Saturday, 31 May 2014

Loom Knit Denim Bag

You know those people who can paint a house and not get a speck of paint on them?  Unfortunately I'm not one of those and one ruined pair of jeans later I've decided that I might just purchase a pair of painting overalls next time we decide to do any work around the house, which I'm hoping will not be for a long, long time!  In the spirit of thriftiness and throwing away as little as possible (and inspired by my last denim bag project) I thought, my ruined and thankfully old jeans could be used again.

While I've added a denim lining and strap to the bag, in an effort to use my paint spattered jeans, it could also be styled with just the loom knit outer and a simple loom knitted strap.

For the loom knit section:

Using Sidar Denim Ultra (or thick yarn of your choice - if using 8ply or dk yarn use two threads at a time) and a 36 peg knitting loom.

Cast on and complete *one row e-wrap.
One row Purl*
Repeat from * to * a further two times - six rows in total.

Rows 7 to 31 - Purl

Row 32 - e-wrap
Row 33 - Purl
Row 34 Cast off.


If you are new to loom knitting the following tutorials are a great guide to getting started on each stitch.

E-wrap (from the Knifty Knitter)
Purl  (from the Knifty Knitter)
Cast Off (from Loom Knitting Blog)

When you have completed the loom knit section, you will have a tube of knitted fabric.  To add a loom knit strap (if desired):

Cast on four stitches.
Continue back and forward in rows of plain stitch until desired length is reached.  Cast off
Sew bottom of bag together and sew bag handles in place.
- See more at:
Cast on four stitches.
Continue back and forward in rows of plain stitch until desired length is reached.  Cast off
Sew bottom of bag together and sew bag handles in place.
- See more at:
 Cast on 4 stitches on the 36 peg loom.
Continue using e-wrap stitch back and forward until desired length is reached. Cast off. (this is the same strap we used for our Loom Knit Market Bag)
To complete bag, sew bottom seam and sew in strap.

If, like me, you're looking to use up some denim, I simply cut the end off one of the legs (approx 22cm worked in this instance) and cut out the waistband.  I then sewed the cut fabric end of the jeans leg together leaving the much more interesting hem of the jeans free to be the bag opening.  I then sewed the waistband into the denim lining and sewed the outer loom knit shell in place.

Even though I'm really delighted with my new bag, I'm hoping that will be the last pair of jeans I ruin for while!

Happy loom knitting


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Monday, 26 May 2014

Dyeing for the Tour de Fleece

Reading for the start of the race
From outward appearance, I guess I don't look like someone who avidly follows the iconic 'Tour de France' cycle race.  I do not own any lycra, (let me rephrase that - I REFUSE to own any lycra.), my bike is very dusty and sits forlornly in the shed but a few years ago, Peter and I starting watching it one evening after dinner when there was very little else on TV and we were hooked.  

We now even have a fantasy team that we pick which gives us more riders to look out for and follow.  We score points for each win and we trade cyclists like seasoned stock brokers.  One year when we were on holiday, we even raced around in the morning trying to find an internet cafe so we could make our trades before the cut-off time. - (not that it did us much good.  Our 'new' rider crashed and we ended up with no points for the stage - but life can be like that).  Like most people, we watch it as much for the gorgeous scenery as the race itself with the promise that one day, we will be in the french countryside drinking fine wine, eating great food and watching the race go by.

Last year I heard about the 'Tour de Fleece'.  The idea to is 'pedal' for as many hours as the cyclists but the pedalling is on a spinning wheel.  Much more my style even if it means just a cup of tea and a biscuit rather than cafe au lait and croissants.  I have oodles of fleece but the number of hours it will take means that I can't just spin plain roving.  I need a bit more variety so the spinning needs to be broken up with some colour .. that can only mean that it's time to get the microwave dyeing happening.

I have 2 kilos of roving which means I can either dye it in one lot so I can knit something substantial or I can do a lot of little batches that will give me lots of individual skeins.

I love the dyeing process and the mixing of colours plus I love spinning multi-colours so it's individual skeins for me.

We have explained the process for microwave dyeing in an earlier blog which you can find here.  

I love pottering around in the kitchen coming up with different dye lots.  I even love watching them dry outside, but when it comes time to spin them, well, that's a whole different kind of love.  My hands are itching to start spinning but the tour doesn't start until July 5th.

What I don't love is the mess it makes of my hands.  I started out with gloves but, as I'm not the worlds neatest person, I kept getting the colour that has been spilled on my gloves all over the pristine roving so, in the end as I was dyeing 9 skeins of roving, it was easier to do it sans gloves .. 

Whilst my hands recover and the roving dries, it's time to start turning our thoughts towards France and all things French.  Can't wait.

Happy Spinning,

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Friday, 23 May 2014

It's a Bobbin Winder

When you are the third of five children, you get very used to hand-me-down items.  It's amusing to look back and think how exciting it was to get new clothes with an actual label and price tag attached.  My own children have also suffered from secondhanditis I'm afraid.  My sons are only two years apart and while I still very much try not to purchase too many items new, my second child would be very happy if he never, ever had to wear an item of his brother's ever again!

Despite all of this, when Louise visited us late last year and brought with her my wonderfully restored weaving loom, amongst all the reeds, stick shuttles and other weaving paraphernalia was packed away a Quill Spindle.  Dad had made it for her earlier in the year, and she no longer needed it because he then made Louise a gorgeous, proper grown up Spinning Wheel.


In between all of the weaving (and eating and laughing) that went on that visit, Louise took some time to teach my daughter how to spin and so it was that I just assumed the Quill Spindle was for spinning....that was until I started my weaving course.


The course I'm doing is through correspondence with BB Yarn and amongst the list of pre-requisite items was a boat shuttle for the loom.  I had until now been using the long stick shuttles that dad had made and all they require is hand wrapping the yarn around the stick.  Boat shuttles require a bit more of an investment otherwise I'd be stuck hand winding bobbins, which seems like a pretty laborious job to me!  

I looked at bobbin winders on the internet and had the sudden realisation that if the bobbin could fit on the Quill Spindle, I could be saving myself a lot of cash and/or time and this beautifully handcrafted item would be put to very good use.  Of course it wasn't until I went back and had a look at Louise's original blog post that I realised it was actually designed to be a bobbin winder/quill spindle in the first place.

My bobbins and boat shuttle have recently arrived in the post, the bobbins fit perfectly and I don't think I shall ever complain about hand-me-downs again!

Happy weaving 


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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Sew Cosy

I am very familiar with 'stashes'.  The size of my wool stash is really quite ridiculous and that, coupled with all my spinning paraphernalia means that I have a very large set of shelves that fill a whole wall that is devoted to wool and all things woolly.  This leaves very little space for my fast accumulating fabric stash. 

I currently have 3 quilt tops ready to put together and quilt, another one that just requires a binding and 6 layer cakes (plus one in the post .. oops) that need to find a home. Last weekend, I thought I should try and use some left over 5inch squares to make something and came across a sewing machine cosy.  The dimensions were too small for my machine and rather than try to alter it, I thought I would make one for Deb.  If it turns out, then I should might be able to adjust it to fit my machine.

The pattern can be found here.  It is by 'Sew Delicious' and perfect for a very quick project/gift.

The 'Natures Harvest' fabric patches

The simplest of quilting
The pattern came together startlingly quickly.  
Before I knew it, I was ready to start quilting.  I just followed what Ros had done with hers and it came together beautifully.  

Deb had sent through the measurements of her machine and I felt that this pattern may have been a bit short so I added a 2inch strip at the bottom.  I cut a 4inch strip and then ironed it in half and attached it in the usual way.

I made a mistake miscalculation on the binding at the bottom.  I cut it too short when I had sewn it on.  As luck would have it, my new 'binding tool' arrived from the Missouri Star Quilt Company and fortunately, it worked a treat and the binding went on without a hitch the second time.

Overall, this was a very simple project and I think a must-have for all machines out there.

Happy Quilting,

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Ready to add the sides and binding

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Miscalculated Scarf

If you've been following this blog you're probably hoping by now that I've mastered the whole weaving thing and I'm  churning out endless projects that show an increasing level of skill...I'm afraid you're about to be sorely disappointed!

While my parents were visiting from across the country, I thought it would be a perfect time to work with my father, who restored the loom for me in the first place, and use his knowledge of the loom to iron out a few niggles and better understand how the loom all comes together.  We did have a wonderful time using the warping board and getting the warp on the loom.  What used to take a day or so, is now thankfully a much quicker project, but that's not to say it was all smooth sailing.

They had bought with them a lovely bag of novelty yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills and I thought I'd try a simple scarf to get a bit more practice in.  It was perfect timing really as the weather had decided to turn a bit Wintery in Melbourne.

This was actually our second go at the warp, we realised while doing the first, that when we were calculating the length of the project, we hadn't allowed any extra cotton at the beginning or end  of the warp, meaning our scarf would end up being a short table runner at best.

 I still find it interesting to see how a fabric come together on the loom.  As a knitter and crocheter, there tends to be an innate understanding of how a wool will behave and look once it's worked with a hook or needles, and the loom tends to give a completely different effect.

One interesting thing that I learnt during this project as that it's very hard to tell how far into a project you are once it gets underway.  You can estimate it based on how much warp is wrapped around the back of the loom, but it's an estimate at best and from now on I'll be using a marker or measuring tape to see how it's going.

Because of the difficulty in checking the length of the project while it is on the loom, and our inaccuracies in our initial measuring, it wasn't until we cut the project off the loom that we realised the extra allowance we'd added way back in the beginning was actually way, way too much.  The scarf was long enough to wrap around the necks of a small village, or so it seemed, and it was quite clear when my husband who is 6'4" tried it on and it still reached the floor that something had to be done!

...and the thing that had to be done was pockets.  The sewing machine was brought out and pockets were added,

This is the scarf being modelled by my daughter, and I'll admit it's still slightly too long for her, but for the taller members of our family, it just might be ideal.

Happy weaving 


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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Four Seasons in a Day Cowl

When you live in Melbourne, you quickly come to realise that regardless of the weather forecast, in any 24 hour period there can, and usually will be a variety of weather from almost heatwave to  downpours and  chilly breezes that feel like they have come straight from the Antarctic.  So while the heavy coats of Winter are currently packed away, going out in the evening  requires a jacket of some sort, making this light weight cowl a lovely project that's still perfectly wearable in Spring and Autumn.

This cowl was a very long work in progress, I think six months in total, which is odd really given that it's very quick and simple to make.  It unfortunately managed to find it's way to the bottom of my work basket and remained there for far too long!

This pattern is a free from the kind folk at Crochetncrafts and the only changes I made were to do less rows, as I wanted a little less bulk so it could be worn year round and I didn't do the edging as I really liked the more lacy feel the edge of the pattern gives.  The yarn is  Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic - Denim Mix.

Of course knowing my luck, now that the cowl is finished we're bound to have a heat wave!

Happy crocheting


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Friday, 9 May 2014

Hand Woven Tea Towels

On the face of it, weaving looks like it should be quite simple.  It's really just a case of stringing some threads together in one direction and then weaving yarn in the other direction to make a fabric...simple??   With every project I've done on my loom, I've come to the realisation that while I'm learning an amazing amount, I'm also learning that I have a lot more to learn and these tea towels are a case in point. 

I had purchased some wonderful bargain priced mill ends over the interweb and thought a set of tea towels in cream and blue would be lovely, in a cottage kitchen/handmade sort of way.  The threading for the warp is:

30 threads cream
10 threads blue
100 threads cream
10 threads blue
30 threads cream.

Even putting the warp onto the frame and threading everything is becoming much easier and less time consuming

But, then came the problem of tension.  I absolutely loved this fabric and thought it would be perfect for a summer's not great for tea towels though as I'm quite certain absorbency might be an issue!

Things gradually improved and it all started coming together really well until the warp threads started breaking.  It was just one at first, but by the end of the second tea towel there were about three more, but by then my patience was wearing thin and I decided that it was best to cut my losses and move on. 

And that is the story of how my three tea towels became one.  Tension ruined the first and my increasing feeling of tenseness ruined the last.  I'm quite pleased with the middle tea towel though!

Happy weaving 


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Monday, 5 May 2014

Homespun Cowl

Sometimes a yarn is so fabulous that it's hard to imagine what you can make out of it so that the pattern doesn't overwhelm or detract from the fibre itself.  When Louise was visiting at Christmas she very kindly brought with her a whole bag of homespun yarn and while my original intention was to use it to weave with, this particular one just screamed large knitting needles and a simple pattern to show off the amazing colours in all their glory.  

Louise had dyed and spun the yarn herself (you can read all about the process here) and so while this scarf was a very quick and easy project for me, I knew there was a lot of effort that had gone into the initial production of this wonderfully bright and textured yarn.

I used one skein of yarn for this cowl and it was while winding the skein into balls that I quickly concluded that no-one on my family seems to understand how to stand upright with their hands in front, toy soldier style, gently moving them in time to the yarn winding...I mean, how hard can it be for goodness sake!  From here on in you can be rest assured that I will be the one standing toy soldier fashion, while my helper simply winds, as there have been far too many knots for this step to be any where near as enjoyable as I believe it should be!


Using size 12 mm needles, cast on 15 Stitches

Row 1, Knit

Row  2 and 3, Knit

Row 4, *Knit 1, Yarn Over twice* repeat to end of row.

Row 5.   Knit the row, dropping the Yarn Overs without working them

Repeat Rows 2-5 until cowl reaches desired length.  Sew together, weave in ends.

If you're a new knitter then there is a very informative video at New Stitch A Day detailing how to knit Drop Stitch.

I love this cowl and it's a fantastic pattern if you're learning to knit and want to move beyond the basics of cast on, knit and pearl.  The start of the show is definitely Louise's gorgeous homespun yarn, and while I did phone her and subtly mentioned that if she's making any more, I'd love to use it, I believe she may be too busy quilting at the moment to fulfil my request...thankfully I've got a whole bag of beautiful homespun to be going on with.

Happy Knitting


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Friday, 2 May 2014

Winter Flowers Scarf

'Noro' Winter Flowers
I have only used Noro yarn to knit socks with and snapped up what I thought was more sock wool.  This batch 'Noro Fun' was decidedly thicker and so I decided, that rather than knit a pair of socks, I would knit something else .. and the something else took a while to come to me.

When we were on our recent holiday over East, I pulled out my crochet hook and felt like making something .. only I am not the most proficient crocheter.  It must be simple or I fall by the wayside.  I had come across a pattern on pinterest for a textured flower and spent a bit of time crocheting one up.  The pictorial tutorial is here.  It is in Russian but is easily translated with google translate.  When I say a bit of time, it was next to no time and before I knew it, I had a few all in a chain.  This was the pattern for me, simple and very quick.  Basically, I crocheted a flower according to the instructions and then, when I had finished, I chained 15 stitches of which the end 5 were to start the new flower.  I wrapped it around my wrist and the idea of a 'daisy chain' scarf was born. 

So I kept on crocheting flowers until I had 48. Then I stopped, wrapped it around my neck and voila .. one very striking, warm and exceedingly simple scarf.

I used 4 balls of yarn for this project but it is very easily adaptable to any size you want. Simply change the amount of flowers.

Happy crocheting,

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Drop Stitch Cowl

We were at a yarn market a couple of weeks ago and after speaking to some pretty fabulous yarn people all day long, I was struck with the...