By Amelia © March 23, 2010
Cashmere is one of those challenging fibers. Its extreme softness comes from the fineness of the fibers, under 18.5 microns in diameter. There isn't much scale on the surface of the fibers, either.
I have more control over fiber on my spindle than I do on my wheel, to this day. Probably because the only pull on the fiber is the spindle's weight; no flyer tugging yarn away from me relentlessly. So, I found cashmere easier to spin on my spindle, at first.
But a very nice lady at a spinning retreat (Camp Burton, on Vashon Island, about 3-4 years ago probably), spinning a big bag of cashmere on her wheel for the whole weekend, handed me a chunk and said it was for my wheel. "Go back and try it on your wheel, Amelia," she said, as I spun on spindles for the weekend.
So, I did. And I found that that spindle time had given me the control I needed over this luscious fiber. The usual tricks for fine spinning on the wheel also helped make the draw-in as soft as a feather.
I have found time and again that wheel skills and spindle skills build on each other; as my skill with a new type of spindle develops, my wheel-handling skills get a boost. I was thrilled to find my spindle drafting getting zippier as the double-drafting I was playing with at the wheel almost magically transferred into my spindle spinning.
So if you spin on both tools, and a fiber or method has you stymied, you, too, might try playing with the other one for a while to give your hands a different perspective on things.
The finest cashmere I've spun is on the Akha spindle; that sideways drafting really gives me the opportunity for cobweb-fine yarn.
I would like to take cashmere to the charka next, to see if that cobweb fineness is as easy to spin on a 100:1 ratio charkha as it is on a thigh-rolled Akha.
And you, what do you do to help learn a new method? or, do you have a wheel or spindle preference for spinning cashmere?
How do you spin short Guanaco fiber?
How can I spin a fine yarn?
What tips do you have for spinning lace?
For a great Cashmere blog, be sure to visit Devon Fine Fibres, the blog of a a Devon farm in the UK with Bowmont sheep and Cashmere goats; or Liz Gipson's blog, The Cashmere Kid, full of fun Cashmere stories.
posted 23 March 2010 at http://www.askthebellwether.com/blog
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
By Amelia © March 23, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
By Amelia © March 20, 2010
Spring is in the air, and workshops and fiber shows are ramping up as the sheep get shorn. Along with that, I have many upcoming workshops to share with you -- look for me in your neck of the woods!
- March 26 -- Learn to Spin on a Spindle at A Dropped Stitch in Sequim.
- April 8 -- drum carding demonstration at Arachne Guild
- April 10 -- presentation of spinning durable yarns, "What Makes a Good Sock?", for the Whidbey Spin-In
- April 11 -- hands-on workshop, Spinning Colorful Sock Yarn, at the Whidbey Spin-In
- April 17 -- Drum Carding A to Z, drum carders provided (we'll be sharing -- if you have one and can, bring it), at the Shepherd's Extravaganza in Puyallup (10am-1pm)
- April 17 -- Spinning Super Sock Yarn, for wheel or spindle: covers territory beyond the Colorful Sock Yarn class, at the Shepherd's Extravaganza in Puyallup (2pm-5pm) (sign up forms for the Shepherd's Extravaganza classes are here.)
- April 19 -- Buying and Selling on eBay and Amazon (okay, this goes beyond fiber arts...), at the Port Angeles library, 7pm-9pm
- June 4 & 5, the NwRSA Conference: Spindling Exotic Fibers, Cotton on the Akha Spindle, Core Spinning (on the wheel), Spinning Slippery Fibers (on the wheel, spindles welcome)
- June 8, Moonspinner's Guild, workshop: Plying your Way to New Yarns (on a wheel).
© March 20, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
By Amelia © March 16, 2010
Last Friday found me not at a spinning retreat (though it was the time of year for Camp Burton -- I hope everyone had a great time!) but at my daughter's school during a teacher in-service day, watching my daughter participate in a "Future Chefs" competition. She was (proud mom here) one of 20 finalists district wide with her recipe, Fantastic Fruit Kabobs:
Like all the recipes, it's healthy, kid-preparable, and yummy. Here's how you make them...
Take four firm fruits (we used apple, grape, pineapple, banana); wash fruits and cut into grape-sized pieces.
On a dinner plate, empty a small container of yogurt. We used vanilla, you could use plain, blended/flavored -- whatever you like.
On another plate, put the same amount of granola as yogurt on the first plate.
Put a variety of fruit pieces on a bamboo skewer. Roll the skewered fruit in the yogurt to coat, then in the granola. Place the coated fruit kabob on a serving dish. Repeat as desired.
I found these quite tasty, and there were plenty of takers for the kabobs prepared for the judges and audience, so they were a popular dish.
The other 19 participants all had terrific recipes too. Banana Peanut Butter Sushi was scrumptious -- I may have to whip up a batch for my next party.
Not to worry, I shan't delve too far from the twisty path of fiber arts ... just couldn't resist sharing this yummy diversion with you!
Looking for a dose of wool? The March posts from last year cover a variety of topics:
- Does the ball winder add twist to my yarn?
- An idea for a project (or two)
- Supercarder or Duncan motorized drum carder?
- How can I fit more yarn on my bobbin?
- Of Pickup Sticks and Weaving Drafts
- And then there was life before the Bee ...
- What Travel Wheels Are There?
- Yarn Story: Surprise!
© March 16, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
By Amelia © March 9, 2010
Usually, I'm weaving scarves on the rigid heddle loom. That means I end up judging how much warp to weave into the header (for later unweaving) and how much to leave unwoven at the other end, so that there is sufficient warp leftover for fringe. Typically, for me, one end is entirely used up, and the other end gets about an inch trimmed off of it to match it up. I suppose if I took notes and measured, I could even get rid of that inch -- but my weaving stays more casual than controlled, so I've not kept a notepad handy in my weaving kit. There is a tape measure there, though.
But recently, I was inspired by a confluence of events (ahhh love those big words) to try something new. The events:
- Asked to be a pinch-hit stand-in for a last-minute guild program cancellation; topic: Velvet Weaving. Well, velvet was beyond me, but weaving I could do ... how about a rigid heddle direct-warping and weaving demo?
- Went and stood among the stash. Okay, I need to have a loom warped and a loom ready to warp, so what to use? Oooh ... the massive cone of dusty blue 6/2 cotton, and its pal, in royal blue. Okay, that's a start. But cotton? I don't need a cotton scarf.
Hmmm. I did do cotton hand towels, with that terrific Weavezine looped pile, I could do that again. Nahhh, the family has what they need right now, and the presentation needs to stay focused.
- Oh yeah ... Doni's cool fold-up-and-sew, no-cut tote! Yeah! in cotton! and wool!
- Stash diving in the wool drawer found a "matchy-matchy" blue feltable wool. Now that would be cool -- felt a wool tote, wet finish a cotton one.
Today, to return to the topic at hand, I was finishing weaving the cotton "yardage". How far did I get?
Things were getting pretty touchy as this last shuttle got closer to empty. As you can see, I've advanced the back dowel over the backbeam, and toward the heddle. There's not much room in front of the heddle -- little more than the width of the shuttle. It's possible I could fit about a half-inch more of weaving on here, advancing the warp a little more and threading the shuttle through the skimpy shed at this point.
The closer the back dowel gets to the heddle, though, the smaller and more disorganized the shed gets. Why disorganized?
Check out this behind-the-heddle close-up. What you see here are the warp threads wrapping around the dowel. So, some are coming from below the dowel, and some above. The warp threads that go through the holes in the heddle are closely controlled and line up. But the warp ends in the slots end up in two different heights at this end of the weaving -- higher ones coming off the top of the dowel and lower ones coming off the bottom. Which it is, is pretty willy-nilly, since the warp is threaded through the holes after it's all wound on the back beam, conveniently obscuring which side of the dowel the threads are coming from.
You can also see that the threads aren't anywhere near the top of the heddle slots, either -- they are close to the holes. They get closer and closer as the back dowel is advanced between the back beam and the heddle, as that limits the angle they can move through.
In all, though, the last inch or two was an exercise in "not fun". So, when the shuttle was empty, I declared it done, hem-stitched it, and cut it off the loom. It's waiting on the washing machine to be run through with the Wednesday laundry before sewing it up into the first of the pair of totes.
I asked my friend S, an expert weaver of many decades, for advice on finishing and sewing. For this cotton one, she recommended washing the yardage, seaming the selvedge sides up with antique stitch rather than having a seam allowance, and then washing the sewn tote.
The amount of warp remaining was shorter than I would want for a scarf fringe, and too short to save as skein ties or any other secondary purpose. The warp leftover at the beginning was a little longer, about an inch, because I'd used a fair bit to tie bows at the tie-on rather than knots (another experiment - they held great, and came apart much easier than knots). There was probably less than a half ounce/fifteen grams total weight, from both ends. I may experiment with lashing-on next time to minimized waste at the front. Maybe I'll re-tie the wool one that way ...
Curious about the details like heddle used, width and length on the loom? I've posted this on Weavolution as a project (named Twisted Tote) to provide that information.
For plenty of Rigid Heddle news, keep up with The Rigid Heddle on tumblr. It's a weblog linking you to all the rigid heddle sites and notes I come across online. Great fun!
© March 9, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog