Sunday, September 6, 2015

My latest learning experiment: tapestry with fine handspun

I have been learning to spin for the last six months and recently have had my try at a Turkish spindle.

Yesterday was the day I started weaving. I am making a piece with multiple 2 x 6 inch panels. The fleece was a small bit of a rainbow fleece we dyed in a Maggie Casey spinning class last spring. I stuffed the fleece in a bag and forgot about it until I was cleaning my office a few weeks ago. Out it came.

I sorted the fleece into a gradation of colors, hand carded it into a rainbow of rolags, and spun it on my tiny Turkish spindle.

Yesterday I dug out my 6-dent large Hokett loom and warped up. I don't know how many panels there will be as I want to use the whole gradation in order. But I think it will be at least six. I finished the first two yesterday. All of the yarn is my handspun except for the deep purple and black accents which are silk.

Here it is in photos.

I am astounded at how lovely the hand is. There isn't any comparing it to my other work. I like my tapestries to be flexible and fluid--like a piece of fabric. Tapestry IS fabric after all. But this handspun exceeds my wildest expectations. It is soft and feels divine. I love the little bloom the surface has and I can't wait to spin more. You can see that the single in the first piece (to the left in the photo above) was thinner than in the second one. With time, I am sure I can learn to keep it consistent for a whole project.

I love how the dyed-in-the-fleece fiber changes color in subtle ways all the time. I strive for this variation in my hand-dyed yarns, but with this method of yarn creation, the options are so much greater.

Specifics
Fiber: White/gray local corriedale fleece scoured by Maggie Casey. Rainbow dyed with acid wool dyes.

Prep: Carded with hand cards after sorting by value

Spinning: Turkish spindle by Jenkins woodworking. This particular spindle was a very special gift from the master of spinning for tapestry, Sarah Swett. Best. Gift. Ever.
Size of single was inconsistent. More practice needed by spinner. Weft finished.

Weaving: Intermediate (9 x 10 inch) Hokett loom at 6 dents per inch. Doubled the warp for 12 epi. 20/6 cotton seine twine warp. Tapestry technique including eccentric outline. Double half-hitch used for header. I wanted to use wool warp but didn't have any small enough for this sett and this weft.

Other fiber: 60/2 and 30/2 silk from Red Fish.

19 comments:

  1. I love your pieces! I have been spinning for the last six years and my goal is to use my handspun in weaving. I have boxes of handspun just waiting for me to develop my weaving skills! There is something so satisfying taking a raw fleece, prepping it, dyeing it, spinning it and weaving it into a finished piece. I love the whole process!

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    1. It is so much fun! I agree. And I'd say, start weaving that handspun! :-)

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  2. Using handspun in tapestry is wonderful. Welcome into the light!

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  3. Spindles may not be as fast as a wheel....except for the fact that you can carry a spindle around with you and take advantage of those odd moments. I have three wheels and an electric spinner, but I have come to love the yarn from my Jenkins spindles the best.
    It is interesting what you learn when you take things down to their elemental level. Bu it does slow one down.

    Love what you've shown in your current work/experiment. It gives me more ideas from the Hockett class you gave at MLH in June.

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  4. Oh this is so inspiring! I have a Schacht spinning wheel I haven't used in years ... But learning Tapestry makes me want to re-visit it again ... Oh that Hoket loom is scrumptious!

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  5. Very lovely! I'm about to go down the tapestry rabbit-hole with you next week, I'm afraid of getting the spinning bug too...

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    1. Ha Ha! It is all so much fun. And I have learned so much about yarn from the spinning. Spinners understand fiber like many weavers don't. Welcome to the new tapestry class!!

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  6. I was just telling my weaving buddy about the new class. I told her I guess I will have to reteach myself to spin weaving yarn. I have been spinning for 30+ years, but in the last ten or so I have only been spinning knitting yarns. Yes, there is a difference, but not a lot. I am going to say you have the courage of a lion to follow Sarah Swett's path of using handspun yarn. I have yet to warp with handspun. I did a Navajo piece years and years ago. That was all handspun, and it set me to work doing more. Can't wait for the new class. Thanks for sharing your journey. Welcome to wonderful world of handspun. Just remember-until the industrial revolution, everything was made with handspun.

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    1. I am not sure if it is courage or ignorance! I started a new short spinning class with Maggie Casey last night and we talked about the differences between yarn I would make for tapestry and for knitting. I still have a lot to learn!

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    2. This may not be appropriate to ask. But what did she say the differences are between knitting and tapestry yarn?? I have been pondering this for ages and cannot find much info:). Rebecca. Did you wash your yarns prior to weaving? Such lovely work. Thanks for any answers! Meg bush

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  7. Lovely post Rebecca. Is your new spindle a Kuchulu? I have one and also an Aegean, they hold so much yarn!
    Pam.

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    1. I was told it was a Lark. It only weighs 10 g. I love it! I have to hike it for a month or so to make myself practice on the wheel. Spinzilla is in three weeks! Spindle spinning is too slow for that week.

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  8. wow, new levels of gradation, color intensity, and shading. Beautiful and courageous! thanks for sharing!

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  9. Wow. You do amazing work with everything you touch! I love your spinning. I'm a spinner and want to use my spinning in tapestry weaving.

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    1. Thanks Anna. I don't know that I always do amazing work... often I fall flat on my face. But that can be okay too. I have a LONG way to go before I can spin a consistent single, but this little project seems to be working despite that.

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  10. Great Work, the colors are lovely! When you carded was it directly from the sheep skin or from roving? I have never carded from roving are you suppose to? I like the little "cigars" you made, it seems they would be nice to handle. Thank you

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    1. We dyed the fleece. It had been scoured. After dyeing, I separated the colors and lined them up into a gradation then carded each pile into rolags with hand-cards. These rolags are the easiest things for me to spin from. I'm such a newbie still!

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