London weaving, pt. 2

The story so far is the story of trying to make cloth from the yarn of heritage breeds of British sheep, with one man and his mill in London.

Some weeks ago the yarn was spun and given the obligatory once-over by a centuries-old spinner just outside Oldham in north-west England. The yarn was then dispatched to the one-man-mill in London, on whose fleet of restored weaving contraptions the yarn is to be made into woollen cloth. The next part of the story is this one: the winding of yarn.

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

The yarn arrives fresh from the spinner on cones of 10,000 metres. The one-man-mill sets about breaking this down into smaller cones (below) — 144 in total, each with 500 metres of yarn. This, it doesn’t take a master mathematician to deduce, takes some time.

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

Then onto the creel (below) go the 144 cones. From there, each cone is threaded onto the one-man-mill’s sectional warping mill (1947 edition). Maintaining tension in the yarn is the key watch-out when winding onto the warper; an even, taut, spread of yarn required.

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

The yarn of British sheep is strong; much thicker than the norm and with less twist. Not so good for the industrial-sized contraptions in most mills, this — but on the one-man-mill’s operational scale happily manageable. Indeed, the sheer thickness of the yarn makes it less prone to breakages than lambswool, though makes knots more troublesome.

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles
London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles
London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles
London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

On the warper (below) the yarn is steadily but fairly rapidly wound. Six sections are wound in total, together adding up to a width of no more and no less than 36 ½ inches.

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

All six sections successfully wound, attention now turns to the loom — time for weaving.

London weaving, pt. 2    Garments made with the makers of the British Isles

(The first part of the story, which has more information about the one-man-mill, is here.)