07 August 2012

thinking about a year-long project...

In a discussion with my friend Emily recently, I mentioned my growing desire to spin, weave, and hand-sew an entire outfit. She said that it would be a good year-long blog project. Now it's in my head.

Of course, I don't have a loom. The project would have to wait until I did. But I can muse over it until then.

First, I considered the prospect of using flax. Then I thought about how to get that much flax, how I'd have to order it online, since the closest thing I seem able to get around here is hemp fibre, and how much that would then cost. Should I go with combed top or line fiber or strick? I have no idea. It's not completely off the list, but it's much easier to get a fleece. I know a sheep-shearer with a garage full of fleeces, and I have acquaintances who own sheep. Wool is easy to prepare, and easy to spin. I know what I'm doing when it comes to wool.

Second, there's the question of what to use for spinning. Do I go old-school and use a drop spindle, or do I pick the easier option of the spinning wheel? If I pick the drop spindle option, which of my spindles do I use? Since I want to weave this, I'll have to pick something that I can spin finer weight yarn on, which means my favourite spindle, the Turkish one, is out. Or I could just go with the spinning wheel. That'd be easier, but less "authentic," since what I'm going for is the experience of what it was like back in the days when people had to prepare the fibre, and then spin and weave and sew it by hand. I'd have to spin it fine enough to get away with hand-spun thread for sewing it, as well as for weaving, too.

Third: The colour question. Do I dye the fibre before I spin it, after it's spun up, or after I weave it? Would I go with the natural dyes option, or just pick iDye or Jacquard? Would I do more than one colour (thereby affecting what I would weave), or just do a single shade? In this case, I'd probably do the natural dyes, since that would be more in keeping with what I want here, but I have no idea about single versus multiple colours at this point.

Fourth: The loom. I don't have one. I have friends who weave and have looms, but borrowing one for a year isn't a terribly great idea, because we don't have a lot of space. A friend has a line on a (potentially) inexpensive beginners' loom that I might be able to get cheap, but it's not a guarantee. The limitations of that are that it would be a narrow loom--maybe 20 inches, which would then affect the sewing. I'd have to do a lot of panels. But this would be a table loom, so I would have room for it. At this point, I'd have to do basic weaving, since I haven't actually woven anything before. Although...if I did multiple colours, I could weave plaid. And that would just be awesome.

Fifth: The sewing. Easy enough. I've hand-sewn an entire quilt before. I can do that. I'd have to pick a pattern or draft my own, and decide on the style. Given what I'm thinking about, it'd end up being medieval in style, and then I could wear it to the Renaissance Faire.

That's just the short list. This would involve a lot of sampling and swatching, too, before I could get going properly. But it's certainly something to think about doing once I do have a loom.

One fleece, one wheel (or one spindle), one loom, one year. One outfit. Thoughts?

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