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Can I just say, it’s been a hectic few months. Work and lack of internet connection at home have restricted my on-line activities, mostly this blog. 😛 I could have used my phone to update the blog but it seemed that the only time I had was when I was falling asleep!

The majority of my time was spent preparing for Blackstone Raids the last weekend of April. I taught a total of 3 classes that weekend. Two on spinning and one on Sprang. I had kits for each student- except for the hand outs which I still have not completed (Must get those done!!) Those who came to the spinning class also got a rundown of processing wool and left the class with 2 spindles, multiple samples of wool from different breeds of sheep, silk, Alpaca, flax and a bag to carry it all. For the Sprang class I had 9” x 18” PVC frames, cotton yarn, plenty of bamboo skewers for shed sticks, tapestry needles for sewing up the sides of the pouches, warping sticks and large bags to carry it all in. I really lucked out, the Dollar Tree had some nice bags in the sizes I was looking for to use with the classes. With everything that came in the kits the bags were a must. I will remember that for the next time I teach classes.

I set up the classroom early, due to my having so much stuff for the spinning class. The wool samples took up three tables, one table alone was for the full Dorset fleece that I had obtained just a few weeks prior and was still raw. The other two tables had more raw fleece and many samples of processed wools and the other spinning fibers. Below is one of the tables… Apparently I didn’t get pictures of the other two…(I must make sure to get more pictures next time!)

Table of spinning fiber samples.

Another table held various spinning implements….

Combs, cards, spindles, niddy-noddies and other goodies

And yet another table held samples of yarn from different fibers

Yarn-from left- Colored embroidery yarn, Merino, Coopworth, Jacob, Leicester Longwool, More Jacob, Mohair, Coopworth & Alpaca spiral blend and lastly two colored Alpaca

The Friday spinning class was small with just two ladies. A good start for testing out the set up and presentation. They seemed to enjoy the class and were happy with their goody bags when they left. I learned that I needed to plan my time better, work out the flow from one section to another. For the second class I made sure that participants selected samples and labeled their baggies while I was showing them the different types of fibers.

Saturday was my busiest day. The A&S display and Artisans Row was supposed to be at the main hall but when I got there to start set up it was over run with fencers! They had been rained out of their scheduled area (I didn’t realize at the time that they also had pavilions set up near the battle field!) I sacrificed the hall and had to split the Scriptorium hall (Where scribes were completing calligraphy and illumination for award scrolls.) for the A&S. Then part of that hall was taken over for a meeting… argh! Next time, if I’m in charge, I’ll make sure that there isn’t a repeat of this year…

I had barely enough time to get the room arranged with enough tables and chairs and get my display set up for the Artisans Row before I had to bolt over for my first class of the day. My display was essentially a “Sheep to Språng” set up showing the steps from raw wool, processing, spinning and ending with Sprang. Dummy me, I didn’t get any pictures., I really must remember to do so!!!.. Nor did I have any time to sit at my display and explain the steps… Blackstone being a 3 day event there just wasn’t enough time for me to teach 2 classes (both roughly 2 hours in length) and sit at the row.

As I was bolting from the A&S to the classroom I spied a Viking Lady in the market place who had a lovely Sprang pouch hanging from her brooches.  Of course I did an about face when my brain put two and two together and I stopped to talk to the lady and her companion and of course get a closer look at her pouch which was made from a thick wool and worked in patterned S & Z twist which formed triangle patterns.  Once again, I didn’t get a picture but the pattern was a series of triangles created by the directional change from S interlinking to Z interlinking.  Once I find a better depiction, probably one from the Collingwood book, I’ll post one.

Anyhoo, while speaking to them they mentioned that they would like to learn Sprang and I invited them to my class. I then had to dash off to the class which was getting ready to begin.  There were two ladies waiting there for me and shortly a 16 year old lord joined us and the Viking lady I had spoken to earlier.  It made me feel so good having them there for the class and we proceded to work on a Sprang pouch project worked in 1/1 interlinking .  I mistook my self and had them warp up only 20 strands for the pouches, when it should have been 40 to make the pouch wide enough to cover a water or pop bottle.  Several were able to complete their pouches in the time we had for the class which made me very happy with those results.  I explained that what they might view as ‘mistakes’ in the interlinking could be ‘design elements’ especially if it was worked as an entire row, or in one case, several rows.  I was able to get each back on track with the 1/1 interlinking while explaining what they had done in their ‘design element’ rows.  Once they reached the centers of their work I had them weave in 3 strands of yarn to secure the meeting line.  One lady misunderstood what I meant by ‘weave in’.  I had meant that the next to last row worked would have a strand of yarn placed across the working edges of the interlinking both at top and bottom, then another row would be interlinked and a final stand of yarn ran through that row. This secures the meeting line and the yarns sticking out from the sides can be tied into tassels.  This is a simpler method of finishing off than chaining the meeting line and handy if you don’t have a crochet hook handy.

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My current spinning project is some lovely wool & silk fiber purchased at Kanawha Yarn Company.  I’ve unfortunately lost the label (oh the huge manatee!) but I’m certain it is a Merino/silk top.  This project I’ve done some extra planning and sampling.  When I purchased this fiber I knew I wanted to make a Sprang scarf, but I was pondering two vs three (Navaho) ply.  I spun samples of both on my Swan spindle and plied them.  The three ply seemed to loose more of the color blending definition than I was happy with and after sampling the two ply decided to go with that.  Two ply will also give me more yardage to play with. 

The samples are in my spinning notebook, though, I just realized, I forgot to wash/finish the samples.  This will have to be rectified soon to give a better example of what the finished yarn will look like.  I think I will also ply off one more sample of two ply.  The samples I have are Andean plied (One single strand plied starting at the two ends an ending At the middle)  structurally not a balanced yarn since one half of the yarn is being twisted more than the other half.

I need to better plan my projects and document everything in my spinning notebook.  These experiences are part of learning though and will help in the long run.

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It’s been quite a while since I posted, not from lack of projects, lack of time to write in my blog.  I was very busy the last two weeks of September.  Fiber Arts Network had their fall retreat at Hawks Nest state park.  As always I had a blast sitting at my spinning wheel visiting with the ladies and Dave.  I got two skeins done (details to follow) of rovings/bats that had been in my stash for a while.  One of the skeins also gave me the opportunity to get out my hand carders and blend some fibers together to spin a black single to ply with a multicolor thick/ thin single.

  The yarn on the left is dyed Mohair 2 ply.  12 Twists per inch, 6 wraps per inch.  153 yards with some left over on a bobbin.  Spun on Kromski Sonata.

The yarn on the right is made from 2 separate singles.  The colored is from a bat of blended fiber (Merino, Tencil, Bamboo, Silk, Kid Mohair and ‘Shiny Stuff’)  The black single is Coopworth, Alpaca & Mohair blended on hand carders.  160 yards tpi and wpi varied due to colored single being spun thick/thin on purpose.  Spun on Kromski Sonata.

I also bought some lovely white alpaca and black Coopworth spiral blend roving.  This I’ve been spinning on my new Turkish spindle.  This spindle is a lovely little 2 oz antique/vintage from a dealer in Istanbul.  I purchased 8oz of the roving and have spun up 3 balls so far.  Two of the balls have already been plied and skeined.   (see pic below)  I’m hoping that when done I’ll have enough to Sprang a scarf!

I was able to complete 2 skeins of yarn with this fiber for a total of 236 yards.  This should be more than enough for a scarf.

I must say that this spindle is my favorite.  It’s small, lightweight and spins forever.  It has carving on the cross arms and a lovely patina to the wood.

The first weekend in October I went to West Liberty University for a symposium on pre-modern studies.   I set up a display of spinning and Sprang and taught attendees about both.  Before the symposium I made two new frames, one lap and one much larger.  The large frame needs a bit more work, it’s too wobbly to warp up.  The lap frame had the same issue (both frames were simply sticks lashed together with hemp twine) but I took the time to take it apart and whittle some shaping at the overlaps to give it more stability.  It is working much better now and has spindle spun gray wool yarn on it.  That project is another hairnet worked in alternating rows of z and s interlinking.  I just hope it’s big enough for my head when it’s done.

Here is a picture of half of my set up showing some of my Sprang.  The picture I took of the other half, the spinning, came out to blurry.

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Almost two years ago I was lucky enough to win on Ebay a group of reputabley late Roman era spindle whorls.  There were 17 items in the box I received, most were objects that were, undoubtedly to me, spindle whorls and one loom weight. 

Since then I have spent a good amount of time working on referbishing the spindle whorls with shafts to remake functioning Roman era spindles.

The picture included in this post are the functioning spindles from that group.  On each I tested the same Coopworth roving from Hearts on the Meadow Farm to determine consistency.  With some minor tweaking all but one are fully functional as drop spindles, some if the lighter ones could possibly function as support spindles. 

One of the spindles, the one with the smallest whorl, does not currently have the weight to function as a drop spindle.  I was able to use it laying on my thigh to roll in twist and parking it while drafting.  Perhaps with more weight it will work as a drop spindle.  I also need more practice support spindling to determine if it will function properly.  When my husband looked at the whorl his impression was button or bead, which it may well be.  Time, and further experimentation will tell. 

One thing this experiment really helped me with:  I used to have a mental block of sorts on the thought of spinning, not supported, on a spindle with a tapering shaft.  I couldn’t get passed the idea that the half-hitch would just slip off. Designing shafts for several of the whorls I made shafts that tapered to a point, to mimic several spindles in the Petrie Museum.  While testing I was able to spin very fine singles using a half hitch to hold the thread to the spindle and there was no slipping.  Block overcame.  🙂

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This week was a fun one.  I was able to complete the skein below early in the week.  The wool was a prepared Jacob pencil roving, very short staple so I spun it up on my Spindolyn set.   A Spindolyn is a type of support spindle, with a metal shaft that fits down into the base of wood, good for spinning short fibers, like this roving or cotton.  I had begun this project early this spring and worked on it off and on, mostly spinning in the van on my way to and from doctor appointments.  Plying was interesting due to the prominent hooks at the tops of the spindles, but after putting the spindles hook-down into my plying bowls I was able to finish plying with only a few snags.  The skein is about 100 yards total, 2 ply.  I even have more of this roving left over. 🙂

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Jacob Yarn

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My Weirdo Yarn

This next yarn was a bit more problematic, and has been for 2 years!  This yarn is from one of my first attempts spinning on a spinning wheel.   it was the end of the retreat and I had borrowed a friends’ wheel to spin on and she was packing it up.  I figured since I wasn’t short on spindles that I would Andean ply the single into a 2 ply yarn.  Something wasn’t right though, and the yarn seemed to refuse to ply properly.  I fought and fought with it for several days after the retreat, took it off my spindle and left it in my spinning box for years…

Until this week when I decided to take another crack at it.  But, again try as I might it just wouldn’t ply, I even tried to re-spin it and that wouldn’t work.  I figured that it was just telling me that it wanted to remain a single and I wrapped it up on my small Niddie Noddie.   While wrapping I confirmed what I had already suspected; several times during spinning I had inadvertently let the wheel run counter to the direction of spin.

Yep this is going into a weaving project.  What project yet I don’t know.

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Pelts

The picture to the left shows two mountain sheep or goat pelts that I was able to pick up at auction this last weekend.  I’m not sure exactly which breed as the auction had 4 pelts and each one was a little different from the rest (the auction was a collection of taxidermy and pelts from an estate).

They both need a little bit of cleaning, I’ll start with brushing them off lightly and letting them air out before I decide if something more drastic is needed (ie washing or dry cleaning)

They will make nice bedding for camping and seat covers for when I’m spinning. 🙂

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Next up is some material that I’m trying to decide what I want to do with it.  Both are scraps that I’ve, again, picked up at auction, so I’m not sure of the fabric content other than they didn’t melt during burn tests.  The blue may be cotton or linen, possibly a blend.  I was hoping it would go well enough with the patterned (woven in pattern at that) to make a woman’s Viking Apron Dress, like this one, using the patterned as the main material and the blue as trim/to increase length.  I don’t know yet, first I need to make a linen under-dress first!  This is all part of the AS 50 challenge I’m taking part in.

Also something important I finally started this week is keeping a Spinning Notebook, like this one.   I had been keeping notes and samples on  3×5 cards, however, frequently a card doesn’t have enough room and my holder was getting full!  I already have a large 3 ring binder for holding samples from spinning workshops where multiple samples of yarn are kept on each page, this secondary notebook is for smaller samples and notes on processing, spinning, finishing and project ideas.   Laun Dunn has a handy list of possible notes that might be needed for such a notebook on the Bella Online website.

Sheep pelts, yarn completed, material thoughts, spinning note book.

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After plying 2 spindles of gray wool I had about 25 yards of single left over.  Normally I’d Andean ply the leftover single, but I liked the consistency of this single, nice and thin, so I decided to keep it for embroidery thread.  The only thing though, how to store it?

After thinking about a couple other posts where the authors had put together Viking/Medieval sewing kits, and, along with oh so many goodies, were small wooden cards for winding thread on.  Though it’s not definitively known what use the shaped bone pieces found in Viking age digs were for, they do strongly resemble modern embroidery floss cards.   I decided I needed a few.

Off to the workshop and a few hours later I had 4 oak thread winders.

I cut the winders from 1/8″ thick oak board I had purchased from Lose’s for another project (a Lucet tool).  After sawing off enough for the Lucet, I measured off 4 sections about 1 1/2″ wide and sawed them off individually.   I used a curved wood rasp to shape the winders, then sanded them with sandpaper till as smooth as I could get them.  While sanding I also took care of some wood Nalbinding needles and 2 bone sewing needles I’ve been working on.  (The bone needles need eyes, something I’ve been hesitating to do)

All in all they’re not to bad, uneven in size, but, that may improve if I decide to make more.

Winder blanks with wood rasp.

Mostly finished winders & needles.

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A&S 50 Challenge