Pills are formed of a small accumulation of fibres on the surface of a fabric . . . and are usually composed of the same fibres from which the fabric is made. Dictionary of Fibre and Textile Technology, Hoechst Celanese Corporation (1990).
Pills are the product of the fineness of the fibre used to spin the yarn and the method of spinning the fibre – ie woollen spinning. Pilling indicates that you have spun your woollen yarn correctly from rolags and that you have used fine quality fibre with a small diameter. The outcome of woollen spinning is a soft, resilient singles (or yarn) which is not as strong as worsted spun yarn, and which has fewer twists per cm, contains more air and bulk and more fibre ends protruding on the surface than a worsted yarn. Because of these fibre ends protruding on the surface of knitted or woven articles (particularly under the arms or where the body causes the yarn/garment to be rubbed frequently) the fibre ends twist together to form little balls of fibres or pills.

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Dyeing Bamboo Fibre

Members of WeaveTech had an interesting debate last year about dyeing bamboo. The following is a précis of the discussions of Laura Fry, Su Butler, Ruth Blau, Diane de Souza, Ingrid Boesel, Sara von Tresckow and others.
Bamboo yarn, according to the National Geographic, is made from an extremely fast growing species of bamboo, which makes it a viable renewable resource for fibre as compared to wood which takes years, not months, to reach harvest. The yarn is a viscose rayon fibre not manufactured by a retting process as is linen. Viscose can be made from any wood or cellulose source as that is what it is – regenerated cellulose fibre. Rayon has been around since the 1920’s. Instead of using cotton or wood pulp from trees, and instead of using chemicals to break down the cellulose into solution, industry is now looking at more sustainable crops (bamboo) and using enzymes which are then filtered out and re-used. Rayon has been considered by hand weavers as a natural fibre because it is cellulose, not a petroleum product.

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Italian Cast Off

This method is for K1, P1 and slip stitch ribbing
Thread the tapestry needle from right to left through the edge stitch (and if the next one is a knit stitch, through the knit stitch too.) Drop the worked stitches off the needle.
1. Beginning with the purl stitch, thread needle from left to right through first stitch on the needle and pull firmly. It is important that the yarn does not leave a loop showing on the right side of the fabric at this step. * Leave the stitch on the left needle.

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Fulling Hand Woven, Woollen Fabric

Woollen yarn is meant to be fulled. If you haven’t done this before do it by hand in a tub so you can monitor the process.

  • Draw warm water and add a little soap or detergent. Swish to make sure it is completely dissolved in the water. There should be no more than about an inch (2.5 cm) of bubbles on the surface of the water.
  • Add the fabric. You only need enough water to completely cover the textile.
  • Start to knead the textile. You will probably notice the water turning colour as the spinning oils in the yarn begin to come out. The bubbles from the soap or detergent will disappear as it binds with the oils. When there are no bubbles left, drain the water, move the textile to the far end of the tub and draw fresh water the same temperature as the textile.

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Weaving Harris Tweed

At the June meeting we will learn all about how to weave and wear a kilt. But what to wear with it:
Harris Tweed must be made from 100 per cent pure virgin wool, dyed, spun and finished in the Outer Hebrides and hand woven by the islanders at their own homes in the islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist, Barra and their several purtenances.
At the height of the industry in the 1960s the islands’ weavers produced 7million metres of cloth a year, largely for the American market. Clint Eastwood sported a Harris tweed jacket in the Dirty Harry movies. By the mid-1980s the average was 4.5million metres, but the bottom fell out of the US market in the late 1980s.
In recent years the industry has been boosted by renewed interest among designers and film stars. In 2006 the weavers produced around 1million metres of cloth, the best output for nine years.

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Certificate of Competence in Handspinning

The information day at the Guild on Sunday, 4 February was very well attended with some people travelling quite a long distance. Some came to check on their spinning standards, others to take advantage of the chance to have questions answered and listen to other people’s questions, as well as those seeking to find out just what was involved in this independent course of study in hand spinning.

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Find the Right Knitting Tension

The Purl Bee has one of the best tutorials I’ve ever seen on how to get your knitting tension correct on your knitting projects. The section on adjusting tension is filled with essential tips all knitters should read.
Not Too Tight TutorialThe Purl Bee (via CRAFT: blog)

Loom Maintenance

Ugh ! A dull subject. But if you have some down time, it’s a good time to check the loom over. I can’t pretend to tell every point to check, as there are a ton of different makes of looms out there, but here’s a few common items to think about.
For scratches use a matching color crayon, they’re made of dye and wax, just the thing for scratches in wood. For an old screw or nail hole put in a brass wood screw and it’ll look like it was well cared for. Any steel or wood axle that turns in a wooden hole, put in candle wax. Any steel pin or axle that turns in a metal hole or bearing, put in a drop or two of medium oil (not if it’s part of a brake.) Avoid very light oils like ” a sewing machine oil”, use about 30 to 50 weight oil, it’ll tend to stay in place and not be as likely to drip out.
I also like two greases that you can find in a sporting goods outlet, “Reel Grease” and “Gun Grease” are both high quality greases that can be used sparingly on a loom and they come in small tubes so you don’t have to buy a large amount when you don’t want to. White Lithium grease is good for metal bearings, vaseline is not. Talcum powder squirted into a wooden bearing area will help to reduce friction also.

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Joan Keats Weaving Workshop Notes: Inlay

Inlay is the very simplest way of decorating plain weaving and can be woven on any threading giving plain weave. The inlay thread can be wool or cotton, or even linen, depending on the intended use of the article, but it should be softly spun so that it will pack down well. As the name implies, inlay threads are extra threads “laid-in” the web. For this reason the inlays cannot always be made in the same positions or the weaving will be distorted.
In all of the following techniques in this and subsequent lessons care must be taken in choosing threads and setts to get a proper balance between the pattern wefts and the warp and background weft. It is most important to watch the beat because the effect can be spoilt by the decoration being squashed or elongated. It is unfortunately very easy to beat so that the tabby is closer where the inlays are used tan in other portions. A good plan is to cut a sheet of newspaper the size of the planned article and on it to mark the placings of the design areas. In this way a visually pleasing effect can be achieved before weaving commences.
Throughout these lessons Tabby A refers to the shed opened by pushing the Lever to the back (when shuttle is inserted from the Right.) Tabby B refers to the other shed when the lever is pushed to the front and shuttle enters from the Left. (On a 4-shaft loom, Tabby A is 1-3 shed and Tabby B is the 2-4 shed.)
Inlays may be placed in the shed before or after the tabby background pick is thrown. Decide on one procedure and be consistent.
Some of the different types of Inlays are as follows:
Small pieces of coloured weft are placed in the web at random intervals.
Cut lengths of yarn and lay them in the same position for six consecutive weft picks leaving a short end hanging out of the web on each side. If this same techniques is used with a continuous inlay weft it is termed “Laid in every shed.” The outline will not be vertical at the sides because of the different sheds used but it is very suitable for shapes with diagonal lines.
‘When a large area is to be inlaid, wind the inlay thread on a small shuttle or wind it into a “butterfly”. To make a butterfly wind the thread in a figure 8 between thumb and index finger of the left hand, the other fingers holding the beginning of the thread against the palm of the hand. Make 12 or 15 turns. Cut off the end and tie firmly with two half hitches around the crossed thread. Slip off the fingers and use the thread from the beginning. Do not overfill small shuttles or make large butterflies.
To inlay a square shape a better outline will result if the inlay thread is a little thicker is Laid in Every Other Shed.
The two types of Inlay just mentioned are given a new look in the Swedish way of doing them — the H.V. Technique — (see Shuttlecraft Nov. 1959.) The warp and weft are of linen and the background weaving is a little more open. The pattern weft may be handspun wool but is more usually several shades of one colour of singles linen wound together on the shuttle. The effect is very pleasing in curtains (see Australian Hand Weaver and Spinner, Nov, 1969, Judith Taylor’s curtains.)
It is sometimes better to weave inlay patterns wrong side up so that the turns of the inlay threads can be easily controlled. If this method is adopted, use a mirror to check progress.

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Joan Keats’ Weaving Workshop Notes: Hemstitching

A piece of weaving done with a weft of bouclé yarn looks better if that weft is not used for hemstitching. Instead use either the warp yarn or a machine cotton which will blend in.

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