Archive for December, 2007

I needed something to work on at the Swedish Christmas Fair, so I dug out some Romney fleece I had sitting around and started on a medium-weight single. It’s really long staple (20 cm) so combing out with the dog brush is fine and it’s fast to spin. Normally demo yarn is total crap but this stuff is so mindless to work with that it’s coming out fine.

I’m finally following through on a project I’ve been talking about for years, spin direction patterns. You can get interesting subtle patterns like checks and stripes in a plain-weave fabric by changing the direction the yarn is spun. Light reflects differently off each yarn and it makes it look like a much more complex fabric.

This was common in early Scandinavian weaving of the Viking era, so I want to do a sample for an upcoming talk at the local Swedish cultural society meeting. I also saw a really nice Peruvian piece at the Textile Museum a few years back, done with 2-ply. It’s one of those interesting techniques that you can only do with handspun because you just can’t buy the right yarn.

So far I’ve gotten almost a full bobbin done Z. It’s not great yarn for me as I’m not much paying attention to size but it will be fine for a sample. I will probably have to do it on the table loom just because the smaller one has less yarn lost to loom waste. That’s a big deal when you are spinning it all.

It’s also using up some fiber I’ll never make a real project from. I bought some of this fleece years ago to use for students and never did anything with it. It’s coarse and not great for clothing, not to mention the annoying canary stain that causes it to all come out vaguely yellowish.

I went to the book store last night for something entirely not about textiles but of course wandered over to the craft section. Much to my amazement, there were multiple books about spinning. (And, for the first time in forever, I can get Spin-Off lots of places but am having trouble finding a copy of Handwoven.)

But hidden in the miscellaneous textiles section was Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands by Nilda CallaƱaupa Alvarez. I have somehow managed to miss meeting Nilda on several occasions, but have heard much of her work from publications and my friend Abby Franquemont. She taught me about Peruvian weaving, which she learned as a child in Nilda’s village.

I haven’t had a chance to really read the book yet, but already there are interesting patterns I want to weave. And finally photos of how the woven edge finish works. I really like spinning Peruvian-style weaving yarn, partly because it’s totally unlike the well-behaved modern mill yarns. It has so much twist that it’s traditionally kept in balls to maintain tension. But it works perfectly for traditional fabrics that withstand decades of daily use. I just wish I had more time to spin and weave my own.

Today we went to the tailor to get started on my birthday gift for The Boyfriend. I gave him a custom jacket so he’d have something nice to wear for all these teaching trips. After looking through a pile of fabrics, he finally settled on a Harris Tweed. It’s still woven by hand in weavers’ homes, one of the requirements to use the Harris Tweed mark.

This fabric is a classic herringbone twill in dark and light brown. It has tiny white specks from the kemp in the fleece, normally considered a fault because it won’t take dye like the rest of the fiber but apparently typical of the local sheep. I’ve seen many examples of kemp in older traditional tweeds. This is not a fine wool by any means, but it is very, very traditional and wears like iron.

So I am happy with his choice of fabric. Not so happy with the choice of leather elbow patches, a style that hasn’t been fashionable since his father was in high school. I am aghast that not only did he want them, but his friends seem to think that to do otherwise would be a grave omission. Heathens.

I tried to do something with the nightmare warp. I might have been able to eventually make something useful, but I’m sick of looking at it. I don’t want to spend hours weaving it off thinking of the disaster behind it. It bothers me to cut off a warp, especially if it was otherwise sound. But I’m doing this because it’s fun, right? I have other things I want to do. That could be said about not just weaving, too.

Again this year I did a spinning demo at the Swedish Christmas Fair. Last year we were an emergency replacement but we had so much fun that we did it again. Alfred brought his antique wheel, we ate open-faced sandwiches and spun all day. I had to run back home and find the clip that had fallen off my flier (which resulted in an expensive parking mess upon my return) but other than that it was a perfect day.

The Swedes kept textile traditions going long after most other countries forgot how, so everyone had stories about grandmother’s spinning wheel and got compliments on my spinning from women who did it themselves as children. It’s nice to do a demo where you don’t have people pointing out to their children your “loom” or asking if I killed the sheep myself.

Plus I got quite a bit of spinning done. I hadn’t taken out the wheel for months.

Creative Commons License

© 2004-2007 Andrea Longo
spinnyspinny at feorlen dot org