Monday, November 19, 2012


I had been searching for a mohair fleece for a couple of years, and found a small third clip yearling fleece at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival last month! Imagine my delight to find one that was not too large, and the price was right....! One drawback, though, it was heavily soiled as you can see in the photo on the left. But I took the chance, thinking that if it did not come super clean/white, I could obtain some muted shades by dyeing it, at the very least. I asked Robin Russo, spinning instructor extraordinaire, how I should proceed with washing it, when I attended The Gathering last month (for those uninitiated, this event is held biannually through the Northeast Handspinners Guild. Two days of spinning/fiber arts classes, spin-ins, a vendors market, lectures and so on). She suggested placing batches into a net bag, soaking in hot water with Orvus WA Paste, rinsing several times in the bag until the water runs clear, with hot water and no agitation. Add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to neutralize the rinse, and lay out to dry. This method should maintain the lock structure of the curly mohair. I followed her advice, and I was pleased with the results! You can see on the right that it lightened considerably, and, I suspect it will spin up whiter than it looks. It is fine and lustrous. I bet I have lost half the weight in dirt! Robin had 2 articles published in the Fall 2012 issue of Spin Off magazine that I recommend to beginner and intermediate spinners. It is about her experience working with and East Freisian fleece. She outlines the process she used to clean and prep the fleece, and how she experimented with it to determine what her end use would be, based on the results. Se tried some blending with other fibers too. The second article discusses the sweater she designed and created with the yarn she spun from that fleece. Thank you Robin, for sharing your knowledge and expertise. I purchased a sinful amount of several species of silk fiber in all sorts of preparations from Robin's booth at the Gathering! Can't wait to start spinning it, I can just picture it blended with some of Mackenzie's cashmere-like Pygora fleece! I am sure he would approve! I will post my experiments in mohair soon.....

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lowell Quilt Festival 2012

During our visit to Lowell, Mass., we stopped by an art studio and saw some beautiful art quilts.....

Boot Cotton Mill, Lowell, Mass. August 2012

We spent the day in Lowell, touring the American Textile History Museum and The Boott Cotton Mill. This was fascinating! The mill had a small fraction of its looms running, and the sound was deafening. At the peak of production in the 1800's, there were 1000 looms running per floor.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rigid heddle experiments

I have been sampling warp and weft floats to explore pick up techniques for this type of weaving. It is so much fun! I am following Jane Patrick's book "The Weaver's Idea Book", which is a wonderful resource with very clear instructions and colorful, inspirational photos. I highly recommend it!