Fiber interlude on Deal Island


This is really a post about fiber so for those of you not interested, here’s the photo of the day.

We’ re here in the autumn and there’s no central heat. It shouldn’t get too cold but both bathroom windows are permanently open with louvers. There’s a portable oil electric heater in a pinch. The old gas heater in the living room doesn’t seem to work. I knew this ahead of time and bought a kit for a merino, mohair blanket from the Elegant Ewe in New Hampshire with yarn from Mountain Colors. I started it after we left home, worked on it in New Jersey, Tasmania and Finished it on Deal Island. It’s lovely: soft, light and warm.

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My hair is a bit, ahem, unruly. Especially in the winds we have here. So I knit another calorimetry headband with yarn leftover from the blanket. It keeps my hair in check and my head and ears warm.

I brought a charkha loom with me to spin cotton. I hadn’t been able to use it successfully at home but with time, patience and great instructions from urbanspinner, I made thread. I spent several Hours and literally made a spool of thread. But it’s my thread and I was able to put it straight to work.



I am knitting a Shetland shawl with miles of cobweb yarn, which I wound into balls before I left home. It begins with a provisional cast on and I used my new thread to crochet a chain to use as my starting point. I love the loom for all it’s gadgets. There’s even a skein winder. I wound the skeins on to paper quills and then plied them together using clothes pins to create a tensioned lazy kate. So cute and it all folds up into a little box shaped box.

Finally I need a belt and a pair of slippers. There’s too much Cape Barren Geese poo to wear my crocs inside and out. So I found an easy pattern I’ll make sometime. For a belt, I brought my cards for tablet weaving and some mercerized cotton. I also brought 3 spools of thread if I decide to make ribbons with sewing thread. Or if my spun thread is strong enough, which I highly doubt, I could use that. It may be possible because I brought some silk (empty of their larvae) cocoons and if I can figure out how to spin silk from them, the thread should be very strong.

So anyway, I needed to create a loom on the go. There are c-clamps in the workshop but then I’d have to weave indoors and it is too beautiful for that. I saw an old article in TWIST which showed an interesting tensioning device. It used to pieces of wood that the warp wraps around an holds itself tight. So found a scrap of wood, cut it I two and drilled a couple of holes. A scrap piece of wire holds the whole thing together and laces through two belt buckles on my jeans. So it works like a backstrap device without the back.

Just trying to have fun.





2 thoughts on “Fiber interlude on Deal Island

  1. Such fun and those projects which you complete on Deal will always carry you back to that place and time. Love what you have achieved with the charkha loom. I have spun lots of cotton but only on a spinning wheel. The island backstrap loom looks great and I feel sure it will produce something amazing – this is truly what the fundamentals of weaving are all about. Some weavers would think nothing of paying hundreds of dollars for a loom for the same result. I feel sure your fibre projects could support a one woman exhibition by the time you come off the island. I only wish you could have time back in Hobart so you could “show and tell” at our spinners guild. Have the best fun you can!


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