Patchwork Weaving

Patchwork Weaving

The know the old adage ‘it never rains but it pours’, well it definitely applies to my life. Not necessarily in a negative way, in many ways the pouring out are indeed ‘good things’. They just seem to flow into my life in a torrent rather than a stream!

Making a ‘tree change’ has been on the cards for a few years, long before Covid caused many to leave the cities in droves to seek ‘wide open spaces’. James and I have always had the dream to live on a few acres, get some animals and live the country life. Then life got in the way; our community here in the Blue Mountains wrapped us up in their arms, our little girl started kindy at the local school less than three minute walk from our beloved Brady bunch house. And so, we settled in and thought maybe the nudging desire would pass.

Fast forward a few years, the niggling was still present…and the little whisper was getting louder…and louder. I dug my heels in…I don’t like change…

In November last year, I travelled out to Dubbo to run some workshops in partnership with my dear friend Robyn of Yummy Yarn & Co. I left my little family at home and drove out on the Friday morning. I savoured the time alone with just my thought and the rugged scenery. I stayed on Robyn’s lovely property at Wonbargon and felt so welcomed and nurtured by her and her family. The quiet stillness allowed me to listen to the gentle voice within and by the time I drove home on the Monday, I heard God’s voice say ‘Now’s the right time’.

James was mowing the lawn when I pulled into the driveway, sprung out of the car, hugged him and I said “I’m ready to make the move now"!” 

Fast forward the last 8 weeks; through Christmas, a short stay in the Hunter Valley, getting Covid again, completing the remaining renovations on our home, finding the perfect new home for us, listing our house for sale, selling said house in 12 days, finding a new school for Rouge…

At some point during this time, a small cardboard parcel arrived; The Travelling Loom. That’s right! I’d previously requested Rainie choose me as the next recipient in this lovely fibre arts project. I was now hesitant…will I have the time to create something? You know what!? I’ll make time. I am always hailing the benefits of daily creative acts particularly during times of high stress and ‘busyness’, it was time to ‘practise what I preach’.

Nothing overwhelming I promised myself, just a small act of creativity to bring joy to my day. Daily acts of slow making to add some calm to my racing mind. My ‘to do’ list was growing longer every day, yet I found time to weave. The compact loom size was perfect and prevented me from feeling overwhelmed by the task. I wove just for me.

scrap jar

The Jar ~

Since I began on my Eco dyeing journey, I collected all my small yarn scraps in a large empty Moccona coffee jar. each small length of yarn had been coloured by nature and my plan was to utilise each of these beautiful shades of yarn in a special project. I had thought perhaps I would create a blended batt on my drum carder and spin up a unique skein to weave something from. When the Travelling Loom arrived, I cam up with the perfect little project.

bleach stained dress

The Dress ~

My favourite dress is one that my clever friend, Rebecca Stocks had sewn for me. Mustard linen with a full skirt, it is comfortable and has an indescribable but comforting ‘worn in’ feel. When I wear it I feel most like ‘me’. Hard to describe, but true.

Stupidly, I’d used bleach the scrub the laundry tub and gotten a small amount the favourite dress and had flung it into the mending pile, unsure what I would do to make it wearable again. Now I had a solution.

Woven patches

The Patches ~

I warped up the little loom with a strong cotton warp, dug through the jar and separated the thread of wool with the colours I was immediately drawn to. I didn’t think too hard on it, I just grabbed those that stood out to me. Many of the strands in the jar were actually skein ties from the skeins of DK/8 ply Aussie wool I eco dye using madder, onion skin, cochineal, logwood, walnut and avocado seeds. 

The strands weren’t very long but as I had planned to secure the ends of the patches using my sewing machine, they didn’t need to be. I left the ends loose on each side and just enjoyed the process of weaving and adding strands of differing colours as I went.

Woven Scraps

I wove one large patch, to be used as not only to cover a bleach mark, but also a handy pocket. I wove this one on a long car trip out West as well as during the weekly craft sessions I have with my closest friends. We’ve been getting for about 4 years for a couple of hours on a Thursday evening. This weekly commitment has kept us connected not only to each other but to our crafts despite our busy lives as mums and makers. Some weeks we don’t all make it or we’re all too tired or one has a sick kiddo or car trouble or has too many work commitments or…or… but the following week we all gather in Shaz’s garage come ceramic studio and do our thing. it adds so much to my week having those two precious hours to just be a creative. I can’t recommend it enough!

Woven Scraps

The other two smaller patches were created by warping a narrow section on the loom and weaving two small patches simultaneously. The small patches were secure by knotting the warp threads and threading them back into the weaving from the back of the patch using a needle. I then used the sewing machine to secure them further.

Sewing the Patches

Slow stitches ~

My plan was initially to sew all the patches onto my dress using my sewing machine. The patch pocket needed to be practical as well as beautiful so I managed to machine stitch it to the dress and reinforced the top corners to prevent the pocket from slumping forward or tearing away from the dress when I stuffed my keys, phone or ‘stuff’ into it. 

Much later on, day became evening and I was helping my daughter with homework and the noise and location of the sewing machine somehow didn’t fit into the domestic situation so I sat at the dining table. 

Adding slow small invisible stitches to the patches, I could be present with my girl as she hurried through her homework as I resurrected my favourite dress from the depths of the mending pile. It felt right. 

Most of the making for we ‘mum / makers’ happens within the landscape of the domestic. I don’t fight it, I just try to go with it. If something cannot be completed today, it gets moved over to tomorrow’s list. It simply is what it is. I am a mother, I am a maker. The two identities can exist in harmony, but only if I am not rigid in my expectations. It’s taken me the better part of 8 years to accept this truth.

Hand stitching the patches to the dress

The Future ~

In three short weeks, I’ll have packed up our home. The home we moved into when I was 37 weeks pregnant, the home we brought our girl home to almost 9 years ago, and we’ll start our new adventure in the Hunter region. It’s bound to be a busy, testing time as we settle into a new community and a new routine. I’m super excited but also feeling stretched and a little apprehensive. I’ll need to be reminded to keep my daily weaving practise in place as a form of therapy, and to savour the small moments with my daughter. Maybe i’ll do those things whilst wearing my favourite mended and reloved mustard linen dress. 

Mended Dress

Heartfelt thanks to Rainie for the wonderful & timely opportunity to be a part of The Travelling Loom. You can find these wonderful weaving tools and much more at The Unusual Pear

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Rebecca Muscat

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