the room to the other.

I then used the remaining wool on the weft. I decided on a waffle pattern in the end as I wanted to see how well the coarse wool would make the 3D texture compared to cotton. You can kind of see the effect while it's still on the loom:

Here's the finished piece - quite short but fab colours for autumn! Not convinced the waffle effect turned out well but the fabric does have a nice texture and I guess it would be warmer than if it had been a flat texture. I'm so pleased with my new loom - it's so fast in comparison to the table loom I used before. I'm constantly amazed at how much I can achieve in one sitting.

Finished alpaca scarf

A couple of weeks ago I finished the test scarf project that I started and here are the pics. It uses a beautiful soft alpaca wool - cream colour in the warp and a blue weft. The blue reminds me of a hotel on the south Cornish coast - they have a very similar colour dotted around. It's such a smart fresh colour.

The pattern is a sort of windmill shape which you can see quite well on this photo on the loom...

...and below you can see it clearly on the close-up too although in real life you need to kind of let your eyes go out of focus to spot the pattern.

Here's a final pic of the finished article and one of Margot modelling it.

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out - at least I understand the loom an awful lot better now! Although I did make a mistake on the threading and of course it's replicated throughout the whole scarf. Still, on to the next project!
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