Thursday, May 27, 2010

Handspun Wool Singles as Warp

More headway on overcoming my "fear" of handpspun in weaving. I'm beginning to think that it's not so much a fear or quirk as it is a lack of data. I'm not confident how it will behave, so I hesitate to use it.

This continuation of my quest uses a handdyed, handspun wool single as the warp. It was a small skein, but I was able to get 121 ends out of it for a two yard warp.

I know two yards is almost nothing for a warp, but this is a's just a test. And, it turns out, it was a good test.

One warp thread broke early in the weaving (oh, details: 8h, straight twill threading, woven as plain weave throughout). Later on, two or three threads started to pull apart and I could feel that the piece wasn't stable anymore.

So, I got a one yard sample woven. My weft yarns obscured the warp colors. It's so sad :(
That will be the focus of yet another set of samples! I want to learn to get warp stripes in my weaving!!

I didn't use any sizing on this warp. I have sized wool singles before, and I would rather not mess with soaking the yarns in the sizing solution, letting them dry, picking them apart, etc. While I was reading one of Paula Simmons' books ( "Spinning and weaving with Wool" or "Spinning for Softness and Speed") I noticed the comment that while Paula preferred to spin and weave with singles (using a sizing on her singles warps), her husband liked his two-ply warp yarns...and so he spun his own warps!

I may be spinning two-ply warps!


Oh! The photo at the top of the post needs a word of explanation! I usually warp front to back, but I was concern about the integrity of this single yarn as a warp and didn't want to expose it to any unnecessary stress, so I rigged a raddle (the thing with twisty ties on it!) and tried warping back to front. It was easier on my back and shoulders to warp the Baby Wolf this way. It may be time to make a "real" raddle.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sticky Baby Wolf Shaft

The first shaft on my new-to-me 8H Baby Wolf was sticking. I tried spraying silicone in the tracks as Schacht suggested, and it didn't solve the problem.

A friend has an older Baby Wolf about the same age as mine, and her husband suggested I check the pins in the mechanisms that lift the shafts as they are pressure fit and can loosen over time.

Go of the pins on the shaft that was sticking was out. It took a pair of pliers to push it back in, but it worked! No more sticky shaft!

--The pin is likely to work loose again. Packing tape was suggested as a way to keep the pins from pushing out.

(Thanks, Ron!! )

Handspun, Handwoven

Here at my house we are each allowed a handful of fetishes or quirks. I'm working on a series of projects to try and overcome one of my fears/fetishes.

I spin yarn. I want to weave with yarn that I spin. I_am_afraid of working with my handspun yarn.

Why am I afraid of it? What do I think will happen with it or to it? I don't know. That's why it falls in the fetish/quirk category.

But, I am a brave girl! I can overcome my fears of using my handspun yarn.

I've put together a couple of different bits of handspun yarn with the intention of making samples. Really, just samples. These projects serve no purpose, except the one to help me overcome my fears!

This warp is a two-ply yarn, probably a Romney wool, handdyed with dandelions. I sett it at 12 ends per inch, threaded in a straight twill, and wove a pattern from Strickler's Patterns for 8 harness weaving. The weft is a handdyed, handspun single.

When the handspun single weft ran out, I shifted to some other handspun yarns and plain weave. The red is a dyed two ply, probably cotswold wool, and the brown is a natural brown wool single.

Would you like to know what happened when I wove with my handspun yarns? Did they explode? Pull apart? Make strange lumpy, bumpy fabric? Nope. The yarns behaved like....well, like yarns!

Go figure! Maybe there is hope for this fetish of mine!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This is a ruffler. It happens to be an old Singer ruffler being used on an older Elna sewing machine, but it works wonderfully!

My local sewing/fabric store, Caldwells, is amazing. I walked into the store asking for a $10 presser foot to do gathers. The sales clerk went directly to a $40 presser foot contraption (that almost gave me a heart attack!), only to discover that it was the wrong connection for my machine. (Whew!)

Then she went looking in their used pieces, brought out a ruffler like this and told me how they work.--She also commented that she had the $10 type of presser foot I was asking about and it didn't really work!

It took a bit of searching for the clerk to find the right size ruffler for my machine, but she did. $5 later, I was the happy owner of a ruffler foot!

And look what it does--in one evening, too! This is intended to be a skirt for my oldest daughter. I need her to try it on before I do any more finishing to it.

The ruffler is a wonderful attachement. It creates evenly spaced mini pleats and sews them to another fabric all in one pass. No more basting stitches to pull!


Friday, May 14, 2010


The other moms in our home schooled preschool group have been kind enough to watch my daughter before school on the days that my weaving guild meets.

One of the moms has started using cloth napkins, so a few weeks ago I made a set for her. This morning I finished the gifts for the other two moms: a pleated scarf and a table runner.

Believe it or not, the last two items were woven on the same warp! The warp is an unknown fiber yarn (it feels like it could be a polyester) that is a nice shade of blue with flecks of tan and white in it. The weft for the table runner is a fingering weight acrylic knitting yarn. The weft for the scarf is white, 20/2 tencel. The hand of the two items is very different!!

The weave structure is an eight harness summer and winter pattern from Strickler's Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. The scarf was woven as plain weave with gathering threads placed using two of the summer/winter patterns. The gathering threads (polyester sewing thread) were pulled tight and the pleats were steam set for 20 minutes. The table runner is pattern #554 and looks different on the front and the back.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dye Class with Rita Petteys

Linda Adamson of Tabby Tree Weaver in Arcadia hosted a beginning dye class with Rita Petteys of "Yarn Hollow" . The class was fun! Rita covered immersion dyeing and handpainting of protein yarn and fibers with washfast acid dyes.

The best part about the class (aside from some of the cool tips and tricks Rita taught us) was getting to play with color! There was a box with perhaps 100 dye powders (don't trust my numbers here...I didn't really count, it just seemed like tons of color to a girl who owns three (count them, three) jars of dye!) and the same number of quart jars of dye solutions--all ready to be used!

We were given some instruction on making dye solutions, given the opportunity to practice, and then set loose. If we finished a dye solution we were to refill the jar, but we could use any and all colors we desired.


My pictures are of three of the five projects I did. The first was a solid red, immersion dye on DK weight yarn. The second was a handpainted lace weight skein....and I left it in the shop! Dooh! (Linda has kindly offered to bring it to our next guild meeting so I can bring it home! :)

At the top is a falkland wool roving that I dyed with yellow, blue and a darker blue/black.

Next is some of my Romney roving that I squirted with orange, then added an olive green and a diluted leaf green.

And lastly, here is a sample knit piece that I dyed and will unravel and re-knit.

Rita has a nice post on sockblanks on her blog. I think I may need to go through this exercise myself to see how dye patterns on the blank translate into knitting.

It was a great day! Thanks to Rita, to Linda A., and to a fun bunch of classmates!