Monday, January 20, 2014

Fine Spinning and Wild Weaving

I've been able to play with fibery things for the last couple of weeks.   Last weekend I got to take a two-day spinning class.  Now I taught myself to spin almost 30 years ago,  and I'm pretty good at turning fluff into yarn.   But I like to take classes when I can--I like getting together with other spinners, and I usually don't let myself just sit and spin for two days.   This class was on spinning flax (linen) which I have little experience with  (the English major in me thinks that should be "with which I have little experience.).  What I like about spinning is the tactile experience--the soft fibers slipping through my fingers.  Flax feels a little coarse.  And it's tricky to spin because the fibers are so long--a couple of feet, as opposed to the inches of wool or the fractions of an inch of cotton (that's why you have to fasten it to a distaff).

I don't know if I'll really get into linen (it's not a nice soft yarn to knit or weave with) but I rather enjoyed spinning from the distaff.  And I really liked just sitting and spinning--because that's been more than a week ago, and have a spun any at all since then?  Nope.  Good intentions . . .

But I have been waving.  Next month the School of Theatre will be putting on "Spamalot"--the musical based on Monty Pythons "Search for the Holy Grail."  The costume designer is really going overboard (note to self--take camera to costume shop).  I overheard him ordering jock cups--to be covered in rhinestones.  One set of costumes that I'm helping to build are for the Knights Who Say "Ni!".  Matt wanted heavily textured shaggy shoulder mantles and wondered if I could weave them.

Of course, I say.  It's 8 panels only 2 feet long.  Piece of cake.  I've always said that if I ever figured out how long some projects will take before I decide to start, I'd say forget about it.   If I'm weaving a 24" long dishtowel, I'll allow about an hour per towel.  These shoulder pieces--about three hours each.

Matt wanted texture--he's getting texture.  Normally for weaving, the weft is put onto nice tidy little bobbins and you just put them in a shuttle and toss it back and forth.  For this project, I'm using random pieces of yarn, torn strips of fabric, and raffia.  Each piece is put individually into the warp--and a rough estimate is that I have about 500 individual pieces put into each panel.  It takes quite a bit of time just to cut up the pieces of yarn and rip the fabric into strips.  Instead of my tidy bobbins, I'm weaving from this:
I've got a dozen different types of yarn, and about 8 difference pieces of fabric (plus black and beige raffia).  Here's the end result (and a closeup):

Now the *real* trick is that all 8 have to look about the same--matching randomness?  While it seems random, I'm actually measuring and weighing an equal quantity of each element.

Sheesh!  At the moment, four down and four to go.  All for something that will be on stage for 15 minutes.  But Matt is ecstatic--and I'll even get a special mention in the program.

But for now--have been typing this during the last episode of "Sleepy Hollow" (I have to wait until fall for the new season?), and it's time for bed.

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