Category: Fiber

Total 2021 Spinning Yardage

Uh oh.

You know how, in 2020, I spun 5,179 yards, equivalent to nearly 3 miles (or over 6 miles when you account for the plying)?

This year I spun 6,688 total yards, or 11,312 when plying is included. This equals 3.8 miles of yarn and 6.42 miles of actual spinning/plying. And I barely spun between August and December.

The picture contains:

Top row: Corriedale gradient and half the Romney fleece
Bottom left: Brown wool (experiment with spin direction) and a wool/seacell blend
Bottom right: “eco” blend, silk, wool/seacell blend
Far right: wool from spinning speed experiment
Not pictured: the Romney that was dyed with indigo, several skeins that were gifted, a red-gold blend that I immediately threw on a loom and wove trim out of, and a couple skeins that I’m re-setting the twist on.

Wool breeds include Corriedale, merino, and an entire Romney fleece (yes, THAT fleece!). I also dyed slightly more than half of the Romney yarn in indigo. Blends include wool/seacell and a man-made biodegradable “eco” fiber (which was a weird spin). I also spun some silk!

I’m not going to try and surpass this goal for 2022, but I would like to spin up at least two of the fleeces I have in storage, so… we’ll see.

 

 

Appliquéd Banner

In the middle of 2020, I began work on an appliquéd banner of my arms, using a large scrap of green wool (from Ysabeau’s cloak) and scraps of gold and white silk. I handsewed the tube to fit around a hanging rod, wove the strap for hanging out of silk, started embroidering the lozenges for my device, and then… let it languish for a year.

After regarding the banner for a long time, I realized I’d made the base too big for regular usage. Mostly, I was annoyed that I couldn’t hang it well on a door (way too big) and that, for most of the year, the pole was smashing into the doorjamb. I also had the opportunity to see several other people’s banners, which gave me a better sense of what worked (and that my original was incredibly large). I also used several people’s banners to decorate shared space, so I had a better sense for what strap configurations worked (or didn’t).

So, I cut the background down, fixed the tube, cut down the rod, and sanded small divots into the rod for the strap. While I previously had just tied on the strap, this time I sewed it down, with both a wide hanging loop and two smaller loops that could be attached to something else (versatility!). Then, I set down to complete the rest of the embroidery and applique. The lozenges were split-stitch embroidered with faux-silver thread in a knotwork pattern of my design. The horse’s design was adapted from a horse on the Sutton Hoo helmet, embroidered with a combination of satin and chain stitch. The horse and the lozenges were made of one layer of silk and one layer of linen for stability separate from the base, and then sewn on after.

The full banner
Detail of the horse’s head, with satin and chain stitch
Detail of the lozenge, with split-stitch knotwork
Detail of the inkle-woven silk strap, with small hanging loops

And, because I’m extra, I covered up the applique stitches with chain stitch embroidery on the reverse/wrong side.

Back of the banner with chain stitch

While the banner isn’t perfect (it definitely needs a lot of steaming and hanging to stretch out some of the wrinkles!), I’m glad that it’s done, and I’m looking forward to displaying it in 2022.

A Plaid

Singles with penny to show width
(Some of the) skeined yarns

In 2019, I decided I wanted to weave a plaid for the first time, using handspun. I had spun the yarn earlier that year, using some gifted roving in dark brown and cream as well as light brown and green that I purchased from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I spun it very finely and ended up with quite a large amount of yarn!

I decided to warp up a twill on my tapestry loom, using it like a two-beam loom.

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Tubular Inkle Weaving Tutorial & Demo

In October 2020, I taught myself how to weave a tubular cord on an inkle loom.

Same warp, with tubular weaving on the top and flat weaving on the bottom.

Since this was for a secret project, no-one saw the cord until January 2021, but when they did, several people asked me to teach a class on this.

However, the technique is very simple, so instead of a class, I designed to put together a demonstration video. Enjoy!

Spinning Speed Experiment

Recently, under a context that I don’t remember, I decided I wanted to time myself on my different spindles and wheel. Basically, I knew that I could get roughly the same yarn on all my spindles and wheel, thereby allowing myself to a cut a corner in experimental archaeology by using my wheel instead of a spindle. However, I didn’t have proof.

Here’s the proof.

Wool & Equipment

For this experiment, I used commercially prepared Corriedale top. I chose this so that my fiber’s preparation wouldn’t create an additional variable, as a hand-prepared fleece might. I decided to spin 1 ounce (~28 grams) of Corriedale on each piece of equipment.

The equipment I used was:

  • a top whorl spindle (a one-piece Picasso mini from Bosworth Spindles),
  • a bottom whorl spindle (a “Viking”-style spindle from Feed the Ravens with a separate whorl and shaft),
  • a Turkish spindle (mini from Subterranean Woodworks, no longer producing),
  • a single-drive foot-driven wheel (an Ashford Traditional).

The top and bottom whorl spindles are both the same weight, 24 grams. The Turkish spindle is 19 grams.

Top whorl (left), bottom whorl (middle), Turkish (top right), bobbin from wheel (bottom right)

Time Report

Total time to spin 1 oz. on each equipment was:

  • Top whorl spindle: 64.8 minutes (1 hour, 4.8 minutes)
  • Bottom whorl spindle: 108.67 minutes (1 hour, 48.67 minutes)
  • Turkish spindle: 135.82 minutes ( 2 hours, 15.82 minutes)
  • Wheel: 26.76 minutes

From this, we can see that the wheel is drastically faster than all spindles. At the slowest, the wheel is more than twice as fast as the top whorl spindle (140% faster). The wheel is 277% faster than the bottom whorl spindle, and a whopping 309% faster than the Turkish spindle! All in all, spinning with the wheel is a major time-saver for me, while still providing myself with handspun yarn.

One ounce of yarn on each equipment.

WPI and Yardage

For each test, I also recorded the yardage and wraps per inch (WPI) to determine yarn weight. While I tried to spin roughly the same yarn across the board, I allowed some variance in the yarn because I wanted to see what was different or difficult with each method. Therefore, my final yardage varied somewhat:

  • Top whorl spindle: 104 yards
  • Bottom whorl spindle: 111 yards
  • Turkish spindle: 128 yards
  • Wheel: 103 yards

This indicates that my yarn weight varied slightly on each equipment, with my top whorl- and wheel-spun yarns being approximately the same and my Turkish spindle-spun yarn being lightest.

To determine WPI, I measured at both ends of the yarn as well as a randomly selected part in the middle:

End 1 End 2 Middle Average
Top whorl spindle 32 23 24 26.3
Bottom whorl spindle 27 22 24 24.3
Turkish spindle 27 23 25 25
Wheel 18 20 22 20

One end of the top whorl spindle ended up vastly thinner than the other, but based on the yardage, I believe that this was only at the end, skewing the average WPI. While my WPI varied across each yarn, I was able to get 22-23 WPI at some point for each; therefore, I know that I can get the same yarn with each method, even if my WPI varied across the actual skeins.

Discussion

Overall, I would say that this experiment proved what I intended to demonstrate: that with some effort, I can spin the same yarn on my spindles as my wheel.

I had some additional takeaways:

  • The bottom whorl spindle required more flicking than the other spindles, which increased the overall spin time. With a bottom whorl spindle that spins faster/longer between flicks, I may be able to reduce this spin time.
  • The Turkish spindle took longer to wind on, which increased the spin time.
  • The Turkish spindle was harder to spin heavier on because it was a lighter weight (19 grams, compared to the other two spindles’ 24 grams), resulting in a lighter and longer yarn overall.
  • The wheel wanted to spin slightly heavier, and I neglected to adjust the equipment and my style for this. However, I know that I could achieve the WPI from the other yarns (32 through 24) if I made these adjustments, as I have done so in the past, and I still achieved 22/23 WPI on each yarn during this experiment.

 

2020 Secret Shiremate Gifts

In December 2020, Korrin Valravn arranged a “Secret Shiremate” exchange for our shire. I was excited to receive Ollam Ruaidhri an Cu, a lovely man, dear friend, and fellow bard, as my secret shiremate. We had four exchanges, and in no particular order, I wanted to share three of the things that I made (the fourth were cookies, and there is no evidence left of them).

Ollam Ruaidhri is a generous and crafty person, so I wove multiple yardages of inkle weaving, for him to use or gift (or both) as he saw fit.

The final bands are silk in shire colors (white and green), a semi-symmetrical narrrow weave in wool, a wide and long asymmetrical weave in wool, and a symmetrical weave in wool. I used some of the same wools in all three woolen weaves, which was a fun way to demonstrate the different effects you could create based on warping patterns.

In the survey we had to fill out, Ruaidhri also indicated that he did not have a shire token (!!) and that he liked practical items that fit in a pouch. Obviously, the answer was that he needed handkerchiefs with the shire populace badge.

The handkerchiefs are hand-hemmed linen embroidered with silk. I tried two different techniques for these to create both an outlined and a filled-in badge.

Finally, Ollam Ruaidhri has a wonderful dog named Zeus, so I had to do a small illumination of the lovely fellow. I adapted folio 19r from the Aberdeen Bestiary.

Here are some progress photos:

The Great 2020 Dyeing Project (Fade Test Part 2)

Introduction

December 31, 2020 marked one year since I began the Great 2020 Dyeing Project Fade Test (which also had a small sidequest of the Madder Adventure), which meant it was time to take down the final fade swatches and process them! For the dyegoods, dyestuffs, dyeing combinations, fiber preparation, and dyeing methods that were involved in preparing for this year-long fade test, please see Part 1.

The final dates for the fade tests shifted only slightly from my original plan:

  • One week: June 19 – June 26 (originally planned June 13 – June 20 or June 20 – June 27; I split the difference due to the weather around that time)
  • One month: June 1 –  June 30 (no shift)
  • Three months: April 26 – July 26 (shifted by two days)
  • Six months: March 16 – September 16 (shifted by one day)
  • One year:  January 1 – December 31 (no shift)

My test of the canary-stained wool (using yarn spun from the yellow tips versus yarn spun from the white roots) lasted three months. I also kept a control swatch of each color and material in a dark place. All the swatches were faded in a south-east facing window for their duration.

Contents

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Total 2020 Yardage = 5179

In 2020, I spun 5,179 yards.

This is almost, but not quite, everything

Yup. I spun nearly 3 miles of yarn. When accounting for the fact that half the skeins are two-ply, half are singles, and one skein was chain plied, I actually spun 10655 yards, or over six miles. This includes the merino that I spun and used for the madder adventure. Almost all of the yarn is pictured above, excepting a skein that I gifted, and it took up almost half of my bed (I had to stand on a footstool for the picture).

Wool breeds include merino, Dorset horn, Shropshire, Jacob, and some unidentified breeds. Blends included merino/silk and wool/bamboo/silk. A lot of the spinning was from roving, but the entire bottom row in the picture, the madder-dyed merino, and a handful of other skeins were hand-processed from fleece (about half also washed or re-washed by me).

Oh, and this isn’t actually all of 2020 — it’s just what I counted since March.

Honestly, I’m impressed with myself.

Hood and Sleeves from ~1400

Displaying the accessories: a fashionable hood and sleeves

On occasion, I like to play around with 1350s-1425 England and France, and for New Year, I decided I wanted to record a reading of Gawain and the Green Knight in Middle English… but I didn’t have winter-appropriate garb. However, I had a little more of a yard of navy blue linen, and I had some leftover madder-red wool from Ysabeau’s cloak, so it was time to make some accessories!

Ms. fr. 119, folio 354v
Buttons and buttonhole close-up

For the hood, I was inspired by a hood from a manuscript of the Prose Lancelot (Fonds Français 119, folio 354v). The woman wears a fashionable madder-red hood that projects forth from her face; I was a particular fan of the crazy-long liripipe. My pattern was modeled from a similar linen hood I made in a class several years ago, with adjustments based on advise from The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant  by Sarah Thursfield. All seams were hand-sewn with wool. Since the wool is tightly fulled, the edges are left raw, and I didn’t flatfell the seams. The liripipe was a particular challenge, as it was a tight pieced tube; instead of having a lumpy end, I simply cut the tip and left it raw.

Finished hood with crazy-long liripipe and a fashionable pewter badge

This was also my first time making  self-stuffed buttons, which with the thick wool was a challenge. I used silk thread to initially gather the buttons, as silk was stronger than my wool thread (which liked to break), but I finished each button and sewed it on with wool.

I discovered through the process that I quite enjoy making buttonholes! These were also a learning experience (I don’t remember the last time I handsewed one — if ever?), but each was a delight, and by the end they were getting pretty even.

Atlantian Spike and Roxbury Mill millcross

Other women in the same mansucript as my hood inspiration are wearing overdresses with short sleeves and long, knuckle-length undersleeves, which encouraged me to match the hood with some false sleeves. When I first bought this navy blue linen, I knew I wanted to make some Atlantian pride sleeves with spikes, so I also cut stamps for the first time! I used a Speedball lino cutting tool and carving block, which while not historically accurate are very user-friendly. I drew and cut an Atlantian Spike, and I also cut a millcross for my shire (for future usage); enjoying it way too much, I cut a second mirror-image Spike so I could print alternating Spikes.

Test prints on cardstock with acrylic paint

This was my first time printing fabric, and I have limited space, so there was some entertaining layouts on a bedroom floor with a yoga mat, towels, and way too many paper towels. I initially wanted to use silver paint, but the silver paint wasn’t pigmented enough to print clearly (and on a white linen test print ended up a dingy gray). After some trial and error, I landed on an undiluted white acrylic craft paint; I tried mixing the paint with a fabric medium, but it did not give a clear print. My printing wasn’t particularly consistent, but drastically improved in the process, and I’m looking forward to showing people where my printing experience began and ended while wearing these sleeves!

In making up the sleeves, I half-lined them just past the planned buttons so that I would have a contrast color when turning back the long cuffs. I cut them so that the cuffs just reach my knuckles, which is consistent with other sleeves I saw in the manuscript. The buttons are (appropriately) Spike buttons that were favors from previous A&S displays and competition, and I again enjoyed making buttonholes way too much. The linen was sewn and flatfelled with cotton, but the buttonholes were sewn with linen thread (the buttons were also sold on with linen). The final sleeves are skin-tight, and make me feel very fashionable!

Ugly Bands

In 2020, I started inkle weaving what I called “ugly bands.” This is a bit of a joke, as the work is actually quite attractive. However, I named them “ugly bands” because a significant amount of the warp is always yarn that was less-than-attractive in the skein form, whether it was a random color combination from a blending experiment, an uneven spin from a demo, or some chaotic combo of both. I combined these with a solid-colored narrower warp to unify the bands, and they all came out absolutely lovely. In the future, I hope to give these as gifts and largesse.