Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Finished handwoven Icelandic cloth

Here is the finished cloth I wove with the Icelandic tog and thel yarns I spun. The first picture in each set is fresh off the loom, pre fulling. The second picture in each set is the fulled and finished cloth. 

The fact that I was able to weave three yards instead of just two, coupled with the fact that it didn’t shrink up as much as I had anticipated in the fulling process means that I have more cloth than I thought. Pre-fulling it measured 3 yards long, 28 inches wide. After fulling it measures 2.8 yards long, 21 inches wide. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Icelandic Warp

This is 4 yards, 300 ends of Icelandic tog warp ready to go on the loom. Actually, not all of it is Icelandic, I had to supplement with about 50 yards of mixed Cotswold and Gotland that I had on hand because I didn’t have quite enough tog. Altogether it’s 1200 yards of warp.

The weft is Icelandic thel, pictured below, ready for weaving.

Icelandic Wool

This is the yarn I’ve managed to make from two Icelandic sheep’s fleeces. One of the fleeces, a beautiful multicolored one, was smallish. The other, a white one, was probably average size for Icelandic. 

I separated the tog (the longer, stronger outer coat) from the thel (the shorter, finer inner coat). I got about 1,100 yards of tog and about 1,800 yards of thel, both spun into a fine, two-ply yarn. My intentions from the beginning have been to weave with the yarn. I also have 300-500 yards of thicker, combined tog + thel yarn that I spun from fiber left behind in the combs after combing the thel, plus other combined remnants. I won’t use the combined yarn in the cloth I’ll be weaving with the separated yarn.

What I’ve learned so far is in order to  make cloth with Icelandic wool, you need many fleeces for just one project, say enough cloth for a dress. My two fleeces will not make enough cloth for me, but maybe there will be enough for a baby outfit for my little granddaughter. I wove a small test swatch and discovered that fulling drastically reduces the size, more than other wools I’ve woven with. The width reduced by 42%  and the length by 27%. I have estimated that after fulling the cloth woven at 30 inches by 72 inches I will have a piece of fine wool cloth approximately 17 inches wide and 52 inches long. 

I read somewhere that traditionally, the household had to present new clothing to everyone in the house (including workers and slaves) by Solstice or Yule or thereabouts, or else you’d get coal in your stocking (lol, not really, but it the equivalent to that) and you would probably be looked upon as lazy. Well, if you were producing that much cloth and clothing every year, you certainly weren’t lazy. That on top of all the cloth produced to sell and trade - after all, vadmal cloth was the backbone of the Icelandic economy.

So what I’ve learned so far is it had to take a lot of sheep and a lot of work to keep everyone clothed and to produce enough cloth to keep the economy thriving. Everyone must have been spinning in every spare moment.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Weaving a Christmas present

My daughter will be having her first child in early February. For Christmas I am weaving a baby wrap for her. It's a really long wrap that can be tied on one's person in such a way as to hold a baby or toddler against you, keeping your hands free to do other things.

The weft is all handspun and hand-dyed by me. No wool. It's all plant-derived fiber and silk. There is just over 5,000 yards just for the weft, so I went with commercial cotton for the warp, which is 8 yards long and 648 ends.

The spinning was a lot of work and the dyeing was a little different from my usual. I dye mostly with natural dyes and acid dyes, but for most of the fiber, I needed fiber reactive dyes. I was nervous about using them for the first time on such a big project. I only screwed up a little in that the colors on all of the plant-derived fibers came out pastel when I wanted them to be stronger. The silks came out much stronger. And then I have some carbonized bamboo that is undyed because it's a dark gray. Doesn't really fit with the color scheme, but I'll make it work somehow.

I chose the fibers to be wicking and breathable and washable. I hate giving new mothers things that have to be hand washed.

Anyhoo, I got the warp on the loom - am I the only one who gets blisters when warping? And I've started the weave. I'm about 30 inches in on a 202-inch weave. Pics below.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Jacket made with Hand-dyed, Handspun and Handwoven Cloth

Okay, I haven't posted anything in a while, and I'm not sure what kinds of changes Blogger may have made lately, but I'm having trouble with this post. It has a lot of pictures. I have tried to write commentary to go with the pics, but my whole draft keeps disappearing, even if I save as I go. So I will just say a few words here and add the pictures, hopefully you can get the gist of what I did through the pictures.

I made a jacket using naturally-dyed, handspun, handwoven wool. This was my process:

Monday, February 26, 2018

Weaving Handspun Silk Scarves

I finally got a loom! I got it a few months ago as a birthday present. So far I've woven two handspun wool scarves, twelve cotton kitchen towels, handspun wool fabric with which I made a skirt, and three handspun silk scarves. 

I just finished the scarves today. I spun up three types of silk to weave them with. In the picture below they are Red Eri, Tussah, and Muga.

I wound a little over seven yards of warp:

 The warp was so pretty before it went on the loom:

While weaving, I was sure I was going to mess everything up and ruin all of this expensive silk.

I wove two scarves in two different types of tabby, and one scarf in twill. Below you can see them just off the loom before wet finishing.

I didn't totally mess them up, but the twill scarf is the best. I wove the plain tabby intentionally very open. That one is the second-best. The third scarf I wove in a loose, but not open tabby - not a plain tabby, but I can't remember the name of it. It came out least-well of the three.

Here are they are, all dry after being wet-finished and pressed:

 A few things I learned: sampling is a good thing. I didn't do it with these and wish I had. Also, the warp with silk can be sett closer than you might think. And when tying the warp onto the front beam, I wouldn't recommend lashing it on, but rather tying it on - I think that would disrupt the weave of what you wind on a lot less (I had a problem with the lashing cord and knots pushing the weave structure apart when the cloth was wound around the beam). And if you are going to weave with silk for the first time, you should probably use less expensive silk than eri, tussah and muga.

You may be asking yourself why I would weave with expensive types of silk on my very first foray into silk weaving. The answer is that these are the only types of silk I had on hand. Now my supply has been exhausted, but I am eager to get more silk, probably mulberry this time, and weave some more!

Even though the scarves aren't perfect, they are still extremely beautiful, solely because of the beautiful nature of silk, and these types of silk in particular. I was hoping that they would be good enough to sell, but I think only the twill one is good enough, unless I explain the less-than-perfect nature of the others in their description and price them accordingly. They actually have a sort-of rustic-woven charm to them that some people might like.