Monday, 29 March 2010

Behind the scenes...

I have reached the point where I need to declare a blog holiday, though I'm sure regular readers have spotted a slowing up in posts and detected a lack of weaving time.

I'm not short of things I want to make and write about, and there's pile of books by my desk that I was going to review. Top of the pile however was the wonderful true live adventures of Christopher Aslan Alexander, described in his book "A Carpet Ride to Khiva" and Cally's review tells you some of the reasons I love this book (but she didn't mention the amazing descriptions of rearing silk moths, the tales of hunting out knowledgeable dyers willing to share their skills, tracking down ingredients for the dyebaths, accounts of how looms were built and the weaving.)

The reason for the holiday is the project I'm working on in the new office space I mentioned in my last post: I am setting up a business to publish and edit a new bi-monthly British / European magazine for handspinners.

new magazine title

Obviously this draws on my ongoing curiosity and interest in creating yarns and textiles and love of passing on what I learn. I'm also bringing to it business admin. and legal skills, experience of working as an NCTJ trained local newspaper journalist, and work in marketing and public relations, plus I have always enjoyed photography, drawing, and writing.

I have previous of experience of magazine layout and editing and graphic design for print. I started out on the university student newspaper which we designed and laid out on an Apple Mac back in the mid-1980s, later produced all kinds of publicity materials, newsletters, magazines, advertising copy and for 5 years I've produced the pretty membership cards issued to members of the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers which some of my blog friends possess.

I look forward to getting back to weaving and blogging once the magazine is established.

Meanwhile, I will be officially starting my business soon after Easter and putting up a website with more details of the magazine (I'll post a link here when it's done). You can now contact me at my new email address: editor [at] yarnmaker [dot] co [dot] uk

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Blues and books

Lesley recently commented on my blog post of 2 years ago My Workshop "Dot your studio puts me to shame. I have the space but it's a total mess!". I wish it looked today like it did back then. If it looked like that I'd be able to get to the warp board and wind a warp, and I could be weaving on my Toika loom.

I thought of taking a photo of how it is today, but I didn't like looking at the photo any more than I like looking at mess, so instead I've been tidying up as best I can. The problem is that the end of the room opposite the loom has a wall waiting to be re-plastered and also my new office space for my new business (more of that another day).

Meanwhile I can't even use the table loom as I can't get to the warping board to wind a warp for it. I can't get to my Timbertops Leicester wheel. I'm intending to wind a warp on my Ashford inkle loom in the next day or so, and I am glad of the Ashford Traveller spinning wheel which is compact so easy to move and find space to spin.

However, this is a temporary situation and I am planning ahead. I bought a couple of 100g fibre packs this week, one a plain pale blue merino, the other a blend of coloured merino and silk. I'm intending to spin them into one plain and one coloured yarn to use for warp and weft in another woven scarf.




While my workroom is in chaos and there is not much textile work to report on, it's time to get back to book reviews. First book on the pile is a good read, then there's a stack of books on design. I was going to write a single post about books on design, but there are several books and a fair bit to say about each, so I'll be reviewing them one at a time. Not today, though, time I got back to shuffling things around to creat space and generally tidying up.

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.