Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sleying the big one

I had been looking for hooks for threading finer reeds and heddles.  I was not happy with the tools in the shops, and did not seen anything that seemed suitable. But, I am an old one, and thus I have old files, with old hanging file folders that are falling apart.  It turns out the steel hangers in the file folders are thinner than the brass sleying hooks, soft enough to work easily with a bench grinder and file, but hard enough to make good tools. And they are cheap; and well it is a virtue to reuse and recycle.

Yes, I have a sleyer, but it does not work for finer reeds.

I also find the hooks make tieing weaver's knots on fine threads easier.  Make a loop around the tool, use the hook to pull a bight of  the standing end through the loop.  Now you have a loose slipknot around the tool. Use the hook of the tool to pull the other thread into the loop of the slipknot, and sliding your fingers over the loose slipknot, tighten it.  The loose knot will easily convert from a loose slipknot around a thread into a weaver's knot.  It is good for lace weight and finer, and I can easily tie a sheet bend on anything thicker without a tool.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I spun a few thousand yards of lace weight warp, some worsted, and more woolen. Every blinking bobbin that will fit on my bobbin rack is full. Thus, there is a bin of  4" bobbins in process by the lathe.

Why would I turn bobbins, when I can buy them for cheap? Because wood turning is like spinning, one must routinely practice, to stay proficient. My turning bobbins is like a musician doing their scales.

And yes, about a third of the bobbins in process are of green olive wood.  Why not? Of the 60 or so that I turned from green olive wood, very few have cracked or warped.

PVOH sizing

(More likely to be needed with
modern mill spun, than with
well spun, hand spun.)

I did loom trials with mill spun - and that convinced me to investigate sizing.  All of this put me in a dither for a long time.  For various reasons, I do not think the Greeks and Romans used sizing.  My warp singles are stronger and more durable than any of the mill spun 5,600 ypp, 2-ply wool warp that I bought for loom trials. I should have just done the loom trials with hand spun.  If you are a mill, less twist and sizing is cheaper.  For a hand spinner, a little more twist is less bother.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Some are a little deaf in their greek ears.

Hear is a an aid to Translating the greek;

Google  "classic greek sculpture discovery", select images, and study them until you can recognize the drape of  clothing in each period.

Then, take your linen tester to the mall (with branch of Needless Markup Department Stores) and do thread counts on wool and linen fabrics that have drape similar to that seen in the fabrics of various periods of Greek Sculpture.

Now, hand spin/hand weave fabrics with that thread count and which have the drape of the fabrics produced in the various periods.   (It is hard to find such nuanced yarns on the commercial market, and ordering spun yarns from a spinner gets expensive.)  However, now you know how fine those hand spun/hand woven Classic Greek fabrics were.  And by now, you will have moved from your single beam warp weighted loom to a double beam loom with (linen) heddles.

With the appropriate use of warp extensions, aprons, lease sticks w/ crosses substituting for warp sticks, and DRS spinning technology,  a fabric sample large to see its drape can be spun, warped, and woven in a few hours.

Now that you know the specifications of Classic Greek Weaving, I expect to shortly see pix of the fine wool Greek and Roman togas that you have hand/ spun and  hand/ woven.

What comes after bragging rights:

The toga originated from an Etruscan garment called the “tebenna.” The word toga comes from Latin “tegere,” which means “to cover.”
This means that the  Etruscan civilization also had fine weaving, not likely produced on single beam/ warp weighted looms.

Then, there was the Old Kingdom Egyptians weaving their very fine linen on what kind of a loom?For that we look to Roth, noting Figure 37.  It is a 2-beam horizontal loom that uses warp weights. And we note the caption of Figure 9.  We also consider that we do not know the fineness of the fabric produced on the loom illustrated in Figure 36.  Moreover, since Roth had to bring in a textile professional to produce the fabric, we know that Roth does not have a high competence on textile production.

For context on the age of old looms see:

 And look to: The Book of Looms: A History of the Handloom from Ancient Times to the Present by Broudy pg 13 for discussion of  weaving wool at 30 by 38 threads per inch, circa 6,000 years ago.   On page 26, he touches on the Greek loom, and on pg 38, he gets to the horizontal loom.

7,000 year old loom  in Bulgaria;

see also ; 
Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze ...
By E. J. W. Barber pg 271

Do you really think that as metallurgy improved, people did weaving the same way for 3,000 years?


Good Old S. McGee-Russel would have accepted my deductions from the drape of fabric on Greek sculpture to be adequate to demonstrate my point Classic Greek weaving technologies.  He expected his "critters" to go out, and measure stuff, and make deductions that could not be taken from direct observations.  He expected us to know our physics, and chemistry, and calculus.  He expected us to know the world.  He expected us to take risks, and sometimes make mistakes and errors.  If we were not taking the  risks necessary to move the science, we  could not be promoted from "bugs" to "critters".

If you expect to prove everything from step to step without leaps of insight, then you will never move your science or technology forward.  Tomorrow, I intend to make better textiles. I will hand spin Better, Faster, Cheaper.  I will hand weave Better, Faster, Cheaper.  I am not content to stagnate.  I will take risks. I will seek to leap forward. I will advance more than I fall back.

Thursday, October 06, 2016



Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Fiber from the mill

Some experimentation tells me that much of my objections to fiber prepared in commercial mills is substantially caused by the use tension with steam to straighten the fibers for commercial spinning frames

For warp singles that must be very strong, I relax mill-prepped fiber with a gentle breath of steam. I lay the commercial top or roving on a wire rack and use a garment steamer to gently steam top and bottom. Then, I spin my threads, and block the threads with steam.  The steam blocking of threads  is easy - I wind off onto a reel, steam with my garment steamer, then wind the thread onto bobbins that fit onto my bobbin rack. I find the double steaming to be faster and easier than sizing or massively increasing inserted twist.    Thus, my final threads only have a firm twist factor.

Looking again at AA, BBB, pg 240, we see that he talks about spinning 5,400 ypp at between 12 and 16 tpi on a great wheel.  Since the great wheels with the spinning technique AA discusses for GW's use, produce woolen yarn, and  12 to 16 tpi is way more twist than is needed for knitting yarns; we have to assume this is for weaving.  And in fact, woolen yarn spun at 5,400 ypp and 15 tpi, then steam blocked works very well for warp.  It is very possible to produce "woolen" cloth using woolen singles for both warp and weft.  The woolen singles "bed" to form a unique fabric. Then, when when the cloth is milled or waulked (see for example one has a very warm, durable fabric.

Some may assert that the commercial top, straight from the "bump", produces a more perfect worsted thread.  I am not ready to argue this.  However, folks were spinning true worsted threads of very high quality, long before mills were straightening fiber with steam. Then, those handspun threads were hand woven in to fine cloth.  I think commercial top relaxed with a breath of steam  is more like the traditional  fiber prep, and for hand spinning, the relaxed (crimpy) fiber produces a stronger, more elastic thread.  That is my story until someone shows me different (or, buys me another beer.)

AA suggests on pg 241, that a traditional great wheel (without an accelerator can produce 255 yards of 5.3 tpi woolen thread per hour.   On the other hand, the AA flier/ with DRS and an accelerator will easily produce 600 yards per hour at 9 tpi of either worsted or woolen singles.  In fact, one can easily spin 600 yards per hour of good 5,200 ypp woolen singles with a single drive bobbin lead  flyer/bobbin assembly (German Tension/ Irish Tension).  If you want to weave without the hassle of  spinning a worsted warp, weave woolen cloth.  If you want to spin a fine worsted warp at a reasonable pace, use differential rotation speed (DRS).

It is Spinzilla!  Spin at "warp" speed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


The Victorians depreciated the technical knowledge of earlier cultures, and this prejudice continues.
See for example the tone of :

When University of Cincinnati researchers uncovered the tomb of a Bronze Age warrior—left untouched for more than 3,500 years and packed with a spectacular array of precious jewelry, weapons and riches—the discovery was hailed by experts as "the find of a lifetime."

Read more at:

The find tells us that Bronze Age craftsmen producing luxury goods had access to excellent tools, and had deep skills.  We can expect  their craftsmen producing textiles to have similar access to excellent tools and skills.

Nobody wears fine jewelry with a gunny sack.  A culture that produces fine personal adornment does not neglect textiles.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Phase 3

Phase 1 was spinning for knitting.  Phase 2 was learning to spin fast and fine. Phase 3 is spinning for weaving.

The new guild season has started, and last night I had a heart to heart talk with the best weaver around, and we decided that the real problem with my weaving is that I need more twist in the warp thread.  This morning I am back to one of the old bobbins that I made for spinning very fine, along with a more precise flier whorl, all in all, resulting in easier spinning of 5,600 ypp singles at 13 or 14 tpi compared to the mere 9 tpi that I have been spinning knitting singles.  

I think the truth of the matter is that the tighter spun singles will ply up into better knitting yarns- e.g., stronger, more durable, and yes, warmer.

More work, but that is in the nature of textiles.  Sometimes better is more work.

I still have not worked out the best logistics for warping the loom at 68 epi with 2" wide sections on the warping beam ( e.g., 136 ends per section).  And, the tension box only holds 100 ends.  And, the bobbin rack only holds 72 bobbins. Still I am getting to the point where I can reasonably start thinking about these issues.

Monday, September 26, 2016


I get teased and chided on for using the traditional spinner's measures.  In  particular, measuring grist by stating the number of "hanks" of 560 yards that can be spun from a pound of yarn.

My ordinary grist is "10s". That is 5,600 ypp yarn spun worsted. Thus, I know how many pounds of wool I have, I know how much yarn I can spin. Easy.  And, when wrapped to refusal, 10s measure ~75 wpi.  A 75 wpi single can be sleyed to produce plain weave at 68 epi/68ppi, which weighs about 1 pound/ square yard.  Likewise, 20 hanks per pound produce 2 yards of cloth per pound of wool.

Thus, using hanks, I can easily calculate how much yarn I can spin from a given batch of wool, and how much cloth I can weave from that wool.  The more weaving I do, the more useful the old English system of yarn measure is.

This also tells us that the stories we were told in grade school were just that -- stories.  The yard and the inch may have been related to some king's reach and size of hand/toe/foot, but he would have lived before the very fine weavers of Classic Greece.  They had wool, yarn, and cloth trading, so they had measures that extended from Greece to what is now Turkey and Egypt, to say nothing of the silk road with textiles moving east.

Sorry, Love; but the fine fabrics of Classical Greece were not woven on single beam, warp weighted looms.  Oh, I am sure they had such looms, but I doubt if that is what they used to weave 12 meter lengths of 68 epi (and finer) wool fabrics.  No, by Classical Greek times, it was an industry, and they were using  rather sophisticated horizontal double beam looms.  And there was trade.  With trade, there were terms to define the various aspects of textiles.  You may not name your yarns, but merchants do; now and in the past. They give them names like  "45 grams / meter, white worsted single" or white "40s".

I expect that the definitions of (or other words that indicate the same quantity): hank, yard, inch, pound, wool fineness in hanks per pound, ends per inch, pricks per inch, woolen, and worsted, were all set, and known among textile traders by the end of the Greek Classical era.   In particular, the elegance of the hanks of yarn at 560 yards tied to fineness wool and the math of  wraps per inch suggests the mathamatical acumen of Syracuse in classic times.

The fact that we have variations such as the el as a measure of length, suggests that textile measures have been around long enough for dialects to develop.  For the larger, and well nourished Greeks, 36 inches was a reasonable width for a warp. During some periods in the textile centers of  Europe, there was famine, and people were smaller, so a narrower warp allowed much easier weaving.  Thus, during periods of famine, Europeans needed a name for narrower cloth, e.g., the el.

Yards, inches, pounds, and hanks were not isolated measures, but part of an intricate system of measure, essential to a large, profitable, international industry and  systems  of trade.  In systems that goes all the way from from wool fiber to yarn to finished cloth, the old English system with grist and wool fineness in hanks per pound  is the easy way to do the math  and make sure you get correctly paid.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Wool Warp that works.

Easy! More twist!  With enough twist, you are less likely to need sizing.

So, I spin worsted 10s, @ 9 tpi, and it gets plied up into various knitting yarns, and that works very well.

However, that yarn tends to be a bit fragile to use as warp without sizing.  (Perhaps someday, I will be a good enough weaver to adjust my loom so that I can weave with such a soft warp yarn, but not today.)

What works is worsted spun 10s (5,600 ypp) spun "hard" at ~ 14 tpi. Shit!! I was only putting 17 tpi into 40s (22,000 ypp) and calling them "hoisery singles".   The hard 10s come off the spinning bobbin like barbed wire, and must be promptly steam blocked.  Then, when plied as knitting yarns they are more tractable, but you may want to consider blocking them again before knitting.  As warp, they are  stronger, are stiffer, and easier to sley.

This is another case where the ANSWER was in The Big Blue Book (pg 383), but between the lines.  I swear the really good stuff in AA is between the lines.  He was a little like Dumbledore - he points one in the correct direction, and lets one discover the details on their own.

With my twist requirements going up about 50%, I need all the flyer/bobbin speed that I can get.  Thus, I am back on the  Alden Amos #0 competition flyer running at about 4,000 rpm, and am still producing less than 400 yards per hour. It seems a little mean to stuff 45 grams onto it, but with a 3-gang flyer-whorl, it  works. On the other hand, the drafting seems relaxed compared to the hustle of  the 600 yards per hour of the 9 tpt medium 10s that I have been spinning for years.

Look, and read on

Costco also sold The New Ivy Brand Vintage Classics with packaging stating that it was hand spun, hand woven.

Later, Costco  also did sell "Original, Weatherproof  Vintage" brand (made in Vietnam, not China!!)

I own some of both, and did not keep the packaging, from either.

Go to India, and look at their hand spinning frames.  You will need it for the next post!!

Friday, September 23, 2016

More spinning bobbins

Alden really did tell me very emphaticly, several times that whorls, flyer and bobbin should be have  "board cut grain".  That did not stop him from making spindle turned bobbins as in

where he supplied me with bobbins with board cut grain and that were spindle turned. 

  Thus, since then, I ( mostly) made my spinning bobbins form glued up blanks so that the ends of the bobbins (the whorls)  had board cut end grain.

This summer, I did some spinning on the patio, and noticed that over a period of weeks, the spinning bobbin which had been turned from old red oak salvaged from a kitchen remodel, had warped! I never had any problems with Alden's, or Ashford's board cut grain bobbin whorl's warping when I used them for spinning on the patio.  I expect that I could have prevented the problem with a different finish. (The red oak had a Danish Oil finish.)  (Also thicker whorls tend warp less.)  (Also, black walnut tends to be more dimensionally stable than the red oak. )

This was not the first time that whorls had warped on me, but this time, I took action. 

The new spinning bobbin for the AA#1 flier was spindle turned from a solid block of olive wood.

The bobbin above the flier is the oak bobbin that warped, The bobbin in the flyer is one turned in a few minutes.  No making the parts, and gluing up a blank. Certainly it is too wasteful of wood for a commercial operation, but it can be done quickly, without planning.  It good for repairs where a fast fix is needed.  It is just a matter of having a big (2.5" x 2.5"x 4.2"), dry,  block of wood around.

In the sun for a while, the diameter of the spindle turned whorls will change.  For single drive, or DD with slippage that does not matter.  For DRS, inserted twist can be adjusted by changing the flyer whorl. I have a graduated set of flyer whorls, so likewise change in bobbin whorl diameter is not a big problem.  Nevertheless, the groove in this whorl is a little different than that of the old red oak whorl, and it took about 3 hours to get the new olive bobbin spinning 63 m/gram from fine long wool at about 200 m/hr (3+ gr/hr).

It works well, but it sure sounds like an old industrial sewing machine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Space Cloth

Just when you think you have seen everything!

'Space cloth' to revolutionise textiles industry

A designer and researcher has pioneered a new form of fabric which promises to revolutionise the textiles industry.Sonia Reynolds invented 'space cloth' – the first non-woven material made from yarn. It has a strong potential for use as a smart textile due to its unique structure with space to encase copper wiring, light emitting diodes (LEDs) and more.
Ms Reynolds brought the idea to Nottingham Trent University's Advanced Textile Research Group and is now undertaking a PhD in the subject to further develop the fabric's novel manufacturing process under the direction of Professor Tilak Dias and Dr Amanda Briggs-Goode, of the School of Art and Design.
Scientifically named Zephlinear, unlike traditional woven or knitted materials which are made by the interloping or interlacing of yarns, it is made by a newly established technique known as yarn surface entanglement.
Research shows that it is strongest and most efficient when created from natural yarns such as one hundred per cent wool, hair and wool/silk mixtures, though it can also be made from synthetic yarns.

Read more at:

Um; you know this stuff!  You have likely made this stuff - it is felting with yarn --it happens by accident in sloppy skeins, and on purpose in felting projects. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Old cotton cloth

Oldest textile dyed indigo blue found

A George Washington University researcher has identified a 6,200-year-old indigo-blue fabric from Huaca, Peru, making it one of the oldest-known cotton textiles in the world and the oldest known textile decorated with indigo blue.

Read more at:

Indigo dye requires chemistry!

In context:    
Earth Temperature Timeline

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Costco had several styles of men's shirts made by The New Ivy Brand:
All had prominent packaging stating they were hand spun and hand woven.

I trust Costco to require accurate labeling.  Unless you want to accuse Costco as an accessory to fraud,  accept the above, as labeled.

I would not have accepted the material as hand spun without having tried to buy such a spinning "frame", and run into the export tariff.  And, remember that Shetland Harris Tweed is also hand woven.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Jerseys and Guernseys

See Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans by Gladys Thompson, Page 5, line 12.

See L'Ouvre by E. Zola.  It seems that "Ouvre", as a name for "Jersey" dates only to Victorian Times.

And, yes, ouvre at that time could only be knit with techniques that could not be mentioned in polite society.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

T. E. Lawrence

Handspun and hand woven cotton!
Why is handspun and hand-woven wool so much harder?

Why do people who seem not to be moving their craft forward, complain about the speed that I move my craft forward?  Why do they complain about my progress without seeing what I have actually done recently?   I solve many of my craft problems, without posting them.  While, I do not see them posting any textile craft solutions at all.

Making sweaters is doing the same thing over and over.   Unless the successive sweaters are better, faster, or cheaper, they are repeats of previous experience, that do not add significant additional expertise.  If you want to claim years of experience, then you should be show a consistent progression toward  better, faster, or cheaper.  If you progress by taking classes, then you are gaining expertise, but you are not advancing the craft.  To advance the craft, we must dream by day.

Where are the other "dreamers of the day"?  We should track "dreamers of the day", for they are dangerous.  (Actually, I think they are rather a fun lot, full of ideas, and always seeking a better, faster, cheaper path to "Better, Faster, Cheaper".)  We dreamers of the day take Blaize to be our hero.  Then, we ask, what is the Noble thing?

Do we consider the "Yarn Harlot" to be a "Dangerous Dreamer of the Day"? No, she follows and reports recent trends and fads, with pleasant humor. She tells us that what modern knitters are doing is good.  She does not incite revolution, she calms.

The cotton above is a commercial product from India. During the Old Kingdom period, when Egyptians were making exceptionally fine linen, they were also importing cotton cloth of similar fineness from India. Thus, I do not feel bad about using fine cotton cloth from India.

Saturday, September 03, 2016


A while back, the Captain of the tall ship Alma, kept a place at Lake Berryessa, and he was a generous host.  However, over the door was a sign, "No Sponges!"

The purpose of the  Lake Berryessa place was the weekly party, and everyone was expected to contribute to the party.   Captain would buy truckloads of booze, and everyone was welcome to drink as much beer and rum as they wanted - but they had to contribute to the party. The Captain had toys, but all the boys had to make sure all the toys were all in perfect working working order and gleaming with fresh wax jobs when the girls arrived on Friday evening.

Here, I have tolerated Sponges!  Sponges carp and criticise about the pace of my research as to how to weave hand spun without contributing to the research.  If they want to complain about how slowly the research proceeds, then they can either tell me the solution to the problems; or, send me a stream of checks to allow me to spend more time on weaving.  If they criticise without  helping the project, they are just Sponges.

Oh yes, and by the way there is a very interesting CPW in the Florence Pioneer Museum.  Note the wheel /bobbin ratios.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Seduced by the Dark Side, I was!

Many times, I have stated that combed top and (pin drafted) roving from mills is more difficult to spin and I have noted that yarn, handspun from mill processed fiber is not as strong or durable as yarn handspun from traditionally processed yarn. Still, I acquired a pile of mill processed fiber and spun a lot of 5,600 ypp worsted singles.  I had a big bin of these singles and they got used for everything.  Along the way, I checked to see that the resulting yarns were stronger than mill spun yarns.  That was the wrong approach. I should have made sure that the singles/yarns spun from mill processed fibers were as strong as singles/yarns spun from fiber that i scour and comb.

Yes, mill processed fiber is fast, easy, and may actually be less expensive than raw fleece.

The dark side is that yarn from mill processed fiber is not as strong and durable.  The Darkside is that unless you are going to dip your handspun warp in steam heated sizing solution prior to warping the loom,  then you are likely going to have to skip mill processed fiber for your warp.

I knew hand scoured fiber  (including processing by folks like Morro Bay) resulted  in stronger singles.  I knew that hand carded and hand combed fiber produced better singles.

Nevertheless, I thought that mill processed fiber would be "good enough". I let the Darkside seduce me.  This is something I need to unlearn.

Today, I think one reason why we do not see hand spun, hand woven cloth is that people try to hand spin mill processed fiber into warp, and it does not work.  This was a useful thing to learn.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sonia Rykiel


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Good stuff

 Hand spun, worsted 10-ply Aran

The yarn is not designed to be easy to knit.  The yarn is designed to have very high fill, so as to produce a fabric that is exceptionally warm,  durable, and very comfortable to wear.  Knitting this yarn into the desired fabric is a ferocious effort!  On the other hand, the yarns that are easier to knit do not produce the same fabric!  Do I want "easy to knit" or "warm,  durable, and very comfortable"?

What do you want?

I had to spend days reworking the needle tips to find a shape that allowed knitting this fabric at a good pace.  I had to modify my knitting technique. I had to put padding on the knitting sheaths.  The fabric is worth all these efforts.

The shape of needle points is important, and different yarns require differently shaped needle points.  And some projects are much better knit with blunt, curved needles, that are rotated into the fabric.
"Bombproof" fisherman's socks being  swaved from
 worsted 5-ply, sport-weight, high-ply twist (non-splitty)  handspun from Romney fleece.
Such needles (pricks) require a knitting sheath optimized for this technique.

Good products may take more effort!  I would rather put in more effort and get a better product than just do it the easy way for a lesser product.  How about you: Do you want easy?; Or, better?

I have been spinning, and knitting 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 14 ply yarns for some years now; and, knitting swatches (socks, etc,) to figure out how the various yarns behave.  I have plied yarns firmly and softly, and cabled them as 2x2, 2x3, 3x3, 3x2, 4x2, 5x2, and etc to see how each of these yarns behave as fabrics.  I have compared my-spun with mill spun.  I know how to spin/ply yarns that are not splitty; and, I know how to produce yarns that are easy to knit.  Been there. Done that!

Mills need to sell "easy to knit yarns" because not all of their customers are superior knitters. Consider for example how many modern knitters are so dedicated to their craft, that they make their own needles.    Likewise, not all hand spinners, are superior hand knitters. And, being more members of a social club, than craftsmen seeking mastery, they are not willing to make the effort to spend  YEARS of working out how to spin and knit a particular, exceptional fabric.  They do not follow paths to fabrics that require special tools and special skills to produce. Special fabrics also require the insight to predict even the existence of the fabric. 

One gets to special fabrics by beginning with the end in mind.  One does not just stumble onto special fabrics,  rather, one must visualize the tools and skills that will be required for the fabric, before the combination of  tools and skills required for a particular fabric can be developed.  If you are buying your tools, materials, and skills at "Stitches", then you are not going to get to "exceptional fabrics".

Most modern spinners use commercially available spindles and spinning wheels, so they are not going to spin yarns that are difficult to spin on modern commercial spinning wheels (e.g., worsted spun, 5,600 ypp singles).   Most modern knitters use commercial needles, so they are not going to knit fabrics that are difficult to knit on such commercial needles. In contrast, I spend years making the spinning tools that I need to spin exceptional yarns that are difficult to spin on modern commercial wheels. AND,  I spend years making the knitting tools that I need to knit fabrics that are difficult to knit with commercially available knitting needles.

Exceptional yarns and fabrics are outside of the social boundaries of modern spinning groups (e.g local guilds and Ravelry).  Mostly, modern spinning and knitting is about being a member of the social group, rather than of producing exceptional textiles.

Those that cannot do, criticise.

How many of  you have actually worn objects of hand spun worsted 10-ply Aran yarn so that you have a basis of comparison?  How many of you have seen cakes of handspun worsted 10-ply Aran yarn so that you have a basis of comparison?  How many of you have made objects of 10-ply Aran yarn, (and worn them in a good, long, hard, cold rain?)  The truth about seaman's sweaters is only found in  a good, long, hard, cold rain!   If I was knitting objects for Siberia, then in 5 of the plies, I would have used a finer wool, spun woolen.  That fabric is not as durable, but it is softer, and warmer for the weight.  It is also harder to knit, and more likely to felt/shrink when abused.

Going to all woolen, produces a yarn that is much easier to knit, but not nearly as durable and  the high country (and Siberia) have long winters.

I had to sit in the snow, and watch the whole parade.
(long lens on tripod, easy peasy photography in the dawn's early light)

It is a wild mountain goat, near the top of  a wild mountain, in wild Montana. 
I took this with a handheld Nikon F4 with a 50 mm lens.  
There was some sitting in the snow, waiting.
All things considered, this ledge is about as warm as
the Northern Tree Line in Siberia.

Let us know when you have spent enough time sitting in the snow
to get such pix.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Spinner Creed, cont.

A spinner gets stuff spun.

Yarn for another 10-ply "Aran" Sweater:

If stuff is good, you will need more than one.

Those 10 cakes have about 20,000 yards of singles in them.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The spinner's creed

What does a good spinner need to know?

aspirational - be able to name and replicate any natural fiber yarn or thread, including those in suiting, shirting, coating, undergarments, and other fabrics, both archaic and recent.

The core of a spinner's craft is being able to make the particular, and named yarn, that is desired.

A spinner should be able to estimate/ budget materials required to make a particular batch of yarn, the tools required, other resources required, and the total spinning labor.

Things a spinner stands ready to do, include:

  • grade wool as to spin count with a twisty stick / modern tools
  • sort and scour a fleece  (
  • comb wool
  • card wool
  •  name yarns,  particularly including grist  (, etc )
  • spin wool at its spin count 
  •  ply and cable yarns
  • care, maintenance, and setup of single lead, and double drive spinning wheels
  • design and specify spinning wheel whorls
  • prep spin camelid fibers finely 
  • prep and spin cotton, both woolen style and worsted style into very fine thread
  • prep and spin flax into fine linen threads 
  • prep and spin hemp into thread
  • and, of course, spin silk finer than frog's hair.
  • prepare fiber and yarns for dye operations
  • dye to desired colorway
Compared with the above, the little bit of history in a "Master's Spinning Course" is trivial and will be picked up along the way. (I figure basic spinning requires about 6,000 hours of practice, and master's level spinning requires about 14,000 hours of practice.) I find skills to be highly transferable between fibers.

Spinning is about spinning, not history.  If you want history, go look at the fabrics depicted on recently discovered Classical Greek sculpture (not Roman copies) showing the very fine yarns/fabrics that were produced in Classical Greek times ( , but I cannot put my finger on it at this time.)  The Classical Greek stuff sets a much higher bar for the "Old School" production of textiles.