4,400 Miles For Cotton Yarn (…And A Dog)

It started two months ago and about a dog.  A three year old yellow lab had been bounced between homes.  I have trained labrador retrievers to hunt test standards since 1992 – junior, senior, and master levels.  My teacher, knowing that my current retriever is 12 years old asked if I wanted to take this one?  Now a professional field trailer he thought that my manner would bring the best out of him.  I said, Sure.  After that I started phoning cotton mills in the Carolinas.  One of them had what I was looking for, 4/8 / 8/4 warping fibre.  And what a surprise at its cost.  In the end I bought four cartons, amounting to ~700#.  In Canada this would cost me $7,350; in the US at the mill it cost me $1,500.  Even with the monetary conversion ($2,000), GST, and diesel fuel for my pickup ($400), it was less than 1/4th the price as here, by the time I would have added GST and shipping in Canada!  (And my first $800 was non-taxable since I had been out of the country for 12 days.)


I drove through the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, and the Carolinas.  The Great Smokey Mountains were shrouded in mist and mystery.  I stayed in friends’ homes all along my route and meandered…they are each tremendous people.


These were great people with whom to deal.  The yarn is on 4# cones and is great quality.  As I write my wife is on the way home with 16 large bins in which we will store this treasure.  And from it we will weave 400 – 500 blankets, much of which is for free distribution to homeless and those who have less access to the necessities of life.  It filled the back of my truck.

And I also came home with a free, handsome, homeless dog that shows tremendous tractability and field potential, and has already become tremendously loyal to me.  Of what more could I ask.  I feel truly blessed.



Flying Shuttle

A friend learned of my wanting to build a flying shuttle on our Leclerc Nilart weaving loom and gave us a flying shuttle that she had…




This is the shuttle after a light sanding with fine sandpaper and then a coat of boiled linseed oil…we do not know its manufacturer…


…we are very thankful!

Charkha Means Wheel

Gandhi with book charkhaTake to spinning to find peace of mind. The music of the wheel will be as balm to our soul. I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life. The charkha (spinning wheel) is the symbol for nonviolence on which all life, if it is to be real life, must be based.

 Mahatma Gandhi
Harijan, April 27, 1947, p. 122


Charkha is India’s generic term for any spinning wheel or hand-cranked spinning machine.  Gandhi designed and perfected the box Charkha.  He promoted spinning and weaving as a way of self-reliance and self-government.  He called it the Khadi movement.


boreal weaver

There are many places to buy a box charkha and many sites that show How to Spin Cotton on Mahatma Gandhi’s Spinning Wheel.

Fashioning Fabric: The Arts of Spinning and Weaving In Early Canada

In 2007 Adrienne Hood published her book, Fashioning Fabric: The Arts of Spinning and Weaving In Early Canada.  Ninety-nine pages long, it gives a general overview of weaving from the the arrival of Europeans through the initial establishment of factories.  It includes a list of functioning, period-farms across Canada today in the back.  A nice bedtime read with lots of photos, it’s a nice addition to my library, and at $.97 plush shipping I can’t complain!

Rubber Bumpers

While Leclerc looms often have rubber bumpers installed at key contact points, sometimes adding some at other locations prevents undue contact, wear, vibration, or noise as well.  Our Nilart beater and breast beam uprights are now protected from one another.

Using a pair of soft rubber chair leg slip-on protectors I cut them down, drilled a hole in their centre, used a pan head wood screw with a washer, drilled the upright, and mounted the bumper.  I mounted this bumper a bit high since I hope to add a flying shuttle to the beater, which will contact the uprights a bit higher up.  I have used this method before on other looms and it really does make it a nicer feel…






Cut Tacks For Canvas Attachment

dsc00009Cut tacks are stamped out of square steel. The result is a square shank and head. This quality alone makes it both a stronger fastener in and of itself than a round nail, as well as able to grab more pitch on both the wood into which it is driven as well as the cloth/leather/reed that it is trying to hold. The process of cutting a product from stock can produce an extremely sharp point. Traditionally finished with a barbed end, when coupled with its sharpness (think of how sharp a sliver of steel is), these characteristics allowed for easier insertion of the tack by hand. This mostly was done in order to allow precise alignment of the tack, which was necessary for both strength in its given application as well as for having an aesthetically pleasing, precisely aligned row of fasteners. The barbed end also allowed for more easily clinching the end in tasks such as leatherwork or basketry. A tack which stood upright by itself was also a real finger-saver, something you know if you have ever tried to start a small nail by hand when using a hammer, even though tack hammers were traditionally smaller in size and weight. The traditional blue colour of cut tacks is produced by heat treating them, which is done after cutting and cleaning. This heating both allows them to blend more easily with coloured upholstery, as well as to produce a ‘stickier’ product by opening the pours of the steel, allowing them to grab better. For anyone who has ever tried to removed them, they are the devil to get out! They will rust if exposed to moisture.

~150, #8 x 9/16″ cut tacks (2 oz.)

Cut tacks are measured by the 1/16” and sold by weight. A tiny two ounce package of #8 x 9/16” tacks numbered approximately 150 and cost me $2.50 CDN…which is a royal rip-off.

Cut tacks should be used to fasten loom canvases to loom reels for all of the reasons listed above. While staples are common today, they are really inappropriate for a job under such pressure, in spite of the fact that canvases bind around themselves numerous times before having the warp attached. In upholstery applications, tacks are attached every inch.


Leclerc Nilart Castle Top Repair

Redrilling the holes for the screws that hold down the castle top needed to be done at a slight angle.  The epoxy used to fill the holes will never drill the same as wood.  In order to catch the wood I also changed the screws from pan top to wood screws that were 1/2″ longer so that, once realigned, they would catch the keyhole slots more easily no matter the angle and extend deeper into the castle’s uprights as well…



Once adjusted these aligned perfectly and made the castle top fit snuggly and look wonderful.  No more pressure on the top so that it might break out again…