Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Newbury Coat Re-enactment

I have run into all sorts of trouble with weaving the handspun, most of which is due to me not checking on things! I should have done a wrap! but I just accepted ' This is woven at 8 epi'. I thought the yarn looked a bit thin. When I came to start weaving, I got 50 ppi!!!!! A wrap, when done at last, said 20 epi so I resleyed to 16 epi. The yarn I used at the start to get 50 ppi was thin and, when I changed to someone else's spinning which was in the next lot of yarn, the cloth  was nicely balanced. I attribute the yarn being much thinner than expected to the fact that the Guild has been doing a lot in the Longest Thread contest in the past few years.  Anyway cloth is now being produced. It has to be said that it is not easy weaving. The warp is disintegrating and I have a cloth covered in pins where new warp threads have been put in. However this weaving is being done for two reasons

1) to have a representative piece of cloth to full and get final dimensions
2) to go through the process ahead of 25/26th June and check on procedures. One addition to the processing is to name an 'inspector of handspun' who will choose which bobbins of handspun can be used in the warp and lay aside anything that looks a bit loose for weft.

I have lived with this coat for so long that I wonder if I have ever written down here what the Guild is up to.

In Newbury, in  June 1811, a local landowner bet a local mill-owner 1000 guineas (a very great deal of money then) that he and his mill could go from sheep to a coat on his (the landowner's) back in one day. The mill owner won his bet and the coat is still around to prove it. A re-actment was done in 1991by Kennet Valley Guild in a time of 12 hours 36 minutes and 26 seconds. It was decided (not sure who by but certainly not the Guild) to do it again in 2011 as it is 200 years since the original date. The event is to be held in the Newbury Corn Exchange. So now you know and expect to hear a lot about it in the next 6 weeks. If you are around, please visit us. See this article for more details.

It is a logistics nightmare. To do the test run last Saturday, there were 19 spinners and 7 or 8 weavers winding the warp. There will be 40 spinners on the day

My biggest headache at the moment is getting two large floor looms warped up with ghost warps into the Corn Exchange. It has to be done with a ghost warp already installed and then  the true warp can be tied on to save time. We have to weave about 3 yards of cloth on each loom. Then the cloth has to be washed and waulked to felt it, dyed in an indigo vat, mangled then dried. and then made up. All the sewing is by hand , of course. We are splitting this across two days, 10-4 each day. The real problem is drying the cloth after it has been dyed (indigo vat). It will be mangled and put on tenterhooks but is going to take some time. I would love it if it could be left to dry over night but I doubt we will have got to that stage by 4 pm. Of course, in 1811 they did the event on one day - no worrying about staff in the Corn Exchange having to be paid overtime if it was done in a true 12 hours.

Today I am going back to the Bookbinding class.

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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.