31 December, 2012

Review of My 2012 Fibre Resolutions

Last January I posted a list of goals.  Let's see what I did and what went by the board, and why.

"comb a whole lot of Romney"
Nope, didn't do it.  Instead I spun yarn out of fibre that was already prepared and ready to go.  Got weary just thinking about combing.  Decided that a lot of the Romney hogget was not what I wanted anyway.  I de-stashed it.

"focus on making lovely handspun stuff for me to use and wear, not for gifts"
Fail.  I wove myself a handspun vest but that was it.  Was diverted by opportunities to learn, pass on information, and give away woolly things.  I'm okay with that.

"knit first pair of socks"
Yes.  The socks may not fit tightly enough at the heel, the next two pairs may be stuck in limbo, and sock knitting failed to change my world despite others' assurances that it would, but at least I have knit my first pair of socks.

"learn språng"
Yes.  This is what changed my world.  I enjoy making cloth with the språng technique.  By agreeing to present a program about it in public, I built in a deadline which motivated me to research, produce, and organize everything into a coherent whole.  Deadlines are good.  I resolve to put deadlines on a few of my new resolutions.

"learn to knit a sweater"
Nope.  Can't really muster up sufficient enthusiasm, either.  So much knitting required and so much potential for the fit to go wrong.  I'd like a handspun sweater in my closet but I don't want it that badly.

"learn to weave plain weave and to use a loom"
Yes.  See handspun vest, above.

"make enough handspun clothes for an outfit"
No, which is fine because I expected completion to be further out than one year.  I have a vest now and I should try next for a skirt or a shirt but probably won't anytime soon.  We don't always do what we ought.  Part of this project will entail learning to spin flax, a skill I haven't acquired yet.

"make small handspun shoulder bag"
No.  Had other things to do.

"no more synthetic dyes (use up what dyed wool I have on hand)"
Yes, almost.  Dyed a small amount of wool with Kool Aid to demonstrate a språng technique for the program.  It was expedient and I'm fine with the choice.  I spun seven ounces from indie-dyed braids in synthetic colours and have three ounces left.  Recently in a shop I stuck to my resolution: I did not buy a braid of dyed BFL wool even though it matched my Susie's Reading mitts since the braid was from the same stock.
The corollary of this goal is to increase my use of natural dyes.  I dyed wool with natural dyes twice this year.  One of those dye sessions was done on my own initiative with me in charge of the process, though I got assistance using the campstove and gathering the plant material.  I also enabled someone else in natural dyeing by giving her jars of madder and weld.

"spin and weave hooded jacket"
A vest is close enough.  It has a hood.

"spin flax"
Still feel unprepared for this.  Am working backwards toward this goal: I wove with linen yarn this year.

"spin from stash to cull stash"
Made enough progress on this to be happy.  Focussed on getting rid of oddments and mistakes.

"spin the rest of the merino to get rid of it"
I sold and gave away the merino instead.  Just as acceptable and much preferable.  Finewools, bah.

"stash enhancement: buy more BFL fibre! buy local!"
Did well here.  Helped that I travelled more than usual and went to extra fibre festivals, fibre events, guild sales, and handspinners' supply stores.  Bought small batch, traceable Coopworth lambswool, Leicester Longwool, Romney, and Targhee wool from North America.  Also more untraceable wool pool BFL from abroad.  Much of the wool I bought this year was longwool.  Got a bit of glossy Perendale, probably imported from NZ.  I got a staggering amount of the Romney, both white and natural dark, and I'm excited about it the most.  Will drop the stash enhancement goal for the coming year.

"take a risk and spin the good stuff; don't hold off out of fear, there is more good wool out there"
Am glad I spun the Jacob wool with its beautiful grey colour.  That was one that I could have been afraid to ruin.  Other than that, no progress.  Spent a lot of time with Heinz 57 wool this year because I wanted a lot of handspun for the språng samples and the price was right.  Pleasant stuff to spin but it's not anything that stretches me out of my comfort zone.  Neither was the BFL I spun, since buying more is easy.  It's going to take trust and courage for me to dip into the natural dark Romney this coming year.  I can't buy any more exactly like it and it is pretty.

"use my wool combs more often because combed fibre is so very, very nice"
No; however, I am optimistic that I will comb some wool in the coming year.  I am newly motivated to comb the large quantity of Hampshire on hand now that I know I can remove the excess grease by re-washing the roving in very hot water.  I don't know if I'll get to the tangled two ounces of Romney dyed with Scotch broom.  Would have been better if I'd spun the wool first and dyed it as yarn.

"use up stashed skeins of handspun yarn"
Needs improvement.

"weave linen into Ms and Os cloth"
Yes, done.  If I had access to a countermarch loom, I would revise the goal to weaving cloth in fine single ply linen thread with smaller blocks of pattern.

25 December, 2012

Giving Knowledge

The beginnings of a garter stitch scarf and a white Christmas.  I was showing someone how to knit on needles and yarn she'd gotten.

24 December, 2012

Red Worsted Scarves in The Wind in the Willows

An excerpt from an old children's book, where red scarves add to the festive scene:
It was a pretty sight, and a seasonable one, that met their eyes when they flung the door open.  In the fore-court, lit by the dim rays of a horn lantern, some eight or ten little field-mice stood in a semi-circle, red worsted comforters round their throats, their fore-paws thrust deep into their pockets, their feet jigging for warmth.  With bright bead eyes they glanced shyly at each other, sniggering a little, sniffing and applying coat-sleeves a good deal.  As the door opened, one of the elder ones that carried the lantern was just saying, "Now then, one, two, three!" and forthwith their shrill little voices uprose on the air, singing one of the old-time carols that their forefathers composed in fields that were fallow and held by frost, or when snow-bound in chimney corners, and handed down to be sung in the miry streets to lamp-lit windows at Yule-time.
-Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

20 December, 2012

The Fiberarts book of Wearable Art

I read Katherine Duncan Aimone's The Fiberarts Book of Wearable Art (New York: Lark Books, 2002).

The chapter on Carol Lee Shanks appeals to me, since the designer uses handspun, hand-dyed, handwoven cloth made by Kathryn Alexander.  The cloth has a light texture like gauze.  The cloth is made with energized singles yarn.  I had been wondering how the weight of a jacket would drag down the crinkles in collapse cloth like this, so it was helpful to see the drape.

There is one dye technique in the book that I would like to do because I like the effect.  It's shown on page 53 and looks like crazing on porcelain glaze.  It is done by Kay Disbrow and is called a dextrin resist.
Some of her most interesting pieces have resulted from her experimentation with dextrin resist--a vegetable paste made of potato (dextrin) powder.  To undertake this technique, fabric is stretched and anchored to a table and the cooled paste is spread on selected areas.  When the resist dries, it crackles.  Thickened dyes are spread over the paste, allowing the color to penetrate the cracks.  The dextrin is eventually removed to reveal the spontaneous patterns created by the natural course revealed in the drying.  (p. 54)

19 December, 2012

Anne Field's Spinning Wool: Beyond the Basics

Am reading Anne Field's Spinning Wool: Beyond the Basics, revised edition  (North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 2010). 

The picture of the Ashford Elizabeth wheel on page 68 is reversed and some quantities read incorrectly because the dots are missing in the numbers so the place values are off.  Other than that, the information is laid out well and the section on wheels is keeping the attention of me, a drop spindle user. 

I like it best when Field gives glimpses into what it's like to spin with wool raised in her native New Zealand and what her background and experience has been, both personally and as a handspinning teacher. 

18 December, 2012

Beyond Weaving

I skimmed Marcia Chamberlain and Candace Crockett's Beyond Weaving (New York: Watson-Guptill, 1974).  I bypassed the recommendations to spin greasy wool with a three-ounce drop spindle, and concentrated on chapter seven, "Braiding and Plaiting," which included språng.

I would be interested to know why S twist interlinking, and S twist only, sprang is shown, if this was done historically or what the rationale is.  Same for why the Hopi wedding sash is described as a distinct thing and not språng, where other authors treat it as interlinked språng.

I was pleased that specifications are given for the sash and the frame:
The traditional Hopi sash is made of two-ply white handspun cotton, braided into a strip from 8" to 10" wide and from 8 to 10 feet long, including a long twisted fringe at each end.  (p. 139) 
In the traditional Hopi method, the top bar of the stretched warp is anchored to the wall of the house or kiva and the other bar to a heavy stone, so the warp is stretched horizontally just above the floor.  The braid is worked with the weaver or braider sitting parallel to the bar.  The sticks are inserted at the end where he is working, brought toward the body and then pushed away.  After a number of sticks have been inserted they are worked all the way around the warp, over and around the other anchor bar and down the underneath side, so the interlinking butts up with the top set of interlinked threads.  As braiding continues the entire warp is periodically shifted to move the interlinked fabric to the bottom so the braider does not have stretch too far or move out of position.  Eventually the warp threads are cut in the center, forming a long braided sash with fringe at each end.  There is a kind of seam at the sash center where the two parts of the braid meet, but no separate center cord is worked across.  (p. 142)

17 December, 2012

Rumpelstilskin Collector's Plate

I've been buying more hand spinner-themed kitsch, this time a collector's plate showing Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold.  It's amusing to pick out the inaccuracies.  The spinning wheel is perfect, which is not always the case in fairy tale illustrations; what's wrong is the way it's being used.

13 December, 2012


I read Barbara McLean's Lambsquarters: Scenes from a Handmade Life (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2002).  She writes about raising sheep in Ontario, learning to spin yarn, weaving and knitting clothes with her own sheep's wool for her family to wear, and acquiring many other skills.
I had a neighbour who spun.  I followed her home from Alderney one day and boldly turned in her lane.  She got out of her car, gave me a quizzical look, and I told her my business, asked her to help me, begged for the knowledge to spin.  Malka gave me a start right then and there, invited me into her home, her studio, and slowly showed me the wool, the wheel, the magic of thread.  (p. 50)
McLean doesn't go into a lot of detail about the her loom or the wool baby clothes she made or the handspinners events she went to.  She must have gone to some events because she mentions that she got an angora rabbit at one.  She gives specifics when it serves the story, like the story about a special sheep she raised.  After its natural death, she saved some of its wool and incorporated it into sweaters. 

Many people who work with fibre have a primary skill they like best and I think from her descriptions she is more a weaver than a spinner, but that's speculation.

10 December, 2012


I read Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error (New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 1979) in order to find out about handspinning and wool in France in the 1300s.  The cover had a picture of a flock of sheep.  Those sheep must stand more for a flock in the sense of a group of adherents to a religious sect, in this case Catharism, rather than actual sheep.  I say this because the bulk of the book was concerned with what the people believed, what they did, how they differed from others around them, and the influences on their lives.  However, there was some information about textiles.  
They certainly would have grown hemp.  It was the women's job to swingle and comb it during the winter.  At that altitude and at that time, it is more than likely that flax to was grown.  [Livestock included] hundreds of sheep.  This did not include the large flocks which the migrant shepherds used to lead every year to and from the winter pastures of Lauragais and Catalonia.  (p. 4)
"Swingle" is another word for scutch.  Scutching is part of the processing method for hemp or flax where you strike the bast fibres with a piece of wood, shaped like a large knife, down the side of a board stood on end.
The women span around the fire in the evening, of course, either at home or with neighbours; and even in prison when the Inquisitor sent them there.  But local weaving was clearly intended only for local wearing; there was just one weaver, Raymond Maur, in Montaillou.  He plied his trade (it probably called for a certain amount of humidity) in a deep, wood-lined room, a kind of half-underground cave, specially fitted up in his house.  But he also reared sheep, and his children became shepherds....In this part of the world, everybody worked with his hands, and often very skilfully too.  (p. 6)
There was a brief reference to sericulture near the end of the book which I cannot find now.  I think it said that silk was raised in the region.

08 December, 2012

Mabel Ross' Yarn Design Book

I read Mabel Ross' classic The Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners.  It's a plain, unassuming book with a lot in it.

Ross almost persuades me that I need to get hand cards again and use them.  I also like her discussion about the way to set the tension properly on a spinning wheel.  Almost makes me want to try a spinning wheel again.

07 December, 2012

Språng Stocking Purse at Dewitt-Wallace Gallery, Williamsburg

Here are photos I took of the English språng stocking purse currently on exhibit at the Dewitt-Wallace gallery in Williamsburg, VA, item 1971-1421.

The exhibit's label states
This purse is made in an ancient technique called sprang, in which threads are stretched on a frame and manipulated with the fingers to interlink or twine them, working from the ends toward the middle, and often using a stick to control the twists and keep them from unravelling.  The resulting fabric has natural elasticity, similar to knitted products, although the techniques are very different.
The distance between the rows on this purse strikes me as very small but that's just because I've been using bulky yarn for my pieces.  The cloth's fineness provides enough stability for the embroidery at the bottom.  The yarn is a fine two ply silk, and I expect it is handspun since the date is estimated to be between 1650-1720.

There is a slit in the top third edged with metallic thread.  The same thread runs along seams on either side and across the bottom.  The bottom seam and the looped threads in the tassel make me think that this piece was worked flat then folded, not worked on a circular warp.  The tassel is the meeting line.  In this photo you can see the loops.  I had to take the photo without flash then adjust the light levels on the computer so the colour is distorted.

I looked but could not tell if there was a slit on the back side.  I don't think there is.  Everything you do on the working half of språng fabric also happens on the other side.  If there's a slit interlinked on the front you get a slit on the back.  It may be that the interlinking was solid and afterward a vertical line was cut and secured on the front only.

Just behind the wrapped part of the tassel there is a metal ring that is used to shut the purse.  You slide it down past the slit to keep coins inside.

The holes of the centre diamonds appear to be twice the height of the outer diamonds.  There were four motifs up and down, and seven across I believe, though with part of the purse folded under a little it was hard to tell.

This purse's shape and proportions struck me as more pleasant than others in the case.  As I said, the slit runs down the top third.  That gives a ratio between the slitted and solid parts of 1:1.5, very close to the golden ratio, phi, 1:1.618.  The other purses were made with techniques such as crochet and knitting.

06 December, 2012

Spun Targhee in Progress

A little Targhee wool in progress, being spun to about 30 wpi.  I am hoping that when I make it into 2 ply and use it for interlaced språng, the strands won't stick together the way BFL does.

05 December, 2012

Collapse Fabric

I successfully made a sample of collapse fabric using interlaced språng and an energized single in Heinz 57 wool, my one hundred, seventy-eighth skein.

I adore the texture.  Must do more of this.  Will add even more twist next time.

04 December, 2012

Greek Drama

As I posted recently, I read Greek Drama: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes edited by Moses Hadas (Toronto: Bantam, 1982).  Besides Agamemnon, there were some other plays that contained a little information about textiles in the ancient world.

Let's start with Sophocle's Oedipus the King, which you may know as Oedipus Rex, the most perfectly constructed play according to critics.  Leading up the full revelation of who Oedipus is and where he came from, there's a description of how sheep were pastured out on the range by hired shepherds: "I am sure that he well remembers the time when we abode in the region of Cithaeron–he with two flocks, I, his comrade, with one–three full half-winters, from spring to Arcturus; and then for the winter I used to drive my flocks to my own fold and he took his to the fold of Laius." (p. 140)  These specifics are meant to establish the truth of the testimony give by the messenger and former shepherd.

In Euripides' Trojan Women the chorus members, women, are all expecting deportation after the fall of Troy, and they make comments about how much they have lost in their captivity, what their probable futures will be, and how much they are grieved.  One says, "No more shall I ply my flying shuttle in Trojan looms." (p. 261)  It is a moment of lamentation and one that specifically expresses a woman's points of view since it was women who wove.

In Sophocles' Antigone, in a list of the stories of famous prisoners in Greek mythology and history, the chorus mentions the shuttle of Phineas' wife: "And by the waters of the Dark Rocks, the waters of the twofold sea, are the shores of the Bosporus, and Thracian Salmydessus; where Ares, neighbor to the city, saw the accursed blinding wound dealt to the two sons of Phineas by his fierce wife–the wound that brought darkness to those vengeance-craving orbs, smitten with her bloody hands, smitten with her shuttle for a dagger." (p. 102)  The chorus goes on to comment about her motivation and the influences on her from her parentage and upbringing.  I didn't look too deeply into commentaries on this play but it sounds as though the chorus attributes the wife's fierceness to her marriage, which didn't go well, and to her parentage and upbringing somewhere far away.  One commentary interpreted "a mother hapless in her marriage" (p. 102) to mean that her marriage was set aside making her children illegitimate.

Euripides' Medea centres on a woman in a black rage for that very same reason.  She is a foreigner, has few rights, her husband Jason is abandoning her to marry a princess, and she's expected to accept the situation.  Jason understands she's angry: "Keep on saying that Jason is a villain of the deepest dye."  (p. 199)  But he tells her to be reasonable and get over it.  She doesn't.  Medea describes herself as having a natural gift for poison (p. 198) and she says she has on hand "a dainty robe and a headdress of beaten gold.  If she [the princess] takes the finery and puts it on her, she will die in agony.  She and anyone who touches her.  So deadly are the poisons in which I shall steep my gifts." (p. 207)  A few pages later she describes the robe and headdress as "gifts far surpassing the things men make today...raiment which the Sun, my father's father, gave to his children." (p. 210)  It sounds as though she's claiming that the items are vintage or antique, and possibly supernatural.  The chorus attributes an irresistible heavenly sheen to the items.  (p. 211)  I think the text indicates the poison belongs solely to Medea, though.

The goods are delivered and a messenger comes back to tell Medea in detail how the princess died from the poisoned robe and headdress.  He calls the robe "elaborate" and says that before the poison acted the princess walked around admiring herself, then stood and "gazed with all her eyes at her ankles," (p. 215) possibly at a specially-woven or embroidered edging.  The poison sounds as though it was caustic.

The Greek plays in the book are, in a word, intense, even Aristophanes' Frogs, which is intensely silly.  For me a most affecting passage in Medea was her lament over her children, "But I must go into exile in a strange land, before I have ever tasted the joy of seeing your happiness, before I have got you brides and bedecked your marriage beds and held aloft the bridal torches...Ah, me, there was a time when I had strong hopes, fool as I was, that you would tend my old age and with your own hands dress my body for the grave..." (p. 212)  There were textiles expected at the milestones of weddings and funerals, the bedsheets and the winding sheet or shroud.  These customary cloths and the personal touch that Medea expected, these traditions persisted thousands of years up until recently when we started outsourcing to hotels and funeral homes.  Medea is a dynamic forceful character and it is at the same time astounding and completely understandable that these simple hopes and joys are all she regrets letting go of.

01 December, 2012

Lady Jean's work table

From a lecture on material culture, a clue about life before industrialization:
This is Lady Jean's work table.  If you will notice here, the drawer has the dividers as women were always busy with darning, embroidering, or making something of that nature.  Then the writing slide with the original baize cloth on it that you pull out for writing.
-Julian Hudson, "Preswould: Gracious Living on the American Frontier, 1790-1830," Virginia Historical Society, October 1, 2009, http://www.vahistorical.org/audio/hudson_100109.mp3 around the 24 minute mark

30 November, 2012

Greek Drama – Agamemnon

I read Greek Drama: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes edited by Moses Hadas (Toronto: Bantam, 1982), looking for information about textiles in the ancient world.  A little literary criticism is going to creep into this post, which is about Aeschylus' Agamemnon.  I am also going to give away the plot, so go read the play first if that sort of thing bothers you.

Clymenestra assures the herald she has been faithful to her husband Agamemnon while he was away at war.  She says, "I know of pleasure or scandalous address from any other no more than of dyeing bronze."  I take from this brief declaration that she understands the mechanics of dyeing and so would the intended audience, at least enough to understand her point.  I think it bears out Barber's Woman's Work: the First 20,000 Years which states that in ancient Greece women were skilled in spinning, dyeing, and weaving and that the higher a position in society they held, the better the work they were expected to be able to do and supervise.  Clymenestra establishes herself for the audience as someone who knows dyes and moreover as a woman who fulfils a well-defined, socially-expected gender role for her time.  The author sets her up here for a fight with her husband on his arrival where dyed cloth supplies the object of their disagreement.

If you know anything about purple dye in ancient Greece and Rome, you know that it came from shellfish, it required a considerable amount of material, labour, and skill to use, and its use was restricted to the wealthy and powerful.  I say that so you will understand the extravagance of Clymenestra's red carpet welcome to her husband Agamemnon: "In a moment let the laid path be turned to purple, that to a home unexpected he may have his conduct due." (p. 33)

Agamemnon objects, "Offer no womanish luxuries to me, nor before me, as before a king of the East, grovel with open-mouthed acclaim, nor with vestures strown draw jealous eyes upon my path.  To the gods these honors belong.  To tread, a mortal, upon fair fineries is to my poor thoughts a thing of fear...Even with these bare soles, as I walk the sacred purple, I hope no distant eye may give me an evil glance.  It is shame enough to stain with the stain of human feet textures of price, purchased for silver." (p. 33, 34)  Notice how luxury textiles are "womanish," associated with women, maybe because he has been away at a war encampment with his men under harsh conditions or maybe because women spun and wove cloth.  Notice as well the distinction he makes between cloth set apart for either religious or secular purposes: "sacred purple" and "textures of price, purchased for silver."

He introduces Cassandra to Clymenestra and makes one more comment about being obliged to walk to the palace on the "purple path" (p. 35).  His wife replies, "There is a sea (and who shall drain it dry?) which has in it purple enough, precious as silver, oozing fresh and fresh, to dye vestures withal.  And we have, O King, I trust, a chamber of such from which to take thereof, our house being unacquainted with poverty.  Vestures plenty would I have devoted to the trampling..." (p. 35)  It's an extraordinary image of richness and abundance.  Notice she stresses "we have" a chamber.  Why would Clymenestra want to remind Agamemnon after his long absence that she is his wife and they share a home?  We discover later when she speaks freely that she suspects he has taken Cassandra as his mistress.  Clymenestra's statement can cut two ways, it means she and her husband together are royalty and owners of the house, and it also means that she knows how much is on hand unlike Agamemnon who has been away and should not presume to set limits on her actions.  There's a hint, as she overrides and invalidates his objections, that she is in a fighting mood.  This forshadows her plans to avenge their daughter's death at his hands.  The reference to the chamber is also an insult to Cassandra who presumably herself once had similar storehouses of expensive cloth, now destroyed in the fall of Troy.  Clymenestra is saying to her, you are poor, you may have been born the daughter of a king but now you are a captive with nothing.  In this way, Clymenestra's attitudes are shown through references to cloth.

Agamemnon and Clymenestra's daughter Iphigenia is described as wearing a saffron robe (p. 20) at the time of her death.  Like murex for purple, saffron is difficult to harvest and costly.  The saffron robe identifies the girl as one who holds a privileged place and heightens the contrast between her and all the men on board ship who by inference were not wearing saffron.

Cassandra, left alone with the Chorus, addresses a stole around her neck.  In context the stole and her scepter of divination are marks of office, symbols of her ability to see the future.  She destroys the stole by throwing it to the ground and, presumably, grinding it into the dust.  She refers to being stripped of the "prophet's vesture" and the "sacred garb."  I'm not sure whether she is actually wearing a robe associated with religious practice or merely speaking metaphorically.  From the context the garb would have to mean a garment, not just her stole but something that when stripped away would expose her.  (p. 41)

When Clymenestra is "revealed standing over the bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra" she says that she stands where she struck, that she "made the death" in such a fashion that she won't be able to escape or resist, so the circumstances would act on her like a contraining fish net or "a rich robe deadly dyed."  At first I thought she meant that she got her clothes bloody, but then I realized it wasn't a literal statement but an analogy.  Whether it was a myth or an actual fact whose technical aspects are lost to history, the Greeks believed it was possible to dye cloth so that whoever wore it would be poisoned to death.  There was no antidote.  Barber discusses it in Women's Work and such a robe is a key part of the plot in Euripides' Medea.  Clymenestra is saying that she is caught and she planned it that way.  She is also being gruesome.

Aegisthus comes on the scene and says, "I see in a robe of the Furies' weaving this man lying as I would." (p. 48)  He had secretly backed Clymenestra to get revenge on Agamemnon.  One usually associates weaving and death with the Fates who determined lifespan in Greek mythology, but this play is about hereditary blood vengeance (p. 14), thus the reference to the Furies who were in charge of that.

29 November, 2012

Språng Images at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Egyptian, http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/fragment-of-a-woman-s-hood-72527

Italian, 16th C http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/garter-one-of-a-pair-121955

I think the Italian garter's colour combination is rather startling yet interesting since the colours highlight  diagonal lines and so suggest the interlacing method of construction.  Double twist interlinking would also give diagonal lines but the row height would be higher.  Not that I can tell from an online image.  The garter is long and skinny and fringed at both ends suggesting a circular warp.  I wonder what sort of språng loom was used.

ETA: see reader comment for information about construction of garter

28 November, 2012

Linen Cloth Fresh off the Loom

My woven linen tea towels in Ms and Os, off the loom and as yet unwashed, uncut, and unhemmed.

The selvedges are straighter and the width of the fabric more consistent than what I've gotten from my rigid heddle loom.  I wove the towels on a Harrisville Designs jack floor loom.  To help with good selvedges, the weaving instructor ran nylon filament along the floating selvedge threads on either side.  The filaments were weighted at the back with fishing weights.

27 November, 2012

Språng Images on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Website

mantle, Peru http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/50007715
(dimensions are given as 54.5 x 74 3/8 inches or 138.5 x 189 cm in the publication, Ancient Peruvian Mantles 300 B.C. - A.D. 200.)

cap, Egypt http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/100005156

cap, Egypt http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/140000375

cap, Egypt, http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/140000743

fragment, England http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/120039903

Regarding the mantle, I've seen Peruvian textile motifs before but this is the first time I've seen them done in a pattern of språng with holes.

I rather like the English fragment.

I appreciate the quality of the images on the site: it's possible to get some clues about the språng construction, the way the pieces were used, and so on.

26 November, 2012

"A Toaster, From Scratch"

A quote from Thomas Thwaites' January 2011 TED Talk, "How I built a Toaster – From Scratch":
I got my suitcase of iron ore and dragged it back to London on the train and then was faced with the problem, okay, how do you make this rock into components for a toaster.  I went back to Professor Cilliers and he said go to the library.  So I did and was looking through the undergraduate textbooks on metallurgy.  [The books were] completely useless for what I was trying to do.  They don’t actually tell you how to do it if you want to do it yourself and you don’t have a smelting plant.  I ended up going to the history of science library and looking at this book [Georgii Agricolae di re metallica libri], the first textbook on metallurgy written in the West, and there you can see that woodcut is basically what I ended up doing.  But instead of bellows I had a leafblower.  That was something that reoccurred throughout the project.  The smaller the scale you want to work on, the further back in time you have to go.
When I heard that last sentence I thought, yes.  Handspinners also work on a small scale and use historical methods to make yarn and handspun cloth.

24 November, 2012

Blue and Green Språng Market Bag

Made an interlinked språng cotton market bag in blue and green horizontal stripes, after a friend practiced warping two colours on a warping board and didn't need the warp.

As it came off the warping board, it would have given me chequered cloth.  I changed the warp sequence by working a row with double twists every other pair.  That set the order of the threads for horizontal stripes.

23 November, 2012

Språng Pattern That Looks Like Bow Tie Pasta Shells

Made some språng cloth with a repeating motif that looks like little bow tie pasta shells.  Every so often three strands interlink with three strands on a background of plain interlinking.

The diagram in Collingwood's book looks much more lacy.  I'd like to try this again with yarn that's not cotton and rows that are less compacted.

21 November, 2012

Wee Little Market Bag in Språng

A wee little market bag in språng interlinking, holding a half kilo / one pound jar of almond butter.

The meeting line is secured with plain weave, which gives the bottom of the bag strength and firmness just as Collingwood's book promised.

The yarn is cotton, the kind you use for knitting dish cloths.

20 November, 2012

Cut 'n Fringed Språng

A piece of interlinked språng worked flat, cut into two pieces, and fringed.  One piece is sewn into a tube.

Notice how the straight seam is skewed on a diagonal because of the curl in the fabric from the interlinking.

Was hoping these would be the correct size for arm warmers but the width is a little too wide.  That's a tricky thing in språng, getting gauge, since there are few patterns to say how much yarn to use and what type.

Some people have mistaken the cloth for knitted garter stitch on first glance.

19 November, 2012


Clearly Skowronski and Reddy's Sprang: Thread Twisting, A Creative Textile Technique has influenced me at some level, since I produced this asymmetrical, non-functional piece of sprang.

17 November, 2012

Did the Sprang Presentation

Crossing tasks off my list.  Let's see.

-make sprang practice pieces and wearable pieces for presentation
-write handout for sprang presentation
-write talk for sprang presentation


Presentation also done.  Went well.

I presented

interlinking, plain and with a with two-colour warp
interlinking with horizontal stripes of Z twist and S twist
multiple thread interlinking with all-over holes, diamond pattern, and flower pattern
multiple twist interlinking
interlinking with a warp of yarn spun S and yarn spun Z
changing an AABB colour warp sequence to ABAB
interlinked horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines of colour; chequered colour
chained meeting line, soumac meeting line, plain weave meeting line
fringed meeting lines, cut and uncut
interlacing, plain and with colour work
interlaced collapse fabric warped with energized singles yarn
intertwined strands on interlinked background
supplementary warp
draw-in of cloth using plain and multiple thread interlinking to change width
shaping by seaming a tube

The sprang loom I borrowed from The Spanish Peacock really helped.  Not only did it look impressive and purposeful, its height and sturdiness meant I could stand up while demonstrating how to do sprang, and walk easily from the loom to the stack of sprang pieces and the podium.

I'm happy because I only made two mistakes.  I forgot to show how to make holes in sprang and not just describe the method, and I spoke the first part of my closing sentences over the little hubub of people talking.

15 November, 2012

Widening Sprang Cloth

There was a reason I wanted to learn to intertwine strands on a background of interlinked sprang.  You can use the strands to increase the width of the cloth.  To do this, you incorporate them into the interlinking in the next row.

And then while I was at it, widening the cloth that way on one side, I widened the other side by adding yarn.  This is called supplementary warp and it's done by weavers too.

14 November, 2012

Intertwined Strands on an Interlinked Sprang Background

I successfully intertwined strands of indigo handspun on an un-dyed interlinked sprang background.  I am happy.  This move is one that looked complicated in the book, as though it was on another level entirely.  Turned out to be easy.

Haven't taken a photo but I did take and post a video.

It is possible, according to Collingwood, to make sprang cloth made only with intertwined threads.  Sometime, I will attempt it.

13 November, 2012

"Crafty Enough"

Some videos about sheep in Newfoundland:

"Young Newfoundlander Tries Farming as a Career," http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/economy-business/agriculture/whats-happening-to-the-family-farm/young-newfoundlander-tries-farming-as-a-career.html, sheep farming, difficulty getting suitable machinery, avoidance of debt

"The Shepherd," http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/More+Shows/Land+and+Sea/ID/2300435178/, seasonal pasture on an island to protect sheep from predators, prosperity and work off the farm causing a reduction in smallholder flock-keeping, passing on shepherding skills

12 November, 2012

Missed Goal

I attempted a piece of collapse fabric in interlaced språng but my handspun singles did not have enough energized twist to make even the smallest crinkle.

The yarn is my one hundred, seventy-seventh skein.

10 November, 2012

I Posted a How-to Video About Språng

I posted a how-to video about språng interlacing at http://www.youtube.com/user/thesojourningspinner.  The last while, I've been showing people how to do sprang, just informally as we see each other at guild meetings or fibre festivals and such.  Some of the curious folk live too far away from me for us to sit together and go over the skill so it sticks for them.  I hope this video will help a little, and I hope to do some more videos as well.

Please overlook the roughness.  I could have put this off for lack of a good video camera and lack of polished presenting skills but I thought it was better to get on with it.

09 November, 2012

Interlaced Språng Peacock Scarf

The interlaced språng peacock scarf is complete.  I might give it some more fulling as the interlaced threads are not as close together as I'd like.

07 November, 2012

Almost to the End of a Tea Towel

I have woven to three inches away from the end of my first linen tea towel.  After weeks of getting the loom warped, I now feel like I have measurable progress.

Have probably said this already but the Ms and Os pattern really appeals to me.

I'd woven some last week, and when I sat down to the loom again some threads had gone slack and needed tightening.  Probably the change was due to a change in the weather.  Also one of the treadles had to be raised a little.  It's strange, having everything set up properly, going away, and coming back to a different situation that needs adjustment.

06 November, 2012

Almost Half the Warp is Done

Have done almost the warp for the språng peacock scarf.  The photo shows the back of the frame with its circular warp.  I work on the other side, and right now I'm still pushing twists down, over the frame's bottom crosspiece, and upward.  Once I get half the warp done plus a few inches, then all the work will be on the front only and I will progress twice as quickly.  Additionally, I will only have to work part of that side because some will be left unworked for fringe.

I reworked the area with loose tension, I couldn't stand to leave it as it was.

05 November, 2012

A Very Loud Argyle-like Result

I took away from the warp every other thread which was blue.  Much better, you can see the bright colours more clearly than before.

Here is the resulting språng interlacing: a very loud, argyle-like result.  Quite stunning, really.

Got the row compaction wrong on the back half of the fabric for the first six inches so the fabric looks too loose there, but I am doing better now.  The photo shows the first several inches on the front.  Since then, I have gotten about a third of this peacock scarf done.

03 November, 2012

Got AABB from ABAB

Yes, I was able to change an ABAB colour sequence in my språng warp into AABB by making every other interlinking twist a double twist.

You can just see at the top of the photo how every other strand is blue.  Then the blue strands pass behind the upper stick because that's what you do in språng, you separate out every other strand to create a shed, a gap between the even threads and the odd threads, just the way you would when weaving plain weave and creating a gap so you can send a weft thread under and over.  But, no weft here.  It's all finger manipulation of warp threads.  Now look at the line of blue bumps, that's where I brought a thread from the back, passed it clockwise over a bright thread, and either left it there in the front and the bright thread in the back for a single twist or I kept passing the blue thread clockwise over the bright thread until the blue went around to the back again for a double twist leaving the bright thread in front.

The change sets the threads up for good colourwork in interlacing.  That would solve the problem of the warp arrangement.  Nevertheless, the width of the warp, the total number of threads across the frame presents a mechanical obstacle to doing this språng project.  I didn't do any estimates and so I did not know how wide the warp would be once I got it on the frame.  Now that it's there I can tell its width exceeds that of the sticks I use to push twists down the warp.  The upshot is that I'm about to take all the blue yarn off the frame and leave the bright threads.  Should be fiddly and time-consuming but manageable.  The good news is that the yarn is uncut, merely wound in a spiral around the frame to encircle it, and once I've taken the blue yarn out I will once again have balls of yarn that I can use for another piece.

02 November, 2012

Went for AABB, Got ABAB

I've warped my frame for språng and the result, the result knocks your eye out, but it is causing me some consternation.  The colours are not going to go in the direction I thought.  I've warped the threads AABB which would be fine for språng interlacing.  However, I'm going to use this as a circular warp and will only be handling the threads at the front.  That makes the arrangement of the front threads only ABAB.  All the As are going to move diagonally down and to the right and all the Bs are going to move to the left.

Let me restate that, all the wild multicoloured strands are going to go one way and all the solid blue strands are going to move opposite.  See the lovely bilateral symmetry I worked to achieve, the palindrome sequence of turquoise, lime, purple, lapis, purple, lime, turquoise?  That is going to become off-centre and it will not be good.

It is possible that I may be able to consult Collingwood's Sprang, find out how to use two rows of interlinking to change ABAB to AABB, and in doing so, not interfere too much with the interlacing.  Either I fix it or people are going to say "woah" when they see it and not "wow."

01 November, 2012

one hundred, seventy-third through seventy-sixth skeins

Gale's Art Blue Face Leicester wool dyed in lapis.  Singles spun to about 32 wpi, then two strands plied together.

Done to coordinate with the proud peacock colourway skeins I spun recently.  It's all about to go on the språng frame.

31 October, 2012

Have woven a bit of linen cloth

I have no photo to show, but I've woven my first ever eight inches of linen cloth.  The Ms and Os look pleasant to me. I find it's fairly easy to keep track of which treadle combination is next.

A rope on one of the heddles became detached, popping off the pulley, and I was able to put it back.  The detached heddle caused me to make mistakes in the cloth.  I failed to correct all of the affected picks and worked on, then had to take out at least fifteen minutes of work as a result.  Worth the bother, though.  If I'd left the floating threads they would have caught and snagged on things.

27 October, 2012

one hundred seventieth through seventy-second skeins

Here's the partial braid of Gales Art BFL in proud peacock, spun up and arranged the way I want to use it in a språng piece.

My one hundred sixty-ninth skein is not pictured, it is another bulky low-twist skein of Heinz 57 wool. I didn't want to bore you with it.

26 October, 2012

25 October, 2012

Uzbekistan Changes its Forced Labour Policy on Cotton...Somewhat

Ibrat Safo and William Kremer, "Doctors and Nurses forced to pick cotton," BBC World Service, October 15, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19931639.

According to the article there is an international boycott of Uzbek cotton harvested with forced child labour, labour done under government direction, and to address this, now the government of Uzbekistan mandates forced adult labour.  

It's unclear from the article why mechanical harvesters stopped being used in Uzbekistan after 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union.  The article cites government promotion of hand-picked cotton as a superior product with less chaff compared to mechanically-harvested cotton.  However, Cuba went through its Special Period* at the same time, adjusting to the sudden loss of the Soviet-subsidized oil and imported machinery on which Cuba's agriculture depended.  I wonder about the possibility that Uzbekistan's policy of hand-labour may have been a defensive move to keep the cash crop going and not a strategic tack to improve their product.  But that's speculation.  And if true it still wouldn't make forced labour necessary or good.

There are other interesting aspects in the article, such as people paying to have someone else pick their quota, reporters prohibited from interviewing harvesters in the country, the interruption of medical services during harvest, interruption of schooling for older teens and college students, and the high proportion of Uzbek cotton in world exports (ten percent).

I buy cotton clothing from two companies.  One is a member of the Organic Trade Association, whose standards "require that operators not use forced or involuntary labor," page 47.  The other company has a social responsibility commitment to not source cotton from Uzbekistan knowingly until that country stops using forced child labour to pick cotton.  I'd be happier if it said something about all forced labour.

*The Special Period is described briefly in a CBC article here, in the side bar under the heading 1991.

24 October, 2012


My husband took me to Rhinebeck on Saturday.  It was great.  

This is the line of people waiting for ticket sales to start and the gate to open.  Many people around us, maybe half, were wearing handknit sweaters and shawls.  I find that really impressive.  There were even a few handknit toques and mittens worn in line, probably made especially to wear at the festival.  Too bad the weather was too nice.  I spent most of the day in short sleeves so I was glad I had my handspun, hand-dyed, handknit miniature sweater.  Its cuteness worked to break the ice with strangers.  I wore the little sweater pinned to my shirt behind my Ravelry username pin.

There were some unusual spinning wheels.

I took few photographs, as I was occupied with shopping, looking at displays, talking with people, and eating festival food.  Maple sugar candy floss is deadly stuff.

I saw a couple of women holding bundles of flax and I asked them about the flax processing workshop they'd taken.

At Looking Glass Wool I got a pound of Coopworth lambswool roving in an intense natural dark colour.  Almost wish I'd bought two pounds.  Got the last quarter pound bag of white Costwold lambswool roving at Solitude Wool.  Tried the HansenCrafts minispinner quill attachment.

I'm glad I got to see the second-largest sheep and wool festival in the States.  I don't know if you can relate but I felt irresponsible for wanting to drive all that distance and incur unnecessary expense.  I got over it.  I mean, Rhinebeck is cool.  I reminded myself that the common experience of travelling to a market of merchant booths is something that goes way back in human culture at least to medieval Europe.  Merchants swipe credit cards on iPads now and it's fried dough not gingerbread cakes, but still.  

23 October, 2012

Feels Like Slow Going, This Warping

Sleyed the ends through the reed and tied the ends to the apron bar.  Next week at my weaving class, if all is well, I will start weaving my first Ms and Os tea towel.  

It's true, warping a loom takes a long time.

20 October, 2012

Through The Eye of a Needle


Above is a Positive TV interview of John-Paul Flintoff, author of Through the Eye of a Needle: The true story of a man who went searching for meaning – and ended up making his Y-fronts.  Y-fronts must be British slang for underpants.

I read the book.  I agree with Flintoff that it's really important what we believe, who or what we put our trust and hope in, and what we do as a consequence.  I am with him on wanting to address the possible consequences of Peak Oil and climate change, and I agree, in light of that, that it's good to grapple personally with the making of clothes.  (You might remember in the first post of this blog, I said Peak Oil's the reason why I learned to spin yarn.)

As a Christian who takes seriously the whole "Hear O Israel: the Lord thy God is One God and thou shalt love the Lord your God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might," I disagree with a fair bit of the religious advice people gave him as well as a number of his own conclusions on religion and still I stand by his freedom of conscience.  He started out, from his description, as a non-religious person with little experience in forms of worship or spiritual practices.  I respect him for re-examining that part of his life and looking for reasons to change his beliefs and actions.

For anyone who likes thinking about thinking, and likes reading reports of someone interacting with people, famous and not, you'll find this book diverting.

There were some things in regard to the making clothes part that pained me, all things that touch on my hobbyhorses.  For example, he didn't consult with a handspinner until at least five-sixths of the way into the narrative.

The woman who taught Flintoff to spin summed up drop spindles as "cheaper, but less efficient – and you get tired arms."  From the description, "it looked like a knitting needle shoved through a very thick wooden dish," I would guess that the drop spindle he saw wasn't the nicest.

I don't remember linen being mentioned in the book, an oversight considering flax's suitability to the English climate and its status historically as one of the four major world fibres.  Flintoff, as you can tell by the video above, is enamoured with the idea of gleaning nettles for cloth.

Flintoff uses crochet to make his underpants, first in nettle and then in Blue Face Leicester wool.  I would quibble first with the cloth-making technique, since knit cloth and even woven cloth would give better coverage, and I'd quibble with his choice of material.  But again I admire his determination to take on the task and his work to acquire the needed skills.

For me, the best line in the book was a realization Flintoff came to after he posted a video to a website asking for help making his shirts fit as well as one he'd had custom made.  "It gradually dawned on me, after sending that film to ThreadBangers, that in my world it's easier to make a film than to clothe oneself – an essential second only to eating."

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
-I Timothy 6:8 NIV

19 October, 2012

There's a Festival Going on Without Me

The Cowichan Fleece and Fibre Fair is on in Duncan, B.C. tomorrow.  I've never been.  I wish I could go.

17 October, 2012

Salt and Lemon

I may, possibly, have met up with friends for a knit and natter at a sandwich shop.

I may have shown them my skeins dyed with goldenrod, madder, and indigo.

A fine sprinkle of powdery excess indigo may have fallen off onto the table.

I may have swiped at the dye with a damp napkin instead of brushing the bits with a dry napkin, and we may have scrubbed the stained table ruefully with the contents of more than a few salt packets and several lemon wedges.  Maybe.

16 October, 2012

Threading the Loom for Ms and Os

While at weaving class, I started threading the loom's four harnesses for an Ms and Os pattern.

I am able to hold four threads in the left hand, poke the sleying hook through each heddle eye in turn, and in one go draw the threads' tails through, but am rather awkward at it.

The Ms and Os pattern is okay to thread, I can go by the principle that the heddle that's further away always goes to the right of the heddle that's closer to me.

15 October, 2012

Goldenrod, Madder, Indigo

Went to a natural dye workshop that had pots of goldenrod for yellow, madder for red, and indigo for blue.

My dyed handspun skeins from left to right:
humbug (white and brown) Blue Face Leicester wool dyed with madder and over-dyed with indigo
Heinz 57 wool dyed with goldenrod
Heinz 57 wool dyed with indigo
Heinz 57 wool dyed with madder
Hampshire wool dyed with goldenrod and over-dyed with indigo
Heinz 57 wool dyed with indigo

I like the indigo shade the best.

Oh, the Heinz 57 wool ones are taken from my one hundred, sixty-eighth and sixty-ninth skeins.

13 October, 2012

Handspun Cloth Men Like

I showed the chocolate cake scarf to a couple of men of my acquaintance that have worked with textiles.

"I like that pattern," said one, "that appeals to me."

"You could wear that all winter," said the other, in the sort of manner that means a person could generally, not just me specifically.  He got a pained look on his face when he heard I planned to retire it now in the first week of cold weather: "But you could wear it."

This got me thinking about what men generally like in textiles and how it doesn't mesh with the broad current trends in handspun yarn and cloth toward soft colours, elaborate patterns, and delicate fibres done in styles identifiable as feminine.  Knitted lace shawls, for example.

I wonder what the reaction at a fibre festival would be to a display of well-made sober, stout handspun, handwoven and handknit men's clothes.

12 October, 2012

"Thus Passes the Glory of the World" and the Chocolate Cake Scarf

I spun and wove a wool scarf the colour of chocolate cake.

Wore it to a fibre festival.

Chopped it into bits a few days later to make samples for a weavers guild newsletter that will have a pattern draft and a good word for breed-specific wool yarn.

Friends objected.  "The handspun is too nice," they said.  Me, I am fine with a transitory scarf.  Amuses me to think of it like a meteor shooting across the sky and burning out.  Plus, weavers look forward to getting mail.

Now that I've used it, I know Ashford Corriedale is slightly itchy worn against the neck.  I spun the entire half pound bag of wool and wove with only several yards of yarn to spare.  Nice to have tried it out and be done with it, ready to move on to another type of wool or go back to my favourite BFL.

I wore the scarf while window shopping at the local yarn shop, hoping the owner would notice and say something about the effort I'd put into making the thing or my choice of wool and pattern.  She didn't.  Ah, well.  I could take it as a compliment, an indication that the scarf didn't announce itself as handmade.  More likely, at the moment she talked to me it was less important for her to to scout for handmade woollens and more important to look at my face to see if I needed assistance before turning back to the customer that was with her.

11 October, 2012

Impromptu Strap

Here's my woven belt repurposed as a strap.  I carried a moderately heavy tub of supplies up to my spot at the fiber festival so I could demonstrate how to use a drop spindle, as well as eat lunch, show people books, and so on.

I tied my card-woven belt onto the handles and used it for a strap, thereby changing the tub from an awkward unwieldy thing into something manageable.  Took much less energy to carry and it balanced out the portable folding chair and språng frame slung over my other shoulder.

10 October, 2012


While I was demonstrating the drop spindle at the festival, I met a woman who called her boy by name, Cassius.

"Cassius, like in Julius Caesar?"


I said the only long quote of the bard's I ever memorized: "'Let me have men about me that are fat/Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep at nights:/Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,/He thinks too much, such men are dangerous.'  'Fear him not, Caesar, he's not dangerous;/He's a noble Roman and well given.'  'Yet I fear him not!  But if my name were given to fear/I know not the man I should so soon avoid/as that spare Cassius.'"

"Do you hear that, sweetie?  That's the quote about your name, in Shakespeare!"

Looking at the copy of Shakespeare in front of me, I wasn't word perfect and possibly I learned from a different version too.

The demonstration tent was a very good thing.  Without it at my back and without an official nametag, I know I would have just looked like a strange person spinning yarn in a field, and wouldn't have had delightful conversations like this.

Didn't take much for the demonstrators to interest on-lookers, actually; there was quite a crowd around a weaver winding bobbins.

09 October, 2012

Draw Down

I watched my weaving teacher make a draw down of the weaving pattern I'm going to do, and I understood enough that I think I could do one.  A draw down is where you draw on grid paper a representation of woven cloth, shading a square where the weft goes over the warp and leaving it blank where it goes under.  Hope I got that correct.

08 October, 2012

Fall Fiber Festival

I filled volunteer spots and visited with friends at the recent festival, so I don't have any heroic shopping stories for you nor any photos.

Demonstrating the drop spindle at the entrance of the display and demo tent was the best.  Lots of adults and quite a lot of children came up and watched, and some tried their hands.  A high percentage of folks asked questions that showed they intend to take up handspinning or have some understanding already and want to apply it.  I don't get that as much when doing a demonstration at a farmers' market or a museum.

When I came to the end of the time period I'd promised to do, I considered switching to working on språng, or shopping, or staying put.  As I was dithering, handspinners on the other side of the tent entrance sent people my way, telling them to ask me to get them spinning yarn with a drop spindle.  And I realized I was where I really wanted to be, and I stayed longer.  

I shared the little pop-up shade tent with a knitter and a handspinner with a wheel.  It worked out very well: I could talk to the crowd for a stretch in a good carrying voice and then the other handspinner would speak and I'd have a chance to fall silent, give my voice a break, and look picturesquely absorbed in the motion of my spindle.  

Got the chance to tell another blacksmith that flax hackles might be worth looking into.  Gave someone a starter spindle to take home.

The event organizers have my appreciation.

06 October, 2012

SVFF dye photos

Some more photos from the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, showing natural dyes.

Indigo plus goldenrod (?) makes green.

Samples at Brush Creek Wool Works.

The red is pokeberry, by Solitude Wool.

05 October, 2012

Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival Photos

Fibre-giving bunny at Aker, LLC.

If I understood them correctly, Plyed and Dyed (above) are one of those rare vendors who sell wearable handspun, handknit items made from locally-sourced materials.

Glen Springs Farm llama yarn.

My first look at a Harlequin sheep.

A squirrel cage swift between Schacht spinning wheels, a Sidekick (left) and a Matchless at River's Edge Fiber Arts.

A electric-powered HansenCrafts minispinner at the Appalachian Angora Rabbit Club booth.

A Kromski Symphony spinning wheel.

The Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers were demonstrating four-shaft weaving, inkle weaving, and handspinning.  The inkle loom was set up for children to try.  I told them that at another festival four years ago when I was deciding whether to learn to spin yarn, their guild had been helpful to me and I'd appreciated it very much.  They were one of many in the autumn of 2008 who talked to me about what it was like to do handspinning, and they let me try using a wheel.

Workshops, programs, and classes are good but I really see value in the facilitation of informal opportunities for the curious public to see and chat with handspinners and weavers.  And opportunities for handspinners to see and chat each other up, for that matter.  I love the handspinners guild I belong to, as well as the group I visit when on holiday visiting family in Canada, because they allow hours and hours in their meetings for rich unstructured, undirected conversation and observation.

The fleece table late on the second day of the festival.

Naturally-coloured Leicester Longwool fleece from Stillpoint Farm.  This is the sort of glossy longwool I think is pretty.  It's very different from the finewool lock structure below, the breed of which I've forgotten.

I made two purchases.  I got some shiny English Leicester Longwool roving from Cranberry Creek Fibers in white and natural grey, and I plan to do some colourwork in språng with them.  I snagged the second-to-last bar of Peacechick soap from The Spanish Peacock.  It was great to see the SP booth's display so depleted, there were only a half dozen or so spindles unsold at closing time.  Mike and T.J. King told me about rapid and repeated bouts of decimation of their stock by customers the day before.