The Knit Knack's Blog

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Getting more patient: up-noting my weaving, and cotton

The Elin towels from my last post were fully finished by the start of June.  This was the last daylight they have seen!

Handwoven cottolin kitchen towels Elin kit from the loom of irieknit

Four handwoven Elin towels – cottolin; 8-shaft broken twill

The gaps in attending to weaving, writing, and the old craft approaches have been wearing on me.  This cliché assumption all spinners hear now has hit a new chord:

You must be very patient!

My stock response of no and pivoting to the true family trait of stubbornness no longer sounds even technically correct.  There is a new need to cultivate patience.  Life is catching me behind my natural pace for new skills and challenge projects.

Sewing hem for cottolin Elin kitchen towels from the loom of irieknit

Hemmed 2 months after weaving

In between cutting this warp from the loom, and finishing steps, I learned that a good acquaintance who lives near to us was seriously ill.  We were high school friends, and she had moved to Canada before we did.  Even with overlaps in circles at home, I only realized at the end of April that she had been in hospital for most of winter.  This arc of being able to rise to the occasion has been fulfilling in many ways.  It has also shown the upper-limit of my time and energy is not that far from resting state.

With the new awareness of how slim my margins truly are (as opposed to wishful thinking), I will focus on sustaining my home practice.  This meant answering with a no thank you for a teaching opportunity.  It’s a new and frankly unexpected patience.

Andean low-whorl drop spindle with Corriedale wool

Teaching T to spin with an Andean Pushka!

It has meant that I could participate in the Tour de Fleece even as it crossed both of our mothers visiting this summer.  The guest bed does close my loom… Patience is a virtue, right?  That too passed, and the Mighty Wolf breathes again.  This dug into my brain a little – spring sampling and all – and is a set of 2 rosepath combination twill baby blankets from a 5 yard warp.

Weaving cotton rosepath 2-colour blankets by irieknit

Colour and weave (and treadling mistake) rosepath plus in 8/4 cotton

This is the first with the entered colours reversed as weft.  It is a 14-thread repeat, and was a joy to weave.  I used a new Leclerc temple, and have Beam me Up Scotties finally on the cloth beam.  Black lacing is banished forever!

As patience has its limits, I also bought an electric bobbin winder that I used in weaving the 2nd blanket on this warp.

Time for this post is slipping away, and I best get to the cotton spins.  They are the very soul of a patience I never had.  Good thing that I am both stubborn and thrilled to have something meditative for these nights after navigating the unseen special needs of our home life.

Handspinning cotton three ways Atoni rosewood spindle with brown cotton; Takhli with Egyptian cotton slyver; African bead whorl with Egyptian cotton puni

Atoni rosewood spindle with brown cotton; Takhli with Egyptian cotton slyver; African bead whorl with Egyptian cotton puni

The state of these 3 cotton spins has moved since this June 21st picture albeit slowly.  The Rosewood spindle of the Atoni people, East Timor has not changed much & should be wound-off.  The takhli has a 2-year spin of Egyptian cotton top that sits as singles today:

Handspun singles balls by irieknit Egyptian cotton

Hard won 50g of Egyptian cotton top in singles balls

The loose goal is to perhaps use these as weft singles.

Handspun cottons Pima seed, brown cotton seed on Atoni Rosewood spindle from East Timor and African bead whorl spun by irieknit

Pima seeds and singles ball, brown cotton on Atoni spindle, Egyptian cotton puni on African bead whorl

The goals are even more loose with these.  It starts as ideas to spin with new tools, and I let it lead me.  These are closer to my new pace but also to hearing our friend’s advice to parent for the long haul.  None is overblown – we are going to do well if we can.  This summer it meant 1 short day-camp, 2 house guests, no break from the home, and hitting our prime family outings.  Much like blog posting was left undone.  I am trying to embrace both WIPs and the progress that lives in them.

As tiring as this phase has been on different levels it is helping so much.  We can see new things are possible, and add them as we can.  It’s not just short, silly projects as I feared.  It’s also not going at my own way and pace.

Hibiscus flowering by irieknit

End of summer blooms!

 

 


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Cottoning on to cotton

The recent trouble with my hands brought me back to cotton in a big way.  Of everything else only my cotton spin had a gentle enough action for longer stints.

Takhli cotton supported spindle with shell

My friend the takhli

This composition says almost everything about what got me over a Learn to Spin Cotton phase.  Three of four things, in fact:

  1. A low stool:  sits in front of my couch, and under my lap level.  It is comfortable, and with pillows at the base of my back, I do not need to lean forward.  The new ergonomics awareness means that I don’t want to raise my drawing arm (left) above shoulder-level.  This set-up helps a lot.
  2. A big shell:  it’s from Michael’s.  I love the haptic feedback from shell ridges when the metal takhli tip moves, slows, stops.  It breaks through the concentration I have with drawing cotton back into each make of yarn.
  3. That cotton:  super-easy to spin.  It’s from the Cotton Clouds kit.  Please leave us a comment if you recognize which cotton it is exactly!  We wants more…

Number 4 of 4 arguably saves my wrist the most.  It’s my waist distaff that I got in last year’s Barbara Reid Auction:

Turkish waist distaff with cotton sliver

Distaff does the cotton lifting

The lower half is a carved blade designed to be tucked at the waist.  Slid to my left-side in between the couch cushion & arm it angles perfectly towards the stool set-up.  I first did this in another bid to focus on the twist, and fine-tuning with a second draw.  It’s also perfect for taking all weight off the injured left wrist.

One thing led to another

As I started to prepare 2-strand plying balls, I remembered some other incomplete cotton spins.  So much was just waiting for me to wake up!

Cotton yarn on Forrester Akha spindle

Plied cotton on the Akha spindle

By sheer co-incidence my copy of “Exotic Fiber Spindling” by Amelia Garripoli had just arrived in the mail.  To my delight, Amelia bases her discussion on the Akha spindle.  It is the style used by the northern hill tribes of Thailand, traditionally for cotton, and other short fibres.

Out came my empty Tom Forrester Akha spindle.  She came from Carolina Homespun last spring and is 20g with a lovely Sapele Mahogany whorl, and a Birch shaft.  Light enough for achy hands & fine cotton!

Handspun cotton yarn finishing boil

Five cotton skeins boiling!

By mid-March, I had 5 skeins of 2-ply cotton in a finishing boil.  The recipe is from Stephanie Gaustad’s “Spinning Cotton” Interweave video but is a 40-minute boil in an alkaline bath to clean & set the cotton.

Handspun cotton yarns

Quintet of handspun cotton yarn

The green yarn is the most special of the lot.  It came from Phreadde’s gift of home-grown seed cottons, and I have shown/thanked her in FOAY already.

It’s largely in the support

The metal tip of takhlis move at an amazing speed.  One light flick is all it takes.  Getting feel, noise, and skating all within good parameters has sent me searching out different surfaces.  I love the shells but dislike ceramic & wood.

 

Cotton takhli spindle in gourd bowl

All things bright & beautiful – takhli support bowl

This painted gourd is from Ten Thousand Villages, and seems to work fairly well with both takhli & African clay bead spindles.  It reminds me of calabash from home but is not made in Jamaica.

My next experiment will be a condensed milk tin.  It leaped off the page of the Spring 2014 issue of Wild Fibers Magazine.  The phang spinners of Pangong, India seem at-one with my people when it comes to loving ‘tin milk’!