Archive for the ‘Weaving’ Category

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.

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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:

Blogroll

January 28, 2010

I figured it was about time I started adding links to some of my favourite fibre blogs . . .  so now on the right you’ll notice a short list.  I’ll try to keep it up-to-date as I find more, and add some for suppliers of awesome stuff, too.

The End.

Ha, not quite.  Did I fool you?

Here’s a picture of the Romney I spun a while back, along with a bit of the original fibre.

Isn’t it gorgeous?  That’s a quarter for scale, by the way, I just realized I put it queen-side-up so it could be anything as far as you know.  I can’t wait to spin up the rest of this stuff, and try out the Lincoln too.  Maybe over the ridiculously long spring break we’re getting because of the Olympics.

In the meantime, this is what I’m spinning:

It’s alpaca, specially imported from the highlands of Ontario.  I’m going to try using it for my next backstrap project, once the llamas are finished.  So far I’m pretty impressed how strong even just the single is for such a fine thread, though I’ve snapped it a couple of times from overspinning (it needs to be spun much more tightly for weaving than knitting).

Okay, now it’s the end, I need to go to bed!

Weaving with Help

January 27, 2010

This here would be project #3 on the backstrap loom – project #1 was the tiny green strap I showed before, #2 was an actual backstrap (that’s kind of ugly, so I’m not showing it) and this is theoretically a bookmark.  Mostly just trying to remember double weave, and figuring out how it works on one of these.

You may also, should you choose to, admire the lovely shed stick/beater/sword that I made last week.

My other helper is being much less helpful.  He’s up top:

Here’s a detail shot of the weaving, but don’t look at the bottom llama’s back leg, it’s broken.  I didn’t take a picture of it, but on the back is the same image, in reversed colours.  That’s why double weave is nifty!

The pattern came from the backstrap weaving blog, like all the rest of my instructions.

And for any of you who think that you don’t have space in your house for a loom . . .

. . . this is what it packs up into.  That’s it, the whole thing.  Tied onto my couch/bed.  Cat not included.  Unroll and use, roll back up, tuck in the ends, and store.  Nomad tools are awesome for apartment dwellers!

Backstrap Weaving

January 7, 2010

I’ve been wanting to try backstrap weaving pretty much since I first heard about it.  And yesterday, inspired by this lovely lady’s blog and guided by her article on WeaveZine, I finally did it!

This is my uber-basic loom, made from three dowels, a pillow case, and a bunch of string.  Oh, and a little plastic ruler.  Total actual money output:  $10 for the dowels.  Could have been only $5, but I wanted them to be a bit longer than the 16″ I’d have gotten if I only bought one.

Though I guess that will change tomorrow when I go shopping for yarn to make my first real project – a proper back strap.

I had a bit of trouble controlling the tension at first, but I think I’ve got it mostly figured out now.

Not bad, eh?  It took about two hours, from warping to setting up the loom to weaving about a foot.  Then I realized it was past my bedtime, so I had to stop.

The other cool thing is it fits right in with my sculpture class this semester, which is on “re-skilling” and walking the line between art and craft (basically my life, art-wise), which means that I can get academic credit for something I’d be doing anyways!