Santa arrived early last week, in the form of a FedEx delivery guy with two ENORMOUS boxes:
What could be in those boxes? I opened them up and discovered my new bench and footstool from Walt Turpening! Walt is a legendary maker of benches, and I persuaded him to make a footstool for me as well, since my legs would otherwise dangle while I’m weaving.
Here they are – magnificent!
I asked Walt to put a color gradient into the bench. If you look closely, the color changes are produced by gradually adding and subtracting strands of thread while braiding the cords that are used to weave the seat. (Walt makes his own cords!)
The one small problem is that we inadvertently sent Walt the wrong measurements. As a result, the bench is three inches too short. Fortunately, Walt is willing to make me a new set of rails, and can squeeze me into his already heavily booked schedule. So the new rails should be arriving sometime in early 2017. I’m looking forward to weaving on the bench!
Weaving may need to wait a bit, though, as I’ve decided to cut the current warp off the loom. It is drop-dead gorgeous, but it is also the Warp From Hell. During the dyeing, the blue and red/orange warps got a bit tangled, so the back of the loom turned into a rat’s-nest of broken, tangled, and repaired threads. After every four inches of weaving, I would have to stop and spend twenty minutes untangling the warp at the back of the loom. Of course, this resulted in tension issues, with some threads becoming too loose and others too tight. And the warp was so linty that small hairballs formed around each thread as I was weaving, and dust started clogging the valves and other parts of the vacuum system that controls the TC-2. I put up with the warp for probably about ten yards, because it was so beautiful, but it’s time for it to go.
I’ve decided that my next warp is going to be medium fine silk (30/2 silk at 7500 yards per pound, about twice the weight of sewing thread), double weave, one layer of white and one layer of black. That’s a fairly versatile color combination, and I can use it to weave anything from wall hangings to clothing. My plan for the moment is to put on a 20 yard warp and weave some scarves/shawls, both for myself and for sale. I need something relatively simple to do while I work on the Creating Craft business.
Of course, in order to put on that much warp, I’ll need four pounds each of black and white silk warp. Since all my silk is white, that means I have to dye four pounds of silk and then wind the skeins onto cones. This is a bit daunting, considering that the yarn has 7500 yards per pound, so we are talking winding 30,000 yards – over 17 miles – of yarn onto cones.
So for my Christmas gift, I asked Mike to build me this cone winder (the video is here, for the folks subscribing by email)
More details on the cone winder are on the GSN-knit site. This is a business run by a fellow in Russia, who makes cone-winders for Russian purchasers. For international purchasers, he only sells a “kit” – the yarn drum and the spindle, the two critical parts that you can’t source elsewhere. You then have to figure out how to put together the rest of it yourself, aided by photos of the machine at various angles. This requires a level of tinkering know-how that is well beyond me, but fortunately Mike loves designing and making widgets, so he agreed to put one together for me. This cone winder is quite different from the Silver Needles electric cone winder – it uses an industrial design that I think is considerably more robust. I am looking forward to playing with it.
Because the cone winder uses cone sizes that are not readily available in the U.S., I also ordered a lifetime supply of cones – 180 of them, to be exact. Here’s a photo of the Giant Box of Cones, complete with photobombing cat:
And here are the spindle and drum, along with the unpacked cones:
Now it’s up to Mike. I expect it will take some time to build and refine the cone winder, so I will probably hold off on dyeing my 17 miles of yarn until it’s ready. Hopefully it will work better and faster than using my AVL bobbin winder with cone adapters.
Meanwhile, I am preparing to embark on making a large set of Procion MX fiber-reactive dye samples on cotton yarn. As in, 1500 or so samples. I spent some weeks working with my friend Carla on the methodology for the samples, and then figuring out the logistics, cost, and so on. Right now the plan is for me to do the dyeing and for her to wind the samples onto cards, but we might have one or two other people joining us for the project. I probably won’t start dyeing until it gets a bit warmer, though. It will be interesting!