Friday, 4 May 2018

It’s almost Mother’s day

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost a month since the craft market returned to its old home under its new name – Hawthorn Makers Market.  It was a great day for a market – warm and sunny but not too hot - and plenty of people. There were of course a few teething troubles as we got our bearings in new surroundings but eventually we all found our places and were ready to start trading at 10. 

One of the major problems was with the café.  They just didn’t understand the 9.45 coffee rush where the stall holders have got everything in from the car and arranged to their satisfaction, and there’s a 15 minute opportunity to grab a coffee before the doors open officially.  I suspected that they also underestimated the number of people and the amount of food needed so we made sure we had lunch early.  Hopefully things will be a bit easier for everyone for the market on Sunday.

Wendy and I had a good day with a reasonable number of sales – tea towels this time but no scarves.  Here are a couple of happy stall holders,

thanks to Gerlinde who paid us a visit, for the photo, and another photo of our stall bathed in morning sunshine

Over the past few weeks I’ve finished and delivered my scarves for the Geelong Scarf Festival, but it’s a long wait until they open and even longer to see if they have sold

I’ve made a new shop fitting for our stall.  For the past couple of years we’ve had 3 cardboard boxes clipped together with a black jersey cover sitting on the back edge of the table to raise the display a little and provide discreet storage for phones, cords, stationery, scissors, bits and pieces and of course cups of coffee.  The cardboard boxes are bulky to carry and almost past their prime so I decided it was time for a change.  I already had 2 folding IKEA boxes, some cord and a toggle. I bought a piece of thin laminate and some firm black jersey fabric. I cut 2 narrow pieces from the laminate, just a little longer and wider than the 2 boxes, cut the jersey just a little smaller to make a firmly fitting cover, put a hem round the edge and inserted the cord and fastened it with the toggle.  I’ve now got something that still provides the discreet storage but is easy to cover because it’s flat with the boxes folded. 

Best of all it will probably save one trip to and from the car when setting up the stall.  I’d include a photo of the finished masterpiece but black boxes are hard to photograph so here it is ready to be transported, including the food container which was just the right size to fit between the 2 boxes and also to hold out ‘office supplies’.  It will probably save one trip in from the car and one another back to the car at the end of the day when every extra trip really counts

As it’s Mothers Day next week, I always like to have some potential gifts at the May market.  I’ve been playing with block twill and eventually found this cone of yarn on the bench, almost within arm’s reach.  The warp is fine black wool and the yarn on the cone was a fine slightly textured viscose.  I used the yarn double and finished it last night.  Off the loom it was a bit firm but after a wash, a press, a cold mangling on the stone benchtop and a few minutes in the spin dryer, it feels just the way it should. It's hard to capture the sheen in the picture of the scarf but it shows up nicely in the detail shot - by the way, the waves are from the drape, not from dodgy weaving

I almost hope it doesn’t sell as there’s not enough of the viscose yarn left to make another and as it was probably a mill end, I don’t think I’ll be able to get any more

There's time to finish a couple more bags before tomorrow, I'd better get on with it


Friday, 6 April 2018

New market, new bags

I’ve started working on some scarves for the Geelong Scarf Festival but of course they have to stay under wraps for a while.  All I can say about them is ‘frog hair’ and ‘yarn chicken’ – the yarn is very fine and there wasn’t quite enough of it.  I had planned both projects carefully and there should have been enough yarn, maybe the warp was longer than I thought.  I had to adjust the borders according to the yarn available and had to move groups of 5 yarns across the warp so the borders will be equal.  It’s all working well and there should be a couple of scarves for stock as well as the ones for the Scarf Festival.

I wanted to make some bags for the re-launch of the market from the various scraps of hand woven fabric that just seem to appear around the place.  I finished the prototype a couple of weeks ago

and then went into production over the Easter break.  I thought that I would get them all finished and do some weaving as well but I got distracted by other things such as gardening, a wild goose chase after a tree that I knew was just right for my garden but which was out of stock, and sourcing the things I needed to finish the bags.

A few days out from the market there was just the one finished bag and lots of panels ready to make the rest of the bags.

I was curious to see just how much time was involved in making each bag and as I was making a batch of 10, the maths is really easy.  I averaged 33 minutes to make the panels for one bag, including cutting the fabric and interfacing and sewing on the borders.  It’s far more efficient to make 10 at a time as I can sit at the sewing machine upstairs and machine as much as I can before going downstairs where the cutting table and iron live to press what’s been done and move on to the next step.  It would of course be even more efficient to have everything on the same level but my house just isn’t arranged that way and going up the stairs is good exercise. 

Progress has been good, I’ve finished the first four

and may get a couple more done before tomorrow. 

They can be worn on the shoulder if you’re tall, cross body if you’re short and with a knot in the cord or some cord removed, on the shoulder if you’re short. 

There’s a full size zippered pocket

and I did remember to secure the bottom of it so that possessions can’t escape. There's a few beads to keep them closed if needed

It will be interesting to see if the customers like them

– or maybe it will be a tea towel kind of day.

There's lots to do before tomorrow when the Hawthorn Craft Market is re-launched as the Hawthorn Makers Market and returns to the Hawthorn Arts Centre which is where the market started in 1979 when the building was still used as the town hall


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Glenferrie Festival 2018

The Festival on Sunday was a great success.  It was a beautiful day.  The small chance of rain turned out to be a few tiny drops on the windscreen as I drove there, not even enough to wet the road, and the temperature was a balmy 20˚C/70˚F with just enough cool breeze to move the scarves near the front of the tent.

I teamed up with another stall holder and we organised adjoining tents so that we could watch each other’s belongings while we moved cars to and from the car park, about 10 minutes away.

I was all set up by starting time

and I was just admiring the way the sheer scarf looked against the white tent wall and moved gently with the breeze when someone walked up and bought it.  

A great start to the day, and later in the day the one in a similar position on the other side of the tent sold, as well as 3 other scarves, including one of the chenille ones I’d just finished.

I wrote in the last post about making tea towels in 17 different colours and how they fitted into every colour scheme I could devise.  Clearly I must have missed a few colour schemes as I took all 17 with me and brought all 17 home again.  

That’s the amazing thing about selling at markets, some days it’s all about scarves, some days it’s all about tea towels – and some days the customers seem to have left their purses at home.  Not that I really have any concerns about last Sunday, 5 scarves is a very good day and it was great to be able to talk to people about what was involved in weaving scarves and tea towels, and about the Makers Market and its imminent move to its new (but actually back to its old) home.

There was a lot happening at the Festival, plenty of people,

lots of kids,

and lots of dogs. Directly opposite my tent was someone selling organic dog treats.  She also had the good sense to provide large bowls of water. 

The dogs were queuing up for a drink and then, if they sat nicely, got some organic dog treats as well.

We had a Chinese dragon,

but it seemed a bit smaller than last year and I was quite taken by the three small daughters from one Chinese family who were all dressed up for the day in their tiaras and eating blue fairy/candy floss.

We had the mascot from the local football club

and lots of small boys, and a few small girls as well, dressed in their club jumpers and clutching helium balloons.  I saw one small boy lose his grip and the balloon floated away.  He was last seen eyeing off his even smaller sister’s balloon.

We had the local Scottish pipe band which has been going for over 100 years, helped no doubt by a regular supply of new recruits from the nearby Presbyterian boys’ school where one of the music options has always been bagpipes.  I tried hard to include a couple of snippets for those like me with Scottish blood but unfortunately Blogger had other ideas.  I could upload the videos but they wouldn't open so just imagine the skirl of the pipes!

There were Thai, dancers, Spanish dancers and Colonial dancers.  There was food of every description and camel rides again although I didn’t have much opportunity to explore anything except our immediate neighbours where I found good coffee, a tasty lunch and a very welcome mid afternoon ice cream

A good time was had by all although I was very tired at the end of the day and was fast asleep by 9 pm, which is several hours earlier than my usual bed time


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A rainbow of tea towels

The tea towels are finished, even hemmed and wet finished.  In the end there were 17 exactly with nothing left over for a bread cloth, all different colours which probably says something about my stash.

I think that as I chose the colours, at the back of my mind was the market customer who claims that ‘they wouldn’t match my kitchen’.  I’ve covered a lot of bases this time.  The only towel which wasn’t really great was the yellow one, simply because there wasn’t enough contrast between the yellow and the natural.  On the other hand, it would have been perfect in my 1970s kitchen, the very first room I decorated in my first house.

I had already woven the light orange and the lime towels, the other colours in the wallpaper and knew I had to do the yellow one just in case anyone is still in their 1970s kitchen or maybe it’s come back into fashion again.

I can do modern classics – black and greys

I can do naturals

I can be patriotic – red, white and navy

I’m ready for Christmas

I’ve also got:
Cool colours

Warm colours

High contrast

Low contrast



A rainbow

The purple one which works well by itself

and the terra cotta one which is another loner

And here’s the complete collection

I’ve had fun with these and even if the colour isn’t an exact match, well it can always contrast and show that ‘tea towels are the cushions of the kitchen’ 

I’ve still got a few days before the Glenferrie Festival, the forecast is a coolish day with 30% chance of 1 mm of rain so all things considered, not too bad.  I’ve still got scarves and glasses cases to finish, so enough playing around with colour schemes, there’s work to be done


Friday, 9 February 2018

It's here

My parcel finally arrived last Tuesday which was Day 13 of the estimated 6 to 10 day delivery time, I should probably be glad that it didn’t take longer. 

After its whistle stop tour of the US and the stopover in Auckland, it cooled its heels for 5 days at the Sunshine West Mail Exchange, known locally as the Bermuda Triangle of parcel deliveries.  The USPS tracking eventually told me it was at my local post office while the local tracking site told me it was still in Sunshine so I went up to try my luck and after searching several times they eventually found it.  The post office just asked me for feedback on their service, so I told them what I thought

Here’s what was inside

About a third of the natural 8/2 cotton has been made into a warp already and weaving is underway. 

The warp was 15 metres long, 528 ends and not one knot in the yarn.  There are some cones of basic black and white 8/2 cotton and some cones of Brassard 8/2 which I’m looking forward to trying.  The Bluster Bay shuttle is so beautiful that I just had to stroke it every time I walked past, black walnut in case you wanted to know.  I’m now weaving with it and know why people rate the Bluster Bay shuttles so highly.

I planned for 24 ends per inch, 3 per dent in an 8 dent reed.  One look at the reed marks told me they would probably not disappear with wet finishing

so I started again with the 12 dent reed which was much better.

The first towel has a black weft,

the second is terracotta

and the current one is sage.

I have plenty of colours in 8/2 cotton so may run out of warp before I run out of suitable wefts

And what did I accomplish over the weekend, where the weather was so hot and humid that I wouldn’t have been able to work on the big loom in the garage, even if I’d had the yarn?

I finished the fringes on the silk/linen scarves.  They both probably need a second wet finishing to give them a bit more drape, particularly the one with the linen weft.  I finished the band for the glasses cases and put a chenille warp on the 4 shaft loom.  I’ve made good progress there, 2 are woven but need to be finished and another chenille warp is on the loom.

Then I retreated to the air conditioned bedroom to watch the final of the Australian Tennis because it was the only comfortable spot in the house.

Fortunately it’s now cooled down and it’s on with the weaving with the first market of the year coming up on March 4

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Best Laid Plans

With a long weekend coming up and a Yarn Barn of Kansas gift voucher from my cousin burning a hole in my pocket, I made a plan.  I would order yarn for tea towels and a Bluster Bay shuttle as a (not so) little treat, and spend the long weekend working on tea towels as my stock is very low after the last market and some gift giving. So last week I did my order for the yarns and shuttle on line as well as some colour cards as I wanted to know just what the Brassard cottons looked like, apart from the ones I’d already ordered from my computer screen, hope they are not too different.  

Unfortunately yarn is heavy and postage to Australia is expensive but I used the gift voucher for most of what I’d ordered and paid for the rest and the postage myself.  I chose the 6 to 10 day option on the postage, and here I am on day 10 but with no parcel.  I’ve been following it on the USPS tracking app, and the Australia Post app as well, and it’s had quite the whistle stop tour.

It left Yarn Barn in Lawrence almost immediately, went to Kansas City then to Chicago where I would have expected it to take a trip to Los Angeles or Fort Worth and pick up a direct flight to Melbourne.  But no – it’s been to Houston and then Auckland and arrived in Melbourne the day before yesterday.  It just has to clear customs and get to my local post office.  I made a quick and unsuccessful trip there late yesterday.  It’s now a public holiday, followed by the weekend with no mail deliveries so although it’s in town and probably not that far away, I’m not going to get it before Monday.  By then I will be back at work and the long weekend, with extra weaving time, will be over.

I think that means that I will just have to work on the unfinished projects. With the first market for the year coming up on March 4, there are plenty of those to keep me occupied.

There’s a very little bit of warp left on the 8 shaft loom (where the tea towels are going),

once that’s done it can join these for fringing and wet finishing.

There’s a little bit of warp left on the 4 shaft loom as well, and a couple of other warps ready to start. 

This one is for glasses cases and I need more glasses cases for stock.  Actually I don’t need to finish this warp or even need to get out the sewing machine to get started on these.

In case I get all of this done there are about 12 kumihimo necklaces for glasses that need some finishing and to have findings attached.

Obviously I shouldn’t be bored over the long weekend but it’s just not like unpacking a new box of yarn and getting a fresh long warp on the big loom.
Enough complaining, back to the finishing