April 25, 2012

A Short Pause

I am going to be busy the next little while and I will have little time to sit at the computer and write.  Posts are going to be sporadic.

April 23, 2012

First Handwoven Clothing

Trying to remember when it was that I first read The Woolcraft Book and saw a picture of a handspun coat similar to this.  Whenever that was, I've been wanting to make this since then.  At least two years, it's been.

The armholes turned out fine.  My anticipatory dread was worse than actual action.  I find that's true of a lot of new projects and new skills.  It's why I stayed put in my hat-making phase for so long.  I don't even wear toques yet I kept making them because I could.

I will wear this vest but only until I make something better, something free of synthetic dyes and with materials of traceable origin.

It was great to take this along to a public demonstration of handspinning on the weekend as a visual aid, to say this is what can be done with a spindle and a wee loom.

I set the day of the demo as my deadline and that helped motivate me to act on this project and get 'er done.

April 20, 2012


I've cut into the fabric and sewn some seams.  Am leaving the armhole until last, it's something I want to get right.  The top needs to land in the correct spot on the shoulder and both armholes have to be the same curve and size.

April 18, 2012

Three Pieces of Woven Cloth

Where there was one piece of cloth, now there are three.  Am thinking about how to piece these together into a vest that doesn't make me look like I'm in a western wearing a poncho.

Am also thinking, let's get the loom warped and go again.

April 16, 2012

one hundred, forty-sixth and forty-seventh skeins

Rose red BFL from Gale's Art spun to make more warp yarn for the cloth I'm weaving.

I am still so happy to say that: I am weaving cloth.  Yay!

Also happy to have spun up the last of this batch of fibre.

April 14, 2012

April 13, 2012

Tried a Tri Loom

I got a chance to try weaving on a tri loom the other day.  I enjoyed it.

Since I was unaccustomed to using the loom I found the pins at the edges a little fiddly to catch.  I expect practice would fix that.

I also tried wearing a triangular shawl.  The shape was comfortable and the shawl stayed put on my shoulders.

April 12, 2012

A Loom of Her Own

I am weaving.  Don't know yet if the cloth is good or not but it is as good as I'm able to make it at this point.

I followed the instructions enclosed with the loom and the Ashford video on warping a rigid heddle loom.

The yarn is the BFL from Gale's Art in natural dark, rose red on dark, and rose red that I spun last year.

I feel better now that I've started.  The loom sat unassembled in its box for months.  The direct warp method, the method in Ashford's video, requires a long surface on which you clamp the loom and the peg, and I only recently found a suitable spot.

April 09, 2012

Bosworth mini spindle

I bought a Bosworth mini spindle from the Journey Wheel site.  Bird's eye maple is my idea of nice stuff.

I could have gone for a featherweight spindle but to my mind the profile of the mini's design has more depth, more of the classic Bossie look.

I went for the new 9 inch length.  The previous shorter standard length was what kept me from buying before now.

This is the first spindle I've owned that is signed by the maker.

The spindle's function is as good as its form.

April 07, 2012

People of the Wind

I watched the 1976 documentary film People of the Wind about a nomadic people group and their flocks in Iran who cross a mountain range to get from their winter to their summer pastures.  The concept is much the same as the 1925 documentary Grass: a Nation's Battle for Life.  (I posted about that film when I saw it a couple of years ago.)

Again you see Turkish spindles spun suspended.  This time the woman is standing up while spinning.  The camera shows a closeup of the unspun wool threaded through the fingers of her left hand.  I would speculate that the wool has been put through a Tartar comb, given its short length of about ten inches and given the spinner's location and the firmly woven, rug-like cloth in tents, straps, bags, and coats.  Her right hand touches the Turkish spindle's cross bars, not the shaft, to get the spindle turning.  I believe she spins clockwise.

There are two scenes that show weaving on horizontal looms.  A man weaves inside a village building, weaving while negotiating with a customer who's in the market for a coat.  Out in the country, outdoors, women weave together on a coarse warp.  The uprights of their loom look like tree trunks four inches in diameter, very rustic.

I wish I'd watched the weaving more carefully.  I got the impression that one of the woman was opening a shed with some difficulty.  If I have it correct the village loom had treadles, the country one did not.  In both cases the warp was the maximum width to weave comfortably by hand unassisted, about 30 inches.  The man was weaving a pattern with light and dark wool, putting the shuttle only partway across the warp the way colours are done in tapestry.

Most of the shepherds wore the same sort of short sleeve, knee-length shapeless coat in light wool with dark geometric accents.  I kept trying to figure out the construction.  Footage of spinning and weaving was aggravatingly brief; the coats were there the bulk of the movie and kept me interested.  Is that a pleat under the armhole?  Are the fronts loom-shaped?  Is the back made of two pieces stacked one above the other with weft running vertically?  I'm certain I saw a seam across the back at the waist.  The dark geometric accents run vertically.  They are like thick dark stripes that come down from the shoulders but they don't go all the way down and they end at different places.  Like blunt icicles.

The sheep are a fat tail type.  The narrator says that the sheep do better when moved from pasture to pasture.  He says the settled people that he knows are poor herdsmen.  He also talks about debt and dealing with middlemen.  (I recently watched the 2009 documentary Ingredients and the shepherd there had similarly negative experiences selling to middlemen who set the conditions of trade.  I think he was in Oregon.)

In People of the Wind, the camera shows and the narrator describes some actions that would be illegal here.  It's not gratuitous, it all has to do with the migration, but it's unpleasant.

April 06, 2012

The Tisbury by Tall House Wheels

Came across an ad for a spinning wheel called the Tisbury.  You don't often see spinning wheels with elaborate surface ornamentation.

April 05, 2012

Power Wash

Someone I know told me that a shepherd she knows takes his power washer, sets it on low, and power washes his sheep before shearing.  She says the fleeces he sells are remarkably clean.

April 02, 2012

Elegance is Refusal

A order of wool turned up in the mail.  I find it tricky to judge wool at a distance.  In order to satisfy my curiosity I got the minimum amount of the types I wanted to see, planning to evaluate them and order more of the best.

The plain BFL looks lovely as expected with a demi-luster to it.  I will get more sometime.

The natural dark Corriedale to me is acceptable for a brown because it's quite dark.  By acceptable I mean I can bear to be in the room with it as long as bright light is not striking the stuff and turning it a lighter shade.  I prefer a true grey.  As expected the look is matte.  I prefer lustre.

I was hemming and hawing over whether to get more Corriedale.  Ambivalence is my cue to stop and realize that more would be a mistake.  I could delude myself and go on imagining that more would get me closer to making the wooly stuff I want to produce.  However, I would rue any followthrough on that wishful thinking.

The generic domestic blend of wool is noticeably coarse but not overly so.  The prep is well done: no chaff, no snarls.  I think it is a house brand.  There are a few dark strands.  I wasn't expecting first quality colour for the cheap price and I'm not a commercial dyer so I don't care about a few dark strands mixed in.

I originally thought I might stuff a pillow with the generic blend but the Cheviot I got in a previous order is much more springy and suitable.  Makes sense since Cheviot is a down breed.

I could use the generic wool to give away at demos to curious passers-by, all the while worrying about turning them off wool by giving them scratchy stuff.  Or I might resell the wool at my guild.

I recently resold at a slight loss most of the Gales Art Velvet Elvis braids for which I had mulled over an end use last year.  The braids are by all standards attractive and well-dyed yet my own ambivalence turned into a definite signal to allow someone else the pleasure of owning them.