FIBERUARY 2018 SPINNING FLAX-NOTES FROM THE HANDSPINNER-LISA BERTOLDI

Spinning Flax Notes from the Handspinner   Lisa Bertoldi

 

The handspinning of flax gives me great satisfaction.  Giving me even more satisfaction is using the handspun thread as the weft in handwoven kitchen  towels.  The resulting fabric has a rustic look and a substantial hand.   Over time the linen thread lightens in color. and with subsequent numerous washings the thread becomes somewhat thinner.

I am buying flax for handspinning now from three interesting sources.

One is Taproot fiber Lab in Nova Scotia.  Patricia Bishop and her colleagues growing flax, retting it in the field, and preparing it in their workshop.  One may dye their dark flax and spin it up.  Imagine flax grown in Nova Scotia!  I have had good luck spinning it, and weaving with it.  The dark color washes quickly away.

Another source is Black Cat Farmstead in Wisconsin.  Weaver and spinner Andrea Myklebust grew a good crop of fax and drove it to Taproot Fiber Lab to have it processed.  Flax grown in the United States!  I am spinning it up into thread just now, a single about 8/1.  Soon to be i the weft ofkitchen towels.

The third source on which I rely on heavily is coming from Scandinavia.  I buy mine at Vavstuga Weaving School in SHelburne Falls.  It may also be available from other shops in the United States.  It is pale and on the fine side, supple.  My mainstay.

I spin what is called wetspun thread.  I keep a small water bowl handy near my left hand at the spinning wheel.  The water binds the fibers a bit and nicely smooths down the surface of the thread.  Some people swear by spittle, and spin their flax using only that.  I prefer to use water!  The other option is dry spun thread which is exactly as it sounds one spins the flax using dry fingers.  The resulting thread is a bit hairy as a result.  For certain applications this is a perfecty good choice.

I am currently practicing to spin a finer thread this winter.  By uing a distaff I find I can achieve  more uniform and even thread, which is my goal.  BY slowing down I am able to spin a bit finer with greater control.  Aiming toward a consistently thinner thread I find I need to take more frequent breaks, so that I can do finger stretches with a rubber band and squeeze a ball of a sort of putty (given to me by my physical therapist)   I soak my hands then in some hot water get a breath of fresh air and a sip of water and I am ready to continue.

Handwoven Goods | Whimsy & Tea | Handwoven Tea Towels

Lisa Dertoldi

http://www.weft.us

Weft Handwovens

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THE MASSACHUSETTS SHEEP AND WOOLCRAFT FAIR-FIBERUARY

FIBERUARY      MASSACHUSETTS SHEEP AND WOOLCRAFT FAIR  MAY 27 & 28, 2017

 

Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair :: May 27 & 28, 2017

 

Shepherds are getting their sheep and fleeces ready, vendors are getting wool, yarns and crafts ready for you  to see and workshops are now in place.  Come and join us at the fair.  Located in the beautiful town of Cummington, Massachusetts, at the fairgrounds.   Good food will be available bring the family for a day of fun.  Sheep shows, Dog trails and lots of demos will await you.

WORKSHOPS

We are pleased to present our workshop schedule for 2017. We host great teachers from near and far. Bruce Engebretson writes for Spin Off Magazine, and teaches at Marshfield School of Weaving. He was trained in the Scandinavian tradition of fiber work. Katherine Johnson will teach us about Naalbinding, spelled variously: in English it is needle binding. Emily Gwynn enlightens us on using charts for knitting! Dotty Taft will be bringing her fleet of drum carder for us to experiment on.
On Saturday the cotton expert Joan Ruane of Bisbee AZ will be demonstrating how to spin cotton. On Sunday, Bruce Engebretson will demonstrate. Other guests will be joining us for various demonstrations.. Check out the Website for times and days.  masheepwool.org

 

Potluck Supper

A potluck supper will be held on the fairgrounds dining room at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Everyone is welcome. Please bring a prepared dish or salad sufficient to feed your family to the kitchen by 4:00 p.m. NO BREAD PLEASE! Rolls, beverages, and place settings will be provided.  Both refrigerators and a warming are available on the grounds.

Fleece Judging

The Dog Trials are always an exciting event

See you there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIBERUARY 2017 THE DYE PARTY

THE DYE PARTY

Welcome to Fiberuary 2017

DYE PARTIES

 

 

We hope to have may wonderful people writing about fiber and crafts over this coming month.  If there is something special that you would like to write about please e-mail me at wspines@aol.com

THE DYE PARTY

I have been hosting going to and experiencing Dye Parties  since the late 80’s  They are so much fun and I wanted to share the ins  and outs of them so you can have your very own.

You will need a fairly large area with access to water.  A tent is useful and tables are a must.

Equipment

Lobster pot with a drain or a canning pot  (these pots are used exclusively for dyeing.

Quart jars with lids                             plastic cups/or small tubs

stencil brushes                                    Dyes (recipe to follow)

placCamp stove and bottled gas            dye pots

wooden spoons                                    plastic spoons

saran wrap if you are doing painted on roving

white vinegar                                        masking tape

With the saran wrap and vinegar we usually ask people to being one or the other

If this is your first dye party and you don’t have any dyes i recommend Pro Chemical Dye Company in Somerset Ma.  800-2buy-dye  or online at http://www.prochemical.dye.  I was introduced to this great company  after I started spinning and have been using them successfully ever since.  If you have any questions, need a specific color they are there to help you.  I use the washFast Acid dyes.

In the dye parties I have attended over the years most people brought their own stoves and pots and spoons.  The dyes were provided for a small fee and were mixed and ready to go.  A tub filled with water and white vinegar was set up for those who brought dry material  .  People brought jars of natural dyes to share.  A rinsing tub was also filled with cold water.

Usually there was a pot luck lunch and bringing a chair to sit on after hours of dyeing is welcomed.

Tables were covered with plastic. A couple of  tables were dedicated to painted on yarn and roving.

Everyone brought scrap wool or yarns to use up dyes.  Most times the left over dyes brought the best colors.  We tried not to dump dyes using them up is great for the environment.

Sometimes these parties lasted from Friday through Monday, with Saturday and Sunday being the busiest days.

Recipe for a Stock Solution

1 tablespoon dye in 1 quart of water

DYE

1 CUP DYE STOCK

1/2 CUP WHITE VINEGAR

1/2 CUP WATER

The remains of these dyes after the party can be kept till the next year.  Each dye jar  should be labeled.

My friend Debbie and I did a dye party for the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild.  It was a fun day and we ended up with lots of wonderful colored woolen material.

People also brought basket weaving materials to dye.

It’s a fun way to get a years worth of dyeing done in a day to two.  If you have a dye party please send me pictures wspines@aol.com.  I would love to share them next year.

PAINTED ON YARNS AND ROVING

Pre-soak your yarn s,rovings, warps or material in a vinegar/water solution

Spread out your yarn, roving or warp on a slightly larger piece of saran wrap.

Using a brush or spoon (but being cautious about having too much liquid  as it will         muddy your outcome) add color in stripes, blotches, or whatever turn over to catch what you have missed. If you don’t want any of the original yarn color showing make sure everything is covered.  Blot up ay extra liquid.

Fold over the sides of the wraps and roll up jelly rool style.  Tape package and initial and place in the steamer.  when the pot is full and steaming put top on and leave for 45 minutes.  Remove and let cool before unwrapping and rinsing.

Remember to exhaust the dye that is in the steamer before draining.

Have a wonderful time.  Carole Adams  Whispering Pines Farm

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FIBERuary UPCOMING EVENTS

Hello FIBERuary Friends

From time to time I will be letting you know of happenings in our local and New England area.

Classes at Sheep and Shawl

Fiber Arts Classes at Sheep & Shawl in South Deerfield:

Beginning & Refresher Knitting – Short Course, Linda Forget – Wed. 6 – 8 pm  Mar 30, Apr 6, 13  (3 sessions) $60 plus materials
Crochet Refresher – Heather McQueen  – Sun. 1 – 3:30 April 3 (1 session)  $25 plus materials   Not a beginner’s class.
Knit Your Dog a Sweater  –  Susan Wright – Sun. 2 – 4 pm April 3 & 10  (2 sessions)  $40 plus materials
Sock Knitting for Beginners – Emily Gwynn – Thurs. 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm April 7, 14, & 21 (3 sessions) $60 plus materials
Learn to Spin on your own wheel – Carole Adams – Sat. afternoons 1:00 – 3:00  April 9, 16 & 23 (3 session) $60 plus materials
Rughooking with Yarn – Carole Adams – Sun. afternoons 1:00 – 3:00 April 10 & 17 (2 session) $40 plus materials  No experience needed.
Helping Hands Project Class (knitting)– Emily Gwynn – Wed. 6-8pm April 13 & 20 (2 sessions)  $40 plus materials
Sweet Marguerites! (fine crochet) – Heather McQueen – Sun. 1 – 3:30 April 17 (1 session)  $25 plus materials
Two-color Brioche (knitting) – Linda Forget – Wed. and Thur. 1:00 – 3:00 April 20 & 21 (2 sessions) $40 plus materials
Helping Hands Project Class (knitting) – Emily Gwynn – Wed. 6-8pm May 4 & 11 (2 sessions)  $40 plus materials
Entrelac for Beginners (knitting) – Beth Altemari   We hope to offer this again in May.  (3 sessions) $60 plus materials

For more information please see the website atwww.sheepandshawl.com/community. Call 413-397-3680 to register.

                   MASSACHUSETTS SHEEP AND WOOLCRAFT FAIR

Click on below for information on entering your woolcraft items

http://www.masheepwool.org/woolcraft.html

You still have time to make or finish you item for the contest.  Lets make the tables overflow with wonderful handmade items.

NEW FOOD VENDOR AT THE SHOW

The Wheelhouse Farm Truck from Brookfield Farm in Amherst will be at the fair serving up great food.  Those of you from the Amherst area know how good their food is.

The fair is held Saturday and SUnday of Memorial Day weekend.  COme and join us to celebrate  fiber and sheep.  Lots of vendors, dog trails, sheep contests, lead line good food and lots to see  No Dogs please. 

 

THE LINEN SYMPOSIUM

The Linen Symposium is full with a waiting list.  I am gong to be a volunteer and will report on this highly successful event.    

RUG REGISTRY

This program is put on by the local ATHA group.   A unique program to keep informaion on your rugs for the future.

A.T.H.A.

REGION 1 RUG REGISTRY

August 20, 2016

10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Shelburne/Buckland Community Center

53 Main Street

Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts  01370

 

 

The 4th Annual Region 1 Rug Registry will be held in August

in the picturesque village of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

 

Region 1 of A.T.H.A. has undertaken this service so that

rug hooking artists can preserve and document their heirlooms of the future.

 

The Registry is not limited to A.T.H.A. members.

It is available to all rug hookers and owners of hooked items.

 

The form below should be used to make your appointment.

Return it to:      Diana O’Brien,   PO Box 310,   Shelburne Falls, MA  01370-0310

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Region 1 Rug Registry Appointment Request

 

Name ____________________________________________ Tel _________________

Address ____________________________,______________________,____,_______

E-Mail ________________________________________________________________

 

___ Number of Items to be Registered    (Fee is $10.00 per item.)

 

AGAIN THIS YEAR !!!

A Hook-In will be held at the same time & in the same facility as the Rug Registry.

The fee will be $10 per person; beverages and goodies will be provided;

bring your own brown bag lunch or order something delicious from a local establishment.

 

___ I will be attending the Region 1 Hook-In (A prepaid $10 reservation is required)

___ I will not be attending the Region 1 Hook-In, only the Rug Registry

 

Upon receipt of your appointment request, a Rug Registration Form will be emailed to you.

Fill out as completely as possible.  A trained volunteer will review the form with you at your appointment.

 

The item(s) must be physically present.  Digital photos will be taken.

 

The fee per item is $10.00 payable to Region 1 of A.T.H.A. due at the time of registration.

Thank you so much for reading and following FIBERuary.  You have made this a successful event.  I will keep you informed of wonderful events in our area.  Happy Fiber hunting.  Carole-Whispering Pines Farm

 

FIBERuary SHEEP AND SHAWL

HELLO

 

FIBERuary Day 28  GROWING AND PROCESSING FLAX   Talk and demo at Sheep and Shawl.                               with Michelle Phillips

Today was the last in a series of 4 talks given at Sheep and Shawl. Thanks to Liz and John for hosting these wonderful talks.

Michelle did a wonderful job of explaining the planting and finishing process of Flax.  I wanted to share with you pictures of this event. Everyone who wanted to got a chance to try their hand at it and see many wonder samples from the plant itself to the finished product.

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Three different varieties of Flax

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Dryed and Retted, ready for processing

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Michelle using a Flax Brake.  This brakes the fiber from the stem.

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This is a plant with a break in it, you can see the fiber between the break

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Michelle using the Heckle.  The heckle splits and straightens flax fibers for spinning.

A wonderful time was had by all. 

 

FIBERuary Peggy Hart Mills

Hello

 

FIBERuary Day 23     Peggy Hart   Spinneries

MINI MILL

 

SPINNERIES
The big woolen mills are gone, but a number of small custom work spinneries have sprung up to spin yarn for fiber farmers. On the custom weaving page of my website, blanketweave.com, there is a list of some of the ones I have worked with. Whether you  keep sheep yourself, or are just looking to source locally grown and processed wool, this list may be useful. Some use old industrial equipment, some use the new Mini Mill equipment. Most spin woolen system and others semi worsted.
Questions to consider when choosing a mill:
  • Where: You will save yourself some expense and trouble if you can drive your wool to the spinnery. This also gives you the opportunity of talking to the spinnery about the best design for your yarn and for them to look at your wool. If the wool is damaged or has too much vegetable matter in it they can tell you right then and there.
  • How much wool: Spinnery minimums range from totally custom (one fleece) to 100 lbs raw fleece to 300 lbs. washed fleece. Costs of spinning at some mills go down dramatically as you have larger quantities spun.
  • Yarn design: Mills spin either woolen or semi worsted system. Woolen yarn is lofty and especially suited for knitting and most weaving. Woolen system mills typically accommodate staple lengths of 2 1/2”-5”.  If your wool is longer, you will need to find a mill that spins semi worsted yarn, which will result in a stronger, more lustrous yarn.
  • Scouring: Some mills scour, some don’t. Riteway offers a scouring only service.
Green Mountain Spinnery, Zeilingers, Harrisville Designs and Bartlettyarns are woolen system mills that use old industrial equipment. Bartlett has been in operation more than 150 years, Zeilingers has been around since 1910, while Harrisville Designs was started in 1971 and Green Mountain in 1981. All of these do custom spinning as well as selling their own line of yarns.
The Hampton Fiber Mill and Still River Mill both spin semi worsted yarn, using modern equipment.
There are a number of Mini Mills around; some of the others on my list fall into this category. Mini Mills refers to the Belfast machinery that is designed to serve the needs of alpaca farmers. Because alpaca is long, fine, and needs to be dehaired before spinning, it cannot be spun using conventional woolen equipment. The Belfast Mini Mill is a smaller piece of equipment than the old industrial machines, and they describe it themselves as cottage industry spinning equipment. It reminds me of the spinning jennys of the early 1800s. They sell 4 and 8 spindle models. I will say from my experience that quality of spinning varies widely. Many owners got into the business knowing nothing about spinning, qualities of different fibers, or functions of knitting and weaving yarns. However there are a lot of them all over the country now. Word of mouth recommendations are a good idea. They will process small quantities.

Spinning Jenny

FIBERuary Eric and Barbara Goodchild

Hello

FIBERuary   Day 19  Eric and Barbara Goodchild -Handspun Yarn

HANDSPUN

Hello.  We are Barbara and Eric Goodchild of Barberic Farm in Shelburne, MA.  We are going to tell you about our handspun wool yarn.

Handspun yarn is yarn that is created by “hand” using just fingers, simple sticks, or more complicated machines run by people power, to twist fibers into heavier string than the original fiber.  This twisting holds the many short fibers together to create a stronger and longer “string” to make items from.

On our farm, handspun starts with our Romney sheep.  Care is taken all year to keep the wool on the sheep as clean as possible.  The sheep are fed from pastures free of high weeds and grass, with seeds that could get into their fleece.   In the winter, once the sheep are off of pasture, and in the barn full time, we put coats on the sheep.  A sheep coat is much like a dog coat.

Extra nutrition is given to the ewes (female sheep) when they are nursing their lambs, to keep the fibers strong while there is a big drain on the ewes natural resources as she feeds her lambs and grows her new fleece.  If a sheep becomes under-nourished or sick, this can cause the wool fibers to become thin or brittle.  This will cause a weak spot in the fiber that will break while being made into handspun.

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Shearing time on our farm is in March, about 4-6 weeks before lambing.  At that time each fleece is skirted to remove the dirty fleece and vegetable matter, weighed, measured, and labeled with the sheep’s name.  Fleeces are stored in brown paper bags until they are sold or sent to Still River Mill in  Eastford, CT to be made into roving.

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Roving is a continuous  length of washed, combed fibers that we use to spin into handspun.  The spinning of the yarn is done on our Ashford spinning wheel, which is powered by a foot pedal that causes the fly wheel to turn that powers the spinning apparatus.

Handspun wool yarn can be spun fine, medium or thick.  Just like commercially made yarns, the yarns thickness is defined by a number system.  Lace is #1. Sock is #2. DK or light worsted is #3. Worsted is #4. Heavy worsted is #5. And Bulky is #6.  These weights allow the knitter to know how best to use the yarn.

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Once the yarn is spun, we can ply 2 or more strands together to make a thicker or variegated colored yarn.  Once the bobbin on the spinning wheel is full, we remove the yarn and put it on a kniddy-knoddy.  This stretches the yarn to prevent tangles, and makes what is called a skein.  After plying each skein is soaked, drained, squeezed to remove the water, and hung at full length with a weight at the bottom to dry.  This process sets the twist of the yarn.

After the yarn is fully dry, we measure the skein’s length, weight, and thickness.  Now it is ready to be made into beautiful wool garments or crafts.