Handwoven faux postage #2

handwoven letter postcard by Su MwambaIn a recent post, I claimed that the stamp woven in the corner of this ‘letter’ was my first handwoven faux postage.  Who knew?  Turns out I was wrong…!  I just re-discovered an old post of mine from 2010 in which I wove a postage stamp on a tiny matchbox loom!

I had completely forgotten about this, but really need to try it again – it would totally be possible to embroider a little detail onto the surface of this tiny weaving…  

Matchbox weaving loom

Ironically, this miniature weaving probably took as long to complete as the handwoven postcards I have talked about recently, due to the fine embroidery threads used instead of bulkier knitting wools.  It would be possible to weave a quicker stamp using a bulkier yarn or thread, though – it would just afford less opportunity for adding finer detail.

See the original post for further details.

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A handwoven letter

I’m hoping that my first handwoven postcard trial will arrive while I’m out today.  In the meantime, I’ve been making up for lost time & have completed Handwoven Postcard #2.  Yes, it’s all a bit meta this time – a weaving that looks like a letter, except that it’s a postcard… 😉

handwoven letter postcard by Su Mwamba

I initially wove it plain, just with the airmail border but it looked very boring.  The addition of embroidered ‘address’ and needle-woven ‘stamp’ (my first handwoven faux postage!) really finish it off.  I’m slightly concerned, though, that the extra detail is more likely to endanger the weaving while it’s on its travels (more little bits to get caught up in machinery)…but we shall soon see!

Find out more about the Handwoven Postcard Project...

A confession (& TangleClub freebie)

One of my most enduring projects, dating almost from the inception of TangleCrafts, is the Handwoven Postcard Project.  It started life in a now-retired zine, has been through various incarnations, and is currently available both as a part of the Postcard Recycling Kit, and the DIY Weaving Handbook.  Much as I love the idea of it, and despite a couple of (very welcome!) contributions, the Handwoven Postcard Project never caught the imagination of my followers in the same way as either Going Postal or Friends & Faux.  But I’ve kept the project open anyway, because I like it.

Okay, time for the confession…: I never actually wove and/or sent a handwoven postcard myself!  Yes, I hang my head in shame; but it’s true.  Shame on me!

Well, I can confess only because I am about to rectify the error of my ways.  Who wants to guess what I did with my day off today?  Anybody?  Yeah, not a tough one, really: I spent today weaving a postcard.  Handwoven Postcard by Su MwambaAnd here it is!  A very simple plain weave in pretty heathery colours (lovely Noro Kureyon).  Tomorrow, I will be adding a stamp to the reverse side (2nd class rather than 1st class only because the colour will match better; Corey rolls his eyes at me for this, which I think a little unfair…), and posting it to myself, so I can see first hand how it survives its journey through the postal system.  It won’t have far to travel – will that make any difference?  A woven postcard from Hawaii survived its journey far better than one from Manchester (see link above). so it’s definitely a tough one to predict.  I will of course update with the results once it arrives home.

Here’s something else you won’t be expecting, given my recent wanderings of attention.  I’ve added a brand new, step-by-step Handwoven Postcard Tutorial to the TangleClub Archive, so that my long-neglected TangleClub members need feel neglected no more.

However anybody, yes anybody is welcome to join the Handwoven Postcard Project, so if you are inspired, please get weaving and send your postcards my way.  All pics will be shared, and you will have taken part in one of the most exclusive mail art projects out there! 😉

Crafty resolutions

Since my Christmas stocking project last week, my fingers have been getting all twitchy to do more crafty/stitchy things.  So I just created this treasury of DIY craft kits over on Etsy, which is full of crafty ideas for inspiration – but also the materials necessary to get started straight away.  As procrastinators will agree, not having the necessary materials to hand is the best excuse not to begin a new project, so these kits leave you with no excuses! 😉

Being totally honest, the packaging often attracts me just as much as the projects themselves, and is often just as original.  The DIY Instant Comfort Boxes by Kim Welling are a case in point; although I also have a huge soft spot for Pupurin’s Little Kitty Kit.  Those with a mildly sick sense of humour (who me?) may enjoy the 1/2 splat kit (must click to discover what this is, although the title is quite accurate!); while any embroiderers looking for a creative challenge should take a look at the wonderful Crafting Shelves kit from This Tiny Existence.  Well, take a look at the whole treasury: there are all kinds of craft kits from all kinds of crafters so hopefully something will inspire you!

My own crafty plans for the new year include a return to weaving, thanks to my lovely hubby buying me ‘The Ultimate Bead Loom’ from Fred Aldous for Christmas.  I’ve already constructed it (yes, I did in fact sit & construct it on Christmas morning), but the next stage is on hold while I figure out whether I’ll be using beads or yarn, and what I actually want to make.  My current impulse is to make a big mess of colour…  But what I love about this loom is the fact that it can just sit on a worksurface in front of me and the weaving area is (sloped) upright so that I don’t have to bend over it as I work.  I love using bead looms for small-scale weaving, but most have a horizontal working surface which my back does not enjoy.  😦  I will let you know how I get on as and when any projects emerge. 🙂

Besides that, I have a freshly acquired small stash of funky fabrics and wool felts that I am itching to play with, and lots of ideas in mind.  I can’t resist all the patterns, and the combinations of colours; and after my stocking project, I really got a feel for having a needle in my hand again.  My mother has claimed the unenviable task of teaching me to use a sewing machine, but this will be another slow-burner due to not living in the same city, not to mention my reluctance mainly concerning the noise of the thing.   I really just prefer having space to hear my own thoughts, but then again, I’m generally very good at tuning out sounds from the real world that attempt to permeate my inner world (how dare they!), so maybe I can tune out the sewing machine, too…  Again, I will keep you posted.

So, how about you?  Any crafty plans and/or resolutions for the new year?
Please share & inspire/motivate the rest of us!

Handwoven faux postage!

Well, it could be.  I’ve been meaning to make a matchbox weaving loom ever since writing my Borrowers zine, and today, I finally got around to it, and I even remembered to scan each step of the way:

Cut down to basics, all you need to do is:

  • Snip notches at approx. 3mm intervals along the short edges of a 32ct matchbox tray.  (My advice: mark it out first!  I ended up with 7 notches, but an even number will work better when it comes to ‘finishing’/removing from loom.)
  • Warp loom.  I warped all the way from one end to the other, around the back of the loom and back to starting point.  See finishing tips below for how the way you warp will affect your options.
  • Use matches woven under and over alternate threads to adjust tension, as required.  I removed the matchsticks as the weaving grew, so that I could weave all the way to the top of the loom.
  • Weave!  I used a (hand-dyed) variegated perle 5 cotton to get a stripy effect without having to change threads too often.  Using a needle will help you when weaving.  I used the needle I use for bookbinding, because it happened to be to-hand; but the book-binding needle is a sharp, and a blunt-ended tapestry needle would be far better advised!  Visit my weaving freebies page for basic/additional weaving instructions.
  • Removing your weaving from the loom will depend on how you have warped:
  1. If you have an even number of warps and warped all around the outside of the matchbox tray, snip across the threads in the centre of the matchbox reverse.  Tie off warp threads in pairs, and trim to preferred length of fringe.
  2. If you warped your loom back and forth around notches (across front of loom only), carefully nudge loops off notches and thread onto matchsticks for a miniature wall-hanging.

Well, it entertained me, so hope you will enjoy this little (no pun intended 😉 ) project, too.  Let me know if you try this out – would love to see pictures!

Potentially useful stuff

In my office, I have drawer of ‘potentially useful stuff’ (or as Corey would prefer to call it, tat).  The contents range from postcards to pencils, doorstops to stones, from ribbon to a plate rack.  Today I was looking in the drawer for inspiration, and I found it!  Today I saw French knitting looms…:

knittingnancyI used to have a French knitting doll; you know the type.  Mine was called a Knitting Nancy.  I’ve also seen them called knitting spools, knitting reels, etc.  Traditionally, they are one of the ultimate re-purposed or at least handmade craft tools.  Back in the days before all cotton reels were made out of plastic, they were made out of wood; and in those days, french knitting dolls were made very simply by hammering 4 nails into the top of the wooden reel.  cotton reelI wanted to make a French knitter, but it’s impossible to get the wooden reels, any more (unless you are willing to pay ridiculously high price on an auction site).  However, my drawer of potentially useful stuff yielded all kinds of interesting possibilities, and I have spent a happy Sunday morning trying them out.

doorstopOnce you start thinking laterally, there are literally tonnes of everyday things you could potentially make a French knitter from.  For my first experiment, I used a doorstop, with 4 push pins pushed into the top around the hole, spaced at regular intervals.push pins The pins pushed in easily, but were held securely.  I used an ordinary paperclip with the outer ‘leg’ bent down into a straight line to hook the yarn over the pins.  The hole in the centre of the door stop narrows off to approx. 5mm diameter at the bottom, but the cord that was knitted expanded to ‘normal’ size once it came through.  A normal double knitting yarn or a thick embroidery cotton would fit through without a problem.

tapeFor my second experiment, I wanted to see how the size of the centre hole affected the thickness of the cord. I used a reel of brown insulation tape (I don’t think the colour of the tape matters, except perhaps aesthetically) with a central hole of approx. 3cm.  I didn’t use the tape up first, by the way (that’s still available for a future occasion); it doesn’t really make much difference either way.  My advice would be to push the pins into the inner cardboard ring, though, as when pushed into the tape they move about more.  Using 4 pins, the cord was about the same thickness as the door stop cord, but a much looser knit, because of the hole’s diameter (and therefore the wider spacing of the pins).  The cord was not as sturdy as the first cord, but if you especially wanted a looser, lacier effect, wider spacing of pins around a larger hole is the way forward.

For my third experiment, I used the insulation tape knitter again, but pushed in an additional 4 pins, spaced roughly 1 cm apart around the centre hole.  It was fascinating watching a real web build up between the pins, and it was obviously going to be a much closer knit than the previous experiment.   The resulting cord was far more obviously tubular than the previous cords.  The knitting looked like the finger of a glove (prompting me to ponder on the usefulness of ‘gloveless fingers’ as a substitute for fingerless gloves…).  The knit was just a standard tension, not especially tight or loose, just ‘normal’.

Conclusion: It is the spacing (and therefore number) of pegs that affects the diameter of the cord, rather than the size of the hole itself.  4 pegs would produce roughly the same diameter cord whether knitted through a 5mm or 5cm hole, but the knit would be looser, the more widely spaced the pegs are.  The larger the centre hole, the more pegs can be used, and therefore the diameter of the ‘cord’ increases accordingly  – and the less cord-like it becomes.

The tubular aspect of the third experiment prompts me to imagine all kinds of possibilities.  If you used a larger reel of tape as the loom, you could knit a drawstring coin pouch very easily.  Or if you knitted a VERY long cord, a tubular scarf.  If you found a much larger circle to use as a loom, and used a strong, non-elastic, yarn (maybe string, or garden twine?), you could knit a seamless shopping bag!

I have also previously made a successful knitter using the plastic centre of a cash till roll, with 4 paper clips clipped around the top edge.  The paper clips were held in place surprisingly firmly by a single covering of sellotape.  So if you don’t have push pins to hand, but you do have paperclips, you could try taping them around the inner circle of a reel of tape, instead.

Another thought: you could cut the base of a disposable drinking cup, and cut notches (like the turrets of a castle) along the rim to make a different sized knitter.   Honestly, if you think about it, you can use almost anything!

Weaving frustration!

With a house-move looming on the horizon, I am really reluctant to begin any new projects.  This is just asking for trouble, of course.  I keep seeing things that inspire me!  I already have more ideas than I have time to put into practise, and putting projects on hold for a month or more just means that I’m going to accumulate even more of a backlog!

I posted a while back about a woven book cover which has given me various ideas that I’ve not had chance to explore yet.  I also recently ragrugbagdiscovered this cool project at Dollar Store Crafts for turning a rag rug into a bag.  I check this site regularly, as it frequently suggests original & unusual ways for re-purposing everyday stuff.  I have to say, I have not yet found a pound shop in the UK that sells these woven rag rugs, but I have seen them relatively cheap in the past.  Anyway, I would feel like I was cheating if I made one of these, because – well, I’m a weaver, aren’t I?!  So finding this project has inspired me to get weaving myself.  I actually have a mousematcombboardloom loom (yes, just as it sounds: a mousemat with a comb glued along the top) warped and ready to weave, but I’m trying to be good, because I know it will take longer than I anticipate, and I really need to motivate myself to get packing, rather than allow more distractions… 😦  But there’s a cunning idea I’ve thought of but not tried out yet, so it’s definitely high on my list for getting around to, after the move…

I’m really itching to get weaving again.  Oh, it’s frustrating!  Maybe if I’m really good & get everything packed up within a couple of weeks I will allow myself a little project  break regardless…

In the meantime, I recently treated myself to the complete set of back issues of Croq Zine.   The political slant of craftivism scares me slightly, but I’ve not been scared by what I’ve read so far.  Well, of course, it has just given me even more ideas to store up…  But at least it only involves writing down some notes (for now) rather than getting stuck in immediately.  It would be kind of nice to just sit down for a couple of hours and read through the stack of zines in one go; but that would defeat my you’re-not-allowed-to-spend-time-on-stuff-when-you-should-be-packing rule.  Instead, I have a half hour lunch break, which is actually just right for reading through a few features; and it is also kind of nice to be able to savour it a little, and make my treat last a little longer.

Please help me not have to pack so much by checking out my Re-Housing Clearance…!