Monday, November 28, 2011

Natural dyes......

A couple of weeks ago, Woollenflower organised a get together to try out some natural dyeing with eucalyptus leaves.
It was a fun day and we had some good results. The smell of the dye pots were amazing with the eucalyptus fragrance. Very different with using synthetic dyes!
One thing that is even more exciting is that I will have to opportunity to learn more, much more about natural dyeing before the end of the year.
I have registered to attend the 8th International Shibori Symposium 2011 in Hong Kong at the end of December and have also signed up for a couple of workshops. One of the workshops is on natural dyeing by Michel Garcia. The other one is on Shibori by Suzusan. I am really excited with the opportunity to participate in something that looks to be amazing!
I am really keen to keep experimenting with more woven shibori in January, and finish off the warp that had been sitting on KaTe for the whole 12 months.
Another friend has mentioned that he has a persimmon tree and that I am welcome to harvest any quantity so hopefully, there will be some experimenting with that as well.
Note: usually I love having lots of images in my post. However, this time please click on the links and there will be lots of lovely surprises!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

End of an Era

After 55 years and 2 generations, they will be closing at the end of January 2012.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
This is 'the Shop' that had been there ever since I can remember and I think that part of my love of textile comes from looking at all these different items: handkerchiefs, tablecloths, tea towels, dressing table sets, napkins, embroideries, crochets, venetian lace.......... and the opportunity to feel and touch all these textures.

vintage pure Irish linen tea towels
Fine linen napkins with organdy inserts and embroidery
"The building will be auctioned on 8th December and the shop, which was started by Raymond and Lucie Ling in 1956 and is currently operated by their son Geoff and his wife Amy, will close at the beginning of next year.

In its heyday, the Fine Art Linen Company was a mecca for young women, who would travel from all parts of Melbourne to stock up their glory boxes with the finest, hand-embroidered linen and napery from China, and stunning silk lingerie reminiscent of 1930s Hollywood.

Most people now know it as the tea-towel shop, but some of the stock that will be coming out of the back room goes back a long way and hence the quality and workmanship is far superior to modern equivalents; there are even some vintage 1960s teatowels!" 
written by Helena Ling

These things may not be everyone's cup of tea anymore but if you are nearby, pop in and have a look. If you mention you have seen this blog post, there may be an extra discount for you!

By the way, Raymond who founded the shop was my grandfather! He started exporting wool to China and imported napery/linen to Australia.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspired by Kiyomizu Dera

When Meg organised the last Pics to Picks, these are a couple of the photos I had sent to Alienore.
I had mentioned that I have also used them as inspirations for previous projects. I was hoping that she would pick one of these as I am interested to see what other people would design with the same images.
I am always amazed, that at school when a group of us is given the same brief, how different approaches are taken and the variety of outcome.......
It is interesting to look back at the photos and still feel happy with the results. These pieces were woven in 2007 on my Ashford 8-shaft table loom - my very first loom!
As I no longer have the scarves, it is nice to have the images and the notes on them.
These are photos taken at Kiyomizu Dera  (清水寺) in Kyoto:

Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.
Results: 8-shaft honey comb with wool and soy silk tape. 

The tall pillars supporting the large veranda of the main hall.
I manipulated the image in photoshop with the various filters:
Results: 8-shaft twill with wool.
Both drafts are from 'a weaver's book of 8-shaft patterns' edited by Carol Strickler.

Monday, November 21, 2011

3 is the magic number!?

I have learnt to do a lot of things through books, from friends and also by taking classes/workshops. This includes my textile pursuits as well as in cooking.
Usually for the first attempt, I would follow the instructions quite closely and it sort of acts as a 'control' sample. For the second time, I start make changes because I may have discovered a better/easier way; I want to adjust the design from the original, some fine tuning; or I want to try different fibres/ingredients combinations.
Lately it has come to my realisation that it often takes 3 trials to achieve the satisfying/ideal outcome.
I did a workshop last month on machine knitting and made 'Bri's cardi in wool. Somehow, I miscounted in the decrease in the second panel. I was not happy to just finish it so I re-knitted that panel.

This month I decided to knit the same garment in a linen/silk yarn from Avril. There was a yarn break in the first panel. Just before linking the panels together, I decided that I may give the garment as a gift and will not be able to mend the yarn break well enough so that it is not noticeable. I re-knitted the panel. So far, 3 panels per garment.
Now when the garment is all finished, even the unravelled yarn looks beautiful!
I also wanted to start my next hand knit project. I wanted to take it with me on the next trip and wanted to make sure that I know what to do. I have not knitted many 'lace' pattern before. I cast on and started knitting. Somehow, when I get to the 4th row of pattern, I had miscounted the total number of stitches. I unravelled. This happened twice! I cast on again. I will get some markers before I start the pattern repeats again.........
Is this why people say 'third time lucky?'

Friday, November 18, 2011

A flying visit: Praha

The three days that I spent in Praha (Prague) was totally inspiring. I can not really describe the energy that I felt in that city. It was not only the activity with lots of people around you but the visual feast of textures, colours and creativity that was scattered around the city.
I apologise in advance if I missed out on credits to works of art and not being able to tell you more as I could not really read any of the signs - they were in Czech.....
Located in the foyer of the public library:
The column of books
The column of books
On the river bank, it was the Prague Contemporary Art Festival:
nuclear cocoon by Carol Hummel
nuclear cocoon by Carol Hummel
shendra stucki
(i don't know if this is the name of the artist or the artwork)
In front of the town hall:
Snowflakes by Cestmir Suska
Outside the Museum Kampa:
There was also an artist book and paper exhibition at the library, but they had run out of catalogues and no photographs were allowed. We were lucky to have caught it on the last day!
I hope that you have enjoyed a glimpse of this amazing city as much as I did.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wovember: wool + wove

When I first read the word 'wovember' I immediately thought it was 'Woven in November', not surprising when weaving has been on my mind. Upon reading the contents, I realised that it was about wool.
Beautiful, soft, warm, comforting, are some of the words that came into my mind. So here is some wool content from my world:

When I arrived in Vienna, the weather had just turned cold that weekend, I wasn't quite expecting the chill. Winter had (supposedly) just finished in Australia and mentally I wasn't quite prepared for it.
We found this beautiful shop ( GEA shoe shop) that sold felted slippers, woven scarves, blankets, hoods, hats, socks, and fingerless mitts/gloves. All made of wool, 100% wool. It was a very good idea that we bought some. If we are not heading into Summer, I would have bought a pair of those felted slippers........... 
I have been searching for some 'loom' socks all winter. I don't wear shoes when I weave on 'KaTe' (big loom) or 'Chibi' (Saori loom) and I have been searching for what one of my friends calls 'Yeti' socks. They need to be warm and thick enough. I looked at possum/merino ones but they were beyond my price range. I even thought of taking sock knitting classes and some friends had said that they would show me how but I did not want another 'hobby' to distract me from the already many things that I do.........
These organic wool socks are beautifully made, minimal seams, beautiful pattern and colour combinations and just the right thickness and fit.

Kaz also came down for a 'flying visit' this weekend (yes, there are a lot of short visits at present) and brought along the pre-wound wool warp from Saori that I have been drooling over, ever since I saw it on her blog. The warp is 12m long and 225 ends (approx 50-60cm wide depending on the sett). It is predominantly brown but when you look at it closely, there are reds, greens, yellows, greys and pale blues. It is absolutely stunning! And the variety of textures.......
As usual it was a 'want vs need' purchase. I have no idea what I want to weave with a 12m warp. The thought of the yarn selections and the warping already done for me though is temptation indeed!

We went to the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia and saw the Tjukurrtjanu, and living water exhibitions. I could see weave designs everywhere, inspired by the patterns and the colours of the paintings and discussions with Kaz ( and Dave) as we wondered around. Some of the work in the Tjukurrtjanu exhibitions had very similar colours to the warp.
I was totally inspired and have some thoughts about what weft colours I can try out: black, whites, reds, pale greys, etc.

I am so pleased to see that she is renovating her studio in preparation for Saori workshops! hopefully, ready for next year......... can't wait!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A flying visit: Wien

Literally, to the other side of the world, 
24 hours away,
to visit my best friend,
for 7 days ( 3 in Wien and 3 in Praha with a train trip in between),
bone tired and did not do my share of reading up on the guide books..........
I think that in the end, all is forgiven as she actually likes being in charge of the map and had booked a hotel that is just round the corner from one of the top yarn shops in Vienna!
Zwei Glatt Zwei Verkhert (Knit 2 Purl 2), Josefstaedterstrasse 14, 8th district 
It had a wonderful display in the shop windows, and yes, I bought yarn. Some beautiful Danish linen/cotton and silk/cotton yarns by Karen Noe
We walked and walked. It turned out to be a bit of a tour of the work of Vienna Secession architects: Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffman, Josef Maria Olbrich.
I went to the 'Vienna: art and design' exhibition at the NGVI, in Melbourne. So to see all these buildings, decorative arts and fabrics in real life was amazing.
The post office by Hoffman is totally a double weave inspiration waiting to happen. I can visualise it in linen and even see the folds and block pattern emerging on my loom. Well, maybe next year the rate I seem to produce anything..... I think that my imagination runs far, far ahead of reality.
With our good fortune, we found a brochure in the hotel lobby of the 'Wiener Werkstätte' museum. It is in the basement of the Backhausen fabric company showroom.
There are displays of fabric samples, original design work, and in the showroom upstairs, you can buy fabric that are still in production. Of course, I bought fabric....... This, I think if you are interested in textile, is well worth a visit.