Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Never need to warp again....

Last night as Mr S was out with his model railway buddies I watch Norman Kennedy's 'From Wool to Waulking' DVD from Interweave.

What a revelation!  I had been put off by the reference to waulking (the Gaelic for fulling) the cloth on which subject I have nearly been bored to tears by the articles in Yarnmaker.  But the waulking comes right at the end, the rest is focused on the real stuff - choosing your fleece, preparation, spinning and weaving and it was at the weaving the eureka moment occurred.

Warping a loom is, to my mind, the most time consuming and tedious processes, very necessary but back breaking stuff.  Also the process for which the old weavers didn't get paid for directly.  Here I can only speak for the Wiltshire weavers, particularly those in working in the mills in Bradford-on-Avon.  The account books show that the men were not paid for the actual warping, which on complicated warps could take a whole day sometimes more!

Enough of the history lesson!  Bearing in mind that this shortcut only works if you are weaving a similar warp and width - instead of removing the whole piece from the loom, Norman cut the warp in front of the woven cloth and before the warp enter heddle.  These threads he tied off ready for the next warp to be attached and pulled through! Pure Genius......................    

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Floundering under a sea of wips..

Not as Mr S thought a bit of S&M with whips, but works in progress..........

As I sat knitting yesterday afternoon watching both GB Curling teams lose to Sweden I realised that despite a not too rigidly self-imposed rule that something must come off the needles before casting on again, once more I have far too many wips!

There are three sweaters, one sock that needs a second, five shawls, one I think will be frogged despite it being a Winter Ravelympics challenge, because I have decided that I really don't like lace in a sport-weight yarn!!  Then there are the two strings of bunting, one for Fibre East and the other for our caravan pitch during the Tour de France - that's the all the knitting I think!

When it comes to spinning, there are the bobbins of spun singles waiting to be plied - eight in total! In my defence two are waiting for a second suitable single (possibly silk) to be plied with. 

Now when I say bobbins what I really mean, in some cases, is the insides of toilet rolls, practical but not pretty!

Just some of the 'bobbins'!

Here again Mr S is coming to the rescue!  The 'bobbin' on the right is the first of many bobbins in softwood that Mr S is making for me - very simple, no bushes just a a wooden tube with ends, very practical - I just need more!

In fact he is, as I write, in the process of making me a bobbin winder which will free up the proper bobbins, but he is waiting on the bearings which were 'out of stock' and are now on back order!  More on the winder at a later date!!!

But for today I reveal his latest creation...............

The KleverKate with four Schacht Bobbins

............. the KleverKate!  This is the second KleverKate he has made, the first, based on a picture she found on the web was made for a friend.  It was far more complicated and included a tensioning device, which the recipient found to be unnecessary and an extra that just cluttered up the base.  By removing that bit, there is plenty of room for the fourth bobbin and threading the singles through the eyes creates enough tension for plying!  This one is in Sweet Chestnut and Heated Ash!

Good news - five of my wips found new homes on Saturday and they were the five Blending Boards made for the members of the SpinDyeWeavers...

Rough Cut Boards ready for sanding!

Boards on Parade!

Ready for the cloth to be stapled 

Packed in the box and ready to go!

I was really pleased that I managed to find the perfect box for the boards, at a Model Railway Exhibition of all places!  These are made for Laurie Griffin who sells his brass etched loco kits in them and he was kind enough to sell, at cost, five boxes!  As each board was identical I offered an etching service,and the girls happily played with my pyrography pen to create their own individual designs - cats, frogs, sheep and hares now adorn the boards!

Picture from Fibrefrog on Rav.

Would you believe that when I was sorting through my stash in search of an elusive ball of yarn I discovered that I have a warp ready to go on the loom! 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Which way is the right way?

This January I have been giving some much needed tlc to some unloved wheels

Back before Christmas I nabbed this Haldane Shetland on Ebay

The poor wheel had at some time been kept in a damp place, because there were water marks on the treadle and the maidens protruded out of the mother-of-all far too much!  So I let her sit in a corner away from the heat for a few weeks.  This seemed to work as the maidens could be settled further into the MOA, so time for some tlc.

From the brochure shown here the Haldane Shetland came either stained and polished for £78.90 or plain and sanded for £71.50! Mine was the cheaper plain and sanded!!

It was pretty obvious that very little polish had been applied to this poor wheel the wood look dead and felt rough to the touch, but a clean, a light sand and a re-wax has made all the difference - the wood shines.

All the rough bits are now as smooth as a baby's bottom and the uprights are now sitting flush with the MOA

So to spin, well it was like treadling treacle - a Shetland owning friend had a go, and she couldn't spin on her either, so I took my Shetland to meet her little cousin.

Left: Mark 1 Flyer - Right: Mark 2 Flyer
When I put her flyer and whorl on my wheel there was no problem and we were spinning effortlessly clockwise!  All very strange indeed!  Then it was suggested by an Haldane owner on Ravelry that she might be a left-hand or plying wheel and low and behold she spins anti-clockwise like a dream.

So what makes a wheel a lefty?  I was given to understand that if I put a flyer with the hooks on the right - like this one from my Orkney all would be normal.

Not so, which is really strange because the other Shetland flyer work clockwise - now it seems that my little Shetland only wants to spin anti-clockwise!

The other wheel that needed a lot of attention was - this poor Traditional which had been liberally covered in what appeared to be a yacht varnish - over every screw, hook and even the con rod leather!

  Much later and after many hours of stripping and waxing she looks like this

Now with a new tension knob, and scotch tension she is like new and ready for a new home!

A final thought on which way is the right way? 

Top down or bottom up - that is the question when it comes to sweaters - why are nearly all American patterns written for top down and UK ones for bottom up?  Top down you can try as you knit and there is little or no sewing to do afterwards, but which gives the best fit?  February's challenge to myself knit a top down sweater, but do I buy a pattern or design my own - time will tell!!

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