I love to spin yarn. It is my favourite craft and I generally find it very relaxing. This year my husband got me this fabulous gift – a custom plate for my car.
Speaking of gifts… recently a friend offered me a tremendous gift of an autowind flyer from Level Wind Systems. What a generous gift! I got a flyer for my Majacraft Rose because that is my go to wheel.
I actually like my Majacraft Rose so much that I have 2 of them, one where I can use the regular and jumbo bobbins, and a second that has a massive Overdrive bobbin and flyer on it. The Overdrive wheel is great for plying and for spinning bulky yarns.
The autowind flyer has batteries inside the left flyer arm. When you switch the unit on, the yarn guide slowly moves up and down the right arm. This results in the yarn filling the bobbin much more evenly.
This is a photo of the same bobbin. You can see how the singles form a nice rotating layer on the bobbin.
I have spun a few skeins now and have discovered a few things. When I put the flyer on I need to tighten the flyer onto the mandrel of my Majacraft Rose. However, when I tightened the flyer enough so that it works properly, it was also impinging on the bobbin which made spinning not very nice. I had to really crank the brake and there was quite a bit of drag. To fix this I dug out some Plumbers tape (also called thread seal tape) and wrapped it on the flyer mandrel. Then I installed the flyer. The tape helps the flyer make a nice snug connection but also leaves the bobbin free to spin. This resulted in a much nicer spinning experience.
Another thing I discovered after using the thread seal tape was that my bobbin was sitting back past where the flyer could nicely wind on the singles. This resulted in an empty area at the rear of the bobbin. The singles were collapsing into the empty area which was not very tidy and could lead to tangles later when plying off the bobbin.
To fix this problem when I started spinning the next bobbin I added a simple felt washer behind the bobbin.
My current project is a pound of dyed fiber from Adele Forward, an Indie Dyer in Dorset, Ontario, Canada. Adele posts her dyed roving, locks and yarn on Facebook. Have a look if you are interested in buying some delicious dyed fiber.
This is my progress after spinning 3 bobbins of the same fibre. You can see bobbin #1 in the upper right (with the slightly empty section at the top/back of the bobbin), bobbin #2 in the upper left (which was spun with the felt washer) and bobbin #3 on the wheel (again spun with a felt washer in place).
Three bobbins spunI have now moved on to plying. Because I have 3 bobbins of singles plying is a multi-day job. It took me about 5 hours to fill the first jumbo bobbin with plied yarn. And here are the bobbins after plying up that first big bobbin. There is still lots of singles left to go into the second skein.
And here we are with the second bobbin done and all the yarn wound into skeins.
I have to say I love how quiet and helpful the autowind flyer is. It is a fabulous tool and I am very appreciative of this awesome gift.
Both Jan and Bernadette have told you about our guild sale and exhibition. Now it’s my turn. I didn’t have my own booth this year so I got to wander around and fill in and help out wherever I was needed. It was really nice to not be assigned anywhere and just enjoy the show and chat with everyone after not seeing so many in person for a couple of years.
I am not a big spender at these things. I look for new fibres and add-ons and how people are combining things. Then I go looking for the ingredients to make my own.
The one thing I do buy is spindles. I bought a new spindle from Judy Kavanaugh. https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JudyKavanagh She makes all kinds of tools and patterns. This one is a bedouin-style spindle. It has 4 arms and is a top whorl spindle instead of a bottom whorl spindle I usually use. The wood is beautiful.
People kept asking if it was a Turkish spindle but you can’t take the arms off this one and you don’t wrap your yarn around them. this is the other way up so you can see the wool cob on it. The angle makes it look small.
I am enjoying spinning on it. and that brings up to the other things I bought. I bought 2 batts from Bernadette. I like to buy them from Bernadette because she isn’t recarding wool tops. She is using wool she processed herself and it is really nice to spin.
The Darker blue is what I am spinning on my new spindle and it’s marked as mixed fibre. It’s soft and a little shiny.
The brighter blue I am spinning on another spindle.
The wool is much spongier and I have lost the label but I am betting it’s Coopworth. It’s very nice to spin too.
This post is a bit backward because I bought the wool first and the spindle second. The new spindle is more exciting to chat about so it got top billing. It really went like this. I started to spin the bright blue batt first. Then I decided that a blue spindle that Judy had for sale really was calling my name. When I went to get it, someone had already bought it. You snooze you lose. then standing there chatting with Judy I saw her spinning on a Bedouin spindle and gave it a try and decided it was just as well the other one was sold. I picked out the lovely one at the top. So then I abandoned this lovely fibre and started spinning on my new spindle with the other batt.
All in all, I think I was very restrained in my buying. There were so many pretty things I could have bought.
Here is a picture of me spinning at the show. And yes I really did chop my hair off. It was time for a change and it will grow again.
As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”. I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work. I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”). This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.
I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.
In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed. Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!
The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”. The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.
“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.
“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”
Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet. The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.
The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns! I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)
The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me. Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.
She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.
One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images. This did produce some interesting results.
We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.
Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).
As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.
Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.
Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.
which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design
This is the design I finally ended up with.
There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour. And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.
The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine
And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work. Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.
The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”.
We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world. (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.) A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.
I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.
I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.
I’ve been doing a little spinning. Spinning on a drop spindle is a wonderful thing to do. It fits in a basket or bag or even your purse and you can do it anywhere and anytime you have a few min.
I got 3 lovely little batts of mixed colours from Bernadette. I don’t think they were any particular breed of sheep, just sheep. I thought they were pretty. I thought I had pictures of all 3 but I don’t. I do still have one left, I took a picture of it for you.
I am quite please with how it turned out. There are about 42 yards(38.4 meters) in the skein. I guess it’s not too bad because someone wanted to buy it. I didn’t really want to sell it so I put I high price on it. Someone recommended once that when you are not sure you want to sell something, price it so that you won’t wish you hadn’t sold it.
Not long ago when I was at a new little fibre sale I bought some Blue Faced Leicester top. I wanted to try something different, I spin mostly Merino or Corriedale. I am always using BFL locks so I thought it would be fun to spin some too. I found this lovely lustrous BFL/silk mix.
Here I am pre-drafting it a bit. I had compacted a bit in my basket. it wasn’t felted and would probably have been fine but I loosened it up anyway. Thanks to Jan for this picture and the last one.
I spun up so easily. I use a sort of long draw, most of the time. Isn’t it pretty?
I made a center-pull ball. I use my deligan spindle as a nostepinne to make the ball, a dual purpose tool.
Now, onto the plying, always so much faster. It only took 15 min I would think.
and finally in a skein. It is very shiny. I am sure the silk is helping there but is well blended so you can’t pick it out. I am guessing there are about 40 yards(36.5 metres) as it is about the same site as the other skein. I have 2 more slivers of it about the same size. I am not sure what I will do with them.
It was a nice change from little pictures. But I will probably do another one next week. I am enjoying them.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I ordered some sari silk a while back as part of a larger order from World Of Wool. I am ordering wholesale so I ordered 1 kg of each of the colours I wanted. the first 2 look very similar here but the first has a lot of green and red and the second has quite a lot of black. I had expected the pink one to be much more purple. It is called Royal Robe. Every batch is different, so you are always taking a chance. It would be great if they took new pictures for each batch but I suppose that would be a big hasssle for them. And they do warn you so no complaining.
That is a lot of sari silk.
I did make up some small bags of it and sold them on the guild’s Facebook page. I will offer it again soon. I still have lots. I haven’t played with it much at all. So last weekend knowing it would be rainy at the market, so slow and I would be bored, I grabbed some of the silk and a spindle to try spinning it. I brought an older cheaper spindle because I knew I would probably be doing as much dropping as spinning. I was right. It is very short and very frustrating to try to spin, especially since I usually do more of a long draw. I tried for a while then gave up and plied the tiny amount I had spun.
I told you it was small. Here is a close up.
It is very pretty and shiny but I will not be spinning more this way.
Next was to try blending some with some wool.
I picked these two shades of merino. I think they are mallard and duck egg. They seem to be the same colour but have different saturations of the dye.
And these 3 sari silks to blend in. Looking now I see I picked the 3 primaries.
First I did the turquoise lagoon. I did a layer of the dark, then the light and then the sari silk. I carded it several times to blend it and then rolled it into a rollag
It is very subtle but I think it will add some shin and interest when I spin it.
Next, I did the Salsa, I did the same thing a layer of each of the wools and then some sari silk
And lastly the wildflower
Now I have to spin them up. They are not the neatest rollags but I think they will work. I will do some recarding if I have to but I hope I don’t have to.
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.