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Spinning Poker Challenge

Spinning Poker Challenge

Every summer my weavers and spinners guild does a fibre poker challenge. You can choose weaving, spinning or felting. I am doing spinning and felting. This post is about the spinning challenge. I haven’t started my felting one yet.

In these challenges, they make up 4 decks of cards. The cards for spinning are Fiber, Colour, Type of Yarn and General Design. You pick one from each to get your poker hand. You are allowed to return one and draw another.

Mine are

Fibre: surprise us.

Colour: dark rich colours

Type of Yarn: thick and thin

General Design: include locks

I decided I wanted to try spinning some of the silk hankies I have. these looked like dark rich colours. Well, not that dark but not pastel.

I looked up what was the recommended way of prepping them for spinning. It was to poke a hole in the middle and stretch them out. Most of the drafting is done in the stretching out. I did 2 of each colour. They stretch quite far. I am sure I could have stretched them at least twice as long but I didn’t want my yarn that thin.

I

I also have to do thick and thin. I decided the easiest way to do that was to use the required locks to create the thick parts. I think these are Bluefaced Leicester.

I don’t have a spinning wheel. I like to spin small amounts, so I use a drop spindle I have quite a few.

 

After I finished the 4 silk hankies I made it into a center-pull ball. My original intention was to ply one end against the other.

But then I changed my mind. I spun some purple silk top to use as the other ply.

I made it into a center-pull ball as well. I put one small ball on my thumb and one on a finger. I used a little painter’s tape to keep the outside thread from unravelling as I will be pulling from the center, then I can control how fast it pulls out. I like painter’s tape as it’s just sticky enough to hold but comes off easily without grabbing and pulling the fibres and doesn’t leave any sticky behind. If I was going to store the ball I would tie the two ends together instead.

           

Somehow I guessed right and had just a little more of the second simple single than the first fancy single.

That’s my laptop lid so as you can see there wasn’t much extra.

I wound it off into a skein. It looks a little wobbly at first but it needs to have a bath to let the spin show what it’s really like.  I used the small extra piece to tie the skein in 4 places. I wanted the 4 ties because I am very good at tangling skeins.

 

Here it is after its bath and hang to dry. I didn’t use any weight to try to set the yarn, I wanted it to be its natural self. I am quite happy I managed to get a nice balanced spin. I took to pictures flipping it over so you can see both sides.

I spread it out more and took a close-up. I am really please with how this came out. It was difficult to get the locks in because naturally, the twist wanted to go to the thinnest part.

 

I hope you like it too. It was a bit of a challenge but that’s the point, get you doing something you wouldn’t normally do.  I could have wished for some action shots but it’s hard to spin and hold the fibre and hold the camera. It puts me back to wondering why on earth my prehistoric ancestors got rid of the prehensile tail, it would be so handy.

Silk Thrums – what DO you do with them??

Silk Thrums – what DO you do with them??

Silk thrums are gorgeous, jewel-like bits of temptation, rich in colour, shiny and sparkly, promising all sorts of lovely uses that will amaze everyone. Or not. Silk thrums are one part of the left overs from the sari silk industry. This is what can’t be woven on the loom and has to be cut off. I would like to see how saris are woven to understand the way the wastage is generated, it still puzzles me, but silk thrums are available in vast quantities to crafters all over the world. The problem with sari silk, and its a huge problem, is how the silk is dyed. There do not appear to be industry standards for colour fastness. Silk is a tricky fiber on a good day, so if dyers can’t determine dye acidity, water temperature, water hardness, or can’t properly degum the silk, the dye will run. I decided to try to use this characteristic of sari thrums to an advantage to see if there could be any benefit to be had.

I took a brilliant red thrum, trimmed the ribbon end and trimmed some silk fibers. The ribbon was soaked in hot water to leech out the dye. The colour saturation was evident as soon as the ribbon was in the jar. The water was totally red, but there is no way to do any metrics on this because the original silk was dyed with an unknown quantity of dye. All this is just a “see if this works” experiment. I snipped a tiny quantity of silk fiber, set it aside to mix with the wool roving I had chosen for dying.

I spun the rest of the silk threads into a single ply yarn. I’m taking a liberty in calling this a single ply, it is in fact a multiple thread yarn. The sari silk is made up of extremely fine thread. I respun those into a single thread with added twist. I can’t show them to you because my camera just can’t pickup the delicacy of those threads.

It was difficult to spin at first, because the fibers are nearly 36 inches long and tended to get tangled. I’ll try a different method next time, but it is possible to spin this into a reasonably nice yarn. The single yarn is plied against some of the merino top that is the basis of the dye bath test. I’ll use this later as part of the dye test.

When I plied the single merino wool with the single red silk they worked well together This is the most durable, hard to break fiber I have ever handled. Silk really is amazing.

I presoaked the remaining merino, drained, opened it along a mid-seam, sprinkled the snipped silk threads all along the centre. I then rolled the merino into a tube and wrapped it with the ribbon from the soak jar. This was set in an acid bath and topped up with the dye water from the soak jar. I use an oven to dye my wool. I cooked this for about two hours at 100C/220F. I expected a more vibrant red, not the pale orange, but this is an experiment, so expectations have to go on the back burner.

 

Spinning wheel Birthday-Xmass pressent arived

Spinning wheel Birthday-Xmass pressent arived

Electric Eel Wheel 6.0

Last year during the early covid of 2020 Glenn was browsing Kickstarter, likely looking for no-fun-train-board-games which he enjoys. This time he found an electric spinning wheel looking for funding. I had a tiny portable electric wheel from the same developer which worked great but I found the tiny bobbins frustratingly tiny! Glenn was sure a bigger bobbin and a upgraded motor strength would be a perfect x-mass/birthday present.

 Electric Eel Wheel (EEW) 6.0 was described as a production eSpinner that offers large bobbins, quiet operation and could both spin and ply. It was developed by Maurice Ribble (his company is called Dreaming Robots).

(what a cool logo!!!)

The Kickstarter campaign was active May 21 2020 – Jun 20 2020 (30 days) and 1,791 backers pledged $445,892 to get the project going by pre-ordering EEW 6.0’s. Maurice was very good at keeping everyone up to date with development, testing, and manufacturing. He asked for impute for the instruction booklets and made instruction Videos too. (He has made 114 update videos so far on you tube.) if you missed the Kickstarter but would like one too he is selling them on his website. https://www.dreamingrobots.com/

Earlier this month a mysterious box arrived at our postal box, it was a very sturdy box and seemed to be quite full of something…. Could it be? YES!!!

The Unboxing:

1-2 Well packaged, a good weight, there must be something interesting in here.

3 Excellent packaging, but I may have opened the bottom end.

4 I wonder what this is?

5-6 Oh my! Is this the Lazy Kate parts?

7-8 Six bobbins and a flyer,

9-10 and the base with power cord, foot on/off switch and battery holder.

This is obviously a box with no bottom it just keeps adding more stuff to the table!!!

11 No I am mistaken there is a bottom!! How did it all fit in there?

Glenn took the parts away to do the assembly but got distracted watching something on his computer, after a couple “is it done yet?’s” it was and I got to try it out.

I think there are 3 of us in the guild that have received this wonderful new wheel, Angela T, Terry N and myself. Angela was fast and had hers unboxed, assembled and photographed before mine even made it home from the post box. I posted pictures of the box, its contence and a video of the first spinning on my new wheel in the guild Facebook group. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, lightweight, electric wheel with a big bobbin and orifice, you may want to check this out. I hope we will be able to resume socials sometime this summer, I am suspect all three of us will be bringing our new wheels. (There is a battery you can get so you don’t need a long extension cord!!)

12 test driving new electric wheel

12 Here is the video. (i am working on finding a format will keep trying)

I was working on this post, had only spun a bit, when I finally got through to my Doctors’ office to ask questions about the Covid vaccine and was advised just get whatever was on offer. So next call was to one of the local pharmacy to ask more questions and inquire how long the waiting list was. I was extremely surprised to get the offer of a cancellation later the same day. I did mention I have not done well with flu shots in the past and have an odd assortment of allergies. So, I fretted until it was time to drive over for the Shot. I wound up with the AstraZeneca shot with a second coming in August. The Pharmacist did a fabulous job with the injection. However, within 3 hours of the injection I started to feel all over achy, nauseous, headache…. and crawled off to bed with my plastic bucket. It took about 3 days to climb back out of bed with only a stiff shoulder, exhaustion and bouts of wanting to go back to bed. With that much of a reaction, it defiantly means I got a dose that works.

13-14 having fun

I have had a chance to spin a bit more and am enjoying quiet motor, large bobbins and the adjustable speeds. I haven’t tried plying on it yet, but suspect that it will be as easy spinning is.

Some Spinning

Some Spinning

I haven’t had much time for felting with the puppy and lambs. I did manage a little spinning.

I got some nice tweed roving from World Of Wool. I think they will make nice hats and accessories. Then I wanted something to spin so I thought I would try these.

This is the pink. The dark flecks are viscose. It drafts nicely and makes a really nice yarn.

And the grey. Over-dying them might be interesting too. The viscose won’t take the wool dye.

They were both nice so I thought I would try combining them.  I pulled off a thin strip of each colour and drafted them together. This is the single. I am winding it off the spindle into a centre pull ball so I can ply one end against the other.

and this was the result.

 

I think I like the two spun together best.

I am a slow spinner. I do it because I enjoy it but I don’t want a lot of anything. I am not making sweaters or even socks. I will use them for some decoration on some felt, probably.

This is is what I am currently spinning, some yellow for the glitzy line at World of wool. It has some super bright triloble nylon in it so it has lots of sparkle.

Yellow, isn’t a colour I have a lot of in my stash but I like how this is turning out. Surprisingly the multi-coloured sparkle tames the yellow. Do you spin? have you thought of it. It’s fun, portable and you can make some great yarns for decorating your felt.

 

 

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Day 2

After leaving the hedgehog overnight to dry on the air filter, he had successfully completed his mission to dry.  

I could now begin to add a bit more width to his cheeks. Next, add his coat. I chose an Icelandic fleece using the outer guard hair part of the dual coat as the bristles and bits of the inner coat to help space and increase adhesion of the guard hairs.

27 time to consider the face and coat

I separated the tog (outer coat of guard hairs), which is less inclined to felt when wet, from the undercoat which is soft and crimpy. To separate the two types of coats, hold the tips and base firmly and gently pull away from each other. Sometimes it takes a bit of a rhythmic tugging to free the tog. Once separated, I could use the tog to start building the outer prickles for the hedgehog.

I used a 38 star needle for most of the felting (except the ears which I also use the fake clover tool with T40’s loaded). I lay the guard hairs down, attaching across the locks then laid in a bit of the under coat to increase adherence. I worked the needles at low angles to almost parallel to the fibers catching a few fibers in the barbs at a time and pushing them into the layer of felt over the soap bar.

I added a bit of the under coat to give extra adhesion.

I then folded up the tips which had been pointing away from the fibers I was adding to.  Again securing them into the under layer of felt above the soap.

Occasionally I would add a bit of the under coat to the folded tip side too.

The order of addition was backwards to the layering I usually do when I want a coat to lie naturally. Since I wanted this to stand up, I needed to increase the density of the coat so it would not lie down. This time I starting from around the face (in white) then switching to the darker part of the coat, worked back towards the butt. I left the butt ends a bit shorter than the tips as I laid them in.

Once I got his coat on, I brushed and lifted the ends with the mini carder (dog brush). This fluffed him up nicely.

He is a cute little hedgehog! Here is a shot of the underside so you can see the bar of soap which is the base.

45 the soap base

Laying in the coat which is quite tightly packed took most of the day. I finished him after dinner and did the fluffing. So this would not be a economically viable option for mass production. There are a couple other options that may work faster such as using a section of the washed fleece and attaching it to the underfelt more as a blanket rather than a few locks at a time. I suspect it would not give the density that adding locks as I did allowed.

Finishing touches

Poor little guy, doesn’t suspect his life will be full of wetness then getting dry just in time for the next wetness to set in. I bet he would drip dry quicker if he could hang up.  I should add a “rope” for this soap.  I looked first at a piece of Kumohimo but the cotton fiber seemed wrong.

46 kumohimo option

So, I took the brush waste from the mini carder and added some of the washed locks and drafted it out. By adding a good deal of over twist with one of my spindles, I quickly had a two-ply yarn that could be mistaken for a rope.

I added the rope with a bit of needle felting along the edges of the underside of the soap-hedgehog using a bit of the under coat and pulled apart bits of the extra yarn to help secure it.

50 adding the rope to the soap

Ah, that’s better a way to dry faster and a loop handle so you don’t have to pick him up by his nose!

51 “please don’t pick me up by my nose!”

Last thing left to do. It is Valentine ’s Day after all, so He needs a Heart! I hunted around, found my bag of various red coriadales, choosing Nutmeg, and hand blending it with some of the reddish brown undercoat from the Icelandic fleece. (Colour should never be flat! Unless you are doing something graphic)

A few quick stabs and I had the shape. Now to add it to the right spot. Hmm, there is not much wool on the underbelly of this hedgehog! So, I was very careful in the angle of felting. The needle does sink into the soap fine but leaves a stinky soap smell on the needle and a bit on the wool as it emerges. (Just a warning – make sure you keep the angle of entrance and exit the same or the soap will want to break your needle)

55 “the Hedgehog is in the bag!!”

Now I just have to wait to find out if Glenn likes his new shower time friend.

56 “Glenn, can you meet me in the bathroom to unwrap your valentine’s day present please?”

      57- 62  the unwrapping, he found the Heart!

Yes Success!! I will try to get a shot after his first shower experience and see how he holds up!

63 First Shower! one bedraggled hedgehog

Epilogue

There seems to be a strange moose in my bed but he does have a bag of chocolate Easter eggs so I guess he can stay! (This is Canada, you do find moose in odd places here, often in swimming pools)

E-1 What is that in my bed?

 It is normal to see the triceratops, Cthulhu (who is somewhere else today) and the Balrog in bed. The moose was a surprise so was the chocolate, he can stay.

the last word from Hedgehog:

“Oh the Humanity!!! i give you my soap so you are clean!! Now i drip!!! Oh the wetness!! Oh the horror!!!”

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Oh NO! I got distracted! I will get back to work shortly but I was so inspired by Alex’s Ladybug or Bird and was wondering if a hedgehog would work with a bar of soap? There was also a suggestion of a heart of soap for valentine’s day…… hmmmm. I wonder if I can combine that?

Bad Brain!!! Stop thinking and wondering where the soap stockpile is stored! No! It’s wet felting! It involves getting wet!! NOOOOOO! Remember brain we like needle felting partly for its DRYNESS! Even if there is occasionally a bit of blood, it’s not as wet as wet felting! ….hmmmm.

I think Glenn would like a hedgehog soap for Valentine’s day, it will last longer than chocolate or flowers!, (the flowers without roots that is.)  Oh well, I guess it must be done, I will get wet! Step one, I will need to clean the bathroom sink (yes there is almost no counter space in the bathroom so it was messier before I neatened it up a bit).

Let me think, what will I need? Fibre, soap bar, a container to work in (the drain is problematic so let’s use a plastic box to work in), I need to find some bubble wrap and maybe a zip lock bag would help contain the wetness? I blended up a bit of white and beige for the nose and over felting fibre.

I discovered that the soap hoard is woefully low at least of my glycerin soap (remember to add that to the shopping list). Luckily, Glenn’s giant package of smelly soap from Costco was only half gone! He probably won’t notice one is missing until after Valentine’s Day right? (he didn’t)

Day One:

I quickly noticed that the sink is not a comfortable work high. I wonder if I flip over the storage box and use that as a table surface. Yep, much more comfortable. Remembering the instructions from Alex and his Mom, the fibre must encompass the soap. Then the fibre and soap are secured by putting it all in a nylon and felted. I don’t have nylon. I also want to have more fibre on the back than the belly as well as having a nose and face at one end.

Layout

I alternated thin layers making a shape that would wrap around the soap and then added more in the middle and towards one end.

 

A bit more in in the butt I think then wrap and a bit of needling to hold everything together.

 

He needs a nose; a bit more poking will fix that. Better check photo reference! I watched (listened to) a few YouTube videos as I continued to needle felt until the general shape was achieved.

I found a small piece of bubble wrap (I spotted the larger piece after I was done) and an extra-large sandwich bags.

10 ready for his bath!

Now the hard part, I have to get the wool wet so that soap (Liquid Lavender and cucumber you can see in the photos) and agitation can do their work. Hedgehogs’ first bath!

I got a flash of a brilliant idea! If I put the wet soapy hedgehog and the bubble wrap in the extra-large sandwich baggie I could sit and watch the impeachment of the neighbour’s ex-president. Rather depressing, but it will keep my mind off the possibility of impending wetness. (I will work in the plastic bin in case that happens).  The seal was stressed but as much as the soapy bubbles tried, only a few escaped.

I started softly, gently, caressing the fibres. Slowly increasing my pressure until I was massaging with some enthusiasm (I have a license for that!). Unlike work, I used bubble-wrap on this patient, focusing on the nose and the general body shape. I built up so much soapy lather that it became hard to see the hedgehog! After a few impeachment presentations, I felt I had achieved Felt!! I also had not sprung a leak and got wet!

Time to rinse out the suds and make sure the felting worked! (really I can’t see much in all this soap!)

I brought the Hedgehog back to the office so he could dry and finish watching YouTube, maybe I will have to give him eyes so he can better see what is happening. In the meantime, he is practicing some form of Yoga nose stand. I wonder what that pose is called. (Balanced nose drying?)

While I know watching a naked, eyeless, hedgehog dry is absolutely fascinating, and is worthy of hundreds of photos, at every stage of wet to dampness to ultimately dryness. I can see that you may have other things to do so I will resume once he has accomplished his mission to dry. So I will pause today and resume to see if I can add spines and other important parts.

To be continued on Day 2!

 

A New Drop Spindle and the Holiday Card Exchange

A New Drop Spindle and the Holiday Card Exchange

In early September I came across the website John Galon Designs. I think I found the link in a spindle group on Facebook but I don’t remember. https://johngalen.com/  He makes beautiful spindles, many from old, timepieces. I didn’t get a timepiece one but I did get one.

Here is the reveal

Are you ready? here it is:

It is a very pretty and cool spindle. The acrylic in the middle is actually clear but the purple of the spindle radiates out through it. There are about a dozen colours to choose from. I am really pleased with it. Now I need to spin properly with it. I am not used to a spindle with such a small whorl.

The other thing I wanted today is to announce the 2020 holiday card exchange on the Felting and Fiber Studio Forum.  We have been doing a card exchange for several years now. Its a fun and easy way for us to share a little cheer at this time of year.

You can sign up on the forum, here: Holiday Exchange link

the deadline to sign up is Oct 24th, Partners will be assigned ( by random generator) on Oct 25th

You have to make a felt card and send mail it to your partner by Nov 14th

Once you receive your card you post a picture of it on the forum

The cards do not have to be Christmas cards they can be anything. There is a lot going on in late December and there is New Year too.   We are starting a little early this year and on a tighter timeline, having you ship earlier so the cards have a good chance to get there for the holiday season.

Here are a few I have made over the years

 

 

 

A Busy week, but my Mer-Teen is underway

A Busy week, but my Mer-Teen is underway

Today I wanted to tell you about the Quadra-dents, and show you how i made them.  I know they should be Tri-dents but I like the look of Four points better than three.  As frequently happens life gets busy or interrupts and plans get put aside for other plans. so i will get back to the quadra-dents i promise!

P1650915

 the Quadra-Dents

Unfortunately, last week I started to feel a bit better, so tried to catch up on gardening while sitting in a chair. I was working on weeding the tall pots along the driveway, transplanting catnip out and planting the herbs and vegetables in. I think I just did too much of it. To be fair the side yard and some of the back patio look much better.  I will be having words with that chipmunk that seems to have other plans since he or she keeps digging deep holes in pots I have already planted and moving or removing things I had wanted there.

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1-10 Maybe these will give inspiration, Highlights of the front, back and side yard (yes that is a portable forest. the city wont let me plant poplar trees in the ground so the self seeded ones that start in my garden get moved to pots and grow happily there)

I did get a bit of felting in between meds, Dr’s visits, checking out a walker and weeding.

11 11  it is important to check Vital ergonomics when getting a vehicle.  My early cars were purchased on their ability to carry my warp waited loom in the hatchback.  Now its wheels and fiber as well as the looms!

 My Mer-teen is underway. i think she is taking after Mr. Mer since she also has great lats! (It must be all that swimming).  My goal is to get all the under-structures done so I can look at the proportions and keep them in scale.

12 12 Skeletal Mer-teen, Mrs. Mer and Mr. Mer.

This time I started working from the head down instead of starting with the legs and tail then working up. I have varied the order of application of fiber each time and seem to be getting a good outcome from all three.  So order may be more preference or to help keep in scale for the head and body.  This time I am going to add hands after I have the rest of the body blocked in. That will allow me to lengthen where the wrist is, if I need to. I think the torso may be a bit long on her parents but I’m short wasted and don’t like water thus haven’t seen a mer-person so maybe they are longer wasted than I am.

I have yet again notice felting while listen to an audio book ( this time  part of Wen Spencer’s Tinker series)  while  it is very productive, does make me forget to take photos. I remembered to take some as I switched books to Lynsay Sands’ the Trouble with Vampires.

I made latissimus dorsi, SCM and upper traps. I made use of the 3-needle pen tool, and the up to 20 needle tool (set up for 12 needles) and various single needles for different parts of the body, head and arms. i am continuing to use the slightly felted batt of alpaca in variegated  shades of light brown- beige. it may felt a bit quicker with some wool content but i am liking the effect the alpaca is giving.

131415 13-15 making and adding upper Trapezius

1617 16-17 you can see the lateral superior border of pec major heading towards the bicipital grove,  the deltoids,  both the clavicular and sturnal heads of SCM and both clavicle.

I will keep working on the under-structure and hopefully will be ready to start the top layer soon.

I hope you are all having fun felting! Hopefully you are felting and relaxing out in your garden enjoying the summer! Stay safe and healthy!

 

How to Make a Wrapped and Felted Bangle,

How to Make a Wrapped and Felted Bangle,

The other day I made a bangle. I have made them before but it has been a while. So long ago, I can’t find the pictures. I know I have seen them recently while looking for something else.  I was not as good at labelling things then as I am now so searching didn’t help much. Anyway, for this one, I wanted to use some of my handspun. I have many little balls of yarn as I never make much of any one thing.

To start you need a piece of cord or yarn.  Make it the size you want your finished bangle. It will not shrink in size. I used a scrap of yarn.

You need some wool and some yarn. I am using some very dark purple merino but you won’t see any of it when I am done.  The yarns are some of my mostly wool handspun.

Wrap the roving around the string. Wrapping down through the hole and back around until its all covered.

At first, I thought I would wrap the 2 yarns side by side. The larger ball was too hard to poke through the hole all the time. I forgot to take a picture of wrapping the pattern I did but you can see here how snug I did it. It is compressing the roving but not a lot.

This is the wrapped and wet bangle.

At this point, I  just wrapped my fingers around it and squshed it like making a playdough bracelet. Move the bangle around and around so it was all getting squished. I did that for a few minutes, not very long as I am impatient. I rolled it up in a rolling mat. It’s a piece of the foamy, rubbery shelf liner.  I rolled maybe 10 times and then unrolled rotated and flipped it. I did that maybe 4 or 5 times. I wasn’t thinking about it as a tutorial at that point, so I wasn’t keeping track. When I was done it was flat.

Don’t panic, just pick it up and put one hand into the hole and one on the outside and roll it back and forth in the hands like making a playdough snake. Do that all around the bangle until it is round again and feels firm. You could just squeeze it for longer and then roll it in your hands if you don’t want to roll it in a mat.

It really works, it is round and the yarn has given it texture, as well as colour. The longest part of making the bangle is wrapping the yarn.  If you were not as neat as I was, you could do it much faster and would have a more textured bangle.

 

Here it is dry.

You can see it’s a little fuzzy. I wanted more texture and more sparkle. Both Yarns have silk and some Angelina in them.  So I got out my trusty dollar store disposable razor and gave it a heavy shave.

There is a lot more texture and you can see some of the minor colours and some shiny and sparkly bits. I had a really hard time trying to capture the sparkle. Most of the little pink dots are sparkle and the orange Bits are silk.

It is too large for me really It would fall off if I would it loose on my wrist. I push it up to my forearm. On a less Rubenesque person or my much younger self, the upper arm would work well. It was fun to do and I should have thought of it for the first quarter challenge.

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

Spinning for a Purpose: workshop 1

One of the advantages of being in a local Guild is definitely the people. We are very lucky to have quite a few who have taken the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners (OHS) Master Weaver or Master Spinner programs. It’s a multi-year, very challenging course. If you’re curious, an overview of the spinning program can be found here: https://ohs.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/SPINNING_CERTIFICATE_PROGRAM_OVERVIEW_1.pdf .  The master weavers description is outlined here https://ohs.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2018-03-29-Weaving_Certificate_Course_Outline-1-1.pdf

Cindy O’Gorman is one of the guild members that has made it through the master spinners program and is an amazing teacher. She has been very busy at work and has not been teaching too often the last few years but was talked into doing a series of evening practical spinning workshops this year. The concept is to take a type of fleece, add a particular processing technique and spinning technique to form a yarn appropriate to a specific end use.

1 1 Cindy O’Gorman our teacher

Before the Guild shut down due to the virus I was able to attend her first workshop in this series and wanted to share the fun I had taking her evening fibre prep/spinning workshop.

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2-5

For the first in this series, she chose a fine wool with an amazing crimp (that’s the springy kinkiness you see in the fibre) it was a Rambouillet / Merino cross. She used small mesh bags to wash some of the fleece (which kept the lock structure intact) and had washed some in a clump which did not clean the tips as well. The small baggies show the colour the fleece was before washing.

67 6-7

For the OHS program, she had made a chart of various different ways to classify wool and sample of some of the many types. She also had a yarn size and twist angle gauge. This would be useful shortly as we tried to match the yarn she had used as warp on the rigid heddle loom she had brought for us to sample with.

Next was how to process the wool to prepare it for spinning. We used small fine combs. I had brought my 2 pitch Alvin Ramer Combs, single pitch Viking combs (from Indigo Hound), a few of my Bee combs (Decapping Combs) and a wooden handled dog comb.

88 My combing options.

99 Alvin Ramer 2 pitch combs. I use the blue clamps with them since the original C-clamps stayed with one of the previous owners.

101110-11  Viking single pitch combs (with diz on the green gardening wire). They were a Christmas present from Glenn quite a few years ago.

1212 Bee Decapping combs (Bee combs) these were from Princess Auto but you can find them online. The handle angle is not the best for using as a pair the way normal combs work but can be used singly to tease open a lock.

1313 Dog comb. Again, this was ok to tease locks open but didn’t work as a comb.

Unfortunately, my selection was not fine enough so we used the Roger Hawkins combs.

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I went looking for a good picture of them online and stumbled across this really nice shot.  Then I thought it looked rather familiar. Yes, that is my picture of a bunch of Roger Hawkins combs! It’s odd to see your own photos show up in an online photo search.

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Cindy had two pair of Hawkins combs and had the guilds’ pair of the Louet Mini Combs. Unfortunately, the Louet combs have not stood up well to guild use. The tines have become loose. (watch for the picture of dizing from the comb)

 

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She had us load the combs with the butt end in the tines and the tips exposed to the tines of the second comb. Stressing that it was important to only comb enough to make the fibres parallel and get rid of neps and vegetable matter. We did this by transferring the fibre from one comb to the other and back again.  One comb was held tines up and the other with tines horizontal. Working from the outer tips slowly transferring fibres until we had as much fibre as possible migrate. (Don’t throw away your combing waste that remains on the comb!! Keep it for core felting something later!)

We spun off the last comb, remembering to space the fibre up the comb so it would draft more easily.

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She had us try both short forward and backward drafting directly from the comb.

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We had quite the selection of wheels; an Ashford Traditional, the Matchless, a Louet and a Rook by Lendrum.

Next was on to Dizzing!  What a cool word Diz, to Diz, we Diz, we are Dizzing and we have Dizzed. It may just be the sound of the word or maybe having a plethora of z opportunities is what makes it a great word? Anyways, on to the dizzing. Using a button, shell, or a piece of curved plastic will work as a diz. The size of the hole will change the amount of fibre that is pulled through to make the sliver. A small crochet hook or loop of fishing line will help start the fibre through the hole. For best results, it is important to get the concave curve towards the fibre. (Like this;  spinner —-(===== fibre source)  You can diz from a drum carder too if you were curious.

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Again reposition the fibres upwards in the tines if the drafting feels resistant.

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3131 I need a button with a slightly smaller hole and I should pick up a tiny crochet hook!

All this work is worth it.  Look at the lovely fluffy clouds waiting to be spun!

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Spinning from the slivers was much easier than from the comb (which was actually a lot of fun). We quickly spun up singles with which we could then try weaving.  We wound off the spinning bobbin and directly onto a weaving bobbin using a bobbin winder. A single, being an energized yarn, I put my wheel back away from the bobbin winder to give the twist a bit more space to even out before winding on to the weaving bobbin.

Cindy gave us a quick rundown on how to use the rigid heddle loom (where to find the up, down and neutral position sheds). You can also see the small peg looms to the right on the table. The warp on the loom is Polwarth from Shirley Browsky’s sheep. We had been given a sample of the two-ply and were spinning to match the diameter but in a one ply.

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We were getting close to the end of the workshop and were going to take turns weaving off our samples at the next social (which was cancelled due to the virus). So we will have singles that have sat on a bobbin for a bit and that will make them a bit more cooperative (less energized).

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Cindy showed us a different way to wind over your hand to make a double-ended ball to spin from. She was winding pretty quickly so I’m afraid the pictures are a bit more “Action shot” than I had anticipated.

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I used to snitch Glenn’s paperbacks (usually the one he was reading) to wind a double ended ball. He eventually made me a metal winding tool with his blacksmithing skills so he could keep his books.

I am looking forward to eventually getting back to the guild socials and taking more of Cindy’s workshop series. This first one was called  Spinning in a New Direction – Fine Wool from Comb to Woven Scarf.

The next ones are Spinning in a New Direction – Medium/Fine Wool from Comb to Crochet Vest (Novice), Spinning in a New Direction – Medium/Strong Wool in Two Colours from Comb to Marled Coil Basket (Novice), Spinning in a New Direction – Strong Wool from Comb to Worsted 3 Ply for Rug Hooking (Beginner), Spinning in a New Direction – Angora Blend from Drum Carder to Woolen Style for Knitted Mittens (Novice).

She will also be teaching a fibre prep workshop; From the Beginning Starting with a Fleece.

Since this workshop, I am now watching for 2 more sets of combs, the Viking 2 pitch fine combs and a set of the Roger Hawkins combs. I have 2 fleeces that could use their attention! Oh, the Humanity! My poor fleeces will have to wait until I have the right equipment to really show off their loveliness! I wonder if the Wool Growers Co-Op in Carlton Place has any new fleeces yet? I wonder if anyone other than I would consider wool an essential item to daily life?

Take care, stay healthy, keep your hands in warm soapy water as much as possible!! (I am not implying you should do any dishwashing)

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