Archive for September, 2010

Himalayan Wild Fibres

September 19, 2010

About a month ago, I came upon a great opportunity.  Saradippity of Ravelry found  this website and, curious, she e-mailed Ellie, the woman in charge of it, to see if she could buy some of the fibre.  It comes from the wild Himalayan stinging nettle, and has been traditionally harvested by Nepali men and women for generations.  The Himalayan Wild Fibres project is attempting to develop a market for this eco-friendly fibre, hopefully providing supplementary income to thousands of families.

This is the fibre:

Ellie’s reply was that no, the fibre is not available for sale, at least not yet.  However, she recognized that saradippity and the people of Ravelry represent a huge amount of textile expertise, not to mention a big slice of the potential market for any yarn that her enterprise produces.  Because the whole point is to create jobs for people in tiny villages, there aren’t going to be any huge mills built to deal with this stuff.  It’s manual technology all the way.  As such, Ellie suggested that saradippity gather a few people together to do a study of the fibre.  They get free samples of a fun new fibre to play with, and she gets all the results of thirty people’s experiments on yarn structure, blending with other fibres, different spinning and processing tools, and how it behaves when knitted, crocheted, and woven.  Which is where I come in.  I get to be one of the test people.

That alone is pretty cool, but that’s not the end of the story.  A few days ago Ellie found out about the Ethical Fashion Source Expo that’s happening in London (England, not Ontario) on October 6th.  She quickly contacted them and landed a spot.  But what to do?  All she has is some processed fibre, a bit of yarn, and maybe a Nepalese garment or two.  Not much for the Western fashion world to relate to.  Enter Team Ravelry!  As I type, fibre is winging its way here, and I and the others will be spinning/knitting/weaving samples and zipping them off to London for the Expo.  So.  Not only do I get to help with this awesome project, I get to display my work at an international exhibition.  Yay!

I’m expecting my bit of the fibre to arrive on Wednesday.  In the mean time, I’m spinning up a fine single of hemp to use for warp, then the nettle yarn will be weft.  I just have to come up with a fabric that will show it off as well as it possibly can.

Weaving

September 1, 2010

I’ve been teaching my boyfriend how to weave, which means that I’ve been doing a bunch of it myself, too.  It’s probably a bad thing, but I take pity on his giant man-hands and have done a significant part of the warping for him.  And a bunch of the weaving too, but hey  – I like it!  And there’s only one loom.  As a result, we’ve completed three joint projects over the past couple of months.  I forgot to take a picture of the first one (of course!) but here are the other two:

Number One:  Double Weave Lap Blanket

I have a table loom, which means that usually I can only weave fabrics that are up to about 20″ wide.  24″ if I really push it.  But there’s a totally magical technique that involves weaving two layers of fabric at once, doubling the width potential without spending a couple thousand dollars on  new loom.  Not to mention a new apartment that would fit a new loom.  Though we could probably squeeze in one of these. Anyways, to make a short story short, that’s how we made this blanket.

If you look really carefully you might be able to spot the slight line down the middle from where it was folded.  The weft is handspun Shetland, from a nearby flock.  I got it at a fibre festival in March.  The red bits are some madder-dyed Corriedale that I had lying arond.  The warp is from a cone that I got back in school when somebody destashed and brought a giant box to us and said “Here!”.  It’s a wool single (not plied).

In case anybody out there is thinking about using a single for their warp, I’ll tell you a secret:  Singles, as most spinners should realize, untwist when you suspend them with a weight on the bottom.  So if, for example, your warp is a single, and one or two threads break so you do the normal thing, reattaching it and hanging a weight off it to give it some tension, and then you can’t figure out why the broken threads just keep breaking, think about that first sentence again.  Yeah, it’s not breaking, it’s untwisting itself and drifting apart.  Dummy.

After washing it fluffed up quite beautifully.  It’s wonderfully soft now.

And number two:  a runner for my new Fibre Chest in the living room ($15 plus several hours of sanding and staining – much better than small table piled in stuff).

Cotton, mainly herringbone patterned, with some basketweave thrown in for contrast.  After the tying the ends of the first project and twisting the ends of the second project, it was time for DBF to learn hemstitching.  Here it is part-way done:

But wait!  What’s that giant black blob under the loom?

Oh.  Hi Sayiidi.  Comfy?

Apparently.  Fortunately the claw marks mostly came out.  Ta da!

Oh look, there’s cat hair on it.  Sigh.

And if you’re wondering why I seem to have way more pictures of Sayiidi than Nova, it’s not actually true.  I have lots of pictures of Nova.  They just all look like this: