Thursday, August 16, 2012


It seems to have been cold, miserable and raining here for weeks now, good to stay indoors in the warm. Struck down by a nasty winter cold a few weeks ago I decided to light the open fire and lock myself up in the studio. There are lots of thing you can do when you don’t feel like weaving, so I decided to go through everything in the studio and have a major throw out. Art journals dating back to the 80’s magazines, all the stuff one keeps. The problem here was the book shelves were full and buying new books brought up the problem of having nowhere to put them away. So to the op shop and friends went about 20 bags of books, some of them had been kept in storage in the shed. It took ages to go through them and you would think that now the shelves look bare? No just lots of new additions and some space for some new books. So much for thoughts of buying a Kindle to stop the book pile getting larger! I have not ever really had a problem with moths in my wool but I do get the odd carpet beetle. Buying second hand books poses problems if they carry eggs from someone else’s bugs home with you.  I don’t know why but carpet beetles love the un dyed Bendigo wool and slivers. I can remember buying a 5 kg box of dried figs from the Middle East at the restaurant and finding it full of them, so they can come in via food as well. Carpet beetles ate the Berber wool carpet at the farm down to the backing cloth in places so they can cause a lot of damage. Mothproofing does not deter them so it pays to check your wool now and then. In December last year I bought the last 3kg of un dyed tapestry wool from Bendigo but it was in 200gram hanks. I always bought 100 grams so I decided I had best do something with it now. I have wound it all off into 50 gram skeins. Yes 3kg divided by 50g does equal 60! It took me ages to do. I decided to wash and moth proof it all. I have a stainless steel bucket that holds about 16 liters of water. It took two goes to do all 60 skeins so that wasn’t too bad. Getting it dry this weather took a while. The house smelt like wet wool.
50g skeins
The bookshelves and walls around them have been sprayed with crawling insect surface spray. The cupboards that I keep my warp, linens, cottons and un dyed wool in have had the same treatment. The cabinet that has over 20kg of dyed and mothproofed wool has been cleaned, sprayed and sorted. Drawers cleaned out, old research tossed; design ideas that were not working made a pleasing ambiance at night in the open fire. I am not quite finished but it does feel good. I can’t stand wasting time looking for something and not being able to find it. I have moved a lot of things around but at least I always know what wool I have on hand.
When I started years ago dyeing my own 100g skeins I made a sample book that I add to each time I dye a new lot of wool. Dye samples and recipes are kept in a different folder.  I have over 3/4s of the A.T.W range and I have a list I made when I started buying them, so I can see what I have without looking through them. All this takes a lot of time but every time I plan to begin a new tapestry I get my sample book, look through it to see what wool I have on hand. If I am missing something I go to my dye sample book and see if I have the correct colours in there, or a starting point to some new sample dyeing.
Matisse and samples
At the moment I am inspired by the colours in this Matisse painting and have almost all of the wool.
I use the A.T.W wools for my small tapestries, mainly because the Bendigo wool has a higher twist and the A.T.W wool gives a much better surface on a smaller tapestry. 
A.T.W colour cards
So armed with their sample book and my list; I can see exactly what I have. If something is missing I order more.
A.T.W cones
Cones are kept in drawers in a sideboard that I had especially made and yes they are all in order from number 1. How much wool does a girl need? I found an acid milling dye that I have never used before as it is not always available, so I could not help myself and had to try it out on 3 of the skeins. Lucky I read the label as it is 200%; usually black is the only dye that strength. I still have a bit more to do and I have bought a pack of bombs, when I have finished I will open up the cupboards and drawers and set them off and close the door behind me. I am not someone who uses chemicals but this has been a massive amount of work and I will set some more bombs off in a couple of month’s time, just in case there are eggs that have not hatched. Although time has not been spent at the loom, I am in a much better place now knowing that the drudgery of looking after my materials is almost done!               


  1. So how do you mothproof wool Deb? Lovely post by the way. Excellent pix. Fabulous collection of wools and as per usual you're to be commended for your dedication ... Penny

  2. Hi Penny, I use a product called Perigen, sadly no longer available. Not because I was killing my family using it but the supplier said that they never sold any of it. You can spray it on diluted with an atomizer but it works better in a dye bath with acetic acid. It is basically like a surface spray and you use 1/4 ml per liter of water, so I think I have a lifetime supply. You can buy a mothproofer some are pyrethrum based but they don't stop carpet beetles eating it. Thanks for the complements! see you soon.

  3. Hi Debbie
    I am in awe of your energy and dedication. Oh to be so organised. Where do you find the time. I enjoy reading your blogs, they are very informative and inspiring. Paricularly liked the on eabout the SWTAFE exhibition.


  4. Hi Glennis, not weaving is where I find the time and energy! While I was doing the tapestry diploma I was also at times enrolled in a visual arts diploma and working 4 days a week. A LOT of things were put on the 'back burner' and I promised myself that when I graduated I would spend my time dealing with all the things that I just could not warrant spending precious time on. The list is pretty big but I will chip away at it! Glad you liked the post about the graduate exhibition. Would have loved to have seen the look on people's faces when I said it took me 17 years!!

  5. Hi Debbie, your skeins look great!! - and your books of course. And such a great idea to keep samples of your dyeing so neat! Beautiful colours!
    I think getting the organizing and cleaning bug is in a way very inspiring and motivating, and I agree with you that weaving is so much more enjoyable, when you know where everything is . I usually clean up when I finish a tapestry or include it in Spring Cleaning, which ever comes first :-)
    I like the colours of the Matisse too! Happy weaving!

  6. Hi Vera, very empting to dye all those skeins! I agree it is much more enjoyable to just be able to put your hand on what you want. Although it was a huge amount of work I 'met' a lot of things I had forgotten about or did not realize I had. In a way it is creative play. Debbie.


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