I'm taking a break from work over Christmas. The past few weeks have been very busy, both woth work, and helping friends. It's been nice to catch up on all the things I've put to one side. The loom is warped again, I've carded some batts for me, a large scale knitting project has been cast on, and, gasp, shock, horror, the house has been cleaned.
I've also been rushing around less, looking more.
Found on a pile of logs at the side of a forest track.
A crystal clear pool of water.
Ice encrusted Curly Kale.
Penny has also been looking closely!
I have a few more days off planned, it's taken me nearly a week to properly wind down so I plan on making the most of it.
There have been doggy woof's in my ear... Gwen is most upset about her lack of presence on the blog reccently. Of course being Gwen the woof's were rather loud and enthusiastic and have left me a trifle deaf, but it's hard to resist her!
So here we go, yesterday was not raining, for December in Wales this is something of a victory. I've also been indulging in the Christmas spirit(s) of late so a little exercise was called for!
Gwen appears to have been inspired by Kate Davies' dog Bruce, I think she quite likes the look of him, of course she quite likes the look of any boy dog...
When we get out of the car we go up a very steep hill, the humans is so slow, and even worse they make us walk on leads so we don't chase in to the cottage nearby and say hello to their dogs. My silly daughter Meg pulls the humans up the hill, but I am not so stupid, I saunter along at my own pace, but before too long I get to go off the lead and explore sniffs.... lots of sniffs... so many good smells in the forest!
Even better in the forest I get to play with my pink squeaky bone, I love my pink squeaky bone, I also love my squeaky road kill, my squeaky pheasant, and squeaky ratty, but I'm not allowed to bring them with me. Apparently they would get soggy...
Pink squeaky bone is good fun in the water
The humans throw him, and I have to find him, I love the water, it cools me down after the steep hill.
Sometimes the humans try and make me play more than I want to though, a girl mustn't run around too much, she might run out of energy before the end of the walk.
So when that happens I pounce on Mr Bone and run off looking very pleased with myself becase I have fooled the stupid humans.
The loom has been busy over the past couple of weeks.
As many of you know I weave quite a bit, but I'd definitely not class myself as a weaver. I know just enough to realise how little I know! All my weaving is on rigid heddle looms. They're a fabulous piece of kit, they produce lovely fabric very quickly, and are capable of some quite complex weave patterns, as well as plain weave.
I started out on a 10 inch Schacht Cricket loom, then upgraded to a Krmoski Harp 24 inch which I hated (poor quality ratchets for tension, and it never felt sturdy enough). Last year at Wonderwool I treated myself to a Schacht Flip, again in 24 inch. It's wide enough to weave comfortably at, and produces fabric of a reasonable width to make clothing without too many seams.
This was the first thing off the loom. Every year our guild holds a Christmas challenge. We all get 100g of the same fibre, and sent away to make something from it. At our Christmas meeting we share the results.
This year we used some Alpaca Supreme from John Arbon. I dyed it, then spun it as singles, planning to use it for an attempt at Collapse Weave. I like to use the guild challenge as an opportunity to try out something new, and this is a technique I'd not done before. It's by no means perfect, but I know where I went wrong for my next attempt. Mostly that I need far more twist in my singles as the scarf hardly collapsed down at all. You're meant to get a fabric that is very pleated, mine just has a slightly rumpled look!
Straight off the loom it looked like this. So did collapse, but nowhere near as much as it should have done.
This project was done much more quickly, just 1 evening in fact.
It's something I've wanted to try for a while following on from a discussion on Ravelry, wondering what would happen if you wove with unspun silk hankies.
I don't actually like spinning with hankies that much as I find them tough on my hands, doing the pre-drafting is fine, but I then find it hard to draft any further for diameter control whilst spinning. As a result I've been after an alternative use of them for a while. I also dislike the stop start nature of having to pause to pull out more hankies, I tend to get in to a zone when spinning.
I was slightly concerned the fabric wouldn't be very hard wearing due to the lack of twist, but the long staple of the silk, and using a finely set warp seems to have prevented that from happening.
It's made a beautiful fabric.
The warp was some grey laceweight on a cone I bought cheaply a while ago, put on doubled in a 12dpi heddle. I then pulled off the hankies one by one, pulled them out in to strips just like I'd do if I was spinning them. The instructions here work well. After that I just wound the strip of hanky round my hand, and used my fingers to push the strip of fibre through the shed. Winding it on to a shuttle didn't really work because it's such a short strip of fibre. When I got to the end of the length, I pulled out another hanky, overlapped them slightly and carried on. I did full (felt) the fabric slightly once I cut it off the loom by using alternate dunks in hot and then cold water.
50g gave me enough fabric to make 2 large cushion fronts.