Thursday, January 29, 2015

DIY fiber and weaving tools

My Fiddlestix proved their worth and flexibility once more as a warping mill:
One section of a sample warp
I was ridiculously excited to get this wooden crate with a bunch of bonus clementines at the grocery store.
It works a whole lot better than the foamboard and duct tape contraption I worked up the first time. The spinny part is a lazy susan bearing which was $6 or so off Amazon.

I also recently finished my Adequate Drum Carder:

Photoshop makes my photography look slightly less lazy

I ran into a few roadblocks along the way, but I'm happy with it. The blue-handled dog brush is my handheld licker-in, the bamboo skewer my batt picker, and the scrub brush my burnisher. As you can see, a lot of fiber gets stuck to the drum, so I'll definitely be trying the netting trick from my previous post.

The basic workflow for a single-drum carder goes something like this:

  1. Load the brush with fiber. Use this as an opportunity to open up the fiber. Otherwise the fiber will just clump up on the drum and you will be sad.
  2. Crank the drum and feed the fiber off of the brush, starting at the end furthest from your hand. Don't mesh the teeth, just let the drum grab it and pull it off gradually. You'll get a feel for it.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the width of the drum is full of delicious fiber*.
  4. While still turning the crank, stick the brush in there and pack the fiber down over the whole drum.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until you can't comfortably get any more fiber on the drum.
  6. Pick the batt off of the drum.

Materials for my $60 Adequate Drum Carder:

  • 12" of carding cloth from Brother Drum Carder
  • 2 4" round wooden plaques from the craft store
  • From the hardware store:
    • 4" PVC pipe, cut to the width of the carding cloth
    • Some wood screws
    • Two brad hole tee nuts, 3/8"
    • 1 acorn nut, 3/8"
    • 1 6" length of threaded rod, 3/8"
    • 2 carriage bolts, 3/8" (if you're making this, take your own measurements as mine won't be accurate)
    • A package of 3/8" washers
    • 3 3/8" nuts
    • Rigid plastic tubing to fit the threaded rod (okay, I admit I had this in my stash)
    • Some wood for base and crank (I used 1x3 red oak and some scrap poplar)
    • Wood glue (I had Titebond III)
    • Other strong glue (I used E6000)
    • Some nails to fit the tee nuts
    • A 1/2" or so wide strip of sheet brass as long as the carding cloth is wide (look for it with the rest of the hardware)

You'll also need a saw to cut the wood and the tubing, a hammer to attach the tee nuts, a drill with a 3/8" bit to drill the holes, and a wrench to tighten up the nuts.

I won't give you a step by step, or any measurements, because I was winging it the whole way and I had to do some chisel work to get the drum to fit in the frame. (I can normally measure correctly, but I didn't figure out the tee nuts until late in the game. Don't judge me.) However, I'll toss out some relevant thoughts and tips so I can finish this blog post and get some sleep:
  • Attach the cloth to the PVC pipe first. Well, after you cut the pipe, that is. I screwed it in along one side of the untoothed seam (parallel to the length of the pipe), then glued it all the way around, then screwed it in perpendicular to the pipe. I pre-punched the holes in the cloth. Oh, be careful not to scratch your hand too deeply when you inadvertently stick it in the pipe with the sharp wood screw ends sticking out. Safety third!
  • Once I'd laid the glue and wrapped the cloth around the pipe, I wrapped the whole #!** firmly in duct tape and bubble wrap and let it dry for 24 hours.
  • After you get the cloth on, glue the brass strip down over the seam.
  • The wood plaques are, you guessed it, glued on with the E6000. I eyeballed it to get it centered, but I know I can get away with that.
  • The frame is, you guessed it, glued together. Even the butt joint between the base and the uprights. Titebond FTW. I glued extra bits of wood to widen the base so I could have a place to clamp it to the table.
  • Include the width of the drum WITH the tee nuts when you're measuring for making the frame.
  • No, it isn't simpler to just drill the plaques at the center and run a threaded rod or dowel through. The tee nuts are your bestest best friend.
  • The plastic tube bit should rotate freely on the threaded rod bit so the handle bit doesn't make your hand a bit sore.
  • If your significant other complains about the squeaking, you can either figure out how to stop it or look up a YouTube video of gem cutting and threaten to take that up as a hobby instead.
  • Tooth orientation matters. I have the teeth pointing up and away from me, and I turn the crank clockwise.
* part of a balanced breakfast
** shebang***
*** don't judge me, I should be in bed by now

Whoa.

I've got to try this drum carder trick. Mind blown.

I'll take pictures of my new drum carder later. Handmade, cost me $60. I'm totally happy with it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cake for breakfast

This morning I made delicious cake.
20 wraps per inch if I pack it a bit
This is slightly over two ounces of handspun Merino wool that I plied and wet-finished last night, winding it into a center-pull cake this morning on my new ball winder. (Christmas was good to me.) I'm intending to use it for weaving an overshot throw pillow cover in preparation for an overshot coverlet -- I've never woven overshot before so I'm trying to get my pattern weft choice sorted out before I spin two pounds of whatever I choose.

Speaking of Christmas, I also got to use my new Tinkertoy Fiddlestix set as a yarn swift:

I'm not certain I like the vertical orientation yet, but that's the beauty of the set -- I can just reconfigure it into a horizontal swift if I want. Hooray for flexible tools!

Finally, it may be winter, but the alpacas are nesting already.
These are actually wee little nests of alpaca roving that I carded with my fancy dog brushes and dizzed with that big button up there. I bought the alpaca fiber from The Fuchsia Fleece and I'm very happy with it -- it cards up well even on my ~80 TPI brushes. The little nests spin up nicely -- who knew a button could make so much difference?