Peace at last!

Shawl, "blocking" after a little light fulling...

At long last I’ve caught up with myself a bit. After keeping my head down all week learning how to use my tri-loom (which I’m afraid I did buy new; I ran out of time to make one, even if  several 7′ lengths of seasoned oak had somehow materialised) I’ve finally completed a commission I was given back in the summer, for a shawl in rich browns, gold & oranges.  It’s been a learning process… I know now that the tri-loom produces a much more substantial & even weave than the scrap loom, but as the threads are under far more tension, haloed, “sticky” or underspun yarns are not the best materials to pick. So if they are what I happen to have to work with, back to the scrap loom, which is a much quicker technique too. But for top-quality stuff, the tri-loom it shall be.

In the meantime, my car has been filling up with goodies – there’s fabric, yarn, several nice handcranked sewing machines including a “Queen Alexandra” Jones FCS in fine shape, a sturdy 50s concertina sewing box and some very interesting books in there, as far as I remember! (Not to mention a bale of barley straw for the chickens & rabbits – it’s dry in there, and not in anyone’s way.)  But there they will probably have to stay until after the weekend, as we have guests and there’s enough “clutter” already inside.  I’ve also been busy networking on the Transition front; we’re planning a “Skills Taster” day early next year and I’m having quite a lot of fun going round to various groups & asking them to come & demonstrate.

I’ve also sold off my Louet S20 spinning wheel. I’m sad it had to go, but since my diagnosis I’ve realised why it had started to hurt to spin for any length of time on it; I needed a double-treadle or wide-treadle wheel. I chased a few on Ebay and won one, an EasySpin, which is absolutely beautiful & spins very nicely too, but is made of some kind of hardwood which is very brittle where it’s cut thin, such as the bobbin ends. So it’s not up to everyday life in a hectic household; I will try to hang onto it until I have my workshop as I do love it, but don’t want to risk damaging it. So what to use? As I already had quite a few Louet accessories & spares & their wheels seem to suit my style of spinning, as well as having a relatively small footprint, the answer was obvious. So I’ve dug into my rapidly-decreasing little savings pot & acquired a very lovely brand-new Louet S75, which I hope will be my “forever after” wheel. I haven’t had time to do much on her yet, but am working on two gorgeous Gotland fleeces, in very different colours but both beautifully soft, blended with a little angelina, and will post a pic when I’ve plied the first two bobbins-full together. The wheel is a dream to spin on; light & easy to treadle and very smooth, with the classic big Louet bobbins & good-size orifice. Lighter than the S20 to move, too, but with rubber feet so she doesn’t slip gently away from me as the S20 used to.

So now I have to behave myself for at least a year – NO more new equipment! I have enough supplies to keep me busy until next summer, by which time I should have acquired my bionic hip & be able to run my stall again, well stocked up!  Anything I really think I need will have to come to me secondhand or rescued, be made by me, or wait until my birthday and/or Christmas 2010. It shouldn’t be a hardship; I’m very lucky to have as much equipment as I do, and I really don’t have room for any more. So that’s my challenge to myself for the next year; to do what I need or want to do with what I already have, or can make for myself, am given or rescue.

Nearly there…

The last shawl took me months to complete. But this one is nearly done in just over a week; as far as I can work out, the difference has been down to;

1) a longer needle. I don’t know what the technical name is or what it was originally for, but this needle is over 12″ long, straight and quite sturdy with a big eye. I’d have said some kind of knitting implement, maybe? The only problem is that it has a sharp point; a blunt one would have been better for this job. I swapped to a “proper” weaving needle towards the end as the big one was too long for the far corner.

2) the “loom” is much less wobbly than the hardboard square was. It has stood up to the weaving process very well, in fact, and I expect to be able to use it again.

3) not using eyelash yarn – that was a total nightmare to keep track of…

4) moving the loom around to adjust the working height; on the floor when I was working near the top, then steadily moving it up onto first a chair, then on top of the budgies’ cage towards the end. Said budgies went very quiet, though I can’t say the same for the cockatiel, who evidently thought it was all very funny.

It is now finished and off the loom; tomorrow I will “full” it and see how it’s turned out. There’s rather more rescued yarn in there than I realised, too; about half, in the end.

Worth every penny...
Worth every penny...

The pure new wool hanging down from the top came from a charity stall at the market at the weekend; I only wanted to buy the plain undyed stuff but he insisted I took the whole lot for the same ridiculously-low price. My neighbour trotted off happily with three skeins of black, I kept the three skeins of assorted blues, and we spent a happy afternoon “handpainting” the three plain ones with Kool-Aid sent by kind e-friends in the States. Excellent fun! The blue wool will be appearing in another weaving project soon; not sure what we’ll do with our gloriously-technicolour handpainted wool, but I’ll think of something. Not to mention the three black fleeces I’ve “won” on Freecycle this week and have to pick up at the Market tomorrow…

Wish me luck with the fulling, tomorrow!