Sunday, 19 April 2009

Linen yarns

The message has been passed around weavers in the UK that a company called GTM Sales Ltd. in Stalybridge had bought up the end of stock from an Irish firm, William Ross, which closed recently.

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.

Coincidently, this is left over syacamore wood from building of the stairs you saw the yarns sitting on above! What a craftsman!

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.

I found I'm not a very neat weaver like this, the plain weave was easier than a pattern. however, it's a useful indication of sett and appearance.

Other details - the weaving shuttle was a tapestry needle and I used the tips of 2 or 3 sock knitting needles as a comb to push the threads in tight.


Margreet said...

Thanks for pointing this out to us!

I really like your new yarns. That will surely keep you weaving for some time! Do let us know how the yarns behave when you weave with them. They look like fine yarns, what is the sett you used in your sample? Another good idea. I once learned to do a quick sample on embroidery canvas, but I like this even better.

humblebumble said...

thanks for the link to that company. that's well handy. maybe now i can find out what machine i need for winding pirns

callybooker said...

Ooh, neat gadget. I did some mini-weavings on cardboard when I was planning colour-and-weave designs but it never occurred to me to request a permanent solution.

Helen said...

I love the colour of the linens especially the greens. It will be interesting to see the weaving that comes out of them.

Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

That's a lovely sampler-square -- nicely done. I like the popsicle stick idea -- hadn't thought of that. I used a dinner fork to pack my weaving down as I went. There may soon be a plastic picnic fork in my permanent weaving kit next to my little sampler :-)

And with a handy wood worker, you could even have a 2-inch sampler square for the thicker wools. Oh, the possibilities!

Leigh said...

What a nifty gadget! I've often wished for something like this, now I can actually have one.

Your linen yarns are lovely; makes me wish I had some!

spinninglizzy said...

I love the colours of linen yarn you've chosen. I've inherited quite a lot of linens and cottolins with old looms -- but after seeing the price they command at the weaving stores, am waiting until I'm a bit more seasoned as a weaver to use them.

What a nice way to use up smaller bits of wood; I can't wait to give it a try.

Life Looms Large said...

I'm way behind in reading blogs, but this post makes me glad I started with the oldest unread posts!!!

All that yarn is so wonderful!! The colors look great - and of course I have color blending ideas from my color workshop earlier in the week. So I guess I did learn things!!

I'll be very interested to see what you come up with.

Thanks also for showing your sampler weaver thingie.....I need to make a small sample for something I want to try out - and that seems like a great approach for me too!

Happy weaving!

PS: You could just put any spam comments into the trash can without batting an eyelash! I do that on the rare occasions when I get that kind of message.

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for reading my long cactus post!!!

My freecycle experiences all have been great. Prior to this one, we've found new homes for things that were just taking up space and we weren't at all attached to. And that felt great.

The cactus was a little sad.....but the sunroom works so much better without it.....and it's great to think that it will go out into the world brightening up other people's houses.

I'm a plant nut, but when I've given away some of my really has been freeing. comment is getting dangerously long! Still processing the cactus departure a bit....even though I'm definitely glad!


Christina Kingsmill said...

Well I'm a VERY late contributor to this post but really hoping I can still buy some if this yarn, I have just found the invoice from some I bought from William Ross in 1991! It knitted up beautifully on my machine.
Thank goodness for Google which is how I came upon this post!!