Niddy noddy

Monday, May 29, 2006


I've been thinking a lot about lace textiles recently.

My weaving class-room has a display board, and the display this term has been lace - all kinds of lace, real lace of all sorts, stunning antique lace collars, lacey fashion shows, lacey leaf skeletons, lacey knitting, even lacey sculptures.
I also went to a small exhibition recently about lace making & lace effects.
And then there was this.

So, here are some of the lacier things I have made. (the word lace/lacey is by now starting to look strange and wrong).

I made this for a City & Guilds course I did a few years ago, it was linked to a design board on "Walls" which got me more than a few strange looks taking photographs of walls in and around Greenwich.

The technique is called "Spaced and Crammed" and the lacey effect is produced simply by putting the warp threads alternately very close together / more widely spaced on the loom - and then doing similar spacing and cramming with the weft.

According to my largely fictitious City & Guilds presentation, this was to be a bathroom blind for my own house, the prospective client being my husband. Its never gone up in the bathroom, I wasn't really quite sure about the colours (though I have just now thought of another use for it) and I soon afterwards saw some lace weaving which I thought would make a much nicer blind.

So I made this for the bathroom. The weaving was a joy, especially as I'd just been weaving some blankets from chunky slubby hand-spun wool - it was a delicious contrast to handle.

The technique is called Huck Lace - the lace is produced because of the way the loom is set up, and the order in which the shafts (and therefore the warp threads) are lifted. Looks effective, but very easy and fast to weave.

It has yet to be washed (which will make the weave a little tighter and more three-dimensional) and yet to be actually made into a real, usable working blind.... I will get around to it one of these days, really I will.... though a friend was saying the other day that it would make rather a nice summer wrap/shawl, so who knows? ...

Saturday, May 20, 2006


My T-cosy is going very well. I think I'm slightly crazy to start something quite complicated so close to the end of my weaving course, but I'm having great fun.

Having taken my camera to yesterday's class without any memory card, here is something else to look at instead:This is my peg bag. I crotcheted it from old plastic carrier bags. Dead easy and very satisfying because it is so ecologically sound! (and essentially free, of course)

The slightly thinner type of plastic bag is best, the kind which is slightly rustley - for those in the UK, WH Smiths bags, and/or Argos are ideal, or market bags. However I have used heavier plastic too, when required to find just the colour I wanted, it works ok but is slightly more difficult to work with.

Cut the bags into strips about 1 inch across (less if the plastic is thicker, wider if its very flimsy). Starting at the top edge of the carrier bag, its possible to cut around and around in a spiral right down to the bottom, giving quite long strips.

Then crotchet - with a medium/large crotchet hook. Easy peasey lemon squeezy. Its best not to work too tightly. I drove M mad with making these in front of the TV because the plastic rustled so much and disrupted his viewing.

This larger bag is the first one I made, which I did use for a while to take all my things to weaving. It now contains all our shoe-cleaning gear, cloths and brushes.

The handle stretched a bit with use - though this could be avoided by crotcheting some thin string in with the plastic. The spotty/patched effect is from bags with writing/pictures/logos on them, this produces random patterns.

The real danger with these is that it establishes a habit of bag-spotting - unusual colours will catch your eye, and you'll be trying to identify logos/sources of bags in the high street. Also you will never again be able to throw away an attractively/interestingly coloured plastic bag.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Tea cosy

Yoga - check.

Washing out in the garden - check.

Guinea pigs still in the garden (not escaped) - check.

Bit of housework done (friend coming for weekend) - check.

Funny bread mix in the machine for gluten-free friend - check.

Time to blog.
Must get this blog off the ground.....

I was going to spend the last few weeks (shame }:o( ...) of my weaving course finishing the little bags I've been making - sewing up, sewing on handles (see earlier post) putting in lining etc.

BUT - at the last minute yesterday morning, I decided to do a new project which I might just have time to finish in the next 4/5 weeks - because it will be much more fun, it will use up some of my store of yarn (and then I can buy MORE!)

and basically because I hate my tea cosy.
Its awful.

SO - I'm weaving a tea cosy.
(sorry if you were anticipating a picture of the awful tea cosy - its a bit too disreputable to appear here.)

This is the warp, on the warping mill.

The mill makes it much quicker and easier to measure out all the warp threads, keep them the same length and in order, ready to go onto the loom.

I have got a system of pegs to clamp onto the table at home to make warps, but its a bit of a pain in the neck and involves lots of reorgnisation and walking round and round the table.

and just taken off ready to go onto the loom:

I haven't decided about the weft yet - though the orange threads here (which are just temporarily keeping it all in place) look pretty good. I think I'll do something funky, and use different colours, ribbons, tufty threads in the warp. Any suggestions? what colours would you put with this?

I will weave it in double-cloth - this is a technique where you can weave two layers at the same time, one on top of the other, getting them to intersect at certain points and in different ways.

This means that you can weave tubes, or 2-sided cloth, or cloth with little integral pockets which can be stuffed with things....and there are lots of other possibilities. Its one of my favourite weaving techniques.

These are double cloth cushions which I wove some time ago as an experiment, with pockets stuffed with fleece and bits of yarn.

SO - if I weave this tea cosy with 4 layers of cloth at once (rather than 2 like the cushions) then both sides of the tea cosy can have little pockets or tubes stuffed with fleece - hence keeping my tea nice and hot! of course, I could put other things in the pockets too... buttons... any other ideas? needs to be washable, i suppose.

I should also be able to weave it joined up at the top and down the sides, meaning there will be no making up to do afterwards. If I can work out how to do that...

I will keep you informed.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Niddy Noddy

This is my niddy noddy.

Yes, thats the genuine and traditional name for this piece of equipment, I'm not making it up or being silly. (as if I would do such a thing).

It was made for me by my lovely old dad.

I also have a lazy Kate (actually, 2 lazy Kates, one large and one small), but not (unfortunately) a swift (umbrella or otherwise). I also have a spinning wheel, though it doesn't have the type of spindle on which a princess could prick her finger. Though sometimes spinning does send me to sleep, just a little bit (in a good, I'm-very-relaxed kind of way).

I will post further, soon I hope, explaining the use of the niddy noddy (to those of you who don't already know). (I admit you are probably in the majority.) It is indeed very useful - for spinners that is. You might think of some other interesting uses for it.

Its fascinating how any area of interest develops its own more-or-less esoteric terminology. Language games. I could go on about skeins, sett and draw-downs, raddling and sleying. I could explain how 2-ply and 4-ply mean quite a different thing to a spinner than they mean (or at least used to mean) to knitters.
But I wont, because that would be booooring.

During school terms I attend a weaving course at a local adult education college - which is great, and ensures I have at least one day a week being creative. However I also have a loom and other equipment at home, and am trying to make more time to enjoy using them. All part of my on-going mission to work and worry and stress less and live more.

This blog will be about weaving, spinning, knitting. It began with this, and was also inspired by Stuntmother's knitting blog. I hope to share with and get ideas from other people - and to be inspired to finish projects (!) and to keep a record of them.

So this will be intermittent, then? Ha ha. But with lots of pics.