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R's yarn projects (spinning, weaving, and natural dyeing)  RSS feed

 
master steward
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I'm going to treat this thread a bit like a yarn blog where I post pictures and updates of what fibre arts adventures I've been up to lately.

Since I joined permies, I don't blog anymore.  Lately, I've been missing it.  But I'm too lazy to start up my blog again, so... here you go.  Pictures and stuff.  To be updated intermittently.


 
r ranson
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First photo, some handspun, homegrown, Canadian Cotton.

Most of what you see here is from my Canadian cotton project.  Grown in my greenhouse, much further north than it is 'possible' to grow cotton.

The cloth in the background is handspun cotton weft on commercial spun 2/8 cotton warp sett at 18epi.  The 'braid' of yarn is the warp for a set of 4 towels that I'll weave with my handspun yarn... which you can see in small hanks (twists) and wound onto bobbins and perns ready to weave. 

I haven't boiled the yarn yet, nor have I been fussy about colour, so it's going to be interesting to see how the finished fabric looks. 
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r ranson
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Thanks.  I think it's going to be lovely. I've spent the last few months weaving something for everyone else, this I'm weaving for myself.  It's my 12-day project.

The traditional holiday for spinners and weavers is the 12 days following Christmas, ending on January 6th, which is distaff day - the day the spinners go back to work.  I like to spend those 12 days engaged in a major project to test my limits.  Create something for me.  One year, I carded by hand, spun, and knit an entire sweater.  It was intense.  This year, I don't have as many days off, so I'm doing a bit of the prep work in advance.  I still have loads of spinning to do, so it's going to be a challenge to get it done in time.  But fun! 
 
r ranson
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A small review of Ashford's new Yarn Stand.

I'm a big fan of Ashford's products.  They make spinning wheels, looms, and other fibre arts equipment and supplies.  Because I like them so much, I managed to befriend the right people, so that when a new Ashford Product enters Canada, I'm one of the first to test it out.

More on them later, I'm sure.  But for now, the yarn stand!


The yarn stand is a weaving tool.  At every stage, from harvest to finished cloth, it helps to keep the fibre, and later the yarn, as organized as possible.  That's what this tool does; it keeps the yarn organized while we measure the threads of the warp.  The spools or cones of yarn are placed on the stand, and then each yarn is threaded through one of the holes at the top.  From there, we wind (measure) the warp threads.

Why do we want something to hold the cones of yarn?  Why not let them sit on the floor.  Well, that's what I always do/did.  It works okay... except when the cone of yarn decides to dance around the room and roll under the sofa and smother itself in dust bunnies, which then have to be cleaned off the yarn before we can continue.  This gets a bit tedious after about the thirty-sixth time in as many minutes.  Having the cones of yarn rest on pegs and a sturdy base prevents this. The other challenge that can happen is when winding more than one warp thread at once.  Sometimes I might measure four threads at a time, but they get a bit 'friendly' with each other and create unwanted knots at inopportune times.  The bit with the holes in the top separates the yarn so that it doesn't gang up on the poor weaver.

Does one 'need' this tool to be a weaver.  Absolutely not.  But then again, we don't 'need' a wheel hoe to grow beans.  But it sure can help. 

My thoughts on this specific yarn stand. 

First thought: WOW!  This is amazing!  I never want to weave without one again.

Calm down a bit and have a cuppa tea.  Second thoughts go like this: I like it because it's small and lightweight.  And yet, it is sturdy and strong.  It created a new experience for me, winding a warp without saying (not safe for work) and other simular words.  It does exactly what it says it will, and it does it well.  The holes are very smooth so the yarn doesn't snag up while winding.  And, well, it's just really cute. 

It's a very good quality product and well thought out.  It's functional and stylish.  It's useful for both shaft weavers and rigid heddle. 

The yarn stand is on my Holiday Wish List.  I think it's going to be very popular.

By the way, some of this yarn is for my first set of napkins
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Ashford Yarn Stand
 
r ranson
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This lonely old loom came my way.

It's an early 1930s, 45" weaving width, Leclerc Mira loom that was rescued from a dumpster.  It's in very solid condition and would be lovely to get weaving on.  However, it's missing some vital bits like a beeter and the mechanics for advancing the warp.  What it does have is the original brake system.  It has the frames/shafts, the treadles, the outside frame, most of the castle, the rollers, and all the beams.  So most of it's there, just a few crucial bits missing.

Even though it's an old loom, I think I can buy replacement parts - for a price.  But the real question I'm thinking about is if it's worth restoring it (so it looks like new) or if I want to just repair it (which means I can add improvements).  This loom is nearly an antique, but I think it's such a common loom, that restoring it adds no value.  Repairing it would add value to the loom and make it more fun to weave on.


One thing I'm thinking about is weaving cloth for selling.  The two things I'm enjoying weaving large volumes of are towels and double wide blankets.  This would be a nice size loom for weaving blankets. 
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r ranson
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Speaking about waifs and strays, it seems that my home is a magnet for broken wheels and looms.  This is great because I love fixing them.

These two spinning wheels arrived yesterday.  They are both incomplete and both fairly old.  But each is beautiful in their own way. 

Before anything happens, I first need to do the hardest and most time-consuming task of researching the wheels.  Are they unique?  Are they a vital key in the history of spinning wheels?  Are they valuable?  If any of this is yes, then the goal will be to keep the repairs as close to the original in materials and style, as possible.  Locally, an antique wheel is worth about $100 - $150.  Price varies drastically from place to place, of course.  The thing is, spinning wheels are pretty common.  Even when people stopped spinning in their own homes, they kept the wheels for decoration.  Most old and antique spinning wheels have very little value except for home decor.  But a functioning wheel has a lot more value because it means that a person who can't afford a new wheel can still have the equipment to learn to spin (then they spin their yarn to sell which earns them money to buy a better wheel and so on).  Owning a spinning wheel and knowing how to use it is basically a licence to print money... or spin yarn.  or whatever.  It's independence. 

The point is, it's much easier to do a visible repair so the wheel can be in use again than to restore a wheel.  So first, I research. 

Both wheels are oak.

The lighter one reminds me of Irish and Scottish style wheels but also strongly of the arts and craft movement.  There are 2 screws in it, but they might have been added later on.  No makers mark, alas.
The darker one is extra interesting.  It has a different style distaff than normal, although I've seen something like this for tow and flax. It also has a skein winder on it.  The feel of it reminds me of German and Eastern European wheels. 
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r ranson
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I just finished my first ever handwoven napkins and I'm absolutely thrilled with them. 



Project details:
4 shaft loom
linen yarn
draft name: false terry




This was woven on a 4 shaft, Leclerc Fanny, but can be woven on any 4 shaft loom.



The fanny loom is a big-ish floor loom, but it folds up at the back so one can snug it out of the way when one needs some space.  It's a sweet loom and I've been putting it through its paces to see if I like it or not.  I don't like it as much as my Ashford table loom with treadle kit, mostly because it's so much bigger, but it's good to study loom capable of holding much longer warps than my table loom.  But about three times slower to warp than the Ashford which really frustrates me. 

This is the fabric on the loom.



You can see how open it is.  Each of the sections has two yarn floats, like a hash sign.   But look what happens when it's finished.



It all bunches up to create a textured cloth.

I suspect cotton would have even more texture.  Something to try later on. 
 
r ranson
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Found this on the internet.  No info about it, but it looks to be a twin of my new friend. 
 
r ranson
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And now I found where to find more information on it.  spinning wheel sleuth has some issues on All-in-One Dutch Spinning Wheel



This is good news, as it means I can get closer to finding an age and origin for this wheel.
 
r ranson
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r ranson wrote:Thanks.  I think it's going to be lovely. I've spent the last few months weaving something for everyone else, this I'm weaving for myself.  It's my 12-day project.

The traditional holiday for spinners and weavers is the 12 days following Christmas, ending on January 6th, which is distaff day - the day the spinners go back to work.  I like to spend those 12 days engaged in a major project to test my limits.  Create something for me.  One year, I carded by hand, spun, and knit an entire sweater.  It was intense.  This year, I don't have as many days off, so I'm doing a bit of the prep work in advance.  I still have loads of spinning to do, so it's going to be a challenge to get it done in time.  But fun! 



I dug through my archives and found my first ever 12-day Challenge.  It was 2013 and I was seriously taken ill with flu. 

This sheep is Duna and she was staying at our farm at the time.



This alpaca (sadly no longer with us) is Hermin.



Using hand cards, I first carded each fleece and then blended them together.



By then, I had used up over half my time, so I spun like the wind on my Ashford Traditional (my first and favourite spinning wheel). 



I was done in 10 days!  2 days left over ... which I don't remember due to the flu. 

To do this in regular time, would be about a month to 6 weeks.  So 10 days, is pretty impressive.  

Such a fun little challenge to keep my mind off being ill got me hooked.  Since then, I set myself a 12-day challenge ever year to finish off the holiday season. 

 
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R, I'm just amazed by this whole spinning and weaving thing. I've never been exposed to it and know nothing about it, and seeing these pictures you posted totally puts a wrinkle in my brain, I'm just astonished. You create such beautiful things.
 
r ranson
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Here's a video I found where the person is weaving Christmas tree patterns on a rigid heddle loom. 



It would be so much fun to try... when I get a chance.

My current weaving to do list includes

1. more napkins
2. two more sets of napkins after that
3. a set of handwoven cotton towels
4. spinning the yarn for 3.
5. two double weave blankets
6. finish up what's on the table loom
7. start sampling for bath towels
8. if 7 is a success, weave a set of bath towels.
9. if 8, then I need matching bath mat.
10. if 7, 8, & 9, then matching hand towels and washcloth.
11. another set of double wide blankets for a commision
12. top secret commision which I won't be able to share with you until about 12 months from now.
13. several dozen towels for next year's holiday presents.
14. new cushion covers for the living room. 

That should take me until at least the end of March.  Probably longer.  But one day I can make cute little trees like that video.  Something for my bucket list.


 
r ranson
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This link came my way today.

weaving around the world

It's a nifty glimpse into different weaving traditions.  You can click and drag during the video to get a 360 view of what's going on.

Fascinating the different kinds of looms and styles of weaving. 
 
r ranson
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On linen and woodstoves

While getting ready for this year's 12-day permie challenge I finished weaving the second set of linen napkins.  These turned out terrible with loads of broken warp threads and other difficulties.  It was like the yarn had become suddenly brittle and vexatious.  Suddenly, I realized what the difference was.  The fireplace.  The weather had turned cold between one warp and another, so now, each morning, we light the woodstove which is located in the same room as my weaving. 

Why would a woodstove effect linen?  Linen is stronger when wet.  When it's dry, the fibres are weaker and the warp tends to develop uneven tension and break.  As I discovered, it breaks A LOT! 

The woodstove dries the air so I put a pot of water on top of the stove to evaporate into the air.  This helped a bit.  It would help more if I had painted or sprayed the warp with a fine mist of water. 

Moral of the story: Working with linen on a rainy day without the heat on = easiest warp I've had in ages.  Working with linen on a snowy day with the woodstove blazing = most difficult warp in years. 

 
r ranson
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I've joined something called a Weave-a-long.  It's basically a bunch of strangers get together on the internet and weave the same kind of thing.  In this case blankets.  The idea is that we share our experiences with each other and if one of us runs into a spot of bother, the group contains the expertise to find a solution.  The whole thread is left as a record for future weavers interested in creating similar cloth.  You can find this particular weave-a-long over on ravelry.

My plan is two double weave blankets in Tekapo 3 Ply yarn.  This is the same style and yarn I made before, only these ones will be a touch bigger. 



What is double weave/ double wide?  For this example, it means that I'm weaving a blanket that is twice as wide as my loom.  Normally weavers are limited by the size of their equipment, but this technique makes it possible to weave beyond the boundaries.  On a 4 shaft loom we are limited to just double wide blankets (also achievable on a rigid heddle loom with double heddle kit but I've never tried that)  With more shafts, the double-weave blanket can be even more complicated or much wider. But I'm very happy with 4 shafts. 

I will set this yarn at 10epi (20epi in the reed), and it creates quite an open cloth. I full it in the washing machine for about two minutes and it’s perfect.

For the weave-a-long, I plan to warp for two blankets with a mixture of leftovers from other projects and some charcoal and natural light coloured yarn. I haven't decided on the pattern yet, probably something like the previous ones with one half a solid dark colour and the other half in various warp stripes where the colour change is governed by when the ball of yarn runs out.  It's a great way of using leftovers and having the bottom layer of the cloth a different colour from the top makes it easier to see if I make a mistake.  Since I already have the yarn and I know about how much it will take, I don't really need to do the math, but I decided to do it anyway for shits and giggles.



I'll probably change the calculations later as I rounded up quite a bit, but it gives me the general idea that I do indeed have enough yarn and how much yarn I would need if I wanted to make this again.

 
r ranson
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Weaving the handspun cotton cloth was a lot of fun.  I learned loads.

For starters, my early handspun cotton yarn was a bit fragile.  It would break easily if I treated it like commercial yarn.  But with a gentle hand, I was able to use it as weft.  Being gentle with the yarn, gave me much better selvage edge (the sides of the weaving) than I usually get, so that was awesome.  It's also interesting that once the yarn was securely in the 'web' of the fabric, it was both strong and soft. 



The texture the handspun cotton yarn made was my favourite part of this project. 

I was curious to see how much cloth one boll (seed head) of cotton would make, so I spun up one brown boll and measured it.



It was quite a lot.  Much more than I expected.

After weaving, we do what's called 'finishing' the cloth.  For this cloth, I washed it in scalding hot water with washing soda to help firm up the cloth and bring out any natural colour in the cotton.  I don't have a photo of the finished cloth yet, but here's a picture of my finished sample (woven with the same warp and weft in the same sett) so you can see just how much the 'web' closes up when finished.



The biggest downer about this cloth is that I don't want to use white cloth as towels or napkins.  I have no idea what to use this cloth for, so it will just get tossed in storage until I can think of something useful for it. 

Here's next year's cotton cloth!



Next up, a pair of wool blankets made from Ashford Tekapo yarn (my favourite commercial yarn for blankets)

 
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