Sunday, 7 March 2010

Weaving and spinning

My sister pointed out that I haven't blogged for a while, days have slipped past here and I hadn't realised how they were turning to weeks, so here's a bit of an update on a couple of projects.

I finished the scarf that I was weaving with a handspun madder warp and have enjoyed wearing it the past couple of weeks. Here it is pictured with one of the scarves I wove last year. They both had similar Noro Sock Yarn warps, both 2.5m long on the loom and 8 inches wide, however, the scarf with the handspun warp is narrower because there are less interactions between warp and weft in the weave pattern and because the weft yarn shrank.

Both are lovely to wear, the wider scarf I wear folded, the narrow one wraps around like a stiff, warm collar. Longer tassels looked right on the narrower scarf, and I have been interested to notice that they swing about gracefully when I wear the scarf (unless it is tightly tucked in my button coat for extra warmth - still very wintery here!).

The Ashford Traveller wheel has been in use most evenings as I spin my natural dyed wool into yarns, pictured here in one of those useful baskets I wove last month.

The Traveller got to misbehaving again, lots of creaks and groans. I have removed the cardboard shim I used to fix a loose leg and replaced it with a slip of plastic cut from a milk carton, which should not compress so easily. Having done that, I realised all the legs were now loose so have done the same to them all! It is spinning beautifully again now. I hope to get some good tips on wheel care at an event organised by Wingham Wool Work at the start of next month when Richard Ashford will be visiting along with David Herring from the UK importers for talks, demos, art yarn lessons and wheel care. Richard Ashford is due to be at an event hosted by Wingham Wool on 1st and 2nd April, with The Threshing Barn on 3rd April, and possibly also Twist Fibre Craft studio on 30th March if enough people are interested, so if you do want to go along phone the appropriate shop now and book.

Getting back now to the weaving of my scarf, it occured to me that maybe not everyone knows about this handy little gadget which I bought from Handweavers Studio.

It is a balloon spring and fits on the shaft of my bobbin winder enabling me to wind my plastic Leclerc shuttle bobbins easily. The bobbin winder shaft is narrow and fits the cheap cardboard bobbins perfectly, but everything else needs wedging on somehow.

The Leclerc shuttles are lovely to hold and use.

I have got to know more new weavers recently, and more people taking up weaving for the first time, so thought it might be handy to include the odd weaving technique tip nowadays. This is what I do with the yarn end when I empty a shuttle bobbin. It slips into the same shed as the last pick, I take it across 1-2" and leave an end poling out of the cloth. The new yarn is started in reverse fashion, I lay a short end into the next shed, wrap it around the selvedge, then weave as normal. On the floor loom when working on wide warps with a heavy shuttle I find it necessary to hold the little end of the new thread while throwing the shuttle to stop it from pulling out.

When the new and old ends are several inches into the cloth I snip them off close to the fabric so that it is hard to see where they were.
Editing this post 09/03/09 to bring in this helpful comment from Alison:
Your tip is excellent, but can I suggest that you don't snip until the
fabric is fulled/washed/finished. I was taught to mend, finish, then
snip and trim fringes, in that order. If you don't overlap sufficiently
and snip first the over lap can be compromised. There's a better chance
of all being well if you finish first then snip. Thanks Alison!

While taking these photos I also thought you might like to see the swinging beater I have now fitted to my table loom. Very useful, as I can beat with the reed parallel to the cloth over a wider range.

For those of you who've missed this - The 2010 Challenge for weavers is started via Meg's blog and Kaz has already posted about it. I'm not participating due to other pressures on my time but am working on a blog post reviewing books on design.

Another blog post I'd like to call to the attention of all weavers is this wonderful post demonstrating how to tie a Weaver's Knot. Many thanks to Alison for mentioning it a few weeks back, it is a revelation as I have struggled to follow diagrams in books and been much puzzled as to how it became so well used in spite of being difficult to tie. Now I know there's a simple trick to getting it right.


Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

The scarves look lovely. Many thanks for the balloon spring close-up -- I have a metal shim to put on my quill winder to turn it into a bobbin winder, but it doesn't tend to stay put. This looks like it would work better, so I'll ask around at the local hardware stores. I think they get a kick out of me bringing in my fiber tools and asking for odd things ;-)

Meg in Nelson said...

That goodness for alert sisters, Dot! I love to imagine you wearing your narrower scarf like a high collar - very stylish!

Ruth said...

I've just found your blog. It's good to find one based in the UK. I'm trying to learn the basics about weaving but i'm not a good student. I love to play with "stuff" and I'm a bit of a butterfly flitting from one thing to another.

trapunto said...

What beautiful scarves, and what a lovely basket of spring colors!

Wow. Clever little part. And I learned a new word: balloon spring. I just have two winders--my nice one for winding quills, and my antique one that's fitted up with layers of painter's masking tape to (sort of) fit bobbins.

I have had the same trouble with a weavers knot. I'm going to visit that link.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Thank your sister for me! I always enjoy your posts and watching your growing skills, and this post was no exception.

Willington Weaver said...

hi Dot

Your scarves are lovely.

Your tip is excellent, but can I suggest that you don't snip until the fabric is fulled/washed/finished. I was taught to mend, finish, then snip and trim fringes, in that order. If you don't overlap sufficiently and snip first the over lap can be compromised. Theres a better chance of all being well if you finish first then snip.

Oh, dear, I seem to be rambling, but I hope you can understand what I mean!

Alison (and thanks for mentioning my blog!)

Margreet said...

Dot, your scarf looks lovely. And thanks for showing your gadget from Handweavers Studio! I hope to visit them at the end of the month and will look out for this.

Leigh said...

The scarves are indeed lovely. I really like the pink one, which is surprising as I don't often go for pink. I love the basket of yarns too. Wonderful eye candy.

Sounds like you're more back to normal health-wise too. That's the best of all.

Dorothy said...

Oh lucky Margreet going on a trip to Handweavers Studio! Many thanks to Peg for her encouraging words, and Alison - I updated the post to put this important information where other people will see it. Trapunto - isn't "balloon spring" an attractive word? Very handy gadget it is too.

Leigh, thank you, my health is good now, I get compliments from people telling me I look well (that makes a change!) and I've been steadily building up muscle strength as I got very weak last year, I can do most of the things I think I should be able to now. Thanks to Benita for encouraging me to get a pedometer, I can walk all of a mile-and-a-half per day now and working up. For me normal used to be up to six miles per day comfortably, so some way to go yet.

Janet said...

Beautiful scarves Dot. Glad to hear about the improvement in your health. And thank you to Alison for that tip - that would apply to rug weaving as well.

weaverjane said...

Dear Dorothy, just writing to say thank you for your blog posts on Colour and Weave. It told me just what I needed to know and I await my copy of Ann Suttons book eagerly. Thanks for putting so much information out there for us weavers.
Jane (Sheffield)

Barbara Blundell said...

HI Dorothy,
What gorgeous greens !. Never had much success with natural dyes for green. What did you use or did you overdye ? Whatever-- beautiful results 1

Shani Phethean-Hubble said...

really inspiring, love the colours in your scarves. My traveller is a faithful friend too..

best wishes

bspinner said...

Scarf is lovely!!

I'm would love to get a balloon spring but when I look at Handweavers Studio's website couldn't find it. Do you think they will be taking mail orders for this great little gadge?

I love reading your blog!!

Life Looms Large said...

That balloon spring is a lot nicer than the rubber band I put on my winder if I have to wind a bobbin!

The scarves are lovely!!

Glad you're feeling better and are walking farther. It's amazing how long it takes sometimes to regain fitness, but I'm happy to say that it does come back!!


Carmina said...

Thanks for the info, I really liked. thanks!
Caroline White

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