Sunday, September 27, 2009

Plaited possum and cotton

I finally got it done - a plaited scarf using one strand of 2/20 mercerised cotton and 2 strands of possum yarn. The colours are close and the difference in yarn ratio created enough rippling to mimic the collapse weave /ribbed like effect.

I only have 2 claw weights that came with the machine but found what I think is a cast on comb? The cotton section is so delicate that it needed an even weight across the width of the whole piece. even then, I couldn't knit more than 15 full passes without it jumping off the needles.

The rippling effect was beautiful. I wonder what it would be like if it was done on a ribber. I haven't learnt any double bed knitting yet - only how to maintain it and how to set it up.
I know one of the effect of single bed knitting is the curly edges. No matter how much I steamed it , it did not flatten out. I have not knitted (hand or machine) enough to learn how to block things either.
The washed sample below has flattened out a bit but the overall effect is still there. There are still a few more ideas to try out with this technique and I think that they will create some interesting textures!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's about time.....

It is out of the box!

I bought this piece of equipment after first year machine knitting at school - with the full intention of keeping up so that when I start back with the subject, I would not have lost all the skills. Needless to say, it had been in the box for a couple of years now. The only time I had it out was to learn how to give it a mini-service! (it was a very useful thing)

Well, I can't even remember how to start......

The yarn broke multiple times when I tried to cast on and knit the first row. I am not sure what I have done wrong. I checked the instruction book again - suddenly the light bulb comes on!
The russell levers. Then it worked.
There is this technique called platting that I learnt at the machine knitting club and I really want to experiment with it. It allows control of which side the yarn sits when I use more than one type.
The grey colour yarn is the platting yarn (appears on purl side) and sits behind the yarn feeder hole while the main yarn is in the yarn feeder (appears on knit side) and in this case, is not continuous.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The winter of discontent

It had been weeks,
of having the flu,
of coughing,
of exhaustion and lack of concentration,
of postponed visits with friends,
of cancelled excursions to exhibitions/craft show that has since finished,
of broken warp threads,
of missed opportunities,
of stagnation ........
Somehow, the simplest things do not go according to plan.

Surely, it is time for change. The sun was out today. There is less than a month to Spring.

It is time:
for renewed energy,
for new projects to take shape,
for a new warp on the loom,
for new book to read,
for better health,
for connections with friends and family,
for looking forward,
for better things to come........
Postscript: In this period of discontent, there was a very contented pushy cat.......

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Noro Silk Garden

Thanks to Dorothy's inspired idea of using the Noro sock yarns, I finally found a use for the two balls of Noro 'silk garden' yarn in my stash. I had tried to knit something with them but found them a bit 'scratchy' to feel. Then seeing Dorothy's success, I thought that if the weft yarn is soft, it may improve the overall feel.
I used the Ashford table loom on 4-shafts. The draft was the 'Hair line effect' twill from the 'Marguerite Porter Davison' book. Weaving 4 shaft on the table loom is reasonably quick.
This yarn is thicker than the sock yarn and was woven at 10epi.

I love the way the colours arranged themselves. The 2 balls of yarn had the same colour code and dyelot. However, when the warp is wound, it is clear that the colour sequence is different. I liked it. It enabled me to create colour without really working hard at it!

I used a subdue colour as the weft so that the colours of the warp took centre stage.

The suprise bonus - there was only about 4 inches of loom waste and this is without using a dummy warp! I used a shorter rod at the back beam so that the warp can come right up close to the heddles.

Overall, I am really happy with the result and I did see some 'Silk Garden lite' the other day at the yarn shop, on discount.......

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More collapse

After the success of the collapse weave scarf for the virtual scarf exhibition, I wanted to try more. I am intrigued by this. I don't fully understand how it works. I know that it has something to do with the thickness of the warp and weft yarns and that it is not a balanced weave. I got this book but have not read through all of it yet. I just wanted to weave first.
I wondered about the colours of the pleats/folds on either side of the piece and decided on more experimenting. 'Collapse' was threaded with alternating colours. I wanted to create a piece with separate colours on either side, so the colour combination will have to follow the weave structure:

It looks like a 'zebra crossing'! The warp is a 5 ply pure wool. I used a black and white twist fine merino as the weft. For some reason, the purity of colours or the lack of it was important and strangely appealing.

The sample worked well and it is only 20cm long. The 'collapse' happened as soon as the tension was released. In tension, you can feel a slight bump between the 1/3 and 3/1 twills. I will now weave a full length scarf of this and then I would like to try some different width pleats......

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Small Scarf Exhibition 2009

Come here to have a look at the gallery!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Knitted up

Mum had knitted up the cashmere yarn we bought from Avril.

I just wish that it was possible to convey the softness and the drape through the computer.

Belated New Year

I was late with my Christmas post, and now Chinese new year. I am seriously catching up.
Happy year of the Ox. This was a postcard I picked up in Japan, by unicef. I love the stylised image. When enlarged, you can actually see what looks like weave structure. A collage of different fabrics to form the image.
To add to the occaision, this weave sample that I did a year ago seems appropriate. I was trying to create the imagery of firecrackers into a weave.....

It is a double weave based on the same technique for the cotton piece from my first post. This was the precursor to that piece of weaving.

Time flies

I have not meant to be away for so long. In fact, I have actually been composing posts in my head and have been continually taking photos. I just have not physically put them into the computer...... I cannot believe that 3 months had past. There is a bit of catching up to do.

However, if you are reading this and are in Melbourne, Australia, there is an interesting exhibition to see. It finishes next weekend on 3 May.
In the meantime, there was another exhibition in which I participated earlier in the year. It was called 'in bloom' and was organised by the RMIT union arts.

This was a small piece of silk painted sample, set in microwave and then quilted over.

The cushion finally completed - a sample of 8-shaft honey comb combined with commercial denim to form a 'box-style' cushion.

Finally, a bit of beading using polystyrene beads......they do look very pearl-like.

They following 2 pieces are by Michelle:

'Barely there': natural dyeing with flowers and kimono silk.

'Native flowers': discharge with bleach on cotton.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


There are some things of which you can never have enough. For a while, it had been fabric. I once saw a sign in a fabric shop that said "She who dies with the most fabric wins." Since I took up weaving, it has been weaving equipment and yarn.
We went to Nagoya, Japan for a family holiday. My mum and I caught the Shinkensan from Nagoya to Kyoto for the day to visit Avril and this other shop. Now who can go to Japan and not make the effort to get there especially when they have this!

We went to the main office/shop in Kyoto and just like the middle picture. There were just shelves of yarn. It was like a supermarket of yarn - room after room piled high. I also met the lady who looks after all the email orders. It is nice to have a real-life connection.

I didn't really go crazy but you do have to make the most of the opportunity. As the website suggested, I did the research beforehand and got an order together with some of my friends. Yes, there is more than 3 kg of yarn in this photo and we spent 4 hours there.

From left to right: silk/stainless steel core, cotton paper, washi linen with cotton cores, fine linen (grey) and bamboo.

From left to right: natural dyed cashmere (mum is a knitter and the cashmere belongs in her stash), wool/silk mix (white)

Close up of the cotton paper yarn. Yarn from Pine fibre (white cone).

From top to bottom: merino wool/stainless steel core, silk/stainless steel core (black and pale grey)

I don't think there is a name in English for the weaving supply shop. It was in an older area of Kyoto and the shop owner spoke limited English. I got by with pointing (politely of course), very limited amount of japanese and the ability to read kanji from the price list. We were there for more than an hour, looking at different types of boat shuttles: apparently, there are different shapes for use with cotton, silk, wool, etc.

From top to bottom (in pairs): all purpose boat shuttles (with rollers and these beautiful copper tips. The tips are not weighted as fly shuttles. I think that they are there to protect the ends.), medium size shuttle suitable for pick up, small size shuttle for pick up. Note that there is a small hole on one side and a slot on the other of each shuttle. The small round hole is for fine silk and the slot is for thicker yarn.

I think that I will not have to buy yarn for a while now. (You have yet to see what I got when Edith (from Cloth Haven) took me to the wholesale places in Hong Kong! ) It will take me a long time to use up all this yarn. I am hoping that my yarn will not go the same 'obese' way as my fabric stash. My output needs to catch up with the input, and I am a slow weaver......

Saori: clasped weft weaving

The warp was a fine cotton mixed with some metallic yarns on a 2 shaft loom. It was already on the loom so there was no time spent on warping/threading etc. Just the kind of thing for holiday weaving. In fact, the waste yarn section was already done and I went straight in with a nice soft chenille yarn.

This method required a similar yarn thickness for all the colours as the 2 different wefts appear in double thickness in the same pick. Kaz explained it really well in her post and also in a subsequent video tutorial. The cone of dark green yarn sat on the floor and the golden colour was in the shuttle, leading the pick.

Then I progressed to 3 colours. The dark green cone was still on the floor, the white was just a small ball of yarn sitting on the weave, acting as the leading weft with the dark green. The colours on the right were in the shuttle and they were the leading weft with the white yarn. It is the exactly the same method repeated twice in the same pick.

When we got to the end of my sample, I wove with some fine waste yarn to finish off the piece. Then the interesting part. Edith said she learnt this in Kyoto. I allowed enough for cutting off, and then wove a couple of inches with fine waste yarn, I used up odd bits that were left on some bobbins. Then we applied PVA glue to the section while the warp is still in tension. We waited till the glue dried, slot the front rod into the next section and then cut off my sample.
This allow the next section to be secured without any tying of the warp - no knots, no bulk and minimal waste on the warp. I think this method will work well for a sampling warp.

I haven't tried it yet since I got back, but it is something I would like to test out.

Actually, I am already planning a project with this method of weaving but first, I have to finish what is on my loom.....

Cloth Haven

At the end of 2005, I had just finished my first year of (part-time)study in textile design and was on my way to Shanghai for the holidays. I wanted to make the most of the trip and was determined to do as much research as possible. I found out that there is a 'Guide to Asian textile collections' published by the Textile Society of Hong Kong. It was available at a place called 'Cloth Haven'. I went there, had a quick look around, signed up for their email newsletter, bought the guide and left.

In subsequent years, it had been closed whenever I had visited Hong Kong. This year, I was lucky. Edith who runs Cloth Haven was in town. She remembered me and I signed up for some weaving time.

Lobby/Display area:

Loom area:

There are approximately 5 Saori looms in the workshop/studio. I have never used one of these before but have read about them in Kaz's blog. The warps are prepared by participants of the Salvation Army rehabilitation programme.

I spent two afternoons there, learning the clasp weft technique and fell in love with these looms. If I were ever to get another loom, it will have to be one of these.

The interesting part with these looms is that the weaving, the reed and the shafts can be taken out with the warp intact, and another set can be inserted in its place. There are clips in the front and at the base of the loom. Separate warps can be woven at different times with only 1 frame. It also has a built-in bobbin winder! (the top right hand corner of the loom)

Catching up with Edith and learning about these looms was one of the many highlights of this trip.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Belated Christmas

This was the Christmas decoration in the shop window of Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong.........

What a wonderful idea for those odd balls hanging around......or if one had a stack of those Japanese temari balls......or felted beads of different sizes......


It is January and I am feeling behind already. I had intened to catch up with my postings but could not find my password.....after speaking to Kaz on the phone, I decided I had to find it tonight! and get on with it.

I put this warp on towards the end of Nov but did not have time to do any posts before I went away in December.........In fact, not much had happened in terms of weaving on my looms.

I found this 'orphaned' cotton/mix? warp in my stash and decided to try it first instead of the sample blanket idea. I haven't figured out how to use the second warp beam so I have wound the warp onto the sectional warping beam as if it was a 'normal' beam.

I took the reed out and tied the raddle onto the top of the beater. The sectional warping beam sort of acted as a raddle as well at the back of the loom.

I did a straight threading to go with the universal tie-up.

and this is as far as it got.......