I’m Bending the Rules


Here is my current warp on my loom! Just what I taught my students to avoid–unevenly handspun singles yarns that are lumpy and sticky for warp threads. This is silk yarn I brought back from Bhutan–mainly to show the tour group what handspun yarn looked like. I did use plied threads for the 4 selvedge threads on the edges and weighted them separately. I used 5/2 cotton but a plied silk might have been a better idea.

From Linda Heinrich’s linen workshop at Convergence in 1994 and from her book on weaving linen I learned how easy it is to size a warp on the loom. Before now I’ve always been afraid to size anything. Her recipe is 1 tsp flax seed (any kind will do) to 1 cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes and strain. Refigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.I brush on the sizing then strum the threads and then open the shed to dry. Don’t apply too much–sort of like dry painting but pat the threads to get the sizing to go through to the bottom of the threads.

This is the yarn on the skein. I’ve shown it before to show the cross  made in the skein. The threads are horribly sticky but with the cross the threads are coming off perfectly. There are plenty of soft-spun lumps and thin areas where it is twisted tighter. I knew from winding the yarn off the skein that the threads were strong–that’s what convinced me to try them for a warp. The stickyness would have prevented the sheds from opening without sizing I realized.

Here is the cloth off the loom and wet finished. I got the cloth really wet in the sink then blotted with a towel. And ironed until dry I love ironing and ironing until dry and I love the sheen I got with the totally mat yarns.

Here is the cloth I just dyed with black walnuts I collected last week. What frun all this is. I can’t wait for the warp to dry and begin weaving again.

I’m Weaving Again!


The fine silk warp at 125 ends per inch stymied me and I walked away and left it on the loom for a year and a half. I thenbegan dyeing. I knew there were enough threads left unbroken to weave so I began weaving with some heavier handspun silk from Bhutan. When I took off the entire warp, This piece is what I found had already been woven–and I loved it. Originally I was weaving a tube but had decided to weave two separate layers–hence this piece was formed! [click photos to enlarge to see detail]

Here is the cloth woven with the silk from Bhutan. I decided just to weave off the warp with it so I could cut it up to dye later with the natural dyes I’ve been playing with.

You may remember the skein from Bhutan from another post. The skein was unusual because there was a cross in it. Even this extremely sticky thread came off the skein perfectly.

Here is my latest peice–5 yards to try the new silk/retted bamboo thread I saw in Handwoven Magazine. I love it. I the twill warp face on one side and weft faced on the other so when I dye it I’ll have two choices of tones of color.

Shopping at Windrush Farm in Petaluma


On that glorious day at the farm where I showed the sheep in my last post, Mimi was asked: “Do you have any wool available?” Here is a woman on her way home with enough wool yarn for several projects–sweaters I think she’ll knit. Different breeds have different types of wool not just different colors. I think I overheard this woman discussing exactly what kind of wool she needed for a special white sweater she was going to knit. 

There was roving ready for spinning or felting in one basket and a container full of balls of yarn from the farm’s sheep and dyed by Mimi. She has a stand during the fall and winter at our Farmers’ Market in Marin County on Sundays. Last week at the market she had balls of roving dyed in a wide range of colors that were being bought up by a woman who does a lot of felting.

Mimi’s assistant is balling up roving (wool from the sheep that has been cleaned and combed to be ready for spinning or felting). The balls are weighed then the price calculated. I was seduced last week at the market to buy a gorgeous ball of roving made of a mixture of grey wool. I plan to use it in felting art pieces.

In the courtyard there were two big tables with sheep pelts. The pelts were set out to dry in the sun. I wondered what the white areas were and was told it was salt to help with the drying. What a wonderful day it was with “thread-head” friends, good food, sunshine, beautiful country and sheep about to lamb! As a weaver I learned a lot, too.

A Wonderful Day at Windrush Farm with the Sheep


Windrush Farm in Petaluma, California specializes in raising sheep for handspinners. They also have spinning classes, summer camps for kids, and “lamb days” every spring so children and parents can mingle with the baby lambs. More information on their website: Windrush Farm

Here they are grazing in the pasture on a simply gorgeous January day.

They came in for dinner and I was able to catch some photos of different breeds. Different types of sheep have differ colors and different types of fleece (wool). In this photo you can see that some have their coats just recently shorn and some haven’t been yet. Mimi said that some refused the shearing the day when the shearer came!

These ewes are about to “lamb” meaning deliver their babies any day now. You can tell because their udders are formed. Some ewes looked pretty fat but the udder is the sure sign. Whether twins or not can’t be predicted.

A couple of lamas are in with the sheep but they don’t mingle much with them. This one wandered in after all the sheep were already deep in their mangers eating. I like the ears and nose!