Thursday, 28 November 2013

Linen and Lace patchwork

My linen mountain has now been laundered and pressed and inspected for any damaged areas. I love handling it and spend far too long agonising over how to do justice to the older items especially. So far, I have completed two items - a pincushion in ivory and a needle book in beiges. I have planned: pocket tissue cases, brooch pillows, trinket trays ( if I say "60's style' folded bread baskets with tied or buttoned corners you might be able to picture what I have in mind - if not, you'll have to wait and see!), possibly wedding ring cases and pillows, lavender sachets ... Perhaps you have other suggestions for me? I am particularly keen to try the trinket trays since they will post opened out flat and will, I hope, make an attractive gift item - easy to package and send onwards. Some particularly deep lace edgings have been reserved for summer bags. I also intend to search my shelves for a book, which I seem to remember, had various foldings for gift boxes and pouches. I remember the shapes being unusual and wonder if I could adapt them to interlined fabric in order to form keepsake/jewellery boxes. Notebook covers and the covers of hand bound journals would be other possibilities.

Anyway, for now, here are the pincushion and needlebook:

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Good Shopping Trip

A visit to a fairly local antique center, yielded quite a hoard of vintage linens, in varying stages of repair. Yet again, I chose a lovely table cloth, with a deep crocheted edging - the intention being to use the edging; only to decide that, with a few minor repairs to the drawn thread work it will still be lovely to use and shouldn't be cut up. Maybe, at some stage in the future, I'll re-purpose it. My husband was a little unsure whether to be amused or irritated. All these new textile acquisitions now have the same recycling/re-purposing/absolutely non to landfill promise as all the other items already in our possession. I must make more stitching progress. Here is the little 'lace' mountain acquired yesterday:

A set of four coasters in progress: three stitched, all four needing the ends tucking in.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Linen and Lace

These two pieces of recycling will become a needlebook and a glasses case respectively. Stitched from a patchwork of reclaimed table linen, embellished with vintage lace, some ribbons, more modern lace flowers and hand stitching in the lovely vintage flax floss which I am greatly enjoying using.

I shall probably edge the finished items in crochet as with this bookmark:

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Trying out my Peg Loom

I had this peg loom made to order a few years ago. As you can see, I have three sets of pegs -  small brass, medium (I think beech) and large (also beech). I struggled to decide how wide the loom should be. Large looms can still produce narrow work, but I wanted something quite portable - in particular, something which could be used in our campervan - although, as yet it hasn't been! I settled for this one - about 25 cm wide, thinking that, if necessary I would join strips to make a wider item.

The medium pegs produce work roughly similar in density and feel to the strips which are produced on my weaving sticks - see previous post.

This is the result of weaving on 19 medium pegs using craft cotton as the warp and strips of torn cotton fabric about 2 cm wide as the weft - the work being in the process of removal from the loom.

The finished piece. I deliberately kept the weaving quite loose - in the sense of not compacting the fabric down the warps too much. I orginally had an idea of using the weaving to make a bag. However, although it feels tactile and 'drapes' nicely, it is too thick to be practical so it will find use as a table mat - just the right size for a mug and cup cake plate - unfortunately, yesterday's daleks have now been consumed so you'll have to imagine the presence of a cake.

Since this is comparatively loose I shall probably back it with some washable fabric stitching the edges through and also following one or two of the warp threads with small 'tacking stitches' to ensure that it keeps its shape. I shall also try to find, and slip stitch in place any weft ends which I can find. This will then enable me to put this 'prototype' to good use. However, if I produce any for other people, I shall ensure a 'tighter' weave to hold the weft ends within the weaving, or deliberately leave them trailing at the row ends and stitch them securely to a backing fabric. I must try washing and drying the 'looser' version to make sure that it is a practical option.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Stick Weaving

As promised, a quick overview of my stick weaving experiment. I bought this set of sticks and threader from a lovely stall at  the Shrewsbury Folk Festival in 2012. My 'to-do ' list continues to exceed the available hours in a week - I 'm so glad I knew where I'd put them!

Having strung the sticks with some craft cotton I wove a length using torn strips of recycled fabric about 2 cm wide. The result was quite neat and firm and pretty much what I was hoping for. Just to see what would happen, I tried two different knitting tapes. They worked well enough, but I prefer the fabric strips.

With a little more confidence, I tied off my sample, restrung the sticks, and wove another panel with strips of fabric from a shirt. The above shows the result, after tying of the ends. The unusually bright sun on my desk makes it a little difficult to see the detail. I ended up with a woven panel about 5 cm wide and about 10.5 cm long. The length is easy to extend, but the width is set by the number of sticks used. Since they must all be held comfortably in one hand whilst working, this set of five is pretty much  optimum. I wove a second panel to match. Since the craft cotton is very fine, compared to the diameter of the sticks, the fabric is, initially quite loose. However, sliding it together down the threads and tying it off firmly compacts the weaving - making it much denser, slightly less flexible, but much thicker and more durable. In order to weave a second more or less identical panel, I used the same number, width and length of fabric strips and then tied the weaving off tightly to the same dimensions as the first piece.  The ends of cotton were threaded in easily with a crochet hook. The two strips stitched together with some crochet cotton and this was the result:

Very much a prototype, I have devised a neater method of stitching for future use. The 'coaster' is dense and quite firm - really quite a practical item. I measured it carefully, then washed on a short setting and tumbled on a low heat - finishing on the radiator - and measured again. The shirting wasn't going to shrink after a life-time's use but I wasn't sure about the craft cotton. Still a little more than 10 cm, so I think that's OK.

Here it is proudly in use:

Pictured with my 'hat' about two thirds knitted. There are not enough hours in .......

Friday, 22 November 2013

Re-claiming, Re-cycling, Re-Purposing ...

.... re-using and, most importantly, re-loving. I feel compelled to use textiles to the full. Of all the materials which might be pressed into landfill, textiles perhaps do less damage than many. My sister-in-law successfully composts items which are totally beyond use! Maybe its more that I would like all the resources used in the production and transportation of the original items to benefit the world to the full. In some cases, its the beauty of the item which I want to preserve - often enhanced, or even acquired, through the aging process.

Perhaps I am also preserving memories. How many of us keep wedding dresses, Christening gowns, baby outfits? I have crazy quilt panels, pieced and awaiting embellishment, made from textiles which have been part of my life for as long as I can remember (about 50 years now!!).

A little barmy, maybe, but I have made a sort of pledge that, with a very few exceptions, all household textiles which have completed the first part of their life-cycle will be re-purposed - nothing is to be placed in the household bin. At the risk of being considered a 'little odd' this is how I have been doing so:

-  All items still fit for original purpose - send to charity shops.
-  Woolens - knitted or woven - felt (full) and use in craft projects.
-  Other Knits - weaving strips, rag rugs, stuffing, cleaning cloths.
-  Fleece - patchwork blanket, smaller items eg hats, rag rugs, 'wadding', brooch backing.
-  Shirts (and similar) - 'good' patches - used in craft projects, others in weaving (stick/peg/loom), rugs, crochet, knitting.
-  T-shirts - rag rugs (hooked, prodded, woven), pin cushion tops, knitting, crochet (storage baskets etc)
-  Table Linen - cherish and re-use all decorated bits, otherwise: patchwork, weaving.
-  Bed linen - dust sheets, rag rugs...
-  Towels - cut down and edge - cleaning cloths.
-  Denims - 'Currently stored awaiting experiment'
-  Sports socks (actually one of the most useful items - surprisingly!) - wet boot stuffers (wash/dry and re-use), polishing pads (one filled with others)
-  Jersey boxer shorts - floor/bike cleaning cloths.
-  Any other small items - rag rugs if possible or cut up for stuffing draft excluders, doorstops etc.

Naturally, all off-cuts from my craft work are carefully stored and used. Both my Meadow and Harvest designs use yarn snippets left from other projects (on a background of 'eco' felt - produced from recycled plastic bottles).

This bookmark is my first listing of an item stitched from vintage linens and lace:

I must go for now. I am part way through some stick weaving experiments - re-purposing some shirts. I'll photograph the key stages to show you.