Archive for April, 2008

I tried out the new diz with the Merino I’ve been working on. I’m not used to a metal one so it took some adjustment. I have to be more careful to not pull too much fiber at once because it is not at all forgiving. Even with the plastic button I could kinda wiggle it through, and the milk bottle one would just get a larger hole (a different sort of problem.) I also have to remember not to let go of it. The button is small enough that I can leave it hanging there but this will pull the fiber apart.

There is one more bobbin and then I can start plying, I only started this project two years ago. Now that I have the new drum carder I may do more of this fleece flicked and carded, but for now I’ll continue with the combs. I’m not convinced there would be any observable difference, but I feel like I should be consistent and not change things in the middle.

I’ve been busy sewing the past couple weeks, I need to replace my wardrobe again so I’ve started re-working existing patterns and checking out new ones. Right now I’m making some basic dresses as pattern tests, out of whatever fabric I’ve got lying around from projects that never happened.

One was particularly interesting, it’s made from an old fitted sheet I found at Goodwill. The elastic was crumbling and I suspect it was from a child’s room as it has marks on it that look suspiciously like felt-tip pen. I used it to make this princess-seam dress:

bedsheet dress

Yes, it is indeed shorter on one side than the other. Because I am shorter on one side than the other. I’m often lazy and don’t do it, but it is better to adjust at the shoulder seam than the hem. That way the garment hangs straight.

It is a printed knit with a one-way design of stylized flowers on white. But the print is sideways so the crosswise stretch is top to bottom, opposite of normal garment fabrics. There isn’t a lot of stretch in the other direction but this pattern was intended for woven fabric, so that’s ok. I can tell how the bodice and sleeves fit (too small across the bust) knowing that the result will be wearable anyway.

The weird thing is that it is strangely stiff for a cotton knit. (I haven’t actually done a burn test to know the fiber content.) It resists pins and needles and leaves behind what looks like little shreds of paper instead of normal lint in the sewing machine. The holes left from pins are also quite noticeable. This would suggest damaged fiber and I see catastrophic structural failure in my future. But I wasn’t exactly making an heirloom piece here.

The local newspaper has an article about a designer that specializes in pleated fabrics. The video of the manufacturing facility is interesting. Aside from new fabrics that can be permanently heat-set, pleating hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. Garment sections are pleated before final stitching and blouses are hand-manipulated multiple times to form complex pleat structures.

I’ve been using a button as a diz, to pull fiber off the combs and into an even top for spinning. It works, but is a bother because the fiber tends to migrate around to the front side and tangle. And it is always getting lost. So this weekend I happened to be at a little get-together with The Boyfriend, where there just so happened to be your basic backyard machine shop. Because, you know, everybody’s got a machine shop out in the garage. Go burners!

Anyway, our host gave us a tour and some time later I was encouraged to go play in the shop. I used to do a bit of metalwork, long long ago, but it was entirely with hand tools. And blacksmithing, not cold metal. So while I’m generally familiar with the concept, I hadn’t used a drill press since middle school. My most recent experience was making hot metal flat and/or pointy with a homemade brake drum forge nearly ten years ago. And had no idea where anything was in somebody else’s shop.

So I rummaged around and found a suitable piece of flat steel. I bent it into a likely shape in the vise, we cut it to size, rounded the edges and then I polished it. Yes, it will rust, but I’ve got plenty of other steel equipment that I manage to keep in working order so I’m not worried about it.

polished steel diz

What I am worried about is finding a new hobby. Or more correctly, picking up with an old one that I haven’t messed with in forever because I like living in cities. I’ve promised to bring the combs next time.

I thought I had posted this picture already, but no. I’m almost done with the first half of the wool/silk, I’ve decided to make a 2-ply weaving yarn. I’ve got plenty of the natural color wool to go with it. The silk has some noils in it and I didn’t want to try to use it as warp without plying, so I’ll just do all of it the same.

blue/brown wool-silk blend

I’m picking out some of the larger lumps from the silk, but mostly just spinning. Normally I want perfectly smooth yarn but the haphazardly dyed silk just isn’t going to let that happen and I have to get over it. I split the batts into strips and pulled each into a long roving. After all that I wonder if it really is faster to drum card than comb, but I would have never gotten the same color blend that way.

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