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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.


Like some fluffy white cloud hanging low o’er the garden

or a shrouded figure dancing through

the quince tree is now fully enclosed in netting.

Increased expectations of a harvest of fruit.

Mystery Maths

The size and colours I am using for the Bonnie Hunter Good Fortune Mystery are determined mathematically. I am using a precut strip roll which has four colourways in unequal proportions. This dictates everything  for my version of the quilt.

I added the quantities of all the fabrics from the requirements and made a pie chart having already decided to use a dark grey neutral. I then worked out which of my colours to use for each clue by comparing Bonnie’s colour proportions to the one on my roll. So far I have used pink for red, yellow for blue and now green for green.

My quilt will be smaller, to work out how many units to make I calculated how much of Bonnie’s fabric  was used in the first two clues. I then used the same fraction of the fabric that I had. This means I am making a quarter size quilt. Of course this is a mystery and my plans may all come undone and I will have to find some extra.

Clue three has the dreaded half chevron blocks. I am sewing with a hand crank machine and need to use a seam guide to keep everything straight. So no way was I going to use the technique as suggested. So more maths needed to work out the size of lozenge to cut. This did involve the square root of 2. Then I cut them and the triangles with my Easy Angle ruler.

In keeping with my vintage sewing machine I am using vintage scissors to snip my units apart. These were given to me by my grandmother, they were the ones she used all her life. They were given to her by her mother, not new, but from her own sewing basket. This is not a good story.  Nita needed scissors because she was going to work at the Pelaco shirt factory having reached the age when fees were needed to continue with school. She  was a diligent student who excelled at Maths. Her teachers pleaded with her father but to no avail, so off she went with the scissors newly engraved with her name because workers had to supply their own tools. Not for long though, after about a year she found herself a job as a bookkeeper.

I hadn’t noticed until I took the photo that as well as her name there is a date and place. 3 August 1922 Melbourne, almost worn away from regular sharpening. The day my grandmother ceased to learn mathematics.

It was a Thursday.

Here is the link to see the other Mystery makers progress.

Damask rabbit

For the past two months I have been working on a damask sampler as part of the Certificate in 8 shaft weaving at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild. It is not a true damask as the satin and sateen created have a noticeable pattern across the surface. Damask needs more than 8 shafts to produce a really smooth satin. In case you are not familiar with this type of fabric, it is one where the design is revealed in the change of texture in the weave rather than change in colour. Light reflects differently giving the light and dark areas on the cloth. 

The only commercial example I have is this overprinted furnishing sample.

As well as the satin and sateen used in damask there are also hopsack and tabby combinations and some twill in my sample. There  is a second colour in the diaper twill, this was originally a luxury weave using gold and silver.

The second technique we studied was pickup damask. A figurative pattern can be created by using a pickup stick to select pairs of warp threads to lift before each throw of the shuttle resulting in a weft faced sateen on a warp faced satin background.

The flowers at the bottom of the sample are the pattern we were given. I thought it would be interesting to try a more complex design. This had to be marked out on gridded paper first, then for every square of the grid, warp threads are picked up and two threads woven – twice. A laborious process. The yarn is a fine mercerised cotton in grey which give a good sheen. If you look at the full samples closely you can see I also added a carnation at the top. Damask is very hard to photograph.

With the last part of the warp I had a go at doing some lettering inspired by filet crochet doilies like this one. But instead of a patriotic message my statement is about the humanitarian disaster currently taking place under Australia’s watch.

Because I wanted the lettering to be brown on the grey background I had to draft and weave in mirror writing, from the bottom up.

A morning of weaving

It may be election day, but voting and democracy sausage have to wait. First thing this morning I was off to the monthly Weaving Matters group at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild. There I heard all about one members recent trip to very out of the way weaving studios in Japan. I also took a closer look at the sample for the class I have signed up for in Summer School.

The technique is called iridescent weaving and all I know is it must be done on an 8 shaft loom and uses lots of colours in the warp. You also have to be able to count quite well.

Then on to the Collingwood Gallery to see the Basketmakers of Victoria exhibition. This is on at 292 Smith Street until November 29.

This was a brilliant display of recent works from group members. I quickly learned that basket weaving refers to the techniques used, not the finished product. There were some traditional shapes using traditional techniques and materials. But many more used all sorts of natural and found fibres to weave beautiful vessels. I particularly liked the  quandong pits around the top of the fabric bowl.

There were lots of different shapes and textures in the work. In two different pieces gourds were used as a base for very precise woven forms, then beads or sliced walnut shells added and the whole work mounted on a stand.

Wall mounted works, which were not any sort of vessel used a variety of supports for the woven sections.


I remember being taught how Melbourne was built on the wealth created by the gold rush starting in 1851. The grand buildings of the city were the evidence of this but it didn’t really mean very much. Today while visiting the Old Treasury Museum in Spring Street the display of replica gold ingots brought it home.

Set into the floor of one of the basement vaults is an array of gold bullion, I can’t remember the weight but the value at today’s gold price is impressive. The scrolling sign goes on to say that this represents 0.08% of the total gold discovered. No wonder Melbourne was the richest city in the world in the 1880s.

Another interesting item on display are a cotton day dress from about 1850 – pre-dating the sewing machine.

There are about 5,500 of these tiny stitches according to the nearby sign.