The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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The practical Tour de Fleece, a plan

We are fresh off a happy-go-lucky Canada Day weekend, and thoughts are finally coming together for the Brussels Grand Départ.

Spinning mohair top on Peruvian turned captive ring low-whorl drop spindle Pushka by irieknit

Summer sidekick: captive ring Peruvian pushka

The Tour de Fleece is a great container for new approaches to stash & tool.  This year Le Tour rides from this Saturday, July 6th – 28th, and celebrates its first century.

In terms of a plan, I have been fairly stuck.  Are you?  Clearing spins was supposed to help, and the shiny new Female Heroes Club braid did but I have still been a little lost and a lot tired.  Then early yesterday in a bored moment of waiting for N, I put this new spin together.  It is just a scrap of mohair top and an under-used captive-ring pushka from Peru.

Fallen logs across creek in morning wooded trail area

In spite of greedy mosquitoes we enjoyed this stop

After our morning walk, I got spinning time with the gentle chak-chak of the ring, and I am moving through the scrap of mohair.  This spindle has a history of 2 great summery parenting spins, and now I am taking it on the Tour either with other scraps or to continue this first undyed Corriedale wool top project.

Handspun Corriedale wool on Peruvian low-whorl captive ring pushka drop spindle and outer-pull ball in small bowl by irieknit

A very nice challenge spin aeons ago

This is a September 2016 spin that I completed quickly while helping with a Spindlers’ group monthly challenge and then folded on.

Handspun skein of 2-ply Corriedale wool by irieknit

Sweet Corriedale balance

Folded so heavily that I did not share this 50 g of fibre turned approx. 226 yards of 2-ply delight.  It was an intense time at home, and I can look back now and admire that skein all the more knowing what I had on my plate as it were.

Handspinning wool blend on Peruvian captive ring pushka drop spindles and plying ball in dish and handwoven twill towel by irieknit

Last of my Ent Batts!

The next & last spin with these spindles was of beautifully hand-carded Ent Batts “Coffee & Cream” through summer 2017.

Two handspun skeins from Ent Batts by irieknit in Coffee & Cream handcarded fibre

Coffee & Cream skeins

The 2-ply skeins measure 258 yards, and are still in stash.  This was the last in an incredible run of batt sets that are no longer in production but brought much joy across different spindles.  This ‘Coffee & Cream’ is a blend of Corriedale & Merino wools with soy-silk.

The whimsy factor

Each TdF can use a touch of whimsy, and mine will be thanks to the long percolating flax thoughts.

Homegrown Linen book by Raven Ranson pictured by irieknit

Published by Crowing Hen Farm

Helping to Kickstart Raven Ranson’s book, “Homegrown Linen – transforming flaxseed into fibre,” did not disappoint when I had to place the single flax plant on Canada Day.

Transplanted perennial flax plant

On a whim, “Hello, flax plant.”

It is tucked behind some rampantly self-seeding Black-eyed Susans and has kept on blooming each morning.  I noted the ritual involved in preparing the soil for fibre flax, and had at our very own strong clay with a view to creating this new-to-me word tilth.

We may not be in perfect tilth but I did break every clod, remove all of the stones, give it the best of the compost bin, etc.  It is at the very least encouraged to be showy for the next few weeks.

With no flax preparation tools, growing won’t be my whimsy focus anytime soon but this fibre flax for local linen is where I’d love to land.

Black Cat Farmstead line flax stricks by irieknit

Actual beautiful fibre flax

These 2 stricks of line flax are from the Black Cat Farmstead.  It was grown in Stockholm, WI at both their property & A to Z Produce and Bakery.  I was happy to see that it was processed at the Taproot Fibre Lab, Port Williams, Nova Scotia.

There are still ifs involved in spinning flax but it is on my bucket list.  We are not just heading from a season of stress but into a slew of appointments that will have their own challenges.  A little whimsy won’t hurt.

The rub is having the energy to spin line flax at night, moving everything for the morning.  It is easier now to have wheels out in our living space but narrower project rotation has evolved for a reason.  It may just ultimately be a nod to whimsy but these are the thoughts!

Astilibe blooming on Canada Day 2019 by irieknit

Happy planning!

 


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Antique spinning wheels – in praise of the sub-herd

A trio of restored antique wheels lives with us.

Antique flax saxony spinning wheels acquired in Canada

Flax wheels wave to the blog

Each has these features:  sloping-bench, three-legged, double-drive, screw-tensioned, treadled, flax loving.  They share the overall Saxony spinning wheel structure, and they work.  Apart from all coming to me right here in Ontario they have little else in common!

From late 19th-century Eastern Europe, Chela

Since my February 2012 post about this “not child’s play” painted wheel, several spinners have contacted me with their own strikingly similar examples.

Irieknit handspun linen yarn vintage Pennsylvania flax on antique spinning wheel

Last spun: linen yarn from vintage Pennsylvania flax

This is the finished combined 307 yards from two fingers of the vintage Pennsylvania line flax that I have from an eBay purchase.  It was wet-spun on Chela, and wet-plied on my Spinolution Mach 2 wheel at 10:1.

Bobbin and flyer on antique Eastern European flax spinning wheel

This wheel is useful, and has a beautifully gentle action for fine spinning.  She does need help for a safer peg system.

Although the back of the bobbin is badly chipped this does not affect the function.  Not every break needs major repair.  The pegs have held fairly well but do need attention.  Each flyer hole is a different size but it will be a minor repair for a wheelwright.

From early 19th-century Nova Scotia, signed Wm McDonald

The largest in the trio, this signed flax wheel is a rare one that is just beautifully made.

Restored antique Nova Scotia flax spinning wheel by William McDonald

Repaired & in good form, William McDonald wheel

Alvin Ramer quietly gave me better flyer hooks while he fixed the treadle at the end of October, 2014.  It is now restored to working condition.

Irieknit handspun silk buffalo cashmere yarn on antique McDonald Nova Scotia spinning wheel

Last spun; silk/buffalo/white cashmere blend

The celebratory lap was to seize my 50% silk; 25% buffalo; 25% cashmere batts from Sericin Silkworks, and give her a spin.  Record-breaking sustained cold this February was definitely a factor in the indulgence!

Irieknit handspun silk buffalo cashmere blend yarn on antique William McDonald flax spinning wheel

Fast but oh so soft spin!

Two batts weighed a total 2 oz/ 56g.  I tore strips, and with not another thought made the 189 yards of semi-woolen yarn.

The wheel passed my test for plying the yarn on her second ratio, so she is simply an all-round good example.  I am so happy to have this wheel!

The new Kid from the Ramers, Linley

This is the Oops!  In my defense, she came with 3 Ramer bobbins + a (partial) Ramer oak distaff.

Antique compact saxony style flax spinning wheel

Wheel no. 15, Ramer spinning wheel collection

I am still puzzling over this wheel – is she a low-Irish wheel as the Ramers suspect or is she a North American example?  Any tips will be appreciated, dear readers!

Antique saxony-style spinning wheel table with depression

Depression in the wheel’s table

To my (untrained & enthusiastic) eye, the depression in her table looks original .  Barbara Ann Ramer suggests that it would hold a water dish, perhaps tin.

For my spinning, the water will be kept away from the compact table but it is a good spot to park all manner of things!

Irieknit handspun yarn from silk caps on antique saxony spinning wheel

The inaugural spin, silk caps

The singles for this 618 yards were spun from 24 g of silk caps on my new antique saxony wheel.  I used my Watson Martha wheel in double drive to for plying.

Rear view of antique flax spinning wheel with water dish depression

Audience-side of Linley the flax wheel

When the previously strong take-up stopped on a dime, I discovered that the old flyer whorl (darker wood) was threaded.

Older posts in Ravelry fora gave solutions to hold friction, and I went in search of plumber’s tape.  I needed a combination with painter’s tape but it seems to be holding now.

Rear axle and drive wheel for antique saxony spinning wheel

Added concerns

A large but seemingly stable crack in the back wheel support is also of concern.  The wheel sits level on a leather bearing but its axle seems worn.  I am not sure if this will need additional professional work but have decided to ask for an assessment.

The spinning on these wheels has been a delight.  My hope is to keep them working as tools in my spinning practice, and to get back to the flax.

Space does not allow me to have a large collection but the trio makes an awesome sub-herd!

edit, December 4, 2015: Wheelwright, Reed Needles, notes that the treadle on this unsigned oak flax wheel, Linley, is cedar.  It points to Canadian & not Irish origins for this wheel.  See my update post of today for more!


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The footnote, and the flax that brought us here

There is a footnote to my last post on the Wm MacDonald Saxony spinning wheel.  Since posting she continued to impress me through 4 bobbins of BFL/silk top.

BFL wool/silk handspun yarn by irieknit on antique Nova Scotia spinning wheel maker William MacDonald

Four bobbins’ worth from the antique MacDonald wheel

As she ran, I cleaned and oiled and spoke to the twitter.  A wool lock shim came to the front maiden & I had an eye out for any signs of trouble.  Towards the end of the fourth bobbin, I felt a slight shift.  All of a sudden, I discovered an old repair to the right of the front treadle support – and not in a good way.

R. Needles, “Wheelwright” from London, Ontario spoke at the 2013 Ontario Handspinning Seminar.  He writes succinctly in his paper for the seminar:

Function matters if you’re going to use it.

This named wheel functions beautifully, and is an important historical artifact.  We are going to seek professional assistance to restore this old fix.  It’s actually still holding because I recognized the change in feel, applied a non-invasive brace (hello, leather tag from that purse!), and caught it before real damage happened.  As a solid piece it can take glue you know from a pro.

More than anything else there is a simple fact.  I love this wheel.  So, stick a pin – we’ll get to that 5th bobbin spun yet!

Blame the flax

This tipping point from “wheels” to “wheel collection” is all because of flax.  Yes, that’s right, I blame the flax.

A lot of line flax spread for my distaff

Pennsylvania flax

You should watch out for this sneaky fibre called flax.  It wants you to have specialized wheels, and takes its own sweet time to whisper sweet nothings in your ear as you go.

Antique Pennsylvania line flax dressed on small distaff for spinning

My glorified stick distaff

See the twisted fingers of flax to the lower left of the distaff?  This is the finest from the antique Pennsylvania flax that I combed last October. I brought it out last month for a group fibre study on Ravelry.com.

Flax boon waste during handspinning on denim but it's antique!

Flax boon fallen away from the fibre in spinning

Even after last fall’s hackling, the best of this flax has a ton of boon & straw!  Out came a bandana, in fact.  It was that much dust as I drafted from the distaff.  The flax varied wildly.  One minute I had soft, fine lengths, and the next I was waving the straw along!  I just went with the texture, and kept up with wet spinning to smooth it all over.

My jeans were soaked.  I looked a sight.  Still there I was, hooked all over again on the linen.  Having a virtual spin-along was also really cool.

About the wet spinning – it wasn’t plain water this time.  I gave a lot of flax seeds a generous splash of boiling water.  Steeping & stirring happened but I was really halfway to the wheel before long.  There was a good difference.  In the future, I’ll boil the seeds, and use the flax-slurry.

Book - Reflections from a Flaxen Past by Kati Reeder Meek and handspun linen single yarns

Learning the linen

This fibre varied from fine to feeling almost like tow flax.  I hope there was enough twist in this linen yarn.  It was spun wet, and felt fairly textured when I wound it from my drying tin (holes are punched in the sides of the tin) to the rolls for storage.

Alongside my singles is a birthday present – Kati Reeder Meek’s, “Reflections from a Flaxen Past for love of Lithuanian Weaving.”  A fantastic first flax reference for my shelves!  It was Camilla Valley’s last copy, and is blowing me away.  The Lithuanian linen tradition far more complex than I ever dreamed.  Most of all, I am thrilled to have a spinners’ insights on making linen weaving yarn.  It is so well reasoned, and accessible.

Handwoven linen Swedish lace sample by weaver Jette Vandermeiden

Handwoven lace samples in linen by Jette Vandermeiden

Also inspiring this push is the samples of handwoven linen lace that Jette Vandermeiden brought for our guild class last month.

Handwoven lace samples by weaver Jette Vandermeiden

More samples from Jette’s class

All of the samples were interesting but I was so drawn to Jette’s discussion of the linen laces in particular.  My goal is to practice weaving first, and build my skills but with an eye towards learning to weave my own linen textiles.

First year bloom on Clematis vine

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day to all Canadians near & far!  Like the Clematis, this is my first year with roots in the Canadian soil for this day, and that means something!

 


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From their heart: The Ramer spinning wheel collection

Last Thursday, after a big detour of the Mapquest misdirection kind, I arrived in one piece at the Ramers’ home for my appointment.  It was a fantastic visit starting with the warm greeting from Rev. Barbara Anne at her front door to me, the previously lost spinner.

The well-lit room contained the most spinning wheels that I have ever seen much less beautiful antique spinning wheels.  My friend was spot-on when she confirmed for me that the Ramer collection still had flax wheels!

William McDonald antique saxony Canadian spinning wheel Alvin Ramer collection

Wheel number thirteen

Having walked the room and gathered my thoughts, she was the first wheel that I took down to sit at.  Wheel number thirteen was included in the collection catalogue, and the note under, ‘Spinning Comments,’ rang true:

This is a smooth spinning wheel.

When I later mentioned this to Barbara Anne, she laughed saying, “Those are the words straight from my mouth!”  I am lucky to have this wheel, and a copy of her 3 pages from the collection’s catalogue.  The note under ‘Distinguishing Features‘ also landed squarely in my brain.  It says, in order of the image captions:

Treadle of William McDonald antique Canadian saxony spinning wheel Alvin Ramer collection

“The footpiece is fastened to the treadle with wooden pegs.”

In taking this photo, I noticed the etched star motif on the back support of the treadle.  It looks like simple lines from a penknife, and the rest of the wheel is elegantly turned and constructed.   The feel of the broad, worn treadle is fantastic underfoot.

Drive wheel of antique Nova Scotia saxony spinning wheel maker William McDonald Alvin Ramer collection

“The Wheel sections are fastened together with wooden pegs.”

The drive wheel is 20 ¼” in diameter with 14 spokes in 4 rim segments.  It has one wide rim groove and spins true.  The heft of this hardwood drive wheel is exactly what I was hoping for in a flax wheel.  In comparison, my P. Cadorette CPW has a 29 ½” wheel diameter.

Table, audience-view antique Nova Scotia saxony spinning wheel maker William McDonald Ramer collection

“There is a decorative bead around two sides and rear of the table. The front of the table is bevelled.”

Provenance in short form for wheel number thirteen

We know from her makers mark that she was made by a Scottish settler in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in the 1820s – 1830s.

Makers mark William McDonald antique saxony Nova Scotia spinning wheel

Makers mark: W. M.Dld. (McDonald)

The presumed maker is William McDonald as identified in the catalogue sheets by Keith MacGillivary.  In searching, I discovered that Mr. Ramer’s Nova Scotia wheels were featured in the July 2004 issue of Spinning Wheel Sleuth magazine.  I would love a copy of this issue!  The sheet simply says that it was purchased in August 2001 from Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.

Flyer detail antique saxony Nova Scotia spinning wheel maker William McDonald

Pie-crust orifice fluting

One frustration in spinning flax on my small Eastern European flax wheel has been its large orifice.  This wheel controls the fine single, and I was thrilled to see the fluting on the inside of the orifice.

That screw-tension double drive wheels were even being made by several wheelwrights in Nova Scotia in this period is remarkable.  The report, “Selected Canadian Spinning Wheels in Perspective:  an Analytical Approach”  says that the 1759 expulsion of the Acadians from Atlantic Canada, “curtailed most of the early spinning traditions of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia…” (p. 265).

Ontario was not producing any wheels of this type at the time (ibid, p. 275).  This wheel must have stayed in Nova Scotia until the turn of this century.  Now nearing 200 years of age she is restored, oiled, and in another immigrant spinner’s home.

Antique saxony Nova Scotia spinning wheel spinner's view William McDonald maker Alvin Ramer collection

Beautiful twin maidens!

Click reel for the new weaver in me

Around the time of helping me select this working click reel from the collection, Barbara Anne answered my deep thanks for the sale being open for us spinners.  It was a moment of being alone in the collection, and she met my eyes saying simply, “It is what we wanted.  We had offers to buy the collection whole.  It is our heart. ”

 

Blue painted antique wood click reel yarn winder weasel

Pop! goes the weasel!

The vertical reel stood out among her peers from across the room.  It is all 1 piece with a handle for winding the yarn.  The wound skein is removed by bending the knee of the one jointed windmill arm.

Painted blue wood antique click reel winding yarn gear detail

Inner workings

Behind her pretty front blue skirt is the also-painted wood gear and worm mechanism.  Once the metal pin on the small lower gear rotates fully, it slaps a long piece of thin wood & pop!  I jump every time.

Chip carved edging of table on antique blue painted wood click reel yarn winding weasel

Pretty as a pie-crust, chip carved reel table

As if this is not enough excitement for one humble tool, her tripod platform has even pie-crust chip carving and a front bead.  Also overflowing with excitement was me last week!

Best cakes from lovely cousins!

Coded candles  

The sale has been precipitated by family issues for the Ramers.  I was very happy to meet Alvin, Barbara Anne, and their friend, Rosemary.  It is a big transition but Barbara Anne asked me to let spinners know that Alvin wants to resume his wheel repair work as soon as possible.

My hopes for the awesome circa 1820s Atlantic Canada wheel are simple – I want to spin flax.

Antique Pennsylvania line flax dressed on a distaff

A flaxen future perhaps

These are more than tools for that goal though.  They come in my 5th year as a spinner, my 1st year as a weaver, and shortly after becoming Canadian.  I am honoured to have such well restored artifacts to work with, and the good wishes of an expert flax spinner, Rev. Barbara Anne Ramer.

Bloodgood Japanese maple sapling crown

Also setting down roots

Well, friends, 5 years makes a habit and that is my new answer for, “How many spinning wheels do you have now?”


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Building the yarn flavour

This story happened on one of those rare summery fall days, September 5, 2013.  Life runs far more smoothly now that I, daughter of Jamaica, have learned to never take fair weather for granted in the northern hemisphere.  “Make hay while the sun shines” seriously resonates here.

Extraordinary gift – Black Walnut dye liquor

When September 5th spoke, I listened.  It said, “Grab Evil Michelle’s Black Walnut from this June, and have at it!”

Natural dyeing is not for everyone, I know.  As Sasha (thecraftyrabbit) put it on Saturday at the Woodstock Fleece Festival, “It’s too much like cooking!”  YES!  And we laughed.  N’s take is that I really did not get enough science in school.  They are both correct.

Finnish Landrace wool top, wet

Taking the jar on the left, i.e. 15 oz of “first soak,” I appraised mine stash.  Turns out, I had lots of candidates to get in on this half of the Black Walnut gift.

Handspun, not to be left out of dye day

It was a carefully weighed plan.  The dry weight of fibre totaled 15 oz to equal the glorious Black Walnut dye.  L→R we had variety: flax/wool blend; a silk hankie’s worth and; wool/mohair/alpaca blend handspun yarns.  They all soaked in water for an hour.

Heating the Black Walnut dye liquor

It’s true that the (so not) Evil Michelle let me sail past the messy part of preparing the husks.  Still, I heeded the words of Elizabeth Fahey in the Fall 2010 issue of Spin-Off:

…As we handle the fresh nuts and husks, our hands are stained dark brown and our fingernails are black.  The substantive dye in the black walnut husk is ready to ooze out and stain anything it touches.  This is the dye that is my delight…

Between the family wedding, and my formica counters, I decided the best plan was to dye outdoors for once.  The aha! moment was when I realized the gas BBQ was my heat source!

Walnut dye magic in the making

Now, my patience has its limits.  I needed something else to do outside while heating, dyeing and cooling was under way.  That’s how I came to:

Add value to an eBay Purchase

Vintage line flax from Pennsylvania

Hidden deep in my stash was this 6.8 oz/ 192 g of vintage flax.  You know when you make “just one bid” late at night on eBay?  That.

Naturally, my ears perked up when Harriet Boon demonstrated how you improve on flax this June at the Ontario Handspinning Seminar.  Putting not-great flax through a hackle helps immensely. Traditional processing involves 6 – 10 passes between finer & then finer hackles (The Intentional Spinner, p. 14).  Did the Pennsylvanian farm have access to so much equipment before this flax got bundled and hung in an attic?

Before re-hackling: vintage Pennsylvania flax bundles

I came away from the Seminar understanding better than before these 2 important principles:

  1. Short of mold or fire, sound flax never dies – it is a timeless fibre; and
  2. Well prepared fibres offer a better spinning experience.

It was worth a try – this flax had not been through industrial equipment, and took a huge amount of labour over time to be produced.  Plus, my Forsyth fine stationary comb looks a lot like a hackle.

A mini hackle!

Warning:  don’t use a kitchen chair with any array of sharp, stainless steel tines.  Really.  That would be unsafe.  I don’t recommend it at all – ever.

The how:  I lashed each bundle of flax by hand, and pulled through the tines.  The moving comb is just pinning that bundle down.

First, second and third pass vintage flax

What happened was stunning.  Each of 3 passes sent chaff, dust, and brittle pieces of stem flying.  The fibres literally lightened and shone.  The first pass gave the longest fibres, and yielded 4.9 oz/ 127g.  The second pass gave 18 g, and the third 12g.  Tow that didn’t fly away was 27 g, and I kept that too.

Grades of line flax with tow after re-hackling

The Black Walnut dyeing was so fantastic that I decided to finally tackle the onion skins next.  I soaked 160g of skins overnight.  The 50 g of handspun merino, and 31g Tussah silk top got alum & cream of tartar mordant overnight as well.

Walnut dyed Finn wool, and onion skin dyed Tussah silk

The onion skins gave a surprisingly vibrant colour but spots of the silk top resisted the dye in its bundle.

Walnut dyed handspun skeins

The Horned Dorset skein (right, overhang) was 48g dry.  I dyed it a few days later in the exhaust bath.

Onion skins helping merino along

This was my first time dyeing commercially prepared fibre.  The Tussah silk top looks a bit compacted but should be spinnable.

Jamaican Yellow Ginger root (turmeric)

Dad brought me this bag of lovely yellow ginger.  As long ago as August 2012, I worked with a small amount of this dye with really strong results.

It is first cured by boiling, dried for a week, chopped and then ground – a lot of work!  I got a granite mortar & pestle from a local Home Goods store.

Horned Dorset handspun, natural dye

The Horned Dorset yarns are slowly making their way into a colourwork project!  I started the dye process this Monday by curing the new batch of Jamaican Yellow Ginger.

Curing Jamaican Yellow Ginger (turmeric) for dyeing

The roots are so fragrant.  Sasha’s right:  this is like cooking.  I am learning how to build the flavour of my yarn in different ways, that’s all.


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Pallashanin – Barbara Reid textiles collection auction

Pallashanin:  I am gathering; I am picking up, making or creating the design

Textile Traditions of Chinchero:  A Living Heritage, Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez/ CTTC, 2012:   Textile Terms Glossary, p. 165; p. 89

On Monday night, the Burlington Handweavers & Spinners Guild auctioned textiles from the private collection of Barbara Reid (1925 – 2012).  My spinning friend & inveterate enabler, Nancy, sent me the auction information months ago.  She had a hunch that I might be interested.

Um, yes!  The guild preview screamed Above-Average-for-the-‘burbs…  We are talking a weaver’s collection of objects on travels to Asia, Eastern Europe & South America.

Nancy had me at Turkish distaff.  Let alone the Andean weaving both large and small.  A girl can hope, can’t she?

Books by Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez

A girl can also read.  Just about everything I know about Andean weaving is from these Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez books, and conversations with Abby Franquemont.

My first jakima khipu – a bunch of cotton bands

In just 2 months, I will take Abby’s full-day backstrap weaving class at the Spring String Thing.

It’s simple.  I want to learn pallay: harvest, pick up, collect.  This post explains why one would.  And as I understand things, I really do not want to be called waylaka.

Cutting to the Chase

This beautiful puka (red) poncho now lives with us.  It was my last bid of the night.

Andean puka poncho

It hit me that the bidding was low enough for me to enter.  A single thought drove me:

This poncho is not going for a song.  Not tonight.  The market value is what the market pays tonight.

Dealers stayed out but a BHSG weaver was in big time.  We looked evenly at each other, and my bids came without blinking.  Another guild member marveled, “She really wants it.”  Yes, I did.

Andean poncho: front left pallay

What is the provenance?  The auction catalogue says the poncho was woven in “Chincero, Peru.”  It goes on to state:

Red wool man’s poncho woven on backstrap loom by Quechua Indian, Lake Titicaca area of Peru, purchased 1988. 46cm x 46cm

That raises a conflict.  Lake Titicaca is in Puno province.  Chinchero is a district in the province of Urubamba, Peru.

Poncho detail: front, lower left, 2nd pallay and sewn-on ley edge finish

The designs or pallayninkuna will speak for themselves.  I think that they were woven using the pata pallay technique, also called pebble weave.  It would be complementary warp – the back is reverse colours.

The above design is based on facing puma claws motif.  The centre green & gold motif looks like tanka ch’oro – shells side-by-side.  The weaver also incorporated birds into the puma claws pallayshin.

Andean poncho, centre

In “Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands“, 2007 Nilda says that pata pallay has typically been found in Pitumarca & the Urubamba cordillera.  The animal pata pallay dominate the design.  Does this point away from Puno & Lake Titicaca?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Using both of Nilda’s books, I have identified these pictoral motifs with variations (in no grand order):

  • horse
  • pigeon
  • birds facing with cow eyes
  • puma
  • owl
  • llama
  • viscacha (chinchilla-like rodent), Chinchero
  • pato – duck
  • dismembered Tupac Amaru
  • arana – spider

Andean poncho: back, left

In “Textile Traditions of Chinchero“, Nilda classes many of these animal pallay as using the supplementary warp technique.  Although it comes from the Urubamba mountain communities, Chinchero region weavers have also incorporated them (see, p. 127, 130).  After receiving a weaving with the horse pallay from her father in the 1970s, Nilda introduced the technique to her area.

Andean poncho: back left, detail

I love this textile.  The sheer accomplishment of having spun, dyed and woven this for the man who wore this humbles me.  As Nilda quotes Lucio Ylla in “Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands,”:

Through their clothes and weavings, we can tell where the people come from who travel to our community.  We can identify them immediately, and many times we even know the purpose of their visit.

What I do know is that in 1988 when Peruvian weavers feared the loss of their traditional textiles, Barbara Reid brought this wool-not-synthetic, red poncho to Canada.  It may be a bridge from an older striped puka poncho or from an area that used a riot of animal designs.  Either way, it is woven with care and skill.

It’s a piece that brings not only warmth or beauty.  As I look hard, and re-read, I can feel myself lifted on those woven wings, and inspired to strive by the puma claws.

What were the first bids of the night, you ask?

To my early amazement, the guild auctioned both Turkish distaves as one lot.

Turkish distaves – small, flax (l); waist forked distaff (r)

Mine was the 1st & only bid!  They will aid & abet my flax spinning goal.  Just last weekend, I spun this dyed tow flax on the small antique wheel.

An insane amount of flax strick is also making its way to our house… maybe.

A kilim bag from Turkey’s Euphrates Basin area.  Not my best purchase ever but what’s a little guard hair to a spinner like me?

Bolivian chumpi (belt)

Such an interesting piece!  The weaver of this band varied the condor motif for both open and closed beaks.  I am not sure what the alternating design represents but the centre eye varies.

See the poor llama?  She lost her herd!

The last two were also a paired lot.

Forgive the pose, please.  Winter picture-taking was wearing thin with me…  This thin Andean chumpi or belt is as light as a ribbon.

An Andean design sampler!

My shadow box now sports an Andean hair comb, woven with reeds.  The catalogue listed it as being from the “jungle area east of Andes.”

Each of these textiles, and the many I saw but dared not bid on has lifted my spirits.  The Burlington guild put on a great auction.  It was a real tribute to their friend, Barbara Reid.

The long-suffering Toby

Someone please tell Toby that it’s in an effort to save the eye from the ravages of his own paw, and we love him.  Thank you.

[edit to resize pictures]


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Day of Rest, Tour de Fleece 2012

Vive le Tour!  This year I am racing in Team Suck Less as a Friend of Abby’s Yarns, and also posting in the 66 page long Peloton.  It’s been great because this year I am both spinning for myself and taking my mind off some pretty intense stuff.

My Prologue came with not feeling well, so I took it easy with 2 spins in progress.  The spindles are resting on my Yarn Hollow alpaca/ merino/ tussah silk top and the white fiber is my hand-carded Romney lamb’s wool.

 

The Schacht cotton handcards are worth their weight in gold.  I got my pair from the Spinning Loft for Christmas.  206 tines per inch are all the tines I need.

The plying was also in progress, so I soon had my first skein of the Tour!

May as well bust the already-combed Romney while I was at it right?  This is still in progress for the rest of the Tour.

My small stage challenge of choice was to spin 100% flax on Chella.  This is after all why I said that I needed an antique flax wheel.

It was so different to anything else I have spun.  Even hemp.  The new changes were to:

  • Wet spin the life out of that flax.  It wanted more and more water, it really did;
  • Re-jig the pegs.  Steam punk for life, y’all.  No animals or plants were harmed in the operation of the flyer array;
  • Switch to a plied crochet thread drive band.

Oh, and spinning with a distaff is weird in a good way.  Mine is only ½ intact, so it meant putting the old chair rail to a new use (as opposed to resident nostepinne).

The single came off the bobbin ASAP.  It dried nicely on my coffee tin with nail punched holes.  So, if you are keeping count at home that 3 instances of tools improv for one spin.  Just the way I like it.

As at this morning the Yarn Hollow spin is down to:  a plying ball; 1.7 oz left in the braid; and 2 singles balls we hope will match up nicely.  The idea is to stop ochre & purple from barberpoling at all costs.

My second skein of the Tour is about 42 yards, a 3-ply sample.  Hand-combed from this 10lb longwool fleece that I bought on pure auction fever at last year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.  [There was another but let’s not talk about that…]

Proving that my Stringtopia teacher, Beth Smith of the Loft is absolutely correct – the only way to tackle such a beast is to sample, kids.

The beast is tamed!  I’ve also carded the combed waste, and spun up the 11 rolags between this Tabachek & my first Kundert.

It’s great to go after my own goals this year, and I have let go of the need to be totally structured about posting or going after crazy challenges and acclaim.  It really is good enough to be along for the ride, healthy and free.

See you on the road?