Archive for November, 2009

Peace at last!

November 24, 2009

Shawl, "blocking" after a little light fulling...

At long last I’ve caught up with myself a bit. After keeping my head down all week learning how to use my tri-loom (which I’m afraid I did buy new; I ran out of time to make one, even if  several 7′ lengths of seasoned oak had somehow materialised) I’ve finally completed a commission I was given back in the summer, for a shawl in rich browns, gold & oranges.  It’s been a learning process… I know now that the tri-loom produces a much more substantial & even weave than the scrap loom, but as the threads are under far more tension, haloed, “sticky” or underspun yarns are not the best materials to pick. So if they are what I happen to have to work with, back to the scrap loom, which is a much quicker technique too. But for top-quality stuff, the tri-loom it shall be.

In the meantime, my car has been filling up with goodies – there’s fabric, yarn, several nice handcranked sewing machines including a “Queen Alexandra” Jones FCS in fine shape, a sturdy 50s concertina sewing box and some very interesting books in there, as far as I remember! (Not to mention a bale of barley straw for the chickens & rabbits – it’s dry in there, and not in anyone’s way.)  But there they will probably have to stay until after the weekend, as we have guests and there’s enough “clutter” already inside.  I’ve also been busy networking on the Transition front; we’re planning a “Skills Taster” day early next year and I’m having quite a lot of fun going round to various groups & asking them to come & demonstrate.

I’ve also sold off my Louet S20 spinning wheel. I’m sad it had to go, but since my diagnosis I’ve realised why it had started to hurt to spin for any length of time on it; I needed a double-treadle or wide-treadle wheel. I chased a few on Ebay and won one, an EasySpin, which is absolutely beautiful & spins very nicely too, but is made of some kind of hardwood which is very brittle where it’s cut thin, such as the bobbin ends. So it’s not up to everyday life in a hectic household; I will try to hang onto it until I have my workshop as I do love it, but don’t want to risk damaging it. So what to use? As I already had quite a few Louet accessories & spares & their wheels seem to suit my style of spinning, as well as having a relatively small footprint, the answer was obvious. So I’ve dug into my rapidly-decreasing little savings pot & acquired a very lovely brand-new Louet S75, which I hope will be my “forever after” wheel. I haven’t had time to do much on her yet, but am working on two gorgeous Gotland fleeces, in very different colours but both beautifully soft, blended with a little angelina, and will post a pic when I’ve plied the first two bobbins-full together. The wheel is a dream to spin on; light & easy to treadle and very smooth, with the classic big Louet bobbins & good-size orifice. Lighter than the S20 to move, too, but with rubber feet so she doesn’t slip gently away from me as the S20 used to.

So now I have to behave myself for at least a year – NO more new equipment! I have enough supplies to keep me busy until next summer, by which time I should have acquired my bionic hip & be able to run my stall again, well stocked up!  Anything I really think I need will have to come to me secondhand or rescued, be made by me, or wait until my birthday and/or Christmas 2010. It shouldn’t be a hardship; I’m very lucky to have as much equipment as I do, and I really don’t have room for any more. So that’s my challenge to myself for the next year; to do what I need or want to do with what I already have, or can make for myself, am given or rescue.

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Another wombled goody…

November 4, 2009

I’ve had a busy few days, with no time to spare at all.  But today I simply had to take something to the Tip – a mattress pad which had spilt right open in the wash; even I couldn’t come up with another use for that, and it was damp & had started to become rather smelly – and I’m really pleased that I did. Lee called me over and showed me something that had come in shortly after my last visit, last week. “But it’s not complete,” he said sadly…

But what it is, is an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel, in pretty good nick. Not 100% useful without a flyer or bobbins, but the beauty of the Trads is that there are a variety of flyers & bobbins available to fit them, in either single or double drive. They’re still very much in production, so there will be no problem finding them, and as it happens I’m due to go down to Herrings in Dorchester tomorrow anyway, which is the nearest source. The treadle connector was broken, but that’s just a strip of tough leather & was easily replaced, as the drive band will be too. The wheel spins smoothly & looks to be running true, so all in all that’ll be another fine tool rescued from an early grave.

As is the little upright flax wheel that I found sitting in a dark corner of our local market. It’s a pretty little thing, but didn’t look to be in the best shape; the drive band was wrapped around the axle quite inextricably so the wheel couldn’t move smoothly, the treadle pedal was hanging off, and the arm that probably once held a distaff just had two snapped-off dowels poking up. Altogther it looked like adorning a weekender’s inglenook fireplace was the only thing it was fit for, but yet… the flyer is complete and sturdily made, there was an intact bobbin, the orifice looked clean & clear – worth a try, I thought. The price was towards the higher end of what’s acceptable for a non-working wheel, but bang on for a weekender’s ornament. So home it came with me. I had it up & running within an hour; the pedal re-attached perfectly easily and I was able to unscrew the pegs that hold the axle in to remove the mangled drive band. I had some suitable cord to make another, and once I’d reassembled the flyer the right way round and oiled it here & there, it was ready to spin, and very well it does it too! It’s fast & smooth, if a little noisy; well worth trying to find some more bobbins for. I’d spun a small skein within half an hour and took it to show the stallholder the next morning. So cross your fingers for me that Herrings have something in their odd bobbins box; if not I’ll get some made up but that will take some time & cost more.

So that’s what I’ve been up to…

flax wheel

Upright flax wheel by (or from) Leonard Williams of Whitchurch