Monday, July 16, 2012

Tour de Fleece, days 10-16... plus weaving...

Oh dear! These past few days have been a challenge and there is less to show than what I might have planned. To be honest, my planning is only half such so I'm not terribly disappointed with my output. I did expect to get along with the Merino-silk blend, but alas the notion of spinning it woolen has fizzled. I will go ahead and spin a worsted yarn with it after all.

My idea for the Merino-silk was to spin long-draw (which I've barely done at all) using fauxlags, which if you recall, I discovered during last year's race. (That video is so beautiful it's worth watching again.) I think the problem is that the dowel I'm using is too thin for the staple length of this fiber and one staple rolls around the dowel more than once. It's not drafting well at all. On the other hand I can't discount my inexperience with long draw. One thing's for sure, watching that video again makes me want to give it one more try! Maybe if I get a larger diameter dowel. This is the results of my first attempt:

Also on the not very successful roster is my attempt to spin Yak on a drop spindle. I think I've gone as far as I can with this. The fiber is just so short and slippery I think I will need to try a supported spindle. But it is soooo soft, what a delight to handle:

Since progress was otherwise hampered I went ahead and spun another skein of Wellington Fibres. This one is from the lighter of the 2 colors I have. This skein comes to 134 yds. of 2-ply yarn which I intend to use on the loom. (U.S. nickel shown for scale.) Today I spun up another bobbin of the dark colored fiber and it awaits plying. That one uses up the last of the dark. I love this fiber and yarn so much I'm going to visit their site directly after this entry and order some more!
Not a very good picture of the dark I spun today, but you get the idea I hope:

Warping of the loom was concluded today and I continue to learn and learn about the process of putting yarns on the loom. Not having a teacher I'm learning by experience. For now. Experience can be a tough, but good and thorough teacher. The warping board, as I've already written, went well. I did not use lease sticks though, and now I know the problems they solve and why I would want to use them. Next time.

Lesson: It's probably best not to thread heddles late at night when I'm tired. I found 4 crossed threads after the loom was dressed. Discovering them ilicits an acute panic that quickly subsides when the solution dawns. They look worse than they are to fix. It simply means untying the group they belong to from the cloth beam rod, pulling the errant thread back, out of the reed and heddles and then re-threading it properly.

Lesson: It's best not to thread a heddle from back to front through the eye and then back around to the back. It will--and sure enough did--break, cut by the wire thin heddle. So that left me with a broken warp thread. Darn. The solution was to put a replacement thread in it's place, but since the warp was already wound onto the warp beam, I wound the extra yarn onto a spool, the weight of which creates a tension which closely matches the other warp threads. This is the make-do for this thread:

I did finally get to sit down and start weaving, the brunt of the trials are fading away leaving me wiser (I hope), and it's now bliss. There are 3 "fat" rows at the beginning (to even out the threads), followed by 6 shots of thicker yarn as a header to get the warp all nice and even before the twill starts. I will pull out the thick yarns and header when it's done:

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