Monday, 11 April 2022

Tablet Weaving Update and Loom Musings

I finished another tablet weaving band! Here it is:

I took a break about halfway in, and it ended up sitting half finished for about 6 months. I guess I'm not motivated to weave in the warmer months? But as Autumn arrived (here in the Southern Hemisphere), my motivation returned, and I picked it up again. I even went to the trouble of finishing off the ends straight away. This one is long enough that I can use it as a belt. (I will model it another time. To be honest, I'm not sure I have any clothes of the style it would go with, and might not end up using it as a belt anyway.)

I was so excited that I started another band straight away, an even longer one this time. I wanted to try a different pattern, but unfortunately I had forgotten which pattern I used for the previous one, it being so long ago, and I ended up choosing the same one from my notebook! Even the colours are the same. (I've found that spare pages in my Hobonichi diary are great for recording patterns that I find online: the grid lines are perfect for tablet weaving patterns!)

I had written "Oseberg Weave" next to it, but not the source. Also, I think there was actually more than one kind of tablet-woven band found in the Oseberg burial. I should be more comprehensive with my notes in the future!

When I googled it, I remembered that I had sourced the pattern from this video on the Elewys of Finchingefeld Youtube channel. I highly recommend this channel! Not only is Elewys an expert weaver and excellent explainer, but I love her friendly and down-to-earth attitude. I hope to do more weaves from her channel in the future.

If you'd like to see some of my previous janky tablet weaving efforts, check out this blog post!

After only having done 2-and-three-quarters pieces on my 'new' loom, I'm already starting to see its limitations. (I say 'new', but I've had it for a year -- Husband helped me to make it as a sort-of birthday present, and my birthday is coming up again!) The loom is incredibly simple: it's just made up of a board (actually a shelf) with a drawer handle at each end. In theory, this isn't even the simplest set-up that's required. But it's also certainly not the most complicated, either. I very much like the idea of this kind of loom. It's only a few of the details that are off.
(Note: in the photo below, I have taken off the bobbins at the far end because I was getting towards the end of the weave. Normally the yet-to-be-used threads are wound on to them and they hang off the back end.)

Firstly, the tablets should ideally hang off the threads, not touch the base. There isn't enough of a gap between the drawer handles and the base. The big box hardware store I went to had a large range of handles, but these were the most 'gappy' ones I could find. I hoped they would be okay ... and they are ... But the tablet set I have is made of cardboard, and having them hit the base all the time is eventually going to damage them. I can always get some wooden or plastic ones later on down the track. Or buy some smaller ones, once my lil clumsy fingers are more used to weaving (they'd have to be pretty small to clear the base, though!). As you can see in the picture below, they don't tend to sit upright, but veer off to the side, leaving the weaving sort of half-twisted. It's still perfectly possible to weave that way, but not ideal. I also have a feeling that it mucks with the tension, but more on that later. The biggest issue, though, is that it's going to make more complicated patterns, well, even more complicated. In a lot of patterns you have to separate the tablets and turn some forwards and some backwards on every turn. Having them sitting all hinky is going to make that very difficult. So that's the first problem I'd like to solve.

Secondly, I sometimes have trouble with the tension. I've tried a few different things to attach the work in progress to the handles at each end, and landed on bag clips as the easiest solution. (They are absolutely not historically accurate, I know, but dang they're convenient!) The clip at the front end works fine; the only problem is that it leaves an impression in the finished piece (which you can see in the second photo from the top in this post, on the right hand side). It's a minor inconvenience that you can only see close up. The clip at the far end though, I've had some problems with. At first I tried using weights to give the band tension (a common historical solution) but found them cumbersome and annoying. I tried winding the threads around a piece of dowel -- in pictures I've seen it locks them in place -- but it didn't work for me. (The technique is shown in this blog post; photos near the bottom.) The bag clip worked better than these solutions, but it doesn't grip the threads evenly, and they tend to lose their grippiness over time. (I've ruined two clips already!) I really want to find a solution that reliably locks the threads in place and gives them a taut tension, while still being quick and easy to release for when I get to the top and need to move the finished weaving down and off the loom.

Thirdly (don't worry, this is the last one!), my back gets really sore when using the loom. I certainly can't have it sitting on a table horizontally, as my arms won't even reach the far end, and there's no point in having a long loom if you can't reach the far end! I tried using it at a shallowish angle (with the far end resting on a cardboard box) while sitting at my desk, but even then my back gets really sore from reaching forwards. Lately I have tried leaning it almost vertically on the edge of my desk, with the front edge resting on my lap, and that works a lot better back-wise, but dang: those sharp shelf corners really dig into my thighs! (Excuse my messy hobby room and non-period-accurate outfit, it was just a quick selfie to demonstrate!)

Okay, one more tiny thing -- I'd like a way to keep the finished part of the weaving neatly out of the way and clean.

Okay, that's all I want! I don't want to ditch my loom completely, because I'm proud that I made it myself -- and the finishing on the surface of the shelf looks cool. I would rather try and modify it to solve these problems. I have been doing some research. More on that soon!

Monday, 3 January 2022

My Resolutions and Goals for 2022!

First of all, happy holidays and happy new year!
It's the time of year for making resolutions again, and despite everything that's happened in the last few years, I'm in the mood for it.

I made a more fun video about some of my resolutions/goals/intentions/whatever you prefer to call them, but I wanted to write about some that I didn't mention in the video, and elaborate on some that I did. (I'll mark those ones with a "V" so you know what's what.)

In the last few years, I've been in the habit of dividing my goals into 7 categories on the model of a rainbow, so you'll get a chance to see that in this post, too. I've been experimenting for quite a long time now with different ways of presenting my goals to make them seem more fun and the boring ones less boring. I've seen others divide the areas of their lives into 3, 6 or even 9 areas. I settled on 7, myself. And then I had to colour-code them in rainbow colours, because, well, that's the kind of person I am. The categories are pretty self-explanatory, so I'll just dive straight in.

❖ sew an outfit (V) - I'd like to learn/re-learn how to make the basic garments: top, pants, skirt.
❖ try altering clothes using different ideas and techniques.
❖ complete 1 painting a month (at least!).
❖ either learn to draw, or get over it!
❖ learn to write my Constructed Script off by heart.

(I added 'videos' new this year as I now have a YouTube channel, and it seemed to fit well in this category.)
❖ read 1 book a month (V) - possibly the Game of Thrones series as I saw the TV show last year.
❖ re-read a classic/favourite book.
❖ write 1 blog post a month (at least!).
❖ make 1 video a month (at least!).
❖ re-do the intro and outro for my Yearlong Style Experiment video series.
❖ buy a GoPro (V) - or similar camera for making my videos more fancy.
❖ either write, or get over it!

❖ wear what I want (V) - maybe try to consciously create an outfit in a certain style (Mori, Cottagecore, Pastel Academia, etc.)
❖ learn modelling & selfie photography techniques - then I could document the above point with more confidence!
❖ wear novelty ears in public (V) - as I explained in the video, this comes from a satirical 5-year-plan style list that I created for myself several years ago. This is the only point from that list I've yet to achieve!
❖ create a Ghostbusters costume for Halloween/Springoween (V) - a pretty big project, but one that I think I would learn a lot from, and would make an interesting video, I hope!

❖ do 3 things to reduce waste.
❖ do a Christmas in July and document it on my blog (and video too?).
❖ "complete" my house and garden (V) - this was pretty vague, but I did list a few concrete things in the video, two of which I've listed below:
❖ set up the shed (V) - install more shelving and organise everything to create an efficient storage space.
❖ hang all the paintings/pictures I have (V) - they're in a box taking up space in the hobby room at the moment, so it would clear out that space as well.

❖ stay in contact with my family and friends more regularly.
❖ get a job or make some kind of income. Or maybe volunteer?
❖ show my art more on social media, both finished and in progress (V) - I'm learning how to make Instagram Reels so I can do that.
❖ seek out more opportunities to share my art in person (V) - e.g. try to go in two exhibitions (I already have one lined up!); make my art/craft available to buy.

6. ME
❖ consistent selfcare and skincare (V) - taking my tablets every day, drinking Yerba Mate every day, excercising regularly, and doing my stretching exercises for my arthritis consistently.
❖ drink water! (V)
❖ go for a "walk" (V) - not just an everyday walk, but a forest walk somewhere lovely. In the past I've set yearly walking distance goals, but my athritis is very unpredictable, so I'm hesitant to do that right now.
❖ get my ears pierced again and get another tattoo (V) - something I've been meaning to do for a while, but hopefully I'll be able to this year.

❖ meditate daily - perhaps not daily, but at least have a regular practice.
❖ practice divination regularly
❖ continue my studies
❖do more magic!

❖ learn the Rubik's cube (V) - I can solve it using a cheatsheet, but I'd like to memorise it so I can impress people by solving it spontaneously (haha!).

Saturday, 11 December 2021

I have a Youtube Channel! How times change!

I've come an incredibly long way since starting this blog back in 2004. I've gone from being too shy to show my face on the internet, to having a Youtube channel! My channel is about a yearlong style experiment that I started earlier this year. It already has several videos up for your consideration, on the subjects of style, fashion and sewing. Here's my first video in which I talk about why I started my channel (though I also wrote a little about that below):

I do hope you enjoy my videos and maybe consider subscribing if you like that sort of thing. The most recent is my first one I made with proper video editing software -- not just an app with the most basic features like I was using before. The other day, I finally sat down and taught myself how to do it, and I'm quite proud of myself:

Making the thumbnails (the cover picture) is also quite fun!

Writing this post has gotten me thinking about how much things have changed since I started hanging out on the internet back in 2004. For many years, I was too shy to share my face (let alone my whole body!) on the internet. I was incredibly self-conscious about it. For example, I was into knitting and crocheting hats for a few years. I couldn't convince anyone I knew to model them, so I bought a head model from Ebay just so I could share them online. (I still have her -- her name is Hedda!)

I often found myself in a ridiculous situation where I wanted to sew clothes, but I was too self-conscious to share them on my blog. I wanted to share everything craft-related here, so if I didn't feel I could share it, I didn't make it! It was a piece of topsy-turvy logic that seems funny to me now. (...and yes, I ended up with a big stash of fabric I never used!)

Joining Instagram a few years ago changed things immensely for me. Seeing other people with similar body types to mine helped me to come out of my shell. I started posting photos of my face, and later, my whole body. I began to enjoy fashion more when I saw the possibilities, after having given up on it years earlier. I wanted to make my own clothes again, like I used to when I was a teenager. I did make a skirt last year, but I was so out of practice and made so many mistakes, that I was too embarrassed to blog about it. Here's a picture of it anyway:

The stars must have been aligning early this year, when I had a strong urge to get my fashion/style house in order, and saw this video about a 365 day style challenge. I decided to do one of my own! I'm not usually that impulsive (maybe it was a pandemic thing), but there you are. At first I was going to document it through my blog like I've done with so many projects before, but I became increasingly convinced that it wasn't the right format. It can be hard to describe something so personal -- and sometimes complicated -- in writing. Some things are just easier to talk about. About a month after I started, I decided I may as well try documenting it in video form, and started a Youtube channel to support that.

I've learned so much from starting this project -- not only about fashion and style, but about making videos. It's been a steep learning curve, fun, sometimes frustrating, but always satisfying, and I hope there are many more videos to come!

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Hobonichi 2022 Diary Unboxing

It's become a yearly tradition now for me to share the unboxing of my Hobonichi Diary for the next year -- and seeing as it's Spring, to do it outside on the grass!

I was very excited when I received my order! Unfortunately though, I have to report that I was pretty disappointed by the state it was in when it arrived. Usually the iconic Hobonichi box is enclosed in a paper bag, which keeps it safe while it travels from Japan. I (and I'm sure many others) like to keep the box to store stationery and other items in. This year though, the bag was dispensed with and the box was sent 'nude'. As you can see from the photos, it's covered in courier stickers and is very scuffed and a little crushed on the bottom.
The box such a gorgeous pink colour that I was particularly disappointed I won't be able to use it, and it's essentially 'just packaging' -- only fit for the bin now. But let's move away from the melodrama and see what's inside! As always, there is a quote on the inside flap of the box, and it's quite a nice one:
The first peek inside reveals the pencil board from the 'Standard Set' I ordered -- more on that later.
Underneath were the covers I ordered, and underneath that, some of the accessories. The Scary Bear spoon is one of this year's free items.
As always I ordered the Hobonichi Cousin, the A5 size book. I also got two covers, because I have a book from a couple of years ago that's still lacking a cover. The covers I chose were the plain colour in Lemon Squash yellow, and the "Shall We Have Some Tea?" Retro Cafe design.
I did a bit of a mix-and-match -- I ordered the Standard Set, which comes with the Hobonichi book, a plain cover (for me the Lemon Squash yellow), a clear cover-on-cover, and a pencil board. I plan to put the plain cover-on-cover over the Retro Cafe cover, and the Lemon Squash cover will serve as the base for the Season of Hope cover-on-cover that you can see below. I just can't decide which will go on my new Hobonichi and which will cover the old one!
As for the accessories, I purchased the matching folders for the "Shall We Have Some Tea?" set in both A5 and A6 size. To be honest, I don't have any particular plans for them, but I just love the designs so much that I couldn't help myself.
Here is the 2022 book with this year's free items: the usual tri-pen and the Scary Bear spoon. I just adore the colour of the pen barrel!
It again came with a fold-out booklet with information about the Hobonichi. It's a little smaller than in previous years, but it has a lovely illustration of cats in a park on the back, which I think I might even frame.
I got these animal stencils for no particular reason. They were reasonably priced, and I liked all of them, so I decided to get all four.
Likewise with these Pentel brush touch pens. I've seen other journallers use them in their Hobos without any bleed-through problems, so I indulged.
Lastly I purchased a few washi tapes. There is a larger range available in the Hobonichi store than there used to be, and more choice means more temptations! I couldn't help but get the matching washi tape from the "Shall We Have Some Tea?" range, as well as a few geometric edge-cut ones, which are a bit more unusual.
Aside from the disappointment with the box, which I'll admit was probably just due to high expectations, I'm very happy with my order. In fact, this was the first time there has been enough afordable choices in the A5 cover range that I had trouble deciding! It's a nice problem to have.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Unfinished Crafts, June 2021

Plushy Letters : O

Continuing the plushy letter theme from my last post, I started a Plushy 'O', as it seemed the second easiest letter to design after 'I'.

Floral Skirt

I started this skirt a few months ago, and it's almost finished. I just need to finish the bottom hem, and I'll probably add some of this lace to it. To be honest, it's deep Winter here now, and this is a rather summery skirt, so I'll probably put it aside until the season comes around again and work on other things in the meantime.

Grannyland Blanket

This is such an easy go-to project to grab when I'm feeling the urge to craft, but don't want a lot of brain-work to do. I realised a while back that the overall blanket will look better if I edge each square in the same colour. I finally got around to purchasing some wool for the purpose. I don't know why I chose red. Black is too common for this purpose, and I'm already making another blanket with white edgings. I thought about the primary colours and red just felt like the right one. I've started the epic task of adding one row of red to each of the 36+ squares. To be honest, I'm still not sure what dimensions I want the finished blanket to be, so there may be more squares before this thing is through!

Art Projects

The last two projects are ones that I'm doing under my artist umbrella, rather than 'private' craft projects. They're both still in the early stages, so I won't talk about them too much now. They both involve a lot of cross-stitch, bead embroidery, knitting and other crafty details, so I thought I'd mention them here at least.

Take care and keep on crafting!

Monday, 31 May 2021

Finished Crafts May 2021

More Tablet Weaving Bands

I took a few months off from tablet weaving, but then I became obsessed with it again. I was halfway through Band No. 3 (left) and when I took it up again, I forgot the pattern I was weaving. So one half of the band is wavy, and the other half stripey. But that's okay. It's long enough that I can make it into a bag strap, and hopefully I'll get around to that soon. Bands No. 4 and 5 (middle, right) are shorter. I was more wanting to try out different published patterns to see how they would turn out. I came across various problems while weaving, like twisting, bulging and bumping, but all of them have been explained by various Youtube videos and I feel like I'm learning more with every band.

Plushy Letters : I

A project I've been thinking about for a long time, but only started to act on recently, is to make a set of plushy letters that spell out words. For some reason I felt like knitting them instead of sewing them, which takes a lot longer but is a more portable craft. I couldn't find any patterns online that made letters as plump as I wanted, so I decided to design my own. I started with the easiest letter -- I.

Plushy Dinosaur

Last but not least -- the greatest triumph! I made this plushy dinosaur for my two-year-old friend, for her birthday. It took a very long time, and the process was filled with ups and downs, but at last at the end of March it was finally finished. I redesigned the back plates to make the shape more realistic, and also a smaller version to go along the tail. The original pattern was perfectly fine, but I just preferred the way it looks this way. Here is the pattern.

Next time I'll be looking at crafts still in progress!

Monday, 22 February 2021

A Freezer Full of Plums

Welcome to my annual fruit tree harvest report! The title of this post pretty much says it all, but I'll add some more details, as much as for my own future reference as for anything else. This was the second year of doing my 'meshless' fruit growing method. I've decided it's actually a thing and not just laziness!

The first to ripen was the cherry tree, around mid-November. The tree has grown strongly in the last year and I'm very pleased with it. The harvest was bigger than ever before. I'm pretty sure I took a photo of the fruit but I can't find it now. When I say "bigger than ever before", it was about 3 handfuls. I picked them while still underripe and laid them on a tray for a few days to ripen. We ate them with dessert for two nights in a row and then they were all gone. We only lost a few to birds.

The next to ripen was the apricot tree, around mid-December. The harvest was smaller than last year, about twice what you see in the basket in the photo (below). I stewed them and it came out to slightly less than one takeaway container full. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Mum at Christmas, and gave her a small, precious containerful.

I should mention the nectarine tree. It was having an 'off year' (apparently that's a thing). It produced many blossoms, but only two fruit grew from them. Then they were ruined while still only half-grown by the storms we had in December. The weather bureau reported widespread Brown Rot alerts to fruit farmers at that time -- it never occurred to me before that they apply to backyard single-tree gardeners like myself, too!

Last but certainly not least were the plums. They were still too small and hard to be affected by the brown rot, and we had a bumper harvest! despite my severe pruning of the tree last year to prevent it from producing too much. It seems that backfired, hm.

Harvesting fruit is fun -- looking amongst the leaves and selecting the ripest ones, feeling them still warm from the sun, placing them in the basket.

Despite my best efforts, some were eaten by birds. This photo (below) represents probably half of what was lost, but rest assured, it was only a small portion of the total produce! Towards the end, some dropped naturally as well, as I ran out of energy and skipped a couple of days of harvesting and processing.

I made sure to pick up all the dropped and bird-ravaged plums, as if left they might sprout into baby plum saplings. As nice as that sounds, I've learned from experience that it's not such a good thing -- they grow too close to the parent tree, so they need to be dug up (not to mention it makes mowing very difficult) and I never had a single one transfer to a pot successfully. And besides, I already get more plums than I can handle, even with just one tree!

I decided to process all the plums by stewing, bagging and freezing them. I didn't have the energy to make jam, and besides it's too hot in Summer! I can always defrost some and turn them into jam later if I want. I picked enough each day to fill the slow cooker, washed them and cooked them on High for about 2 hours.

I let them cool for a bit, then used the highly sophisticated method of fishing through them with a spoon to remove the stones. Each batch yielded about 3 sandwich-bag-sized bags, and there were 9 batches so that makes.... a lot of plums! Once frozen, they filled up about half the freezer (it needs defrosting, I know!). Once I'm able to visit my family again, they'll be sharing in the bounty. Sometimes when I open the freezer door, I think: if anyone else looked in here, they'd think I was a prepping vampire!

I guess there will be a post on plum recipes coming up soon?