Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whoever coined the phrase "warp speed" apparently didn't have cats

So. I warped the loom. Again. After the unfortunate incident with the red warp yarn that we dyed, I picked up five balls of lovely, red, strong DK-weight alpaca.*

I warped this up the weekend before last onto a 10 dpi heddle and wove a few inches, only to realize that the loom was assembled wrong. This bugged me something fierce, so I took the warp off, fixed the loom, re-tied it and wove about five inches that Sunday night.

Monday I looked at the resulting fabric with a critical eye. The fabric was coming out a little too airy, and was not going to be as weft-faced as we want it. Since the weft yarn is our group's cochineal hand-dyed handspun from raw fleece, we want it to be prominent.

So, I took the whole warp off last Tuesday, and Wednesday night I re-warped it onto an 8 dpi heddle. I was all set to have DH help me wind it onto the loom that night, but that was not to be:

The union stages a sit-in.

Negotiations commence: Whose need is greater?

Negotiations are concluded for the evening.

In the interest of not interrupting an obviously necessary nap time, we wound it on early the next morning, before he left for work (DH is a very good assistant warp-winder-oner, no matter how much he doth protest), and I tied it up Thursday afternoon. I spent much of last Saturday sitting behind a table collecting entrance fees from people for an SCA event.

A knitted SCA combined Arts & Sciences badge. Made quickly a couple weeks ago at the request of the event head cook, to her specifications, to be used as part of a serving presentation during the feast.

During the afternoon dead time at the event, after everyone who was coming had shown up but before we could officially close down the gate, I got in some good weaving time, and had help from at least three others. In the spirit of a truly group project, I'd like anyone who wants to weave a few rows to get a chance, so I taught a few new weavers as well, and Sunday I did some more at home.

Who's happy? That would be me.

It's coming out beautifully. The natural variegation of our handspun wool shows well, and the little bit of warp that shows adds just enough red to brighten it up.


From the first 79 foot skein of weft yarn, we have well over a foot of fabric, 18.5" wide. We're getting 9.5 rows of weft to the inch. We need a little over six feet of fabric - two 3-foot pieces - and then it goes off to others for embroidery and finishing.

And as I finally finish this post and check the date, I realize that it is officially our 14th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary, love.

* Which begs the question, from a historical re-enactment standpoint, can alpaca yarn be considered within the SCA period we're aiming for, i.e. loosely pre-1600 (1650-at-the-latest) Europe? The answer is, maybe. Alpacas are a South American animal, domesticated there for thousands of years. The Spanish were slaughtering conquering the Incas in the 1500s, meaning they would certainly have had access to alpaca. But did the European conquerers actually use alpaca? Um, probably not. Rather, the Spanish brought in their own herd animals, and it's possible that nearly 90% of alpacas were wiped out during the Conquest, the rest being saved by the natives who took them up into the inhospitable higher altitudes. All modern alpacas come from these surviving herds. Alpaca wool was not really used in Europe until the 19th century. (Note: please don't use me or these random web pages as a reliable scholarly source!)**

** All of which begs the further question - Do I care?***

*** Which brings us to the answer: Nope. I have warp yarn of the right weight and colour that will not break on me. It is not synthetic, and is in fact from an animal that was domesticated well before 1600 and known by Europeans at that time, even if they were too dense to bother using alpaca for fibre. Blows raspberry in the general direction of any authenticity police.

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