Spinning

Darning Good Socks

I have three pair of good thick wool socks, and yes, my feet get cold even in a Central Texas winter. I love my thick wool socks. Alas, I wear them all over and it doesn’t take long for heels to wear out. Now these three pair of socks I just couldn’t get rid of so I decided that I must learn to darn socks. So to YouTube I went and found out that it is quite basic and not much to it but practice.

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Getting started

So the first lesson I learned in the practice of darning is that if you are going to darn socks it is best to do it before holes get too large. The above sock was the smallest of my holes to fill. Small is easier. But anyway,off we went with each individual sock. I picked some of my early handspun yarn that was lacking much. It seemed a good dimension though.

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Warp finished

Now one is to weave back and forth till you have a warp to then weave through with the weft. I did learn that it would be better to try and get the threads closer together but then also I need to use better yarn the next time.

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One sock done

Alas, it looks sad but I finished this green one with one piece of yarn that didn’t come apart once in the pulling of it. It is not remotely really good but I can wear the sock and as soon as it wears out again we will know how to fix it better the next time.

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Completed

See that missed thread above. Yep, a bit to learn and practice at this yet. But it totally does its job so whose complaining. And they look so much better once turned right side out again.

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Two pair and do you see the mistake?

Time passed as I worked on 5 of the socks and got to thinking to well of what as happening. When I finished the sixth one and took the lightbulb out of it (yes, I went old fashion for a round object inside or at least twentieth century old fashion), I realized I had forgotten to turn it inside out first. YIKES! Doing them inside out hides so much when it is actually worn. So I have one reminder of how not to do it but it still will work. Will just have to correct it when it wears out again. The third pair missed the above picture as they were already on my feet. I can tell the heel isn’t quite the same as the rest of the sock, but it is covered and has been warm since it was completed on a cold night. I am happy.

It seems I have found several uses of late for all that badly spun, learning to spin, fiber yarn, from the beginning years of learning to spin that I still have sitting around here. Need a few more projects but I am pleased with this one and will be darning socks from now on. Will check on some cotton ones next.

Categories: Fiber, Fiber Arts, Sewing, Spinning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Homestead Faire 2016

One of my favorite places, nearby, to visit is Homestead Heritage. It is just north of Waco and they demonstrate and sell so many of what many today consider old fashion crafts and a way of living that is closer to nature. Each year on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving they have a faire and demonstrate more than any one person can see in a day. Plus have lots for sale. You only pay for a parking pass to get in (cheaper bought ahead of time online) and then you can attend all the seminars, workshops, and demonstrations for free though there are quite a few things that you can pay to do and lots of food and items to buy.

Last year we went on a most miserable day. As in cold, rainy really miserable. They actually for the first time repeated the event the following weekend because the first one was quite so miserable. This year I headed north by myself to attend and stay as long as I wanted. I drove through a gully washer getting there and prayed that the weather app was right and things would be very clear by noon.

One place I always check out is the weaving and spinning booth in the craft barn to see what is for sale and drool heavily. This year I was caught by the potholders. Remember making them as a child? Well, they have come a long way with different sizes of looms. I have always loved color and weave patterns and the array of different patterns in them was a wonder to look through. There were two different places with them so lots to see. Made me want to dig out my loom and cut up some socks and try some of the patterns.

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The tags have the name of the young person who made them and their age

I also got a quick look at a sheepdog working hard. Actually, I was hurrying between seminars so didn’t stay long but it was interesting for a short moment.

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Picture taken at a distance so not real sharp.

I also watched a flax demonstration. They have gotten flax to grow and a young gal had some that she then showed the processes that are involved with making linen thread. She used the retted flax and showed simply the steps to turn it into thread and had a bag to show the end process. The funny bit at this was the people that were interested in it and knew nothing so were asking some good questions and learning. I didn’t learn anything new, though enjoyed seeing the different color of the flax between pond and dew retted.

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Flax that has been dew retted and pond retted. If I remember right the cream colored is the pond retted.

I also got to watch rope being made with sisal, again if I remember right it was an 80 foot long station here. I wanted to jump in and take over a bit of the discussion as the guy doing it knew how to make rope, but couldn’t tell why the twist stayed or what was really going on with it. I enjoy watching rope making as the principles are the same as spinning and yes, I do understand the magic of the twist and what is happening. Guess some minds just want to know more of why of what they are doing and what is happening.

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Still setting up the sisal before the twisting starts happening.

One of my favorite demonstrations was the apple press. I actually learned a bit there that was quite interesting and since my favorite snack was some hot apple cider and apple cider donut (SOOOOOO yummy) it was fun to watch it happen.

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Young boy turning handle breaking up apples. Young man pressing apples with cider running into a bucket behind the trash can.

I listened and took notes in seminars on sustainable gardening, alternative energy, chickens, and planning a homestead. Loved the day despite rain in morning and so very cold all day. Would love to go back today but need to get things done here instead. So of course, I’m sitting here typing instead of working. OK, off to work now.

 

Categories: Fiber, Spinning, Weaving | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Then and Now Spinning

It has been awhile since I posted. I have been in the midst of a larger project for spinning than I normally do. As in, I came up with a plan for all of my handspun, early stuff, that was lying around. Now I have been spinning for a few years though not as continuously to be a consummate master of it. But I have been spinning and do enjoy it.

One day this past spring I hit on a plan for a project. I had a Zoom Loom and loved using it. I had made some squares with my handspun with it, and I have posted before about that at Projects Abound and When Projects Aren’t Going Well. So you can see it has been a couple of years since I decided that using my handspun that was in small lots, not perfect, needing something to happen to them was perfect on a pin loom.

Alas, what was to happen to these squares that I had been making over the past couple of years and mainly here recently? This spring I decided that a perfect project would be to make a cloak. So taking out my squares I laid them out several times on the floor to make patterns and decide what would work with all these diverse squares.

Then my three week trip this summer was coming up. I would be driving Mark’s truck so space was not an issue. They all came with me as well as a spindle and more wool and the Zoom Loom and crochet hook to continue making squares and crocheting them together.

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A sneak peak at the project

I sat for a week watching the extended Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies with my father and spun, wove, and crocheted away. Got quite a bit of the project done on that trip.

As this project is about handspun, past and present, it is very eclectic in its colors, spinning, quality of spinning and wool, well really everything about it.

As it is an evolving project on this end now (though still not completed) there are a few things I would do different but at this point I’m not taking anything apart. It is what it is.

Now I’m spinning and working on a border around the whole thing. Had a pretty merino silk mix that is all the crocheting that you see in the above picture. The colors in it were real subtle and once spun even less so. It seems to be just a black. Though there is a glow about it that doesn’t say black like the picture says. I have run out of that so now have spun some generic black wool I have. Will be interesting to see how the two look together.

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Singles yarn

Now all the spinning being done this summer is on spindles. When traveling I take my Bosworth. But at home I use my Golding. It never leaves home but oh, I love using the Golding most. This black wool has been interesting in seeing how color is really so indefinite. I know that’s not the right word, and I should some day look up proper terminology for what I observe. But it was amazing, to me, to watch this fiber as I drafted it looking toward a window and seeing a blue glow all about it. As the light came through the thin fiber strands it had a pretty blue tint. I know that all has to do with the dying and how black is created in dyes but still despite the chemistry etc. I love to see it happen.

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Piled yarn

Last night I got two spindles plied. So today it will be some more Slow TV of the Knitting Night and crocheting around the cloak. I will see how far this goes and then back to spinning some more. You’ve got it. I don’t know yet how much of a border this will get in the end. Did find a pattern I like and will see how it looks. Then if it does please me, oh dear, I’ll need to be spinning more. I’m sure I don’t have enough for any big dream though I have been amazed at how much farther the yarn has gone than I have expected with the crocheting. (No I haven’t done any numbers to see what I need to do to accomplish any of this. It is what it is.)

As we all need reminders. I went out to look at my very first spinning and the wrist distaff I made with it. Actually my very first was a red that I wove into a hat and it sold at the CHH sale. Rather surprised me that the two hats sold. But a very close second is this white. I didn’t find it. YIKES! I do need to figure out what happened to it. I wouldn’t have gotten rid of, given away, whatever it. It should be still about as a reminder. Thankfully, I did find a picture on the computer of it so here is my first and yes, despite that thin bit in the picture above, I have vastly improved.

spinning - first spun yarn as a wrist distaff

My first spinning project

 

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Victor P. Buchcik Spinning Wheel

So I love spinning and weaving, and I love history, so of course I started volunteering in our small town at the Heritage Center and Log Cabins. There, in a corner, was a spinning wheel so one of the first things I set about doing, as a member, was sorting out this wheel which they said the lady who gave it to them had come and spun on it, but it hasn’t been for a little time.

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Looking straight on as one would when spinning

The wheel had a plastic drive band that had been wired together and was of no use whatsoever. So I got rid of it and tied on a new drive band (will take better cordage next time) So now the drive wheel turned with the treadle. The treadle rod is in the middle of the treadle which I haven’t seen before but it had a very smooth motion and was quite easy to treadle.

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Looking at the back of the wheel

Then to tackle the scotch tension. It had a piece of plastic cord tied to springs on each side. Now for all I know of scotch tension, that wasn’t going to work, and it didn’t. So I cut that all out and tied another string to the spring on the one side and then tied it around the knob, on the other side, that is there for that purpose (ignored in what was) and then played with the tension.

Did you notice the crochet hook sticking out at an angle in back? Befuddled me for a bit. Thought at first it was used for the orifice hook and that is just where they kept it, but alas it totally doesn’t work for that. Did learn though how to get the bobbin and flyer off. The maiden on the tension end moves back and turns down to take them off. Alas whatever once ran through those holes that keep it in place when all together has long been lost and along the road someone figured out that a small crochet hook fit in just right.

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Side view of wheel before scotch tension work. See the stretched spring?

This tension is the problem I think. The flyer and bobbin did not spin if there was the least bit of tension on it. Then after some fiddling, the flyer would spin but the bobbin did not. It was at that point that I learned the importance of both being able to spin. Have you ever wondered why the bobbin needed to spin, albeit slower than the flyer, when spinning on a treadle/flyer wheel? I have. And, as of yesterday, I learned why. With just the flyer turning the draw in is way to fast for these hands to keep up. With the bobbin turning as well, there is time for you to draft and get it right before it winds on.

Also an interesting bit for this wheel is that the flyer and bobbin sit so far back. They are actually, basically, for all practical purposes behind the drive wheel when you are sitting at it. Makes it a bit of a stretch when working back there.

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Spinning at last.

So, yes, I did manage to spin some. That was after realizing there was no orifice hook and a long way for something to reach through. I searched several drawers and finally found one paperclip. After bending it in different contortions, I managed to make it do the job and got some wool through. That also entailed cleaning the hole out with the wool. Icky! But we were spinning. It didn’t go super easy though. I so wanted to add some oil to the bobbin and tension thinking it would help it move smoother. But I also know “they” say to never oil the drive band or tension. So maybe the groove just needs cleaned up more? Or a wider band for the tension. I already know I am going to do that for the drive band, but the tension as well?

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Label on bottom of table.

After all this, I wanted to know what this wheel was that was driving me crazy. On the bottom I did find a label. Designed & handcrafted by: Victor P. Buchcik, 8 Norman Street, Wagga Wagga 2650″ . Now this label was between all the legs and footman, so not easily photographed or for these old eyes to read. I went looking for a Victor P. Buchcik online. Got that much down. Thought maybe a local builder? There are lots of Czech and Wends around here so names that only the Good Lord knows how to pronounce are in abundance. Alas, nary a hit on the name at all. Next I thought the “8” was an “&” so looked up Norman Street as well as a compatriot in the work. Alas nothing. So looked up Wagga Wagga. A HIT! A town in New South Wales. What? Australia? How did it get here if it was made by some home guy in NSW? I did, at first, think that the four digit number was maybe a number for the piece, but it turns out to be a post code. That took seeing the picture and realizing that Norman Street wasn’t a man but an address. So of course, I looked up the address and it is a nice house though lots of trees in the way of seeing it very well.

If anyone knows anything about this wheel or the maker, I would appreciate knowing something of them. If you have advice on getting it to spin smoother or dealing with that scotch tension, advice appreciated.

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My Apron is Now Blue

Yes, I had a desire to dye my workhorse apron blue. It is the apron that has managed to make it to more than one entry here. From the moment that I wove the cloth and completed the sewing. Then it has been a help so many times – needing hot pads for cast iron pots or an umbrella in a gully washer. On a hot Texas summer day, it was so handy for wiping away sweat. It had all the marks of its life but still going strong as ever.

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My set up

But what does one do when they come home with indigo? They look for something to turn blue and my apron went in the pot. I poured out the large container of dye into a bucket my husband got me, and I let it sit. Then I added color release (oh, what is its proper name?) to the pot a couple of times and then got a fairly green paper towel twist. So in went the apron. And then laid out. It was a bit windy this particular day so hence the cardboard protecting the pot from blowing bits of this and that while awaiting the next dunking.

At first I didn’t think it was really working and I was going to have to go in and read a good bit more. But… Then I pulled it out and it had that greenish hue that was exciting to see turn blue. So I laid it out to oxidize and came back later. In it went again. I so wanted to get a picture of that greenish hue before it really oxidized but alas and alack it always turned before the camera could catch it. Even when I got the tripod out and only had to hit the button. I am wondering though about slowing that change down. I’m sure it had to do with how well set up the pot was and as I’m still a green newbie at it… Much to learn yet.

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It  is getting darker

But for a good bit of the day I kept dunking the apron and then taking it out. Laying it out to oxidize. Constantly having to move the drying rack as the sun passed across the sky as I did read to keep it in the shade while processing. It started much closer to the back door than it finished.

I loved the dark wet color so kept at it a couple more times and finally declared it done and let it dry completely. I could be happy if it were even darker than it is but all in all it is a pretty good color. Then I read Connie’s notes on finishing and so I washed and set and declared it completed. That was just in time to wear it last Saturday.

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Ready to head out

Saturday, Texas 180th Independence Day celebration was at Washington-on-the-Brazos not far from me. Since joining the guild in Bryan, I had the opportunity to go out to Barrington Farm and demonstrate spinning for the day. I love spinning and talking history so what is a better way to spend a day? As I was getting ready to head out early, Mark got a picture of me in my handwoven dress and now handwoven, partly handspun, indigo dyed blue apron. Had the car packed with my wheel, wool, cotton, bench, niddy noddy, and much more, because you never know what question will be asked or what you will decide that you wished you had brought along.

It was a beautiful sunny day. With a wonderful breeze that only got in the way when trying to card wool and then take it off the cards and roll it up. I learned to aim the cards in just the right direction to let the breeze help me and not hinder.

I had several great conversations. I guess when you love history, and you think everyone should love it as much as you, and they should want to learn all they can; you love it when someone comes by and wants to listen and ask questions. Though near the end was the best part of the day. A group stopped by and the mother had that look of someone who had spun out of necessity in her life. I asked if she had and through her children translating for us, I learned she had spun but with a wheel that you turned with a handle. I did a first and asked if she would like sit and try my wheel out. I never let people touch it when demonstrating, but I couldn’t help myself here.  I learned that they were from Damascus, and I was amazed that here was a lady from the oldest city in the world (continuously lived in) sitting at my wheel taking part in one of the oldest occupations in the world. I was so in the moment that I just lived it and now have so many questions I would love to ask her and her children. She had that wonderful old sweet grandma look about her and her kids were in their 20s or so maybe young 30s by my guess. Oh, I want to talk with them now.

That aside I had a wonderful day. Lovely day. Sweet day. Thank you Lord for the blessing of it.

And you never know who you will meet.

 

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My spot for the day

Categories: dyeing, Spinning | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Ball of Yarn

Ply magazine Worsted

Ply magazine Worsted

My big accomplishment here of late is a ball of yarn. So not something big and grandiose to remind myself of later as I read this, but I did try something new and achieved an end result. I had bought some grey Jacob wool and have spun one ball of it. But then I I bought the Ply magazine on worsted spinning. Interesting and one can learn a lot in there, but the article that caught my eye for the moment was one about a plying ball when using a spindle. Hey, that I can use right now. I had done one ball by andian plying, but if there is an easier way that would help plying on the spindle? I am all for it.

So I spun two spindles of wool and read again the article on The Plying Ball and set about to create one with my wool that was desiring a better home than what it had been reduced to. This was accomplished outside. I had taken the Wildlife out to enjoy the sunny day. Yes, we are still in the condo looking for a place and so Mattie doesn’t get to spend all the time laying outside in the sun as she loves to do. So a special treat for her this afternoon.

Winding my ply ball

Winding my ply ball

This took quite a bit of time to get accomplished and Sam, who doesn’t particularly like to lay out in the sun. Quite the inside boy he is. Decided it was time to bug mom to take him inside.

Mom, it is way past time for going back inside!

Mom, it is way past time for going back inside!

Now I know that Amelia is a great spindler, but she never touched on a problem I had as I neared the end of winding. You see my two spindle fulls were not the same length. I checked but no, as far as the article is concerned they come out the same so it was up to me to decide if I was going to just cut the longer one off and let it be or go ahead and try to match them up.

Yikes, why couldn't you have come out perfect?

Yikes, why couldn’t you have come out perfect?

Well I decided to wind the leftover around my hand and then join the two ends and continue and so I drove myself crazy and did it and managed to have one complete plying ball completed.

One finished ply ball

One finished ply ball

Now it was completed, and Sam could be happy as I packed things up (books, magazines, spindle, yarn, wool, and chair) and got us all together to go back up to the room. Mattie alas wasn’t so happy with me, but que sera we all headed inside. I then started spinning my ball. It went well at first and even practiced starting the spindle with my foot – all going well. Quite happy. But then I learned one lesson with this method. Better to spin half spindle fulls and then ply to one spindle. There was way too much yarn by the end, and I didn’t want to stop it. But this was on my homemade spindle I made since being here in the condo and having my spindles in storage in Dallas, so on we tramped. Before we do this again though, I do need to find a way to cut a notch in the shaft. A half hitch just couldn’t hold on as the spindle got quite full and heavy. I ended up finishing by pretending it was a support spindle and managing through a few mishaps to finally spin it all onto the spindle.

One very full spindle

One very full spindle

Alas Mark got home from work toward the end of this, and I hadn’t seen a clock in a few hours so had to stop at this point and get some supper on and spend some time together. Then as he took the Wildlife for a walk (Mattie is not a happy girl at night until she gets a walk with her daddy), I got back to working on my yarn. Now I wound it into a ball on my homemade nostie. Ok, so not so much homemade as home found. A toilet roll tube serves the purpose quite well and so a ball of plyed wool is completed today.

A complete plyed ball of wool

A complete plyed ball of wool

Now I am wanting to make something with this but it really needs to go into a project that … yes, … is in storage in Dallas. The theme of my life right now. So it will wait till then and join a bunch of other handspun into my Zoom Loom project that is pretty awesome in my head.

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A Dreary January

So I am still sitting here in the condo on a 32 degree day hating to have to walk two dogs which means out the door, down the way, down the stairs, and out to the grassy yard at the end. If all is great then they get a long walk around, if not, then it is short and back mama runs in whether they want to or not. I know all three of us will be happy when they can be just turned loose in a yard with no leashes and can stay as long as they want.

But that aside, sitting here I have some reading and fibery things to do. Alas the reading is going better than the fibery arts. Mostly.

So the colors are great but the pattern .... Hopefully by the end it will get itself worked out and look great.

So the colors are great. But the pattern …. Hopefully by the end it will get itself worked out and look great.

First I did start another inkle pattern. My eyes got big and I picked a detailed pattern from The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory. There is this beautiful pattern on page 77 called Baltic-Style 13. So I started it and it just doesn’t look well and is a devil for me to figure out each row. So it sits. I never think it looks right, though I think as it grows the previous rows will look better though the immediate ones need more around them to look ok. I did see a mistake in it though it does look ok and could be right if you didn’t know what the pattern was suppose to be. Alas and Alack. I need to get back to it.

The suppose to be easy shawl

The suppose to be easy shawl

Next I did go to Yarnorama during their end of the year sale and got some pretty yarn. So I found an easy crochet pattern and went to work. Now I really can do basic crochet. I have done lots within the whole scope of my life, but for a pattern that looks so easy I am making this very hard. I have frogged two rows and it is sitting once again at a trouble spot. No matter how careful I am I still don’t get the right number of stitches where they need to be. Can I scream?

Funny when I picked this pattern it reminded me of watching my mom and aunt back in the 70s crocheting afghans that were this basic pattern. Now if they can do it, why can’t I? This is a bit fancier with every fourth row being a puffy stitch but all the same….

Jacob wool and homemade spindle

Jacob wool and homemade spindle

So also while at Yarnorama I succumbed to a weakness and bought a bag of Jacob wool. Alas did I have a spindle in this neck of the woods with me? Of course not. They are all in storage. Why I didn’t keep one out is beyond me, but alas I hadn’t spun for awhile at home so didn’t consider it suddenly being necessary. So I had to come up with something.

I bought a dowel rod (actually a package of this length) and got some Filo clay and brought it home. Having never used the clay before, I didn’t know what I was in for but set about playing with it and boy does it take a bit to warm it up and get to mold. But I persevered and created a disk. Now was the tricky part as it just says to bake it and looking online was not much help beyond low heat and 15 minutes to an hour. How was one to know? Anyway, I made it, was happy with the results, and have a spindle.

My homemade spindle

My homemade spindle

I remembered how to do a half hitch at the top so with no more ado, it actually works. Crazy but all I have to remember is to have a bit longer leader at the top than I would on my other spindles and keep the hitch near the top and it spins nicely, and I have yarn. Hopefully I will get quite a bit plyed and then will use it in my handspun weaving project when it and I are in the same place again.

So this is where I sit at this time. I will now return to spinning and hopefully back to the other two and can report a completion of something before to many days past.

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When Projects aren’t Going Well

OK, so I have warp on the loom that refuses to cooperate. 7 repairs hanging off the back with other broken threads. The sad part is that this is the same warp that I made the corded petticoat on with really no trouble. Why it is going south now is beyond me. But alas the end is in sight and I must get back at it today.

My corset is needing help as well so decided I really need to do a third mockup before cutting out the real thing so here goes. My big goal today. Must, though, watch videos again.

But during this time I have done a couple fibery things. I made more squares with my Zoom Loom and was running out of ready early handspun with color. So Saturday afternoon threw two small skeins of white in a crock pot with some Easter egg dyes of unknown color. It came out a bright green and not all fitting to current project so added some cherry kool-aid. Actually I think it was Wyler’s which is cheaper. So it came to a darker color. One skein took in the color wonderfully and I actually really like it though it did show a spot where a tie was too tight and no color got under but it doesn’t show really in the squares. Actually just little spots in the swatch and looks good. I think. Alas it would be nice to replicate this color but will never happen. Who knows what colors really went in that pot and how the skein became somewhat heather in its look. So the couple of squares I get from it will be in a special place.

The green skein and swatch

The green skein and swatch

Now the other skein I threw in at the same time took none of the color except for one of the plies on a short bit. Hmmmm…. I’m sure they are both wool and the same type as in my old stuff was all from the same place pretty much. So once again I threw in some more tablets of unknown color and a good glug of vinegar for good measure and cooked away some more. Now I have some pink yarn. Hmmm… At least it will blend in to the other squares somewhat.  As you can see in the photo just a bit of one ply did take on the darker color but that was all.  A mystery I would love to know why it happened but not enough to really spend my time now figuring out. Anyway both skeins can be used now, so I am happy with the results and will be dyeing more white wool for said project. Up to 62 squares for it and as the project has done a normal in my head – it is evolving and I need more than I planned in the beginning.

The pink skein and weird section of ply that did take the darker dye.

The pink skein and weird section of ply that did take the darker dye.

Now with all this going on and my actual favorite thing to do in the world is research, I started building up a Pinterest board with spinning and weaving. Now I was very picky as to what I pinned to it. Starting out with old painting then evolving into old photographs. It has been a fun journey and I would love to know more about some of the pictures out there. Some are so common and come in different forms. What was the original one? Was it all staged? Did said woman really spin or just look good? I also found some old postcards with spinning wheels like I haven’t seen before. There are a couple from France that are downright interesting. And of course so many different styles of wheels. Who doesn’t love a Norwegian wheel with all its craftsmanship and beauty? But being me of course my favorites are the ones from Ireland that are so simple and plainly cobbled together and similar in Appalachia.

I remember back when I first started this journey of spinning, I joined a spinning group online and not long after someone in Kansas asked about spinning in a historical context on the frontier. Right away many women in the northeast responded that no one was spinning at home any more after the mills were build in the early 19th century. Well, a few of us had done research and we immediately responded that yes they were spinning and gave sources. Looking at all these pictures sure backs up the fact that women were spinning in America long after there was available mill cloth.

But my thoughts also go to the lives these women lived. Some of these pictures come with stories and would we today, no matter how much we love the past, really want to live their lives? For a time I would say yes, but I would miss my modern conveniences I’m sure. Actually I would probably only really miss this computer I am sitting at right now with its access to a world of knowledge. And of course indoor plumbing on cold winter nights. These were not wimpy women such as myself.

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I Love Inventories – North

So I found Sarah North’s father’s name and inventory today as well as the one for Henry Earnest. Sarah was Henry’s daughter-in-law and she had married Henry’s son Felix. Her father was John North and he died in Washington County, Tennessee in 1794. Now I have seen his death date as 15 October 1794 but have discovered that date is actually the date of the sale of his property. So he died earlier in actuality unless something strange was happening. Hmmm….

His inventory filed in the August Sessions 1794 lists many fibery things. 10 head of sheep, 1 loom and tacklings (another great term for loom accessories), 1 large wheel, 3 small wheels, 1 pair cotton cards, 1 pair wool cards, 1 pair sheep scissors, 12 lb. wool, 1 flax break.

Now his sale pretty much is the same list. But at the sale 15 October 1794 Esther (his wife though unsure if Sarah’s mother as it seems he was married twice) bought 5 sheep £1.1s , 1 loom and tacklings £2.10s, 2 wheels and 2 pair cards 15s, 1 wheel and 2 spools 6s, wool 10s.

In comparison with Henry’s here we have more cotton references compared to Henry’s having more flax, but both have sheep and wool. Looks like Esther is not considering retiring from the need to spin and weave the cloth needed in the home since she bought back the loom, tacklings, and wheels, and cards. Rebecka North did buy one of the wheels. There must have been a few women in the home to man all the wheels but also in my latest reading in spinning history care was taken in having wheels for certain duties. They didn’t buy or build a one wheel to spin everything like we do today. They spun wool, cotton, flax on different wheels if possible. Amazing to think how the Great Wheel continued on despite what one would think as the treadle/flyer wheel should have made it obsolete but alas in many many inventories I have found a “large” wheel and “small” wheel in the same home.

Picture taken at Williamsburg

Picture taken at Williamsburg

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I love Inventories – Earnest

Ok, I have the loom warped and weaving. Today I had big plans to get a lot done. Really big plans and even for tonight. But alas I got sidetracked in the one way that can take down a whole day without a blink of the eye. Yes, I got to looking at family history again. I found something that was taking me around the mulberry bush and was looking promising but alas and alack…. I don’t think it holds water unless you can find more out there hiding somewhere. But in rambling around the centuries, I ended up back in 18th and early 19th century Green and Washington Counties in Tennessee and in some wills, inventories, sales and found some for two ancestors. Now since getting into spinning and weaving, I have an addiction to fibery finds in inventories done at someone’s death. One, they can show how much was done in an area at a certain time when looking at a group but also just to have a kinship with my ancestresses when I see what is found in their homes. I have written about Daniel Cummins’ inventory and sale and the fact that the girls there must have clothed the family. But now for more.

I am a proud descendant of Henry Earnest. There has been quite a bit of research done on his family. He came from Switzerland with his parents who died enroute. He was taken in by Lawrence Stephens and at age married Lawrence’s daughter Mary. By 1771, they moved from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia south into what would  become eastern Tennessee. There above the Nollichucky River he built what is known today as the Earnest Fort House.

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from rear

Earnest Fort House from front

Earnest Fort House from front

I got to visit the home of Henry & Mary and it so makes one wish to see it as they knew it. As the road crosses the river today, the first thing you see is what has to be the back facing the river and road. There are three stories here and rather ugly. Wonder what once was? Then if you walk up the hill and look at the other side, you find a nice front door and stoop at the second story. But for what we don’t know about it’s first days we do know that it still looks like the fortress it has always been.

Henry died in 1809 and I have seen transcripts of his will but this time I found the ever lovely inventory and sale. So what fibery wonders did the family own? Quite a bit actually. The inventory lists less than the sale but both are interesting. So the inventory lists: 14 head of sheep, 1 loom reeds and gears etc, 2 hackles, 1 cotton wheel, 2 small wheels, 1 check wheel, set of spools, 1 ps fulld cloth, ps fulld linsey, some quantity of unbroke flax. This seems like quite the spinning and weaving shop.

But then we read the sale list and there is even more. Sale was 26 April 1809.

Mary bought back one pair cotton cards for  $.10, spinning wheel for $.10. Then quite a bit of the rest was bought by either sons or sons-in-law with a couple others sprinkled in. William Brown bought 6 yds. fulled cloth for $9.03, Samuel Snapp 3 yds. fulled linsey for $3, and 1 quill wheel $.29, and 1 reed and geers $.25, William Brown 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.50, Ezekiel Stanbury 3 yds. fulled linsey $2.48, Joseph Looney 2 3/4 yds. fulled linsey $2.02, and reed and geers $.97, Felix Earnest 8 1/4 yds. fulled cloth $14.50, John Cox 1 spinning wheel $1.20, Jacob Hiess 1 loom $4, Samuel D. Warren 1 reed and gers $1.61 and and another reed and gers $.81, Peter Earnest set of spools $.71, George Wells set of spools $.34, and 6 1/2 lb. wool $2.40, Peter Earnest 1 hackle $1.34, 7 sheep $8.27, and 7 sheep $5.02, Nicholas Long unbroke flax $1.16, Adam Shurley 1 clock reel $.80, Jacob Recer 5 lb. of wool $1.89, Jacob Earnest 7 lb. wool $3.25.

From these two lists I am thinking that Mary Earnest had a great loom set up with various reeds and “gers” or “gears” (I love the terminology in inventories for loom accessories.) I also am thinking that her daughters had set ups of their own and sent their husbands to the sale to get some of mom’s “reeds and gers” for themselves. After Henry’s death she lived with her son Peter, and I am thinking she kept at a bit of cotton spinning but that was it.

My direct ancestor, Felix Earnest, seems to have gotten quite a bit of cloth ready to be made up into something. Actually it reminds me that my dress fabric I wove was a 9 yard warp which off the top of my head I cannot tell you how much cloth came off the loom and was wet finished, but I think I have a bit of perspective of the 8 1/4 yds. fulld cloth he bought and what it took to make it. Alas mine was wet finished in a washing machine so I did get it a bit easier. I wonder if he got it for his new wife. My ancestress, Sarah North, had died in 1807 and Henry married Sarah Oliphant in 1808. I wonder if she was a spinner and weaver as Felix didn’t buy any of those items? Maybe a gift of cloth was a blessing.

One can dream up some quite interesting stories reading inventories.

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