Monday, 3 December 2012

Super-chunky home-made yarn

Over the last few years I have saved every end of yarn from all my projects in my "oddments" basket. I dip into them whenever I need a small bit of yarn and can usually find one to match the current project if I need to sew on a button or tie on a label. But the basket overflowed and turned into two. Finally I dumped the whole lot out and used them up in one go. I tied them end to end in three separate strands. Then I put them together and used a 10 mm crochet hook to make a giant variegated chain. 
It is delightful the way the colours blend together in a totally random pattern. It has a ragged look because all the knots and ends are left showing. Now I need to find the right project for it. I've been canvassing my friends for ideas. One friend has offered me the use of her peg loom to make a mat. Someone suggested I find an even larger hook to crochet it into a very thick fabric. I intend to make a pin woven sample and weave it with a single strand of something thin to show off the chain.
 I used a short length in the locker hooked rug sample at a workshop given by Rosemary at the Eden Valley guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers. I liked the effect. It would need it to be a little thinner (maybe use two strands?) and would need a different solution for joining in because the knots are uncomfortable underfoot.

Please leave a comment if you have an idea of how I could use the home-made super-chunky yarn.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Plaited paper baskets

materials used, clockwise from top: 
heavy plastic with an enclosed strand of green yarn; 

large scenic calendar; cereal box; heavy packaging paper
I love these soft sided baskets* that can be made from all kinds of recycled materials. I've used old calendars, the wrappers from office photocopy paper, wall paper, travel brochures, maps, cereal boxes and the huge plastic wrapper from a new mattress. The construction is based on simple over and under weaving. 

To make a basket, go to the page "HOW TO MAKE plaited paper baskets".

*I learned to make the plaited baskets from the excellent book Time to Weave by Jane Patrick. (Have a look at my books and links page.) 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Turquoise series

Turquoise hand spun bags
Little all-in-one-piece bags are my ongoing handwork. They are just the right size to hold on my lap when riding in the car or sitting visiting. So I try to have one on the go all the time. My last batch was really fun, each one an experiment of colour or pattern, but they didn't look very good presented as a group. Most of those have been distributed as gifts or sold except for my favourites which are in use as holders for cosmetics or weaving supplies.

Bags using sari silk
For the current set I have given myself the goal that they should look good together. That way I can present them for sale on the Spinners, Dyers and Weavers Guild stall at Wool Fest next year. The unifying factor in this set is turquoise. I am trying all manner of new things: using my own variegated hand-spun; variations on plaid and twill weaves; spun sari silk as part of the warp; leather flaps sewn on. I have a bag full of the supplies for this series and it is fun to root around in it whenever I am ready to start a new one.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A foray into fleece preparation and spinning

washing a drying the fleece in the house on a rainy day
Over the last few months I have dived headlong into the world of spinning. I've filled a book with samples of spun yarns from many different breeds of sheep and am currently working on processing a whole Ryeland fleece.
I've acquired hand carders and a spindle. Here is the wool as it is being processed (clockwise from top left): the hand carders, washed fleece, rolags carded and rolled by my daughter, the spindle with some spun yarn, and a tiny skein of two ply.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Making a rigid heddle

A rigid heddle needs to be threaded as you warp the loom, right? What if there were one that you could attach to the warp AFTER the warp is wrapped on the loom?* 

I came up with an idea for a rigid frame with wire heddles that opens at the top. The eye in the heddle is a coil instead of a closed loop. I can slip the thread into it with a special twist. Then the frame closes for weaving. The prototype is made with cardboard but I plan to make a wooden frame for the next one and am learning to bend the wires much more precisely. To test the prototype I wrapped a continuous warp around a biscuit box. I anchor the box between my knees to weave.

My first two tests were warp faced bands, one of heavy yarn and one of shiny finer thread. The heddles performed better with the heavy yarn, I had lots of trouble with the finer thread getting caught when it tried to slide past the eye, especially on the outside edges of the band. 
The current test is heavy yarn in even weave. This test works more easily than the warp faced bands, perhaps because the outside threads don't have to pull in so much. I will go ahead and refine the design for the wooden frame version. I picture it being useful for weaving bands on an inkle loom or wider fabric on a backstrap loom.

*Note: There is an open-topped heddle for the Brinkley loom. It has a heavy rod heddle with slits in which you lay the warp threads. Turning the heddle over changes the shed which is very ingenious. (I've seen this in use at a demonstration at Wool Fest from this company