Friday, January 27, 2017

Silk Brick

I recently ordered Silk Bombyx brick so that I could learn how to spin it this year.  Last year I learned how to spin cotton, and I think what I learned last year has really helped me as I make my first attempts at silk.  You wouldn't think so, silk has really long fibers and cotton has really short fibers, but the trick is they both need a ton of twist.  Since silk is slippery, it drafts apart very easily until enough twist gets in there to hold it together.

Here is one brick in a glass vase my Son in law made me a few years ago.  It is as soft as it seems to be, even more really, and can you see the shine!
First faltering steps, I had to make some adjustments to my antique wheel to improve the uptake cause this silk likes to be spun over the fold, and you need a little extra umph when you want the thread to wind onto the bobbin.

This is as far as I have gotten on it this week, there have been a lot of catching up on unfinished projects going on here in the studio, and I have a few more yet to do.

My hope is to be able to spin fine enough 2 ply to weave with on my floor looms and also on the band looms as well.  I have started a silk project today with commercial silk thread and yarn, I posted about that over on the Tuesday Weavers blog, "Loomy Tunes".

I love learning new things, and expanding my horizons in the crafts that I already know. I am trying to figure out a way to be able to give all my favorite crafts the time they deserve.  If I come up with a good plan, I will let you know!

Until next time,  Happy Spinning and
Weaving, Tina

Friday, January 13, 2017

New to Me

Monday thru Wednesday this week was CRAZY!  LouAnn and I finally got to do the road trips we had scheduled for last week.  Monday we drove to Crossville, TN to meet a buyer for one of my wheels that I had decided needed a new home where it will be used more
Tuesday,  I drove to Elizabethton, TN to pick up a Great Wheel that has the accelerator head on it. (more on that later) I will be using it to spin cotton and probably silk.

Then on Wednesday, LouAnn and I made a trip to R&M yarns in Georgetown, TN.  They had a set of sectional rakes that I wanted to put on one of my looms.  We did the usual look at the yarns available and I might have purchased a some of that as well.  I will have to wait to put the rakes on the loom, until I finish the warp that is currently on the back beam, it is really going to make warping this loom easier.

The thing that made this Great Wheel so desirable was the accelerator head that increases the twist insertion per rotation of the drive wheel.  For example, on the wheel  that I got from LouAnn, that does not have the "speed it up" head, it would take up to 7 or 8 rotations of the drive wheel to make cotton yarn strong enough to wind onto the spindle.  With the new wheel, I can do a complete length in 4 rotations max, that is really good news!

Just a bit of cotton on the new wheel.

I promised LouAnn that I would still be using the Great Wheel I got from her to spin wool, an today I did a bunch of it!

In fact I did 2 whole spindles full, and I found a cone in the box of this same shetland wool that I had spun ages ago, so that once I spin up one more spindle full, I will have enough done to ply a good sized skein of soft yarn to use in some of my upcoming weaving projects.

You can never have too much yarn!

Until next time, keep on Crafting, Tina

Friday, January 6, 2017

Snow Day

I had big plans for today, LouAnn and I were going on a big "wheeling and dealing" road adventure, but  the weather forecast got in our way, we postponed the road trip, and as I look out the studio window, I am glad we did.  There are a couple of inches of the white stuff on the ground and the road looks quite slushy.  ( I would have been disappointed if we had called the trip off for nothing!)   Somehow unexpected time makes for a great studio day! 

This week, I have done many things that have been on my list for organizing for awhile.  I found a place for my Bosworth spindle collection,

I managed to get a fleece washed that had been hanging around since spring. (There are a couple more in bags and ready to wash. ) I also was able to sort through some of my fiber stash and pass on to others what did not make me smile.

 I have sold a spinning wheel that was not being used and I am in the process of buying a different kind of wheel that I think will be quite useful. (that postponed road trip!)

I have sold a rug loom  that needed more restoring than I am willing to do, (why do I do that to myself?)  and I am looking for a "ready to weave" rug loom. (I may have located it!)

Each year I try to learn something new.  Last year it was cotton spinning, this year it is going to be silk spinning.  With that in mind I  have found all the silk I had on hand, most of it was blended with wool, or even some silk mawata (hankies) and I have ordered a couple of different presentations of silk, some tussah roving which is a lovely honey colored silk, and I bought some hand dyed bombyx brick from a shop on Etsy.  There was another listing on Etsy that caught my eye several times but because of the price tag I hesitated to splurg.  Last month I had a birthday, and for that special day my son got me an Etsy gift card and my first thought was that listing that had caught my eye!

Yup, I did it, I ordered that kilo of bombyx brick straight from China.  As I eagerly tracked the package, it seemed like it was stuck on the dock in China for days, but I figured it hadn't been scanned when it left the dock.  Sure enough it showed up on my doorstep on Wednesday, and it is all I can do to not drop everything and dive right in!

 As promised there were 8 silk bricks in the package, more lovely than anything I have seen in the fiber world to date.

I have plenty to develop my silk spinning skills don't you think?

I have taken off just a tiny bit and spun it up on a supported spindle, but I am holding off on the rest until I finish up a few projects in the studio, because I know that once I get started on this silk, it is going to be difficult to stop!

This weeks weaving news will be posted on the Tuesday Weavers blog  "Loomy Tunes" that you can find on my blog list.

Happy snow day, Tina

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Looking Forwards Not Backwards

I was looking back over the last couple of posts, and I realize that I am  a distracted and disorganized crafter.  I have so many irons in the fire that the fires are all about to go out from neglect.  The rug loom that I saved from the elements is standing in the corner waiting, the Nigora fleeces are still unwashed, and there is many looms and spinning wheels that have been under utilized this year.   In my defense, this has not been a good crafting year, surgeries and family life have kept me from the Studio all year long.

I decided last week to mentally go through all the things that I like to do, to see if I can cull anything. Here is my list of crafts with the tools:
Spinning (5 spinning wheels + various spindles)
  Fiber prep (combs, carders, etc)
Knitting (Knitting needles galore)
Weaving (4 floor looms, 1 table top and 2 converted band loom)
and the new arrival,
Bobbin lace ( 2 lacemaking pillow, and lots of bobbins)

This list does not include the books, yarns and fleeces that go along with these crafts.  You may notice that I have not taken up Dye(ing), I just do not have the time or room to go into that sport. (Though I do have an indigo dye kit from Dharma that is awaiting next summers warm weather)  I can't bear to give any of it up just yet.

Just recently I have been able to get to some spinning, weaving and a bit of lace, but I am hoping to be able to do even better in 2017.  In the past I have found that a good Studio reorganization day or two does wonders for my creative energies, (a custom baby blanket order doesn't hurt either), I usually find things I had forgotten about,  yarns, old project ideas,  and new inspiration. So as my thoughts turn towards the new year,  I think that is what I will do, and  I may not wait until January!

Parting shot, new bobbin lace project, just getting ready:

Until next time, Keep on Crafting, Tina

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bert 2016

Bert is one of my Nigora boys, he is the only white one that I have, and he is also one of the first to shed out in the spring.  I finished getting fleeces of the goats months ago, but I am just now getting around to washing them.

Part of the hold up is that unlike wool, which you wash and then lay out to dry undisturbed, you have to fluff Nigora as it drys or you end up with a lump that stays that way.  Monday I decided that it was time to do at least one of the fleeces.  I picked the first one I came to, and that would be Bert.  It was a big fleece as Nigoras go, and I separated it out into 3 laundry mesh bags and set to work washing it, it isn't hard to do, I use my spin dryer between all the washes (2) and rinses (2) and it is quickly time to lay the fleece onto the drying rack.  About then I realized that I had washed way too much fleece for my time constraints!  What to do?

I ended up fluffing for several hours that day, leaving the bags in the last rinse water to stay wet.  I continued in this manner until over a period of 3 days, I was able to get all the fleece fluffed up to finish drying.

Then last afternoon evening, I went through the fleece again, making sure I had all or most of the vegetable matter out of it, then I put it all into a pillow case.  Would you believe the pillow case is only half full?

It really packs down into a seemingly small amount!  I am hoping to have enough fleece to send off to be de-haired this year, I have tried doing it by hand but even though it is easy, even pleasant to do, it takes a really long time!

I think I will wash a sheep fleece today!

Keep on Crafting. Tina

Friday, July 29, 2016

2 Extremes

 I took part in a Roving to Shawl competition a couple of weeks ago, and for the shawl that we made, I was required to spin much a thicker, lower twist single ply yarn than I had spun in a long, long time.  I was a little nervous about it, and I must say that even though we came in last place I was thrilled that I was able to make the yarn I set out to make, instead of putting up with making my usual yarn.  To celebrate this new found liberty, I have been spinning up the roving that we had left over from the competition, into nice thick low twist singles.

I plan to make more scarves along the lines of the competition shawl, well at least using the same colors.

This week I have also been putting my Grandmothers cotton carders to  good use and I have carded up almost all of the ginned cotton that I have on hand, and I have been spinning it on my small Indian book Charkha that I recently picked up on a Ravelry destash.

Cotton is spun much finer and at an incredibly high twist, the total opposite of the wool I have recently been spinning, it is fun to stretch my skills in opposite directions everyday.  Yesterday afternoon, I emptied the one bobbin on my Canadian Production Wheel, and I decided that was going to try to spin some commercially prepped cotton sliver on this, my fastest wheel.  Luckily, I have been practicing for the last 2 weeks or so on spindles and the charka, and gaining a lot of experience in how cotton likes to be spun.  I had to figure out how to do it on a wheel that has flyer and a bobbin, and that has a pull towards the bobbin, instead of a spindle that has no pull at all!  Once I got it, I didn't want to stop!  Zoom, Zoom as they say!

I found myself stopping to spin a few minutes through the evening, and early this morning I was again drawn to the wheel, like I haven't been in awhile.  I plan to use this handspun cotton as weft in some upcoming projects, so I need to get a lot of it spun while I am emptying the looms of current projects.

That is it for today's post, Until next time, Keep Crafting, Tina

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