How to make a re-purposed weaving needle

Hairclip needleMy usual suggestion for a makeshift weaving needle is to use a hairclip.  But what if you don’t have a hairclip to hand?  If you don’t normally use them, you might as well go out & buy a pack of needles as a pack of hairclips (although the hairclips would be cheaper).  Where this idea came from I really don’t know, but for some reason it occurred to me yesterday that if you have an old, used-up store gift card, or an expired bank or credit card, you can make a collection of weaving needles very easily, for absolutely zero cost!

giftcard-needle-pics

Woven bookcovers

Why didn’t I think of this? The notebook covers are made from corrugated cardboard (leftover packaging) and the covers are woven with scraps of fabric. The tutorial shows you step-by-step how to do it all!
Click here for this very cool project.

woven-book

Recycle your Christmas cards!

Okay, the 12th day after Christmas has been and gone, the tree and decorations are down, and everything is ready to be thrown out or stored for next (sorry, this…) year.  But wait!  What are you going to do with all those Christmas cards?  Well, you could cut them up into gift tags for the next round of xmas presents.  You could also turn them (or at least some of them)  into a handy D.I.Y. weaving loom!

Find 2 cards that are the same size (or cut a second down to the same size as the first).  Glue them together, using a solid glue stick (eg Pritt Stick) face to face, back to back, or face to back – it doesn’t matter!  Glue down any open edge so that you have a single rectangle of fairly sturdy (and festive!) card.

Now all you need to do is mark & cut notches, and you’re ready to weave!  Follow instructions in FREE How to Weave on Anything PDF, using Christmas cards as your loom!

Flax-woven angel

How lovely is this?  A bit late for Christmas, but save the idea for this year, instead – click here for step-by-step instructions with photos.  Okay, perhaps she’s not exactly woven, but still, it’s a lovely, crafty idea.  I’m sure you could make the angel out of alternative materials if flax isn’t convenient for you(!), but the website gives advice on all aspects of gathering, preparing, dyeing and weaving flax, so if you like the idea of weaving with something genuinely green (okay, I know flax itself isn’t the colour green, but you know what I mean ***see comments below, before you pick me up on this!) it’s very worth checking out.

All quiet…?

It’s been a quiet weekend for me in terms of blogging, but I’ve been working non-stop on all sorts of fun things, some of which have made their way onto the catalogue pages, and some are just still little kernels of ideas, waiting for the right time to (or more accurately, for me to have time to let them) grow.

Anyway, be sure to check out the Latest Additions page for all the bits & bobs I have finally got sorted, including a FREE ‘How to Weave a Bookmark‘ PDF, a FREE counted thread chart, and a fun new kit added to the Friendship Weaving page.

Enjoy, and keep checking back, as I have lots more still to come 🙂

How to weave on (almost) anything!

I handed out lots of business cards yesterday, which has motivated me to actually get into gear and start filling in all the ‘watch this space’ links that have been waiting for a while.  The business cards double as ‘handy’ D.I.Y. weaving looms – great for getting people started, but a little scant on instruction, as there simply isn’t very much space on a business card!  However, if you click here, I’ve just added a PDF with step-by-step instructions for warping & weaving the business card loom – or, in fact, almost anything!

More happy things

Can you believe it?  Touch wood, technology finally seems to be on my side again!  I am the proud owner of a new laptop, and revelling in the fact that I no longer have to sit at my desk to type, but can instead make use of the lovely, comfy chairs and sofas in the downstairs part of the house!  I also now have a keyboard that can type all (yes, that’s ALL) of its letters at first touch, so in future, any typos you come across are just the result of my being a bit haphazard, rather than the keyboard randomly omitting letters I have actually requested.  Hurrah!

But the BEST thing about it, is that IT HAS USB POINTS THAT WORK!  Finally, for the first time since summer, I can attach my printer, and therefore print off documents, and scan things again.  This means that in addition to the new weaving kits, I can finally get going with the stitchery charts and kits again.  Well, actually, I’ve decided on a slight change of direction, and the needlework charts are going to be available in book form, in the future, rather than as kits, with some still available as individual charts.  I will be re-vamping the needlework pages in the near future, so watch this space!

So this lovely little laptop is making my life a LOT easier, just now.  Forgive the excess of capital letters in this post, but I’m very excited about it!

Oh, you know what else I’m happy about?  Okay, December is a busy month; but I’ve decided not to worry about re-launching the needlework books until the New Year, which means I have a good few weeks in which I can spend any spare time weaving.  You would think I had done a lot of that in the weeks running up to the craft fair, but actually, the last couple of weeks were all about the preparations, with VERY little weaving time.  I have my eye on some lovely new yarns to play with.  This month, despite Christmas madness going on around me, I plan to RELAX…  Wish me luck!

Weaving ATCs

ATCs (Artist Trading Cards, to the uninitiated!) are something that have intrigued me for a while.  The concept is simple: an artist decorates a card (specifically sized 2.5″ x 3.5″), adds their contact details and any other information they want to, to the reverse, and then trades (never sells) this card with other artists.  It’s a highly personalised business card, in a way, building a community feeling among artists.  But also a huge online community has sprung up, creating and trading ATCs – and just in case I’ve given the wrong impression, this is a world open to any crafter/artist, not just ‘professionals’.

I think ATCs are a wonderful creative outlet.  They allow you to try out different techniques on a small scale, and the mixed-media cards I’ve seen can be quite stunning.  It’s one of those all-encompassing ideas that means whatever background you have, or medium you work with, you can play, too!  But I guess it’s the fact of communication, and the fact that it’s a personal, not mass-produced/commercial thing that makes it feel like a little oasis.

Although not commercial in the sense of trading rather than selling the cards, an industry has sprung up selling related materials to decorate and store your ATCs, and cool stuff like labels and rubber stamps to add your details to the reverse.  Being me, of course, I just look at the labels and then make my own.  I had the idea for a woven ATC, and while working on a design for the reverse, came up with a way to make a loom directly out of your ATC blank.  As I speak, I’m having rubber stamps custom made.  At the craft fair, I will have funky little (alterable) tins containing an ATC kit, with ATC blanks,  2 different ATC backs, needle, ‘shed stick’, instructions, etc.  You may have noticed, I’m really pleased with this idea.  I just want to get people weaving (another post will be coming shortly with more DIY ideas), and ATCs are a brilliant, sample-sized way to get people hooked!

This was my prottype ATC. I also have a slicker image as an option for the reverse, eradicating the tape measures.
This was my prototype ATC. I also have a slicker image as an option for the reverse, eradicating the tape measures; and a far simpler, more meditative weaving, currently half-complete.

In addition to the ATC kit, I will be (literally) giving away an ATC loom as my business card – the front has all my contact details, the back has instructions to turn the card into a loom.  The weaver, of course, is not obliged to mke an ATC, if they don’t want to; they also have the option of just slipping the weaving from the (re-usable) card once complete, and framing/mounting as they choose.

I can’t claim that weaving an ATC is an incredibly original idea, but it’s certainly not common.  Putting the concept out there in the hands of a wider audience of creative types, though, opens up all sorts of possibilities for combining weaving with ther media.  I think it’s just something that hasn’t really crossed people’s minds, but once the idea is there, it’s a very viable, adaptable option.  I’ll leave it up to the ATC community to explore further…!

The only person I currently know who is experimenting with woven ATCs is artist/tapestry weaver Laurie o’ Neill.  You can see her processes and some completed cards here.  I love this idea for using ‘thrums’ Jazzcat Thrums as an ATC background.  I’ve been using thrums to stuff the little Oddballs I’ve woven for the fair.  I think this is a far more decorative use for them, though, and you can still be just as creative with exploring colour combinations.

More ideas

5.  Haiku Tins (photo to follow).  I found a good source for tins with aperture lids recently, and have woven several freeform pieces to fit the different sizes.  For the smallest tin (pencil box-sized),  I tried something a bit different.  Using beautiful yarns in graduating variegated shades, I wrapped the yarn, rather than wove.  This is a ridiculously simple thing to do, but because of the blending and shading in these particular yarns, really very effective in the end result.  I think of them as meditations on colour, which led me circuitously round to haiku.  After reading quite a lot of haiku, and being aware of them as a source of strong natural imagery, I decided that they suited these wrapped tins perfectly.  So I have bought some recycled fibre paper, onto which I will print individual haiku, and a little collection of these printed slips of haiku will fill each tin.  (Obviously if someone has an alternative use for the tin, they are welcome to remove the haiku, once they have bought it!)  If you like haiku, can I strongly recommend ‘Clear Light’ by Alan Spence?   The Haiku Tins will contain a mix of traditional and contemporary haiku.

Night swallows dew-damp meadow / casting velvet shadows / that will pass
Spring evening

6.  Meditations.   I’ve woven a few freeform pieces for the craft fair, and while they evolve quite naturally, I also find that after weaving one, I tend to want to go back to basics, back to the basic, essential flow of weaving.  The wrapped Haiku Tins gave me the idea to just weave a very plain block, allowing the colours of the yarn to do all the work for me.  This allows me to really get lost in the rhythmic, soothing process of weaving, and becomes a meditation on both the process and the random evolution of the colours.  The pieces you see to left and right are examples, unframed thus far.

Muddy fields
Muddy fields

My idea is to frame them, individually, in very plain, simple wooden frames.  Within the frame will also be a handwrtten haiku, composed by me, relating to the images evoked by the weaving.  I love the clarity and economy of haiku, the condensed images retaining a simple appreciation of the mysteries of the world around us.  I think they work perfectly with the meditative process involved with the weaving of these pieces.  I’m in no way claiming that my own haiku compare with the masters of the genre; but the pieces are personal to me, and using my own poetry makes them even more so.  I guess it gives the viewer of the work an insight into my own perceptions, whether they agree or not.

Fading autumn sunlight,
glowing
over muddy fields

Night swallows spring evening,
casting shadows
that will pass

Ideas, continued (expanded, modified, added to etc)

Since my last post about ideas for the craft fair, Gossamer Bookmarks have fallen by the wayside.  They did, however, lay the groundwork for idea number 3:

3.  Patch Pouch.  I have found a good supplier of plain cotton canvas

Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!
Just big enough for mobile phone, keys & loose change - perfect!

pouches, which I have bought up stock of, for packaging kits and artworks.  It occurred to me that some of the smaller pouches could be decorated with a simple patch of weaving.  The weaving area is smaller and therefore less time-consuming to produce than the bookmarks (I increased the weaving time marginally by weaving an additional square directly onto the first patch).  I used a lower gauge canvas (13ct) and a thicker yarn, resulting in a nice, sturdy little patch which was then ironed onto a canvas pouch.

Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!
Jazz weaving - a whole new concept in synaesthesia!

4.  Swirl Pouch.  Although this funky little pouch (just big enough for a mobile phone) will be available to buy at the fair, it is NOT something I will be going into mass production of!  My husband is a jazz musician, and I wove this during a gig he played with Arun Ghosh a couple of weeks ago.  Despite the curvy edges, I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  I know I am supposed to strive for even edges in tapestry, but in this case I really think the curves enhance the design.  Although I can’t say I was weaving in response to the music, it is an entirely freeform design (slightly different on both sides) that created itself.  Although I do think people would like these pouches, I don’t think I could charge enough for one to justify the time it took to weave.  Shame, though.

Seems that I can only manage a couple of ideas at a time.  Watch this space – more to follow, shortly…