The local weaver's study group -- Warped Ones -- has finished their study of Handwoven Lace (sure, I still need to do Bronson Lace ... but who's counting? there's no scorecard). We've decided on Twill as our next topic. Which is fantastic! I love twill!
Being the computer hopper I am, I hopped right on my computer after our last get-together, and came up with a bunch of fun online resources for twills.
I already pointed out Crazy Twills to you ... and myself. I've picked a draft there too, the +5-4 one, for my cotton/bamboo.
Then I found this book on Amazon ... ooooh twills :-) ... Twills and twill derivatives: Design your own four to eight harnesses -- my copy is on its way, I sure expect to have fun exploring it!
And if you like twill samplers but want them to be useful, this sampler towel set on All Fiber Arts will let you play with a variety of twill interactions in warp and weft: Page 1 and Page 2.
I've been playing a bit with WeaveDesign myself, seeing how changes in the warping effect the resulting fabric ... fun to see what points and points with opposing dots do to the weave, with the click of a mouse!
And here's a nice writeup from the On-line weaving archive: Twills, Twills, Twills by Eleanor Best -- 21 different twills to explore, with terrific color pictures of draw-downs and woven fabric!
Oh, and that picture at the top? Turns out this is the second dip into twill for the Warped Ones; I wasn't in the group the first time around, when they all did twill samplers from Jean Scorgie's article in a 1995 Handwoven. One of our members recently wove 3 silk scarves using her sampler as an aid to choose the drafts for them. They were lovely! So, I am weaving my own sampler too -- and will follow up with a variety of silk scarves based on it in my future, too ... after a few other planned twill projects. Perhaps the sampler will help me decide on a nice twill for my handspun Bison/Cashmere/Merino/Bamboo and Seacell skeins.
The sampler's 60 different drafts (I'm on # 40, though the photo was taken around #16 or so) are taken from Harriet Tidball's Weaver's Book and Marguerite Porter Davidson's A Handweaver's Pattern Book. I made my warp a little longer, so I may explore some Color-and-weave II twill/color interactions as well.
I also want to spend some time wandering around on Leigh's blog --- she's studied Waffle Weave, an interesting textured twill weave; and has some very nice posts on Twill Basics and a variety of twill weaves.
Dot has woven a fantastic sampler blanket based on 2/2 twill; 500 different warp/weft combinations -- wow!
I hope we're stuck on twill for a long time, because twill's sure stuck on me!
An idea for a project (or two)
What's that woven swatch?
posted 21 April 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Whether you are exploring spinning lace as a new spinner or an experienced spinner, there are several ways you can have your wheel help you spin finer lace.
On ratios for spinning lace ...
I spin lace at the highest ratio on whichever wheel I'm on, 32:1 on my Majacraft, 35:1 on my Bee. That way I can draft quickly and still get enough twist in for the lace to hang together. The finer you spin, the more twists you need per inch of fiber to make it yarn. So, you could spin lace at 5:1, but it’d be pretty slow. Many, many people spin laceweight at 18:1, which is the middle of the middle on the Bee (mid-ratio lower wheels and middle groove, flyer), or the fastest setting on the high speed whorl for the Majacraft (I get 32:1 using the accelerator head).
The longer you spin lace, the more likely you are to move up to a higher ratio, as your hands learn how to draft more quickly. Or, the faster you learn to treadle … that’s the other option, if your wheel tops out at 18:1 – so yes, you can spin lace on the Pocket Wheel's and Mach 1’s 15:1 top speed, you just treadle faster, the faster you draft.
The other thing you can set is the draw-in pressure on your scotch tension or double drive; set it so low that the yarn still draws in, but you can pull it off easily while the wheel is spinning. There are a few other things you can do to decrease the draw-in pressure:
- Use the lacing shown in the picture if your wheel has hooks or pegs on the same side of the flyer arm (add a second slider on the other arm if you can, for sliders);
- start with a half-full bobbin, half-full of anything -- pipecleaner insulation, already plied yarn, acrylic run onto the bobbin even;
- try setting the draw-in pressure (with the scotch tension) a little low so you have to draw-out to get the draw-on to start. A little pull of yarn off the bobbin will start the bobbin turning, so it will draw-on from then on.
With double drive, you can also decrease the tension a fair bit -- set it down so that the drive band is just barely not slipping on the drive wheel and flyer and bobbin grooves.
Changing out your drive band and scotch tension band, if your wheel has that, for finer material can let you spin a finer yarn too -- it decreases the tension, and thus the pressure of the brake on the wheel.
Fiber will have quite a bit to do with your success at spinning lace – finer fibers (Merino, cashmere) want fine spinning, while coarser ones (Romney, Corriedale) prefer to be spun a bit thicker. Look at the crimp in your wool – the finer the crimp, the finer the fiber likes to be spun. Cashmere & alpaca don’t follow this wool crimp rule – they like fine spinning, generally, being fine fibers. And, they aren't wool.
The finest wool yarn I’ve spun was done by compressing the fiber down – take a 12 inch or so length of commercial top (best prep for this method) and roll it between your hands to compress it. Do this for the entire length. Then, spin from the end. Yes, you’ve matted it, but it will draw out. In fact, it draws out just what it needs to make a very fine yarn :-)
Fine fibers include cotton, angora, vicuna, guanaco, cashmere, yak, bison, camel down, alpaca, llama, silk, bamboo, the faux-silks (silk latte, seacell, soysilk...), tencel, kid mohair, optim, and a variety of fine wools starting with Merino and including many other lovely breeds such as Shetland, Cormo, and California Variegated Mutant. The non-wools can have other challenges: cotton, cashmere, yak and bison have short staple lengths, benefitting from point of twist drafting or long draw (that would be a long blog post!). The silky fibers (silk, bamboo, faux-silks, suri alpaca, kid mohair, tencel) have smoother surfaces, needing twist in them quickly to hold together rather than draft apart.
I'll close with some advice I've taken to heart after spinning for many years: how much fiber will you really destroy while learning? When you're working on spinning finer yarn, you might take 4-6 ounces to work out how to spin really fine; once you have the basics under your belt and are spinning a pleasingly thin yarn, you'll find new fibers take even smaller amounts to master -- an ounce, half an ounce, just a few grams at times. Now, if you're going to tackle the finest thread contest, well, for that, you may want to plan on spinning your way through a bit more fiber. Don't be afraid to try spinning finer, you will find that with practice, you can get there.
Top photo: cashmere 2-ply; the dyed skeins spun by the shepherdess, middle skein by me; my one ounce skein of this fiber was 200+ yards. Bobbin photo: Bison/Merino/Cashmere/Bamboo fiber from Louet, a 2-ounce skein spun to 500+ yards; I've spun a skein of seacell to weave with this fiber, project is in-the-works :-). Third photo: naturally colored cotton skeins, all sub-fingering weight 3-plies and one cabled yarn. Fourth photo: closeup of fingering-weight wool/alpaca/bamboo 2-ply spun from a Loop batt. De-lush-ous!
How can I spin a fine yarn?
How can I fit more yarn on my bobbin?
A Yarn Story: Cotton Tales
What makes my handspun yarn bloom?
How thickly should I spin a given breed of wool?
How do you spin angora fiber?
posted 20 April 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Friday, April 17, 2009
Mad asked me in an email if I knew of one source or link page for all known rigid heddle articles. I didn't know of one, so I started one ...
The Rigid Heddle, a TumbleLog
Whenever I run across a new Rigid Heddle resource or article on the internet, I'll add it to the list -- you can subscribe to it for updates. I've stuffed what I've found so far on it, a nice collection of articles by Schacht, Ashford, WeaveZine, my own RH blog posts, and others -- dig in!
Found a site yourself? Let me know. I’d love to add it!
posted 17 April 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Remember speed knitting? My 28 days of training are up ...
(1) You can knit a skinny (21 stitches wide) Noro Striped Scarf with two balls of Noro. I can knit one in about a month, even :-) I spotted two, done to official sizing, at the Whidbey Spin-In last weekend -- one in Noro, one in handspun ... oooh, a great use for those leftover bits & pieces!
(2) k1p1 rib is now my friend (you don't know how BIG this is for me!)
(3) Sadly, the finger locations of the yarn for SPM official speed knitting causes my tendonitis to flare up.
(4) But the speed-knitters' variants of it on YouTube work well for me, so I've had to adopt them to spare my wrists.
(5) I can now knit one of my booth-sample mini sweaters in under an hour -- definitely an improvement. That's good, because as you can see, I have four more to do!
(6) Techknitting (the blog) rocks! Her instructions on Tubular Cast-On and Tubular Cast-Off for K1P1 rib were terrific. My following of them, well, I learn :-) the green end of my scarf has a problem, I didn't "WYIF" the slipped stitches -- so it was pulled and reknit post photo, looking good now, whew!
I am glad to have improved my knitting skills, and look forward to finishing my purple sweater (it's been lurking under the Noro scarf in my knitting bag) so I can move on to the Cardigan in my future :)
Related post: How fast can you knit?
posted 12 April 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Wanda emailed me after the post An idea for a project (or two) and asked me about the woven swatch shown in the photo there. It's the one on the left in the photo above, blue/black bamboo handspun singles and 10/2 pale blue bamboo millspun, woven in a pattern called crepe from a project kit.
The square is made from thick cardboard packing I had on hand. It's a version of the sample square Halcyon Yarn sells, they call it a "sett tool".
I purchased theirs as well, but it was backordered at the time -- thus the cardboard ingenuity :-) And I'm glad, because I can leave it on the cardboard if I want. There's an infinite supply of that around here. The instructions suggested taking it off, and washing one sample but leaving the other (woven on the other side, the same) unwashed, to compare. At one inch square, measuring for shrinkage would seem to me to be pretty inaccurate, but what the hey. I did remove and wash one sample I made, a huck lace sample, and the washing did change the lace, so from that regard it was useful.
As you can see, I've also found a lovely one in Zebrawood. I used the two-sided feature of that one to try out two different weft yarns for my scarf (shown finished, with braided fringe, below the squares). The one on top, won -- tussah singles.
The indents on the sides of these are one inch, so you wind as much yarn as you want your ends per inch to be around in one direction, North-South, for your warp, and then needle-weave your desired pattern around, East-West, for your weft. That could be back-and-forth as I did in the right-hand one, or around-and-around as I did in the left-hand one.
The other day, though, nursing a spring cold, I didn't have the sample squares on hand, but rather my little 2" weave-it. I use it for samples for my booth at shows, for the fibers I sell like the two solid color ones shown on both sides in the picture. It turns out also to be helpful for sampling color & weave combinations ... my plans to weave a lap blanket in double weave reached a new information point: the estimated warp need is 1200 yards. My skein of Double Dip is 500 yards, so that's three more packets of fiber if I roughly double the yardage for the weft as well -- the perfect opportunity to add a second color. Ode to Denim looks like a nice partner for it, so that's next up on the wheel :-)
And these skeins ...
They look like they'll do well in the Scottish Twill check pattern on the left:
They're two up-coming colors from Three Bags Full, "Wool Gone Wild" and "Me, Spoiled? Never!".
And, you guessed it, my copy of Color-and-weave II showed up recently ... I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is not actually a volume 2 to her earlier work, Color & Weave, but rather revisits the weaves there, expands on the ideas, drops some repetitive material, and explores additional patterns with more complex weave structures. Definitely a book to grow with!
Related post: An idea for a project (or two)
posted 11 April 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/