Tag Archive | weaving

Mohair Assignment – Spinning for end use

During the mohair unit, we discussed end use. One of the assignments is spinning a yarn geared towards a certain project. We had to draw our projects out of a hat. The one I got was “weft for a blanket.”

I’m a VERY green weaver. I’ve taken a couple of lessons and I’m confident that I could warp a loom alone and do a very basic project. However, I’m far from knowing all of the in’s and out’s. So this assignment required a bit of research and diving into my knowledge base about what I do know.

One thing I love about weaving is the logic found in the art. When I was analyzing this imaginary blanket, I would ask myself some questions, look up answers and I would often find myself correct in my thinking!

One of the things about this assignment is that it doesn’t give you any variables. You have to justify why you’re spinning the yarn you’re spinning, why it’s a 2- or 3-ply, why you chose the percentage of wool to blend with mohair. There was no information provided regarding what the warp would be on this blanket. So the yarn I’ve spun is based on a warp that is spun from wool. I know people have done 100% mohair. The issue with that though is that mohair protrudes (that fluffy halo) and when you’re weaving, the weft yarn would stick to the warp like velcro. So if I was to actually make this blanket, I would use a wool warp until I got more experienced.

So for the weft yarn itself, I have chosen a 60% mohair/40% wool blend. I chose this for a couple of reasons. I looked online to see what blends other blankets were made of. A lot of them were 70/30 mohair/wool. I would have liked to do that blend, however, we were not supplied with a very big sample of mohair. There’s just enough to completed the assignments (I hope!). I wanted to use a higher percentage of mohair because I wanted to highlight the fibre. It’s so soft and it would be perfect for a blanket.

Mohair/Wool in progress - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair/Wool in progress

Again, I took to the internet to find out information regarding how many plies I should do. I realize that ultimately the decision is up to me. However, I know that spinners and weavers are a logical bunch. For the most part, there is a method to their madness. My initial thought was to go for a 2-ply because it stretches the material to the maximum (and it’s one less singles to spin! hehehe). I was open to a 3-ply though. Then I questioned if the third ply was necessary in this case since a woven blanket is flat. Would the third ply just get lost? After surfing around, the answer seemed to be 2-ply. One of these days I want to discuss this with somebody who has weaving experience (and I hope she’s reading this!) to see if I’m correct in my thinking. I’d also like to see if my thinking about 2-ply and weaving is correct. At this point I’m a lump of clay. Mold me!

Something else I decided to do with this assignment is use my fast flyer. I didn’t see anything anywhere stating we aren’t allowed to use it. It will certainly be noted in the assignment. As we were warned, mohair really does need a lot of twist to hold up. I’ve been using my regular flyer and I’ve had to treadle like a mad woman to get enough twist so that the singles won’t fall apart. Again, considering my lack of mohair experience, I am pleased that I made it this far with my regular flyer. I spun up a 70/30 mohair/wool blend with practice fibre. I only had 2 spots where the singles broke when I was plying. I’m going to consider that a victory.

Later that day…

Mohair/Wool blend spun for end use - blanket weft - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair/Wool blend spun for end use – blanket weft

I am finished spinning and plying this yarn. My fast flyer made such a difference. The ratio I used was only one higher (12:1 vs 10:1), but it still helped immensely.

On thing that had me initially concerned was that even though I weighed out the amounts of wool and mohair, the wool seemed to take over the skein. Then I recalled hearing (and recording somewhere) that mohair fibre weighs more than wool. In other words, if you had a gram of mohair and a gram of wool, there would be less mohair fibres than there is wool fibres. So when I do up my notes, I’m going to make sure to mention this: percentages listed are based on weight. It has me curious how one could change the percentages up using volume and what the results would look like there.

One more thing I want to mention is just how much mohair blooms! Now that I’ve seen this for myself, one of my future observations is going to be WPI counts before and after setting the twist. I can see this being quite fascinating. I’m not sure if time is going to allow for this at this point. It’s something I’d like to investigate down the road for sure.

So up next… A 2-ply orthogenous yarn – one ply mohair, the other ply wool. I already have the mohair ply spun up. My thoughts on that will be in the next post.

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My Loom and Some Spinning

I figured I would share a picture of my loom and a before/after picture of my spinning. I am SO EXCITED about getting my loom set up! Unfortunately, I haven’t had a whole lot of time this week to get the wheels rolling. Hopefully this weekend I will be able to return emails and get onto ordering the necessities. I haven’t been able to focus on my loom at all this week because of how crazy it’s been (it’s a GOOD crazy, but busy just the same).


My loom 😀


From wool to yarn

Day 12 – A History Class I Can Appreciate

The Neo Citran is brewing, so I’m going to keep this short. I managed to get through the day, but this morning was just horrible. Yes, I have my whiny pants on.

Today was a VERY informative day. Patricia discussed ancient textiles, particularly the weaving discovered in South America. Peru has a lot of ancient textiles due to its ideal climate. She said that Mexico probably had textiles from around the same time period, but we’ll never know because they rotted in that climate. She was also saying about how archeologists initially just threw the textiles away because their eyes were on another prize. For shame! I never had any real reason to go to South America until this past week. Or at least I didn’t know I had any real reason… Heck, I haven’t seen this country from sea to shining sea! That may have to wait now 😉

She gave us a few interesting links. One that I plan on exploring is The Textile Museum of Canada – In Touch. It is an interactive site where you can learn about the history of textiles and see their collections. There’s even a game where you get to be a “textile special agent,” stopping the diabolical Dr. Hande from destroying ancient pieces of textile art. I haven’t tried it yet, but Patricia gave us a wonderful demo. I’m excited to play it! Yes, it’s a game, but you’re also learning about textile art. Sneaky, eh? It’s almost like not telling your preschooler that cherry tomatoes, peppers and celery are actually referred to as vegetables AND they are good for you. Now who would do that? Hehehe!

We also made a class “quipa” today. (Since I’m feeling under the weather and don’t feel up to explaining, here’s a link for the curious). It was rather cool. I was thinking about making a bracelet based on this idea dedicated to my friend (it was four weeks ago today). Our other assignment was to do a four strand and 8 strand braid. This was to give us an idea of how a Ceinture Flechee is constructed. (In the word “Flechee” there are accents over the e’s… I thought I would mention this because I didn’t want anyone to think I left them out on purpose. I just feel too lousy to fiddle with my keyboard settings to get it correct).

We also discussed the topic of our research papers. I decided to research the history of tartan. I may have mentioned somewhere along the line that I would love to attempt to replicate the Haliburton Highlands tartan once I get a loom (for personal use and just because I like a challenge!). Patricia wanted us to choose a topic that would relate to some future works we have floating around in our heads, so I thought that would be perfect. I haven’t sat down that long to research it, but I’m finding some really interesting stuff in the little time I did surf. I will be completing that assignment for Friday and will probably post it on here over the weekend.

Other than dinner with Mom and little man, I think that covers most of the highlights. I’m off to curl up in a blanket, drink some Neo Citran and call it a night. I did look over the comments and I will respond to them when I’m feeling better (I have lots to say and the brain won’t co-operate tonight). Again, I want to thank you for taking the time to visit. The comments that are left keeps reassuring me that I have made the right decision to follow my heart this time *HUGS*

Day 10 – I want to be a weaver (and spinner) when I grow up!

I know I talked about weaving yesterday. I didn’t get to sit down at the loom yesterday for very long. I did today though. And I LOVED it!

I can see this being a very challenging medium. That’s one of the parts that appeals to me most! Aside from having to be a perfectionist when you’re warping your loom, you have to keep track of what pedals to push and when and what you did last so that you know what to do next. Confusing? It can be. But once you get your pattern down, it seems to be smooth sailing. There are 6 pedals on the loom I was working on. The outer ones are used at the beginning and ending of the section you’re weaving. The other 4 are the ones you use while you’re weaving. The combinations of the pedals are endless. It is so cool! I want to play some more!

Above is my very first attempt at weaving. I don’t think it looks too bad for a first shot. Wendy seemed to think it was alright too. Yay!

Today was the last day we have Wendy for an instructor. For this course. It won’t be the last for me though! I fully intend on signing up for the week long spinning course next summer. I want to find out more about the master spinner’s course as well. And I’m pretty sure there will be weaving instruction required in there too. The Kycave suddenly seems too small!

I want to thank everyone again for taking the time to drop by and see what’s going on. I hope it’s worth your while! I didn’t realize how much impact this whole school experience has had on some of my readers. That is EXACTLY what I’m shooting for (along with the part where I want to document everything because I want to remember everything!). I am trying very hard to keep things updated and in order. If you see the days scattered, I can assure you that you surfed in while I was trying to get organized. And as for pictures, I will do my best to get them posted ASAP. Thanks for caring! *HUGS*

Day 9 – WEAVING!!!!!!

You want to talk about a rewarding art form!

Did you know that half of the work in weaving is setting the loom up? No kidding! I have always admired weavers. But now I hold them in a whole new respect.

First of all, you have to “warp the yarn.” It is a crazy process of counting, measuring, having to be so aware of what you’re doing. You start off by wrapping yarn around pegs. How much you have to wrap depends on how long and how wide you want your warp yarns to be (warp yarn is the yarn on the loom). You have to be so careful that you have counted right or else you end up with problems (my group’s problem is that we had 4 strands too many. Now we have to move the shuttle through one of the loops in order for it to wrap around the end. No biggie… lesson learned!). You have to then carefully move it over to the loom. There’s more counting and sorting and assuring that everything is in the right place. It makes a difference if it isn’t. This really is at least a two person process.

After figuring that stuff out, you then have to actually start weaving. You have to keep track of which pedals are which and what ones you use in which combinations. It sounds crazy, but ah, the perfectionist was pleased she finally had somewhere to contribute! You can have multiple shuttles going. When I left today, I had two going. I have to go back in for 8:30 tomorrow morning.

So now I have another goal. The satisfaction won’t just stop at the spinning of wool. Nope. I want to spin the wool and then make the fabric! Why can I see myself extracting silk from cocoons down the road? It’s going to happen, isn’t it?

Inner thought dialogue: Wow. I am so getting why this is appealing to me! This is THE outlet for the critical perfectionist part of me! If you don’t have EVERY little detail right, you screw up. And every time you screw up, you learn how to fix it. Not a big deal. It’s all part of the process. When you know how to fix it, you can use your errors as an example to show others ideas on how to fix it. And they will share their experiences. What a great way to build a community! This can apply on so many levels!*

Day 8 – Zeroing in on My Target

Today we did some tests on different fibres. It was really interesting! There were also some rather disturbing discoveries as well. And lots of alternative ideas on how to get around these things. I love it! I came to learn about fibre, but I’m getting so much more than that out of this course! Wendy is just a fountain of knowledge with so many things that I would LOVE to know more about!

Speaking of Wendy, I would like to share a quote of hers that I love regarding making a living as a textile artist: “If I can’t make minimum wage, I might as well go for a canoe ride.” Wendy E. Bateman

One of the many valuable things we’re learning are ways to do our work environmentally friendly. This is going to be a goal for me. I’ve wanted to change my ways to start living a “greener” life, but I really didn’t know where to start. When you look that kind of thing up on the internet, you just get overwhelmed and bombarded. I also learn and retain information better from hearing actual people speak about their efforts. It really does help (for me anyway), to actually see the things they are talking about and discover places locally that carry them. For example, Wendy told us about this kind of dish soap that can also work as laundry detergent. It doesn’t harm the environment and you just need a little bit of it and… wait for it… A bottle of it is HALF of the price of laundry soap! It’s called Ecover Dishwashing Liquid. I’m going to be trying it for sure. In the Haliburton area, it is available at Marty’s.

There are a couple of other things we learned which I want to share with my blog friends (and hopefully they will pass it on to their friends). One of the most disturbing things I found out this week was about the dangers of fabric softener, liquid AND sheets. Liquid fabric softener is just plain horrible because it ultimately ends up clogging your plumbing. My parents had to have some pipes dug up and replaced because of this. The DISTURBING part about fabric softener is this: If you use fabric softener with clothing that has been labelled flame retardant, the fabric softener coats the fabric and takes those properties away. Fabric softener INCREASES the risk of clothing catching fire. When I found this out, I was absolutely mortified. I will be using a cup of vinegar, as suggested, to replace my Bounce sheets.

We did do various tests on various fabrics to find out different methods to remove stains such as ketchup, cooking oil, mustard, lipstick and pen. One example we did was to use a bar of Sunlight laundry detergent on a cleaning cloth made up of 85% viscose (aka rayon). It actually made the stain fluorescent yellow! I suppose you’re wondering what works best, right? Unfortunately, we were unable to get too deeply into the testing because of time constraints etc. I can tell you though, that you may want to add Ecover Stain Remover to your arsenal.

The other really important testing we did was burn tests. That was rather disturbing too. One thing that came out of it for me is that I will NEVER be buying any clothing, gloves etc. from the dollar store again. Some of the items that we tested from there were children’s items. Many of them caught fire immediately and then melted into plastic. Pretty sure I’m going to spend the extra money to keep my baby safe! (And I count my blessing that he has been thus far!) The other part to it is that Mom is getting a wool sweater for when she adds wood and works with the wood stove. That was also scary seeing how other fabrics, ones we wear every day, can catch fire so easily. Wendy shared a couple of stories with us and right then and there, I made the decision that there is going to be a “stove sweater” added to the list of my parents gear.

The other tests we did were viewing different fibres under the microscope. That was rather interesting too. I don’t mean to downplay it, but I can say that it certainly didn’t have the same impact on me that the other two tests did.

At the end of the day, I gave Wendy a ride home and and she let me see her studio. When I went into her basement, my little head exploded! A model for the Kycave, that’s for sure! She had two floor looms there. One was HUGE! There was another one that she had a rug on. She showed me her beautiful wedding kimono that she had weaved. She also showed me a book that was given to her by a class of grade 3 students (her most prized possession) when she spoke to them about weaving, the environment and showed them the sweat lodge she made out of 5,000 shopping bags. Oh my! There was also TONS of yarn. A beautiful doll house. And windows overlooking a beautiful lake. I would be in heaven if I had a studio like that.

I have to admit that I started welling up when I was down there (of course I tried to hide it from her, but I guess the cat is out the bag now!). With each passing day, I am gaining hope where I never had hope before. Talk about inspiration!

You know, there is NO REASON on this earth why I can’t have a beautiful Kycave one day. It is possible. I am just so inspired beyond words. I now have another new goal. Yay!

Day 5 – Is it Day 6 yet?!

We had a new instructor today. Her name is Wendy. She is a hardcore spinner and weaver. Ah yes, the exact person I want to absorb everything I can from! She pulled out the spinning wheel this afternoon. Love at first sight, let me tell you!

We did Fibre Science today. How to identify various fibres, their feel, what they’re used for, what they may be blended with and why. She had us set up a sample book. I thought that was genius! That will be so handy to reference when the time comes. So we did that for most of the day.

Tomorrow is going to be spinning and weaving. I am SO EXCITED!!!! I just knew I was going to fall in love with felting. I was right. I have the same feeling about spinning and weaving. I KNOW I’m going to love it! I was joking around with one my classmates today, saying about how all of the stuff that I was really pumped about has come up within the first week. So what are we going to do for the rest of the course? Lol

As for the weekend, it was pretty amazing. I probably should have stayed in and kept things low key. But what fun is that? Sleep deprivation all the way! Little man and I joined the bestie and her man at the sculpture forest in Haliburton. It was a beautiful day. Little man had a blast running around and climbing all over the sculptures. One was a rocket ship according to him.

Yesterday Mom took little man and I to see my bro and his ladies. It was a really nice day. On our way home, little man needed to use the potty. So we went into Tim Horton’s. There were 3 police officers sitting in there having coffee. Mom wanted to take little man over to introduce him to them in case they knew my brother (who is also an officer). I love the look of pride she gets on her face when she talks about my brother and little man 🙂

So is it tomorrow yet?