The Majacraft Blog The official blog of Majacraft

6Apr/164

Weaving Circular!

Growth, it's all about movement, change, and outward expansion. This is what excites me about circular weaving! In my mind, it is an embodiment of these ideas, starting at the centre and working outwards, expanding into the space around it and changing it in a positive way, adding more all the time. When I start a circular weaving it is all about possibility, I have made the warp, or the framework for growth, and then begin to experiment with how to use that framework, using colours, textures, fibers both spun and unspun. When we designed our first circular loom for the Fiberygoodness spinning course (Journey to the Golden Fleece) it was not obvious that this was going to be 'something', although there were already a number of people who had been following my own early experiments with this kind of weaving and it seemed there might be a few people would also enjoy this quite retro '70s idea. I started out with a large gear off a very old Louet drum carder (the teeth were broken). It was the right shape, and the teeth ideal for allowing me to warp it and still be able to lift the weaving off the loom when finished without cutting. Up to this time I had only seem looms that required the warp to be cut off and tied, or that used the loom as a final frame in the work, I wanted something we could reuse and to also remove the need to mess about tying knots (not my forte!) This was my very first circle weaving.     I made some sketches of ideas for the design, we decided that it should have 'cut outs' to make it easier to weave into, as the gear I had been using was just flat. You can see I had a few ideas! Some of them turned out to be not very practical in terms of making them, but we finally chose the one you see bottom left, as the unique shape for the Golden Fleece class. A little later Andrew added another design to become the 'standard' Majacraft loom that would be available to people not in the course too, it proved very popular! Our first prototype was closer to the original gear, and while it worked really well and I loved using it, the material it was made of was too heavy, making it slightly harder to handle and also less portable, and this was another goal, to make something people could put in their bag and take with them, much like knitting! This was the first prototype: After a bit of experimenting and discussion we settled upon using wood for the loom, it is strong and light, it feels nice to use and handle, and the colour of the wood compliments any colour, making it pleasing to use. We came up with these two looms and then added the smallest loom: There was so much interest in weaving circles on these looms that we set up a Facebook page for people to share their ideas, techniques and tips, and where we could post things we could offer such as the 'Warp Speed' warping  methods and the 'make your own' Template. You can find the group HERE and are very welcome to join in! It has been exciting to see the growth (yes we are back..ahem.. full circle again.) of this group and see the huge variety of projects people are using circle looms for! If you are starting to feel a little inspired to try your hand at circle weaving, you might enjoy the following videos, a 'basic' circle warp, an alternate warp for making earrings, and some ideas for creating textures in your weaving. I hope you enjoy them! Happy Weaving everyone Suzy x

20Feb/164

Majacraft Magic Camp 2016 Report

It's been a few days since we all reluctantly re-packed our bags and returned home from Majacraft Camp. Time to reflect on the wonderful atmosphere and marvellous things learned, as well as the good feeling of having spent time with old friends and new.

Firstly I would like to thank the Poads for the incredible amount of work and organisational powers they put into making this years camp happen for us! And in the usual Poad style there were so many carefully thought out personal touches to the weekend that really helped create a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere and set the scene for everyone to feel part of our camp community. For example, not only did we all get a well stocked goodie bag on arrival, but so did my son, complete with bubbles! Our food needs were extremely well catered for (again a family effort as well) and we had a fantastic program to enjoy over the weekend. We were well looked after!

Everyone started together in the main auditorium, the weekend long activity of journaling, sample collecting, and prettifying of the pages was kicked off by Michele Peddie, she inspired us to look at our inspirations differently with some fun exercises and the opportunity to choose images, colours, and ideas that we  could draw from later.


This initial activity was followed by (of course) Happy Hour, with much happiness in evidence! This was the feeling that pervaded the whole weekend, everyone was relaxed, pockets of spinners were scattered around the area with wheels and fluff, classes were running, the sun was shining, learning was going on and discoveries being made.

Chantelle Hill was teaching her fabulous crochet class (which I wish I could have attended myself) and I heard how much people were enjoying the techniques she was sharing.

 

Janet Knoop was amazing and everyone loved her Colour Class (even Melissa who had to deal with some bad news about her relationship with Orange!), and the tassle class results were magnificent! I cant tell you how much I loved each and every one of these glorious creations made under Janet's careful guidance.

 

I was very lucky on the Sunday to attend Pat Olds class, it was mindblowing and I needed more coffee partway through to sustain me! How wonderful to start with a bunch of leaves, turn them into a flat woven piece and then the magic of shaping that into a 3d vessel! These traditional pieces were made for food containers, and apparently those much more skilled than myself can make one in a very short time indeed (minutes not hours!). There is something extremely satisfying to make a useable and beautiful object from things we can find and grow in our environment.

Angela Daish was also busy filling hearts and minds with the joys of finger weaving! Her creativity and ideas are always interesting and the enthusiasm she brings to her projects is infectious. I am sure this is a technique we will be seeing more of!

Upstairs was the domain of the lovely Tracy White of Inspire Fibres, she brought her in depth knowledge and expertise to this workshop on Fleece, participants learned about fleece selection, skirting, and sorting wool for hand spinners. This is such a valuable area of education in our craft, and so relevant to us here in New Zealand were we have such easy access to whole fleeces direct from the farm. Tracys expertise as a wool classer is a wonderful asset to us!

There was also much spinning over the weekend, and I taught two classes on the Saturday in which we explored some Chain plying (Navajo ply), faux boucle making, and creating texture effects in yarn. Everyone used three different kinds of fibers in their singles and then we played with how these work with different ply techniques. For some this was their first attempt at chain plying and for others this was a new way of making loops in their textured yarns. The results were outstanding! Ian Hitch made a particularly stunning skein which I am so sorry I failed to photograph (I was a little busy with technique support to remember my camera) and it was really exciting to see how many very different yarns resulted from everyone playing with these techniques with their own colours and fibers. We had 50 something students in the spin class on Saturday and it was a fantastic experience to meet everyone, even my head was spinning by the end of the day :)

 

Then of course there was all the extra stuff going on around the Camp. Andrew spent pretty much the entire weekend in the workshop corner, busy with wheel maintenance and troubleshooting the queue of what looked like every kind of Majacraft wheel ever made!  It was an impressive effort and the wheels left camp refreshed and just like new again.

I would love to share more photos with you from camp, and I wish I had some of Glynis and Owen and the Majacraft team to share, but to be honest, they were all so busy it was hard to catch them! I will be making a little Camp Movie of the rest of my photos and will post it on our You Tube channel next week, but there are most likely gaps where I missed people,  so if you have images you would also like to share please email them to me at suzy@woolwench.com and I would love to include them in the collage!

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27Jan/160

Tutor Feature: Angela Daish!

Only a few weeks to go till Majacraft Camp! Tutors are getting ready, making up samples, sorting out fibres and  yarns to bring, organising equipment.. And I recently had a visit here at Woolwench House from the vibrant Angela Daish!


(No I don't live in a barn, this is a picture of Angela at a recent farm day!)

On her visit Angela brought some of the samples she has made for her Majacraft camp classes, and I wanted to share them here, they are very inspiring. Angela will be teaching the ancient art of 'Finger Weaving'.  Now this was something I had never heard about before, and on seeing Angela's sample pieces I could instantly see so many cool uses for this great yarnie craft! This is a technique that goes back at least 3000 years ago (amazing right?!) and although it was used all over the world it was turned into a real art form by Native Americans, who used it to make woven belts and sashes, bag and basket handles and so on. Materials used for finger weaving varied, depending on the use intended, the inner bark of certain trees, Indian Hemp (Dogbane), nettle, milkwood, and other plant fibers, even strips of moose hide could be used.

It was not surprising to me that Angela is so enthusiastic about this weaving technique! And of course, being Angela, she has been busy experimenting with different fibers, thicknesses, colours and textures, take a look at some of the designs she has been working with in preparation for teaching this workshop: (click on each image to get a closer look!)

As you can see, we can learn how to make patterned straps, and Angela has also been designing ways to use wider pieces (the weave does not need to be limited to band size), one of the images above shows a pouch she has made from a wider piece. I would like to learn this technique for making bag straps, a camera strap, some bracelets ( lots of jewellery type ideas come to mind actually), and to play around with mixes of traditional and textured yarns. I would love to use it to make pockets and add those to my loom weavings too. And the best  thing  is that these can be made without a loom or heddle of any kind, literally with your fingers and some yarn, this has to be the most portable project technique ever!

If you are enrolled in Angela's Majacraft Camp classes you are in for a treat, and not only for the technique and skill learning but also the fun of spending time with Angela, her enthusiasm for experimenting with what you can do with yarn and fiber means there is never a dull moment, and with Angela it is easy to feel like anything is possible! Not to be missed!

 

 

10Jan/160

Michele Peddie: Tutor Profile!

Majacraft Camp is just around the corner, with just on four weeks to go till we all gather for much fiber fun! Preparations are well under way and I know Glynis has been super busy making up goodie bags, assembling equipment, and arranging important things like food, and coffee. And of course we have such a fantastic range of workshops to look forward to! In a previous blogpost we shared some information about the amazing Pat Old, who will be teaching some flax weaving at Camp, and this week we would like to introduce Michele Peddie, a VERY talented fiber artist, who will be guiding us thorugh the Journal making process that runs alongside the entire weekend. The idea of the journal is that we will be creating our own record of the weekend, this can include class notes, fiber and yarn samples, inspirations and visual journalling.. in fact it can be whatever you want to record of the weekend, all bound together in a specially made set of wooden covers which we will also decorate during the weekend!  We will be supported, inspired, and guided by Michele throughout this process.

Michele Peddie is a textile designer, fibre artist and graphic designer by trade. Having returned to university as a mature student to complete a Bachelor of Design - Textiles, she is now keen to impart and share some of that knowledge with fellow fibreholics. Michelle explains her vision for the Majacraft Camp Journal as follows:

"The journal is about how to collect your ideas, notes and experiments and record them in a visual journal, rather than scrapbooking which can be very neat and tidy with photos etc. My visual diaries tend to get stuffed with lots of 'things' in the creation process.  Instead of looking at an already created yarn and then trying to replicate it, I am hoping, along with Suzy, to show you a fresh way of coming up with ideas for colour and texture for your yarns and how to record these ideas so that they can be used over the weekend and in the future. This will be a fun exercise and I will be there to help throughout the weekend."

Michele shared this image with us, as an example of how she collects inspiration and ideas to add to her visual journal:

Here are some examples of Michelle's work to further inspire you!

We are sure you will enjoy Michele's passion and enthusiasm for the art of fibre, and the creation of your Majacraft Camp 2016 Journal!

 

 

 

 

2Dec/150

Tarndie

This time we would like to share a special place with you, a place called 'Tarndie',  somewhere all us fiber fanatics would enjoy visiting! Firstly we would like to congratulate them on their 175 years and six generations of the Dennis family, farming in this wonderful part of South West Victoria (Australia). This is how awesome it is, these are the people who, in the 1880's, developed the Polwarth breed of sheep! Australias first unique sheep breed and one of the most desired wool breeds for handspinners today. They achieved this by crossing Saxon Merino sheep from Tasmania, with Victorian Lincoln sheep. They then continued to breed with Merino until they reached a stabilised breed type that we now know as Polwarth. Their sheep are coated, and their top quality fleeces can reach a staple length of 13cm – 17cm, just fantastic for handspinners!

The homestead itself is beautiful, properly named Tarndwarncoort, it is a beautiful old bluestone heritage house which is currently used as a bed and breakfast (see we really  CAN all go there too!).

While visiting there you can see the flock they keep, and you can also purchase wool from the Tarndie onsite shop. They process their fleeces into yarns and combed top,  Glynis visited Tarndie herself when she took a group over to Australia on a fiber adventure, and she says their fiber is top quality, it is now on my wishlist!

Check out some photos from their website (which you really should take a look around too!)

And their products..

It is wonderful to see such a fantastic heritage in the sheep farming industry, one that has been instrumental in the development of breed and fiber and supporting handspinners for generations. If you can get there at all for a visit, annual shearing is in March and this would be an exciting time to be there, and of course there is the shop..  with supplies for spinning, knitting, weaving, felting, spinning wheels (including Majacraft!) looms and carders.. and anything to promote wool!

Till next time,

Suzy

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23Nov/150

Featuring: Pat Old

Since we have a little waiting to do before we can go and enjoy Majacraft Camp 2016, we thought it might be of interest to feature our tutors, so all those now signed up can get a little taste of what is to come at camp! We are excited about the classes!

To kick off we would like to share some of the amazing work of Pat Old.  We have the great pleasure of including Pat's class in our program for Camp, in this class we will be creating a 'Koha Kete' , which is a small basket made from our native flax, phormium tenax.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to try flax weaving and benefit from Pats deep knowledge of this traditional New Zealand craft.

Glynis was able to attend the final exhibition of the students in the 2015 Raranga class at  Te Wananga o Aotearoa where Pats work is included:

Pat's work in this exhibition was stunning!

We are very much looking forward to Pats class at camp, she is a fantastic teacher with an incredible knowledge of all things fiber related. It is a real treat to be able to attend a class with Pat and have this opportunity to learn about one of our traditional New Zealand handcrafts!


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31Oct/155

Custom Wheels? Yes!

This week we were able to send out a gorgeous batch of customised wheels, just check these out, we love them!

One of the joys of being a small company hand crafting our products, is that it gives us a lot of freedom to really personalise what we do to suit each customer. We don't have a giant production line using pre-set machinery that can only build one thing with no variation. We don't have an unchangeable system that churns out mass produced items. We start with our hands and our materials, and we craft each wheel, each carder, each set of combs individually, and very often to order because we also do not have a giant storeroom full of pre-made stock to flick out as orders come in, The beauty of this is, not only do our customers receive an item that has been made just for them, with our own hands, but we can also pause during the process and make changes to the wheel, add a personal touch on request that will give the new owner of this wheel a unique piece of equipment that belongs to THEM, that fits their taste and personality, a one of a kind wheel for a one of a kind customer!

We can do this in a variety of ways. We can colour them differently as you can see in the picture above, and there are so many colours to choose from :) Check out this gorgeous purple!

And then of course there is the 'tattoo' we can add to the wheels, laser etched to your specifications, this really is the fun part! We have had many requests for wheel designs and it is always a pleasure to send these out to excited customers, it is such a great way to truly connect with a wheel, a visual treat each time you look at it and work with it. We only ever make one of each of these, so if you send us your design, you can be sure no one else will ever get 'your' wheel, it is just for you exclusively! Take a look at some of the unique wheels we have created in the past..

We can really get a lot of detail into these designs:

and we can add design touches on more than just the drive wheel too:

and one more example of where you can add design here with my (Suzy's) 'One Wheel' which Andrew covered in Elvish script for me :)

Are you feeling inspired? Just email us at support@majacraft.co.nz and share your dream wheel wishes with us! We can talk about design and pricing, and together we can help make your ideas come to life with a spinning wheel you will love to use! If you already have a Majacraft wheel that you love, but want something personalised for you, we can customise individual parts for you to swap around as you like! Contact us for pricing and possibilities :) Your ideas and designs are an inspiration to us!

4Oct/152

The Third and Final Circle Weave Along Tutorial!

And here we are! Thank you so much to everyone who has joined in with us on this fun project, we have LOVED seeing your beautiful weaving and knitting and have very much enjoyed the individual creative approaches you have each taken with this project. I am personally very excited to see the variety and variations on the theme and design as you have created and made it your own!  Now we know that not everyone has kept up with the weekly activity, but this is just fine, its like stretching our christmas over a longer period of time, and we hope to see people continue to post their finished projects and progress photos on the Circle Weave CWAL event page! https://www.facebook.com/events/548102112007017/

This week we just have the video to share, the final steps are fairly straight forward, involving joining the second woven circle to the knitted length of scarf and then adding the tassels. I hope you will enjoy this stage and the video!

Happy CWAL-ing!

Suzy

 

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27Sep/153

Circle Weave Along Tutorial Part 2!

Our Circle Weave Along project has been running for a week now! It has been super fun seeing people starting to post their progress photos on the Event page, here are a few really neat ones:

Simone Broersma is using some beautiful colours and a bulky yarn for the warp, this is going to look lovely!

 

Kate Winkler has made a wonderful theme of 'warm' and 'cold' colours for each end of the scarf:

 

Jacquie Chalmers has used a lovely spiral technique to make swirls for her scarf ends:

I am looking forward to seeing what the next week will bring! Here is part two of the tutorial, again we have the video plus the written tutorial, they really go together :) There is plenty of scope for your own creative flair to shine in this project

Here is the download of the written tutorial for Part 2 (click the image)

 

And here is the video to go with it. I hope you enjoy it!

Suzy

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20Sep/151

Circle Weave Along #1

This week is the start of the first of what we hope will become regular events, an online 'Along'. Wondering what that is? Well for this 'Along' we are going to Circle Weave a scarf! We would like to invite you to join us and follow along to make your own!

It works like this:

Over the next three weeks we will use the Facebook Events page as our home base for the Weave Along project. The three weeks will look like this:

Week 1. Weaving the circles

Week 2: Attaching the first circle and knitting and or crocheting the scarf centre length

Week 3: Attaching the second circle, finishing (weaving in ends) and creating the tassles

Each week there will be a new Tutorial for that part of the project, the tutorial will include both a video and a downloadable set of instructions to go with it. I will also be available on the Event page on Facebook to answer any questions and help out as needed.

I hope you will also post your progress photos on the Event page!

The Scarf is a design I came up with specifically for this Weave Along, I wanted to share something that anyone could have a go at, and it covers the basics of warping and weaving in plain weave. I hope we can encourage some people to get started for the first time with their weaving! If you are a more advanced weaver you are very welcome to add your own design into this project, you might want to add embellishments, different weave patterns in the circles, and play around with textures. The same goes for knitters! I have made this very simple but please view it as a base, if you wish to add to the design in any way this is NOT a pattern that must be followed, rather it is a GUIDE from which you can grow your own unique scarf! With all this in mind, plus the possibility that we will all bring different yarns to the project, I have deliberately left it simple and un-patternlike, I will be providing you with techniques and measurements, as well as suggestions for things like, how to deal with different yarn sizes within the project.

Today I am posting the first Tutorial! Please follow the link to pick up your free download of instruction, it includes a warping pattern and information about materials and weaving your circle and is designed to go along with the video (below), these two things are integral to each other. please take the time to read over the document first and then watch the video.

Download the written part of the Tutorial by clicking on the cover:

Watch the Tutorial Video:


For more information and warping patterns don't forget there is also the Warp Speed booklet that Andrew and I created, there are plenty more patterns in there as well as a template for making your own mid size circles. Just in case you are inspired to do some more after this project is completed!

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