Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stash aquisition and goodies!!

When your friends say they're working on cleaning up the clutter of craft supplies they have at home, and mention they have a few boxes packed up for you that you might be interested in, what do you say??  YES!!

Jocelyne, my quilting-roadtrip friend, emailed me during the week to say she thought she had some weaving supplies I might be able to use, and would it be okay if during her travels on Saturday could she stop by.  Hell YES! :)

Now, I didn't really know what to expect.  She had said that years ago she had acquired a loom but had never used it and had given it to a lady she knew who would.  Along that same line, she had purchased at an auction, what looked to be the stash and tools from someone who obviously had done tapestry weaving.

She mentioned that even the tapestry loom, if not an actual tapestry as well was at the auction - she didn't buy it, and wasn't sure if anyone did.

Anyways, yesterday she arrives, and lo and behold, there were 5 boxes and a huge rubbermaid tub!

Four of the boxes and the rubbermaid tub were FILLED, I mean FILLED with wool.  On first touch, it reminded me of Briggs & Little worsted weight wool.  Beautiful heavy duty wool, and most had been wound into cakes (center-pull balls).  There are a dozen or so that are still in skeins.  Some still have the tags on them.  They're from Condon's Yarns, a store/mill that operated out of Charlottetown, PEI from 1931 through 1989.  These have been around for a while.  And that's apparent by the somewhat musty odour of them.  But that's nothing that won't wash out once they're made into something.

This morning I had to pull them all out to see how much and what colours were buried in these boxes.  Drool over these!!


sorted by colour on my 6' by 3' table in my quilting room

and this rag-tag box of wound balls in a variety of colours

I haven't counted how many there are... yet. (edit: approximately 132 balls)  But the range of colours is wonderful, and for the most part they're all the same type of wool.  I could tell by the feel of a couple of the balls there was an acrylic or acrylic mix there, but only a couple.

The other box, was a treasure trove of weaving tools!

There are 2 beautiful boat shuttles, a manual bobbin winder, 3 warping paddles, some warping pegs that you can clamp to a table, and more than a dozen tapestry/wool bobbins, most of which all have the Leclerc name on them.  And in the paper bag, 6 packages of plastic tatting shuttles, 2 per package.

I'll have to lay them all out and take better pictures.  Plus there are a few pieces I don't know what they are.  

We sat, had coffee, chatted, and she didn't want a cent for any of it.  I'm so thrilled!  Plus I wasn't expecting that there would be boat shuttles, I only have one, so this will make things much easier for changing colours when I weave.

One of Jim's friends had asked a few weeks ago if I could weave him some wool fabric so he can make himself a new vest.  I'm sure I can do that now!!

I also see quite a few wool blankets in my near future.  I'm sure the homeless shelters could use them.

Also makes me wonder what other treasures she has at home *wink*.

What a great friend!!

Weaving project #2

It's really amazing how much time it takes to warp the loom for a project.

For this one, I used a cone of cotton and a cone of cottolin, warped together.

For the weft, I'm using some dk cotton I have in my stash.

It's a simple set of placemats called "Elegant Placemats" from the Weaving Today website.  It's a free e-book.

The pattern on the blue is called huck.  The pattern on the yellow is called huck lace.

Unfortunately, while I was just getting into the yellow one, I went to advance the warp, and the ratchet pawl snapped and broke off.  UGH!!

It goes on that pin there on the metal bar, below the cog

Just snapped.

And I just about snapped!!  I've emailed Camilla Valley Farms to see if there is a way I can replace it, or the entire part (with the metal rod). *crosses fingers*

If I can just replace the pawl, great!, otherwise, I'll probably have to cut my project off the loom and restart the yellow one.  One placemat done, 3 to go.

Weaving project #1

To get started and practice using the loom, I pulled out some Briggs & Little wool I had and got to it.

I've now woven a piece of fabric I can use to make a new purse!  The extra red section at the end was just to use up the rest of the warp on the loom, but I'm thinking I can use it for the saddle bags I want to make for my spinning wheel.

Not a bad start.

This is a rosepath pattern.
And yes I did make errors, I found one treadling error in the red section.  I'll need to figure out how I did it, because I actually like the effect.  Therefore, it's not an error, it's a "design element" :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dyeing with Black Walnuts - Part 2

I did a couple of "dip tests" while the dye was simmering.  ie. I keep a few locks of fleece in a container where I'm working and dip them into the dye to see what the depth of the colour is.  When I did that, I found there was a LOT of sediment collecting on the locks.  That is not something I want to have to comb out of the fleece afterwards.  Therefore, a straining process is needed.

The walnuts have sat in the pot for about 24 hrs and cooled to room temperature.

Straining is not a quick process, kind of like watching paint dry.  If you've ever made your own almond milk you'll understand what I mean.

See how there's a stream of dye flowing from the filter?  When that changes to just a slow dripping, you know the bottom of the filter is covered in sediment

You can use coffee filters, layers of cheesecloth or even paper towel.  Whatever works for you to get the results you desire.  I started with coffee filters, but I had to change them often - think, after every 2 cups poured.  The sediment was that dense.

Then I switched to paper towels.  They gave me a little more surface to utilize, as when one end was full of sediment, I could just pull (carefully so as not to rip the towel) towards me and expose the other end of the paper towel.  This way I was able to run about 4 cups through the process.

See the sediment collected?

An even better picture.

I didn't use cheesecloth because I knew that even with about 6 layers, I would still end up with some sediment getting through.  Found that out the hard way with almond milk.

In the end, I think I've ended up with about 7 litres of somewhat concentrated dye from 3 pounds of walnut husks.

I've put the dye into my cooking pot and added some more water.  I'm not worried that the dye has now been diluted a bit because it's still there, and I need 'swimming room' for the fleece.  That way the dye will penetrate through all of it.

I'm dyeing a pound of British Milk fleece first.  Bringing it slowly to just under a boil, then I'll let it simmer for about an hour, and sit for the rest of the day and night.

If the dye hasn't exhausted by the end, I may throw in about 1/2 a pound of cotswold that I have.  Even if it isn't a really dark rich brown, I think it'll still have a nice golden/tan/beige colour to it.  We'll see.

This is why I love experimenting!

Results to come....

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A loom lives!

The loom lives!

Backstory:   A couple weeks ago, through our guild (OVWSG), an offer was made for a Leclerc Inca Loom, for free. Since I was the first one to respond to the offer, I was able to obtain it… 2 days before my 47th birthday! Happy Birthday to me! 
The lady who owned it thought she might like to get into weaving a few years ago, so her husband had purchased it from an acquaintance of theirs. Needless to say, it was never set up/assembled. She didn’t get around to it. The 2 side frames are assembled, but all the other pieces are in a box.
It looks like it’s in beautiful shape, finished nicely with a light stain and varnish. The husband had even gone to Leclerc’s site for his wife and printed out all the instructions and specs on the loom and put them in a binder.
Unfortunately, the last couple weeks I’ve been so busy with guild events and demos and personal life that I haven’t had time to set it up… that is, until tomorrow 
I’m sure I’ll be up super early to get started on putting this together.
I’ve read through all the documentation I can find on this loom, it’s 36”, 4 shafts, 6 treadles, it's a counterbalance set up.
I believe these were made in the 80's and were sold as a "kit" loom.  Sold unassembled and unfinished, in order to provide people with a more affordable option.

It took approximately 3.5 hours and numerous trips up and down the stairs, back and forth from the garage - that's where the box was with all the pieces, and it was too damn heavy for one person to haul up to the spare room (Jim was at work), and I was determined to get this assembled today. (I'm going to be sore tonight) 
She's missing a couple minor pieces.  One of the strings for the top counterbalance roller (I substituted with a piece of rope tied the same length) and a hook for one of the treadles - it was supposed to have 6, only 5 were attached to the treadles.... not sure how when they packed it up they didn't realize one wasn't there. Oh well. I'll contact Camilla Valley Farm - from all reports, they are excellent to deal with and have all the parts available.


See, missing one hook on the far right treadle.

I'm sure I can still use her without the hook for now.

Nest job is to sort out the apron/beam strings in the front and back, they're a bit of a mess.  

And then dig through some of my yarn to see if I have anything I can use as a warp to start playing. :)

Dyeing with Black Walnuts

Thanks to Judy in our guild, who is a complete and utter “enabler” LOL, I gathered, I’m figuring about 50 lbs of black walnuts this morning.
I’m definitely not using them all myself. I’ve got a batch simmering on the stove right now, the rest I’ll share with the guild.
I weighed out 5 lbs. After husking them, it netted 3 lbs.
I threw the seeds over the fence behind our house… it hadn’t even been 30 seconds before a squirrel was there and had one in his mouth. I’m pretty sure they smelled them while I was husking and were just watching and waiting, little stalkers!
I couldn’t believe the colour of the liquid within a couple minutes of putting the husks in the pot. A nice brown. By the time it came to a boil, it has become a greeny-brown. Now it’s simmering for an hour or so… I’ll keep an eye on it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tomato Sauce 20lbs

When I was at the Metcalfe Farmers' Market yesterday for the demo, I made sure I did some shopping.

20 pounds of nice roma tomatoes for $20.

Today, Jim helped me prep them and now we have 15 500ml jars of yummy tomato sauce and a nice batch left in the pot that we used on spaghetti for dinner, and there's enough for leftovers tomorrow. 

While puree'ing, we added in some onion, a whole head of garlic, fresh basil and fresh parsley, a little bit of salt and pepper and a few bay leaves for good measure.  It made the whole house smell wonderful while it was simmering.  A water bath processing and now they're good to go in the pantry.

Homemade is sooooo good!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sept 5, 2014 Storm Surprise

At approximately 4pm today, a severe storm hit the end of the city where Jim and I work.  It lasted a half hour.

I heard reports on the radio of power outages, trees and branches coming down and traffic issues.

We never guessed we'd find this when we got home.

 You can see the dark area of the trunk where it looks like it may have actually been struck by lightening.  Thankfully, nothing was on fire when we got home, and the power is still on.  We're lucky it hasn't really damaged the fence, or that it didn't go through any of our windows or the neighbors.

I've placed a call to the landlord's repair line, and of course left a message, because it's after work hours now.

Who knows how long it'll be before they can send someone out to remove it.

Poor Jake doesn't know what to make of it... his backyard isn't the same now. There's a tree in the middle of it!  :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

New Hackle

Made the newer one this weekend.  It works much better than the first one I made.  The first one had issues.  The epoxy I used on the hackle just didn't set well.  I used a different epoxy on the comb and it set and hardened with no problem.

Much nicer.

Now I have to make a comb to match :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

A wool hackle and comb set - I made them!

Most people wouldn't know what these are.  Crafters who deal with raw fleece will.

There are dozens of youtube videos on how to use them, but very few on how to make them.

I did find a tutorial from Moonsong Fiberworks LLC and it's just what I needed.

This one is made out of curly maple and uses 3.5" finishing nails.

It's a little rough but it's all about function over form.  
Total cost:  about $16 and a few hours of labour.  (compared to the ones sold online for over $225 for just the hackle - I think it's a steal!)

I'm still going to stain and varathane it and I'm just going to use a couple of clamps purchased at Canadian Tire to clamp it to the table for use.

Now I have an easier method to comb all the cleaned fleece that I have for spinning! (vs spending hours brushing each individual lock).

My next project: an art blending hackle.  It will definitely be a prettier version, as I finally found a source for the real tines that are used in most that are being sold through websites and etsy stores.

I've already cut the stainless steel 1/8 diameter rod into 6.5" lengths. I have to grind one end of each into a bit of a point, and I have a very nice piece of purpleheart wood to drill the holes and epoxy the tines into.

The art blending hackle will only have one row of tines.  The fibers you add to it should already be combed and fluffed, you just have to diz it off into roving.

Can't wait!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More dyeing and drying

Been a busy day.  Yesterday I had kettle dyed a good lot of the remainder of the fleece from batch 2 using yellow food colouring.  It had to cool in the pot overnight to room temperature, then I rinsed and rinsed and put it out to dry.

There should be enough here to make quite a few yards of yarn, to use with my yellow/orange locks.

Yesterday I had also finished dyeing more locks, I knew I needed more yellow/orange, and I played with some green/blue ones as well.  Add those to the stash.

Today, I weighed out another kg of fleece from one of the bags I purchased at the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers, and got that soaking.  It's now out on the drying screen.  There are some beautiful big fat locks in there.  It's just too bad there is so much vegetable matter in these fleeces.  It's going to take a lot of work to get them prepped for spinning.

I heard that the farmers who ship their fleeces to these cooperatives, only get about 40 cents per pound for them.  These are all Canadian raised fleeces.  If they knew what kind of demand spinners, weavers and fiber artists alike have for these, maybe they'd take a little more care in how their fleeces were raised, and subsequently, advertise them on the various websites.  They could get so much more than 40 cents per pound.  There's even a facebook page for farmers to sell their Canadian fleeces.  We really need to get the word out to them.

On Ravelry, we also have a group where we list the farmers that we know locally who make their fleeces available to us.  But there have to be so many more farmers that have no idea... given the skids upon skids of fleeces that were just sitting there at the coop.

Off my soap box.  While the fleece was soaking... I made another batch of fabric softener.  Jim and I had stopped at the dollar store the other day and since I knew we were out, I picked up a couple bottles of cheap creme rinse.  Really nice... lavender & chamomile scent.  It's so easy to make, and much cheaper than buying the pre-made stuff at the grocery store.  I even used some of it in the final rinse of my fleece... heck, it has lavender.. that's supposed to keep moths away... not that we've had a problem with them at all.  Couldn't hurt right?

Last night I spent some time spinning the white fluffy clouds that I had prepped.  Oh my!  Does it ever spin up nice and thin.  I think I'm going to use this as a core for something later.  Now I'm going to go outside and prep more fiber for spinning.  I really really need a wool picker but can't afford one.  I need to find someone in our guild who has one that I can borrow for a few hours.  That would make prepping these fibers so much easier.  But, for now, I'll do it all manually.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fleece Fun

I've been playing... even though I've been off work to recover from gall bladder surgery on Monday, I've been making use of my time.  What can I say?  I get bored just sitting watching tv.

Soooooo.... I have been playing (working) with the fleece I've acquired.

On June 21st I attended the Lambs Down Festival in Carleton Place and was fortunate enough to bump into Carlene, a woman I met at the Knit Knackers Spin night and who is also a member of the Ottawa Valley Weavers' and Spinners' Guild.

Since this was held at the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers location, I knew she had snagged a good load of fleece recently.  Thankfully, she was ever so helpful and directed me to the location for picking out fleece.  We found a gentleman there, who provided garbage bags and said "go to it".

I filled 2 garbage bags!!  14 lbs of fleece, of a medium-coarse grade, for $3.00 per lb.  Unfortunately, you really have to dig through them and have at least some knowledge of what you're looking for, in order to process and spin it into yarn.  

That was where Carlene was most helpful.  Even though the fleeces are just dumped in a bin, sorting through it and finding what looks to be decent quality is the trick.  And just so you know, in the farming vernacular, a "tag" is a big-ass lump of crap from the sheep's rear end.  LOL  Carlene just about jumped when she warned me I almost put my hand on a big lump of it.

Anyways, she was a good sport and spent the time helping me and I can't thank her enough.

Enough of that... now for pictures:

Raw fleece, ready to be washed

Drying in the sun

Close up

Length of locks (tails) Batch 1
These are about 6" long when stretched out

Batch 2 - I didn't take pics before washing, this is what it looks like dried.

I sat last night for about 4 hrs and pulled out locks for dyeing.
These locks are 8 - 10 inches long.

Tails that weren't clean enough for dyeing, I sat and "flicked", basically, used a small dog slicker brush to brush them out and remove any vm (vegetable matter)

The whole batch I did last night while watching a couple movies.  Processing fleece is not for the faint of heart, there's a ton of work involved.

First batch this morning, dyeing the locks.  My inspiration for this? Natalie Redding from Namaste Farms in California.  This woman is amazing and has awesome youtube videos showing how she makes her fabulous yarns.

Locks drying in the sun!  Aren't they pretty??

I have a couple more batches being dyed right now.  I'm adding to the orange/yellow.... I want a lot of these to make a really cool scarf.

This morning has been so nice outside, I grabbed the rest of the batch and sat and flicked and carded more of the same batch.  It's not something you really want to do in the house if you can avoid it.  The pile of dirt that ends up on the floor is significant.

Now with all the fluffy stuff that's left, I'm going to do some spinning with it tonight.  I really have no idea what breed this is, but the fleece is so soft, silky and has an amazing sheen to it, that I think it's going to spin up beautifully.

Will post pictures when some of that is completed.

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