Friday, July 22, 2016

Grandma's Cotton Cards

I have recently taken on the task of learning how to spin cotton, I posted about it last week on The Tuesday weavers blog, "Loomy Tunes".  After I posted I remembered that I had my Grandma's cotton carders in the Studio, and I went looking for them.

I found them easily, and I decided to use them to card some seed cotton that I had just finished ginning. (getting the seeds out!)

I charged one of the carders.

I carded the cotton lint until it was happy with it.

I unloaded the cards.

I used the knitting needle to compress the cotton lint into a puni, the cotton version of a rolag.

This orange thread 20/2 size is my spinning guide,  I would like to use this handspun cotton as weft on an upcoming weaving project.

I love using these cards for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost they have family history, my Mom can remember using them to make cotton batts to put in the many quilts my Grandmother made, and they work a lot better than the newer ones I had borrowed from the Weavers at Norris.

Until next time, Keep on Crafting, Tina

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Little Progress

I have made a very small amount of progress this week on the rug loom.  There are just too many other things screaming for my attention.

I have here all of the treadles, the front beam and the little treadle spacers, they have been sanded once.  My plan is to get everything thru the first sanding then move on from there.  I am cleaning the nuts and bolts as I go with Krud Kutters product.  (I like it!)

It is really hard for me to not just slap the loom together and get weaving, but I am going to stay strong, it is a bit like growing out bangs.   After months of managing the grow out phase, they irritate you for just a second and bam, you cut off 6 months growth in a nano second, then beat yourself up because you gave in.  (I am doing that too, the growing not the cutting!)

Today, I ran errands and one of those was to get some 1x6's to build a compost bin.  I have a lot of barn waste to deal with in the winter time.  In the past I have put it in piles and it was assimilated into the surrounding landscape.  This year I thought I would do things differently,  I went to the Lee Valley Hardware website, and I ordered, over the last month or two, 3 sets of compost brackets.  Once you have your brackets, you purchase 10, 8ft boards that are 1x6in, I had the friends in the big box store cut them all in half.

Once home, you construct the bins by placing the boards in the brackets and you end up with a really nice looking compost bin that is only lacking a cover, which I plan to get to sometime soon.  It looks really nice and it does a wonderful job of keeping it all contained.  I bought the 3rd and finally one today, and I went ahead and got the lumber.  Once the brackets arrive I am all set to put it together and turn some compost!

This time of year, I don't feed any hay, so that I only have goat berries to rake up in the morning, some mornings, like yesterday morning, there are 5 gallons worth!  I have started bagging it up in 2 gallon increments and I will take it along to the weaving center for some lucky gardeners to use.

That is about it for today, I hope all is well in your house, keep on crafting, Tina

Friday, July 8, 2016

Land of No Return

The last week has been full of visiting with out of town Children and Grandchildren, so not a whole lot of Studio work got done.  But, I did manage to wash that old loom down, and decide how much I was going to do to refurbish it.  I had a choice,  I could have just left it cleaned from dust and dirt, cleaned off the rust and set it up to weave. (That is my normal MO!)  But this time the finish on the  front half of the loom was totally ruined, so I made the decision to go down to bare wood.  EEEK!

I worked on it a little bit today, I started with the front treadle beam and treadles and the breast beam.  I had already gotten rid of the dust and dirt, but the wood was almost grey, and when I had put a little of the Danish oil on it to see what it looked like, it was not going to look good at all, so I went out and bought some sand new paper and some fresh Danish oil.

 I am in the process of taking off the treadle eye bolts so that I can get to that beautiful wood.  They will be freed from rust, and put back to good use.  This is going to take awhile, but I think it will be well worth it!

You may be able to see that the treadle on the far left has been sanded.   I used coarse paper, and it will get 2 more passes, one with medium paper and one with fine paper.  I can't wait to get the Danish oil on it, but I am trying to be patient.

I did just a bit on the breast beam, and then it was time to fix our lunch and take the rest of the day off.
Next week I hope to take down the little Cambridge loom that is in the weaving studio, I ran out of steam last week and just couldn't do it.  Once it has gone back to the Annex at the Center, I will have room to move the new Cambridge in, as each piece is finally refinished.

I will continue to post updates on this loom restoration project as it progresses.  I am in the middle of fleece washing too, this month 4 shetland, 1 Jacobs and some of this years 8 Nigora fleeces.

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On the Porch

Early this morning, I was sipping my coffee, and following my usual morning couch reading, when I looked out the window at first light.

I wasn't sure what I was seeing, so I got up and turned the light off in the family room, and I tried to sneak over to the door to get a better view to confirm my suspicions.

No doubt about it, Mouse, the black cat was snoozing on the fleece drying racks surrounded by white fleece.

It becomes apparent to me that until we get the porch screens up, the fleeces will have to be dried indoors!

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Monday, June 27, 2016

Oh the Dust, oh the Rust, oh the Dry, Dry Wood!

Yesterday, I was looking at my week and it was going to be full of grandchildren, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  By the evening however, the week had substantially changed.  Cousins visiting cousins elsewhere, kids doing overnights at friends houses, chores getting done earlier than expected. All these things worked together to have only Monday evening and Friday afternoon with the kiddos.   That is quite a change, and it sometimes leaves me wondering what I am going to do, since I had not planned anything.

I quickly of course came up with a plan.  I washed a bit of one of the Museum of Appalachia's fleeces, and when I had gotten it done and my drying racks were full, I decided that I wanted to go on an errand that has been at least 1 year in the making, possible 2 years.

Very near the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center there is an antique store, one of the big ones!  More than a year ago, I saw a 4 harness Cambridge floor loom out on the front stoop, exposed to the weather.  At the time I was not interested in it,  I had more than enough looms, one of which was a 4 harness Cambridge,  so I passed it by, wondering how it was going to make it out in the elements.

Several months later I went thru a period of loom removal, for some reason I did not want any loom in my house that did not belong to me.  I may also be because I had 7 floor looms of all shapes and sizes.  I quickly got down to a reasonable 3 floor looms and I was happy.
I would still see that loom now and again and be so sad to see it in the heat and rain, fading, drying out and rusting, but I did not need a rug loom.

Notice the crank on the back beam!

Then about 2 or 3 months ago, I read a blog about a weaver who wove these really nice rugs, and I started to get interested in rag rug weaving again.  I thought about that loom, but I thought that it would be in really bad shape by now, just in case though, my friend Lou Ann and I went by to look at it.  It was rusty and dusty and dried out.  However, there was nothing warped and it was strong and sturdy, it was also 4 harness with the treadles mounted in the front, which is how I like them to be.  Still I thought, this rug thing might be short lived, I'll just borrow the "tiny" Cambridge we have at the Center in the annex, and take care of this silly rug weaving notion.

I did that the very next Tuesday, and I had that little loom up and running within a day or two.  It needed some adjustments, but all in all it is a nice little loom.  I rummaged through my stash of t-shirts and came up with several color combinations, and I basically had so much fun, I was sad when the warp was finished!

The Small Cambridge is a nice little loom, but that's just it, it's little.  It is too narrow to weave any wider than a 27/28 inch width.  So, I thought again about the full size Cambridge at the Antique store, and I made up my mind.

I texted Lou Ann this morning and I said, IF the loom is not in terrible irreparable condition and IF the seller will come down to my price, I would go get that loom today.  Those are 2 pretty big ifs, and I was not sure at all how it was going to go.

Long story shortened just a bit, the loom is not in terrible irreparable condition, and the seller did come down to my price!  I took the poor loom apart and loaded it into the pickup truck I had brought just in case, and raced home to beat the possible rain this afternoon.

Dear One was home when I got there and he laughed when he saw the loom, and then he helped me move it onto the front porch to get it out of the sun and rain.

Rusty heddles and bars

12 dent reed
Here are the rusty heddles and and there are rusty nuts and bolts too, but they are not badly pitted.

I was sure this was going to be a 15 dent reed, they always are when I get a loom, but this one is a 12 dent!

 The breast and back beam really need some attention.  I will wash off all the dust, lightly sand and then slather on the Danish oil.

This is one of the uprights, dry and cracked.

Here is the underside of the treadles, and this is where I get a glimmer of hope, I know that  once I have washed, sanded and Danish oiled, all this dry wood, it is going to gleam!

I have heard of a product at Home Depot that is supposed to work wonders on rusty metal, you can be sure I will be checking that out later on this week.  All of the cords of course will need replacing after their months in the sun, and I will be double checking cord lengths all around.

This afternoon, I will be taking apart the small Cambridge loom that is up in the Studio and bringing it down to go to the Center tomorrow.   I will then be moving the big Cambridge up there, with a little bit of shuffling of looms of course, to take it's place.

Looks like my week will be busy after all!

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I did finally get all the fleeces off of my 9 Nigora goats.  Some of them are nice but a few were not as good as I had hoped they would be.  Heat and  agitation seem to have felted a bit more than usual this year.  It is a difficult thing to judge, I don't like to shear the goats because we still have plenty of cool weather well into spring.  For example it is so cool today that I should have been wearing a sweater all day!  The Goats have not shed their regular coat yet, which would have been cut off of if  I had sheared them.

This week I have been going thru the fiber stash:  fleeces and processed fibers.   Right now I have 8, 58quart tubs full of processed fleece ready to spin. (Most of it I have combed, but there is some indy dyed top)  I have 3 fleeces that are washed and ready to comb, and 1 more fleece that I have almost finished combing.   These are all sheep fleeces not the Nigora goat fleeces.   I have several different sheep breeds represented in the stash:  corriedale, shetland, polwarth, merino, cormo and cvm to name a few.  (That doesn't even count the 6 fleeces that I use for spinning demos at the museum!)

When I do demos, I take hand cards and show the public how they work, but my favorite way to prep fiber is to comb it.  I will show you a couple of pictures of the fleece I am working on.  This is a Jacobs fleece, I call it #2, I had gotten 2 fleeces from Betsy some time ago.  I had washed them but hadn't combed them yet.  I decided to start with #2 because this fleece isn't as soft as #1 and there was a lot of kemp in it.  Kemp is short wiry hairs that are at the base of the lock of wool.

 Jacobs sheep usually have a multi colored fleece, this one has 3 colors, white, gray and black.  I have separated out the different colors as I loaded the combs.  I did the white first then the light gray /tan color, then I searched for the darkest locks and did them all together.  I am still working on this one, I had hoped to finish it tonight, but it will have to wait until next week.
The kemp combed out beautifully!  When you do a combed prep, you comb out all the shorter fibers, all the kemp, all the vegetable matter, and in the end you are left with lovely, lovely soft clean fibers.

My combs are by far my most used fiber prep equipment.  In fact, when I come home from the Museum of Appalachia, I take all the rolags that I carded as I demonstrated, and I comb them and put them in my little wicker basket to spin at the next demo.

My eldest Daughter and  I are going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this coming weekend.  She is going to be helping in one of the booths and I get to wander around and smell the wool fumes, see the sheepdog trials, listen to Judith Mckensie McCuin talk about wool, go to the podcaster meet up, and run errands for the booth.  I plan to go to the fleece sale, but I think you will agree with me that I do not need any more fleeces!  Surprisingly enough, I do not have very much yarn, I have a lot of bits and bobs, but not much that is enough for a project!  I know that they will have yarn there!

Every year at MDSW there is a used equipment auction,  I have always been jealous of those who got to go to it, and this year I will be there!  I am on the look out for a rug loom at a really good price!  The loom needs be 36 inches wide, have 4 harness, and 6 treadles and to be heavy enough to be used to make rag rugs.   You need quite a bit of tension on the loom and a heavy beater bar to make rugs.

Wish me luck, Until next time, Happy crafting, Tina

Friday, April 1, 2016

Not Quite Done

I didn't get all the Nigoras done last week, but I am well over half way!  Kami, Bert, Cerin and Ailin all plucked/rooed out fairly easily, for Ernie however, I had to bring out the scissors.  The butt ends of his fleece, which is the part of the fiber nearest to his skin, had let loose, but it was felted just enough, that it wouldn't roo easily.  He was quite adamant that he was going to have none of that thank you!

  I know that in goat language, the pulling of hair is quite the insult, so that while many of the goats do not take long term offense to having all that nice fluff pulled off of their "over heated in all this heat" bodies, some of them really let me know that it is not going to be tolerated.

I prefer not to shear the fleeces, mostly because it increases the amount of guard hairs that I get in the fleece, but sometimes it just cannot be helped.  I think that I will be able to salvage quite a bit of Ernie's fleece, and that is a good thing.

Ernies brother, Bert however, was quite nice to roo.  Bert is my only white Nigora, and the staple length on these fibers is at least 4 inches, which is fabulous!
Here you can see the section on Bert's side where I took that gorgeous handful of fluff.  If you look closely, you can see the guard hairs that remain on the animal, (don't forget to click on the photo to enlarge it) these will be shed within the next couple of weeks and a whole new crop of them will appear.  As summer comes on I will be able to see the beginnings of next years winter insulation begin to peek out, and by fall they will all be glorious!

I still have all 3 of the yearlings to too,  Ellie and May, are beginning to loosen up a bit, and I too a handful of Ellie's fleece every time I go out.  She seems to put up with it quite well.  Her fleece for this year is along the lines of 2.5 -3 inches at best, next year should be more like the 3 inches I am getting off of the older goats.  Dash however hasn't even begun his shed yet.

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina