Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sleying the big one

I had been looking for hooks for threading finer reeds and heddles.  I was not happy with the tools in the shops, and did not seen anything that seemed suitable. But, I am an old one, and thus I have old files, with old hanging file folders that are falling apart.  It turns out the steel hangers in the file folders are thinner than the brass sleying hooks, soft enough to work easily with a bench grinder and file, but hard enough to make good tools. And they are cheap; and well it is a virtue to reuse and recycle.

Yes, I have a sleyer, but it does not work for finer reeds.

I also find the hooks make tieing weaver's knots on fine threads easier.  Make a loop around the tool, use the hook to pull a bight of  the standing end through the loop.  Now you have a loose slipknot around the tool. Use the hook of the tool to pull the other thread into the loop of the slipknot, and sliding your fingers over the loose slipknot, tighten it.  The loose knot will easily convert from a loose slipknot around a thread into a weaver's knot.  It is good for lace weight and finer, and I can easily tie a sheet bend on anything thicker without a tool.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I spun a few thousand yards of lace weight warp, some worsted, and more woolen. Every blinking bobbin that will fit on my bobbin rack is full. Thus, there is a bin of  4" bobbins in process by the lathe.

Why would I turn bobbins, when I can buy them for cheap? Because wood turning is like spinning, one must routinely practice, to stay proficient. My turning bobbins is like a musician doing their scales.

And yes, about a third of the bobbins in process are of green olive wood.  Why not? Of the 60 or so that I turned from green olive wood, very few have cracked or warped.

PVOH sizing

(More likely to be needed with
modern mill spun, than with
well spun, hand spun.)

I did loom trials with mill spun - and that convinced me to investigate sizing.  All of this put me in a dither for a long time.  For various reasons, I do not think the Greeks and Romans used sizing.  My warp singles are stronger and more durable than any of the mill spun 5,600 ypp, 2-ply wool warp that I bought for loom trials. I should have just done the loom trials with hand spun.  If you are a mill, less twist and sizing is cheaper.  For a hand spinner, a little more twist is less bother.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Some are a little deaf in their greek ears.

Hear is a an aid to Translating the greek;

Google  "classic greek sculpture discovery", select images, and study them until you can recognize the drape of  clothing in each period.

Then, take your linen tester to the mall (with branch of Needless Markup Department Stores) and do thread counts on wool and linen fabrics that have drape similar to that seen in the fabrics of various periods of Greek Sculpture.

Now, hand spin/hand weave fabrics with that thread count and which have the drape of the fabrics produced in the various periods.   (It is hard to find such nuanced yarns on the commercial market, and ordering spun yarns from a spinner gets expensive.)  However, now you know how fine those hand spun/hand woven Classic Greek fabrics were.  And by now, you will have moved from your single beam warp weighted loom to a double beam loom with (linen) heddles.

With the appropriate use of warp extensions, aprons, lease sticks w/ crosses substituting for warp sticks, and DRS spinning technology,  a fabric sample large to see its drape can be spun, warped, and woven in a few hours.

Now that you know the specifications of Classic Greek Weaving, I expect to shortly see pix of the fine wool Greek and Roman togas that you have hand/ spun and  hand/ woven.

What comes after bragging rights:

The toga originated from an Etruscan garment called the “tebenna.” The word toga comes from Latin “tegere,” which means “to cover.”
This means that the  Etruscan civilization also had fine weaving, not likely produced on single beam/ warp weighted looms.

Then, there was the Old Kingdom Egyptians weaving their very fine linen on what kind of a loom?For that we look to Roth, noting Figure 37.  It is a 2-beam horizontal loom that uses warp weights. And we note the caption of Figure 9.  We also consider that we do not know the fineness of the fabric produced on the loom illustrated in Figure 36.  Moreover, since Roth had to bring in a textile professional to produce the fabric, we know that Roth does not have a high competence on textile production.

For context on the age of old looms see:

 And look to: The Book of Looms: A History of the Handloom from Ancient Times to the Present by Broudy pg 13 for discussion of  weaving wool at 30 by 38 threads per inch, circa 6,000 years ago.   On page 26, he touches on the Greek loom, and on pg 38, he gets to the horizontal loom.

7,000 year old loom  in Bulgaria;

see also ; 
Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze ...
By E. J. W. Barber pg 271

Do you really think that as metallurgy improved, people did weaving the same way for 3,000 years?


Good Old S. McGee-Russel would have accepted my deductions from the drape of fabric on Greek sculpture to be adequate to demonstrate my point Classic Greek weaving technologies.  He expected his "critters" to go out, and measure stuff, and make deductions that could not be taken from direct observations.  He expected us to know our physics, and chemistry, and calculus.  He expected us to know the world.  He expected us to take risks, and sometimes make mistakes and errors.  If we were not taking the  risks necessary to move the science, we  could not be promoted from "bugs" to "critters".

If you expect to prove everything from step to step without leaps of insight, then you will never move your science or technology forward.  Tomorrow, I intend to make better textiles. I will hand spin Better, Faster, Cheaper.  I will hand weave Better, Faster, Cheaper.  I am not content to stagnate.  I will take risks. I will seek to leap forward. I will advance more than I fall back.

Thursday, October 06, 2016



Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Fiber from the mill

Some experimentation tells me that much of my objections to fiber prepared in commercial mills is substantially caused by the use tension with steam to straighten the fibers for commercial spinning frames

For warp singles that must be very strong, I relax mill-prepped fiber with a gentle breath of steam. I lay the commercial top or roving on a wire rack and use a garment steamer to gently steam top and bottom. Then, I spin my threads, and block the threads with steam.  The steam blocking of threads  is easy - I wind off onto a reel, steam with my garment steamer, then wind the thread onto bobbins that fit onto my bobbin rack. I find the double steaming to be faster and easier than sizing or massively increasing inserted twist.    Thus, my final threads only have a firm twist factor.

Looking again at AA, BBB, pg 240, we see that he talks about spinning 5,400 ypp at between 12 and 16 tpi on a great wheel.  Since the great wheels with the spinning technique AA discusses for GW's use, produce woolen yarn, and  12 to 16 tpi is way more twist than is needed for knitting yarns; we have to assume this is for weaving.  And in fact, woolen yarn spun at 5,400 ypp and 15 tpi, then steam blocked works very well for warp.  It is very possible to produce "woolen" cloth using woolen singles for both warp and weft.  The woolen singles "bed" to form a unique fabric. Then, when when the cloth is milled or waulked (see for example one has a very warm, durable fabric.

Some may assert that the commercial top, straight from the "bump", produces a more perfect worsted thread.  I am not ready to argue this.  However, folks were spinning true worsted threads of very high quality, long before mills were straightening fiber with steam. Then, those handspun threads were hand woven in to fine cloth.  I think commercial top relaxed with a breath of steam  is more like the traditional  fiber prep, and for hand spinning, the relaxed (crimpy) fiber produces a stronger, more elastic thread.  That is my story until someone shows me different (or, buys me another beer.)

AA suggests on pg 241, that a traditional great wheel (without an accelerator can produce 255 yards of 5.3 tpi woolen thread per hour.   On the other hand, the AA flier/ with DRS and an accelerator will easily produce 600 yards per hour at 9 tpi of either worsted or woolen singles.  In fact, one can easily spin 600 yards per hour of good 5,200 ypp woolen singles with a single drive bobbin lead  flyer/bobbin assembly (German Tension/ Irish Tension).  If you want to weave without the hassle of  spinning a worsted warp, weave woolen cloth.  If you want to spin a fine worsted warp at a reasonable pace, use differential rotation speed (DRS).

It is Spinzilla!  Spin at "warp" speed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


The Victorians depreciated the technical knowledge of earlier cultures, and this prejudice continues.
See for example the tone of :

When University of Cincinnati researchers uncovered the tomb of a Bronze Age warrior—left untouched for more than 3,500 years and packed with a spectacular array of precious jewelry, weapons and riches—the discovery was hailed by experts as "the find of a lifetime."

Read more at:

The find tells us that Bronze Age craftsmen producing luxury goods had access to excellent tools, and had deep skills.  We can expect  their craftsmen producing textiles to have similar access to excellent tools and skills.

Nobody wears fine jewelry with a gunny sack.  A culture that produces fine personal adornment does not neglect textiles.