Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Weaving with 100% British Wool - handspun

With the latest YarnMaker at the printers (due to be published next week) I had time for some weaving last weekend.

This year we adopted a third cat, Jasper, who has been a neighbour and friend of our Annie and Pheobe for several years (see this post from the past). Jasper has been sleeping on the sofa on one of my best Stows of Sowerby blankets, and I rather wanted it back to snuggle in on cold summer evenings. So, it was about time he had his own snug cat bed and blanket.

This is the blanket woven by Stows of Sowerby, who had a modern Italian power loom in a barn on a farm in Yorkshire, and retired a few years ago.


Jasper did have a basket and blanket before, for a while, but Pheobe claimed it, so I had to start again. She's top cat and no-one argues with Pheobe.



I have a huge stash of handspun yarns. Most of these were spun in 2006.  The wools that went into the blanket include Black Welsh Mountain, Grey Welsh Mountain, Manx Loaghtan, Shetland, Jacob. Some were spun fairly thick like an aran weight yarn, others like a fine sock wool.  There was a good mix of colour, yarn weights and texture.



This photo shows the warp yarns ready to wind onto the cloth beam of my Ashford Knitters Loom, with a 10 dpi reed.


I found that I like using the Glimakra rug shuttle as it passes through the shed without friction.




Here is the new blanket when cut off the loom, before washing in hot and cold water to full the fabric, after which the loose ends and the tassels were trimmed.



When Jasper found his new bed, to my surprise he climbed in confidently and greeted it with loud purring. He seems very pleased indeed.



From this place of his own he can watch what crazy little Annie is up to. 



Annie has a Plague Rat, from Sally Pointer. 







Thursday, 7 June 2012

Louet S70 and Louet S15

I have found that images of some spinning wheels are more easily found on the internet than others. So here are two classic Louet spinning wheels that are not in production and less easily found.


(Click on the image to see it larger.)

On the right is an S15, made in beech with a plywood drive wheel. It was orginally finished in a thick dark varnish which you can still see on one of the bobbins on the lazy kate. I don't know how old this wheel is, I know of at least 2 previous owners and expect there were many more. It could be around 20 years old. It arrived something of a wreck and has had several new bearings, new brake band, flyer shaft, treadle connector, lazy kate and two new three-speed bobbins. I was pleased to find that Louet make all the parts I needed. The difference between this and the similar S10 model is that the S10 has a round hole in the wheel which compensates for the weight of the footman and treadle for steadier spinning.

On the left is an S70, made in solid oak. This model and the S71(identical apart from a dark varnish) were made for only a couple of years, 1983-1985.

The S70 is a very new addition to my collection, it arrived last week from an ebay seller in the Netherlands, beautifully flat packed in a fairly small box. The postage was over 20 euros and all paid for in beautiful postage stamps, I've cut this out to keep!



You can find some other photos of older  Louet spinning wheels on the Low Lands Legacy website. Louet themselves only have photos of the models currently in production. More detailed information can be found on the Louet North America website.

The question arises from time to time, "Why do people want these old fashioned spinning wheels?". For me, the reason is that I met the talented art yarn spinner, Daniela Klopmann, of FeltStudioUK spinning on one on her stand at Woolfest in 2010. Not only are they easy to spin on, as the heavy drive wheel has good momentum, but they are ideal for bulky art yarns. They are also popular with people who have discovered that they are fast for plying and have huge bobbins for creating big skeins. Some people I know use them only for plying. Other people use them for spinning all kinds of yarn, from lace weight to bulky. Before anyone comments: I know they aren't the easiest wheel for learning to spin fine, and I wouldn't recommend them to someone who only spins fine, but nonetheless if the spinner can spin fine, the wheel can.