Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dragonflies and Crackle Weaves

Queensland dragonfly (100mm = 4inch wingspan)

Every night over the past few weeks, a pair of dragonflies (100mm = 4inch wingspan) have been entering the house just on dusk before we close doors and windows. They settle for the night on Chinese hanging Christmas decorations (foil) still strung from the ceiling. The dragonflies are pretty safe from geckoes there. And there's no wind inside. In the morning, after it warms up, they fly out one of the windows which we throw open as soon as we rise. I love sharing my home with dragonflies.

River Gum sheds the past
I also love to learn new things. I don't expect to be an expert or authority on any one thing, because I can't resist the lure of learning something new. DH gives me encouragement and reminds me that you often learn more from failure than from success. New creations don't always bring satisfaction. Often they bring inspiration for improvement.

Almost two years ago, before the twin grandsons were born and things got very busy for all concerned, I decided to learn to do a crackle weave with a summer & winter treadling on my 4-harness Gilmore loom. I'd never done a crackle weave threading. An issue of Handwoven (September/October 1994) got me started. I based my project on Dixie Thai's Buttercup Baby Blanket, p 83, in that issue. It took a lot of mental gymnastics on my slow brain's part as I wanted a narrower warp, but just how narrow should I make it and don't forget 18% shrinkage. I had to figure out how many pattern repeats I would need. And I'd be using a different weft. Did I have enough yarn? I made decisions and wound the warp, then the twins were born. One year later I got the warp out of storage, threaded and warped the loom, wove to the end of the warp, cut the fabric off the loom and carefully packed the roll of fabric away as hot weather arrived.

This year's cooling weather and diminishing numbers of eye flies* in the Shed have given me the chance to unpack the roll of woven fabric and set about finishing that fabric. I used our treadle sewing machine to zigzag lines of stitching beside cutting lines of the woven sections. Then I cut apart the sections and pinned the hems. As I refilled a bobbin for the sewing machine, the old leather treadle belt broke (again). No longer repairable, it had to be replaced. I felt incredibly lucky when I located a supplier in a town 45 minutes drive away. I was going to that town anyway for my free two-yearly eye exam (socialised medicine, what a blessing). In the meantime I handstitched the hems on my first newly woven cotton table runner, It's been washed and now lies on our table (photo above). There's more of these crackle pieces waiting to be hemmed and the new treadle belt waiting to be installed.

*eye flies: Queensland's eye, ear, nose and throat flies, small quick and in large numbers this time of year. They swarm about your head and dart into your eyes for a quick drink of eye moisture. We don't like'm at all! 

Post by M in JaM
Photos by J in JaM

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