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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Greensleeves Spindles: The Wooden Rainbow

One of the most addicting things about spinning is hand-made drop spindles.  Most of us start out with something kind of clunky and mass-produced.  We wonder why people love spinning.  We make rope.  We drop the dang thing a million times.  Then we start to get the hang of it, and pretty soon we need another spindle!  We don't want another we start looking for The Spindle.

We buy something really special and think we're fixed for a life of spinning.  But no, we need a lace spindle.  And a one ounce.  And a one and a half ounce.  And a Bloodwood...

I've been selling Greensleeves Spindles for just under a year and have been thrilled witht he quality and beauty of these spindles.  Each Greensleeves drop spindle is made by hand by Elizabeth and Bart Daily of Provo, UT.  They are carefully turned, balanced, tested.  When I get a box of spindles it is like Christmas!  I never tell Elizabeth what to make me, other than a size range and how many I am ordering, so it is always the most fabulous surprise.  WOODEN RAINBOW!

Here is the bouquet that came in the mail today.  They are listed at my Etsy store and I expect them to sell out fairly quickly.  I am always tempted to keep a few...

There is only one thing wrong with Greensleeves Spindles.  They sell out almost immediately and then I have to wait WEEKS for the next batch!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gamp Camp: Weaving With Color

I'm working on spinning my second batch of warp for a weaving project.  Just couldn't bring myself to mix commercial yarn with my here we come, rabbit skin glue!  It takes me a while to spin enough yards, so I thought I'd better have something going on the loom at the same time.  Practice makes perfect and I have a LOT of skill-building to do.

I bought a gamp kit from Yarn Barn of Kansas.  What is a gamp?  British slang for an umbrella...oh yeah, and it's a weaving thing too.  Here's the definition. A gamp is a systematic arrangement of warp threadings or warp color sequences in section of equal size, each section being a minimum of two inches and not more than six, and woven as drawn in.  Thank you, Harriet Tidball of Handwoven Magazine!

The warp was supposed to be 36 inches wide in a 12 dent reed, and the stripes were 24 ends wide (2 inches), but my big loom is European, metric, and the reed is just under 36 inches, so I had to pull one end from each of the last four colors.  The reed was FULL!  Warping took me two days.

Weaving only took about four hours.  I had to stop and change the bobbin in the shuttle every 24 picks, which took up a lot of time as well.  There were 18 colors.  If I'd had 18 shuttles, it would have been a lot faster!  But I only have two.

The wool was somewhat stiff and rough but after washing it fluffed up (bloomed) and softened a lot.  I am happy with the outcome, and so is the recipient of the blanket.  Happy Father's Day, Marty!

And then, of course there were leftovers, which I didn't want to throw out, so...they are being transformed into a random-color,  2x2 twill plaid scarf on the Wolf Pup LT.

What I learned:  I was surprised by which color combinations seemed attractive to me and which did not.  For instance, I liked olive green over maroon, and rust over bright green, but didn't like any of the squares that intersected with white.  Black plus color looked good no matter what color, but showed any flaws in weaving.  Gray over any color cut the brightness in half.  I found myself LOVING the green and blue blocks, and feeling somewhat indifferent about the yellow/orange/rust.  It definitely gave me some great ideas for using color in future projects and I will be able to take a look at it whenever I wonder how specific colors will interact in a plain weave cloth.

This was a kit so I couldn't veer much from the plan, but in the future I will probably try to make at least two blankets from the same warp.  It takes a long time to set up - might as well get my money's worth from the process.  Finally, I was amazed at how quickly the actual weaving went.  Whew.  After years and years of knitting, the almost instant gratification makes me dizzy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bartlettyarns - For Sale at my Etsy Store

I am now a Bartlettyarns dealer and have ten cones of this great yarn for sale at my Etsy store.  Cones have 1750 yds (1 pound) of woolen-spun sport weight yarn, great for knitting, weaving, crochet, felting, or any other fiberart project.

This yarn knits at 5-6 sts/inch on size 3-5 needles.  Weaving setts are 10-15.

Here are a few things you can do with this great yarn-on-a-cone: weave, knit, crochet, use as warp only with handspun weft.  Yarn on a cone is great for spinning art yarns - use it as the core and add in fluff, locks, or other fiber.  Spin in the direction of the yarn's ply twist.

Coned yarn hasn't been finished - after weaving or knitting the item should be gently washed in warm water.  It will bloom and soften up a great deal.

Bartlettyarns, Inc is a working museum woolen mill located in Harmony, Maine.  Yarn is made in the same way, with the same equipment used in the early 1800s.  It is woolen-spun from big batts (you can see them on the rolls in the video) and most of the yarns are dyed in the wool, then spun, to create heather blends.  Colors are not all available at all times - they are spun one run at a time as wool becomes available.  All wool comes from US wool growers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Weaving with Handspun: First Big Project

I started this project by spinning a lot of yarn.  Two-ply for the warp (1700 yds of Romney) and single ply for the weft (3200 yds of Romney lamb/alpaca).  I got these numbers from my calculations of what it would take to make 5.5 yds of cloth, 18 inches wide, at a sett of 15 e.p.i. (Ends, or warp threads per inch.)

Next I dyed the yarn and sized it with rabbit skin glue.

Wound the stiff, sized yarn into many balls.

Warped the Schacht Wolf Pup LT loom for sampling.

Samples.  I thought I'd weave the cloth in a houndstooth twill but I didn't like how the sample turned out (top sample).  My weft yarn was a single ply and there were slight variations in thickness - the variations didn't work well in herringbone.  So, I tried other combinations until I found one I liked.  I had to cut off the sample, re-thread the heddles and re-sley the reed and tie the new warp onto the cloth beam. 

Once I was sure of what I wanted I warped the loom and started to weave.  I broke six warp ends during weaving and repaired each one according to the instructions in LEARNING TO WEAVE.  For my next big handspun weaving project I'm going to use commercial yarn in the warp - I spent a lot of time worrying about fraying and breakage.  I also spent a lot of time spraying starch on the warp to make it even stiffer.  I don't know if it helped or not. 

One week later...

Before washing my fabric measured 5.5 yds by 17 inches wide.  It is soft with a nice hand and the perfect weight for a tailored wool vest.  I soaked the fabric in hot water with Woolite, swished it a little, and rinsed.  I laid it out flat to dry and can't wait to cut into it!

Here are my thoughts on my first big weaving project.  I'll do it again, and soon.  I'll use commercial warp next time and I'll double the ends at the edges because those seemed to break the most easily.  I overestimated how much warp yarn I'd need and underestimated on the warp.  I AM GLAD I SAMPLED.  For a diehard non-swatcher, this is big.

I feel like Pioneer Woman!!!  And it all started with a little Cricket Loom...