So, what's happening next year?

I don't know, I really don't. Of course I have hopes, dreams, aims, goals, but I have learned (and it's taken a really long time) that life is easier when you let God do the planning and you do the following.

At the moment, I would love to further my business. I'd like to wake up, have a shower, some breakfast, maybe walk the dog and then sit down to my loom and weave. And just keep weaving until I wanted to do something else - probably some dyeing. I've tried to work more on being a "real" artist for years and failed over and over. But I don't feel too sad about it anymore.  Because I've come to a realisation.

Being a real artist is not my real job. Being a wife is. Being a mother is. Being a servant of God is. These are the things that God is calling me to first. Everything else has to wait, and this fact is good and right. He gives me time here and there to work on the things I love, but only after my other duties for the day are fulfilled.

Maybe one day I will get to work full time on creative stuff. Or maybe God has other plans for me - whatever the case all He asks is for me to listen and obey, and with His grace, this is what I intend to do.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a very happy and holy Christmas, may God bless you all!

That awesome feeling!

Of finishing a project and finding that you love it! Remember this post? My, how things can change.

So, the blanket was woven on 4 shafts with my hand dyed Australian 4ply cotton. I used a twill variation for the pattern.

It's actually quite thick and heavy, so definitely better suited to cooler times than we are experiencing at the moment! (37 degrees today).

My little sweetheart was good enough to model it for me, even in the heat. 

This blanket will be in my Etsy shop in the near future, so look out for that if you like what you see :)

Cutting handwoven cloth, one method

Cutting a length of cloth of the loom is so exciting! But then what? If you're not leaving a fringe you have to finish the fabric somehow, and if you're cutting into it you may be afraid of unravelling. This is a great, easy method to use for either finishing to hem or if you need to cut into the fabric.

Firstly, once off the loom, the fabric needs to be wet finished and dried before you consider cutting.

When you've determined your cutting line (whether it's at the end of the fabric or somewhere else) cut a length of light, fusible interfacing the length of the cut and about 2 inches in width. It must be the fusible type or this won't work. Iron it so that your cutting line is roughly in the middle (so you have half of the interfacing on either side of the cut line). For me, the cut line was where the end of the woven fabric met the beginning of the fringe. Cover with a pressing cloth and iron until fused. 

The underside of the fabric now looks like this, nothing is really visible from the front side.

 Using your cutting line as a guide, serge right across. Can you see where the fringe begins and woven cloth ends? That was my guideline for serging. If you don't have a serger, a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine will suffice.

Now you have a neat serged edge. The threads are completely secure and haven't moved in the serging process due to the interfacing fixed in place. From this point you can go on to use your fabric according to your plans or begin to hem.

To finish the fabric with a hem, I fold over the serged edge once and iron down flat.

Then a second fold to enclose the serged edge and interfacing, press with the iron once again and pin in place if you wish.

Sewing the hem can be done by machine or hand. I used my machine with a straight stitch, close to the folded edge at the back.
Voila! Easy peasy and all secure, no loose or displaced threads and the interfacing gives extra support when hemming!

Great Expectations

I planned to weave a baby blanket. I spent weeks planning this project, first visually in my head, then on paper with measurements and particulars, then in the dyeing. I researched weave structures and matched colours, choosing the contrasting colours I thought would best show off the somewhat complex pattern. I spent a lot of time planning this blanket.

Then came the warping, the threading, the sleying, the tying on. Hours and hours of work. Finally, I got to the exciting part - the weaving! I began weaving with great anticipation, concentrating on the sequence to ensure no errors. After a few inches, I got up and stood back from the work, as I always do, to view the emerging pattern with pleasure.

And I hated it. 

It's busy, it's thick and textured, it looks messy and the pattern is barely discernible because of all the colours. To say I was disappointed would be a grave understatement. I felt like cutting the warp off the loom and shoving it in the bin. Instead, I went to bed.

Contemplation set in. I remembered a talk I had heard some time ago by a holy priest. He talked about expectations and how we get upset when things don't turn out "just so". He talked about expecting ABC and getting XYZ. He illustrated how readily we lose our tempers, get offended or grow angry at the smallest things. I chuckled when I heard this part of his talk - it was so true that people are selfish and expect the very best all the time. People. Me. 

You know what? I'm going to soldier on with this project that I hate. I've already learned a heap of new skills and tricks with warping, threading and colouring. Now I get to practice weaving a pattern I haven't woven before and is actually the most complex one to date for me. I get to practice weaving the full width of the loom, I haven't done that before either. 

When I begin each weaving project, I pray for God's blessing on my work. I pray also for the future recipient of the project. Prayers are never wasted, even when it seems we don't always get what we asked for. 

It may be that you ask for ABC but instead God blesses you with XYZ. 

I Heart Faces "Pet" photo challenge

I wasn't planning to enter the pet photo challenge on I Heart Faces. Our lovely ginger cat passed away this week after a brief illness and I haven't really been in the mood for photos. But today THIS happened, my husband brought home this gorgeous little guy. I had no choice, I had to capture that cuteness!

And then, I couldn't leave this little guy out! He's rather taken with his new playmate.

One project finished, onto the next!

The rose path scarf is finished! 

It felt so good to cut my first project on my new loom off and finish it.

It's the first time I've woven with Bambu 7 as well, it is truly beautiful - so soft and a gorgeous sheen.

The reverse side.

The front.

And now I'm working on some more luxury face cloths for my Etsy shop. They were so popular last time, I've been wanting to restock ever since. 
I must say, it was really nice to direct warp the rigid heddle loom after going through the debacle of warping the 8 shaft loom for the scarf. So many errors! But, as I've heard many people say, you tend to learn more from mistakes than successes. 

New loom progress

Did I tell you about my new loom? I've been saving for this one for a while! It's an 8 shaft Ashford table loom, and it's a beauty. And a real learning curve. I've had it for a couple of weeks, but only yesterday did I start weaving on it.
The warping and threading process is very different to the simple old rigid heddle, so I've had to learn warping on a board, reading pattern drafts, threading texolv heddles and following lift plans.
Lots of reading, watching videos and asking questions on Facebook groups. But it's all starting to come together and...

The results are stunning. This is a rose path pattern on only 4 shafts (soon I might be brave enough to use all 8 shafts, but oh! the threading time is so long!) I'm starting out with a scarf using Bambu 7, which is just gorgeously soft and shiny.

I'm sure I'll have my next project planned before this is finished, but for now I will just enjoy having it warped, threaded and the weaving!

The winner is...

The first time ever that Random Integer has chosen the first comment to win! 

Congratulations to Stephanie P. 

I'll be contacting you with your voucher very soon.

Thanks to all entrants and once again, thank you all for your support, encouragement and kind comments :)

100 sales giveaway

I recently reached the milestone of 100 sales on Etsy! I'm so grateful to all my supporters who have made this possible and to celebrate I'm having a giveaway.
You could win a $50 gift voucher for my Etsy shop.
Leave a comment on this post to enter. A winner will be randomly selected in one week's time (30th September).

Open to all earthly residents. You are responsible for any taxes or fees incurred for your country and please remember to factor in postage costs as well.
Good luck!

New woven garments

One of my new favourite pieces, this wrap just wove up beautifully. I used Australian 3ply merino and dyed a gradient of blues and purples for the warp.

Then a lovely teal-ish green for the weft.

This is the first time I've woven with 3ply and won't be the last! It worked up into this most beautiful, soft and light piece of cloth, I love it! 

And this one - a 1/3 warp float pattern using a pastel gradient and a commercial grey merino, both in 4 ply.

The reverse side.

The front. I've also been putting my new fringe twister to work and have a video in the editing process on using a fringe twister, so look out for that one if that interests you.

Both of these pieces are available now in my Etsy shop. By the way, I am very blessed to have 99 sales in the shop now - I think hitting 100 will be a cause for celebration, perhaps a special giveaway?

This morning I dropped off this scarf to be judged for the Melbourne Show in the spinning and weaving scarf category. It's the first time I've entered my weaving into anything, so a bit nervous, but it's a good way to challenge myself.

Hope you're having a great week, if you're enjoying sunny weather and blue skies where you are, please send some here, Melbourne hasn't realised it's Spring yet!

Linking up with Yarn Along!

The week that went so fast...

The word "busy" is a bit overused these days I reckon, but I will admit that it was a very "full and varied" week for us! I was looking forward to today and thinking of the sewing I need to do, that great looking cook book I got from the library I haven't had time to browse, and of course, I could warp up the loom ready for a new project. The reality of the day has been taxiing my son to kung fu, walking the dog (well that was relaxing at least!), shopping, laundry work and cooking up huge batches of bolognaise and stew for next week, which also promises to be very "full".

I started to reflect, in my tired and slightly overworked state, that I didn't give enough time to the kids this week, I didn't get to help my son with that maths he's been asking me about, didn't get time for much reading with the girls, didn't get to do much preparation for my daughter's up and coming First Holy Communion… 

But then I had a little reality check, that is that God was so good to tap me on the shoulder and say "wake up and check the facts". I was really busy this week, it's true, but what was it that kept me so occupied? 
My vocation of course!
A wife, a mother, this is my vocation and this is what I do. I may not have been able to do everything that I thought was necessary, but it was because I was actively caring for my family and home, something that takes a lot of time and work. 
I thought of my future self, when the children are grown and making their own way in the world. Will they say "Mum, thank you for making us study so hard, I feel so much smarter for it". Is that what I want to hear?
Or would something like: "Mum, thank you for your constant love, care and sacrifice. Thank you for letting us be children, for enriching our lives, for being fun, for passing on our beautiful faith by your example" be more pleasing to my ageing ears?

Bring on next week!

Gallipoli study

We've been studying Gallipoli all together over the last week or two. I was never interested in Australian History at school (oh, those boring text books!!) but now, not only do I find it very interesting, I think that, as an Australian, it's my duty to know the history of this great country.

The Australian War Memorial website has some great information and in particular, this page about the food that soldiers would have eaten at Gallipoli provided us with inspiration to hold our own Gallipoli lunch.

As you can see, the younger ones weren't too pleased with my soldier's meal of rice, Spam, hard tack and jam. For drinks we had the choice of water, milk, cocoa and tea - all with powdered, not fresh milk. My littlest one declared that she definitely does not like soldier's food!

But they were pretty good sports about the whole thing (except aforementioned little one) and ate their soldier's meals. We imagined how grateful the troops would have been for a meal like this after a hard day of battle and misery.

In addition to researching with some library books we also watched a Gallipoli documentary on Youtube which was informative. Please note, there are images of corpses on the battlefield in this video - although they are in black and white and not too graphic they could be upsetting to some viewers.

I call our study a complete success and appropriate for each of us, regardless of age. My next topic idea is the Early Settlers with a bit of a focus on the gold rush. If it all goes well I plan to surprise the children with a visit to Sovereign Hill as none of them have been there before.

If you're looking for ideas for study topics or ideas to share with your children I highly recommend you head over to Sue's blog- Stories of an Unschooling Family where you will find a plethora of blog posts and many podcasts related to unschooling. Sue's blog is a real inspiration to me.

Healthful Toasted Muesli

I know, I know, there are thousands of recipes for toasted muesli (or granola) on the internet. But I've been fiddling around to try and make a healthy, not too oily, but not too dry recipe.

And I've hit on something pretty darn good! There is the base recipe, but then you can add to that according to what you have at the time. This batch was timed to coincide with a visit to a Lebanese nut shop, so we had a lot of extra delights to put in.

Base recipe

5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly beaten (optional)
1/2 cup sultanas

Preheat oven to 170 degrees (C). Mix all dry ingredients in a tray with sides so it doesn't spill. A roasting tray is ideal. Warm the honey until runny and mix in olive oil and vanilla. Pour evenly over dry mix. Mix thoroughly. Now pour over the egg white and mix thoroughly. Place tray in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take out the tray, turn the ingredients and return to the oven. Repeat until the muesli has baked for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in the sultanas.

Add ins (examples of)

1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped macadamias
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup pistachios 
1 cup LSA mix
Chopped dried fruit eg. apricots, peach, paw paw, apple, dates, cranberries

Rules for add ins

*For seeds and nuts, add these in at the dry mix stage. 
*For dried fruit add ins, mix in when the muesli has finished baking.

Allow the muesli to cool before placing it in an airtight container. Serve with milk or use as a delicious topping on stewed fruit and yoghurt. Also makes a delightful gift when placed in an attractive jar :)

Cauliflower muffins

They're not actually muffins, but I don't know what else to call them. They were a happy accident. I was steaming cauliflower with the intention of crumbing and baking. But I had too many things going at once and oversteamed it so it was soft. Wondering what to do, I tried this experiment and it worked! 

1 cauliflower, broken into florets and steamed until fairly soft
2 eggs
3 rashers of bacon, chopped into small pieces
parmesan cheese - the amount varies to taste, but 1/4 to 1/2 cup roughly
Breadcrumbs to top
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (C). Grease a 12 capacity muffin tin with oil or butter.

Steam the cauliflower and mash with a potato masher. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the bacon, cheese, salt and pepper to taste and beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Fill each muffin cavity with the mixture and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Place in the oven until golden brown, around 25 - 30 minutes.

Ease each "muffin" out of the tin with a spoon and serve :) They make a great accompaniment to any meal.

Another video tutorial

This video is all about achieving neat edges while weaving, I hope it helps someone out there.

It's a long time since I bought new fabric and Spotlight was having a 30% off sale so I couldn't resist! My eldest daughter has a birthday in a few weeks, so I have plans ;)

This is my current weaving WIP - a merino scarf with a pastel gradient warp and solid grey weft. I started out weaving in plain weave with black yarn but hated the result, so I "unwove" and restarted with the grey and a warp float pattern - so much better! 

Table loom, rigid heddle loom, floor loom?

It is so hard to choose a loom when you are brand new to weaving! Without a doubt, the "which loom?" question is the one I get th...