Friday, 21 March 2014

Flax and Wool

 With spinning up what I'd hoped was enough linen thread for the warp, I decided that I'd better get around to scouring it.  It was dark, harsh and a rough feeling thread.  I used the recipe from Linen: From Flax Seed to Woven Cloth by Linda Heinrich, which uses Soda Ash and dish washing up soap.  It worked well the last time I tried it.   I weighed up what I needed, using about 3/4 the amount of soap and soda ash because I was going to do at least two scouring baths anyway.  My pot was only so big and I had my imagination run wild with visions of all that dish soap, bubbling up, over the pot and onto the floor.    I figured that was reason enough to do a 3/4 recipe the first time and do it a second time if needed.

I did indeed do a second scouring bath.  After cooking it for a couple of hours, it was lighter, but I wondered how much lighter it would get with a second bath.  Really, the scouring time is minimal, since I really can't justify adding the time I spent doing other things while the pot simmered.  It is just the time to measure the chemicals, set up the bath and check on it periodically.    The second bath made a huge difference.  Not only was the linen lighter, but it was much softer.  If I'd taken the time to whack it while drying, it would have been softer still. 
The threads were all curly and kinky though, since they are singles.  Heinrich says in her book, to give the skeins a good snap after scouring.  It was an amazing transformation.  The skeins went from curly and impossibly messing looking, to smooth, flat and lovely.  It was the a wonderful moment when this happened.  I'm sure that was when I went from enjoying spinning flax to loving spinning flax.  It was pure magic!  I love fibre moments like that.  It makes all the effort so very worthwhile.

After drying, I wound some of the skeins into cakes so that I could wind the warp.  Today I did a bit more research and changed my mind about sizing the warp.  I wasn't going to bother with it as the warp threads are plenty strong.  However, a perusal over some old documents suggested that sizing would keep the singles from getting hairy, keeping them smoother.  It's another short time project so I decided to mix up some double strength gelatin and bite the bullet on drying time.  I'd wanted to start dressing the loom today because tomorrow is planned to be another Maple sap boiling day.  None the less, the warp has been soaked in sizing and is now drying.

I also finished up spinning a skein of the brown wool for the weft.   There are 530 yards of yarn in this skein.  Combined with the tan wool singles, there should theoretically be enough.  I know there won't be though as a) wool stretches on the niddy noddy, making counts overly generous sometimes and b) I'll weave as much as the loom waste as I can, so as waste as little of the handspun weft as possible, since I didn't put a dummy warp on the loom for this project.

For fun, I tossed off a dye vat of a sunny yellow-orange colour and dyed up a skein of 2 ply sock yarn.  I'm pretty sure this is Blue Faced Leicester and nylon, that I spun up a couple of years ago.  It's been sitting here, waiting, because, well, I'm a much better spinner now and my 3 ply sock yarns are nicer.  But I didn't want to waste it, so it's now dyed and into the sock yarn stash.   

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