88) F is for…



The Rampton Bag gave me fits as I was finishing it up.  I went through all kinds of phases: I loved it, I hated it, I thought it was awesome, I thought it sucked so badly…  I thought the weaving had let the spinning down; I thought the spinning was badly suited to the woven cloth; I thought the making up was letting the weaving down!

I hadn't really thought too hard about how I was going to sew the seams up, and I certainly didn't make the fabric wider at the edges to allow for a regular seam allowance (duh!!).  I ended up making an overcast edge, sewn up by hand with the very yarn used to weave the fabric:


Originally, I intended to have the overcast edges turned to the inside, but the stitches looked too visible 'in the ditch', even in the same colour as the warp, so I decided to keep the ridges on the outside.  Then, I decided it would be fun to have each seam stitched up in a different colour:


The jury's still out on this idea.  I think all the same, low-contrast colour would have been good, or possibly, all different, high-contrast colours.  Given that the first seam was supposed to blend in, having the others be contrast-y probably didn't give it an ideal balance!I will admit to some concern that if I ever wash this bag, the sewing thread will be very keen to full and the seams will pucker.

The silk lining was sewn up in the same way, and the two layers are held together by more overcasting all the way round the strap:


I'd learned my lesson by this time, and used the warp colour for the overcasting along each edge!

The lining was cut just a little shorter than the main fabric, so that the edge of the lining could be enclosed in a folded over edge of the body fabric:


I originally meant to fold the edge twice, but I decided that this would be too bulky in the end, so I'm just hoping the wool fabric is fulled well enough that it won't fray too badly.

I thought about adding a button and loop closure to help the bag stay closed, but it doesn't really hang right for that, so I didn't!

Knowing how this bag would be constructed, as a single strip folded back and forth, I wanted the horizontal colour bands to match up at the seams so they would run right round the bag without interruptions.  To do this, I figured out where the strip would be folded, and reversed the order of the weft colours at those points:


I wove each colour band to have the same number of picks (weft throws), and tried really, really hard to keep the beat the same throughout.  It worked!!


I am *very* smug that this aspect of my fabric design worked as well as
it did.  I didn't dare mention this whilst I was weaving it, for fear I'd jinx it, but it all worked out fine in the end.

And after finishing and pressing, I can happily say I *love* this little bag!

I actually have quite a lot of the yarn left, so I will be knitting some happy, stranded fingerless gloves or something.  The weaving might have worked out fine in the end, but I think this yarn will work really well for a knitted fabric, too.

86) D is for…

Dammit, dammit!

OK, this one might take some explaining.

Anyone who is interested in thinking about thinking, overcoming obstacles and wacky self-discovery methods might also be interested in reading Havi's blog.  Recently, she introduced the concept of a 'dammit list' – sort of a cross between a personal manifesto and an affirmation/reminder of internal truths.  It's called a dammit list because the kind of sentences that go on the list tend to be ones that can profitably be ended with a firm 'dammit!'.  Like, "I deserve a job that makes me feel good about myself, dammit!", or, "I only travel by train when I can get cheap first class tickets, dammit!".  I love the idea, but haven't really put any thought into a list of my own.

Last night, a 'dammit' arrived spontaneously:

I get to choose what lives in my studio, dammit!

Which sounds obvious, but is actually a bit of a revelation.  My studio is full.  My studio is so full, I don't like to work in it.  In fact, calling it a studio is a bit misleading; it's more of a storeroom, really.  And given that my studio is actually the largest bedroom in the house, it seems rather a shame:


My studio is full of materials and equipment for projects which haven't happened.  Perhaps I just got over-enthusiastic (hellooo, yarn stash, I'm looking at you!) – or perhaps it was a 'business idea' that never materialised (which would account for all the corsetry fabric, and the dancewear fabric in the loft, too.  Yeah).  Perhaps I *think* I'm interested in pursuing some of these crafts, but I'm not, really (quilting?).  Maybe some of the equipment just intimidates me (yes, knitting machine, I see you lurking there…)  Until recently, it also contained a whole bunch of stuff that the 'house' needs but which, really, has no place in my studio.  Fortunately, the filing cabinet and all the gift wrapping supplies have already moved out, probably in disgust.

If I whittled down my supplies, I might actually have room for a … floor loom?  Perhaps?  Shall I check in again in a month, and let you know how it's going?

D is also for DONE.  Our total window and door refit is finished!!  I now have a red front door, full double glazing, and no draughty patio window.  It's *brilliant*, and I'd recommend the company we went with in a heartbeat.  I would show photographic evidence, but some other members of this household have privacy issues.  (Those hounds.  So fussy!)

Also, tomorrow is the day we get to show off our challenge projects with the Rampton Spinners group, so that needs to be Done, too.  I had better get seaming…



82) And lo! there was a lining!

After wet finishing the body fabric of the Rampton bag, I decided it was a bit soft and springy and would soon stretch out of shape.  I hate saggy bags – that's one of the reasons I don't knit 'em.  But this was wool, of course, and somewhat lightly fulled, so it was always a risk.

Having a slight overachiever-moment, it suddenly became clear to me that what this bag needs is a sturdy, hand woven lining.  Something tough, un-stretchy, simple, maybe a bit rustic.  Like silk.  No- stop laughing!

I already had a couple of cones of bourette silk lying around.  Bourette is a kind of silk spun from waste generated in the silk reeling process; in fact, it's even lower grade than that.  Silk spun from reeled silk waste is often called schappe silk; this is the waste from that process.


It's really coarse; rough, lumpy, lustre-less.  Completely different from the image most folks have of silk.  The best guess I've had as to it's identity was 'linen'.  The two ply version comes in at around 25wpi, so should be set at around 12.5 epi for a plain tabby weave.  Coincidentally, because that's *exactly* as fine as I can go on my rigid heddle loom whilst using a single heddle.

In spite of the fact that this is finer than the yarn for the main fabric, it's taken me much less time to weave it.  In fact, less than 48 hours; warped on Friday evening, off the loom Sunday evening.  Swapping out all of those colours must have really slowed me down!


So, how do you wind *your* stick shuttle?

81) Off the loom!

Another real 'quickie' today; I cut the bag fabric off the loom this morning!


I brought it to work today, and will be knotting the warp ends at lunchtime so I can safely wet-finish it tonight, and start sewing up the bag at the weekend.

I would have finished a day earlier, but due to my own stinginess I ran into two problems….  Firstly, I tried to use the dodgy bit of yarn at the end of the ball for one of the warp stripes, and it gave out when I had about 10cm left to weave.  And secondly, I didn't *quite* put enough warp on the loom to give me the fabric length I wanted.  I got there in the end, but was reduced to needle-weaving for the last few rows, because my shuttle wouldn't fit through the remaining shed any more!


And finally: an apology.  I have been unbelievably remiss in replying to comments and keeping in touch generally, recently.  I no longer have regular access to my personal email at work (though sometimes I sneak a peek), and combined with the recent Typepad comment-weirdness, a new job, the fact that the last thing I want to do after sitting in front of a computer all day is boot up my laptop when I get home, and just Life In General, I have been pants.  I am just about managing to work, walk the dogs, feed myself and J, and occasionally play with wool in my minimal downtime.  Sometimes I go for a run, or brew beer.  I have about 300 posts to read in Google Reader.  I owe so many people blog comments, emails and/or phonecalls, it's just not true.  I'm sorry.  All I can say is, "Be glad you're not coming to stay with me any time soon", because the astute will have noticed that 'housework' did not feature anywhere on that little list.

And I *will*, at some point, get back to you.

80) Eye candy Sunday

I'm actually visiting my folks this weekend, but since I'm so behind on blogging, I thought I'd do a little post-ahead…

The weaving on my Rampton project is about 75% done, and it should take no more than another evening to get it off the loom completely.

Copy of DSC04280

This photo totally doesn't do it justice, though I have to say that, in some ways, I loved the warp more!  I did have plans to weave a lining for this bag, but I don't know that I'll have time, realistically.  Maybe it can be retro-fitted to the 'finished' bag once I'm done – we'll see!

78) Warped!


After realising on Wednesday night that my planned warp would make a bag wide enough for me to sit in…


…I hastily re-did all the maths and made a more sensible plan.


I left the calculations to 'mature' for 24 hours before I triple-checked them…


…then got to winding my warp, with only one interruption for a dodgy bit of spinning, right at the beginning.


2 hours later, the warp is wound, sleyed, beamed, tied on andr eady to go!


Rigid heddle looms are so quick to set up!  And can you tell I love this warp??

76) All spun up

The lovely, blended rainbow I blogged about three weeks ago has become a lovely spun rainbow:


I'm really proud of myself for getting it all spun up so promptly, and also of Woody for being such an awesome yarn-model.  Marnie's pups (especially Panda) are so hilariously accommodating in this regard, I just had to try it for myself.

I've only just noticed I've got the two rightmost skeins of yarn the wrong way round.  *How* I managed to take a photo like that without noticing, I've no idea.


Next phase: wash and block the yarn, then warp up the loom and weave!  I'd love to have the loom warped by the end of the week, which pretty much means I need to wash the yarn tonight.  But I haven't managed that, because I've been cooking soup.  It's soup season again!!  Tonight's special: Spinach, lentil and yoghurt.  Yarn blocking tomorrow, then.

There has been a lot of spinning round here lately; far more spinning than knitting, truth be told.  Katarina has been finished and worn, and even got her final blocking yesterday, and I have swatched for and started a new project (a variation on Moor [that's a Rav link, folks], from Rowan's "Yorkshire Fable").  But the knit-lust is notably absent.  The long, pressing queue of Things I Must Knit seems to have evaporated.  The Things I Must Sew list is even shorter.

I'm cool with this.  I think I have sufficient sweaters – or at least, enough that it's not worth starting a new project without thinking how it's going to fit into my wardrobe.  I do need some new skirts/trousers/shirts, but again, I need a Plan first.

Recently, I have been thinking more and more about self-sufficiency. Sufficiency, as in 'sufficient'.  Enough.  I don't need a wardrobe stuffed to the gills with sweaters, however well made they are.  Stashing vast quantities of yarn that I don't have an immediate need for is not in line with my light-consumer ideals.  I am currently losing weight (there!  I said it!); with any luck, I'll be down to my pre-shingles weight by Christmas, and maybe my optimum weight by my birthday in March next year.  It doesn't seem like a good idea to invest loads of time into tailored garments that I'm going to grow too small for in a matter of months;it certainly isn't a good idea to make garments that are currently too small in the hopes that they'll fit correctly 'eventually'.

I'm certainly not going to stop knitting any time soon (or spinning, or weaving!), but I think this might be a good time to think about what I want to achieve, as well as how I want to be spending my time.

Meanwhile, isn't Woody a doll??


74) Again with the blending! Also, comments.

Remember the grey?  It's happened again:


But more colourful.

Inspiration for this year's Rampton challenge has finally struck.  We're supposed to be blending this little lot:


Then creating a bag out of it.  And we're supposed to be finished by November.

The inspiration has really been a long time coming.  Last year, I b!tched that I don't really *do* scarves.  Well, I don't really do bags, either.  And the colours??  Ewwww.  OK, I know we're supposed to be blending them, and colour blending is some serious magic, but… not inspiring.

Recently, though, I've been seeing a lot of colour gamps around.  Well, heyyy…

So, the plan is: blend fibre into rainbow hues.  Weave colour-gamp yardage (hence extending the colour blending theme further). Make bag.

This rocks, because weaving is faster than knitting, and I'm seriously late starting.  Also rockin' the show is my drum carder, because it's a heck of a lot faster than hand carders.  A heck of a lot faster.  And it still took me upwards of four hours to card up this lot.

Still, though, it's magic, right? (confession time: the yellowest yellow is a cheat, from another pack, and I haven't used the white at all).


Oh – and Typepad fixed the comment issue!!  It's not back as it was, but it's workable.  I believe TheNorma is almost singlehandedly to blame responsible.  Yayyyy TheNorma!