Does anyone else have a thing about bags -- that deal where you can't imagine leaving home, much less making it through a trip, without having your elemental stuff in the perfect bag?
Or maybe you think you're set with a satchel that is comfortable to carry and has room for all the essentials (flashlight, mug, pocket hang glider, ear plugs, spindle, pencils, dictionary, novel, etc), but then you start a new project
that generatesa bunch of material you absolutely MUST have with you at all times to survive whatever the future brings
which means that the extra large custom spindle case must be called into action
and the bag you were counting on is too small and the one that might work still needs mending
and is not, truth to tell (thanks to previous scattershot approach to reinforcing disintegrating fabric),
the most sophisticated thing you've ever made, much less mended?
Well that never happens to me...
My spindle and I just got back from visiting my son in Sandpoint, Idaho, a small town on the shores of the largest lake in the state and a sensible place to live if you happen to be an Idaho boatbuilder. And summer (Happy Solstice by the way --summer or winter depending on your hemisphere), by the water is generally pretty boat-centric if you are thus inclined.
But sometimes boatbuilders (or boat menders as the case often is when your boats of choice are made out of wood), whose mothers are obsessive spindle spinners, can't resist trying other things with interesting scraps in the stash, and a couple of days ago I actually got to watch a few Hepty spindles being finished.
(It turns out I'm too distracting for focused boat work, which makes sense as my work also comes to a screeching halt when anyone is around, and is also
1. a good reason to keep my visits short, because who wants to slow work in progress?
2. a good reason to keep a spindle handy wherever I am, so I never have to fully stop working .)
As some of you know, I've been seriously into these spindles for the last year and a half or so ago when Henry made his first hepty as an experiment. I was only supposed to test a few design ideas, but fell so hard for this one that it has been my primary spindle ever since and has, among other things, been the tool I used for all the yarn for this cloth.
Henry has now made and sold quite a few of these spindles, and I hope the new owners are as happy with theirs as I have been with mine.
Christened the "Hepty" for the heptagonal shape, they are fast and functional, the perfect tool for making the kind of yarn I like best-- fine, well twisted singles that I sometimes ply (2 or 3 or 4 depending), and sometimes use as is for weaving.
The Hepty is one of the few spindles I've ever had I haven't had to wait for.
One good twirl on my thigh and I can spin a body length of yarn with a decent amount of twist without stopping or needing a second twirl. They are probably not spindles for the beginner as they don't much care for spinning anything thicker than the 7000 ish yards/lb singles that I like best, but that's physics for you. And since I tend to make and use a great deal of the same size yarn, I couldn't ask for anything more. And how else to get work done?
The design has evolved over time:
among other things the spindles now have a longer shaft for easier spinning when the cop gets big, and this is the first batch with spring steel (rather than brass) hooks for extra 'drop' strength (check out the video in this two-image post).
They remain, however, within a gram or two of the original.
Because they are faceted, these spindles won't roll of the table accidentally,
but because each facet is individually finished, the relationship between facet, hook and yarn is subtly different for each spindle. Most spin the most smoothly when the yarn comes from the facet at the back of the hook, but some prefer to go through the hook from left to right, some right to left, and still others want a single twist around. Still others (mine, actually), prefer one facet to the left or right of the back.
But though each one feels subtly different to me depending on hook and wood (amazing the difference a gram or two makes), I'd happily wander off with any one of them because they all feel like the excellent yarn-making tools I find them to be.
Except that I won't, because I'm still so in love with mine that I couldn't bear to cheat on her or hurt her feelings.
All of this sounds like a great deal of flagrant advertising, and I suppose in one sense it is as I cannot help being thrilled that my kid can make such fabulous tools. But since he only makes them when he has time between boat projects, usually just in the winter, and two of the spindles shown above are already spoken for, it's a little silly to 'advertise' now, so mostly I'm writing because I was so tickled to get to hang out in Sandpoint, watch these babes being made, and 'test' them till I ran out of fleece.
That said, though there will probably be quite a wait for the next batch, you can contact him through his Etsy shop and get on his list. And perhaps if said list gets long, and the wood stash gets interesting, and the belaying pins are all in place, and the boat deck gets done...
Back from the lovely show at La Conner,
it is time to turn my attention to my next big event:
"Luminous Cloth" at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook, OR
3 July - 3 September
reception 9 July from noon - 4 PM
This means it is time to figure out how to hang fabric I've been making all winter.
There are some big decisions:
Hanging rod or no hanging rod?
Flat or draped?
Fringe up, fringe down, no fringe at all -- or all three?
After decades of sending tapestries off to shows around the country, I've got a system down,
part of which involves making the hanging device for each tapestry as soon as it comes off the loom -- usually a structure that holds the tapestry yet lets it float cleanly against the wall.
Last year, obsessed with mobiles as I was, I spent weeks bending wire and messing about with fishing swivels to finally come up with about five different approaches for the show at the Pritchard Gallery, none of which will work this year, alas.
Indeed, since I started making my materials before I even thought about what they would become, much less how they would go together or be displayed, it's back to the drawing board -- or jar of hanging hardware as the case may be.
Like the mobiles I want these to hang out in space so they can interact with the light -- both front and back-- and move with local air currents.
But unlike the tiny but sturdy mobiles these swaths of cloth are large and delicate so need some support sturdier than wire.
Should those supports be round or flat?
Is it best to sew a pocket for a rod, or, as with my tapestries, stitch the cloth to the fabric covered stick?
Do I want to cover the hangy things with fabric at all, or can I paint them?
Must I try both with every one?
The two most important things are that they hang in a way that I like (which isn't necessarily flat),
and that whatever system I use, it is
a. easy for the gallery crew to manage.
b. straightforward to ship
a, however, is more important than b.
so I may have to pay through the nose to get my long narrow boxes to the coast of Oregon.
Should have thought that part out before I sewed them all together eh?
Except that this cloth is very bossy and has led me by the nose through this entire process so I rather doubt I had (or will have), much choice.
At least they don't weigh much and I can do a lot of experimentation with binder clips and clothes pins.
These panels are actually only part of the show.
Soon I'll talk about some of the other work that'll be there
till then --I'll be hammering and sewing.
After seven years of hard wear and two cuff mends,
the bottom of my son's sweater had begun to fray.
Shoulder to cuff is my preferred way to knit sleeves, which makes cuff mending a simple matter of unraveling a few rows and re-knitting (with other yarn if necessary).
The cast on edge of a bottom up sweater is not, however, made for unraveling,
so I went up an inch or so, snipped a strand of yarn, and pulled out one row all the way around, leaving a nice row of stitches to pick up and an inch of sweater to unravel for re-knitting (discarding the yarn from the bottom couple of rounds which was too weak and worn to re-use).
Foolishly, I picked the row right after a cable turn to snip to separate the two sections, so the unraveling was more awkward than it might have been.
But eventually I got it all sorted and reknit and cast off. Starting an inch up means that next time I can unravel right from the cast off end which will be much simpler.
The only drawback to picking up the stitches and going in the opposite direction is that the loops are half a stitch off, but with the cables this really isn't evident.
Nothing miraculous about any of this,
but a good deal of satisfaction in keeping it going, and much pleasure in handling the sweater and the yarn again.
It was a thoroughly-planned garment that began with choosing the fleece (grey Rambouillet X)
and went on to months of spindle spinning,
endless samples plied, yarn dyed, swatches knit and
mailed across several states for perusal and approval.
Final decisions on yarn weight and color led to massive plying (4 ply won out over 3), huge dyepots, much knitting, and even some swatch unraveling at the very end as all those cables used more yarn even than what I thought were overgenerous calculations.
Amazing how much sun fading there has been-- the darker strip at the bottom is the same yarn that I took off, but it shifted just enough when reknit that it appears a different color.
On the other hand, it's amazing how little fading there has been considering how hard this sweater has been worn, and how much it has been out in the weather.
So glad it can now get back to its exciting life.
A few weeks ago when talking about Drum Carding
I said I would write about my fleece washing technique when next I had something to work with.
Fortuitously, as I was writing a mailchimp newsletter thingy the other day to send to those of you who have signed up, a box arrived from the Ortmann's in Wolf Point, Montana.
Naturally in my excitement I neglected to photograph the unboxing and that thrilling moment when the compressed fleece puffed out like a muffin in the oven.
But here are some photos of the raw fleece -- a Targhee/Debouillet Cross I thought I would try.
I've been buying Ortmann fleeces for years, starting back when Nancy's mother-in-law would send a sample of incredible Cormo if you mailed a stamped envelope in response to their small add in the classified section in the back of Spin Off Magazine.
Cormo was hard to find then, so this was a miracle indeed -- long, lustrous and next-to-the-skin soft. For a time, everything I knit was hand spun cormo.
As you can see, the breed selection has grown since then and I've made some lovely yarn with Polworth and a couple of massive and open Debouillet fleeces too. I've not used as much Targhee as I'd like, but this year, wanting something not quite so fine as Cormo and being perennially curious about fleece, I tried the Debouillet /Targhee X.
So far, I'm thrilled.
But I was going to talk about Scouring
about which I mostly have to say two things:
HOT WATER (150 F +)
Actually for most fleeces, the water does not have to be that hot, and the Kookaburra container doesn't talk about the temp of the water, but in my many years of washing and spinning fine and greasy fleeces I've found the temp makes an enormous difference to my success.
The Kookaburra scour is a no rinse scour, which freaked me out at first as for years I followed what used to be standard practice (dish detergent with one to two washes and two to three rinses depending). But this stuff works so much better!
Life-altering for me, actually.
Anyway, the procedure:
1. Put approx 1 pound of fleece into a bag -- repeat.
(two net bags, 2 lbs fleece total)
2. Fill 5 gallon bucket with my hottest tap water then immerse the two bags and let them soak as the water heats in step 3.
3. Heat 4 - 5 gallons of water on the stove to 150 F or above (I use two pots for easy handling)
4. Roll bags into a sausage (still under water) squeezing as I roll (helps keep lock structure vaguely intact if the wet wool doesn't flop around in the net bag when you lift it out), then lift from mucky water, squeeze again, set aside.
5. dump muddy water into the garden and refill bucket with the VERY Hot water from the stove..
6. Add Kookaburra SCOUR as per instructions (1-2 oz / lb of wool depending on greasiness). Stir gently with a stick or spoon (don't scald yourself!!!)
7. Squeeze bags of fleece again, unroll and immerse in fresh hot scour water.
8. Let soak for approx 15 minutes, pressing down or gently manipulating the bags in some fashion once or twice -- CAREFUL OF HOT WATER! (This may not be necessary as wool is good at doing this work itself, but I have this mental vision of wanting to move the water through the fleece as much as possible without actual agitation.)
9. Repeat underwater rolling procedure - WEARING RUBBER GLOVES WITH INSULATING LINERS (Scalding is real and hurts. I use winter glove liners inside big rubber gloves with great success).
DO NOT discard remaining hot water.
10. Put the two net bags in washing machine and set to SPIN ONLY to spin out water
use dedicated salad spinner, one bag at a time
stand outside and swing your arm in great circles, flinging wash water all over
wrap well squeezed bag of wet fleece in towels and stand on it.
11. Spread clean fleece out on other towels to dry -- or sweater dryers. Nicest outside on a sunny day but those are scarce around here in the spring..
12. Put two more pounds of greasy fleece into the empty bags then into the remaining water from the previous wash for a pre-soak while heating water For step 3 etc.
13 -- repeat step 3 -12 except at step 6, use only half - 3/4 the amount of Kookaburra called for because the fleeces got the pre-soak in water that already had scour in it.
Also note: that when these bags of fleece go into the new clean hot water with scour, they will want to float as they are already somewhat soapy. I flop them around a couple of times and push them down, but don't worry about it too much.
This no rinse scour method took getting used to as the fleece feels different when I spread it out to dry. Once dry, however, it is simply lovely -- open, clean, easy to work with, never harsh or ';stripped' feeling, which can happen with some detergents.
Less water and fewer rinses also mean far less opportunity for felting or messing up lock structure (though as you can see I made no specific attempt to retain said structure this time).
Even with heating the water extra hot, it all takes much less time than my old procedure and the fleece is ultimately cleaner and nicer to work with.
FYI -- I washed all of this fleece last Wednesday afternoon after my hair cut and oil change.
It was a productive day
There are many different scouring approaches and people tend to swear by their own, which leads me to believe that you can do what you want within a range of parameters -- but also that it is also worth checking out a few others to see what kinds of decisions will work for you.
I have to admit to being stuck in my ways until a couple of years ago when a friend gave me samples of several new scours and I conducted my own experiment with water temp and scour types and ended up with the system outlined above.
Water is precious here in Idaho, so I am thrilled to use less and am willing to heat it.
In Michigan Beth Smith, makes some other choices, washes far more fleece than I and is definitely worth listening to!
I store the dry fleece in bags made of worn out sheets (the good parts).
Sometimes I patch the sheets, but my husband is a restless sleeper and wears through sheets and repairs faster than I can quite believe, so I end up with lots of bits. Luckily, I have endless need for bags made of tightly woven cloth, not only for fleece, but also for storing and shipping tapestries etc.
That's all I can think to say right now on this subject, other than that it is totally worth checking out the fleece in your area -- trying out a breed you've never tried before, or an interesting cross just to see. Once washing and preparing the fleece ceases to seem like a big deal, you are free to explore obscure breeds and crosses and fine out how the qualities of the fleece may effect your work--be it knitting or needlework or tapestry, or ...
It's just so exciting to contemplate the possibilities, and to follow them through.
As regular readers of this blog know,
I've been weaving nothing but balance plain weave on a backstrap loom for the past 10ish months, switching back and forth between linen and wool.
If asked at the beginning I'd never have guessed that all this non-pictorial simplicity would hold my exclusive attention for so long,
but a couple of weeks with linen,
then back to wool for a time--
--then off to linen again
has continued to delight.
There is so much to love about each
and my miles of plain weave are made ever interesting
by these periodic changes.
The forgiving nature of wool never ceases to satisfy
as does wool's penchant for grabbing onto itself and thus staying where I place it,
even in very open structures.
Linen is less forgiving and is not so inclined to stay put,
but once woven the fabric stays open and deliciously translucent
while bouncy wool will happily relax into any space provided.
Wool bounces and stretches and drapes and glows.
Linen holds its shape and undulates and whispers and glows.
Both are satisfying to stitch.
A few weeks ago I wrote, among other things,
about the difference in my feelings toward the linen and the wool fabrics,
indicating a stronger connection to the wool--
a connection I thought unlikely to change and which I attributed to me having spun the yarn. But now, though the attribution remains the same,
the difference does not.
For a few days ago, just as I was finishing up a longish linen warp,
I discovered some forgotten samples from a linen spinning workshop I took in 1992.
There wasn't much -- a few plied yards, each wet spun
from bleached sliver, tow, and what is now a rather messy bundle of long strick flax.
But Golly, they felt good to work with, inconsistencies and all.
I'm sure its all in my head, this difference in my feelings,
but so what?
I doubt I'll become a passionate flax spinner,
(famous last words),
but one of these fine days I'm going mess about that messy bundle
and see what happens.
In between, of course, the yards of wool.
And if any of you have any linen spinning advice (esp. on a spindle),
I'd love to hear it!
Just in case, you understand... nothing serious.
Wool is my favorite fiber.
Raw fleece (from a known and preferably local source), is my favorite form in which to get it.
And once I've washed said wool (subject for another blog post),
my favorite preparation method is hand teasing then Drum Carding.
Here's a quick pictorial overview of my standard procedure
as that is what I was doing yesterday!
Starting with a pile of clean fleece, I gently grab both sides of each lock or vaguely lock-shaped wad of fleece, pull it apart to open it up, then toss it into a basket.
If there are second cuts or egregious bits of Vegetable Matter (VM) I try to pick them out at this stage.
I used to long for a picker which would make this part really fast, but over time have come to realize that I get a sense of the fiber's nature by handling every lock, even if briefly, and I don't want to miss that.
Best done outside with birds singing and a cup of tea that is slightly upwind.
My Drum Carder is a Pat Green that I bought in 1984 or so, in Missoula, Montana.
It has processed more pounds of wool than I care to stop and calculate but I've not yet had to replace the carding cloth, which I would describe as "medium."
I've actually never really used any other drum carder so can't make comparisons, but this has been a faithful workhorse and an essential part of my practice since then and I've
never begrudged it the space it takes up, even in the years I lived in a 200 square foot house.
(note: I just went to the Pat Green website to make the link above and read that the drum carders they make now are vastly superior to the ones they were making 10, 20 or 30 years ago, but I'm still happy with mine!)
With one hand I put thin bundles of the teased fleece onto the tray while the other turns the crank. One of the big reasons for teasing is so that clumps of fleece to not jam and put strain on the carding cloth. There should be a gentle pulling feeling but no fierce resistance.
The teeth on the licker-in (smaller drum) always get clogged with bits of fiber but somehow, as long as the distance between the two drums is right for the weight of the fiber, most slips neatly into the teeth of the big drum.
I do not try to keep all the locks going one direction as I will end up spinning the batt from both ends. At other times in my spinning life I have worked to keep all the locks going one way, teasing with extreme care and only spinning from one end of the batt, but not just now. If I want that kind of directional preparation I am more likely to use use combs.
When the big drum is full (sooner than I usually think because sometimes I prop a book up in front of me and read while I feed the carder and turn the crank and I have been known to get lost in the pages), I slip the doffer into the open spot in the carding cloth and lift, first one end then the other, separating the strands of wool until-- Pooof-- they slip apart and there are two ends.
Grabbing one of these and unwinding the drum, I peel the batt off the teeth.
I see that there are some neps in this batt, and it is still pretty uneven, but a second trip through will smooth things out, and the neps are nothing I can't pick out while spinning.
Tearing the batt lengthwise into four or five strips (forgot to take a photo), I then feed each through individually, spreading it out in the tray so the fibers hit the teeth slightly differently than they did the first time through.
This can be a great moment for blending-- different parts within an uneven fleece or two different fleeces carded together in the second or even a third run through can produce interesting batts. In general though, I'm not that into blending as I don't like to spin in color.
Rolling each batt keeps it tidy and separate for storage.
I have breathable insect/ dog/ dust/neglect resistant bags that I put them in, though I imagine plastic tubs with good lids would work well too.
When ready to spin I take them out individually,
unroll, shake a little, then tear into zig zags as you can see below.
Attenuating this is what gives me a lovely long continuous length of fiber to spin.
I start by tugging gently along the length of each 'leg' to even things out and to remind the fiber that it's current position has been only temporary, then when I get to the 'turns' a few gentle tugs on each side allows the fibers to switch direction without much of an interruption to the flow.
A slight twist with my wrist as I wind it into a ball helps hold thingstogether for spinning on a wheel.
A little twist is also a good idea when winding onto a wrist distaff, a tool I am never without when spindle spinning--these days my primary method for making yarn.
The usefulness of a wrist distaff belies the simplicity of its structure, for with it and fiber stays contained and orderly, is unaffected by wind or an urgent need to divest oneself of spindle and distaff to rescue a child or move a pressure canner or make a piece of cinnamon toast. Without said distaff, a spinner is forever making joins or wrapping and unwrapping great wads of fiber from head or shoulder, or mashing and felting the poor wool in a sweaty armpit, or stopping the spindle because a breath of air has just blown the dangling loose fiber mass into the newly spun length of yarn.
Not that any of those things ever happened to me... But in theory, it could.
Here is a slightly awkward pic of me using said distaff, trying to make sure that both my hands, the spindle and the distaff are in the photo before the timer goes off.
Selfie taking is way more angst inducing than preparing fleece, methinks.
One of the myriad lovely things about spinning miles of white wool
and weaving it into yards of white cloth
is the thinking time.
Today, being Valentine's Day, I'm supposed to be thinking about Love.
as I open each shed,
slide the stick shuttle across the warp
grasp it with waiting fingers,
adjust the position and angle of the yarn with the flick of a wrist
and press that strand into place before opening the shed again,
I dwell on devotion.
Devotion feels kind of like love, but more, well, nuanced.
It includes commitment
and a bit of obsession.
There is passion, to be sure, and inspiration--
at least now and again, but not too often and not too much.
I think it also includes dedication, but without the need for ceremony.
No externally imposed ceremony, I mean.
Devotion is all about the simple daily ceremonies of doing of whatever it is.
Indeed to me it feels active.
It involves a practice:
stuff to do, a thing or an idea with which to engage
even when inspiration has gone in search of something more stimulating or popular
and passion is taking a nap.
There a simple kind of pleasure in devotion,
pleasure that has nothing to do with measurable results or goals
and can be as seemingly simple as transcending boredom,
which is sometimes no more than a willingness to keep going despite the prickles of tedium, until the tiniest shift in the light
or the brush of hand against cloth
feels like the center of everything.
One of the calming things about weaving tapestry
is that what you weave is what you get:
the work on the loom looks pretty much as it does when it is done.
At least this is the case with my tapestries.**
Even wet finishing (total immersion in warm soapy water), doesn't change the images, though it does improve the hand and drape of the cloth.
**If using some weft faced techniques, wedge weave for instance, tapestry fabric will distort when cut from the loom; Connie Lippert and Alex Friedman use this technique to great advantage.
This consistency from loom to finished cloth does not, however, translate to the balanced plain weave fabric I've been creating for the last few months.
My experiments thus far have not been exactly scientific, of course, so everything I say must be taken with a grain of salt. Indeed, I'm not sure I'd even call them experiments -- more quiet meandering explorations-- but each each thing I try has taught me something, shifted a pre-conceived idea, or led me to slightly alter my direction, and that is always interesting.
Last week I wrote about spinning wool singles for this cloth, and promised to talk about sizing this week. I had hoped to do some experiments with flour paste between then and now, but didn't get around to it so can still only speak to xanthan gum and gelatin. Starch, too, awaits future experiments. But here's what I know so far.
The comic above shows the basic procedure: total immersion of clean damp yarn in one solution or the other, followed by weighed hanging until dry.
In this phase, I much preferred the gelatin. It dissolved easily in a small amount of cool water, then became nicely liquid when further diluted with hot. I immersed the skeins, squeezed the solution through, then hung them to drip.
note: I'd used gelatin before, immersing dry rather than damp yarn; this time i found, unsurprisingly, that the yarn absorbed less gelatin solution. More on this later.
The Xanthan gum (I used the recipe in Sarah Anderson's wonderful book, A Spinner's Guide to Yarn Design was not so straightforward. It probably would have been easier if I had followed Sarah's recommendation to use a blender to mix the Xanthan gum with the water though. Not having a blender, I tried a whisk and ended up with a gloppy, lumpy solution a bit like egg drop soup. I finally pushed it through a sieve which got rid of some of the lumps, but the consistency (which Sarah had described), continued to be, well, gloppy.
This meant that it needed to be worked into the yarn with more vigor than the gelatin and, once hung, that it took forever to dry. It also meant that it didn't pool in the yarn as much as as the gelatin, which is a plus (I had to turn the gelatin skeins more often.)
Given the consistency of the xanthan gum, I expected that once they were dry the strands would be glued to one another and hard to wind into balls. This turned out not to be a problem. Indeed, the yarn seemed less stiff and 'lineny' than the strands sized with gelatin.
This stiffness is something I'd liked with earlier gelatin experiments as it made the yarn easy to manage, especially when threading heddles, so I was a little disappointed by the lack of stiffness in the xanthan gum skeins. Perhaps I needed to spend more time working it into the yarn?
Or perhaps it would be possible to warm up the xanthan gum slightly and make it more liquid which might make it go more easily into the yarn? I don't really know what it is though, so maybe heat will make it do something else entirely. I'm a big fan of gluten (my husband and son are bakers), so don't have much call for such things to hold my bread together. Anyone know anything about this?
I also found the gelatin sized yarn less stiff than with the earlier gelatin experiments when I had immersed dry yarn into the solution. Next time: Dry yarn.
In the actual weaving, there was not much difference. I did have a broken warp with one of the the brown xanthan gum sized pieces, but I believe that had more to do with a careless join in the spinning phase than any particular failure of the sizing. Of course if I had used gelatin on dry yarn, it might have held together a little better, but I can't do the experiment on that particular strand of yarn, so that is only speculation.
Today I'm weaving with leftovers. The warp is unsized wool (3" staple suffolk X), the weft a motley collection of sized and unsized singles. In all of them it is the twist/ grist relationship that makes the difference -- also that that the sett is appropriate to the yarn.
In short: sizing can be helpful, but the yarn needs to be up to the task.
Gosh, it always comes back to yarn, doesn't it?
2 October, 2016
hand spun singles tapestry weft
used as both warp and weft
in a balanced plain weave
on a backstrap loom
3 October: It's working!
5 October: Never mind.
15 October: same yarn, trying again
16 October: not a single broken warp!
18 October: MORE OF THIS
But spinning everything twice is a waste of time.
Time for the super high speed flyer on my Lendrum Saxony Wheel (70/1 ratio)!!
But this flyer is a technical and sensitive creature,
most particular about the yarn it makes.
Anything under 4000 yards per pound and the yarn won't draw onto the bobbin, causing endless 'eyelashes' and a bobbin like a baby hedgehog.
Fewer fibers in the drafting triangle, however, and the yarn flows like water.
Result: singles both finer and stronger than the early experiments,
cloth even more translucent -- the very thing I was after in the first place!
A couple of weeks and several warps later, I had learned a great deal,
not least that when spinning a singles warp very very fast
each and every join must be perfect.
While I had no more actual breakage, a few areas grew worryingly fuzzy after repeated trips through the rigid heddle. PVA glue rubbed into the yarn with my fingers and allowed to dry (a scrap of wax paper keeps it from touching the other warp strands while it dries), fixed individual problems, but this is an emergency fix, not a long term plan.
Time for another experiment,
which I will have to write about next week as this has already gone on too long!
But before I go, a note on finishing the singles skeins:
When weaving with singles, some people like to let freshly spun yarn rest on the bobbin for a time (from a few days to many weeks) to calm down the twist. They then use the yarn, winding both warp and weft directly from the bobbins.
My preference, however, is to wind the singles onto a niddy noddy as soon as the bobbin is full, tie the skeins carefully in several places, dunk them in warm water, agitate the wildly twisted strands just a bit to help the fibers grip to one another (a very gentle fulling), and then dry them under tension with a smooth heavy rock tucked into the bottom of the skein.
All of this makes the yarn smooth, manageable and, I believe, a little bit stronger than it might otherwise have been. Also, I can weave sooner.
Another bath once the cloth is off the loom allows the fabric to bloom, releasing the temporarily tamed twist energy into the fabric itself.
Should I ever want the cloth to be less energetic, a hot iron and a camp press cloth--or lots of steam--will of course smooth it out.
OK -- now I really am done.
Back next week with "Sizing So Far"
Sarah C Swett