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Weaving away the Tails

It’s a job we all hate. Weaving away the tails. We try to avoid it any which way we can. We share videos of different knots – all promising that it will never come undone. But deep down we know, the risk remains.

There was a time when I joined with the Fishermen’s Knot and I cut the tails off. I did it for a long time, until the unthinkable happened – a project I worked very hard on, came undone. There and then I decided to find a better way, even if it means more work. You see, the little bit of extra work, weaving away the tails, is actually minute if you compare it to the rest of the work that has gone into a project. The bigger the project, the bigger the difference. Weaving away tails is really not that bad. You just need to know a secret or two!

My mother taught me to use a wool needle – a needle with a blunt point. I am sure you were taught that way too. Well today, I am going to turn your entire opinion on wool needles upside down! You don’t need a blunt needle to weave away tails, you need a SHARP needle! Blunt needles are wonderful to sew up seams, but not for tails.

Let me explain.

A sharp needle will split the yarn, a blunt needle won’t. Makes sense doesn’t it? Why do we want to split the yarn? To prevent it from moving! So here is what you do…..

You need a needle with a BIG eye and a SHARP point. These are obviously not easy to find. Most of the needles with the big eyes, are all blunt. But there is one little packet of needles, that you simply have to have. And this is what it looks like. Obviously you will probably never use the bottom one, but the other four, are amazing!

Thread your tail through the sharp needle, relevant in size to the yarn you are working with.

No go underneath¬†the ‘feet’ of a couple of stitches.

Skip one strand of yarn, and go back through the same little ‘tunnel’ under the ‘feet’ of the stitches.

Repeat this a second time: skip the last strand of yarn, and go back through the same ‘tunnel’.

Depending on the yarn you work with, you will feel the yarn splitting. That is exactly what you want to happen. Once you have passed through the same ‘tunnel’ three times with a sharp needle, there is very little chance of a tail ever creeping out; it won’t be able to move as it is split and woven into other threads in the tunnel.

Beware: once you have woven your tails away in this fashion, frogging is a disaster. Make sure your project is perfect, before you weave the tails away in this manner. You can forget about getting them out again. If you have to frog after the tails have been woven in, get the tissues and the scissor. You will have to cut in order to frog and you are going to cry.

It’s a pleasure….

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Slow down Martha!

Haste. The sickness of our time. Technology has changed our lives from the simple, slow life, to a fast paced battle to survive. The more technology advances, the faster the pace becomes. We live in an instant world, where everybody wants instant gratification and instant results. It is with great sadness, that I have witnessed this mindset, creeping into the crafting world. Let me give you some examples:

The crocheter who admired the knitted shawl in the shop: “I don’t knit. It takes too long to make something.”
The knitter who admired the sock weight yarn in the shop: “I don’t knit with anything thinner than DK; it takes too long.”
The weaver who wants to start a new project: “I hate warping my loom. I wish I can just sit and weave.”
The once-upon-a-time-knitter: “I miss knitting, but I don’t have time anymore.”

I think we all need to stop and think this through.

Working with yarn is therapeutic, but if you rush through the process, only focusing on the end result, all the therapeutic qualities are lost. In fact, you will increase your stress levels with this mindset, instead of allowing your craft, to lower your stress levels.

Stop and smell the yarn. Seriously. Smell your yarn. Touch your yarn lovingly. Look at the colours as you are working. Every now and them, put it all down and admire it from a small distance. Look intently at how you form your stitches. See how the colours of the yarn play around in the project. Embrace every part of the project, as part of the therapeutic process. Don’t rush towards the finish line, instead, enjoy the journey. The entire journey. Everything that is part of it. Planning the project. Choosing the yarn. Choosing the colours. Starting the project. Working on the project. Finishing the project. Everything is part of the therapy and should be enjoyed as such.

When I launched my own spinning wheel, as part of the Ilona Wooden Range, I named it Ilona-Mary. We all need more Mary moments, in a Martha world.

Take your life back. Take your time back. Slow down and smell your yarn, Martha! I am focused now on enjoying some Mary moments every day of my life. Join me.


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Show and Tell: Mohair Wrap

My mother taught me to knit and crochet when I was just four years old. She did it to keep my hands occupied. I have Aspergers, and as a child, I had some very annoying habits because of it. My hands were never quiet. I was always tapping on something, rubbing my fingers together in a rhythm, rolling my thumbs or alternating between a clench and an outstretched hand. It drove my father crazy, so my mother gave me something to keep my hands so busy, that I won’t have time to annoy anybody. It worked. It still works! I still have the tendency to randomly play with my hands if I don’t have fibre in them.

Over the years, I became absolutely fascinated with fibre and yarn. It became my passion. Most adult people who are somewhere on the Autism Disorder Spectrum, have a passion. Fibre is mine. It grew from knitting and crochet, to include spinning and weaving. Today, I am absolutely thrilled with a project like the one I just finished.

I started with beautiful braid given to me by Linda Tacke. It was a vibrant mix of Merino and Silk.

Without thinking too much about it, I promptly started to spin the braid, without splitting it. This resulted in LONG colourways. When the entire braid was spun, and sat and wondered how I would ply it. I didn’t want to do a chain-ply: the colourways would be preserved, but a 3-ply yarn¬†would be too thick. I couldn’t do an andean ply either, as the colourways would be lost. So I decided to ply my handspun yarn, with Adele’s Mohair Skinny Wool in colour Peach. This is an excellent add-on to any spinner! The barber pole result was stunning!

Can you believe this yarn came from that vibrant colour braid? Amazing isn’t it!

Next I had to decide what to do with it. I wanted a wrap, but didn’t have enough yarn for the entire wrap, so I chose to use this yarn as the warp. My 4-shaft loom Penelope, was ready and waiting!

Look at those long colourways! Perfect on the warp!

The weft yarn decision was easy – I wanted to use mohair, in my favourite colour! ORANGE! Fizzy Orange Brushed Mohair from Adele’s Mohair to be exact.

There was risk involved though. I chose a brushed mohair with a nice halo. It could easily conceal the beautiful yarn underneath if woven too dense. I had to be very careful when beating, to not BEAT the fibre into place, but to rather PLACE the fibre. It had to be loose enough for the Mohair’s halo to show, and for the warp to peek through. It worked!

I could have added mohair to the fringe, but I chose not too, simply to allow the fringe, to highlight the colour hidden under the mohair.

Is it scratchy? NO! Mohair doesn’t like to be constrained. If you work loosely, you will have a luxury item you will use for many years. If you work tight, regardless of the craft you are using, mohair will scratch. This wrap is loosely woven, and it’s gorgeous. The drape is absolutely amazing!

I love my mohair wrap. I am ready for the winter of 2018! I am going to feel like the queen of fibre when I wear it! Roll on winter!!!