March 31, 2012

Out Like a Lamb

Romney hogget locks, flicked open and stored in lock formation.  Worked on them while on the phone using a headset.  There are many, many more locks still to do but it is still satisfying to fill one box.

March 30, 2012

A Way to Get a Triangular Shawl with a Square Loom

Virginia West's Weaver's Wearables shows a triangular shawl, which she calls a triangular stole, woven on a regular 45 inch wide horizontal loom.

The fad these days is to weave a triangular shawl on a dedicated triangular loom.  That sort of loom appeals to some folks.  It repels me because of its style, size, and single purpose.  I suspect that even the shawl it produces is not my taste.

At any rate, I found it interesting that you can get the same product using different equipment.  You warp, then starting at one edge you clip warp threads one by one to use for weft, creating a bias selvedge and bias fabric when worn.

March 29, 2012

pink tweed doll blanket

This doll blanket in pink tweed handspun started out as a few rows I knit in garter stitch so I could let girls try knitting at a public handspinning demo.  The demo was cancelled due to rain.

Might have been smart to stow it in my bag for the next demo.  Instead it came along with me during ordinary life and I showed a little girl and a teen how I knit.  I sat across from one while trying to guide her as she tried to knit.  The perspective was wrong and as a consequence my attempts at guidance were wrong, which was awkward and a pity.

The doll blanket will go to the little girl.

I was pleased these straight needles were the correct size to knit the chunky yarn.  I have very few pairs of straights, as I've been using double points.  I bought these the first year I started to knit thinking I'd need them for a certain project but then they sat, admired but unused.

March 27, 2012

first pair of socks

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Sock Recipe: A Good Plain Sock (a.k.a. vanilla sock) from her book Knitting Rules, knit in Paton's Kroy 4 ply, flax colour.

Hurray, I have knit a pair of socks for the first time.  I still haven't experienced the great fit of handknit socks, though, since these socks are not for me and are not my size.

March 17, 2012

If I Went Wool Gathering, I'd Need a Basket

Harold B. Burnham and Dorothy k. Burnham's Keep Me Warm One Night: Early Handweaving in Eastern Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972) p. 25 shows a wool basket from Ontario in the early 1800s.  It is "made of willow withes in the shape of a rugby ball" which, if your school didn't have a team and you've never seen one, is like a chubby football.  The basket is 50 cm  (19.7 inches) long with a diameter of 32 cm (12.6 inches).  There is a square hole in the top that measures perhaps as wide as a third of the total length, perhaps a little more.

I assume that compared to a typical open-topped basket, this basket has the advantage of keeping the wool inside and not snagged by branches or borne away by wind.  I find the design attractive.

The authors note "this type of basket is well known in Scotland, and another smaller example has been seen in Cape Breton (Mackley Collection)....Baskets of this type were also used when teasing wool."

John Mercer's The Spinner's Workshop: A Social History and Practical Guide (Dorchester: Prism, 1978) p. 80 refers to the same type of basket but only in the context of preparing wool with hand cards: "The Highland Scots kept their rolagan [rolags] in a special container, the mudag; unaccountably oval, like a rugby ball, it had a hole in the centre of its side for the passage of the wool."

The shape makes more sense tucked under the arm out in the fields than it does resting on the floor indoors.

March 16, 2012

I Wish I Could Go Gather Wool

Elsie G. Davenport's Your Handweaving (Tarzana, CA: Select Books, 1948), p. 26 suggests for weft "fleece gathered from the hedges, washed and twisted slightly to strands about as thick as the cotton rug yarn."

Margaret Hutchings' Teddy Bears and How to Make Them (New York: Dover, 1964), p. 65 refers to gleanings in the section on stuffing with sheep's wool: "Country women can often collect this material off hedges and barbed wire fences.  Carefully washed it makes a wonderful toy filling."

Davenport and Hutchings were both from the U.K.

The Guardian has a slideshow with narration on how to make a classic fleece-snagging English hedge: "Disappearing Acts: Laying a Hedge," March 31, 2010,

March 14, 2012

Regress on the Second Sock

I knit all the way to the toe.  I tried on the sock.  I ripped back to the start of the gusset.  Something had gone wrong.  The angle of the decreases was too shallow and there was too much fabric over the instep.  I thought I'd decreased correctly but evidently not.

March 12, 2012

J. Young

Judith Buxton's Selected Canadian Spinning Wheels in Perspective: An Analytical Approach (Hull: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1992) refers on page 154 to a family of chair makers in Lunenburg, NS that also made spinning wheels under the names J. Young and F. Young.

When I visited the Knaut-Rhuland House museum in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia last year, there was a spinning wheel in the front room marked J. Young.  Makes it a very local product.

March 09, 2012

More Progress on Second Sock

Not to bore you or anything but I'm knitting the gusset of the second sock.

You can see the wrong side of the eye of partridge heel; because of the slipped stitches, it looks like stranded colourwork done with one colour.

March 03, 2012

Progress on Second Sock

The second sock is coming along; I'm partway down the leg.  I checked my gauge and it's still 7.5 stitches to the inch, which is what I want to see.

March 02, 2012

Lancaster Textiles: Last Mill Standing Video, on

It's one thing to know that mill towns in the West are declining.  It's another thing to see footage of brick rubble in a place that was once famous for textiles, and hear a factory owner and workers talk about their prospects and what's going on.

The factory sells puffy duvets for the domestic market.  One worker says that shipping charges on these large items make them too expensive to import from the East, and that's what keeps the factory from being undercut.

Shipping charges can have a bearing on a handspinner too.  It's possible to spend as much as twenty-five percent of your total cost on postage alone when ordering fibre.

March 01, 2012

Till the Dye Runs Clear

I am rather disgusted.

I thought I was buying good dye-fast clothes.  I reasoned that if wardrobes of undyed, naturally-coloured, or naturally-dyed clothing was unfeasible and out of reach for now, then at least we could wear quality commercial stuff with dyes well-bonded to the fabric and thereby minimize our exposure to synthetic dyes.

But a navy lambswool pullover and some burgundy wool socks just leached dye into their bowls of wash water.

Flint's Eco Colour made the same claims as Burgess' Fibershed blog about synthetic dye's adverse effects on the body.

Argh.  I suppose there are always pale colours.