Sunday, September 13, 2015

Visit with Mom

My spinning wheel and I just spent a week visiting my mother, who makes beautiful beaded jewelry. Because of some mobility issues, she has her beading studio set up in the den. You could, as she says, open a bead shop from what's in her carpet. In spite of this, we made our way to the bead shop twice in two days, and discussed (but rejected) going a third time.

So she beaded and I spun yarn, and we chit-chatted and watched "Shark Tank." We also worked just a little bit on a children's cookbook that we've been planning for awhile. I brought along three scarves that need to have their fringes twisted, but I didn't have much of a chance to work on them, since I had to set my twisting station up at the dining room table, and I really wanted to spend the time with Mom in the "studio." I was productive, though, filling several bobbins with hand-dyed singles for weaving.

And now I'm back home and still don't have time to fringe. I was going to do it this afternoon, but after popping a chicken in the oven, there was a small grease fire. I doubt anyone would want to wear a scarf that smelled like smoking chicken fat.

Perhaps I'll fringe on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Air and Floats

We've had contractors trampling through the house for, it seems, an eternity, but I now have peace of mind knowing that the basement will stay dry when there is a hard rain. We also have a new front door, and the promise of a new heating and air-conditioning system to be installed soon. At the end of the ordeal, we will have a house that is more comfortable for spinning and weaving in all kinds of weather.

While this has been happening, I have been rehabilitating a new-to-me loom, an eight-shaft Baby Macomber that was downsized from Syracuse University. She has a bit of shiny new hardware, now, and has been sanded, toothbrushed and blasted clean. I was not prepared for the amount of elbow grease that would be needed to get Baby up to snuff, but how good it feels to know that it was possible. Everyone keeps asking where the new loom will go, since the big loom is in the living room. Right now, Baby Mac is in the master bedroom, by a sunny window, but this is probably not a permanent location.

What's on the big loom? Since you asked so nicely, it is yet another permutation of my fixation with hand-spun M's and O's. A friend recently called me out for spinning my merino/silk blend fiber too tightly, but here's why I do it: If the twist is hard, I can make the singles do this on the loom:

Once the piece is off the loom and washed, the singles will relax and fluff up, and I will get something soft and buttery--more like this:

To me, the lesson seems to be that one cannot judge another person's spinning unless one considers the entire process and end use. For weaving, I don't want a lot of air in my yarn. For knitting, bring on the air!

While we're at it, let's talk about floats. Traditionally, maximum float length is thought to be three or four ends wide. Any wider, and the floats would be in danger of catching on random objects and breaking. 

Can the rule be bent? Again, I think about the end usage. If I were weaving yardage for, say, a pair of pants, I wouldn't want those floats to be stressed to the point of breaking every time I were to sit down. 

For a scarf or shawl, however, there is some leeway. There may be ever-so-slight danger of the cloth catching on long earrings or zippers--made less likely by the fact that the floats have been mildly fulled until they cling to the cloth underneath--but these scarves (and the attendant earlobes) will be safe as long as the wearer is as careful as one should be when wearing a hand-crafted, non-reproducible accessory. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Off-Balance and So, So Lazy

So, I'm rolling along, spinning the most lovely 2-ply yarn, and this happens.

If I were less lazy, I would go straight to Option A: Change the plying head and drive band back to the normal ones, spin approximately half the remaining singles onto another bobbin, then going back to the plying head and drive band and spin more 2-ply yarn. 

But I am so, so lazy. 

Option B, for the truly lazy, is to use the remaining singles as weft yarn. I actually have a warp on the loom right now that would work with this yarn. Option C, for those who enjoy creating small Granny balls of yarn for display, is to chain-ply the remaining singles and finish with roughly enough 3-ply yarn to make a little hat.

What would you do? 

Practical Margy is leaning toward Option A, just because it would be so nice to have enough two-ply to knit a lacy shawl. But Lazy Margy has been trying to be more authentic, lately, so I'm veering toward a nice ball of 3-ply. (Could I really be more lazy? Probably.)

Meanwhile, for your consideration, about 400 yards of 2-ply BFL/silk.