Saturday, November 26, 2011

In the light of day

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind came from an unusual direction, sou'west. In the pitch black all I could see was white caps breaking and spray hitting the windshield. The waves got bigger closer to the protected gap between the islands. The wind now blew directly between. White caps where calm waters prevail.
It was hard to dock with waves breaking along the dock. With a head lamp on I managed to find extra lines to tie our boat more securely to the dock and then to Tom's boat and checked the lines on Cathy and Roger's. Then wobbled my way along the heaving dock and up the ramp and was happy to get home.
Half an hour later Roger phoned 'the dock is gone!'.
The coast guard was called and came to find the dock broken in two. The end with the boats was fine and near where it usually floated being anchored with new chain but the shore end had split, jacknifed and was blown down to the next dock. The ramp now rested one end on shore and the other below the water.
I suppose I should have used those extra lines on the dock rather than the boats.

Off the wheel

Every now and then I get the urge to just spin. No thought to Twists Per Inch (TPI), nor Wraps Per Inch (WPI), no counting of Treadles (#T), just using a standard wheel Ratio (R), say 8:1,using a Length of Draft (L) as feels natural, no formulas written down like:
TPI=Ratio*#T/L or 
R=L*TPI/#T or
None of that! I just want brainless spinning. Spinning for pleasure. And pleasure comes from colour and feel. So it was only natural to go straight for my stash of Hummingbird Fibre and spin up a blend of 60%Island grown organic Romney wool, 20% Silk and 20% Mohair.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Scarf project

[Photo2.25 wool/llama scarves]
I am still learning to weave, but more importantly, I am learning more about fibre. How does different fibre structures react in a weaving? And why you "full" a weaving as part of the finishing. To demonstrate.....I decided to play with various blends of white wool and black llama and create a scarf that used different percentage blends that would give various shades of gray. I wanted a scarf for my husband, hence it needed to be ‘manly’ and the shades of greys produced for the blends looked very suitable. I decided to warp enough for weaving two or three scarves (the first hint that indecision or impreciseness doesn't always work).
Preparation: I carded washed wool and llama separately and created a series of batts of each fibre. I then blended the fibres in different percentages in the drum carder and ran them through twice again to get homogenous blends. I created a variety of llama/wool blends: 80/20; 70/30; 66/33; 50/50; 33/66; 30/70 and 20/80 for the warp. I used the 50/50 blend for the weft.
Spinning: I sampled spinning yarns at different ratios and settled on 6:1 ratio using a semi-worsted backward draft. I counted the treadling which was 8 out and 2 in, producing: WPI of 12; TPI of 2.25; & Twist Angle 25˚. Weaving: The different blends were used in the warp on my 4 shaft Leclerc Artisan loom. The first scarf was done as a plain weave. The second scarf was done as a 1:3 twill but I forgot to hook up my peddles correctly hence, ended up with 1:3 on one side and 3:1 on the other. I did not have enough warp for a third scarf but there was enough warp for me to do a sample and try the twill again, this time hooking up the treadles correctly and was able to weave 14 inches. This became a neck cowling rather than a sample as I think it had the nicest handle before fulling. This was my favorite and I really regretted not having enough warp to do that third scarf!
Finishing: The scarves were taken off the loom and then the fringes were twisted and knotted. Mistakes in the weaving were fixed. The scarves were then taken to a friend, Norah Curtis, who is a sweater designer and also designs the wool fabric for the sweaters. She is an expert at fulling fabric. I did worry about the different blends shrinking/fulling at different rates. I expected them too but was not sure about how much difference would occur and how much it might impact the scarves but Norah and I checked every minute to see what was happening and were ready to pull them out of the wash if needed. Norah has a top load washing machine and we filled it with hot water 38˚-40˚ with Dawn dishwashing soap. Norah looked the fabric and said 3 -4 minutes would probably do it but we still checked every minute. We turned the washer on to slow and set the one minute timer. At the one minute mark we stopped the machine and squeezed the scarves to check them. At 4 minutes we decided they were ready. We removed the scarves, drained the washer and put the scarves back in for a rinse and spin cycles. They came out beautifully. The final finishing was to let them hang to dry, then steam them as they lay flat and then left them to dry. We measured the two scarves and the neck cowls before fulling and after:

[Photo:Twill before fulling]
Left: Twill before fulling
[PhotoTwill after fulling ]
Right: after fulling 

[PhotoPlain weave before
[PhotoPlain weave after fulling]

Left: Plain weave before fulling
Right:  Plain weave after fulling

[PhotoNeck Cowl before

Left: Neck Cowl twill before fulling
Right: Neck Cowl twill after fulling
[PhotoNeck Cowl twill after fulling]

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pit cookout

[PhotoRoot veggies waiting to be steamed.  Squash
and onions  (ok, not roots), potatoes, yams,
and sweet potatoes] 
Last weekend friend Trudy (longtime nickname 'Carbon'...for reasons you will soon understand) had a pit cookout. This is a method for steaming root vegetables that the Pacific Northwest First Nations used. Nancy Turner, an Ethnobotanist and neighbour, couldn't make it but she sent instructions which went something like this:

[PhotoAdding the veggies]

  1. Dig a pit two feet deep, line it with rocks and build a fire in it.
  2. When the rocks are red hot, remove the fire and wood.
  3. Place a wood pole about 6" diameter into the middle.
  4. Cover rocks with dirt, then layer salal and sword ferns, 2" deep.
  5. Place veggies on the greenery, add more slal and sword fern.
  6. Cover everything with a wet burlap or old cotton pillowcases, or cedar mat.
  7. Remove the wood pole and pour two litres of water into the hole left by the wood pole.
  8. Quickly shovel the dirt onto the burlap to stop the steam from escaping.
  9. Go for a walk for and hour or two.
[PhotoRemoving dirt and burlap]
It worked and the veggies were wonderful! The salal and swordfern added, a je n'est sais pas, a little smokey, a little woodsy, and a lot of flavour!

[Photo:The cooked to perfection veggies]
After the successful dinner, Trudy sent out an email 'And in the lost and found department: Found, one gray wool hat. Lost, one wireless home phone.
Did you look in the pit? replied one attendee.
Apparently, they had. A cell phone dialed and they put their ears to the pit, but alas, no ringing.
It wasn't until the next day, the pit was dug out again, and there was the phone.