Sunday, 16 October 2016


Woolstock was the name of this year's Fleece Festival.   It has grown from a big event to a much bigger event, which now encompasses the community centre and two of the fairground barns.   Usually I spend a good part of the day at the guild's booth.  Mostly I demonstrate spinning and talk up our guild and the fibre arts to various people wandering by.  However this year I was asked to help at the Cashmere Canada fibre judging, either helping the judge or spinning the provided cashmere.

There were 3 of us helping out and we started well before the event even opened, organizing the entries into their different classes and making sure all the identifying information was hidden away.      There were 40 entries to wrangle all together.    That is a lot of fondling time with exquisite fibre!

The one gal wanted to spin all day, as she wasn't comfortable helping the judge.  That was fine because that meant I got to help the judge all day. Phil, our judge, has about 200 cashmere goats on a farm in the Orillia area.   He is extremely knowledgeable with a very clear and succinct way of explaining what he is doing, what he wants done and the factors he was looking for that make a great cashmere fleece.  He was absolutely an easy person to work with and made what turned into a very long day, most enjoyable.  He was also a really good teacher.

I learned about style- crimp for us woolies, differentiation, fineness, why length is important and what lengths are good, and the way he weights what is important in a fleece.   I was looking at the fleeces from a hand spinner's point of view, while he was teaching me about the differences which were important for commercial machinery.  For instance, the guard hair that a hand spinner might be deterred by, isn't an issue for mechanical dehairers, if it enough of a difference in size from the fibre itself.     Since the goats are combed, the later in the season they are combed, the more likely the guard hair will shed along with the undercoat.  As well the larger, loopy crimp of some of the does, can cause pilling and catch in the machinery and the bucks have the finest fleeces with the finest crimp.  So very soft and beautiful.

It turns out there are no "official" cashmere goats, but just the genetic luck of having the right genes for having the downy undercoat. After a great day of education and fibre fondling, I helped break down the little booth, and went home with a lovely little baggie of cashmere to spin.   While I had hardly any time to shop and got no spinning in, most of my friends found me or we crossed in passing.   I have to admit that I had an absolutely great day.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

More Waffle weave

The waffle weave washcloths are off the loom.  I was going for elegant, but they kind of look like ratty old dollar store dishcloths.   However, I washed one up and used it for it's purpose, washing people, not dishes.  OHHHH  MY!    After wet finishing by tossing it in the washer and dryer, the waffle weave had shrunk up nicely.   I was a little disappointed in the amount of loss due to the weave structure and the fact that my sett might be a little loose.  But when I actually used the cloth to wash my face, I experienced a bit of bliss.  It is so much nicer than terry cloth..   So, if they aren't perfectly elegant, it doesn't matter.   They are the perfect replacement item and worth the time spent on weaving them.

So... I wound a new warp.   I had a few partial and single tubes of cotton.  It was a mixture of mercerized and regular 2/8 cotton, though the purple might be just a tad thinner.   I tied it on the the previous waffle weave warp.   As I was sitting there, knotting all the threads together, I had a very intense but useless conversation with my sweetie because he felt there must be a better way to do this.   Hmmmm, now matter how I explained that I was pretty sure there wasn't actually another way to tie each thread together singly, he insisted there must be a better way.   Talk about a conversation going in circles and ending no-where!

I love going from the above and after a few minutes of winding the warp on, it's all straight, smooth and ready to weave.   These are colour gamp waffle weave face cloths.   While it is the same structure as the white ones, I hadn't realized how much interest the changing of colours add.   Plus these are so much prettier and cooler looking. The bonus is all those partial and single cones which I've had for ages are getting used up.   The downside is that most of my bobbins are currently full bits and pieces, so I'll have to dig out some new ones or empty the old as I'll need 6 empty bobbins to rotate through each towel.  
I think I do funky and fun much better than I do elegant :)

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Waffle Weave

In our guild room, there is a bag of warps, wound off and ready for a project.  While one was a salvaged warp, from a project gone awry, I'm not sure anyone remembers what the project that the other warp was intended for.  I think it is 2/8 cotton and a call went out for possible projects.   I suggested waffle weave wash cloths, and was suddenly expected to put this project on the loom right away!  Yikes!  I have to say that if I'd thought it through and realized that any suggestion would be followed through with the request to put it on the loom immediately, I probably would have kept quiet like the rest of our guild.    It sort of startled me since only one person seemed to consider that the suggestion had any possible merit.

Regardless, having never woven waffle weave of any kind before, I decided that I should try it first, before I dressed the loom for a group project.   Most of our 4 harness looms are counterbalance looms and waffle weave it a bit of an unbalanced weave, so a bit trickier to weave on one of these, though by no means difficult or impossible.  Just have to compensate a bit on some of the picks.  Besides, I'm pretty slow at dressing a loom, tending to work in short sessions, with breaks in between, so if I included travel time, it would take a while and I wanted to be certain that I had it all down pat.

Lessons learned -
First, after doing the math, I realized that in no way would that stray warp be wide enough.  It would need at least another 100 threads or more.

 Second, after checking all sorts of different projects descriptions, I used a sett of 20 for my 2/8 cotton,  but after weaving, I think that a sett of 24 would have made a nicer fabric.  Not that there is anything actually wrong with this cloth, but the waffles would have been tighter and the floats smaller.

Third, machine hems totally rocked on this project.  It saved so much time and looks just fine.

The wash cloth went through the washing machine and came out quite lovely.  It will be very useable.  I'm to to whip up a quick batch of soap and maybe a few candles for a quick gift for the girls in the family.

Fourth, what was I thinking?    I put on 5 1/2 yards of this stuff.  I'm on face cloth number 4 and it looks like there are still miles of warp on the loom.... gah...

Fifth, I really want a loom with more harnesses .   I am hunting around for a reasonably priced 8 or 12 harness loom.  Ya know,  'cause a gazillion yards of repetitive face clothes isn't daunting enough!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Finished Scarves and Spinning

Wool/silk scarves with painted warps.
 The scarves are off the loom :).  They are a wool silk blend, with hand painted warps using weak acid dyes. These were the very old mixed dyes that, despite being a bit gelled and flakey, worked just fine.   I wouldn't use the old dyes for precision dyeing like percentages or specific colours, but for a random dyeing experiment like this, they were fine.

50% alpaca/50% merino blend
Carol gave me a lovely bit of alpaca carded batt that she had gotten back from her processor as unsuitable for spinning.  However, it's lovely stuff and here I've blended with Merino to make a 50% Alpaca/50% Merino blend.   I just weighed out 10 g of alpaca and 10g of Merino and after 2 passes on the drum carder they were nicely blended and awesomely soft batts.  They spun like butter, save for an occasional little nep or fluffy bit.   This fibre is definitely a handspinners delight.   I had some natural black Merino in my stash, which wasn't actually black, but a dark brown and it fit perfectly with the brown Alpaca.

Kevin doing his annual autumnal plant inspection.
I have a lemon and a time tree which spend the summer out on the deck.   Sadly, the nights are cool enough now, that it was time to bring them back in.  Kevin always find some sort of interesting poking about when that happens.   The lime tree is a key lime and is loaded with fruit!   I sometimes wish I had  gotten a persian lime, because they are thornless and the key lime is quite spikey, but it also seems to be a prolific fruit bearer, so I can't really complain.   They lemon tree however, came with a notice that it would never be a tree, due to how they'd pruned it, so it is just a messy little thing.  It looks like someone just stuck a branch in the ground and it rooted, but it bears lemons and that in itself is pretty awesome.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Today's Excitement

Look what followed me home today!  It's small, supposed to be very fuel efficient, has the few options I wanted and is a pretty peacock blue.    Hopefully it will be easy to spot in a parking lot, amid the sea of grey and brown cars which seem to be so popular locally.

It really is small though and a huge difference from driving the truck.

  I have some pretty awesome friends who didn't mind picking me up when I was vehicleless, out here in the boonies, but it will be nice to be able to pop out when I need to run an errand or want to visit, without having to beg a ride or get up stupid early to drop people off at work, just to have a vehicle for a few hours. 

My sweetie found double roll of charming flocked, metallic gold wallpaper while routing around in the basement, fixing up some weird wiring in the kitchen.   He thinks there might be a second roll hidden away.   You sure can't find paper like this too many places anymore. 

 Drywall is going up in the kitchen...yay!!!!  It's half up and the rest of the framing is almost complete.    Next up is the vent for the range hood.   When this was first planned, we weren't sure how the outside wall would need to work.  Cabinet placements and sizing were supposed to make a difference in how everything would fit together.  However, with minor adjustments, the outside wall will now have a decent amount of insulation in it.   That is a good thing too :)

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Painted warp scarf progression

The second scarf was a red, orange and black warp.  While the black looked quite black while still chained and in choke ties, when it was spread out on the loom, it definitely showed as various shades of grey.   I used a dark grey weft, which really showed the colour transitions nicely.

The next scarf however, was a lighter pink and black.  I tried the dark grey again and after a few picks, I took it out.  It made the scarf heavy looking and totally drowned out the pink.  The lighter grey looked awful as well because neither the pink or the black showed up with it.   After several more tries, I realized that I didn't have anything which would look good.  So I did the math (incorrectly so it seems, but it worked out okay anyway), wound off a couple of skeins.  I decided to do a pink for the pink /black warp and a blue for the next scarf which would be blue/green.

I actually did the math for the required colours and immediately forgot that the blue was a 2% solution.  The dye struck almost immediately, so I was rushing around madly, winding off an extra skein of yarn, squishing water through it to wet it and tossing it in the dye vat to take up the last bit of blue.  I ended up adding a few more mls of blue dye, just to deepen it a bit and both colours work with the blue/green scarf - phew.

The pink really was a lovely accident though.  The solution for a medium pastel, was darker than I'd anticipated, so had to do the same frantic skein winding as I'd done with the blue.   However the shade of pink I got from the second skein was exactly spot on the pink in the scarf warp.  Yay!

The math - I calculated the number of inches I'd need - then added about 25% and still came up just a tad short.   Luckily there are ways of using 2 different colours in one warp, so I managed.

The black warp sections show up better in real life than in my photo.
This scarf is gorgeous.  The green sections show nicely and the blues fit well with the warp blue.   Boy, will I have a lot of fringe twisting to do once these are off the loom.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Painted Warp Scarf Project

Soooooooo...........  the painted warp is finally on the loom.  This is a project which has so far, taught me many lessons.

First, I decided to put on a dummy warp and decided to do a sample scarf with it, to check the weave structure.  I was going to use a diamond twill, but in a flash of inspiration - thanks to Debbie and the last guild program - I opened up my copy of A Handweaver's Pattern Book.  I gave myself just a couple of minutes to scan through the drafts, find one which used both the required number of pattern threads I'd originally planned for and looked like it would work for a scarf.   Once done, I dug up some yarn to use for the sample warp, only once I actually compared it with my wool/silk blend, there was too much of a different in grist to use.  The only yarn I had close was a skein of in hindsight, too stretchy sock yarn.

I pushed on, winding the warp and when the written yardage wasn't quite as much as was indicated on the label, I added in a few threads of another nicely contrasting yarn.  I dressed the loom and wound on that warp and realized then that the elasticity of the yarn would need to be accounted for when I set the weft threads.  After all those rugs, beating lightly to place the threads, was an interesting task.

The scarf wove off quickly, although I miscalculated with the stretch and wove a long scarf and left only a barely workable amount of loom waste for tying on.

I used a deep grey for the weft which worked nicely with the colours of the sock yarn.  I think I got the beat down quite nicely, considering I had to guess as the finished scarf is really quite nice.

I went to tie on the painted warp -  that was a fiasco.   First, I had started my painting at the wrong end, so that the cross was at the front and not with the loom waste!  So I tied on some lease sticks, and wound the warp onto the front beam.  I was using packing sticks, but not only did I wind the warp on a bit of an angle, but didn't use enough packing sticks, so when I went to tie on the warp, there was a different of about 18 inches from the left to the right sides of the warp.  ARGH!

With unwinding, a few choke ties and patience, I got the warp on the loom, with little problem.

Now I'm weaving this lovely pastel scarf.  Those colours sure looked more intense when they were wet and when they were side by side.  However if you're a pastel person, or really like subtlety, this scarf would be for you.  It might be the last pastel anything I ever weave though.

Draft is 2 Fold M's and O's from The Handweaver's Pattern Book - Marguerite Porter Davison.  With 3 different suggested treadlings, I have options to play with.