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Hands-free for once, and three confusing tales

Boucle warp

Well not really, because my hands are on my phone. But yes. I don’t have my loom with me while waiting at a class. So I thought I’d blog instead.

What, another stall setup? You’ll ask. Not exactly. It was an audition for an upcoming event. This would be the biggest bestest event ever if it happened and I’d be having about 3″ of space for my stuff. But I’m not a hundred per cent sure yet, so watch this space.

However! That yellow thing you see is my last but one scarf. Woven on my Ashford Knitters Loom, with some loopy boucle yarn.

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A customer wanted a textured stole like the one below but in a brighter colour. So I ordered this in three colours.

I had to think a little to work with the loopy yarn. Finally I had it. Having only a 7.5 dpi heddle and a 10 dpi, I used the loopy warp in every other slot of the 7.5, and the coordinating thin polyester thread alternating. When it came to threading the heddle, I used the thread in the heddle holes and the loopy yarn in the slots.

This resulted in an interesting texture, with much of the loopiness confined to the top surface and the thread on the bottom. Like so.

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To the left is one side (top as I wove) and to the other is the bottom.

As you can see, the fringe is a bit of a challenge, both because of the two different warp textures, as well as because the loopy part of the boucle is not very stably attached to the core yarn, so it unravels and becomes unloopy. I finally just knotted the strands together in groups.

I’m happy to report that a friend bought this one almost as soon as it was off the loom.

The other miraculous part of this story is that I have the exact shades of the sewing thread to match the three colours of the boucle. This also happened with the actual shawl I wove for the person I bought the boucle for originally.

In a long chain of events, she saw the substitute yarn I bought for another order and asked me to use that instead, so I went ahead and ordered it, but underestimated how much I would need. And only discovered it when I began to warp with it.

Scrambling for ideas, I ended up using my scraps of a different yarn and came up with this.

You can see where I changed yarns, from Nako Artist (the substitute) to Nako Vals (which was out of stock at the store but I had remnants from previous projects). The weft is black sewing thread.

This gave me a very rustic, thick yet loosely woven shawl and it thrills me no end that my customer (a different one!) loved it! Weaving was a challenge since the warp was a little dense and the unplied, singles nature of the Vals and the general fuzziness of the Artist (a wool blend) made making a clean shed difficult.

Sometimes serendipity is wonderful.

Coming back to the friend who I’d bought the Artist for, I discovered that Ganga Hobby India Multicolour had a shade (?) that coordinated perfectly.

So again, this worked out well. Another rustic stole with interesting texture. I followed the same basic technique with the warp, using the wool blend in the slots, since I found it tends to stick together and resist separating to make a shed, and the smooth and thinner yarn in the holes. This one ended up more grid-like, and the wool bloomed to fill in spaces.

So there you have it. If you are still reading and didn’t throw up your hands at the confusion of it all, thank you for your persistence!

And yes, I’m finishing this blog post many hours later, since I wasn’t able to get it done before the class ended.

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Pattern review: Why I love the Slimline Wallet

Cork slimline wallets

I have a thing for bags and purses and wallets. I don’t know why.

Some people like shoes. Me, I love bags. When I enter a shoe shop, I gravitate almost involuntarily towards the bag section (yes, we have bags in the shoe shops, even if leather is no longer the major raw material used for either bags or shoes). My husband can spend hours looking for that perfect footwear, but I have very specific shoe requirements (flat or no heels, sandals and open toe and not slippers and not closed shoes, no bling and preferably brown or black. Fussy? Me? Nah!). Plus my feet are small. Which makes finding shoes to fit and suit can be difficult and I usually end up buying the same brand and same sort. Which also means I can reject whole walls full of displays at a glance.

Whatever the reason, I am not a shoe person.

Bags, on the other hand…

You look at a bag and you think of the possibilities for each of the compartments! The pockets, the opportunities!

I don’t have a room filled with bags, but I do have about 6 or 7 of them, which is weird because I hate to change bags when I go out. I’m afraid that I will leave something vital in the one I changed from that I will need and not have.

One solution, of course, would be to buy one of those bag organisers (or make one).

A dear friend once sent me one. I even used it for a while. And still have it. But no longer use it.

Oh, the possibilities!

When I talk about the possibilities of the compartments of the bag, I am not being totally honest. Because, as with shoes, I like my bags to be of a kind, too. I don’t like those bags that are divided at the top with more than one zip. (There must be One Zip to Rule Them All). Or ones with zips for pockets on the outside that go from top to bottom (won’t things fall out?)

Then I look at backpacks/rucksacks and wonder at all the jangly bits of hardware that seem to hang off them, serving no useful purpose that I can see in the usual urban commuting milieu where they (the backpacks I see) abound.

Plus I have this strange problem, where, no matter what, one strap of the handbag always slides off my shoulder. Likely because I’m round shouldered. Surely there can’t be a universal conspiracy to ensure that straps are never the same length.

Wallets as well

Anyhow. All of this is a long lead-up to showcase one of the patterns for a bag-like thing I love. A wallet pattern by Carla Peicheff of Carla’s Creations, called the Slimline Wallet.

I made several, in batches and singly.

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Range of accent colours
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A set of six
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Slimline cork wallets

These are all in cork, of course.

A new material

Cork is exciting, because it’s different. On the international scene, it seems to be a very popular material. But it doesn’t seem to have percolated to India. Not our thing? Rexine rules here still.

Over the past few months, I’ve bought different sorts of alternates to cloth, such as the aforementioned rexine (which I discovered is a brand name that is now applied to many kinds of faux leather-y types of fabrics in India). Printed materials, textured ones. Thick ones, thin ones. Floppy ones, stiff ones.

They aren’t all easy to sew with, and while they have body, they don’t have structure (the product is substantial, yet may not stand up on its own).

I find the cork I used to be very easy to sew on and through. It doesn’t stick to the presser foot and the needle passes through smoothly.

What makes this pattern special, though, is that your exterior, showcase material is only sewn with right at the end. Which means that for special fabrics (?) like cork or faux leather, the pain only comes at the end. Besides, since this has a slim profile, you aren’t actually sewing through so many layers, either. You don’t have to fight your machine with every stitch.

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Cool fresh green

This wallet fits up to 12-15 cards and currency notes, and has two slip pockets. It closes with a magnetic closure and the coin pocket shuts with a zipper. I can’t fit my iPhone 7 into one of the slip pockets and the wallet still retains a slim profile. The photo on the right below shows the wallet closed with the iPhone in place.

And I can’t tell you how much I love the feel of it in my hand. It doesn’t hurt my hand to carry this slim thing.

Easy to modify

The pattern is easy to modify, as well. Someone wanted the flap to extend over the full width, so I modified it accordingly, and used only one snap instead of two. I think this red print and the off-white canvas combination is gorgeous, don’t you?

(Unfortunately, the lady decided she didn’t like the red, so I still have this in stock for some lucky owner to claim it.)

I could uploads tons more pictures, and just looking at these makes me want to go off and cut out several more, but work, alas, calls. No bread and butter for me otherwise!

Do you have a favourite bag/purse/wallet pattern? Why do you love it? Even if you don’t make your own, perhaps there’s a design you like? Show me!

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Between the lines

I’m easily bored and need to be entertained, like a child. New techniques, therefore, draw me in like moths to a flame.

The most recent one I learnt is this one, for making chenille fabric. I had seen this earlier as well, but Debbie Shore released a video a few weeks ago that brought it back to my notice.

You choose several layers of fabric, sew them together at close intervals, and then snip through all but the bottom layer, between the lines of sewing.

Chenille fabric

With the natural tendency of the fabric to fray, this is how the final piece of fabric looks.

Cut chenille fabric

Then this goes into the wash to help in further deconstruction.

And there you have it! “Chenille” fabric.

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Luckily for me, Debbie had a project to go with the technique, so I didn’t just produce a museum piece (which I have been known to do; these are termed “WIPs” or “UFOs”).

It took me a while, but I sewed this up into a proper pouch.

With a lining and all, too.

Tips for effectively sewing interesting chenille fabric:

  • Choose fabrics that have enough contrast so that the layers that peek through are distinct from each other. Of course, you might choose the same colours if you’re looking for that low volume effect.
  • This is a great way to use up scraps of fabric that you don’t like the print or colours of, because only a hint of those things is finally visible
  • No need for further batting; there is enough bulk in the final chenille fabric to give you padding. This makes it an interesting technique to make baby quilts with. Then you’d only have to bind the edges.
  • If you can get long narrow bladed scissors to snip through the layers, it reduces the tedium, although there is also a special tool available (Clover calls it the Slash Cutter and Olfa has one too).
  • Patience. You need patience to sew the lines and patience to cut between them carefully. It can be tiring for your wrists and hands. I’m sure the tools I mentioned above will help with that.

So that’s a new sewing technique under my belt, thanks to Debbie Shore’s YouTube videos.

Do let me know if you also try out sewing your own chenille fabric.

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Playing with colour and texture


I’ve begun weaving again in the past couple of months, spurred by my purchase of the 12″ Ashford Knitters Loom. I wanted a portable craft and since crochet and knitting don’t do it for me any longer, this is it. This is a thing of beauty. 

I’m happy to report that my heart still clenches within me at the sight of a shed seen sideways on a loom. As below. Those neat lines of yarn set out and waiting to be woven gives me inexplicable joy.


So I’m happy to say I’ve woven several items on the new loom as well as my older Hamanaka Olivier 24″.

And sold many, too!

As a result I haven’t been sewing much. What with juggling two looms, one at home and one at non-soccer-soccer mom duties. And then I foolishly left all the fringes to do. This meant I spent most of the last weekend (including a rare non-working Saturday) twisting the fringes of about 4 or 5 scarves of various sizes.

Twisting fringe is tough on my fingers and wrists. I thought I’d make my job easier by using the hair twisting thingummy I bought on Amazon. Unfortunately, the dratted gadget gave up the ghost after about 2 scarves. So much for buying a dual purpose gizmo. It was supposed to be helpful for styling my daughter’s hair as well.

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Finish I did, though!

I hope at some point to return to my floor loom as well. Make my yarn work harder than simply being interesting by virtue of its surface appearance alone. Celebrate the brains of weaving rather than just the beauty…

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How do you pamper yourself?

I spent most of the day today feeling sorry for myself. Because I have a very sore throat. All because of this guy on the next seat who kept sneezing and coughing and sniffling through the flight from Hyderabad to Mumbai. Thanks random stranger!

I was moaning about it to a friend and she said “Pamper yourself.”

So that got me thinking. How does one pamper themselves? I think I’m sadly undereducated in this regard. The only options I could come up with included:

1. Staying in bed all day (way too many courier deliveries and sundry bell ringers, not to mention work)

2. Reading some old favourites (couldn’t drum up the concentration after work)

3. Crafting (see disclaimer above)

4. The old fallback, retail therapy

As the photo says…

I’m valiantly trying to resist buying another loom, a folding one that I could more easily carry to craft fairs. One of my current portable looms is too narrow and the other one doesn’t fold. Wallowing in self pity isn’t exactly strengthening my resolve.

Hopefully the cold will take its course (3 days or 72 hours, as the joke goes) and I’m not extra unproductive. In the meantime, as a diversion, I was wondering what my readers do when instructed to “pamper” themselves.

Do comment and let me know.

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Making my excuses

Batik and denim phone pouch with removable strap

This is the Live video from Facebook that I posted from a fair I had a stall at a few days ago. Don’t mind the soundtrack; I’m still not comfortable putting my voice out there.

I’ve done a mini stall and a ‘proper’ stall in the time since I last posted here. This video shows the full one. Full in the sense of having two tables to display on, as well as being there almost the entire day until forced out by rain.

Overall it was a positive experience. Custom began slowly but picked up as the weather cooled, the fault probably lying also in it being a working day of the week. I didn’t have any people giving me wild unsolicited advice about my products (“Why don’t you join up two triangle shawls to make a poncho?”) Plus most were appreciative of the work and that I had done it myself. Although there was one lady who insisted I must have given it out to people to do…

I think maybe now I have an idea of what might sell. My problem, if you can call it that, is that I find too many patterns I want to make. When I  made up my inventory on the night before the stall I discovered I had over 25 different kinds of things on the list. Which is likely not a good thing. I feel I should find a few universally appealing styles/patterns and make more of those, rather than dipping my toe into every pattern class.

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Warp watching me tot up my stock and wishing I would get to bed for snuggles

I have another stall coming up in the same place and I’m thinking I should het my ducks in a line.
1. Batik sells
2. Sling bags sell
3. Batik sling bags will sell
4. Zipper pouches in attractive prints
5. Possibly do a batch of water bottle carriers? I hadn’t any stock of those last time
6. Try yoga mat straps? (On second thoughts, no, unless I can find a pattern which isn’t as hardware-heavy as this one. I don’t think I should be running around to buy new technology in the short term. It is an idea to explore, though.)
7. Weave!!! Stoles in ombre colours. (About which, more next time.)

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Playing false

It promised to be fine. Then it rained.

Then they predicted a deluge and so far… Not a drop.

The result of the first was that the craft fair I’d signed up for got cancelled. The result of the second? Nothing so far. It’s not a disaster if there isn’t a deluge, right?

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What happened is that I got a late, last-minute bug on and made some ‘stocking stuffers’ (for want of a better term. Bulk? Roughage? Space occupiers?). Including these super simple bookmarks (listed in my gallery, if you want some), and also, these.

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A set of six

These are the Slimline Wallets (pattern by Carla Peicheff of Half Dozen Daily, the pattern itself can be found on Craftsy).

It was my first time sewing with cork. Not a problem at all, although actually the cork only came into play for the last bit.

Oh, and that logo on the wooden tag up there? It was designed for me by Neha at The Ugly Duckling. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Cards, coins and currency notes

 

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Choices to make

I did begin a new weaving project, wanting to have more of my weaving available for the upcoming exhibition, but it hasn’t quite taken off yet. The sewing bug is still strong.

Warp on loom

I had the whole day off on Saturday but nothing got done craft wise. Today I’m hoping to conquer a new fabric, some cork (real or synthetic? I’m not sure how to tell the difference) and make some slimline wallets in an assembly line. I’ve made a few before, and theoretically it’s possible to finish them between now and bedtime.

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Batik and printed cotton interiors

As always, though, when confronted by the options to choose from for a complex project that needs several fabrics to be chosen, I’m paralysed in terror. The cork was easy to cut, and so far I’ve managed to choose the interiors for the set.

I’d better get a move on, before the precious weekend ends and the madness that is the working week begins. Wish me concentration and efficiency!

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The compulsion to craft

Sometimes I call it an excuse, sometimes it’s a whip.

Despite the angst I put myself through, I find I always have a better record of actually finishing stuff if there’s a looming deadline. This could be

  • an impending visitor (traditionally a woman guest is always bestowed a gift with fruit and kumkum on her forehead, but that’s too traditional, and yet I still feel compelled not to let her go away empty handed)
  • a trip where I will stay at someone’s house (well, naturally you take a hostess gift if you’re imposing on their hospitality)
  • meet a friend (because the pleasure of my company is never enough)
  • a child’s birthday (I’m too lazy or preoccupied to go out and buy the unexciting gift, all those standard games and my daughter thinks if I buy books for her friends it’s too boring)
  • an upcoming event (although that’s only happened twice so far)
  • an actual order

So today the school is celebrating Teachers’ Day, and naturally I felt I had to make something for my daughter to carry for her teachers. I thought of zipper pouches and actually cut out some fabric, but then dialled it down to more reasonable bookmarks.

Bookmark in book
Mark the spot

I had the ideal fabric, which I bought as a set of 30 50 cm x 5 cm precuts from Amazon.in (trying out affiliate links for the first time) (from China, I believe). Prints I wouldn’t normally buy, and the fabric isn’t very dense, but it turned out to be ideal for this project.

  • I interfaced the strips with non-woven interfacing,
  • folded each 50 cm (~19.5″) strip in half length-wise, right sides together
  • sewed up about a 1/4″ seam on the two long sides
  • turned each tube right side out
  • turned in the top opening by about 14″
  • inserted my label folded in half
  • topstitched the whole thing around, thus sewing the opening closed

I managed to find 14 unique prints in the lot, so each teacher gets a different bookmark. Yay! Turning the tubes right side out took up most of my time, plus since I ironed on the interfacing all at once and chained the seaming, those parts went quickly.

And hey, presto, not too long after midnight, I had my Teachers’ Day gifts all done and ready to gift.

I’m still trying out my light box skills, so please excuse the lighting.