Weaving and spinning thoughts

This evening an email set me to thinking about why I spend so much more time spinning then weaving.

Opportunities to weave were squeezed into any free moment possible, even a five minutes of waiting for tea to brew was time to throw the shuttle. I even enjoy the slow work of hemstitching the ends while the web is still on the loom.

Whenever spinning flirted with me I quickly turned my back on such a thought. When presented in a tantalizing way I’d remember my mom’s hilariously dismal attempts to learn how to spin from a Navajo friend. No way! Not when I could buy wonderful yarns perfect for weaving from a local source just up the road from where we lived in Portland.

Ed practically hauled me over to a vendor who was selling a beginner’s spinning kit AND was willing to get me started. He decided there was no way I should pass up the opportunity to broaden my fiber world.


My loom has seen far too little action these past few years. As I go about the daily tasks, dreams of weaving flit through my mind. Right now two projects are waiting in the wings including a simple one that shouldn’t take more than a few days.
The other project will take hours of planning and preparation before the warp is on and the actual weaving can begin.

Therein lays the main reason that spinning has taken over.

It’s easy. Grab some fiber, a spinning tool and you’re spinning.

With a spindle it’s also portable. How I love that aspect! Sure, weaving with a small loom is sort of portable.

Snort. Not in the easy way of spindle spinning.

While waiting for a concert:DSC00220
Sitting on the porch at McMenamins Edgefield passing time before a concert, people watching. When I returned from a stroll this woman was asking Ed about the spindle which was peeking out of the small tea canister sitting on the arm of the Adirondack chair next to Ed. A knitter who wanted to learn how to spin.

Getting fresh air and exercise:

I have no idea how many miles spindles have accompanied me during walks. Well over a pound of BLF has been spun as have other smaller projects.

Spinning is a soothing tactile way of relaxing. It can also be mindless; a productive hands-on activity which allows me to listen to audios, watch a movie, think, or pray.

Weaving remains a passion. My goal these next few weeks is to manage my time better in order to carve out a regular weaving routine. In my dream world I’d spend a certain amount of time each day spinning, weaving, playing the violin, practicing the piano and walking. Someday.


Weaving Wednesday

A simple weaving project was done this past summer using tencel and linen threads purchased through eBay and during Black Sheep Gathering. Woven on my 40″, 4-shaft Norwood loom.

Threading some 450+ needles.

I didn’t think to take any actual weaving shots.

After washing and drying the fabric in the machine I set to with my trusty Featherweight Singer.

The bottom hem.DSC00294

I had hemstitched the edges while the material was still on the loom.

Another seam going in.

I liked the fringe so much that I decided it would look great incorporated into the design.

This picture is washed out, the main color is a rich burgundy.

Yes, I wove curtains.
For our bathroom.
Yes, one of these days we’ll replace that ancient wallpaper!

Finches, a hummingbird and a shirt

I want to put the brakes on June, to have the days slow to a languid crawl wherein there is plenty of time to luxuriate in the last weeks of one of the most pleasant Springs to be had.

Hearing the noisy birds at the feeders this evening I grabbed my camera and slid quietly outside to snap pictures of the finches.
(Picture heavy post; please let me know if any of you have a slow connection which makes loading lots of pictures almost impossible.)DSC04879






At times throughout the day over two dozen would be flitting amongst the branches of the ash tree and two feeders.

A tiny bird hummed into view to stop for a bright sweet drink.

She kept an eye on me but didn’t seem too wary about the less than five feet between us.
There was another reason I’d stepped outside before the evening dew began to fall.
A shirt was waiting to be brought inside and ironed after this past Saturday’s debut at the NW Regional Spinners’ Guild conference held on the beautiful grounds of Willamette University. I only went for the day to chat with people, spin and volunteer to watch items in the Gallery a couple of hours. And chat with more people. While spinning on my Egret. And have a delightful lunch outside next to this bridge with Flora who drove down from Portland to spin for the day.
DSC04860The material was woven earlier this year (see 1.4.14 post) from a combination of linen threads, tencel threads and wool. A linsey/woolsey shirt – which looks like it will definitely need ironing. The material may have come off the loom in January, washed, dried and rolled up to store but it took until May to get around to figuring out what shape to make the shirt. I’m quite pleased with it. I love the woven detail that can be seen close up.

1.4.14 Weaving

Whee! Another project came off the loom yesterday. This material is destined to be a summery shirt.

1.5 Correction on the yarns used.  (I should never write thread content from memory late at night!)
Warp, 4 types, sleyed at 16 epi using 12 dent reed:
10/2 linen, plum
8/2 tencel, deep burgandy
8/2 linen/cotton, red
5/2 cotton garnet
Weft –  2 of the yarns used in the warp: 8/2 linen/cotton red; 10/2 linen plum
Alternating shuttles in straight twill drawn (1,2,3,4…)

Extra warp had been measured on for testing color combos and treadling pattern for the weaving. With a limited supply of three of the colors there wasn’t much leeway for extensive sampling, but enough for both Ed and I to like the pattern of this sequence. I love the very slight slubbiness that both of the weft threads had which adds a bit of character.
Weaving 003(The colors are closer to the real fabric in this top picture.)

Tossed in the washing machine then the dryer with a large fluffy towel it came met all my expectations. Except for throw that left an undetected loop underneath.  I completely missed it, even during inspection before tossing it in the washer. I blame the small child who was here yesterday. She helped me finish weaving the piece then apparently I was too excited about tossing it in the washer. I’ll have to get a needle thread a length of that yarn  along side this errant loop (as seen below) so that it can be cut.
Weaving 002

Dogged pursuit of completion

But for the binding off and sewing on of 12 buttons, Feather’s boot socks are finished! They will be incomplete until they are actually measured against her legs when we see her, and little brother, Gus, on  Wednesday.  Her legs were measured in April. It’s a rare six year old child that doesn’t grow by leaps and bounds during the summer. Despite pleas for length measurement this past month no one has taken the time. So, they’ve been knit an extra inch but am resisting the urge to bind-off and be done, just in case.
(Last row in progress – I didn’t want to once again forget to take a picture. I hope Feather will be willing to model them.)DSC03733
The Never-Ending project that was begun in midwinter has been one dog-gone challenge after another. The one that started out on the Great Wheel. No, it goes back earlier in time. To a retired, slightly built woman who dearly loved her companion Great Pyrenees with all her heart. She often told the community dinner workers of his exploits during the previous week.  Then one week she arrived with bruises and sore muscles. He had almost pulled her arm out of socket dragging her down the sidewalk. It hadn’t been the first time but apparently the most uncontrollable. Her doctor told her in no uncertain terms that if she wanted to live she had to find the dog, which outweighed her, a home that could love him and safely exercise him.  She begged Ed to ask me if I’d spin the hair removed during his weekly visit to the groomer. The next week, even before hearing my answer, she arrived at the dinner dragging 2 garbage bags full of dog hair.  AKA Chiengora. Over 3 pounds of the stuff!
I separated the dark hairs from the white, dividing the various shades of grey into little batches. Though it smelled a bit doggy, for the most part it was clean and not obnoxious. The spinning commenced with cheerful attitude, curious about how it would spin up and eager not only for the experience of spinning chiengora but getting to know the Great Wheel better.

Except. There were a great deal of short cut ends. Everywhere. The hair in the second bag was quite dirty, though it didn’t seem to have the short bits. That bag was set aside. I tried spinning it alone. Blending it with BFL wool on hand cards and with combs. The cards worked better though I was slow. I’d card during the evening news then spend the next 20 minutes or so spinning it. Night after night. Short dog hairs flew covered the floor around the Wheel and flew through the air. I doggedly carded and spun the small increments.

Several weeks into the journey Dog Lady and I met at the community dinner and I mentioned that it was slow going what with all the short cut ends. Would she be happy with handwarmers? No? A scarf or hat perhaps? No, she didn’t want something to wear. Oh dear.

By the time the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival rolled around in April Ed knew I needed some serious help if I was ever to be free of the task. He talked with JoAnn Duncan who was set up with their drum carders across from our booth. He returned to tell me that JoAnn will teach me how to use it first thing in the morning. The last smallest one was coming home!


Even blended with longer staple wool, it wasn’t very cooperative. It wanted to spin either very thin or thick. I never did find that good consistent lace weight that I was aiming for. I finally decided to stop fighting and let it spin fingering and not ply it so that it wouldn’t be too bulky. Hairy stuff!


Eventually the loose floating hairs started bothering me to the point that it didn’t take long before sneezing and mild itching would occur during the spinning.  By then I’d spun up several cops. It was time to stop. I was plotting to weave a simple tapestry of a Great Pyrenees head against a green background.

I’ve had second, third thoughts about the decision not to ply. There is so much thin/thick variation that might be evened out, or made more obvious.


For now, when I come to a too thin area I remove the thin spot entirely, skipping ahead to where the yarn is thicker.

It’s not the wisest, speediest course of action to not only tackle a new, temperamental fiber, but a brand new loom. A tapestry loom. Something I haven’t touched since we moved from the Navajo rez when I was 17 and didn’t have the space to lug the huge loom my brother had built for me after I fell in love with weaving in 8th grade home ec.

With pamphlet manual on the table I warped the loom. With a limited amount of spun Chiengora (indeed, there are still pounds in the bags) I didn’t want to take the chance of using it for the warp, nor does it have a high twist. The cotton that I’d spun on the Great Wheel before embarking on the dog hair seemed perfect for the job.  Setting the dog picture behind the loom the weaving commenced and all was looking acceptable as it progressed to under the chin where I started introducing some greys. (Doesn’t this sound good! In reality it looks quite elementary!) Thrilled at how quickly it was coming along I  entertained the notion that I’d be done with dog hair within a week.

Oh. But. Do you see that wispy bit of white curling up just above the green on the left? Note the sagging bits over to the right, just about the working line. Nope, it didn’t do any good to tighten the warp. To my horror the cotton warp was unraveling with each beat of my little hand fork. There weren’t enough tricks up my sleeve to stop a weak warp from stretching and separating. The cotton had been spun and plyed without thought to what it might be used for. There was not enough twist to handle the beating that a warp must endure. Scissors were brought out, the warp and partial tapestry cut off. Digging tencel yarn out of my stash the loom was rewarped and the weaving begun again.

The execution is so vastly slower than the telling it’s hard to believe that I’m only up to the nose. The set-back  dampened the remaining  scent for the hunt that developed when I could smell the end coming. For now I’ve been playing with Ed’s GW #3, trying to pinpoint that sweet set-up for a good sustained spin of the wheel. Once OFFF is over I plan to tackle the loom again and complete the task once and for all. We won’t be selling at OFFF but we plan to demonstrate GW3 at the Aurora Colony Handspinner’s Guild booth on the lawn on Sunday. Saturday afternoon, the 28th we’ll be demonstrating spinning, with spindles and GW, at the Marquam Hills Alpaca Ranch which is only 4 miles from us, and 16 miles from Canby (OFFF). They will be having an open house /barn that afternoon and invited us to demonstrate. They have a wonderful Alpaca set-up, friendly Great Pyrenees dogs, lots of friendly alpacas and a store area with their products.  The winery/vineyard next door to their place is also have a wine tasting event that day.

Sad News, Good News

The magnificence and memories of the two Sock Summits are a highlight of our life tied with fiber. We’d been looking forward to SS14; seeing so many people from around the world, selling our spindles to the happy throngs of people. It’s not possible to put into words what Sock Summit encompassed. This evening I read on both Yarn Harlot’s blog and Tina Newton’s blog that they made the very hard decision to dissolve their Knot Hysteria Productions which was responsible for Sock Summit (and other fiber retreats). Both of them worked tirelessly, along with their two teams of helpers and the numerous people behind the scenes, to pull off two incredible, fantastic Sock Summit events. It staggers my mind to even think about the myriad of details that had to come together almost seamlessly, working from two ends of the continent while juggling their own full time successful businesses and families. As a team they were formidable. I have no doubt that they will each continue on to be major players in the fiber world.

One of the things that makes me the saddest is that we won’t get to hang out with Jocelyn, the Knitting Linguist. Not only was she a hands-down terrific helper in our booth but Ed and I both enjoyed her companionship. (Oh my! You must see what she’s up too!)

It will be interesting to see what might rise up from the demise of the Sock Summit, as we know it. I suspect there might be some other event that gathers forces to fill the huge void that is left. With time a hole is almost always filled by something. (‘cepting holes in sock (clothes)! We know how those progress.)

On to happy news! 009
(Violet didn’t want to wait for the  cookie to have a pretty coating of Easter icing! I made royal icing for the sugar cookies that were boxed up and mailed to the grandkids in Idaho where they landed without nary a crack or break.)

Violet’s shirt fits! 🙂 As planned for room to grown, it’s a bit big.



Since Aurora didn’t want shoulder buttons I modified the pattern and instead kitchenered the two should ribbing bands. Without the extra room unbuttoning both shoulders pieces would have given — Violet hates having her head messed with — I decided a boat neck would provide a generous space for Violet’s head wide across the shoulders. Turns out the neck didn’t need to be so wide! There’s no problem getting her head through. 016The overall success of this shirt has me itching to warp up the loom and do some more weaving. Possibly within the next couple of weeks once a couple other pressing items are complete.

Yes, there’s been Walking Wheel spinning, it’s coming along quite nicely.