Sanity lost for the sake of one linen strand

May the fourth it is, and “may the forth” be with y’all, weavers and non weavers alike. You can tell I am married to a Star Wars fan !

It has been a while since I have written, and although I had hoped to spend April weaving circles, life intervened and I have been busy trying to organise medical appointments for my long suffering, and ever enduring, husband Leonard. Along with attending a market at The Old Bus Depot in Canberra (which was a disaster), and pretending to do some housework.

Let’s start with the OBDM. It is supposed to be “the best” market in Canberra, and it is well publicised and well attended, however I don’t think I am a real “people person”. Once I have been dragged into a situation I enjoy speaking with people, but it is all the anxiety and stress that I put on myself prior to any event. I think I would be very happy sitting in an open field, forest or on top of a mountain surrounded only by nature. People worry me.

But go to the OBDM I did, even took a cut lunch, and that is where the anxiety grew.

Now I know that textiles draw people in, they crave to be touched, stroked, hugged and held, I totally get that, just don’t do it when you have a curry in one hand, ice cream in another, or are carrying coffee and sloshing it around the place. And please, please, please don’t mistake my silk scarves as handkerchiefs and start sneezing all over them.

It was a bit of a disaster, and then, to add insult to injury, someone decided they liked one of my alpaca scarves so much, they decided they just had to have it …. free of charge of course, or, five finger discount if you prefer that saying.

Hmmmmm …….. not a happy camper, and I have another market day coming up on Sunday 15 May. This might be my last. I thought of taking a shot gun or stun gun with me as a deterrent to any would be thieves. A stun gun is of course more suitable, as it is less bulky …. but I digress ……

I decided to replace the stolen alpaca scarf with another two. I had purchased some fine alpaca yarn some time ago, but, when it arrived, I discovered that it was singles. When I rang the company they tried to convince me that it was two ply, but I sent through photographs and in the end they came back saying “but it is the thickness of a 2 ply yarn”. Again, hmmmmm ….. in what Universe is that acceptable?

Worried that as soon as I put tension on the warp, these alpaca singles would disintegrate, I had left them on the shelf.

Deciding that now was the time to try, I put on my big, big girl pants, threw caution to the wind and put on a warp, long enough for two scarves, incase the worse did happen.  I was so very delighted to discover that this particular alpaca was very well behaved. It wove beautifully, zero “unplying” of the singles, and except for a lot of fluff dust, no issues.

My next concern was when wet finishing. You have never seen someone place a scarf so gently into water in your life. I was sure that they were going to go into shock and dissolve. Nope ….. the weaving God’s were still with me. Both scarves were hand washed and then placed into the washing machine and excess water spun out.

The only “issue” came when I was pressing them.

I had woven a plain weave border top, bottom and both sides, with huck in the centre. All along the plain weave there is “tracking”. Now I know tracking occurs when a yarn is energised, and that it is, according to weavers far more experience than I, hard to predict, and harder still to overcome.

Personally, I kinda like the tracking, and I love the idea that no matter how much we, as weavers, try to control the yarns/fibres we are weaving with, there are some yarns out there that have a mind of their own. We can put tension on them, we can force them into setts where we think they can’t move, we can twist them, beat them, wash them, scrunch them and then press them with a heavy iron, and at the end of all this human intervention, they surprise us by doing something completely extraordinary.

Tracking, in my mind, is a gift that some yarns give us …. whether we want it or not.

Again, it is just another reminder to me to “respect the warp”.

alpaca huck 1aaalpaca huck 2a usealpaca huck 1d

alpaca huck 2c use

Having been so pleasantly delighted with the alpaca singles, I celebrated by baking some pizza bread.

Once it was baked and I was waiting for it to cool, I was searching the kitchen for a container to put it into. I didn’t want to use plastic, and I didn’t want to use tin foil, so I grabbed a tea towel and wrapped it in that.

There was a light bulb moment ….. I should weave some bread bags …… brilliant idea.

Circles still forgotten, I headed back to the loom and grabbed down some linen yarn. Why linen, well it is anti bacterial, breathes and is the only yarn in this house which hasn’t been dyed.

I have often heard (from local weavers) that linen is dreadful to work with, but I have always enjoyed using linen. I have never had to cover my hands in bandaids after making a warp, and once you wrap you brain around the fact that linen enjoys a good spritz in dry weather (who doesn’t), you should be fine.

Using both bleached and unbleached I warped up for some twill cloth for bread bags.

As I was weaving away with the twill, I mentioned to a friend that I was making linen bread bags and she requested one in bleached linen only. Okay – that just means once these are finished, I will put on another bleached only warp …… so that is where I am now, and can I just tell you ….. it may be May 4 2016, but the fourth (or force) is not with me.

Thank goodness this warp is only 320 ends, because I have threaded these 320 ends through the reed twice already, and each time I have made a threading error. The sett is 20 epi and I am using a 10 dent reed, so, 2 ends per dent. Easy for any normal weaver with connected brain cells, but somehow I keep managing to get three ends in one dent, and at the end of the threading, when I have one thread left over, I have to work out where I went wrong (and it is always near the beginning) and rethread.

So, after I had made this error twice, I decided that it was time to blog. I am hoping that the weaving God’s have had their fill of my antics, have wiped the tears of laughter off of their cheeks, and will have come to realise that I do, desperately, need their help. If I don’t get it right this time ….. I will turn to hard liquor !!!

All for the sake of a single thread I see liquor in my future …..

linen oops 2

Now I know there are some of you out there who would shake their heads at me and say just thread it …. it will all work out in the wash …. no one will notice …. that side is going to be hidden by the seam …. I know !!! I have said that to myself on both occasions, however my OCD kicks in and I can’t  just leave it.

Funnily enough, my OCD only kicks in with weaving – never with house cleaning, much to the chagrin of Leonard !

But whilst I have been arguing with the recalcitrant thread, and my inability to thread correctly …… the FIRST time …… I have decided that there is no reason why I can’t use huck on the bread bags. And, if I arrange the huck in boxes around some plain weave, when the cloth is washed, hopefully the huck will pull in a little and I will have some plain weave raised, in what I hope will look like little circles.

Well, that is my thinking as of right now …… it could be that I am so frustrated with myself that I have deprived my brain of oxygen, and I am just hallucinating huck circles in my mind’s eye, we will have to wait and see.

Should any of you read of an isolated wind storm that has torn through a suburb in Canberra wrecking havoc …… know that I have stuffed up the threading yet again.

Till the next time, when hopefully I will have some huck circles to share with you on bread bags, happy weaving y’all, Billie :0)

and May the 4th be with you,

’cause it certainly is not with me


5 thoughts on “Sanity lost for the sake of one linen strand

  1. Those scarves are beautiful! It inspires me to get back to my weaving.
    So sorry to hear about your market experience. A stun gun sounds like a good idea.
    That would give thieves something to think about.


    1. Thank you for your lovely words Lori …. yes !!! start weaving again !!! LOL – the stun gun would be less noticeable, until I used it and then a convulsing person with wires sticking out of the their body would probably be frowned on by the market management team. But I live in hope that the next market will be better. Many thanks, Billie :0)


  2. So sorry to read about your stolen scarf. Your alpaca scarf is beautiful, I love the design and the way the plain weave part turned out looks just fine! I have a knitted alpaca sweater that’s “brushed” and it’s so soft and silky. Belinda, thank you for another wonderful post, I enjoyed reading it so much!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lori, thanks for the kick up the pants :0) I have had a lot of time away from the loom with kitchen renovations and Leonard’s health – but have just put up a new post for you. Hope it makes you smile. Have a great day, Billie


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