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Weaving with hand spun, again!

Weaving with hand spun, again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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