Friday, July 27, 2012

Spinning a cloud of camel down

[Photo:Spinning camel down
in Egmont]
The opportunity: to see the Sunshine Coast. 
The assignment: to spin camel--camel down, camel down/silk blends and camel hair and compare them. 
The resources: Spin-Off Fall 2007; hand carded punis of camel down, some with silk.
I usually mix up the two types of camel: Bactrian (2 humps from China and Mongolia) and Dromedary (1 hump from the Middle East), but I finally figured out a way to keep them straight in my mind. 'B' turned on it's side gives you 2 humps, just like the Bactrian camel.'D' turned on it's side gives you one hump, just like the Dromedary camel. Alice, the camel only had one hump, just like the Dromedary camel. There's 'a town called Alice' in Australia (also the title of a very good book by Neville Shute) where domesticated Dromedary camels have gone walkabout. Given the environmental differences between the deserts of Middle East/Australia (hot hot hot) and Mongolia (cold cold cold), which beast probably has a soft warm undercoat?  Yup, the B's, those 2 humped Bactrians.
I was given some of that Bactrian camel down, a soft carded light tan roving or top with 2" fibres. True luxurious fibres. Almost to good to spin on samples. To supplement that I bought what I can only describe as a cloud of camel down with shorter (about 3/4 to 1") length, but still very fine fibres.  I hand carded the cloud and rolled it into punis.
After spinning a few yards of the 100% down I found my spinning groove by using a point-of-contact (ie let the twist enter the drafting zone) short (around 1") backward draw.  The singles looked tight but I planned on plying them enough to open the yarn up and then have the yarn 'bloom' with a good finishing wash.
I'll include the final yarn in a post with the other samples.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Peaceful spinning

[Photo: Heading back down the
dock at sunset]
Spinning is relaxing, meditative,peaceful. I suppose that is why I do it. The sound of the wheel is like a heartbeat, woosh, woosh, and the feel of a double treadle gently messaging each leg reinforces the beat.
The other evening we held a spin-in on the island and I went to town to pick up a boatload of spinners and returned to tie up at a friend's dock. We sat in the warm evening sun spinning on her deck, spinning, chatting, enjoying the company, and looking at this view. What a relaxing way to spend a summer evening!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stories worth hearing

[Photo:Sofa without a blanket]
Every now and then you meet someone and they tell you a stop-in-your-tracks story. Here's one I think is worth passing on. We were talking about weaving and that bought up a special woven blanket that a friend Brian had acquired from his father. Brian (not his real name) made an interesting observation that it is blankets that made a house a home. Even a tarp strung up for a cover from the elements with a blanket thrown on the ground, made that tent a home.  
Brian grew up in India where his father was a missionary. While there, his father met a very poor Pakistani blanket weaver. As was customary, Brian's father bargained with him and bought two beautiful blankets. Later, Brian was given one and he loves it. It is woven in a very complicated pattern and after all these years, it is still as beautiful as the day his father bought it. Where ever Brian lived, the blanket made his home a home.  
[Photo:Sofa with blanket.
More homey?]
When his father was on his death bed, he had one regret about his whole life. Just one. After all those years, he wished he had not bargained with the weaver. He wished he had paid the full price.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lost .... and found at sea

Photo, design and
decoration by Laura Landry.

Readers of the blog will wonder where on earth I have been. Well, I have been up to my eyeballs spinning trying desperately to finish all my assignments for the year. D-day (driving-day) to get to Olds Alberta for year 4 class arrived and I still hadn't finished all my homework for year 3 of the Master Spinner program. The last homework assignment (spin embroidery yarns and embroider a 3 x 3" sampler) wasn't done. The thread had been spun for months but that doggone embroidery had still to be done. I embroidered for 1,000 kilometers, followed by two evenings before it got done. So on day three, tada, of level 4 class, I handed it in. Whew!
I returned home with a suitcase full of fibre and an armload of assignment instructions for the coming year. I have been back six days and still haven't had time to unpack everything. It was the Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival all weekend and I was on the water all weekend. 
While I was away, our team, the Vancouver Island Ancient Mariners, posted a new bra on the Newcastle Channel 'bra pole'. I don't know what the original purpose of the pile was, but some years ago, it was decided that it should be decorated by bras, so dragon boaters, while out practicing add their mark. Note the miniature graduation cap on the left cup. Nice touch!
This years festival theme was the 60's, so we went as ourselves...hippies. We paired up again this year with Seventh Wave, a fantastic team from Vancouver who went Mondrian and British. Check them out.