Archives for posts with tag: wool

 

weaving, wool

JUST cut off the loom in time for the guild meeting.

In an earlier post I was fretting over a looming deadline and a skein of yarn.  http://wp.me/p4CcBZ-4

Once I had chosen a palette and yarns from my stash I had to decide what I would weave… a shawl, a scarf, a blanket? I decided a large shawl would be a safe bet and an interesting project. I was pretty sure I had enough yarn.

I used my warping board instead of the mill, winding three small warps of varying sizes. It was my intention to create a harmonious blend without being totally symmetrical. There are lots of subtle shifts of colour.

I pre-sleyed a 6 dent reed and intended to use a jerry rigged trapeze to wind the warp on to the back beam but discovered to my amusement, my clever gizmo was at the wrong end of my loom! Sometimes I just crack me up!

Winding it on, I was falling in love with the colour and pattern but a thought was niggling at me. I felt I wanted a twill, nothing too complicated to overpower the warp, especially since my weft was a deep, rich brown. What to choose?

I decided on a 2/2 twill on 4 shafts. It was a simple straight draft. Great! But did I do that? Nope. I threaded the treadling. It wasn’t on purpose but it was a happy accident because I treadled the threading which made the tie up MUCH simpler. Side Note: The tie up is my least favourite task. The simpler it is, the less time I spend in contortions under my loom!

weave structure

A twill with a difference. I reversed the threading and treadling

The last step prior to weaving was to sley my intended reed and tie on the front beam. I did the math and decided on a 10 dent reed as the appropriate choice. When I was approximately half way across I could see the reed was too coarse. I tried to cheat by shifting its’ position in the beater, but who was I kidding? After threading a few more dents I could see I solved exactly nothing and pulled out the reed. Rather than go with a 12 DPI reed, I used my 6 DPI again, sleying 2 ends per dent. I felt the 6 would be kinder on the hand spun. It was a good decision as my warp was now running in a straight line from back to front beam and only one thread broke at the end of my weaving.

detecting weaving errors

After transferring the cross from front to back I could see a few threads that were not captured in the cross. Fixing them now saves heart ache later.

And that looming deadline? Did I make it? Just by the skin of my teeth!

I cut the fabric off the loom at 6:03 PM. Elizabeth picked me up at 6:05 PM and I proudly arrived at the guild pot luck with my project… but left my contribution in the fridge.

*slaps forehead with hand*

What’s my take away from this project?

  1. When working to a deadline, keep things simple. I put the complex part in the warp, not the weaving.
  2. Don’t cut corners. I fixed the problems prior to weaving.
  3. I really enjoy improvising!

The first step in making slow cloth is getting the wool off the sheep. Geraldine Heffernan came out to Riverdale Farm to work her magic as part of the Spring Sheep Celebration on Saturday. She explained, in her heavy Scottish brogue, how the sheep relax when they are in certain positions. It’s all about pressure points. They certainly looked relaxed as she worked.

A good sized crowd gathered around to watch the performance. In a matter of minutes she had deftly removed a years worth of growth with nary a nick on the lamb and the coat in one piece. Geraldine’s assistant had the hard job of winding the hand cranked mechanism. It must be the only way when out back and beyond with no access to electricity. The duo switched up to electric as you will see in the second video but it wasn’t much faster.

Shearing the sheep at Riverdale Farm – click on the link to see the second video.

I was grateful to see the care she took, especially around the tail and other tender bits. We all had a laugh to see shorn sheep jumping up at the door to watch the current customer getting a “do”. I think they felt much better without their heavy coats.

Happily Shorn Supervising the sheep shearing

The fleeces are bagged individually. Each one will be processed the same way. First, skirted; which means all the really dirty bits (or as I like to say “poopy bits”) are cut off and thrown out. Occasionally a spinner will talk about “spinning in the grease” when you spin from an unprocessed fleece straight off the sheep. It’s not for everyone as there is a decidedly “sheepy” smell and it is messier but oh, the wonderful feeling of lanolin on fibre and skin. It’s silky!

When washing, care is taken not to felt the fibre while removing the dirt and excess lanolin. This can be a BIG job! Some fleeces need repeated washing. It doesn’t remove the vegetable matter so then it’s time to pick and card the fleece. It can be done with hand carders but goes a lot faster with a drum carder.

I like to create big batts of fibre that I can tear off in strips. And now it’s almost time to spin!