April 4, 2014

See how it twines as it climbs its way up

I’ve declaring the initial spinning of hemp for the vine bracelets for Thiasos of the Starry Bull done. I’ll let it rest overnight on the spindle shaft, wind it onto a niddy-noddy to make a skein, boil it to set the twist, wash it in dyer’s detergent to be very sure it’s free of anything that might resist the dye, soak it in soda ash, and finally dye it. I’m hoping to get most of that done tomorrow, pollen permitting. I may leave it in the dye bath up to three days, depending on how much dye the hemp takes up and how quickly (i’ve never dyed hemp before), stirring it up a few times a day. Then more washing, to get rid of any excess dye (less of a problem with fiber reactive dyes than acid, but we don’t want it bleeding all over people’s clothes). A day or more to dry, and I’ll finally be ready to measure, cut, and cord it into the bracelets themselves, once the new dedicated spindle arrives.

I have the four verses of the incantation for the cording process now, and a start on the other five I’ll need for the silk orphininos bracelets later. I think no more than the first will be published here, if you catch it.

Bast fibers are traditionally wet spun, moistened by the spinner as the fibers as smoothed and twisted, to tuck all of the ends in and glue them together as much as possible. Traditionally, this is done by running the thread through the mouth or by licking the fingers and running them damp along the fiber during drafting. Many people nowadays prefer to use a watered-dampered sponge or cloth to moistened fingers on instead. One fellow I knew years ago was experimenting with using a lactation aid that provided a slow, steady drip! But for magical and ritual purposes, I find it best to use something of myself in the spinning. When I’m working with protein fibers, I put in a single hair from my head somewhere in the skein, to connect me to it. With bast fibers, it’s spit.

(If you’re thinking of ordering one, and worried about my spit, I remind you that it will have been boiled, washed, soaked in caustic chemical, soaked in dye, and washed another couple of times before you touch it. Promise.)

A spinner who did not want to use their spit for whatever reason might instead choose to dampen a sponge with holy water, universal condenser, or some potion or other liquid instead, as long as it contained no oils or resins (you can strain it through a coffee filter once or twice to get rid of small amounts), very little sugar (no fruit juices) and was not dark enough to stain the fiber in a way that might affect the color. I can’t imagine doing so myself, mind, but there are possibilities there.

There’s an update, then.