Thursday, 17 May 2018

Trial weave Design

Trialing a Weaving Draft

     I have spent some time spinning a big batch of fibre tops, from John Arbon again, to fulfil my ambition to weave a length of fabric from my own handspun yarn - the reason I began spinning in the first place! The wound balls below are 'Toot Sweet', organic merino and silk, intended for the warp.
Each of the 21 balls is approximately 50g, 20 wraps per inch, that took me about two evenings each to spin.

    I have carefully measured each one and find that I have more than 4,200 metres, more than enough for a 7 metre warp, 34 inch loom width.

    This basket contains the first of the fibre for the weft yarn, 'Rose Gold' alpaca supreme, again from John Arbon. It will take some time to spin this 1k batch and I am purposely not beginning it until we get back from holiday. I find it can be difficult to keep to the same weight and twists per inch after a long break. If I manage to spin to the same weight as the red I have calculated that my twill warp will need 14 ends to the inch.

    I thought I might be able to do a small sample, to wash/wet finish, on this pin loom to check the right warp sett. Unfortunately, as you can see, a tabby weave would be more appropriate as it is only 12 threads per inch. Hey ho! it may suite a different project!
I have a number of woollen yarn cones on my shelves so I decided to try the weave draft I have selected, possibly, for the handspun yarn. I believe it's called 'Wall of Troy'. After weaving over a metre of this I reverted to a simple 2/2 twill treadling in order to get the length off my loom but I've not finished the length yet.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Drop Spindle Practice


    Last year at Fibre East I decided to replace the drop spindle that I mislaid some 18 months ago.
The one I settled on is lighter than the one I had before. Wow are they great spindles! both beautiful and practical.
    I bought 200g of fibre from John Arbon - Tutti Frutti - a blend of organic merino and silk, chosen because, finding other merino fibre uncomfortable to wear, I would be able to make use of any yarn produced.
    I am very please with the end product, even though I didn't produce a yarn of consistent thickness, the singles being finer than I'd ever spun before on a drop spindle. That, in part, is due to the weight of the spindle which is 23 g.

    To spin the singles I use a variation of the method I see most others use. I want to keep the spindle turning for as long as possible to produce the longest length of singles that I can - economy of effort - so I roll the shaft of the spindle up my thigh. This way the spindle spins longer and I can spin over one metre without stopping to wind the yarn on my spindle shaft, but I have to draft quickly to ensure there is not too much twist in the yarn.

   What does one make with 200g of yarn?

     A rummage in my workshop may well have supplied the answer, fingers crossed.
Perhaps a weft for a scarf with Tuti Fruti and some hand dyed silk for the weft.
I have labelled each skein and I'm in the process of counting the number of yards I have produced on my umbrella swift. A task I don't relish, but better than finding myself short of yarn.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Tweed fabric Length

Weather Too Bad to Work in Cabin

  What do you do when the temperature is too low to work in your garden workshop?
Well, luckily I have an understanding hubby and room to spare in the dining room. It was actually his suggestion to bring my folding Harris floor loom into the house!
I couldn't get on with the piece on my floor loom because of the low temperature when it snowed last week but this was a great solution.
The shetland warp had been on  this loom for 18 months. Set up to weave 2 shawls, the first of which was part of a 'How many spinners to supply a weaver?' demo at Fibre East 2016. The first shawl finished and passed on to The Guild of Londraw Spinners summer last year. They had spun the yarn for the weft! I was the weaver. The remainder of the warp didn't inspire me to get on and weave the rest. BUT....
I have recently been trying to destash the woollen yarns I have had on the shelves for nearly 30 years and so rummaging around on the corner shelf I found 2 cones with the blue flecked tweedy yarn. Not enough, I thought, for a whole length of fabric but when it ran out and with warp left to weave I had other yarns that would be suitable.
The decision was made - cushion covers. I had seen a number of twill weave cushions on the shelves in 'home' stores, so they must be the 'in' thing and I had the perfect warp yarn already on the loom!

 Here you can see both warp and weft yarn

The finished length of fabric 4 yards, 24 inches wide, weighing 900g. there was 12" of waste warp at beginning and end which weighed 32g.
At the moment I am unable to find my record of the tweed yarn weight! As this is not to be repeated I guess it doesn't matter too much?
A case of 'do as I say not as I do'.
I will post the info when I find it - says I feeling guilty!

    The 2/2 twill repeat, 12 picks to the right, 4 picks left, 8 picks right, 4 picks left. Thankfully not as mesmerising as I thought it might be!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

How far will your handspun yarn go?


Following on from 'A Fill In Project':-
This is what I decided to make with the yarn.

One of the most worrying things, when you have used all your fibre and spun some yarn, is whether you have sufficient to complete a project.
If you are to knit something like a simple scarf or even a waistcoat, as in my earlier post -
'Hand spun, Naturally dyed Waistcoat', is to knit a 10cm square and weigh the yarn used, then calculate the area of knitted fabric your project needs, then 'do the sums'.

If you decide to knit a scarf then the calculation can be done while beginning the scarf with little chance of having to pull your work out to begin the project. Here I amusing the yarn from 'A Fill In' project.

First weigh your spun yarn - I had 200g.
Cast on 3 stitches.
Increase by one stitch at the beginning of each row. Continue until you have used 10th of you yarn. In this case I knitted 20g.
Measure the sides of the triangle - cm. You will be able to knit a strip/scarf that is 10 times as long as the side of the triangle you have knitted.
From now on increase a stitch at the beginning of the next row, decrease one stitch at the beginning of the following row. Continue in this way until you have the same weight of yarn that it took to knit the first triangle.
Decrease at the beginning of every following row until only 3 sts remain. Knit all three together to cast off.
Your project doesn't have to be all KNIT stitches! Here is a scarf knitted (yet to be pressed) for my dear friend Sue Bryce.
To keep the edges tidy and straight I knitted the first 5 stitches of each row, using purl in a random number of rows to create some texture. Well, I say random, I usually use the fibonacci sequence of numbers when I am 'designing'.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

A 'Fill In Project


   With time to spare, but waiting for some more fibre to continue spinning some yarn for a weaving project, I turned to my stash.
   I was hoping to find an unspun hand dyed roving but finding non I turned instead to some batts I had made for sale. I decided to try some fractal spinning.
Fractal spinning is a fancy name for a particular way to divide up your coloured fibre for spinning.

   I divided each batt into its component colours. The first I spun in the order it was in the original batt, navy, blues, lime and green.

   The second batt I divided further, each colour in half. (12.5 g each)The second half of each colour I divided in half again. (6.25g each)

   I began spinning the four individual colours on one bobbin. (Unfortunately I didn't take  a photo)
on a second bobin I spun the 12.5 g of each of the colours in the same order as before. After which I spun 6.5 gram of each followed by the remaining fibre.

   With all the 'singles' spun I began to ply them together, intending there to be 2 skeins of 100g.
Part way through this process some small visitors, attracted to my spinning wheel and its interesting mechanical possibilities, broke the yarn, but no harm was done. So, the first 100g skein became 2 skeins, those at the top of the photo. 
   Today I have wound the washed skeins, hoping I have the colour sequence correct, into three nice, squishy centre pull balls ready for knitting.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Making Space

There's never enough space in the workroom!

Things get moved to enable me to find something or work on a new project and the materials are all mixed up again.

   I have thought of a way to make space and decorate my work room at the same time.
I  have some chrome grid panels that are usually used to display items for sale at craft fairs and other events. In semi-retirement they are rarely used and have been hanging on hooks from the ceiling of my workshop. I have decided to make use of them. The grids are now on one side of my workshop and have skeins of yarn hanging on them, adding colour to my workspace instead of being stored in plastic boxes on shelves.

Hopefully, the colours will provide inspiration for new projects, a reminder that they exist and even ways to make use of all these handspun and hand dyed yarns that I have created over the past ..?  years.

I also have a large pinboard next to where the skeins are hanging and I have made a 'collage' of fabrics, sample skeins and pictures that  I have collected over the years, some from Association WSD calendars, others from magazines or my own photos.

Monday, 14 August 2017

WHICH HEDDLE? - Rigid Heddle or 4 shaft looms -Calculating warp and weft

      Many more people are beginning to weave thanks to the new rigid heddle/knitters looms. Great, attractive pieces are being woven by beginner weavers and I think this is wonderful! I have enjoyed the craft for many years but previously rigid heddle looms were not as attractive or portable as they are now and the implication was that you need to use specialised weaving yarns to produce anything worthwhile. That is certainly not so and the choice of yarns is extensive and inspiring.
But one factor in the success of a project can still be overlooked and that is the use of the correct heddle for the project and result required. Most yarns are expensive and it is a shame to waste yarn and your time, as well as being so disappointed that you never want to weave again, as happened to a friend of mine just a few months ago!
      I am happy to say that she has resumed weaving and is making successful progress.

       Some time ago I damaged one of my tape measures but I chose not to throw it away! I soon found a use for it. While I was sorting through my stash of woollen weaving yarns I decided to store them according to their character and thickness. I stapled lengths onto pieces of card and wrapped each yarn around a 2" length, at the same time as recording  the number of wraps per inch on the card I wrote, where available, the manufactures yarn specification.Wrap the yarn so each wrap lays side by side with the one before, without cramming or over crowding each other.

      To be most accurate it is a good idea to do this over a 2" length.

      The Shetland style yarn samples above which wrap 20 times to the inch.  If they were to be woven with each other as warp stripes or one warp and weft in a typical plain/tabby weave (over one under one, over one under one, all the way across the warp,) would be suitable for a 10 dent (threads per inch) heddle whether on a Rigid Heddle loom or one with multiple shafts.That is half the number of wraps per inch
The reason for this calculation is that the space between the warp threads is the diameter of the weft yarn and so gives it room so it doesn't distort the woven cloth.
It also means that the weaver should be passing the shuttle of weft yarn 10 times from side to side to produce one inch of woven fabric, thus creating a 'balanced' cloth where, on the face of the fabric the length of each yarn, warp and/or weft, showing on the surface will be the same. Look at any plain weave cloth and this should be the case.

      In short, if you are using the same yarn warp and weft on a rigid heddle loom, or for a 'tabby' weave on a shaft loom, to get a balanced weave structure:-
a yarn that wraps 24 times to cover an inch needs the warp to have 12 threads per inch and be woven with a 12 dent heddle (reed on a shaft loom).
24 wraps per inch = 12 dent heddle
20 wraps per inch = 10 dent heddle
16 wraps per inch = 8 dent heddle
15 wraps per inch = 7.5 heddle, and so on.

If you intend to use one yarn for the warp and something different for the weft, it is best to wrap them both alternately, as shown on the next sample.

    When using the brown as the warp with a thicker, slightly slubby yarn for the weft further wraps had to be produced to be sure of success in the woven fabric. The photo here shows that 8 brown warp ends to the inch would be appropriate for a tabby weave. Using 2 different yarns or colours of the same yarn alternately makes the task of counting the wraps per inch for the warp much easier. (It can be frustrating when you lose count and have to do it over again!)

      In fact I decided to weave a twill cloth with brown warp and lighter tweedy weft. In a regular twill weave the weft passes through the warp after 2 threads/ends. This means calculations are slightly different. Two wraps of warp yarn are followed by one of the weft. As you can see from the photograph this meant I needed 12 wraps/ends of brown shetland per inch width of cloth. A 12 dent heddle was needed for this cloth.

Balanced Tabby Weave 

      The following examples are woven in Tabby - over and under alternate threads. The red is handspun wool yarn used both warp and weft. The following 2 are wild silk, both using the same unplied wild silk yarn. The checks were created with a warp, two threads of each colour in turn in both warp and weft. The third sample is log cabin. ( See my blog article - PREPARING TO WARP YOUR LOOM also 'The Next Steps.') I think you can see that the weaves are balanced.

What does this mean to the weaver planning a project? 
      If the space between warps threads is too great the weft yarn beats down to cover more of the warp than expected and the weft yarn will dominate the cloth rather than it being balanced, showing warp and weft yarns equally. Also, more weft yarn will be needed to complete the length of cloth!

      This is the yarn for my latest project, still on the loom.

       The photograph shows that the warp yarn is much thinner than the weft but the finished fabric will still be a balanced twill - hopefully! Watch this space.