Friday, September 14, 2012

Assessment 5 Texture Samples

The first of the texture samples. Exploring supplementary warps, chaining, soumak, macrame square knots, wrapped threads and various other knots. Used wool, hemp twine , cardboard & cotton. Finished with bone, shell & beads.

Still can't keep my sides straight ...hmm, maybe that should be my "thing", asymmetrical tapestries! I start with good intention and then before I know it I've become so involved in the process of the weaving, the choosing colours & yarns, the knots & textures, that I forget to keep an eye on the shape of the whole.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weaving Mangroves

 I hadn't realised how long it's been since my last post. I was really hoping to post updates every week but time seems to fly by.
Anyway, I decided to go with the mangroves as the inspiration for my abstract landscape tapestry. I just couldn't get past them.

It was Michelle's idea to use a different colour scheme that helped make up my mind. So, I played around with my limited knowledge of Photoshop

and came up with this

Because of the strong vertical lines in this design I wove the design sideways, which I found challenging.

The other main problem I am having is keeping my sides straight and parallel.

The other exercise I have completed & really enjoyed was the dyeing fibres. I ended up using large jars to dye in and placed them on a rack in an old frying pan filled with water.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dyeing Fibres

I've taken a break from weaving today to start preparing the dyes required for the next set of exercises. When I first received the course material I had a read through book 2 which contains the information for the Dyeing section for the year and realised I needed to source the dyes & glass bottles early on.

The 2 litre glass flagons were not as easy to find as I first thought (short of drinking a lot). I found a supplier on ebay that sold them in lots of 4. As I needed 5 I had to buy 2 sets. The supplier was a home brewing company. My local home brewing shop doesn't stock them but if you live in a more populated area this would be my suggestion. Seeing them in person I would have been able to select bottles with better lids. (you'd think that bottles meant for brewing/holding alcohol would have decent lids wouldn't you). Needless to say I was disappointed by the cheap lids on my flagons when they arrived (but at least there were no breakages which was my initial concern).

The dyes I bought from Kraftkolour as instructed in the book. I couldn't order directly from their site as the dyes were not listed in the online store section so I sent an email enquiry & ended up phoning and ordering over the phone.

Today I decided to mix the dye powders with water ready for the actual dyeing at a later date.

So, I got out my electronic scale, a measuring jug, plastic spoons and disposable gloves (I recommend changing them as soon as you get dye powder on them, as the smallest amount of water on the dye powder can mean a big mess!). I also rummaged in the back of the cupboard and found some paper patty cake cases.

My plan was to measure the dye powder into a patty case and then tip this into the flagon & add the water. I soon realised this wouldn't work as the first patty case was soon filling up with powder & I was not at the required quantity. Also I think it's better to add the powder directly to the flagon as it could've ended up a disaster trying to transfer all the powder into the flagon.

What I did was place the glass flagon (lidless) on the scale and tare the scales (zero it). Then I carefully spooned the dye powder into the flagon a little at a time. It helps to have a spoon that fits into the mouth of the bottle so that there is minimal powder around the top of the bottle. When the 20g was reached (or 10g in the case of the black) I added the water. I had previously marked with texta on one of the bottles where 2 litres of water came up to & copied this on to all the bottles.
The instructions say to use hot water. I boiled the kettle then added boiling water into a pouring jug with some  tap water to cool it slightly. After I added about a third of the water I capped it & gave it a swirl/shake to dissolve the dye powder. Then another few inversions after topping the water up the mark.

All my dyes are now mixed, the bottles are stored in a plastic tub on the laundry bench & I can't wait to actually dye some wool.

Back to the weaving.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Geelong Fibre Forum

For Misha:


This week I received my last 2 assignments back with feedback. Both were marked 80/100 (like my first assignment),  so I'm consistent.

Here's the one I forgot to photograph before sending it off.

I really have to practice working with colours and having bobbins starting everywhere. It is resulting in not being in the right pass when the 2 colours meet, which is quite obvious in this piece.
I also have to beat down firmer. After watching some videos I had actually thought I was being too harsh in beating down, but apparently not.

I'm having second thoughts about using the mangroves as an inspiration for the next tapestry. The brief is to use multi-colours so I'm thinking the mangroves are not colourful enough. Also I was advised to use some colour in my design (a response to the above tapestry).

(To answer Mishas question about my location: I am in Ballina, on the far north coast of NSW, about an hours drive to the NSW/Qld border. So I am lucky to have mangroves, beach, rivers, mountains, rainforest, paddocks .... lots of natural landscape for inspiration).

Anyone going to the Geelong Fibre Forum in September? (I'm going & will be doing the knitting workshop with Teresa Dair.)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Landscape Inspiration

I've been thinking about the next assignment, the abstract landscape, and looking around me for inspiration. I keep returning to the nearby waterway and the mangroves.

The limited colour palette may be challenging for me but I'm looking forward to working with more "subdued" colours.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Assessment 3

Assessment 3 is a Woven Colour Sampler. I've included a couple of scans so the colours aren't quite accurate (as the complete tapestry wouldn't fit in one go under the scanner).

 It always amazes me how much "clearer" things seem when viewing a scan or a photograph ....... I find it much easier to see the errors now looking at the scans then I can see looking at the tapestry itself. I seem to have missed quite a few warp threads in this sampler.

No feedback on the last assessment yet, but I think I'm improving each time. Now to warp the larger loom for the next assignment.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Assessment 2

I can't believe I've posted Assessment 2 without taking photographs.
I'll admit I was hurrying to get it finished in time. I had 6 weeks off work on medical leave & had these grand plans that I would get ahead with my assignments, but it didn't happen.

Instead I stayed in my comfort zone & finished some projects for the etsy shop:

and also opened my online yarn store:

so in the last week I've been under pressure (timewise) to get the assignment finished & I completely underestimated the time I'd need for finishing. But it's done & on the way south for assessment. I'm disappointed as I think I could have done a much better job if I'd taken my time.

Now for the next assesment on colour. There's not a lot of time to get this one done so I've made a start & have the loom warped ready for a weekend of weaving.

I've decided to go with a finer warp this time & am using 12/9 cotton warp from Glenora Weaving & Wool. (I'm still using the frame loom but think I'll try warping my Schacht tapestry loom for the next assessment.)

I've also made the investment & ordered the set of Archie Brennan DVDs. I think it will be really helpful to have some visual instruction instead of text & pictures.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Assessment 1 feedback

Today I received my Basic Sampler assignment, marked and with feedback from Jude.

There is lots of praise and lots of helpful 'criticism'. Not criticism really, but comments & recommendations on where I went amiss and what I could try next time.

I need to find some time to get out my books and re-read the comments in relation to those to get a better understanding of some of the concepts.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tapestry Weaving Course

I've just been told about another Tapestry Weaving course. This would be suitable for anyone who lives in the Southern Highlands area of NSW or is prepared to board for a while as accommodation is available.

The course is held at Sturt in Mittagong which has a wonderful history (you can read all about it on the website). The current Tapestry Weaving has already started but they are also running a 5 day weaving course (not specifically tapestry) in winter, and it is likely the Summer timetable repeats each year.

And it's not just weaving at Sturt. They have a wide range of creative workshops running throughout the year. Let me know if you've been, or plan on going to, any classes there.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I've been doodling & drawing in preparation for assignment 2......a small tapestry based on basic sampler. So, the brief says " .. the design....fairly simple....practise the techniques learnt in the first sampler."

I worked through the exercises and ended up with a fairly simple, but boring design

I wanted to include a circle (something I definitely need practise with).

Still boring. Yes it's simple but I want to enjoy the process as well. More drawing & doodling & thinking.

My final design (I think) is this:

Yes, it's simple but it includes lines, circles, places where I can play with blending colours together and practice the techniques from the basic sampler.

OK next step was to choose the colours. So many choices, I love most colours and was originally looking at the design seeds site for inspiration. Designs seeds can be found here:

In the end I decided to look at what I had & came up with these (2 ply wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills) 2 greens for the background stripes, 3 pinky colours for the flowers and black (from Australian Tapestry Workshop) for the flower centres. I'm hoping the black will provide that bit of "pop"

I've enlarged the design to fit an A4 piece of paper. Now to warp.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Basic Sampler

Here is the completed basic sampler.

 It is very obvious that the sides pull in right where I wove the circle. I used 8 strands of the Australian Tapestry Workshop dyed yarns up to that point and then added a different yarn for the circle. I think I should have used more of the black/lurex yarn because after the circle the sides go back out again.
My landscape is very simple, leaves against a two colour background. I used some oddments from my yarn stash for this. I wanted to try a different textural look and also get away from the original colours.

At least there's plenty of room for improvement!

For Misha

OK Misha this is for you.

I've since finished & sewn the slits. My "landscape" is very simple but I'm happy with it. I'll try for a photo of the completed sampler tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Basic Sampler

Well I've started the basic sampler for my first assignment. My intention was to post progress pics & a photo of the completed sampler......but, I'm a bit embarrassed. I don't think it is very good.
I'm using 8 strands of 2 ply which is giving me problems in keeping all the plys aligned & not twisting over. Also my sides are starting to pull in (is my weft too thin?)

For anyone that's done the basic sampler I am up to the circle. Although circle may not be the right word to use here! It started off fine but once I passed the half way point the shape is looking too elongated (think fat egg). I'm hoping it will pack down & look better. I'm half thinking I should pull it out & start the circle again.

My thoughts: it's taking a lot longer than I thought it would so I'm just going to continue & complete this sampler. If time allows I will weave another (hopefully better) sample.
I'll take some photos & who knows, if I'm feeling brave, they may appear here on the blog ... after all, what's a blog without photos.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ready, Set, ..

Just a quick update. I received the 2 books for this year and was surprised at the number of assignments to get through. Pleasantly surprised though. If this is the first year then it looks like the course is going to be quite substantial and have some great content. I'm really looking forward to the dyeing and excited that I will (hopefully) be able to dye whatever colour yarn I'd like.
I've started ordering the materials needed so I can make a start ASAP ... first assignment due March 15.