A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed an afternoon out, I drove over to Stalybridge (not far from my home) and found their office on the ground floor of a wonderful old mill (note: this is not the building pictured on the web site). It's one of those superb, grand Victorian mills where you enter via a brick archway into a cobbled yard. Nowadays the mill is home to a number of small businesses, one of which is GTM Sales who have an office on one side of the yard and large storeroom on the other. If you follow the link above then you can see a rack of shelves in the storeroom. They are selling pure linen two ply yarns and two ply yarns of linen plied with yarns of other fibre.
The yarns I bought are two ply linen/linen, linen/cotton, linen/wool, enough to keep me happy weaving for a year or two I should think, unless I want more of a particular colour. The colours are lovely, see for yourself:
I had a great time choosing these and enjoyed a good chat and a cup of tea with Sandra, who has the task of marketing these yarns. Hi Sandra! Sandra's not a yarn expert, if you look at the company web site you'll see they used to refurbish spinning mill machinery, however, she's learning from her customers - and commented how friendly weavers are. She's happy to send out samples for anyone who can't go along in person. They are selling per cone (mostly weighing at least 1 kg) prices from £5-£10. (Sandra, I hope your boss is impressed by the advertising space you get for one cup of tea and a friendly chat!!)
Here I am surrounded by cones of yarn and thinking, right, what shall I weave? I have put away the mixed yarns for now, and am looking at using the two ply linens. I think all the yarns are eminently suitable for fabric to be used for clothing. They may be less suitable for upholstery or towels because the yarn is not tight twist, but I suppose that depends on the length of the flax used in spinning this yarn. I haven't pulled a thread apart to find out the length yet. I know another of Sandra's customers is a machine knitter. I also like the idea of trying these out for inkle weaving.
The next day I asked my boyfriend - the keen woodworker who often says "what shall I do with all these odd left over bits of wood" - to make a nifty gadget like the one I saw on Amelia's blog for trying out yarn sett. If you're in the U.S. you could buy one from Halcyon Yarns.
The sett tool indicates that 30 epi will be good for plain weave. I could calculate the thread twill density for twill from that, but as I was having fun I decided to weave another little sample. This time I used a couple of lollysticks tucked in the warp on the back of the sett tool to take out as the warp tightens up.