Fanspun Shawl

It’s done and it’s pretty!

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Warp & weft: handspun gift
Loom: Ashford Table
DPI: 10
Weave structure: Twill

It’ll probably be the last item I make on the Ashford Table Loom. I’ve mostly made up my mind to sell it. The only thing that’s holding me back is I’d like to test that the brake on my new old floor loom is working properly by putting something on it that requires a very tight warp.

I’m worried that if it isn’t, I won’t have a larger loom available while I get it fixed. Which is silly really. I have the Knitters and Katie loom to keep me occupied in the meantime. And inkle looms. And two knitting machines. And plenty of projects on the spinning, sewing, refashioning, jewellery-making, and other craft list.

But I’ve had this loom for nearly ten years. I need to be 100% ready to let it go.

Electric Boogaloo Scarf

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Warp: Patonyle
Weft: Patonyle and hand dyed sock yarn
Loom: Ashford Knitters
DPI: 10
Weave structure: Clasped weft

I had a bout of finishitis through August, particularly with weaving projects. I started this project back in March, then decided to stop halfway because it would make a great portable project, should I need one.

When I decided to finish it I discovered pretty quickly that I wasn’t halfway through, but more like three-quarters. So the last of it wove up fast. There was enough left, however, for me to fall in love with clasped weft all over again. It was such a fun project to weave! I want to do another like this, maybe with a contrasting colour against the striped yarn instead.

New Recruit

Last weekend we went to a friend’s daughter’s 10th birthday party. Miranda reminds me of me at her age – quiet and creative. Her mum had told me Miranda has seen me weaving and embroidering and wants to learn.

So I thought long and hard about a present that would be suitable. Too simple OR too complicated might mean she’d get bored. A rigid heddle loom would be great, but I figured it would be better if she had a chance to try one first – and I didn’t have time to arrange that thanks to work deadlines.

Then something reminded me of my pin looming last year, and it occurred to me that this was a good way to teach the basic structure of cloth. Each square is complicated enough to be interesting but not overly time-consuming. They can be sewn together to make lots of different things.

I took along my shawl to show what can be made from squares. And I took my pin looms and some yarn I’ve been meaning to weave on them so I could teach Miranda if there was time. Since it was the family and adult friends party, not a kids party, once the presents were open it was okay for us to get started.

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Miranda loved it. I think I have a convert.

Reddy Runner

Finished, washed, fringe trimmed:

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I can see now that I should have used a heavier yarn for the thick weft. The pattern isn’t as obvious as it should be:

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The Dyer & Philips loom did work well for warp rep, but I have to say I found the weaving technique tedious. Soooo many warp threads. Having to use a pick-up stick to open the shed fully annoyed me. And it took aaaaages to weave. Looking at it now, I can see I did eight repeats of the stripe sequence, and yet it felt like I’d done twice that many.

I’ve come to the conclusion that weft rep might be more my cup of tea. Fewer warp threads but similar patterns – just turned 90 degrees. Something to try, anyway.

But probably not on the D&P. It’s a cute loom and with plain weave it is a delight to use, but having projects on multiple looms just means it takes me longer to finishing any of them. If I find a loving home for it, I will let it go.

Blackwork… Bookmark?

I like the look of blackwork, so I really, really wanted to like doing it. However, I only kinda sorta didn’t mind it when there was nothing else to do, so after I’d finished one row of the sampler, I decided that was it.

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The decision became easier because I’d really enjoyed the Bargello samplers. I have no idea why they were so much fun, but the blackwork didn’t thrill me. It’s not a matter of colour vs black, because I’ve embroidered black before and liked it. It’s not that the final result is something useful or not, because I figure the blackwork can become a bookmark whereas I have no idea what to do with the Bargello. Both are ‘counted’ work on a mesh. Both are graphic rather than representational. They take about the same time to do.

The only difference I can see is that I need a stretcher for the blackwork, and it was finer work. Maybe I’d like it better if I used aida cloth with bigger squares and ditched the stretcher?

Hmm. I think I’ll have to give that a try!

Once it Was Winter…

… you’d think I’d have been wearing the Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn Jacket I finished earlier this year. Well, I haven’t. I did put it on once, but when I took it out of the drawer I’d stored it in it was all creased in the front. As I’d predicted, I didn’t like the fringe being so long. And the little bulge where the bottom of the cowl met the zip bugged me.

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So after trimming the fringe, I decided to cut the top section down the front and make it a jacket. I could have zig zagged along each side and sewn it to the back, but I liked the idea of a fringe there, too. Easier said than done!

I unwove the weft until I had enough warp to tie knots. However, this meant I had to unweave past the point where the bottom section joined to so I also had to unpick the top and bottom sections along the front and re-sew them together.

In the meantime, I found I rather liked the way the top of the pockets flopped down, matching the angle of the front edges, so I stitched those in place.

Then I unpicked the shoulders, took out the darts and added a length of cotton tape across the top of the back to strengthen the fabric. After trying the jacket on, I decided I didn’t like the sleeves being so wide. Inspired by the folded pockets, I decided to unpick the top seam and overlap the pieces.

At last I was done:

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After all the adjustments, I have a jacket I like, though it’s a tiny bit small for me – not quite long enough in the body or sleeves. But it’s wearable, and I’ve explored lots of ideas for making woven rectangles into clothing. I’d like to make this again, with wider pieces for the sleeve-upper body so that the seam where it joins the waistband sits under the bust line rather than over it.

Spinning the Cap

So the next spinning project I’ve tackled is spinning the silk caps. I’m using the method where you separate a few caps, then make a hole in the centre…

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Then stretch…

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Draft carefully…

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Then wrap onto a toilet roll…

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And spin…

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Working this way eliminates the need to draft while spinning, which is great because it takes a good bit of strength to do it with the silk cap. I’m assuming this is because the silk threads are mostly still in long lengths, so I’m actually breaking them when I’m drafting. It certainly makes a good crackle as you stretch it. Drafting this way is, however, rather hard on the hands.

The silk tends to catch on any rough skin. I was doing a lot of work in the garden at the time I spun this, so it was catching a lot. I did a couple of caps in each session, and worked my way through until it was all done. Then I plied it and got this little skein.

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A lot of work for a little skein, but it is so soft and lovely.

Once I work out how to turn the silk cocoons into caps, or wind it out into thread, the only thing standing between me and a 1year1outfit is a local source of enough silk cocoons to spin and weave into a garment. Oh, and finding the time to do all that. Which is still all pretty unlikely, but who knows?

In the meantime, I’ve started spinning a blend of Shetland, silk and linen by Woolz’N'yarnZ.

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It’s very relaxing, but that’s not what brings me back to it again and again. Spinning on the electronic wheel means I have something creative I can do standing up. Most craft I do competes with writing for sitting down time.

Comb or Not?

Way back when I first gave spinning a go I bought a pair of carders, only to sell them later. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on tools just yet, so I did a little searching on google and ebay and decided to see if dog combs would work. They have the same sort of fine, bent wire tines and are much cheaper.

Among the fibre I bought at bendy is a small pack of fleece dyed red. It’s also greasy, which is strange, because I’d have thought the dyeing wouldn’t work if there was still grease in the wool. I guess they might have added the grease later. Anyway, I have a few pieces a good comb.

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It turned it into red greasy fluff. I tried spinning it on a drop spindle with what I think is woollen – or woollen-ish. It makes a rather messy single. Not that I mind that.

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But I do wonder… Should I bother combing it? Should I wash out the grease?

Where There’s a T’will

Late last year I was sent some handspun by an Irish fan of my books. There were six small skeins of overdyed grey yarn, and one larger one of grey. The colours complement each other beautifully.

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My first thought was to use the grey as a warp and weave with the colours. But there’s less messing about with ends if you do it the other way around. Since I couldn’t know how many metres of yarn I had, I decided to measure a two metre warp, as that’s a good length for a shawl, and just wound until I ran out of each colour. It made enough for an 18 inch wide shawl. I’m calling it the Fanspun Shawl.

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Which made it a good width to use as my test project on the modified Ashford Table loom. All I had in mind for the weave structure was some kind of twill. When I came to threading, I decided a point twill would be nice, but not too small. So I threaded 2341234 3214321 to make deeper zigzags.

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I’m loving how this is coming out. It’s weaving up fast, too.

First Electronic Handspun

Here it is:

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Plying it was… interesting. I never had problems with plying yarn nine years ago, but this time I had trouble judging how much spin was enough. Some sections were under spun. I wound up winding it onto a stick and then adding twist by hand where it was too loose. It probably didn’t help that I decided to make it a three ply, which I’ve never done before.

Why? Well, I wound up with only a small amount on the second bobbin. I joined the ends of the yarn on both and began winding yarn onto the second bobbin in the hope of evening them up, but the yarn broke at a point that, according to my scales, put 1/3 of the yarn on one bobbin and 2/3 on the other. So I divided the one with 2/3 onto two bobbins to get three in total then began plying.

I could see I wasn’t getting much twist and tried adjusting a few things as I went. Two of the bobbins ran out at nearly exactly the same time, leaving one with enough yarn on it for me to try navaho plying – which I had more success with.

It’s all skeined up now. The question I have now is: do I wash it? There’s no lanolin in it. I have vague memories of a need to wash the skein, but I can’t remember if it applies with washed and dyed fibre.