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Author: heirloom51

Weaving with hand spun, again!

Weaving with hand spun, again!

Jan Scott documented the Sale and Exhibition put on by our Guild in early November, kudos Jan.  It was a great success and inspired me to try to answer a recurring question asked by so many of my clients.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t have the information for them.  Will this skein make a hat, scarf, mittens, socks, etc?  The response was always – ‘that depends’ and it does.  It depends on technique, the width of the weaving, stitch size, needle size, size of hands for mittens, and all sorts of variables.  It’s so frustrating to not have an empirical answer, so I decided to use my handspun and make a scarf, standard 14 inches wide by 40 inches long.

I calculated I had 234 yards/215m of brown and 495yds/457m of burgundy and silk.  I would need 106yds/98m brown for the warp and 214yds/196m burgundy and silk for the other part of the warp.  Based on that I had lots for the weft.  We’ll see. Math and I are not on speaking terms.

Just to keep the learning curve vertical, I also decided to use a warping mill along with my sectional beam.  If you have ever watched videos of industrial weaving facilities you will see huge walls of bobbins feeding into the back of looms.  A sectional beam is one step down from that.  All the threads you want are wound onto a single inch of the back beam of the loom.  So if you want to weave something with 20 threads per inch you need 20 bobbins full of thread to wind onto that little 1 inch spot.  You wind on for as many yards/meters as you want, then move to the next slot in the beam, wind on another twenty threads/inch and continue on.

The warping reel lets the weaver measure a single thread for the whole length of the project, change the colour as needed and then keep measuring for the whole length of the project.  It’s perfect for smaller projects. The craftsperson will have to decide when it’s time to move onto a different warping technique to suit their purposes.  This time I wanted to try a hybrid method of warping.

When using a warping reel you must keep the warp from tangling.  It can become the weavers’ worst nightmare.  I know in my early days I did lose the cross on one of my warps and nearly lost my mind.  It did get untangled but I swore it was never going to happen again, so I do double crosses on all my reeled warps.  Tie the cross at both ends of the warp.  Better to be safe than very, very sorry.

I also didn’t want to waste any of the handspun if possible since it was in very, very short supply, so I used a salvage technique of tieing onto an old warp.  This can save up to 24 inches or nearly 3/4 meter of handspun wool per thread.  That’s a huge amount of handspun. It’s also a ridiculous amount of work, so I’ll have to rethink this, but once done I was pleased with the result.

I still had to check for threading errors and there were some.  Don’t thread the loom late at night, don’t thread the loom late at night….and don’t thread the loom late and night.

The next morning, a quick check of the basic threading by lifting the threads at an angle shows that everything is in order, literally, and the threads are ready to be tied up and woven with a test thread.

And finally woven with the real stuff. I wish you could see this in real light, daylight, oh my goodness, it shimmers.

What a load of work, and what a great result!!  I had no idea my hand spun could be so lovely, I’m so pleased, but there is the last bit of finishing that I need to do and hopefully that will be successful too.  This will make a great display piece for the next Sale and Exhibition!

WHOOSH and now it’s Fall

WHOOSH and now it’s Fall

This summer started out with a lovely leisurely saunter to it, and now that sonic boom I just heard is Fall clambering for attention.  Our guild has participated in at least five demonstrations throughout the region, some lasting for several days.  Some were at historical sites, some were at agricultural events or country fairs, but all were a load of fun.  And a load of work.  So now, we are preparing for our own event.  Our guild will be having our Sale and Exhibition in early November.  I’ll be a vendor so I need to get going on sorting through inventory and (sigh) start labelling and pricing items.

I’ll be having braids, batts, and spun yarn

And being terribly disappointed in how the photos turn out in this horrible lighting.  These colours are not at all grey and sad looking in sunlight, but this is how they will probably look during winter, so I should take that into consideration when I make colours.  Indoor lighting will have an emotional effect on how people view their decisions.

Anyway, you get the idea that there will be a huge variety of different items available at our guild Sale and Ex.  I am partnering with another guild member who weaves.  She took her degree in Fiber Arts from a University in Nova Scotia and does superlative work. Jan will get some of those for you later I’m sure.

Finally, something cheerful!  Well colourful in a Fall sort of way at least.  I’ve ordered labelling cards which should arrive this week, so I can at least get a jump on things by cracking out the scale and start weighing stuff.  Here’s hoping everyone has a great Fall (my favourite time of year, busy though it is) an abundant harvest and lovely fibre to work with.

 

Processing a really dirty fleece, I mean really, really dirty…

Processing a really dirty fleece, I mean really, really dirty…

So many of us can’t resist a decent free fleece.  We all know that with a little work and water most fleece can produce some lovely fiber, right?  Early summer makes for full on fleece washing season.  I have two cheviot cross fleece that need to be washed before fall.  I use rain water as much as possible to rinse the fleece.  By rain water I do mean torrential down pours from thunder storms.  But lately we’re not getting rain unless it’s accompanied with horrific wind.

When I wash a fleece I leave it dry where ever I can find a space.  This fleece was particularly large, so it took up a lot of the deck.  I had to improvise by using net hangers.

Old lawn chairs that were past their prime

And a plant trellis I found at the local discount store which was particularly useful because it expands and then fold up for easy storage.

This cheviot is a cross with some other unknown breed.  It’s primarily for meat and was left to fool around in the fields and in the barn.  There is straw, and other bits of crud embedded in the top of the fleece, lots of lanolin protected the sides and under belly, so the majority of the fleece is decent condition. It was a lamb so there was amniotic tip damage as well as sun damage. But some of it was very nice, lovely and crimpy, as well as very soft.

Because the fleece was so questionable the only way I would ever consider processing this was with combs.  Combs have a tendency of breaking any fiber that is at all fragile.  This is exactly what I wanted to do with this fleece.  The combs would remove the damaged tips, trap the straw, manure, and other debris.  The major downside of using combs is wastage.  It would be huge on a fleece like this.  The other choice would be to hand tease the fibers from the debris, card and then spin the wool into yarn.  The end product would be a decent yarn, but I suspect it would be a bit fragile.  The fleece was just not worth that much work.  So out came the combs.

I have a few sets and am a firm believer in getting the best tools you can afford for the job at hand.  It won’t hurt you at all to get really beautiful tools either, its good for the soul. I did a test using my light combs, made by Roger Hawkins.  Sadly, these are no longer being manufactured, so I cherish the ones I have.  This is one of the reasons I only did a test with these little ones.  The wool was too dirty and too coarse for these combs.  The results were extremely good, but the output was tiny.

So I cracked out the larger set.  These need to be clamped to the table because they can take a lot of pulling and tugging when the combing gets a little rugged.  This set was made by Alvin Ramer, again these are not being manufactured anymore either.  One of the most important differences between the two sets is that the smaller set are relatively safe.  The tines are not sharp.  These are the ones I can safely and comfortably use while watching a movie or talking with someone.  On the larger set the tines are extremely sharp and must be used carefully.  Combing must be done at  90 degrees to the tines.  Some people think you comb down on the tines.  You do not; you comb across the tines.

This shows you the quantity of wool that can be loaded onto the larger comb.  It is locked into the block, which is clamped onto the table.  The other comb will be used in a downward motion to comb out the wool.  You can also see why this fleece is worth the work,  just look at that staple length!!

I did say there was lot of wastage – after three times getting combed this is what I threw into the compost, per combing.  So, I would comb once and there would be a tangled mess left behind.  That was removed and thrown out.  The wool was combed again, the tangle was removed and thrown out.  The wool was combed again, and once again, the tangle was removed and thrown out.  Finally the wool was dized off and turned into roving. The estimate for wastage is going to be 35% – 45% on the washed fiber.  The wastage on an unwashed fleece is anywhere up to 50% by weight. The final tally is wastage of approximately 65%.  I have to really estimate high because of straw, manure, lanolin and skirting.

The diz can be anything with a suitable hole.  Some people use buttons, I like this shell because it’s concave.  It needs to be turned as you diz to catch the little bits along the edge.

You need to see the difference in size between the two combs.  I have a third pair, but they are safely stored away.  They are the four pitch, sometimes called English wool combs that I used when processing Cotswold fleeces.

I really like the end result of combing.  It takes time and a bit of patience.  It also takes muscles that I forgot I had.  But it’s a wonderful way to salvage an unsalvageable fleece.  It’s a great way to enjoy a garden, park or private space while listening to birds, children playing in a pool, or a book, or music.  The fleece really was pretty awful, but the results are great.  I did a couple of test spins, singles, two ply and three ply.  The wool is resilient and bouncy.  It should dye nicely and ultimately be useful.

 

Drum carding to blend and mix

Drum carding to blend and mix

The spring destash was going to provide me with a lot of winter combings from spinning projects.  I comb long locks and keep the residuals for this purpose.  I also have left over bits of prepped wool that wouldn’t fit on the bobbin, plus samples and other miscellaneous interesting fibers. These are set aside and kept in the black hole loving referred to as ‘the safe place’ only to be discovered once a year during cleaning.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous and it was time to take full advantage of what spring can be to drum card outside after what was a disastrous weekend for so many people in this area.

I pick through the different colours and group them in ways that work together.  I liked the way the green, purple and blue shimmered in the sun, so started working with that blend first. 

Once through the drum leaves clear definition of colour and texture of some of the locks.

There is extreme inconsistency between the two batts and they need to be divided and put through the drum carder again to even out the blend.  I weighed them and was pleased to find they weighed 36.5 gm and 37 gm, so splitting them would work perfectly.  I split them and reweighed the bundles and found they now weighed 38 gm each.  Think I might need a new scale, but close enough for right now.

 

Twice through the drum and the blending is a bit more consistent, but not so much that the locks are getting taken apart.  I can still see one or two bits in the blend, so that’s good for these batts.  They are an overall single colour, but you can still see the individual bits that go to make the whole picture.

I tried to use two different terms here, mix and blend.  For me a mix is a thorough incorporation of the different fibers into one homogeneous mass. A blend is a more gentle suggestion that the fibers and colours work together, but remain individual.

The next batt was a mix of red, blue and purple.  This had bits of different breeds of wool; some merino, some suffolk, some unknown, as well as some silk in red and purple which will give a slight shimmer.  I really wanted to thoroughly mix the colours the way I would mix a dye to get a homogenous result.  Sounds easy enough, but it’s not.

This is the first pass through the drum to show how the colours stand out from each other.  The purple is gone, but the blue and red are clearly defined, some of the silk is blended, but some was very difficult to mix in.

After five passes through the drum carder I had to take a break and modify my standards; this is not the result I wanted, but it will have to do.  I enjoy seeing the colours that compose the overall result, but I wanted a thorough mix just to be able to say I did it.  The wisp of fiber in the center is for contrast to show the before and after of mixing.

There were also several bits of noils and knots some roving that was left.  It was piled into the drum and run through just to see if anything interesting would pop up.  This is really bottom of the sink sort of colours.  I was really pleased with the result!

Reminded me of the Prairies in the spring with crisp blue skies, dry grass, pink clouds.  I might need to take a class from Ann on how to do landscapes in felt.

 

 

 

Spring and cleaning and de-stashing and rediscovery

Spring and cleaning and de-stashing and rediscovery

Spring means many things, but it always reminds me of our Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild foray into growing our own flax, aka ‘The Flax Project’.  Its hard to believe it was over two years ago, nearly three, that a group of us tackled the happy adventure of trying to produce our own flax crop, not once, but twice.  It brought back memories of warm spring days planting and weeding, hot, hot summer days of staking and weeding (the one constant was weeding), days of harvesting, drying, retting, seeding, rippling, scutching and all those lovely bizarre words to describe specific processing of flax. Flax is grown and harvested in a community,  but it is customarily spun in the winter when there is no other more pressing work to do.  I find it very dusty and messy fiber to spin, or maybe I just don’t like doing that part without the shared company of fellow fiber lunatics.

So while I was clearing out bits and pieces of unfinished projects, I found my share of the flax and tow.

 

I also found loads of other flax that had been spun over the years.

Most have been left as singles and is ready for weaving.

Some I boiled as an experiment.  Flax will lighten in colour if you boil it.  It also softens significantly and your house will smell like hay soup.

Some came to me bleached, so I gave that a spin.  It was extremely soft.  My concern is for the durability of anything made with prebleached flax fiber.  Woven flax is renamed linen for those of you who didn’t know, and linen fabric is incredibly strong, and long wearing.

There are two down sides to linen; one is that it wrinkles.  I like the wrinkles of linen, especially jackets and trousers, but some people can’t stand that characteristic.  The other is its tendency to fade.  Linen will take colour but over time it will lose that colour and move towards white.  Again, I like this in linen, and it takes ages for this to happen.  A bright, bright blue will mute over years and acquire a vintage look that can only be seen in linen.

Covid enabled me to join a most remarkable group of flax enthusiast started by an extremely generous woman in Europe.  Her name is Christiane; she was gifted a large quantity of flax from a lady called Berta.  This was from Berta’s dowry.  Christiane decided to share it with other interested spinners and reached out on social media.  I asked for two stricks.  A strick is what the finished combed flax.  It is usually very fine, has little to no straw and is very tidy, ready for spinning.

Well!! You can imagine how this took off.  In the middle of a pandemic.  People desperate for knowledge, information, something challenging, interesting, contact with the rest of the world…this took on a life of its’ own.  Much of this flax was grown, processed and stored pre WW2.  It was of historical significance, to be part of that is pretty inspiring.  Christiane knows what she has and rose to the occasion.  She was gifted more dowry chests, documented more stories, and sent out more flax to more and more enthusiasts.  She also sent out hand woven linen, patterns, she wrote articles, held workshops, taught about the history of flax production in Europe, specifically Austria, helped flax lovers from all over the world to connect with each other. The project became massive.  She now has help to manage the administration of this mammoth undertaking.

Thanks to Christiane I now have suppliers of flax in Egypt and Canada and my treasures from Berta’s flax plus a community world wide I can go to if I run into problems and need answers.

Egyptian flax – over a meter long

But the question I’m sure many of you have is can flax be of any use to felters?  Yes, I think so.  For binding felt books, for embellishments, for stitching, linen backing on a felted image, dry felting onto a linen fabric (not sure, but the fabric is durable), there must be elements of cross compatibility.

The season for demonstrations is coming up and it looks like this year we can actually go out into the community again.  I am looking forward to taking along a fully dressed distaff with some gorgeous blond flax, blowing in the breeze, a little water bowl for dipping near at hand and inspire awe in the local population, that humans can make thread out of grass.  Okay, not awe, but maybe some curiosity, I’ll take curiosity.

The never ending silk recycling is finally woven

The never ending silk recycling is finally woven

The silk recycling is woven, it’s all done, finished, tutto finito bandito! I actually ran out of the red and orange silk so for the last little bit I had to dig in the bag and retrieve some matching silk with blue, red and orange. It looks just fine. Once the weaving was done I hem stitched the edge, wove in any loose warp threads and washed the yardage.

The whole mass went into the washing machine on a regular cycle, in cool water with my usual detergent. This is the way I plan on washing the finished jacket. I also did this to release any dyes that are lurking in the silk. The jacket will probably bleed dye for the rest of its life because some dyers do not set the dye in silk. The cotton warp took on a slight pinkish tint, so that helped to level the overall look of the fabric.

I plan to hang dry the jacket, so the material was taken outside to hand dry and freshen in sunlight. This proved a tiny bit problematic. The fabric was really, really heavy when wet. This is also when the light began to dawn that this was not, I repeat not, just a four yard warp. I left the fabric to dry on the railing overnight, where it promptly froze into position. Freeze drying works too, so two days later, in it came.

I was able to measure and confirm that this was clearly a massive piece of fabric. Originally, the warp was estimated to be ‘maybe’ 4 yds or 3.5 meters. It was purchased at an estate sale from one of our guild’s best weavers, but the labels fell off and things got a bit muddled when best efforts were at hand. I knew I was taking a risk, even getting it on the loom was a challenge, but I have no regrets. The length proved a great surprise and reward at the same time. It also explains why I ran out of weaving material. There are 8 yards or 7.5 meters, plenty here to make two jackets if I’m careful!

The final product is gorgeous. It just shimmers in the right light and I really want to do it justice. Even though it is a recycled product, or maybe because it is recycled, it’s important that the final result show the very best characteristics of the fibres that have gone into making it.

Our guild has an amazing resource for researching just about anything fibre related. Jan is our librarian. She is the lead book slinger in our heavy rental group called Jan and the Librarians; they have sessions once a month at the guild. I joined in last weekend and Jan supplied me with my requests for information on Japanese clothes, braids and ‘Saori’ weaving.

Japanese clothes design save weavers from the angst of having to cut their beloved fabric. The patterns are usually straightforward, basic, and interesting. I qualified this statement with ‘usually straightforward’ because I had never seen Saori weaving before nor the clothes that have been designed to use the material woven on a Saori loom. the book is in Japanese, the patterns are like origami on crack and they fascinate me endlessly. Until I can figure out the patterns I opted for a very conservative jimbei pattern from the jacket my son lent me. There are examples of simple patterns in one of the books.

This jimbei is meant for hot summer days. The sides are not stitched close but fastened with a cable stitch or stitched close with a decorative embroidery stitch. The underarm is left open, again for summer comfort.

The front is loosely tied or left open as preferred. I was interested in the reinforcement used at the bottom of the sides. These were the same reinforcements I found on the kimonos, so they clearly work.

The female version of this simple jacket has a closed wrist. It’s called a hippari. I might do one of these for winter if I have enough material left. The photos of the jimbei and hippari are from “Make your own Japanese Clothes” by John Marshall ISBN 0-870110865-X, I really enjoyed reading this book, lots of ideas for ways to incorporate the Japanese style into my life.

There are so many new things I will need to explore once I decide to start sewing this jacket. I’m really looking forward to getting the sewing machine out again.

 

Making a heather, tweed blend

Making a heather, tweed blend

The saga of our group silk purchase continues.  I was part of the purchase along with Ann and Jan.  I am a silk junkie so had to be very, very careful this time.  I only purchased some really new-to-me silk called peduncle.  As described by the vendors – “This is one of the most unusual spinning fibres we’ve ever encountered. It looks like pewter in fibre form. It has a stunning luster, and the brownish-grey colour is breathtaking. Peduncle tussah is fibre from the pedunculus (foot) of the cocoon, which is the little stalk the silkworm makes to attach itself to a tree branch.”  “Like all tussah spinning fibre, this one has “tooth” that makes it easy to spin. It’s a rare and spectacular spinning fibre.” I’ve been clearing out my stash and found a wonderful bag of grey with globs of coloured wool and thought it would be a perfect time to give tweed a chance.

I needed to do a test spin of the silk on its own to see how it feels, to be sure it would work with the wool.  I wanted the colour, but I wanted the lustre and strength too, so two small samples were done.  One is pure silk and one is a mix of silk and some wool.

Peduncle silk with a little skein of two ply silk
Close up of peduncle silk two ply
Close up of the silk/wool blend

 

Because I tend towards very, very bright colours working with heather tones is going to be a real challenge for me.  But I have been asked by a couple of people to at least give it a try to find some sort of earth tones that are complex to make into a yarn.  So this is my first shot. I dug through my stash and found a large bag of gorgeous wool, unknown breed and origin, but washed and ready to go.  It even had interesting colours added to the wool.

The best part for me was that the wool was washed.  This was a major time saver for me, especially at this time of year.  The colours in with the wool are some of my favourites, little bits of teal, brick red, olive green and the occasional dab of yellow or hot pink.  I was certain the silk would really work well with this mix.  The wool was teased apart into gorgeous clouds of wool. And then run through the drum carder for a preliminary mix.  This mix was weighed into 250 gm lots, that were split into 16 units, mixed and recombined into a final group of 16 batts.  This would give an even colour blend, but not a total mix.  The batts were only put through the carder four times.

I decided to keep things as simple as possible and weighed 250 gm of the wool blend to which I added 25gm of silk.  I’m saying this is 10% silk.  I suspect the percentages are not accurate, but so be it.

It’s really easy at this point when you need to add a weird weight to just divide the roving into equal lengths to suit your purposes.  In this case, I was going to do half of the 16 batts with the silk and the other half without, so I divided the silk into eight equal lengths.

I started the blending process on the drum carder and was surprised at what a difference adding the silk didn’t make.  I really thought there would be much more lustre, more glow.  I was certainly expecting more bang for the amount of work going into this.

These are examples of the two final products.  The top batt is 10% silk.  It is slightly more brown, and that’s about the best that can be said for it.  The batt at the bottom of the picture is the original before adding the silk and it has a slightly more blue tint, which I like.  I am not giving up on this silk.  While stash diving I found some other earth tone wool.  The strong pewter-tone of peduncle really is great and I want to find the right wool to pair it with.  I’m sure it’s out there. Experiments are always a way to learn something, so they are never a waste of time.  I never knew that making a really dynamic heather/tweed could be so challenging or so interesting.

Weaving the recycled silk

Weaving the recycled silk

The loom has been sitting there needing attention for ages and I finally stopped procrastinating.  Winter is a real challenge to get stuff done.  I knew there would be threading errors; there are always threading errors when I do a loom.  So I cracked out a good light and checked over the warp and found two.  One required that I undo about four inches and re-thread everything, yuch.  But the other was much easier.  I just needed to move everything over by one thread in the reed.  Very easy to fix.

All that needs to be done is wind 4.5 yards of warp yarn onto a bobbin, weight it, thread it through the empty space available in the reed and the harness, and let it hang out the back of the loom.  The harness is the part of the loom that goes up and down and raises the threads and has wire “eyes” for each thread.  I just use a very lightweight to keep the bobbin dragging a little. In this case, I used napkin rings.

Next, I had to load up the really nice ski shuttle specifically designed for rag and rug weaving. The tools for weaving are sometimes the most beautiful things you can imagine, really beautifully made with an elegant design.

After a few passes, I noticed more threading errors.  I fixed them and then noticed another.  It became obvious the problem was the lovely ski shuttle was damaging the warp.  I did a bit of research online and found out that the shuttles need to be maintained to a very high degree.  The bottom of the shuttle needs to be polished and extremely smooth, none of my hand me downs were of that quality.  I’ll fix them later, but for now, I needed an alternate solution.  Back to fixing the warp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dug around in my baskets and found a different sort of rag shuttle along with several stick shuttles.  The stick shuttle is a slower method of weaving, but it is all I had.  I was really pleased with how well it worked.

The silk is weaving up softer and more flexible than I thought, the colours seem very compatible and I’m pleased with the results.  The strips are attached with small knots and these are being used as design elements. I like the way they look when they pop up out of the warp.  Because this is an experiment I will try to hold in my optimism for this to become the jacket I had hoped for; that might be too aspirational, but I am aiming in that direction if I can get enough yardage, but for now, I’m really pleased with how things are moving along.

 

What is a balanced yarn?

What is a balanced yarn?

Weaving and all its assorted challenges were starting to get me frustrated, coupled with the instability we all have faced made me step away from any challenges.  So I went back to my spinning wheel and a delicious bag of dyed locks from my favourite indie dyer.  The breed remains a mystery, but the length of the locks, softness, crimp is fantastic.

I seldom do lock spinning with anything this long.  I know other spinners do amazing work with long wool, but I’ve never mastered the skill, so I flick card the fibers on my hand cards and use the opened locks to spin a worsted/semi-worsted yarn.

  

The locks were anywhere from 6 in. to 9 in (16 cm to 23 cm) and spun a single that was more than forty wpi, so it was extremely fine. Just as an example of what 40 wraps per inch looks like …

When I get a single this fine I do not use a centre pull ball for plying.  The tendency for tangles to form in the core of the ball and pull out in a nasty mess are constant and dealing with that just ruins the spinning experience.  I much prefer plying from two bobbins, which is what I did to get my puzzling results.

Balanced yarn, as defined by just about every book and online tutorial hangs in a nice loop.  This is done after taking the wool off the ply bobbin and soaking it in warm water to set the twist. The yarn is hung to dry, naturally without weights; it might be twirled to remove excess water but it’s left to dry on its own.  If the final product twists counter clockwise it is under spun, and can benefit from some added twist.

Technically, this rather dark image is of a balanced yarn.  It hangs in a perfect loop, just like all the books/instructors say.  Initially, I was really pleased with the results, for the first time in ages, I’d hit it bang on with the ply. But on closer inspection, not so much.  The yarn was really not usable for knitting and probably not usable for weaving either. 

There are far too many gaps in the ply, needles would get stuck and for all that it’s lovely and fluffy, it still had loads of areas that were not evened out of their excess twist.

The only choice was to run it through the wheel again to try to fix the problem.  I gave it more twist, hot water soaked it and hung it to dry as before.  The results are really great and I’m pleased as can be. Except… these results gave an over twisted yarn.

 

The over twist is really minimal but just the same it’s there.  I don’t know if it will have a negative impact for knitters or not.  I think as a weaver it will be just fine.  The colours as shown here are very misleading.  They are in fact deep heather tones, so I’ll be using black and brown to weave them into something dressy for my son’s.  They both expressed a strong dislike for the original colours but love the final yarn.

This is a very brief posting to allow all of you to get back to enjoying your New Years celebrations.  Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope it brings great things to you all.

 

Recycling isn’t easy

Recycling isn’t easy

The idea of upcycling and recycling is enormously appealing given the situation we all face. But going back and undoing work from others’ hands is challenging.  For those of you who have come late to my adventures in recycling,  I am disassembling worn out silk kimono to weave into more modern type of jacket, still with an Asian look, but done in a rag weave. This is part of the Japanese tradition of using materials to their utmost, so I don’t feel too bad about taking these garments apart.

The process of tearing or cutting the fabric is boring, boring, boring and just for a change of emotion it’s frustrating too!  I have dulled blades on fabric cutters, dulled scissors and now I’m trying a combination of rotary cutter and ripping, but still I’m not having great success.

 

Sometimes the silk tears into perfect strips

Sometimes the silk tears perfectly and the strip can be used exactly as it comes off the fabric, then the next strip goes completely haywire for no discernible reason.  These are really old kimono so my suspicion is that they have started to shatter, but that should be working in my favour when ripping, so I’m at a loss.

I have pressed and folded the silk and laid it out on the quarter inch.  This is when the straight edge and rotary cutter come out.  The silk used here is very fine, from the lining, so the width of the ribbon is a little more than the quarter inch. The poor rotary blade was starting to sound pretty grim after eight deep cuts.  I’ll look for a small sharpener to try to extend the life of the blades.

The ribbons are joined into one long ‘thread’ using a split knot.  A small cut is made in each end of the ribbon about a quarter inch from the ends.

 

 

The right hand ribbon is threaded through the slit in the left hand ribbon.

Then the very end of the left hand ribbon is threaded through slit in the right hand ribbon.

And finally, they are gently given a slow and gentle pull until they come together in a little butterfly knot that will be a design element of the weave.  It will be random and just pop up here and there on the fabric.

I find doing this hour after hour nearly mind numbing, and can only do this for a few hours a day or two at a time.  I really want to finish this kimono project but it’s getting to be a slog so I have to take breaks.  I will finish it, but not in the original time line.  What do the rest of you do when you have a project that starts to pale as time goes on?

This time boredom prompted me to crack out the dye pot and do something vivid and cheery for a November day.

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