Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I have to admit, it felt kind of nice to give myself permission to wrap up projects so that I could move on with less clutter and no more (or rather, fewer) unfinished projects weighing on my conscience.

I rather quickly plied up the two ounces of fiber that I had spun so I could get a new project on my wheel.

I think it came out pretty well at around 600 yards to 2oz.  Less yardage than I actually expected, but I'm happy with it (and even more happy that it's done.)  The fiber was from Knitnzu in a colorway from Spunky Eclectic that she selected just for me.

Despite it taking forever, the fiber itself was a joy to spin and I do look forward to spinning the other two ounces at some point.  The fiber is 80% mixed BFL and 20% silk.  Yum.

I dove into my fiber stash and found a bit of mystery fiber with no label, but I'm assuming it was mixed BFL.  There was only one ounce, which was perfect because I wanted instant gratification after that long-term project.

I had it spun and plied in less than two hours.  I wanted to try out chain plying to keep the colors separated and I think it worked out pretty well.  85 yards and no idea what I'm going to do with it, but it served its purpose.

After I finished that colorful yarn, I spent a bit of time playing around with different fibers just to play.  I never created a finished yarn, but simply sampled and tried different things out.  Then a few days ago I selected my next bump of fiber to spin up and got started.

Before I knew it, I had spun up the whole 4oz. in an afternoon.  The fiber is Coopworth dyed by Dan at Gnomespun.  Coopworth is a cross between Romney and Border Leicester, which gives it a longer fiber length that is relatively coarse.  The fiber was prepared as roving and there was no way it was going to spin into a smooth, lustrous single, so I did what I could to emphasize the fuzziness of the yarn.  I think the fiber is robust enough to create a fuzzy yarn that will still resist pilling and will wear quite well.  This is destined to become a 3-ply yarn.

And as for my weaving?  I simply cut it off the loom and hung it on my wall as is.

I'm actually quite enamored with the unfinished quality of it.  I didn't bother dealing with any loose ends, nor did I do hemstitching or secure those loose warp threads.  It won't last forever, but for now I kind of like it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Testing The Limits

I realized today as I was looking at my spinning wheel and my loom that the projects I am working on had several things in common.  The first, which was most obvious to me, is that they are both taking forever to complete.  The second, going hand in hand with the first, is that I think I have reached my limit with these projects.  And you know, maybe it's apropos that these projects have pushed me to the edge because that's what I intended with these projects.  I didn't intend to test myself, but simply to test the limits of my tools.

With spinning, the project began when I started to wonder just how thin I could spin.  I didn't realize when I started spinning these four ounces just how much time is involved when spinning laceweight yarn.  I got to the halfway point, 2oz., and despite all of you telling me to forge ahead and finish the second half, last night I accepted the fact that I wasn't going to spin the second 2oz.

I had spun the first 2oz. all on one bobbin knowing that when I got to the plying stage, I was going to rewind my singles onto several bobbins which I will continually switch in and out to make a 2-ply yarn.  By switching them around this way, I think it will create a more consistent yarn.  In the process of rewinding my singles, I realized how important this step is because, as it turns out, my idea of "thin" kept getting smaller and smaller as I continued on with this project.

It's not incredibly drastic, but you can certainly tell that the single on the left of that picture is thinner than the one on the right (they're from the end and beginning of the 2oz. respectively).  By rewinding several bobbins, I'm hoping that these inconsistencies will get evened out as much as possible.  But I am glad I decided to stop at 2oz. instead of finishing all of the fiber.  I will still have hundreds and hundreds of yards to work with.

I'm excited to see how this plies up and looks after a good wash.  The silk in this blend (80% mixed BFL/20% silk) makes the singles very lustrous and I'm curious how the colors combine and knit up.  I'll keep you updated.

As for weaving, I'm starting to think it's no coincidence that I'm also halfway through this project and have suddenly lost interest.

This project was intended to test the limits of my loom.  Typically a rigid-heddle loom is used to weave plain weave (one over, one under), but I've always been interested in more complicated weaves that usually require a 4-shaft floor loom.  This particular project was a sample to see if it was possible to weave double weave on a rigid heddle loom.  Double weave consists of two separate layers of plain weave (in this case one layer of green and one of blue.)  If you're familiar with double-knitting, this is the weaving equivalent.  By manipulating the warp threads, you can change which color is on top of the fabric to create patterns that show as their reverse on the other side.

The problem with this technique on a rigid heddle loom is that it requires quite a bit of manipulation for each pick of the weft (a pick is a single shot of the weft thread, from left to right or right to left).  In order to get this kind of weave on my loom, I need to use two rigid heddles and then I have also created two string heddles (which essentially has created a 4-shaft loom, each heddle acting as a separate shaft.)  Then in front of my heddles for each pick I use two or three pick up sticks to further manipulate the warp threads.  Each color also has its own shuttle.

Long story short, this process is incredibly slow and now that I've reached the halfway point, I think it's a good place to stop.  I've answered my question, which was "Can I do double weave on my rigid heddle loom?"and now it's time to move on to something a little less involved (or perhaps just differently involved.  I have ideas for several more weaving projects that are probably just as complicated, only in different ways.)

With that, I'm giving myself permission to wrap things up and move on to new spinning and weaving projects.  I think part of the reason I've been so anxious to finish these projects is that there are so many things I would like to do and I feel a bit restrained or held back by these long-term projects.  Now I can finally try something new (again)!