Thursday, 29 August 2013

Introducing a peg loom

Following on from our initial experiment with weaving sticks, M and I got out the peg loom this morning. This was its first time out of the box since Dave gave it to me last Christmas, so today was a learning experience for both of us.

I had a quick scan of the instructions and then we got on with it. For this first attempt I decided to use string for the warp threads and three acrylics worked as one for the weft.

String because I wanted something durable for what is bound to be our first clumsy efforts - I don't want the warp threads to snap at the wrong moment. For the weft, three acrylic yarns worked together should give a fairly substantial fabric when we're done. Of course, both string and acrylics are cheap and are easily to hand in my stash, a definite bonus allowing us to just give it a go.

M and I took a long time to thread all 22 pegs, helped as we were by a mischievous balloon! To explain, M often involves her toys in our activities as if they were doing it themselves. This allows her to narrate their activities, scold them when they get too boisterous and generally increase her fun in whatever it is we're doing.

This morning M and her balloon were responsible for cutting the string after I had measured it out. M and the balloon then passed me a peg to thread before returning it to its respective peg.

An hour later the loom was ready to go, so I handed M a bag full of various acrylic yarns in DK weight to choose from. Initially M wanted to weave with all of them but I persuaded her to chose just three of them. After much consideration, M made her choice put all the yarns back in the bag and asked us to sing the choosing song. She then drew out three pink yarns and we sang a song for each of them (we sing a lot in our house).

And here they are on the loom.
My peg loom, finally set up and ready to go!
By this point we had been working on setting up the loom for nearly an hour and a half, which is a long, long time when you are only three. The balloon was tired after a lot of bouncing and needed a sleep. M decided she needed to do jigsaws - so this was as far as we got today.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Jesters, wheels and sticks

We headed off to Mary Arden's Farm again this weekend which was hosting a folk festival. We didn't really stop to enjoy the music but did hear a kids open mic from a distance which sounded fun.

We (naturally) made a beeline for the cows, so M could check on the calves. We fed some sheep and then checked on the (very big) piglets and the goats.

Then we found the jester and that's where we stayed for a while. M tried out a Pedal Go, with a lot of help from me. This is a simple toy described by the jester as the first step on the way to learning how to ride a unicycle. It had two foot plates or pedals set directly onto wheels which you had to stand on, pedal and go. M didn't quite have the weight or oomph to make it go by herself, but she gave it a good go.

Dave meanwhile showed us how to walk on stilts, did tricks with a peacock feather and tried his hand at plate spinning.
Dave has a go at plate spinning while at Mary Arden's Farm
M also had a go on  the stilts, with me holding her on and moving the stilts for her. She also tried plate spinning with help from Mummy. Sorry no photo's though, my hands were busy helping M so I didn't get a chance to whip out the phone!

A while later we headed to Mary Arden's house to check on the wells and garden. After that we stopped by the spinners and weavers again and this time M was fascinated by what they were doing. She was very taken with the spinning wheels and the peg looms. M had a go at the latter but the table was too high for her to reach properly and as a just turned three year old she lacked the manual dexterity to weave the yarn between the pegs.

M was very excited when I revealed that we do have both a spinning wheel and peg loom in the house, saying she would have another go when we got home.

Ahem... I think only a spinner would understand how nervous I felt at the idea of letting a three year old loose on my wheel. I did my best to be non-committal and changed the subject, hoping M would forget the whole thing.

M has a very good memory and reminded me about the wheel that evening. Rather reluctantly, I pointed it out where other sat under a dust sheet behind the television (well away from little fingers) and brought it out to little cries of "Oooh!" from M.

I spent about half an hour talking about the different parts of the wheel, bobbins and demonstrating treadling. M insisted on having a go, sitting at the wheel with her foot riding the treadle as I spun the wheel slowly. After that M helped change a bobbin and we sang Wind The Bobbin Up. M was satisfied. I put the wheel away and sighed inwardly with relief. All things considered, M meeting my wheel for the first time went very well.

The next day, M reminded me that I have a peg loom. Actually I have both a loom and weaving sticks, so I got the latter out and we made this...
Our first attempt at weaving on the weaving sticks.
I chose the weaving sticks over the loom for this first go because there are only five sticks in the set which made it a lot quicker to set up than the peg loom. M was very interested and had a go at the weaving as I guided her hand around the sticks, before allowing me to take a turn. M took charge of pulling the sticks up when they were about 2/3 full and a short while later we had our sample swatch. M put her scissor skills to good use and cut the warp threads for me so I could tie them off.

I'm now wondering what I could make with two inch strips of stick woven fabric!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Today's spaceship

Space, the moon and aliens have been a hot topic of conversation in our house for a while now, inspired of course by children's books.

We regularly build spaceships or convert household objects for the purpose of trips to the moon. I thought I'd share today's spaceship.
Today's spaceship ready for take off
Built with lots of help from Daddy.
A spaceship being constructed in our garden
Books that M has particularly enjoyed exploring the theme of space are:-


Monday, 5 August 2013

Maybe lace

Just lately I've recognised a need for lace in my life and my day to day life.

A few years ago I'd have scoffed at the idea, but back then I enjoyed summers in multiple layers of linen, cotton, silk and woollen semi historical costume which was great in terms of insulating against the summer sun. These days I go out in the modern equivalent of a single full length skirt with one shirt and I wilt in the tiniest bit of heat. What is worse, I've rediscovered the joy of potential sunburn.

This summer is the first with M where I've ventured out without a sling (which can double as a cover up) and I've resorted to wrapping a woven cashmere shawl around my neck and shoulders to keep the sun off. It looks garish and unorthodox but it works. I'm snug under my shawl but I'm not burnt and the layers work to provide a little much needed insulation.

M & I walking at Brandon Marsh, note the scarf/shawl...
The shawl has been such a success that I've been wondering if I should add suitable lace shawls to my summer wardrobe.

Of course this means I immediately decided I should make myself one. I do have a knitted WIP shawl sitting around somewhere but that required me to concentrate a LOT. Dave speaking was enough to distract me and the cobweb weight yarn was just so very slippery. Somehow I think knitted lace that delicate would be asking for stress right now.

So it was that I decided to start with very simple crochet lace. Initially I thought I'd just do some trellis work then later add a fancy border, but I feared boredom would be fatal and so I decided to add a shell.

And here are swatches.

Lace swatches, illustrating the difference between 3, 2.5 and 2mm hook (reading top, bottom left, bottom right)
The stitch pattern is taken from the Harmony Guide - Basic Crochet Stitches, worked in a size 10 thread in 3mm, 2.5mm and 2mm hook.

The thread is a cotton called Clea (Ravelry link) from my stash, left over from the humungous doily and gentleman's sleeping hat. I have over 1200m of this in white sitting in my stash and Clea is a soft thread suitable for clothing, so I'm hoping it would make a nice summer shawl. I just need to decide which hook gives the best effect.

M has decided to help with the decision and has informed me she likes all three swatches. M got to work immediately testing the swatches for comfort and drape.
Stripy Horse snuggles down with a bit of crochet lace
Meanwhile a bit of crochet lace makes an excellent blanket for a sleeping car
I'm currently leaning towards the 2mm for stitch definition, but I'm still mulling over the decision.