Monday, 26 September 2011

40 metres of ribbon and a weekend

Actually, a little more than a weekend, but that scans better, and really that's all that matters, right?

At any rate, my project lately has been what I've been referring to as "Joseph's technicolour dream bag" on Twitter - a kete made from ribbon.

Normally I work with NZ flax - harakeke - which looks more like this:

I don't know if anyone's noticed, but flax and ribbon are kind of different materials. Ribbon is slippery and doesn't change texture or size or shape, which means that it won't go hard and shrink when it's dry, but it also doesn't stay in place as easily and can be a lot fiddlier. And it's not free. My materials here were limited by what 10m rolls I could find in the boxes of ribbon at The Warehouse, but I think I came out with quite a good selection in the end. I had to use a lot more pegs to hold things in place than I normally would, and a couple of times I resorted to pins as well, and overall it probably took a fair bit longer than it would have if it were flax (though the preparation of flax takes a while, whereas ribbon is just cut and go). There was a lot of swearing.

So what would I change if I was doing it again? Possibly go and read a few books instead. No, I'm kidding. Honestly - machine sewing.

Before you go "aha, that's how zie did it!", there is actually almost no sewing in this. At the very start I laid all the ribbon side by side and sewed straight across, about 10cm from one end.* Then, at the very end, I hemmed the top to prevent the ribbon loosening and undoing over time. But still, it's delicate work and the needle is hungry for my blood, so next time point me at the sewing machine, baby.

I'm sort of enchanted by this, so I'll most likely attempt more, in different styles and to practice the decorative patterns as I learn them. It should be fun.

* When you do it with flax, using stringy stuff (muka) you get when separating it into pieces to tie them together, my teacher calls it whatu. I hate whatuing. It's fiddly and difficult and the muka breaks on me a lot. I actually tried a different style of kete once without whatuing, and promptly learned why they started doing it in the first place - it's even harder not to.

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