Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Winter's Tale (of Spinning)

The Winter's Tale is the last Shakespeare play I saw, in my very limited experience with (and knowledge of) Shakespeare. I was a groundling in London at the Globe Theatre 12 years ago. That meant standing for the performance down in front of the stage, but it was worth it - and affordable!

My winter's tale of spinning, or part of it, includes two local fleeces. The light grey is the last roving from a Romney flock in Beaver Valley, east of here. It has a lovely lustre and was gorgeous to spin. The dark brown is from the Wenger's sheep on Fox Mountain quite nearby my studio. I loved working with these fibres; I know both producers and the relationship I have with each is part of the very fulfilling experience for me.

Both yarns are two-ply, meaning that I spun two separate yarns and plied them together in the opposite direction to the spun direction of twist. The two strands want to do this anyway. I find two-ply more stable in finished cloth and it's worth all the time. I figure I spent about 40-50 hours to spin and finish each of these two projects.

Local fibres woven into blankets are growing in popularity. The last blanket I sold with local handspun Icelandic wool generated interest from the skeins when a studio visitor spied them. And that's where the blanket went!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Travel Shawls

My latest project, which I call travel shawls, was designed to serve a need. (Mine!) Often I would think how nice it would be to have a practical and stylish small blanket to:
  • Wrap around my shoulders like a shawl.
  • Sit on as a cushion when folded up.
  • Fill the badly designed void in seat backs on many airplane seats and conference chairs.
  • Use as an extra small blanket on my bed in a chilly hotel room.
  • Wrap around my waist like a sarong to keep my butt and legs warm when I'm fine up top.
  • Use as a lap blanket when seated for chilly legs.

So I designed travel shawls. They're smaller than a full-sized blanket but warmer and a bit heavier than a typical lightweight shawl. They're also designed to be a bit of a travel buddy that can be taken along for all those purposes and look great in the process. They're compact and sturdy, and will stand up well to a lot of use without looking grubby.

I wove all of them in big waves of undulating twill, with a few little interesting variations in some of them. All of them are made of wool, one with a little mohair, and measure approximately 150-155 cm (60"-61") long. Width varies from 69 cm (27") to a maximum of 78 cm (30.5") for the white one.

#1 | Heathery blue for about 3/4s of the cloth | Sold

#1 | Detail of transition from heathery dark mauve at the other end into heathery blue

#2 | Dark brown handspun of either alpaca or very soft wool |
This one is quite thick and luxurious | Sold

#3 | Very dark charcoal | Sold

#4 | Soft brown | Sold

#5 | White wool-mohair | Very soft, a bit fuzzy and wider at 78 cm (30.5") | Sold

I have a feeling that travel shawls could be popular. And I think that other needs from mine could arise from other users.