Archive for April, 2009

Weaving dreams…

April 30, 2009

Trying desperately to justify my extravagance at the Knit, Stitch & Creative Crafts show at the Bath & West showground last week, I took it into my head to create another shawl with the lovely yarns that somehow found their way home with me. The last one I wove was on a 4′ square of hardboard, which sadly has warped so far that there’s no way I can use it again. So I picked up some bits of wooden moulding at the Dorset Scrapstore, and spent a few noisy hours knocking tacks at ½cm intervals down two of them. Then I joined four into a square, using old electric sewing machine drive belts as giant rubber bands to join the corners.  A couple of 7′ bamboo canes, tied with an oddment of old shirt, made a crosspiece that has “tied” my improvised loom together, and today I’ve warped it up and started to weave…

<Warped up...

 

And belted up!
It’s cheating, really, using new yarns that I haven’t spun myself. But it may take me some time to turn out stuff as lovely as these… And there are some scraps & leftovers in there too; some odd bits of Paton’s Spirit, for example. So it’s not completely out of order. Really…
Next project is a Tri-loom, using more (& sturdier) Scrapstore moulding. And I should be able to finish the Charkha soon, too.
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A chance to learn…

April 27, 2009

Some time last year I posted a comment over on “Casaubon’s Book” to the effect that I needed to learn to spin and also to machine-knit. The spinning I cracked fairly soon afterwards, and have enjoyed so much that I’m saving very hard to add a brand-new (handmade) spinning wheel to my stable of workshop tools, now that I have a clear idea of what kind of spinning I like best and what features will be most useful. But the machine-knitting was proving a little harder to get to grips with. I tried contacting the nearest machine-knitting group I could find online, but they’re 30 miles away, which is too far to go on a regular basis, and they didn’t know of anyone closer.

But on Saturday, on my way back from the monthly Weavers, Spinners & Dyers Guild meeting, my elderly Louet wheel fell over in the back of the car and smashed an already-cracked demijohn that was awaiting its final trip to the Tip. So I popped it straight down there whilst the engine was still warm. And there sat a battered box containing a Singer Designer 2 knitting machine… naturally it had to come home with me. It’s so much less complicated than any of the other full-size machines I’ve seen that at first I thought half of it was missing. But the instruction book listed the parts, and there they all were. And this machine is extremely simple; it’s probably not very versatile, but who cares? I can work it! It’s just one step up from my Simpleframe knitter; basically the same, a bit bigger, with a carriage!  No complicated tension devices or impossibly-intricate storage cases which you can never shut again, just a bed, a counter, a carriage and a few straightforward weights, combs and hooks. I’d made a scarf out of scrap yarn within a couple of hours of getting it out of the box…

Now I know I will eventually be able to master those great complicated beasties up in my loft (a Passap and a Toyota, with hundreds of bits and manuals and pattern books) as I’m beginning to understand what’s going on and how. But in the meantime, I have a tool with which I can churn out simple scarves & jumpers that I can embellish with other techniques, and maybe one day I can use it to help other people in the same position.

I never cease to be amazed how things work out…

Serendipity!

April 17, 2009

A quick tale of absolute serendipity…

I picked up an industrial treadle on Ebay this week for the magnificent sum of £5.50, which I will use to run the 96KSV7. It came with a resident but non-original head, an elderly Singer 16, and a box. The box has an opening lid, but it was locked and there was no key. My standard Singer keys didn’t fit, nor did the magic flatbladed screwdriver; a key that opens some of the tiny Saxonias, and also my china cabinet, nearly fitted & worked but didn’t quite. And there we stuck…

This morning I popped down to the Tip with a friend who does love a good Wombling session. We could see some old “keys” quite some way down in the Metals skip. She was searching for some weights to dangle from the end of a strip doorcurtain; old keys would be perfect. So, with permission, we rigged up a “hook” of some old copper piping and went “fishing” for the keys. With much giggling, we eventually hooked most of them out. But they’re not keys; they’re more like picklocks, possibly the tools of an old locksmith’s trade. And when we got home, the first one I tried opened the Singer 16’s case effortlessly.

That’s “Karma Shopping” as one friend calls it, at its finest!

Grim vision…

April 14, 2009

Oh dear. I seem to have caused a bit of upset this afternoon; my older daughter is only just speaking to me again. She talked me into going for a walk; I decided to load up my handcart with all the rubbish from my workshop & drop it off at the Tip, which she was happy with. Not so happy, though, when they told me there was a dressmaker’s dummy waiting round behind the “landfill” skip. It just about fitted into the cart, much to Madame’s evident annoyance. But when I stopped & picked up the lovely sharp old bowsaw too, her annoyance turned to agonised embarassment… all the way back along the riverbank, she was expecting some raincoated detectives to spring from the bushes and arrest me. “You look just like you’re planning a murder, Mother! Why else would you be towing round a dressmaker’s dummy and a very sharp deadly weapon? People get arrested for carrying small knives, let alone that thing!”

You have to see the funny side – which she couldn’t, at the time. The dummy was for a young home-ed friend hoping to do a textile GCSE; new, they cost £140 which is out of the question for most students. And the bowsaw is for cutting branches; we didn’t have one & it’s a far better tool than a pruning saw on thicker branches. Ah well, next time I’m planning a murder, I know who not to take with me…

Raise your glasses, please…

April 9, 2009

…to whoever threw out two complete boxes of Edinburgh Crystal white wine glasses this morning. I shall enjoy a glass or two at their expense!

Have to say, I wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire posh glasses. But if they come my way by chance, I’m not going to turn them down. It’s nice to enjoy the odd trapping of success, even if it was someone else’s success. I shall probably end up car-booting them to raise money for my new “travel” spinning wheel, but for a night or two I shall peer at my teenagers over a cut-glass rim. It would amuse me to drink home-made wine from them, but somebody seems to have drunk it all…?

A friend & I “did” a car boot sale last weekend. It’s a vast one that people come to for miles around, and I took stuff that I thought would sell well, but threw a couple of odds & sods in at the last moment. Needless to say, the decent 30s & 50s china didn’t sell, even at 50p per item, no books went at all at 20p, and the old clothes I scooped out of the back of my wardrobe flew off the rail at £1 per item, which was more than I’d paid for a lot of them. I was struck by how things had changed; people used to go to car boot sales for a morning’s entertainment. They’d scoop up a few pretty bits of china for a few pence, treat the family to an ice-cream, hunt out interesting books or hobby items, and everyone would go home happy. Not any more… people were begging us for bedding, cutlery and other essentials. Young parents had spread out blankets behind their cars, trying to sell their sobbing children’s toys. Scary… and I suspect this is only the beginning.

Ohmigosh, ohmigosh, ohmigosh…

April 7, 2009

Slipped down to the Tip yesterday in a spare 10 minutes, Monday often being a good day after people have decluttered their attics at the weekend. Nothing obvious, so I climbed up to look in the Metals, and there, not 12″ from my hand, lay a very tatty industrial Singer… naturally it leapt straight into my arms. I could see a gigantic cracked motor and a rusty old footplate, which would be no use to me even if I could have taken them; was there anything else? A few moments anxious scanning revealed a bag of bits including the (broken) bobbin winder, and a thread stand out of reach, which Lee kindly hooked out for me. I grabbed anything else loose that might be vaguely sewing-related, and ran off, a mere 10 minutes late for my next appointment, hyperventilating gently…

It’s a Singer 96KSV7 from 1940. 96s were generally fast tailoring machines, but this one looks as if it’s been adapted (SV meaning Special Variant) to use heavy threads & thick fabrics, as it has a tension knee-lift and a higher shank than the only other 96 that has passed through my hands. There was a bit of very thick strong thread trapped in the shuttle race, and it has a massive needle fitted. Upholstery, maybe? I seem to have picked up most of the correct bits, and a few totally random ones too, but now I will have to find a treadle table to fit her, as I think this might well be the all-round heavy-duty machine I’ve been hunting for for my planned workshop. She stitches beautifully, from fairly-small to a gigantic 4 stitches per inch, and has reverse. I wonder how she’ll like quilting? There’s plenty of room under that massive arm.

When something like this falls into your hands, you know it’s just meant to be. I knew I needed to part with my 1895 Singer 15 Light Industrial (probable) sailmaker, as I know someone who needs it more than I do and will use it regularly to do something well worth doing. I’d been wondering how I was going to replace it for the little heavy-duty stuff I need to do, but someone up there was ahead of me, as usual. Now, what colour do you think she’d like to be next?

A real find...

A real find...