Sunday, February 25, 2018

My new loom is here!

Way back in January (January 4, to be exact) I ordered a new 8-harness Schacht Baby Wolf loom, complete with all the bells and whistles - height extenders, stroller wheels, and high castle tray.  It has been a long, difficult wait (especially since I am generally lacking in patience), but on Friday, my loom finally arrived!  It was shipped to the local yarn shop where I had ordered it, The Yarn and Fiber Company in Derry, NH.

I loaded it into my van and brought it home.  Of course, it was raining, and I didn't want to be hauling it out of the van and across the lawn (and down into the basement) in the dark, in the rain, so it stayed in the van overnight.

Yesterday I brought it into the house (with help) and started the assembly (without help).

First I added the height extenders.  They make it easier for taller people to weave on this compact, portable loom.

Then, for further portability, I added the stroller wheels.

The wheels engage when the loom is folded up and make it easier to move the loom around.

That was as far as I got with the time I had yesterday.

I started again this morning, after morning chores and grocery shopping.  I connected the crank handle to the back beam.

Then I added the texsolv cords to the front (cloth) and back (warp) beams, and added the apron rods for both beams.

Then it was on to the heddles!  The loom comes with 800 heddles - 100 for each of the 8 harnesses.  There were 8 bags, each with 100 heddles that were tied together with a nylon string.  They were fairly easy to string onto the heddle bars.  I had to remove each harness frame individually, move the heddle bars, string the heddles on, then put everything back together and put the frame back into the loom.  Repeat x8.

I kept all of the little nylon strings that tied the individual harness bundles together.  They strike me as perfect for scotch tension cord for spinning wheels!  Why waste a perfect brake cord?

All harnesses and heddles finished!

Then I had to attach all of the treadle tie-up cords to the lamms (the horizontal wooden bars with holes).  There were 80 to attach - 10 on each lamm (because there are 10 treadles to potentially tie up), and 8 lamms (one for each harness).

I found out I could prop up a harness, one at a time.  I used a shuttle for that.  Propping the harness lowered the corresponding lamm below, and made it easier to thread the texsolv tie-ups through the holes in the lamm.

All done!  80 texsolv tie-up cords in place!

The last thing was to assemble the high castle tray.  This lets me keep everything for a project (bobbins, shuttles, threading hook, etc) easy to reach.

Done!  Now I am contemplating what to put on it for my first warp!  I have several Cotton Clouds kits, plus quite a few awesome weaving drafts (like heart patterns, and a couple of geometric ones with squares, etc) that I'd like to make.

I also signed up for a kitchen towel exchange and I have to get those done by mid-April.  It will be fun deciding what to begin next!

Spinning - wheel & spindle

I've been spinning a lot lately!  I think it's the first time I've done any considerable amount of spinning since the grandson came to live with us 3-1/2 years ago.

This is from rolags by The Wooly Witch, who is unfortunately no longer selling fiber.  The colorway is Maleficent - black and dark purple, with some sparklies.  It is lovely, drafts nicely, and spins up beautifully.  I believe I had 4 packages; each package had 4 rolags.  I spun up two packages onto one bobbin, and this is almost one package (I think I have one rolag left from that one, and one more package to go before I ply.)

I have also been playing with some CVM from Long Ridge Farm, and a Trillium drop spindle from Bull Sheep Fibery on Etsy.

I'm going to consider this practice for a potential Longest Thread entry.  The Longest Thread contest is about a year away (maybe 13 months) but mailing deadline for entries is about the end of October. Every year that they have it (odd years) I say I’m going to do it, but never have. And it takes a LONG time to spin up the required 10 grams (about 1/3 of an ounce) of wool (and now they allow alpaca as well) THAT thin. Here’s the beginning of my first practice.  Gold thread is sewing thread, for comparison.

I love this spindle!  It's about 7 grams in weight.

I also got a great Spinning Box this week.  This has undoubtedly contributed to my continued enthusiasm with my spinning!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

New babies, and some updated pictures

New babies!  Hubby told me for Valentine's Day that I could get some baby goats, and I've been waiting to pick up these babies since then.  I wanted specifically a boy and a girl, and I wanted large breed dairy goats.  (I do not want to breed Nigerian Dwarf goats, cute as they are, nor do I want to cross-breed mini goats from a ND buck crossed on a full size doe).  I needed to get a boy, to breed my girls this fall, and wanted him to have a companion his own age.  As I definitely do not need two bucks, the companion needed to be a girl.

Meet Vinnie and Katie!

Vinnie was born Jan 17 and is a Saanen/Alpine cross buck.  Katie was born Jan 23, and is 1/2 Toggenburg, and 1/2 Nubian/Alpine.

I also took some updated pics of the other hoofed barn denizens.

This is Jenny.  She is an 11 month old LaMancha doeling.  Note, no ears!  (She actually has tiny, tiny ear flaps.)  It is difficult to get a picture of Jenny because she is either running or else standing right next to me (makes for some awkward photos).

Jenny with Margot, 2 yr old Alpine doe.

And the last two are my Jacob sheep, Talullah and Daisy.  They are about 7 or 8 years old.

I took a brief video of the critters being silly while I was out in the pasture.  Besides seeing silly critters, you can hear a rooster crowing, dogs barking, and the baby goats hollering.

DIY tablet weaving cards

Yesterday I was at a dollar store and came across some cheap playing cards!  These were labeled "Seconds", but hey, they were $1.00 a deck!  I grabbed two decks - one red, one blue - to make into tablet weaving cards.

I posted about it on Instagram, and someone asked how to make tablet weaving cards from playing cards, so I made a quick photo set to illustrate.

First you have to square up the cards.  I overlap them at right angles, making sure two sides line up, and draw a line.

Cut on the line, and round the corners.  Some people purchase a corner rounding punch - apparently there are such things, among scrapbooking supplies at craft stores.  I saw some and could not figure out which corner rounder I wanted - they do cut slightly different shapes - so I just judge it by eye and do it by hand with my scissors.

I then use a ruler and mark a set of lines half an inch in from each corner.  This is where I will punch the holes.

I punch the holes where the corners are marked. 

After that I mark the A-B-C-D on each corner with a Sharpie marker.  Some people don't mark the A-B-C-D, but I find it makes it easier for me to follow where I need to stop and start in a pattern, as well as letting me know where I stopped.  When I'm doing tablet weaving, I try to stop after one full repeat - so if I start with the A at the top away from me, I want to do my 4 forward, 4 back, and end with the A in the same place.  I suppose the card number could serve the same purpose, but it doesn't take me long to write on the cards.

Someone else said she colors the edges to help her keep track in a similar manner.

Resurrecting an old project

I was rearranging some stuff in the basement this week and came across a few abandoned projects.  I pulled some out to reclaim the yarn, and came across some that I want to pick up again.

The first is the Rose Trellis Shawl, in a local indie-dyed yarn.  This yarn was purchased in 2008, and the shop closed in 2012.  I probably started this shawl around 2008-2010.  When I came across it, I decided that I wanted to go up a needle size and I ripped it all out.  I am now past row 50, and making good progress.

I'm using my KnitCompanion app to track the rows on this.  When I started this shawl, KnitCompanion wasn't available, and I was tracking with post-it notes on paper copies.  It's much easier this way!

I found another abandoned project as well - my 2-Ply Grey Shawl, from Heirloom Knitting.  According to my Ravelry queue, I started this in 2009, although there was mail in the knitting bag dated 2004.  Who knows.  It's been sitting a while, anyway.

Yesterday I took the paper copy (covered with post-it notes, and numbers, and calculations) and scanned all the pages with my printer, so that I can keep a copy on my computer and import it into KnitCompanion.  The paper copy is in a bit of rough shape.  The envelope is tattered (I taped all the edges, and there are some coffee stains on the edges of the pattern.  All the instructions appear to be intact, however.

I also took a quick trip to a local yarn shop, YarnSong, for a new circular needle in a longer length.  Now I just need to figure out where I stopped and what I was doing.  I know I was in the rows of gray feather and fan stitch edging, just don't know where or how many more I needed to do, or where the color changes occur.  Obviously I will need to read through the pattern before I begin again.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Dates and Old Acquisitions

This morning I saw a post on Facebook that said Schacht has created a page on their website to register Schacht equipment.  I registered my Schacht Matchless double treadle spinning wheel, and went looking through old blog posts to find out when I got it.  I remember buying it second-hand, and driving up to Maine to meet with the seller.  Apparently that was on October 15, 2011.

This led to a search for the purchase date of my antique Canadian Production Wheel.  I remember that it was in the early 2000s, and we drove up to North Conway, NH to get it.  The lady had an awesome Border collie as well.  According to an even older blog, that was on January 25, 2003.  Both of those dates have now been entered into my records.

I also started reading through a book that my youngest son got me as a gift last year - Handwoven Tape, Understanding and Weaving Early American and Contemporary Tape, by Susan Faulkner Weaver.

I have a reproduction tape loom (based on plans in an old issue of Early American Life magazine) that I got from a friend.  I haven't done much with it (yet!) but just like the inkle and tablet looms, it does hold some interest.  These photos are from August 2014, and the loom looks pretty much the same now as it did then.

I'm contemplating a display and demonstration at our library of weaving and looms, and this would be part of it, along with the inkle loom, the tablet loom, my Baby Wolf (after it arrives and is warped up), and associated books.  The library would like it; I just need to decide when I could do it.  I'm thinking about a weekday/weekend two-day demo.  The library is not open on Fridays, but is on Saturdays so I am considering a Thursday/Saturday demo.  I could have the three small looms set up with projects (maybe even a Weave-It, with one square done and the Weave-It loom partially warped with the next one) as well as the Baby Wolf, and have the applicable reference books on the table next to each project.  I would plan to do most of my weaving on the Baby Wolf, but could demonstrate the others as requested.  I don't know nearly as much about weaving history as I do about spinning history, but it would still be fun and might entice a few more people, especially if they see what you can do with smaller looms.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Day Out

Today I got to spend the day spinning at the New Hampshire Farm & Forest Expo!  Coincidentally, this was the event where I first saw someone spinning, 20 years ago, and bought my first spindle and roving to learn how to spin!

On the way to the Expo I stopped and bought something I've been considering for a while:  a portable wagon.

It holds everything I need to bring to a spinning demo, and folds up quite small when not in use.

This was our set-up at the Expo.  In this photo, my wheel is the light-colored one on the far left.

And this is the whole group.  Two people are absent from this photo.  (Well, one actually, as I am taking the photo.)

The expo was fun.  There were baby goats, baby chicks, some wild creatures (hedgehog, possum, giant toad, and a snake), two booths had ponies, there was at least one angora bunny and a bunch of different breeds of chickens, and a couple of farms had some alpacas.  There were feed dealers, farm insurance agencies, maple syrup equipment vendors, several state agricultural agencies, some food (and ice cream), tractors, solar equipment distributors, fencing vendors, and I'm sure others that I'm not remembering.

Besides lunch, the only thing I bought was this shirt.  Freebies, however, included several pens, some post-it notes, some dog bones, and some black oil sunflower seeds for my bunnies.  Oh, and some Norway Spruce seeds!  I'm looking forward to planting those in the spring!