Or possibly a big mistake. While in Bendigo last week I visited the Woollen Mills with the express purpose of buying yarn and a pattern for winter cardigan.

I came back with a 1.7 kg bag of mustard 8 ply Alpaca, a pattern or two and some other odds and ends. The yarn was described a “cut hank” and I had no idea how many cuts were in the hank and what sort of lengths could be retrieved.

But the price was very good at less than $2 per 100g, so worth a risk.

On opening the bag I was presented with a massive roll of yarn with damage at one end.

When spread out it looked quite interesting, but also rather daunting. How to find the first end and more importantly how to efficiently wind it into balls.

Obviously it was far to big and heavy for a swift, and it would be far too time consuming to wind it off while it was suspended between two chairs.

Ideally, if it were on a drum the lengths of yarn could come off at one end. A wooden ironing board and a couple of poles did the trick, although I had to guide the thread quite a lot.

After many hours there is now 1.5 kg of balled yarn neatly stowed in a zippered bag to keep safe from curious cats until I am ready to knit up my new winter cardigan. The 200g of waste is the too short to knit lengths and fluffy bits from the damaged end.


Iridescent weaving

This has been a long work in progress, 3 metres long, but is now finished. The warping started in January all ready for a Handweavers and Spinners Guild Summer School class. I missed day one, but caught up on day two. The weave structure is based on echo weaving and is supposed to imitate iridescence as seen in soap bubbles or oil on water.

There were lots of samples to inspire and a lesson on the Munsell colour system using mercerised cotton from Lunatic Fringe Yarns.

Then it was onto weaving first using the colours of the warp, then a fine white cotton. With a new way of working our the lift sequence I used a dark purple weft and then a golden yellow. A third lifting sequence was woven using a light green tencel yarn.

reverse side of sample

After completing an 80 cm sample at home, I used the rest of the long warp for a scarf. I liked what I had done with the golden yellow weft, changing the treadling sequence part way. This gave me a very long repeat with a subtle horizontal break every couple of centimetres.

It looks good from both front and back.

I am not really sure how the pattern is created, that is for another time. At the moment I am pleased and a little relieved that this project has been successful. A lovely lightweight pure wool scarf, 1.8 m long.

It has the shape of the lemon scented gum and the texture of the Angophora costata.

Daughters of the Sun

A quick trip to Bendigo to see one show ended up being a visit to three fascinating exhibitions.

The works of Christian Waller and her niece Klytie Pate are shown side by side in a comprehensive look at their creative careers.

Christian Yandell, born in 1894, was the seventh and last child born in her family and as someone fascinated by spirituality this was rather special for her.

She is responsible for the name of her niece Clytie, later changed to Klytie, a figure from Greek mythology who is transformed into a sunflower.

Christian grew up in central Victoria and studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne. There she met Napier Waller and they married in 1915 and continued their artistic careers. Napier was severely wounded in France and lost his right arm at the shoulder. He taught himself to write and paint with his left hand.

They were both highly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and built a house on the Fairy Hills Estate, Ivanhoe in this style.

The House on the Hill 1925 coloured linocut Napier Waller
Christian Waller with Balder, Undine and Siren at Fairy Hills 1932 Napier Waller

Christian, a linocut printmaker, created a large number of bookplates for family and friends, designed and published a number of books and completed murals and stained glass commissions. She was a follower of theosophical movement which took elements from many of the world’s religions and this is seen in all her work.

Alongside original linocut prints are some of the plates showing the beautiful deco influenced detail that is the hallmark of her work. Her prints The Great Breat: A book of seven designs are regarded as the pinnacle of linocut printmaking.

The Robe of Glory 1937 Christian Waller, Mural for Fawkner Crematorium – detail

The craze for all things Egyptian was another huge influence.

Klytie lived with Christian from her teens, and was encouraged by her to study ceramics.

Magnificent Cat 1980 Klytie Pate

The other exhibitions at the Bendigo Art Gallery was the hugely popular photos of Frida Kahlo and Gothic Beauty; Victorian Notions of Love, Loss and Spirituality. This looked at the development of gothic art from the mid nineteenth century to modern interpretations.

The first room was dedicated to the Victorian ritual and etiquette of mourning including a child’s mourning dress. This painting is by an unknown artist in Scotland, Mr and Mrs Robert Hill Kinnear and their daughter Rosalie c 1851. They immigrated to Australia in 1851 and as Mrs Kinnear is in half mourning. It is thought it might have been painted as a memorial to their daughter who died of diphtheria at the age of four. The child is sitting casually, the bare foot, with one shoe and sock on the floor, is a symbol of one foot in this life and one in the next. The mother holds a withered flower taken from the vase of fresh flowers, also a sign of death.

The final room was really unsettling. It was demonstrating the Victorian idea of pleasurable terror, shown through landscape and seascape paintings that heightened emotional and psychological experience outside human control. All the while a haunting soundtrack of a lost child played. The wallpaper is inspired by an example from 1874 with vivid verdigris, the popular colour of the time created with highly toxic arsenic solution.

Summer school

Lots of home work was required before day one of my Summer School class at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild. This is my first class with experienced weavers so thorough preparation is essential, I don’t want to annoy the tutor by not having everything ready to go.

First up choose four yarns. Ideally fine and fitting a given colour formula which had quite a few options. Nothing suitable in my meagre stash so off to Yarn Barn in Coburg.

So many colours to choose from in the back room, all very fine wool. After about an hour consulting colour cards and checking yarn weight I still couldn’t narrow it down to just four colours, so I picked out eleven that might work. 100 grams of each should be plenty. Note the way this is measured as the new cones are wound.

Back home, after a coffee and a re-read of the instructions I came up with four combinations. A day later I settled on the grouping on the far right.

Finally ready to wind the warp; four threads at a time, keeping the colours in the same order. There is a tool called a paddle for this task, I found an egg slice a reasonable substitute.

This is a most satisfying stage, when the warp is wound and chained and in a lovely floppy pile ready to go on the loom. Everything is kept in order by the white tie on the left that goes through the cross and stops even one thread from being in the wrong place.

Two days before the class I nearly finished threading the heddles according to the design line I had spent days working out. I was all set to go to class.

Then the forecast temperature for the day was increased, to 44 degrees! There is no way I can concentrate in heat like that. Let alone drive to the city, and regularly go out into the heat to move the car to a new spot. So I phoned the tutor with my apologies. She was very understanding and emailed me some basic instructions on how to get started with the woven pattern.

Something quite interesting is happening here.

Yes I did notice the error about halfway up so there has been some unweaving and a lot more added using the other three colours in the weft. I am all ready for my second Summer School class tomorrow, the forecast is fine, only 21 degrees.


A couple of these insects have been darting then hovering around the lotus since they have opened.

From the flying action I was pretty sure they were hoverflies. The two wings, large round eyes, smooth legs and flat body shape confirmed that. This is good news for the garden as the larvae eat aphids.

The wing movement when hovering looks to me like a figure eight, you can see the shoulder wrenching backward action on the left. My best guess is they are Betasyrphus serarius.

Summer and Winter part 3

This is such a versatile structure. After exploring polychrome with my first threading which had a very blocky look I rethreaded and focussed on varying the colour and thickness of tabby binder.

Front on the left, reverse on the right. Once a number of colours are used the back shows all that are not visible on the front in each section. So it has a lovely slightly blurry look.

For the final exercise on this threading I designed a more traditional coverlet pattern. The pairs X’s texture on the front, shows as pairs O’s on the reverse.

I used a blend of yarns for the pattern thread which play quite nicely against each other.

The second threading creates an all over pattern. The pattern thread is almost the same colour as the warp and tabby binder which makes the ground. It is a doubled wool yarn and the fabric is almost sculptural. The tabby thread is changed at the top of the picture on the left.

The final experiment is shown on the right with a soft green cotton pattern thread and a few changes to the tabby. At the top the pattern is made with a blend of about six fine wools.

The reverse of the sample on the second threading.

Summer and Winter part 1 and Monkeys on typewriters document the first part of this sample.

Mystery revealed

As soon as I saw the complete Good Fortune quilt I knew changes had to be made. To start, there were lots of borders and that does not work when you are making a less than full size version. A quarter of the perimeter will not go around a quarter of the area. But more on that later.

I laid out the two blocks which alternate to make up the full design photographed them and mocked up the finished quilt.

The chains made by the dark grey neutrals are far too strong. So I opted to copy Vireya’s variation and rotate the little four patch units by 90 degrees.

Then to start the piecing. Another decision I made was to have the same blue fabric on all four sides of each of the four patch blocks. There is too much variation in the value of these fabrics for them to work in a scrappy way. I found sewing these blocks as a net helped keep units in order and made one handed sewing much easier on my 100 year old White machine.

Once five of these were done I tried to take a photo, but Lulu was not having a bar of that. On a warm day the bed is hers.

Determined to have something to show before this week’s linkup closed I made four of the star blocks, this time opting to mix up all the greens as the selection I have are similar in value. I think this is a much softer and prettier version of the design compared with the layout at the top of this post.

So far I have made nine twenty-fifths of the blocks, not even half way but there are a few weeks to go before this mystery is over. By repurposing the units I had made that ended up being border pieces I am pretty sure I will have enough fabric for a quilt five blocks by five.

Lots of quilters have finished this mystery borders and all, there are so many variations to see at the linkup.