Saturday, 13 August 2011

Bargains and Braids

Mum heard there were bargains to be had and joined me on the trip to Texere.  When we arrived at 9.30am, they were queueing outside the door and down the street!  The Weaving with Sticks workshop was due to start 10am so I was hoping to get in and have a good rummage before it started.  When they opened the doors a few minutes later it was hard to see anything for bodies but I did manage to pick up a few cones of the free yarn before it all went.  Exactly what it is I'm not sure as there's no labels but possibly good for weaving.  There was a lot of balls/skeins for £1 so I bagged 10 of them including what I think is some pure wool for dyeing. 

10am came and went and there were apologies as Texere couldn't get hold of the tutor who hadn't arrived but I was quite happy as I could go for another look around the sale as it got quieter.  There was also some people who had come to a beginners knitting group so Mum and I helped out with their cast-ons.  I also got to speak to one of the work experience students at Texere (I had popped in and met the other one the day before).  Both were really positive.  They showed me the list that the Texere team give them of things they'd like doing such as working out how to set up and use an old knitting machine, using the looms or coming up with simple patters for some of their own yarn.  They said they thought it would be an ideal opportunity for me to interact with another textile student as I am studying at home and the flexibility to work the hours I'd like would fit in well with the family.  Also there's so many materials at hand to use.  I'm hoping to be able to do some experience there next year from summer onwards when they have a vacancy. 

Than came the news that the workshop was cancelled as the tutor's car had broken down.  I was only slightly disappointed as I got to go round the sale yet again.  Two large bin bags later and I had spent the amount refunded from the workshop!  It's an interesting collection including quite a lot of funny coloured mohair. There's always Ebay! I bought a back issue of a magazine with some free needles attached for 20p and sat down to have a play with my new stash before the afternoon workshop.  I made a cover for my mobile phone that was so ugly I'm not showing it to anyone and learnt that chenille does not stretch and if you're combining it with another yarn, cotton is good as it doesn't stretch either.

'Simple Braids' was the afternoon workshop with Ruth Gilbert.  She told us a bit about the Braid Society and explained it is generally an inexpensive craft needing minimal equipment.  Often it's just yarn needed along with something to give tension such as a chair back or table clamp. Ruth suggested if we enjoyed braiding, we try to get hold of a copy of the Ashley Book of Knots. First published in 1944, with it's 7000 illustrations, it's still current and could keep your fingers occupied for life. Next it was pretty much, 'There's some yarn and instructions, have a go.'  Things went a bit quiet as we got started. Look at the concentration on the students faces on these photos!

One of the Texere work experience students was fasting so had to concentrate extra hard!

Table clamps are really useful to create tension for braiding

Ruth demonstrates finger knitting

I tried plaiting with different number of strands, finger knitting flat and tubular, using a lucet and simple braids including 'Idiot's Delight', made just with the fingers using two strands and one loop.  Another supposedly simple braid turned out quite differently from the illustration.  Ruth was really interested and wanted to work out how I'd done it as it was a construction she said she had never seen before.  Unfortunately by then my mind was befuddled and I couldn't recreate what I'd 'invented'!

Making the first loops to start finger knitting

Idiot's Delight. No. 2896 in Ashley Books of Knots!

A Lucet

Next I tried kumihimo braiding using an octagon cut from cardboard with notches snipped into the centre of each side and a hole in the middle. I found it quite funny looking on the Internet later seeing kits for sale.  They were up to £10 just for a cardboard octagon and a set of instructions without even any yarn. Well, save some money, here's how it's done: Seven strands of yarn were cut to the same length, poked through the central hole and knotted together just underneath.  They were each threaded through a notch so one was left free.  Yarn was passed over two other threads into the gap and this was repeated, always in the same direction.  Eventually the braid emerges and begins to grow.  I used my thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand to keep an even tension underneath.  After the workshop, I took it home with me and it took about two hours that evening just to create a braid about 60cm long.  I'm not sure I have the inclination to try out more thread combinations and concluded that this would be an ideal activity for a very long plane journey.

Kumihimo - working clockwise, the blue yarn has been passed over the brown and dark blue and into the gap.

Braid beginning to emerge underneath

Sample braids

Smooth yarns of similar weight certainly worked best for the braids I tried as they are so time-consuming it seems a waste not to show off the the construction.  Definition was lost with anything hairy.   Back at home I rummaged in the drawers to find a Scoubidou kit one of the girls had been given and helped them all make a tag for their identical suitcases. That kept them quiet for a bit and they were very proud of their creations.  We're off to Jersey now for a week.  I've contacted the Harbour Galley in St. Aubin and someone has kindly offered to meet me to show me round.  I'll take pencils and a sketchbook too and hopefully will get an opportunity to stop and draw.

We know whose suitcase is whose! 

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