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Got any great sources for leather? Tools? Machinery? Looking for sources?
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#626 Post by dw » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:39 am

I'd try waxing it with a good sticky hand wax to begin with. Short fibered thread will quickly fray apart if your wax is as stiff as it should be.

And if you can get the thread waxed, simply pulling it with all your strength should give you a fairly reasonable idea of whether it will be suitable. Of course that depends on application and the number of strands in the waxed end. But properly waxed and of good fiber, you shouldn't be able to break it easily...and certainly not during inseaming.

I would say, that I seriously doubt anyone alive has had experience with true premium long stable linen or hemp yard. I have seen linen being spun some of the strands are up to three feet long. I have also bought pre-WWII linen yarn, imported post-WWII linen yarn from the great Irish linen mills as well as purchased new manufacture yarn from places such as the link you provide (linen and "genuine hemp&#34Image, and none of it had strands much over four inches long.

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#627 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:42 am

At OS i have processed flax and as you say the fibers are LONGGGG! what about the way the old shoemakers used to do it. rolling it themselves on their knee like in the foxfire shoemaking article?

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#628 Post by dw » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:58 am

I have never seen or heard of a shoemaker turning (spinning) raw flax fibers into thread on the knee. Rolling the already spun thread on the knee to open and untwist the fibers prior to tapering and creating the taw, yes. But not making yarn over the knee.

Knowing a little about spinning (my wife has been spinning for over 40 years) I doubt that it could be done. Simply because spinning creates a twist that extends a long distance. On the knee I would expect it to be so localized that moving the twist the length of the thread would be problematic.

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Re: Thread

#629 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:02 am

I might have read wrong but I thought that what the fellow in foxfire did. He didnt have flax for the photo so he demonstrated with cotton. I go home and look it over again.

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#630 Post by dw » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:07 am

Foxfire could have gotten it wrong too, you know. I don't put much stock in the accuracy of some of that stuff. I bought and owned the first two volumes and I know there's stuff in the books that is plain and simply wrong.

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#631 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:16 am

Very true. but it is what he was doing in the picture. (with cotton) I thought about asking the ladies at OS for some of the stuff they spin. The fibers are original length. I tried my hand at spinning some of it on what they called a saxon wheel. That was embarrasing! Image
kept dropping the flax and breaking it.

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#632 Post by lancepryor » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:44 am

I have spent a bit of time thinking about this and have even inquired a couple of places about having someone spin some flax into thread; I just got an e-mail with the name of someone who might do so but have not yet inquired with him. It is easy enough to buy the long-fiber flax (in 'strick' form); I guess spinning it on a spinning wheel requires a bit of experience, as it is different from spinning other fibers (e.g. wool). Depending on what the fellow would charge, I may give it a go. If I do, I'll be sure to report back.

I'd really like to find a way to get some hemp fibers to have spun into a thread, since those can be 10 FEET long! However, hemp growing is still illegal (I believe) in the USA, and some attempts to revive its cultivation in Canada may not have succeeded.

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Re: Thread

#633 Post by zach » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:43 am

I've spun other fibers over my knee before while making cordage. Those fibers were only about a foot long, but it should translate well to 3 foot long fibers. The trick is that you make a 2-ply fiber as you go so that it twists back on itself and locks itself in and is stable.

I'm planning on trying a welt before too long and was thinking a lot about linen. We're planning on growing flax as a home-school project with the kids this summer, and while enough time/flax for a towel would be pushing it, some thread would be nice.

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#634 Post by dw » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:22 am

Cody,

I need to retract my reservations about spinning on the knee. I was wrong.

As mentioned, my wife is a spinner and she watches the forum. Yesterday she came and told me that she had seen someone spinning on the knee and that it was an old native American technique.

Well, you learn something new every day.

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Re: Thread

#635 Post by kemosabi » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:23 am

True Flemish twist bowstrings are made from linen, waxed and rolled on the knee.

Cheers,
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#636 Post by dw » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:55 am

All that being true, you could probably make linen or hemp yarn on your knee although...if I understood my lady wife well enough...the raw fibers would probably have to be made into what would be called "roving" if it were wool. That is to say the fibers of the flax or hemp would need to be combed and aligned (carded?) or you'd end up with a jumbled mess, I would think.

It would also probably take a great deal of practice and skill to twist a even and consistent yarn.

Now watch and Randee (or someone more knowledgeable...not hard) will correct me again.

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Re: Thread

#637 Post by zach » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:57 am

I hope this isn't off topic too much, but here is a quick little video that shows how flax is processed. You'll see why the fibers are so long, where the short fibers are cleaned away and why they are of lesser quality and you'll see how they're spun.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCJQCWDIozk

I've loved spinning (wool) since I was a teenager, and have inherited a spinning wheel with distaff that my grandpa made. I'm excited to try it out with flax. I am curious how thick, and how many ply the thread for inseaming is. I should probably just get some of the Dacron for my first attempts and I can get an idea of what to aim for with the linen.

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#638 Post by elfn » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:35 pm

Thanks Zack! That was really interesting.

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Re: Thread

#639 Post by kemosabi » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:55 pm

It is correct that the fibers need to be straightened first by using cards, comb or even your fingers if the fiber size isn't too small.

Once you try spinning (cording) on the knee, you may find it's easier than it seems. At least that was my experience. There's something natural about it. It has a flow and rhythm much like humming a familiar song. In fact; once you get good enough it's possible to roll multiple 2,3,4 strands simultaneously.

My 2 cents anyway...

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Re: Thread

#640 Post by lancepryor » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:53 am

Zach:

The traditional linen thread used for shoemaking (at least the last 50 - 100 years?) was called a #10 linen shoe thread, which is a 10 lea thread -- i.e. 3000 yards/pound. This was a commercially available product that was made by Barbour and others. For inseaming, a typical cord was 9 strands of the thread, although this would vary depending on the weight of the upper and the style of the shoe, I think. While one could spin by hand a cord of any weight, the benefit of the thinner thread is that allows the maker to ply up any size of cord by using more/fewer threads -- e.g. outsole stitching is usually done with a cord of 4 threads. Also, the smaller threads allow you to apply the shoemakers wax before and after twisting the cord, ensuring the wax is pretty much on all the threads, not just the exterior of the cord, hence improving resistance of the cord to rotting.

If you google linen strick, you will find vendors of the long fiber linen (i.e. 'line' linen fibers, as opposed to the 'tow' linen which is the short/waste fibers); it looks to me like the fibers in such a case have already been aligned to make spinning easier. (e.g. here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/53102877/4-0z-flax-stricks-for-spinning?)

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Re: Thread

#641 Post by farmerfalconer » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:36 am

Traditionally the the flax plants are pulled from the ground, soaked and allowed to rhett (basically rot) for a while. Then you put them through a 'breaker' and crack the stalks exposing the inner fibers. Now the fibers have bits of stalk and short fibers mixed in and they are run through heckles to staighten and clean them. Heckles are like a 5"x5" board with 30 or so long sharp nails sticking up on them. So its not really like combing wool with the two cards. you just flop it on the heckles and pull it through.

I going to try to get some flax at OS and try it out. the thread we have there is so terrible that it would be hard to do worse Image

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Re: Thread

#642 Post by zach » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:12 pm

Lance,

That was exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks! I'll be ordering a strick soon. What you say makes a lot of sense with the waxing each strand. From what I understand hand wax is very sticky, and I wonder how it will be to ply them all together.

Zach

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Re: Thread

#643 Post by lancepryor » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:51 pm

Zach:

Generally I've seen the threads all put together before waxing (but also before twisting).The threads are put together, waxed, burnished, twisted, rewaxed, and burnished again.

I may have read of folks doing 3 threads together, waxing, burnishing, then plying 3 of the 3-strand cords together and rewaxing, etc.

Hope that makes sense.

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Re: Thread

#644 Post by Nathan » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:20 am

This is very much along the lines I have been being vexed over. I have a big spool of linen thread which I twist and wax. However I think I am going to be royally screwed once it runs out as I have not found anyone locally who sells anything like it. There is a lot of scratching of heads when I enquire about the thread though. Maybe if I get together all that shed hair I could onto something.

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#645 Post by dw » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:06 am

Nathan wrote:This is very much along the lines I have been being vexed over. I have a big spool of linen thread which I twist and wax. However I think I am going to be royally screwed once it runs out as I have not found anyone locally who sells anything like it. There is a lot of scratching of heads when I enquire about the thread though. Maybe if I get together all that shed hair I could onto something.
In my opinion...and I may be alone in this...at a certain point the process is reduced to novelty. I yield to no one with respect to Tradition and traditional methods and materials, but spinning your own linen yarn is not too much different from planting a tree to get a 2x4.

If you can find linen yarn on Ebay (and sometimes you can) or from some other source, and you want to deal with the inherent weaknesses of linen, esp. in contemporary configurations, it is certainly one option.

But from an engineering perspective...or as close to one as this shoemaker can get...Teklon is the superior material. And, from that same engineering point of view, nothing of significance is lost by using it. And much is gained.

If you're determined to use linen for other reasons, I applaud you. But if you are simply nervous about what will take its place when linen yarn is no longer available...and there will come a time when even the vintage stuff is gone...there is an alternative.

My :2cents:
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Re: Thread

#646 Post by fclasse » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:11 pm

I was the one that posted a link to the Woolgatherers, and I have been using their stuff for quite some time with very good success. In fact, I am able to close very thin upper leather by hand using only three strands of 16/1, and I bet that I could probably do it with two. For what it's worth, I have used this thread with both a true shoemaker's wax (pine pitch, pine rosin, beeswax) as well as a sticky synthetic microcrystalline wax, and both work just fine.


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Re: Thread

#647 Post by jon_g » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:48 pm

dw wrote:...there is an alternative.
That's what I say about bristles :)

All kidding aside, I also use teklon for inseaming, and almost always for sole stitching when the threads will be dyed with the sole edge.

The exception, and I think it was something that Janne said a while back, is for Norwegian sewn shoes. These look great with a beefy waxed thread made from natural fibers.

...And I think it's a good idea, as stewards of this craft to know how to twist and wax a thread, even if you don't do it for every pair.

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#648 Post by dw » Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:23 pm

jon_g wrote:
dw wrote:...there is an alternative.
That's what I say about bristles :)

All kidding aside, I also use teklon for inseaming, and almost always for sole stitching when the threads will be dyed with the sole edge.

The exception, and I think it was something that Janne said a while back, is for Norwegian sewn shoes. These look great with a beefy waxed thread made from natural fibers.

...And I think it's a good idea, as stewards of this craft to know how to twist and wax a thread, even if you don't do it for every pair.
Good point! I agree.

BTW, You can get Teklon in many, many colours and unwaxed. Even raspberry I think. You can even get it in a natural/neutral...ivory color (not pure white)...which, when waxed with whatever they wax it with at the factory, is nearly a dead ringer for waxed linen. When I outseam I use three strand unwaxed black, brown or neutral. Usually I wax it with pure beeswax or a hotmelt wax and beeswax.
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Re: Thread

#649 Post by Nathan » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:35 pm

DW right now the whole linen thread thing is a novelty. As a hobby I am enjoying the whole process along with hunting down some old tools and having a play.
I will be looking at Teklon soon enough to see what it is and if I can source it locally.
Right now my biggest physical challenge is keeping up my use of using my knife for trimming heels and soles at work, so when I am trimming leather soles etc at home I do not slice a chunk out of the shoe, me or anything else.
The second big challenge is getting the Landis I picked last month running consistently. It will be a huge boon for the day to day work.

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Re: Thread

#650 Post by dw » Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:33 pm

I thought it might be of interest to many who might be leery of adding another high tech and perhaps enviromentally suspect material to the list of those we are already dependent on.

Recently after a discussion on another forum I set out to see if I could locate...in the USA... a source for good shoemaker quality hemp yarn. I'm talking real, sure-enough long fibered, wet spun hemp, single ply, #10 hemp. Not tow, or short fibered flax masquerading as hemp.

Since hemp is naturally anti-bacterial and esp in long fibered configuration stronger than any linen on the market...that I am aware of...I personally am considering switching from dacron, at least in some applications.

I indeed did locate such a source...the hemp is coming from Romania...and I have a spool ($30.00 inc. shipping) coming.

When I get it and have had a chance to take it for a test drive I will report back.

I am hopeful.
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