In the fall I wove a scarf using my ‘precious’ handspun yarn. It’s time to stop thinking of this commodity in such terms. There is bound to be loom wastage when using any yarn and handspun can’t be saved, so best to get over that reality and start enjoying the enormous gratification to be had in weaving my own yarn.
The excitement didn’t wane even as the finishing process started. Finishing can be an extremely tedious time, but I really enjoyed it this time.
Once the warp is woven it’s time to cut it off the back beam. I did this very carefully and knotted each group of four threads as I went along. Using a large metal tapestry needle lets me slide the knot into position easily. I didn’t hemstitch the scarf, nor did I use a fringe maker. These are two perfectly satisfactory methods of finishing but I chose not to use them, maybe on a later project. I also left a lot of fringe length to help in the finishing process for later evening up.
Here the back beam fringe is all done, now I have to unwind the fabric and start on the front of the material, which is still attached to the front of the loom.
These knots are usually easy to undo, but if they get a bit cranky the metal needle comes in handy for prying them apart. Again, I just knot them in groups of four as I move along the front of the loom. Once that is all done, the fabric is inspected for unwoven threads that are hanging loose. My apologies for not taking pictures of these, but I was running out of hands. These usually are along the selvage edges and I trim them off or weave them in using my trusty metal needle. It’s a bodkin so works perfectly for that task.
Once everything is where it should be, the fabric is given a wash in very hot water and mild soap, rinsed and hung to dry. I was very pleased with how the colours played out to give a subtle change in the plaid. I hope to be able to replicate this somehow in the future, just have to figure out how I did it in the first place.
The final step is to even out the fringes; they need to be the same length on both sides. I find it easiest to pin the fabric together and just cut them at the same time.
Sometimes they need just a little more trimming, just noticed there is a stray bit in the picture, just like a bad haircut.
The final product is going to be used for display purposes at the next Sale and Exhibition. I am very pleased with the final result. It will not be for sale. I did show it to a fellow weaver for a hard critique and I meant it. I wanted to hear the “hard stuff”. She was kind enough to tell me the truth. There are a few techniques that I need to work on before selling my scarves. I need to open up my work so it drapes better. I need to get better at math!!! This ended up very short. It was a wonderful width, but it did shrink in length and would only work as a dress scarf. And finally, I need to practice hemstitching. That said, the colours are great, my use of yarn is superlative, the fringe is perfect and the simplicity of the design is perfect to set off the fibre. Ta-da, I’ll take that.
Hello! I am Carlene and a new poster here on the Felting and Fiber Studio blog. I live in Carp which is part of Ottawa Canada. I am a member of the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild; the same guild that Jan Scott, Ann McElroy and Bernadette Quade belong to.
I am interested in a number of fiber arts including: crochet, knitting, spinning, felting and weaving. I will admit that spinning is my biggest passion and where I spend most of my time. I have been dabbling in weaving for a bit, using rigid heddle looms and taking some classes at the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild.
In June 2022 I managed to purchase a used Saori CH50 loom and since then my weaving has really taken off. I love the Saori philosophy and how well designed the loom is. Saori weaving is a free form style of weaving developed in Japan. You can learn more about the history of Saori online from Saori Global.
Here is my Saori loom. It is a cute little 2 harness loom with a small footprint similar to a card table. The official specs are as follows: Width: 69cm (26″), Depth: 61cm (24″), Height: 98cm (38″), Weight: 15.7kg (34.5lb), Weaving Width: 60cm (23″).
One of the neat innovations of the Saori looms is using a square back beam that allows you to slide a pre-wound warp onto the loom and speed up the warping process. You can buy pre-wound warps in a number of different thread counts (50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 threads), lengths (3m, 6m, 12m and 30m) and fibre types (cotton, wool, or mixed fibers such as wool, cashmere, silk). The most affordable warps are plain black warps in either wool or cotton. This is a 100 end cotton warp that I recently put on my loom. The warp threads are taped to the square tube, then wound on under light tension with spacers inserted occasionally. At the end of the warp the ends are again taped down.
After putting the warp onto the back beam, I lifted the reed and beater out of the loom and set it aside. Then I untaped the warp threads from the roll and lifted them up over the back beam, over the middle castle of the loom and taped the threads to the loom shelf using green painters tape.
Next I did some quick counting and inserted some chip clips as markers. I wanted to thread from the middle outwards so that I could easily position the warp threads in the middle of the reed and the heddles on the shaft. After counting out the threads I carefully snipped a single thread from the tape, then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the rear shaft. I repeated this process with the the next thread and then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the front shaft. I then skipped a heddle in each shaft and then repeated this process to thread the next thread, all the way across the loom.
In this next picture you can see all the black warp threads have been inserted through the heddles. I have used chip clips to keep the threads neat and tidy. There is a spare empty heddle between each of the threads.
I decided to add some supplementary warp threads to experiment with adding a bit of colour to my warp. I bought these Kumihimo bobbins to try. I wound cotton thread in various colours onto the bobbins.
Then I positioned the bobbins at the back of the loom and slowly threaded them into some of the empty heddles between warp threads. The placement of these threads was somewhat random. After adding in the supplementary warp threads I was ready to thread the reed. So I put the beater bar and reed back into the loom.
I used my threading hook to thread the reed and I did groups of 4 threads, then one empty space in the reed, then the next set of 4 threads. Chip clips were again used to keep the threads tidy.
After completing the threading it was time to tie onto the front beam and then start weaving. The warp threads are knotted onto the front beam. The blue yarn you see is a bit of scrap yarn at the beginning of the project to help space out the warp threads. The weft threads (the back and forth weaving threads) is some self striping wool/acrylic sock yarn (Kroy Socks Stripes in the colour Burnished Sierra). When you look at the back of the loom the Kumihimo bobbins with the supplementary warp threads are hanging off the back.
I wove a piece that was about 64″ on the loom. After taking it off the loom the piece measured 60.5″ x 20.5″. After washing the dimensions will shift again and there will be a bit more shrinkage.
After removing the blue waste yarn I trimmed the warp ends, knotted them together, then twisted the fringe. The result is a cowl for my Christmas gift pile. I still have one last step to do though. The fabric still needs to be washed to set the cloth and after washing it’ll need a quick press with the iron to make it look beautiful again. I have a stack of Christmas weaving waiting for washing and ironing. Luckily there is still a bit of time before Christmas to get it all done.
I got the stack weaving washed and realized that I had forgotten the step of sewing on labels. So today I sat down with the pile and sewed on tags. I have these nice vegan leather tags that I purchased off ETSY from FractalFocusStudios and I carefully sewed one on each item.
After putting the tag on I did a quick try on. Love it! My stack of scarves and cowls are now sitting in the pile of Christmas gifts. Soon they will all be adopted by new owners.
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!
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.
The silk recycling is woven, it’s all done, finished, tutto finito bandito! I actually ran out of the red and orange silk so for the last little bit I had to dig in the bag and retrieve some matching silk with blue, red and orange. It looks just fine. Once the weaving was done I hem stitched the edge, wove in any loose warp threads and washed the yardage.
The whole mass went into the washing machine on a regular cycle, in cool water with my usual detergent. This is the way I plan on washing the finished jacket. I also did this to release any dyes that are lurking in the silk. The jacket will probably bleed dye for the rest of its life because some dyers do not set the dye in silk. The cotton warp took on a slight pinkish tint, so that helped to level the overall look of the fabric.
I plan to hang dry the jacket, so the material was taken outside to hand dry and freshen in sunlight. This proved a tiny bit problematic. The fabric was really, really heavy when wet. This is also when the light began to dawn that this was not, I repeat not, just a four yard warp. I left the fabric to dry on the railing overnight, where it promptly froze into position. Freeze drying works too, so two days later, in it came.
I was able to measure and confirm that this was clearly a massive piece of fabric. Originally, the warp was estimated to be ‘maybe’ 4 yds or 3.5 meters. It was purchased at an estate sale from one of our guild’s best weavers, but the labels fell off and things got a bit muddled when best efforts were at hand. I knew I was taking a risk, even getting it on the loom was a challenge, but I have no regrets. The length proved a great surprise and reward at the same time. It also explains why I ran out of weaving material. There are 8 yards or 7.5 meters, plenty here to make two jackets if I’m careful!
The final product is gorgeous. It just shimmers in the right light and I really want to do it justice. Even though it is a recycled product, or maybe because it is recycled, it’s important that the final result show the very best characteristics of the fibres that have gone into making it.
Our guild has an amazing resource for researching just about anything fibre related. Jan is our librarian. She is the lead book slinger in our heavy rental group called Jan and the Librarians; they have sessions once a month at the guild. I joined in last weekend and Jan supplied me with my requests for information on Japanese clothes, braids and ‘Saori’ weaving.
Japanese clothes design save weavers from the angst of having to cut their beloved fabric. The patterns are usually straightforward, basic, and interesting. I qualified this statement with ‘usually straightforward’ because I had never seen Saori weaving before nor the clothes that have been designed to use the material woven on a Saori loom. the book is in Japanese, the patterns are like origami on crack and they fascinate me endlessly. Until I can figure out the patterns I opted for a very conservative jimbei pattern from the jacket my son lent me. There are examples of simple patterns in one of the books.
This jimbei is meant for hot summer days. The sides are not stitched close but fastened with a cable stitch or stitched close with a decorative embroidery stitch. The underarm is left open, again for summer comfort.
The front is loosely tied or left open as preferred. I was interested in the reinforcement used at the bottom of the sides. These were the same reinforcements I found on the kimonos, so they clearly work.
The female version of this simple jacket has a closed wrist. It’s called a hippari. I might do one of these for winter if I have enough material left. The photos of the jimbei and hippari are from “Make your own Japanese Clothes” by John Marshall ISBN 0-870110865-X, I really enjoyed reading this book, lots of ideas for ways to incorporate the Japanese style into my life.
There are so many new things I will need to explore once I decide to start sewing this jacket. I’m really looking forward to getting the sewing machine out again.
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!
Spinners who participate at demonstrations hear this question all the time. After washing, dyeing, carding/combing then spinning the most delicious yarn in the world, we have to do more? Isn’t this enough? Apparently there is an expectation that all our lovely yarn has to be used for something else. For years that wasn’t my problem; that was left to the devices of much more talented weavers, knitters, felters and other fiber artists. This was when we had fiber festivals and gathers of like minded people who could touch yarn and evaluate the grist for their next project. To my great surprise, I can spin a lot of yarn in a year.
During one of the relaxed periods of lock-down I was able to buy a lovely little loom. It was a Leclerc Mira, 27 inch, four harness, sectional beam. This little button came with all the bells and whistles – warping mill, bobbin rack with bobbins, electric bobbin winder, skein winder, shuttles, extra heddles, reeds, counter, the list keeps going and going. I was truly blessed to find this loom. It did come unassembled without instructions. That is a crucial bit of information. User manuals are easily found on-line with very good information. Kudo’s to Leclerc for providing customers throughout the ages all the information they need to maintain and care for these lovely machines.
Like most of the world we were in lock-down of one sort or another, but at one point both my son’s were allowed to be in my home as long as I wasn’t, so they took the opportunity to come and set up the little darling for me. Well, that was the intention. The reality ended up with an attempt to sort out the messy meccano set called a loom, define the parts, try to read instructions, etc. that ended with one of them saying “nuts to this, I’m going to start supper and clean the bathroom”. When I got home, supper was on the brew, the loo was clean and one son was struggling with a partially assembled machine. We finished it together. Pear is a shape, and it is not a good one when skittering around under a small loom. Skitter may not be an accurate description either, but you get the idea. I’m too old for this sort of activity.
Cotswold is one of my favourite breeds and I had a lovely selection available for my first try after a long break from weaving. Several decades ago my then sister in law coerced me into taking weaving and spinning at the local college. I loved it, she did not. Once coming to this area, I was competent enough to be hired as a production weaver for a local artisan. We used sectional beams for warping and I prefer them to using a reel. The only draw-back for a sectional beam is the need to have individual bobbins for each thread. So if you are weaving at 10 threads per inch you will need 10 bobbins with enough yardage for the length and width of your warp. I really needed to crack out my math skills again. Thankfully, all the Cotswold I had spun, had yardage marked on the skeins, so I was confident that I had enough to use. I was going to make scarves for my sons.
I measured and did math and wound bobbins, redid the math; worried that I hadn’t done the math properly, so redid it and finally took the plunge.
The weave pattern was a very basic twill. I just wanted to get back to learning how to do a full loom set-up again. The bonus would be having something useful to show for it at the end of the process. The idea of purchasing fiber to do this also seemed a little weird since my house was getting full of spun yarn.
Taking the plunge and using my own hand spun was a significant eye opening experience. The wool I chose was just too rough for the final product of scarves. My sons are kind and tell me the scarves are warm and snuggly and all sorts of appropriate compliments, but the material feels a bit like kevlar.
I am now more aware of producing fiber with an end purpose in mind, not necessarily for me, but for other people as well. If I design the yarn with intent for an end use, I can explain to someone else what it will be good for. Some hand spun is not as good for weaving as it is for knitting, and some hand spun should never be used for scarves!
Things are still very busy here with the bottle lambs. So there is not much time for felting.
I have managed to do some spinning. It all still needs plying.
This one I think will have to be plied with somthing else. I think that if I try to pull the yarn out of the middle as well as the outside it will get hopelessly tangled with all the curls.
Sunday I am picked up a new to me ( and Jan of the polar bear and bull frog). This is an upright tapestry loom. The loom has come all the way from Sudbury. It was transported down by a lady down to visit her daughter saving Jan or I from having to do the long drive up there. As you can see it is all in pieces in my van. I have to clear space for it. that will hopefully happen over the next moth or so as my husband builds his new space and I get to take over his old space. My plan is to make some fleece rugs. I think Jan is planning a Viking cloak.
This last weekend my guild did a Demo at the Carp Fair I went on the Sunday. I took a blending board to make some more rollags. I had some hand cards with me and I had a spindle I was spinning a rollag on so I could explain it all. It was very popular with the visitors to the fair. .
Bernadette was spinning Rambouillet on her wheel. In this picture she is Chain plying it.
Jan was working On the Edo Challenge. And Yes that is an octopus. I am hoping to get her to do a post about her progress. Here she is explaining it to some visitors.
Her fish was there on display and tried to eat a passing child.
Julie was weaving. She is doing shibori on the loom. She weaves the draw strings right into the scarf ready to be tightened up and then dyed. She has a finished sample onto of her loom.
And lastly 2 of the display tables.
I didn’t get any of the third table except Jan’s Fish. We had a great time chatting with people about spinning, weaving and felting. Have you been doing your crafts in public lately?