Yesterday I went to Lambtown Festival
, the first time for me, although it has been going on for 27 years! I felt right at home, saw lots of friends and fellow fiber people, chatted up the day and had the most fabulous lamb teriyaki for lunch imaginable. It was sooooo good I actually contemplated driving back today for more!
There was a sheep-to shawl demonstration/competition, with three teams of spinners/weavers. Spinners spun, a weaver wove, shawls were produced and then they had to be judged: boo!
They were wonderful examples of spinning and weaving, and it was too bad that they, so different from each other, had to be compared. At all. They were good
fabrics. They were well thought-out weave structures, well woven, using excellent handspun yarns, and they were pretty. One had to be picked over the others. Bleah. It's like deciding which of your children you love more: you love them each for their strengths and for their weaknesses. Not Best, Lesser and Least.
Those spinners and weavers were inspiring. They had done their homework, the fabrics were thoughtful, and beautiful. One was sett at 8 and woven with 8 picks per inch, another was sett at 10 and woven with 10 picks per inch, in twill variations: point twill and undulating twill, with plain weave stripes. One of the difficulties in judging fabrics at these events is that the shawls were not washed: the fabric was fresh off the loom. Things change in the washing, fibers meld, weave structures impose themselves, the hand changes, and the hand of the fabric is important
....to it's end use, to it's final utility. That factor has to be guessed at, and there is no second guessing once the fabrics are washed and really finished. I would love to see them after washing, but I most likely never will.
I thought all the way home of weaving and wearing wool cloth. How would I have done it differently? What factors would I incorporate that these spinner/weavers used? I would like to combine some of the qualities of each of the shawls that I saw and touched on Saturday. I want a simple twill fabric of two ply yarns, sett at 10, and woven at 8 ppi. I want it to be woven a bit openly, so that finishing will determine the hand: more = firmer fabric, less = softer fabric. I'd have to sample!
Luckily, I happen to have some wool yarn:
Not handpsun, alas, but a Pile O' 2 ply Shetland wool yarns. There is plenty to sample first, wash and press, handle them and decide how best to weave the garment. I'll make a long enough sample so that I can change the sett, and wash both, to see how they differ. There are even colors I do not like to wear, which I will happily sacrifice to the Sample Gods. These yarns are knittable, usually into sweaters, so I will weave a sweater. I've wanted a pullover anyway, lightweight, with plenty of drape: easy to layer over a shirt and under a jacket. I'll have to do a set-in sleeve. Horrors!
So. What else have I been up to? I think I have shown these both in progress:
This first is handspun silk, a shawl size, using leftover yarns from another project. It is shown after finishing, with the afternoon sun shining on it, which brings out the shine of the silk yarns used. It will be my gallery project at The Last SOAR(tm)
This next, also shown previously in various stages as I worked on it:
is silk cashmere, also a scarf or shawl length. I was a bit worried about differential shrinkage once I started weaving: the mottled stripes are a different silk/cashmere yarn from the rest of the shawl. I'd used them together before without incident, but they are a slightly different grist than the others, and in rather larger stripe sections like this, I did not know if they would shrink more (or less). I took a shot right before I washed the fabric:
Just to remember it was once flat. It did, indeed, remain flat after finishing (phew!), although I had long decided that whatever I got would be OK: this is not a show piece, or for a gallery or photo session, it's just for wearing. So if I wear a scarf/shawl that has some differential shrinkage? Oh well, must've been what I was meant to do! Attitude is everything :).
It has been a few busy weeks recently making up supplies and samples for SOAR: packing the boxes and shipping is this week, and then... it will be upon us. It will be fun, sobering, happy and sad, and I will wager there will be not a dry eye among us, in the end. Which will be the end, for better or for worse. And we will turn our faces outward, to whatever may come.