Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

11 April 2007

What's An Elbow-Skein?

Q: "What's an elbow-skein?" (as used in dyeing the tussah silk with leftover Easter egg dye)

This is an elbow skein. (And thank goodness for photo-editing programs, so you can't look up my shirt sleeve. I love you guys, but you don't need to know me that well.)

One of the advantages of having started out a weaver at an early age, and only become a knitter later in life (besides the obvious one of having acquired a fiber stash by the mile-end cone) is having picked up the yarn-handling secrets involved in keeping 1000 thread ends, 11 yards long, in order, #1 through #1000, for the whole 11 yards.

I'm not kidding. In order to warp my loom, if I don't want a tangle that is good for nothing except setting fire to, I have to wind my warp in order, take it off my warping reel in order, wind it on my loom in order, thread it in order, and tie it to the cloth beam in order.

If I want to weave stripes that stripe, thread #115 has to stay thread #115 from the beginning to end of the whole process, right down to cutting the cloth off the loom.

(And when I think of all the counting and washing of hands, I have to stop and fan myself!)

Bless my weaving foremothers, they figured this out millenia ago. The trick is to cross the threads. Look at a boughten skein or ball, and you will most often see that the layers of threads cross.
If you use a ballwinder, take a look at the side: the threads criss-cross, or make X's on each other, so they can't mat down and get tangled.

An elbow skein is a mini version of winding a warp for a weaving loom. You can see the cross, or X, just below my wrist on the back of my forearm. I hold one end in my fist and rock my arm back and forth in a sort of "rock the baby" motion. The yarn wraps around my elbow and back into my palm in a figure 8.

I use these all the time for all sizes of fiber, from size 80 tatting thread (I make a skein across the back of my hand for that size) up to worsted-weight. If I take one off and want to store it, I overtwist it and tuck one end through the other.

[Edited to add: Here you go, camera batteries recharged overnight. On the left, a figure-8 elbow skein tied on either side of the cross, and on the right, overtwisted and one end tucked through the other.]


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