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 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.
A few weeks ago our guild was offered the estate of one of our more noteworthy weavers. She had stipulated that all her weaving supplies and equipment were to be sold and a scholarship be set up to help educate and promote weaving. We were deeply saddened by the loss of this talented woman, who was also a great resource for our guild. Her generosity set a high bar for all of us. I did participate in the fundraising efforts and purchased a cotton warp to encourage me to get back into weaving.
There was only a small problem with the warp; it no longer had a cross. The cross in a warp helps prevent the threads from tangling. This was going to be a huge challenge but one I wanted to tackle along with two other learning challenges.
Because I am self-taught there are huge gaps missing in my weaving knowledge. Some are very basic techniques. I desperately wanted to learn how to make a weavers knot. This is a knot that almost everyone involved in fibre seems to know how to make. Not me. I wanted it to become muscle memory, so I wanted to make lots and lots of knots. Then when the need arises it will be so easy for me to just – poof – make this non-slip permanent tiny little fastener.
Now comes part two of my learning challenge – reusing a threaded warp. If a weaver is careful and doesn’t remove the remnants of threads from the loom, and if they are long enough, they can be used as a labour-saving tool when threading through the heddles. The heddles are the little eyes on the loom. Threading heddles is a bit like threading very big needles and I really don’t like doing it.
I had preserved the previous warp. I knew it was narrower than the cotton warp I wanted to add, but I didn’t know how many threads were in the cotton warp. There is only one way to find out, count them. There are 225 threads by the way.
So I estimated I would need to add three inches of cotton on either side of the existing warp.
Then came the knots. First I just did overhand knots, but I really didn’t like them. They were thick and didn’t look like they would pass through the reed with ease. Then I started working on the weavers’ knots. Online demos are really interesting, but by the time I got back to the loom I’d forgotten how the loops worked and which way the thread wrapped around and it was all very frustrating. Finally, after a bit of digging, I found a printable diagram and that worked like a charm. My biggest concern is that I may not have a true weavers knot. This works, so maybe it doesn’t matter.
I had to thread the cotton through the heddles and Because the cotton along the sides was going to be a little shorter than the wool cotton combination in the middle I added a bit of an extender, sorry I didn’t get a picture of that.
And then it was time to start gently getting everything through the reed and the heddles. This was all done very slowly and carefully so that none of the threads would break. The weaver’s knot worked like a charm. The overhand knot was a bit thick and need some gentle nudging to make it through, but all in all, it worked.
Once the cotton was safely warped on the back beam it was a matter of untangling the threads and winding, untangling and winding. At some point, I was very tempted to just chop it all off the loom and throw it out. It was really getting to be a terrible mess, so discouraging. Then I would look at the back of the loom and see how ordered it was. Everything was coming together as it should, everything was aligned and going onto the beam the way it was supposed to, so I would take a break and come back to it a little later.
And then fairly quickly it was all done. I was a little surprised and definitely delighted.
All this time I had no idea what I was going to do on this warp, not a clue. Maybe make a table runner or some cushion covers. I have some really nice linen to use, some great thick and thin cotton or wool. Then last night it came to me. This lovely textured cotton warp with all its thick bits and thin threads, its ideal length of 4.5 yards (4 m) precise width of 18 in (45cm), it’s ability to take colour like a sponge will be perfect for the recycled kimono project!! Can hardly wait to get started.
I am lucky enough to live in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, England (known affectionately by locals as Stur). One of our Town’s claims to fame is our Watermill. There has been a Watermill on the river Stour here for at least 1000 years. The original mill was a Grist Mill – that is for grinding corn, but in the early 1600s a Fulling (or Tucking) Mill was built adjacent to the Grist Mill. This was largely to facilitate the greater production of a fabric which had been produced in and around Stur since the 1570s. This fabric was called Swanskin. It was a tough, course white woollen fabric, made from locally spun and woven wool, which was then scoured, fulled and the surface teazed and fulled again. Fishermen working out of Newfoundland, many of whom were recruited from Stur, greatly prized the Swanskin for its all-weather, waterproof qualities, as did the British Army and Navy. Originally the fulling would have been done by fullers treading the fabric in troughs filled with all sorts of nasty stuff, including urine. Once the fulling mill was built this hard work was done mechanically. The woven fabric, in its troughs of nastiness, was hammered by large wooden stocks which were driven by gears from the waterwheel. Eventually the fulled cloth was hung out to dry along the river bank, stretched out on tenter frames by tenterhooks. A report about Manufacturing in Dorset dated around 1812 reads:
“There is a manufactory in the neighbourhood of Shaftesbury of a kind of flannel called swanskin, which is a coarse white woollen cloth, used for soldiers’ clothing, and made from 18d. to 2s. a yard; but this is of little consequence to Shaftesbury, the chief trade in this article being carried on at Sturminster Newton, where about 1200 people are employed in it, and where between 4000 and 5000 pieces, containing 35 yards in length, in a piece, yard wide, are annually made.
At present the woollen manufactures are almost confined to Sturminster and Lyme Regis, at which latter place broad-cloth and flannels are made in considerable quantities.
At Sturminster there are four or five clothiers, and about 300 weavers; sometimes 700 or 800 people are employed in the manufactory of Swansdown, (sic.) but the trade is not so considerable as was formerly the case.”
In early 2016 I was asked by the curator of our town’s Museum and Mill Society (now known as the Sturminster Newton Heritage Trust) if I could produce a sample of Swanskin for the Museum since it appears that there is no example of actual swanskin now in existence. As Swanskin was such an important part of the town’s history, the Museum wanted to create an exhibit for future reference. This I did, so far as I could, and I also wrote them a report on the process, which I repeat here – it was of course written for the edification of members of the general public, most of whom would not be conversant with spinning and weaving terms, so please don’t think I’m trying to “teach granny to suck eggs”.
“Swanskin – Experimental Archaeology
“In order to try to recreate the processes in the manufacture of Swanskin some research was carried out by Kathleen Sanderson (a member of the Dorset Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers). It appeared that the likely breed of sheep from which the fleece was obtained was the Portland. This breed was found in fact over much of Dorset in the 17th Century. “Kathleen found however that the fleece from today’s much improved breed of Portland sheep was finer and more delicate than would have been the case in 1600. She therefore blended Exmoor fleece with the Portland to obtain as near as possible the coarser, more hardwearing fibres originally used. Originally the wool would have been spun “in the grease” – that is still containing (inter alia) the natural lanolin. The resultant yarn would have been woven in this state so that the resultant cloth would have had to be washed and treated with fuller’s earth (scoured) to remove the oils and other detritus like plant material and insect life.
“The sample shown was spun after scouring because this had been necessary to facilitate the blending of the two fleeces. The yarn was plied and then twill woven – that is instead of the basic over one, under one, over one – of plain weave, the weft was taken over two and under two on the first pass then over one under two over two on the next. This results in characteristic diagonal lines in the weave. “When “fulled” twill woven fabric becomes denser than would a fabric with plain weave.
“I wove the sample in this fashion on a frame loom. After the weaving, the sample was wetted and fuller’s earth rubbed into it on both sides, just to make sure that all the grease and oils had been removed. This was rinsed out, the sample soaped and rubbed by hand to start the felting or fulling process. “This process would have been carried out by “Fullers” or “Walkers” in the 11th and 12th centuries. Though they would have done it by treading or walking on the fabric in wooden troughs rather than using their hands. At Sturminster Fulling Mill swanskin was fulled at the Mill using water power to move fulling stocks. These hammered the fabric until it was fulled or felted sufficiently to make it water repellent. “The sample was fulled in a washing machine, first at a temperature of 40° with a very hard rubber ball acting as a fulling stock. This was repeated once more and then at a temperature of 90° until the sample was fully felted. When the sample was almost dry it was ironed with a steam iron on both sides and then fully dried. The original swanskin cloth would of course have been dried on tentering frames in the open air.
“Once the Sample was dry it was brushed with a flick carder (the modern equivalent of using a frame covered in teasels) on one side only in order to raise a nap on the fabric.”
The mill was open to the public again this year, after having had to be closed during lockdowns. It is possible that, during the first lockdown, some of you may have seen reports about the fact that the mill reverted to milling flour which was provided to local bakers. Many people over here took to making their own bread so that there was a general shortage of bread flour, and, since approaches were received from people from all over the globe trying to buy bread flour from our miller, I assume that this was the same almost everywhere.
I have added below some internet links about the Mill and our Society (Sorry – Trust!), and some of the news stories from last year – Google has lots more.
Oh and a couple of my felt paintings of the mill – adding a bit of artist’s licence!
In part 1 we saw the history of the guilds’ old 90 and 100 inch loom. In part 2 we chatted about the arrival and unpacking of the new 100 inch loom. Now lets take a peek at the reference binders related to the old looms and consider continuing that tradion.
My hope is that today’s guild members, as they chose a topic, whether it’s a coverlet or blanket or something else to try out the new loom, they look back to the weavers from earlier in the guild’s history. Like these earlier weavers they record their projects and designs, take photos of their weaving so we can get a glimpse of them as well as what they are creating.
In the past the guild weavers have sporadically documented their projects both with the 90 inch and 100-inch loom. I (in my capacity as one of the guild librarians) would like to see a new binder documenting the projects which our modern weaving teams will make with this new loom.
94 The 90” loom Samples 1 May 1973 to 1 May 1974
95 – 101 sample pages from the 90” loom sample binder
102 OVWSG 100” Loom Samples Aug 1982 to Oct 1983
103- 110 sample pages from the 100” loom sample binder
111 OVWSG 100” loom Samples 1987 to 1992 (while the loom was in Donna G’s Basement. Donna also taught the beginner and intermediate weaving at that time with table looms)
112-121 sample pages from the 100” loom sample binder
We have some sample binders in the reference section of the library, including guild projects, workshops and individual members weaving careers. It would be nice to have sample binders from Spinners, Basket makers, Dyers and Felters too. Keeping records in a sample binder is a way to keep track of your work and experimentation. Your collected projects will give inspiration to yourself or others. Try to make your sample binder in a way that will keep your samples safe from damage. (Use acid-free materials if you can get your hands on them, sew in your samples if possible rather than tape or staples) and always take lots of photos as you work to include to show the process you went through to make it!
Weavers have the advantage of pre-made sheets (available from guilds or online) that save the draft or pattern of the weaving as well as noting yarns, yardage calculations and notes. i would like to see a similar collection of information for the other fiber arts. Spinners can keeps notes of what fibers were used, where they were obtained, what spinning techniques were used and what the end use for the yarn will be. For Felters, what fibers and their sources, weight of the fibers used, techniques used, amount of shrinkage when fiber was sampled, note on how the project was made. Photos would be useful to document your project (felt sculptures don’t fit in binders).
Figure out the information that would be useful to have for each project you create. You may want to include not only the date started and finished, but keep track of the hours worked on each project. Or you may be more interested in what fibers are used or what mix of fibers were used and in what amounts. If you have demo-ed you may recall getting asked common questions, how long did that take, where did you get the idea, where did you get the fibers, how heavy is it, how did you make it do that? theses questions mite help direct you in what to include in your binder.
If you make a binder documenting your work it will both keep a record of your artistic career, showing your progress, and looking back through it may inspire new work. I hope you will consider sharing it with other fiber artists too. If you show them yours, they may show you theirs!
122 Part of the Reference Section of the Guild Library
I hope the saga of the large loom has inspired you even if you do not go out and get one yourself! If you are suddenly yearning to weave a coverlet or a lovely warm blanket check with your local guild and see if they have a 100” loom you could use.
The guild both Ann and I belong to had an old 100″ loom at the end of its life. With the greatly appreciated grant assist, we were able to order a new loom that will be much easier for our ageing membership to use. We had our grant request approved so put in our order with Leclerc Looms. We dispersed parts of the old loom, put in a new floor in the classroom and awaited the new looms arrival…..
Unbeknownst to us, other guilds seem to have had the same grant idea! So, the loom that should have been ready for us in a few months, was suddenly delayed, then delayed again. There was a backlog of orders at Leclerc looms for 100-inch looms! Then Covid 19 hit and there seemed to also be a shortage of wood (looking at the packing crates I can believe that!) so 18 months since we placed our order and a couple of grant extensions, our new loom arrived.
Long heavy wooden crates arrived and had to be carried up the stairs (there is a turn in the stairs too) since the 100” loom crates would not fit in the elevator. All the crates and boxes were transported up to the classroom (which is down a long hall from the stairs with a couple more corners just to make it a bit more challenging). That was enough of an accomplishment for the day and a different unboxing date was decided on.
41 – 42 A long way to carry all the heavy boxes up from downstairs
The evening they selected coincided with the day I would be doing the library book exchange, Oct 7th. The guild library during covid has been doing book requests and drive by pick up /drop offs at the side door for our members. It’s a bit more work for the librarians, but it is allowing the members to use the library again. I was finishing with the library and started packing up, as the team of unboxers arrived.
43-45 yes there is candy involved in the library book exchanged!
46- 47 I locked up the library, took the camera and headed for the classroom.
Upstairs in the Classroom, unboxing was already underway! Since we could not all be there to experience the extreme excitement of seeing the 100” loom unboxing I took photos and posted them on our guild face book group page.
48- 51 The Unboxing had begun!
I tried to capture some of the wonder of what is this? Where will this go? Is that a tensioning device for the bobbin rack? OOOH, a counter!!!! What are those extra beams for, are they just deflectors? OOOH, sectional bits and extenders!!!!
That is one big loom!!! In pieces it looks a lot bigger than 100 inches worth!!!
58 – 62 BIG!!!
63 There was ergonomic unboxing while sitting on a chair.
The last long wooden box was the one with the reeds, leash sticks and rods.
64-68 the last wooden crate
You can see the unboxing of the treadles and here is a close up of the treadles.
69-73 that box was the treadles!
You can see the bobbin rack also still wrapped up. This will be a useful addition to the 100 inch since with a sectional beam you will not need as big a team to warp this large loom! I spotted the tension box, a counter and I think a tensioner for the bobbin rack too (COOL! My 60 inch sectional didn’t have one of those!).
74-75 Bobbin rack!!
The loom parts were well packed! The packing crates look like long window boxes!
76-77 well packed
The assembly of this loom will be like a giant 3d jigsaw puzzle! I hope photos will be added as this part is started. This next step might take a number of sessions more to complete. I will check next time I’m in to work on the library to see the progress.
After seeing pictures of the 100-inch loom and the fun that the next assembly project will be, I bet you are glad that felting is just vast quantities of wool, soap, pool noodles, bubble wrap, needles, wire and odd bits of equipment that were not originally intended for felting. (ok, that can take up the same space as the big loom but the wool is lighter to move!!)
Next trip into the guild library to do a book check, pull a couple of magazines and get photos of a couple of reference books, I also went up to see if the 3d puzzle was underway. Yes! It was almost complete!
It looks so shiny and new with its bubble wrap still on the beams! (those extra pieces I wasn’t sure how they would fit turned out to be a rotating breast and cloth beams.) I look forward to seeing if the rotational aspect will improve take up of the cloth or warping the loom.
79-81 the 3D “Kebec II Loom Counter-balance with Pulleys”
The extenders and the sectional parts still need to be added to the back beam but that isn’t too big a job. The bobbin rack is still to be assembled too. But the new loom is almost ready for its first weavers!
82-84 Sectional pices yet to be attached.
85-91Loom close ups
92 – 93 the New loom even makes the Guild’s Grate Wheel look smaller!
Since the new loom is now here, it’s time to start thinking about what exciting things it will be making; Blankets, coverlets, catalogue, curtains, Icelandic blankets?
My hope is that today’s guild members, as they chose a topic, whether it’s a coverlet or blanket or something else to try out the new loom, they look back to the weavers from earlier in the guild’s history. Like these earlier weavers they record their projects and designs, take photos of their weaving so we can get a glimpse of them as well as what they are creating.
Weavers have kept samples binders of there projects with notes on drafts, samples of warp and weft yarn and a sample of the woven cloth. Sometimes there are notes about the designing the project or inspiration that they used. Some have photos of the weaving in progress, finishing, equipment and weavers involved in the project. Sample binders can be a history of a weavers life or inspire other weavers.
We have a few sample binders of previous 90 and 100 inch loom projects in the guild Library. I will show you a few next week. Since these binders are very helpful to weavers; the Spinners, Dyers, Basket makers and Felters may want to make there own versions of sample binders! Have fun and keep felting!
There are many advantages to a guild such as the support and comradery of like-minded people who share an interest or passion in something. Sharing knowledge; whether in a library or through the members sharing their ideas or teaching. The pooling of resources to acquire equipment to be shared amongst the group that individual members either can’t afford or do not have space for.
Ann and I belong to the same guild here in Ottawa, Canada. It’s old as far as Canadian guilds go; having started as a group run through the Ottawa Civil Service Recreation Association from 1943 to 1946. In 1949 a few of their members went to a weaving conference. When they returned home they decided to start their own guild and became the Ottawa Valley Weavers guild. They eventually added “and Spinners” to their name. I joined in 1987 or 1988, becoming their new Librarian at my first meeting. (I did clearly warn them about the severe dyslexia but they didn’t think that would at all be a problem). So I started my guild career in a closet, under the stairs, with the library. The guild was meeting down the hall in an old gymnasium at Devonshire Public School. Ann joined a bit later. By then I and the library were living in a different closet. She kindly decided to join me to help with the library. The library team eventually grew to Ann, Mary and I, but still in a closet with the books.
1 Devonshire Public School (we were in the lower level with the closet under the stairs and the old gymnasium.)
For many years, the guild did not have a space to house equipment but always yearned to do so. We kept the shared equipment we did have in various members basements including a borrowed 90 inch loom (before my time), then a purchased, second hand 100-inch loom. The Library has sample binders from projects made on both of these.
Our 100-inch loom was second hand when we acquired it. It had moved multiple times, coming to rest for many years in one member’s basement. It was used for many projects, mostly blankets and coverlets. If you have not seen one they are big looms. It takes 2 people to weave on it. This one was becoming more and more temperamental in its old age it took a large team to get the warp on. Warps were long to accommodate multiple blankets on the same threading. The treadling and colours would change between coverlets depending on what the weaver wanted. Occasionally, between one coverlet and the next the loom would require readjusting of the tension. At this point the loom was functional but just a bit grumpy occasionally.
In 2003 the guild received a grant that allowed us to move into a space in Heartwood House (an umbrella group for many charity’s and the OVWSG) to set up our long dreamed of studio and house the library. The 100-inch loom as well as other floor and table looms left members basements and arrived in our new space.
2 Heartwood house.
3 Our new home in the basement of Heartwood house, with the 100-inch loom warped and ready to go! The loom was often in use since it was much easier to get into the guild studio and use it.
4-7 Weavers work in pairs and weave 2 blankets. It takes two weavers weaving at once to make each blanket so they weave one for each of them. 2002
We moved to various rooms in the basement, taking the looms with us. In 2009 we made another move, this time going upstairs to one of the large classrooms which had large windows. We had to pick up and move all our guild stuff; the wheels, the library and the all the looms including the 100-inch up the stairs to the new space. All that moving was worth it since we now had a wall of windows and lots of bright light!
8-12 Upstairs in the light warping team in February 2009
After 10 years the building Heartwood house was renting was sold out from under them. All the charity’s and us were on the move again. It took quite a bit of looking but finally a new location was found. We all moved to a building that once was a Giant Tiger Store with a small attached mall. Ann S., another member, headed up the design team that designed a purpose built studio space with a kitchenette, the library, and all the looms (wheels were moved to a storage closet down the hall.)
13 Moving Out of old Heartwood House! 2013
14-15 Moving into new Heartwood house (a lot of those boxes are the library!) 2013
16-22 Weaving in the Studio 2014
After being in the space for a while, it was found to be a bit tight, so a classroom space was rented upstairs and the 100-inch loom moved yet again.
23-24 Moved to the Classroom Nov-Dec 2014
The classroom originally was divided, having a second smaller room where the loom was put, but we had the partition wall removed to create one big space. The space had carpet originally but we eventually upgraded to laminate in hopes we could have felting workshops upstairs and for easier clean up under the loom.
25-27 This is the weaving draft for the coverlets. Here you can see tying on a new warp to the old. This is used to keep from rethreading the heddles or to save an expensive warp from being loom waste. It is the second use as a dummy warp this time. 06-29-2015
28 Special guest in the studio (gratuitous lamb photo) Ann has the best living room decor!! Everyone enjoys when she shares and brings one of her bottle lambs to the studio.
29-31 Our loom is getting more finicky to put the warp on the loom. 06 2016
32 They are adjusting heddles and leveling harnesses before threading the next warp. 7-4-16 (you can see the wall is gone so its easier to warp the loom. (Well relatively easier))
33-34 You can see the treadle patter and more of the classroom. Aug 2016.
35-36 Overshot is a weave structure with a distinctive 45-degree angle to the pattern. It is starting to show that the tension is not even and there are problems with the loom.
37-38 The weavers are having to argue with the loom to stay square and get the correct angle. Weaving has become slower. 2018
By this point in its life, it was not keeping tension well and I think there were problems with the brake. A grant request was put in to acquire a more functional user friendly new 100 inch loom from Leclerc (an old Canadian company that has made looms since the beginning of the 1900’s). We wanted a 100-inch loom that was easier to warp, kept tension and did not have brake slippage. Therefore, we put in our grant request and were thrilled when it was accepted. <Weavers Celebrating!!>
The next project the executive undertook was what to do with the old loom. It had been repaired as much as was possible but really was now well beyond its working life so sending it off to another guild to fight with was not an option. They reached out to other provincial guilds and found a few had the same model of loom and could use parts of our old one to refurbish theirs. So the loom was mostly dispersed to upgrade other old looms.
29-40 The new floor is put in as we prepare for the new loom. July 2019
We cleared the area for the new loom at the end of the classroom. With great excitement we awaited the arrival of the wonderful new loom! And we waited, and waited, and waited…..
And now I will be horrible and make you wait till next week so you too will find out if it was worth the wait!
in the mean time keep felting! (i am still busy with data analysis of the guild library survey, which is actually lots of fun but keeping me from felting at the moment. i hope to have my part handed off to Ann soon so i can rejoin you in fiber fun!)
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 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.
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.
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.
8 My combing options.
9 Alvin Ramer 2 pitch combs. I use the blue clamps with them since the original C-clamps stayed with one of the previous owners.
10-11 Viking single pitch combs (with diz on the green gardening wire). They were a Christmas present from Glenn quite a few years ago.
12 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.
13 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.
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.
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)
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.
She had us try both short forward and backward drafting directly from the comb.
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.
Again reposition the fibres upwards in the tines if the drafting feels resistant.
31 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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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)
I am a multi-craftual person. That’s a nice way of saying I get easily distracted by many things.
One of the things I do when I am not felting is weaving. While my back hates me I have downsized to just weaving on my inkle loom and Kumihimo braiding, but am hopeful that I will again be able to weave on my floor looms, table looms and warp waited loom. I am patent and have hope that my back will forgive me.
I enjoy Inkle weaving for its comparative portability, ease of set up, and the simplicity of weaving. You have only two choices of sheds, the up or the down, so pattern is created by the order you put on the colours of yarn. You can also use variegated yarn to make the weaving even more interesting but with less colour changes.
1 – Looms, yarn, notes, suplys coming in to the guild studio for the workshop
Glenn did all the heavy lifting. I had selected two warp options for the students, the first #10 crochet cotton (excellent because of its high twist and smoothness but would take about 37 to 40 heddles, so very slow to set up.) Or a much larger but not as tightly twisted cotton (this option only took 19-20 heddles, so much faster to set up and weave)
2 – The options for Warp yarn #10 Crochet cotton or the thicker softer cotton
3 – setting up for the workshop, and found one of the two missing looms.
We got there early so I could set up and also track down the missing guild Inkle looms. I found the floor Inkle but not the second table Inkle. It may have been out as a rental loom. Luckily, I had brought two of mine, a table Inkle and my favorite a homemade floor Inkle with a silk band in progress.
4 – Lesson breakdown and count of warp threads both yarn sizes (the glass doors on the Ikea cabinets make a grate white board)
The workshop was an introduction to Inkle weaving and tot how to set up the loom, start and stop weaving and how to make a slit or in this case two slits within the woven band. The project, to make use of all this new knowledge, was a scissor pocket necklace (complete with Chinese snips!). There were extensive notes (like a small book) in case the students forgot anything, a measuring tape, a pack of pencil crayons with sharpener and of course a box of smarties (you have to take the class to find out why that is important!). We also used a fringe twister to make the cord to hold the scissors in the pocket.
5-6 –the notes and the important smarties
We had a class of five, a couple of which had never woven and a couple who had. This time everyone went for the larger cotton that was faster to weave and required less heddles. I showed them the double loop heddle method since it’s much easier to fix problems and I got to demonstrate this with one of the warps.
I had brought samples, most were mine but I had been gifted with bands from other weavers too. the blue band and the green band near the front shows what happens if you use a variegated weft (the thread that hides under the warp threads and only shows at the edges) in this kind of weaving.
7 – Samples of inkle and other 2 harness woven bands
I showed them how to figure out the length for their heddle loops and the paths the warps threads traveled. I then suggested the students to pick at least one solid and one variegated to make there warp. By lunch all looms were warped and after a brake for lunch and to let some of the new information sink in we were on to weaving.
8-14 – Inkle bands in class
By the end of the workshop we had new weavers!! I hope they will find Inkle weaving as fun as I do. We got to see two of the scissor pockets at show and tell two days later at the guild meeting.
15 – a completed scissor pocket necklace and a new weaver!!!
16 – This is my sample in #10 Crochet cotton with beads as decoration on the fringe
Now why would a felter want to know about Inkle bands? Well they make wonderful straps and can be woven as a tube for a more comfortable shoulder strap. Or even better, woven as a flat attachment to a felt bag then switch to weaving as a tube then back to flat again. You can try weaving with wire and make a hatband too.
In September I started a two-year part -time basketry course at City Lit, which is an adult education institute in London. Although it’s only one day a week in college, there’s at least another day’s worth of homework, so it’s quite intense. But I am enjoying it immensely.
In the first half of the term we focused on plaiting, mainly with strips of watercolour paper. In the second half of the term we moved on to willow, which was much harder on the hands! You can read more about either of these subjects on my blog if you’re interested.
Stiff paper or card is ideal for plaiting, as you can get nice sharp edges and the structure retains its shape. But I like messing about with different materials, so I wondered what would happen if I plaited strips of prefelt and then felted them afterwards. How would shrinkage affect the overall shape and pattern?
If you don’t know how to make a bias weave plaited basket, there are some good instructions here. I don’t usually twine around the base as shown here – I just use pegs! – but otherwise the method is the same.
I used commercial prefelt for this experiment, in two colours. The white prefelt was merino wool, while the grey prefelt was Gotland. Gotland has a sturdier finish than the merino, but in my experience they have slightly different shrinkage rates, so that was another thing to throw into the mix! 🙂
I cut six strips of each colour and then wove them together to make a squarish 6 x 6 base. I pinned them together as I went along, and when all 12 strips were in place I then stitched horizontally and vertically. I did a couple of back stitches at the beginning and end to secure the threads but left the ends long so I could use them to continue stitching up the sides.
(Apologies for the quality of some of these photos, but they were taken in artificial light, as the days are so short at this time of year!)
Once the base was stitched, I started weaving the sides by overlapping the central two strips on each side and then continuing to weave under and over the adjacent strips. I pinned and stitched as I went along.
This is what the piece looked like after I had woven the sides and cut off the excess felt.
Normally with plaited baskets you have to make a border by tucking the ends in or stitching a band around the edge. The advantage of felt, of course, is that it is self-sealing as the fibres mesh together, so I planned to finish just by trimming the edge after felting.
Once the weaving was complete, the felting could begin. I wetted the piece down, rubbed with soap, and started gently rubbing it all over, turning it inside out to make sure that both sides were felted.
I had to keep opening it up and turning it around during the rubbing phase to make sure the sides didn’t stick together (I could have used a plastic resist but didn’t bother, as I never rubbed for too long in one position).
The prefelt strips felted together fairly quickly, but despite the care I took when rubbing, holes started to appear at some of the intersections. So when the piece was partially felted I did some more stitching to ensure that there were no holes. I’m afraid I didn’t take any photos of this as it was quite dark by this stage!
This is what the piece looked like after felting and fulling.
I was tempted to leave the felted ends on, as they gave quite an organic feel, but in the end I trimmed them off, and rolled the piece some more to seal the cuts.
I also initially thought I might leave the stitching in, as I liked the marks and texture it added. But when I took out the stitching on one side for comparison, I felt that it distracted from the subtlety of the pattern, so I ended up taking it all out!
The inside and the outside have different patterns due to the weaving, but during felting some of the fibres have migrated through, so you can get an idea of what colour is on the other side.
Scaled up and turned upside down, I also thought this could make a good flowerpot hat – I can see Audrey Hepburn wearing something like this, can’t you? 🙂
So it is possible to plait with felt, though it is rather fiddly and time consuming. The forms are softer and more rounded, and you get a subtle idea of the pattern on the other side.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you all a very happy and creative 2020!
How did I ever manage to get anything done when I was working?
I have been working on importing and exporting File maker databases for the 2020 workshop and the guild library. I did 2 options for the workshop flyer for Elizabeth, our workshop coordinator, to choose from and will restart the workshop 2020 catalogue in the requested sort order after I have written my blog post. There was much fussing but with a bit of help I got the files exported in a format for the guild website and handed that part of the job off to the rest of the workshop team. <deep breath> I need to celebrate! Isn’t there a workshop coming up I really wanted to take when we were working on the catalogue last year? Yes! It was #1949 Peg Doll Loom Weaving with Mariann Hegedus as the instructor. Oh no! It’s about to run and we don’t have enough students! Quick, bug Elizabeth and Kelly and post it on the Facebook page! Yes, we now have enough students!
On Saturday I arrived early like usual and discovered a line of people blocking the door to go into the building! Oh, there is a huge fabric sale happening and they have leather hides and scraps! Oh well, maybe I can make a quick run in at lunch. (i was able to get a bag of scraps of leather before the sale closed). now on to what i was actually there for.
Mariann had brought the little Peg Doll looms in for show and tell and their cute shape piqued my interest. She had brought them back from a visit to Hungary. She said they were used to weave sleeves and had examples of dolls and puppets she had woven on them.
She had a book with good pictures but unfortunately it’s in Hungarian. I did an online search to find more info but I mostly found Peg looms which are not like the peg doll looms. I did find 3 books; two of which might be the same (I don’t read Hungarian and I suspect that one is the hardcover and one the paperback version?) The book with the green cover is the one she showed us. Even not being able to read the language it was still educational to look at. There were a lot of more advanced techniques to try with this loom.
6-8 szövés kereten szádfán karmantyúfán
The concept we were working with was not too taxing in one way; how can you screw up under then over then under than over….(plain weave). Let me tell you we found a lot of ways to mess that up! But the light bulb eventually went on for all of us.
This loom allows for plain weave, weft face or tapestry and all the two harness finger manipulations. I started to think about Butinay!!! Maybe the next work will have some!
If you sew the bottom (or top) end together you get a pouch. If you add a circular base of fabric or leather you get a cylinder that would be good to put a spindle or other small equipment in.
Warping is not too difficult. Keeping the tension snug and even is important. You wind your warp around the pegs up and down until you have gone around twice. (You can change colours as you go.) Each peg has 2 loops on it so that would be pairs of threads. The exception is the first peg, which needs to have 3 threads in one group. This gives an odd number so you can create a continuous plan woven cloth as you weave.
Now wind a butterfly and starting at the bottom weave every second thread.
(This is a very old needle felted sheep I made years ago standing with the new loom and second weaving.)
I suspect I may have not interpreted the instructions as spoken. When I took the weaving off I stated to loosen my first row of weaving! ( I thought about this and decided to modify the instructions for my second attempt. – third row I used a crochet hook between the loops and created a loop which I went through capturing the first and second row before going on to the next bit of weaving. Let that try to unravel!!)
I was admiring the bands of what looked like inkle banding in one of her samples. So I tried it. It looks complicated but it was achieved by alternating a gray row with a blue row, then compacting the weft to make it weft faced.
One of my classmates finished her bag during the workshop I decided to purchase the loom (she had a couple more of the smaller ones available for sale) so I could make my bag taller in hopes of having it fit a spindle. As you can see, the top comes off the loom.
Here is the second one that was completed. I gave a piece of the leather scraps I had purchased at the fabric sale (yes, I made it in time to buy a bag of leather scraps)
I kept going, adding a fringe and switching to a long needle that is either an upholstery needle or a dollmaking needle (I’m not sure which) but now it is a peg doll loom needle. So I have plain weave and various stiffnesses of compacted weft face weaving. I also added a fringe. When I took off the weaving, the bottom (which suddenly became the top) started to unravel. I fixed that inappropriate behavior by a quick overhand blanket stich and then tightened up the plain weave so I could put a lacing cord through and use a edging stitch to stabilize the lower side of the lacing spaces. I think the purple cord will work better or I may make a blue and grey kumohimo band to use as a tie. I have decided on the grey leather to make a circular base .
I had enough fun that I bought the loom and started a second project immediately. There has been a bit of chatting amongst a few of the guild members who are curious with this cute little loom and we have a few ideas on modifications to allow taller bags to be woven. I will let you know if anything develops from this curiosity.
Now I have to get back to the Guild catalogue and I accidentally seemed to have driven to Carleton Place winding up at the wool growers Co-op after visiting a Friend in Kempville. It was a wonderful visit and now I have a car that smells of wool and 4 more fleeces to wash before the snow flies, and more bulbs to plant and the guild Sale Ann is running to help with. Maybe it’s time for bed. I have so much to do tomorrow!
The two coarse fleeces I took which are actually nice and soft.
Some of the fleece that is coming in to be sorted
Some of the fine grey and dark brown I didn’t buy but I did buy a light and medium grey!
This is the rest of the Not-White fine bin. I will tell you more about this wonderful source of fiber another day right now it’s time to sleep.