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Got any great sources for leather? Tools? Machinery? Looking for sources?
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Re: Thread

#651 Post by das » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:46 am

DW,

Anxiously awaiting your report. From time to time I hear reports of decent true hemp still being produced in eastern Europe. If this stuff could make its way into the west, that would be great. With such an upswing in the popularity of hemp cloth/clothing, somebody over there is making the yarn.

Now, if only somebody over there was still cooking down pine trees to make turpentine we might get real chunk pine pitch again too. Opened another tin of "Swedish" pitch this week (made in China) and sighed heavily at how nasty it is.

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#652 Post by dw » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:12 am

Al,

Well, if I wasn't clear, this is coming from Romania but it is being distributed by a company here in the states.

I hesitated to post the contact info yet because I haven't really tried this stuff but I have been looking for over a year and this is the only source I have found of single ply hemp.

For the more adventuresome and those willing to experiment, the company is Hemp Basics and the product is the 4401 #10 unbleached yarn.
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Re: Thread

#653 Post by lancepryor » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:44 am

DW:

I look forward to seeing what you think of this yarn. It is my impression that all, or virtually all, of the old spinning equipment in Romania has been scrapped, and the newer spinning equipment works only with short fibers; I hope this stuff has the long fibers! I know that Carreducker are using some Romanian hemp and they seem happy enough with it, so perhaps this will indeed be suitable.

I hope that someday someone is able to spin some hemp with full-length staples; hemp staples can be up to 10 feet long. I believe that hemp can now be grown in Canada, and perhaps in a few states here in the USA. However, I have not been able to discover any sources for the very long-staple hemp fiber. I have found some sources for long-staple linen fiber (30 inches in length, give or take), but have not found anyone to spin some thread from the fibers.

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#654 Post by dw » Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:19 am

I suppose you're right and it depends on your definition of long fibered. I specifically asked the owner of the business if this was long fibered. And the answer was "yes." What that means...??

The WoolGatherer link posted previously has 16/1 long fibered wet spun hemp. But 16 is pretty small and it looked "wooly," & raggedy on the website.

That's my real worry about the hemp...if it isn't "coherent" enough, it won't stand up to waxing. I bought some #10 hemp(?) from Germany some years ago that was like that and I never could get it to run through the wax without tearing it apart. The sample I got from HempBascis looked to be spun pretty smoothly. And I did try to wax a short section and that went well.

Also I wonder / worry about tapering it. If the staple was 10 foot long, would you have to cut and scrape it to create a taper? I already do that with the Teklon, so it would be a small price to pay, I suppose. But the way I was taught to handle linen, you could just more or less roll the yarn over your hand and it would fray apart leaving a natural taper. Of course, that may have been an artifact of the linen being so short fibered.

Seems logical that the the long fibers (the longer the better) would work against ease of fraying / tapering, though.
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Re: Thread

#655 Post by das » Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:06 am

The way I was taught to make my "taws" (tapered ends) works the charm with both natural fibers and Techlon:

Loop the thread several turns around your left index finger with whatever 3" to 4" exposed (if you don't loop it this action might pull individual strands causing kinks further up your thread). Lay loose bit you want to "taw" on a lapboard and draw the thread towards you under the knife blade several times and voila, perfect taw every time, not staggered yarns.

NB--tilt the knife blade(stationary) like this:

__________\_______>

> being the direction you're pulling the thread.

Only moderate downward pressure is necessary, so you're flattening and fraying the thread, not actually cutting anything.

I tried the back-spinning and popping each strand, but this way is faster for me.

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#656 Post by dw » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:06 am

Al,

Great little illustration. Couldn't make heads or tails of it in the email notification but here on the forum it makes perfect sense.

I'd sure like to see your tawing operation in person. I haven't tried it exactly the way you describe (I'll give it a shot later this morning) but I've tried all sorts of scraping variations, esp withe Teklon, and although I got a taper is was never anywhere close to what I learned. I learned the back-spin method and would end up with a very fine taw about six-eight inches long.

Maybe that ruined me. :greatnotion:

I'd like to find a better way, esp. with Teklon, because although the result of my method are really good--leaving me with staggered "yarns" / strands with each individual strand coming to a fine point and the overall taw being my familiar six to eight inches long (with an inch / inch and a half "point" no thicker than a hair)--it is a fussy, complicated way of going about it. That doesn't matter, of course, if the results are what you want but a quicker, simpler way would be good too. Esp. for students.

The "back spin and pop" method (never wanted to see or hear a "pop," however) was very fast for me when I finally mastered it. But I don't know where it came from. Never saw another maker use it...not with the yarn wrapped many times between the hand and elbow the way I was taught.
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Re: Thread

#657 Post by das » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:33 am

DW,

The knack to this method i to keep the knife stationary, and bear down only enough to get the fraying without cutting anything. Lift the blade up momentarily to reposition the taw for each pull under the knife, and flick away the accumulating lint fluff so it won't get into your thread. Teklon makes a lot of lint fluff BTW.

Peterkin said Fred Engleke used to back-spin and pop each strand between his right thumb and forefinger while the thread was skeined-up around his left palm and elbow like you do. We tried it but made a snarled mess every time.

Yup, an 8" taw seems excessive. I shoot for around 4" from taw tip to full thickness, but I'm using 8" boar bristles, not those really long bits of fishing line you do

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#658 Post by dw » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:33 am

You're right 8" is long and I went back almost immediately and edited my post to suggest maybe more like 6"-8". But yes, I do use long nylon bristles ...maybe 10"...and that long taw means a long gradual taper on the bristle.

Of course the long fine point is also essential to the way I plait the taw in-between the "legs" of the split bristle, as well.

I did try your method...and you da man!...but it don't work for me. It tapers alright and I suppose as you get better with it you gain more control and can zero in on the fraying so that the strands / fibers become more staggered. But what I ended up with was too blunt--tapered, yes, but the longest fibers in each strand were more or less all the same length.

I think if I cut and staggered all the stands and then pulled each one under the knife I might get close to what I want to see. Of course, then I would have to refine the point considerably.

Thing is...that's near-as-nevermind the way I'm doing it now.

:sigh: I guess I'm destined to forever be doing things the hard way.

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Re: Thread

#659 Post by dw » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:37 am

Al,

Quick follow-up...tried your method on the single ply hemp (a sample length I got from HempBasics before I ordered)--works a treat and very fast. I may not be able to do my old "back-spin and lift" with the hemp but this will do fine.

Still can't get the staggering taper I want on the Teklon or even on plyed hemp but I'm good with the Teklon and will probably never use anything but single ply hemp anyway.

Thanks for taking the time to detail this approach.

:tiphat:
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Re: Thread

#660 Post by das » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:05 am

Same technique works for me with Teklon, but it takes more downward pressure on the blade, and more strokes, but it gets me a nice non-staggered taw. Problem with staggered taws for me is, invariably one strand-end will free itself from the twist round the bristle and cause a mess. I like all my strands virtually the same length, just all tapering together down to "nothing" at the tip. Wax the taw, twist it, insert it in the waxed and split bristle and twist....

After I make my waxed-ends, I guess there's only about 3" of naked bristle showing. I can't see how you guys use those long-ass nylon ones :shocked:

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#661 Post by lancepryor » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:53 pm

Perhaps one day we'll be able to get some good quality hemp thread made here in the USA?

I just saw an New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/01 ... ll.html?hp) that says the farm bill about to be passed will allow hemp to be grown in 10 states. Of course, it's a long way from growing the plant to having thread. Still, one day maybe we'll be able to get long hemp fibers to be spun into shoemaking thread.

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#662 Post by das » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:44 pm

The museum found a lady who could/would hand-spin long-staple hemp, but a 2" solid ball cost us $25. Needless to say, it's "display only".

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#663 Post by dw » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:48 pm

Given what is required by way procedures to produce long fibered hemp I hope I can be forgiven a certain amount of skepticism. It simply takes too much work. Probably would take ramping up production in a third world country or with an exploited work force.

After all, flax (linen) has never, to my knowledge, been illegal in the US. But we still don't see long fibered linen. I don't know that we ever have.

We didn't even see it coming out of Ireland anytime in the last 50 years. Maybe Campbells and Barbours reserved the long fibers for the towelettes and doilies and spun the tow up for shoemaker's yarn.
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#664 Post by lancepryor » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:15 pm

DW:

Yes, I suspect the only way we'll get hemp thread would be to have some spun in the manner mentioned by Al. Clearly a luxury. Still, if we could ever get some decent hemp fibers, it might be fun to see how it would work as a thread -- just imagine, 10 foot staples. From what I've read, even processing the hemp to get the fibers is a challenge, significantly more so than retting flax to get linen fibers. So, perhaps I'm tilting at windmills.... Buy, hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Al, now much does that 2 inch ball weigh? Sure, $25 is a lot, but if one could get 3 or 4 pairs of shoes inseamed with that much thread, is that really so exorbitant? In this day of $5,000 bespoke shoes (priced Lobb Paris lately?), perhaps it isn't out of the question. Surely, not for museum/historical work, but for custom work. Aside from the price, how is the thread itself? Wooly? Consistent in diameter? What would it correspond to in terms of the Barbour hand-shoemaking (#10) thread? If price were no object, would you use it?

I have tried to find someone to spin me some linen thread, but haven't been successful, though I've not tried too hard. Still, it is easy to find flax fiber with +/- 30 inch staples,so I'm tempted to see what it would be like to inseam with threads made from such a fiber. Al, if you want to provide me the spinner's name, maybe I'll see what she says about spinning some flax.

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Re: Thread

#665 Post by das » Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:59 am

Lance,

Frankly I've never tried to use the $25 stuff, just display it. I will though, and LYK all. At first glance the single ply looked a bit thicker than #10, and slight fluctuations in diam. but not slubby. It was not wooly/fuzzy like the German stuff DW referred to I think used to come from Gotz. The balls are solid, not hollow in the middle like Barbour's, so I'll weigh it.

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#666 Post by dw » Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:38 am

OK...hemp yarn report:

So I got the hemp yarn from HempBasics. I bought...and even confirmed with the owner before ordering..."unbleached, long fiber, wet spun" hemp.

When it came in it looked good...from a distance. When I began unraveling it, however, I didn't see much in the way of long fibers. Less than 10% (wild guess) of the fibers were longer than 3/4" with the longest being about 4" long (although such lengths were few and far between.)

I immediately called the company and determined that this was indeed long-fibered. The owner went on to say that the longest fibers they work with in E. Europe are 14" but he would have to talk to them to see if such yarn could be made up.

Nevertheless I made up a couple of waxed ends. 9 cords (about the equivalent in diameter of the 8 cord Teklon).

It brought back old memories and I was so bemused at how nicely the thread worked and how well the wax adhered.

This morning I set out to inseam a shoe. Again I was pleased with the way the thread felt going through the holdfast and the way it tightened down. I thought to myself that Teklon, for all its strengths, couldn't come close to duplicating the pleasure of inseaming with hemp / linen.

Now, I always throw a half hitch in the stitch as I inseam and except for the first two stitches I began to do the same with the hemp. I hadn't sewed two inches when the thread broke.

I'm no "gorilla hands" but I do pull the inseam tight. So I was p.o'd, you bet.

I don't know why it broke...maybe I needed to step up to 12 cord. Maybe the half hitch caused a kink. But I guarantee getting the stitches out of the holdfast was tricky. Most broke before I could even get an awl underneath them.

Make your own judgement but hemp itself doesn't seem any stronger...all other things being equal...than linen. In this case maybe not as strong. If it's made from tow, regardless of it being hyped as long fibered...it's gonna be weak. Period.

I felt a great deal of pleasure working with it and would not hesitate to try again if I could get some truly long fibered hemp.

But on balance, it doesn't hold a candle to Teklon. IMO...
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Re: Thread

#667 Post by homeboy » Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:29 pm

Damn! Too bad we can't find what used to be available.

I experimented a few months back with some hemp. I'll find out where I got it.

I also bought some from James Ducker.
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#668 Post by dw » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:03 pm

homeboy wrote:Damn! Too bad we can't find what used to be available.

I experimented a few months back with some hemp. I'll find out where I got it.

I also bought some from James Ducker.
Jake,

I got some from James too...just a sample. But it wasn't too different from this big roll I got.

So...an update....I started to make a Teklon string to replace the broken hemp but decided it was kind of giving up, so I tied knots in the broken ends of the hemp and started over. I finished the shoe with the hemp.

I didn't do any half hitches at all but it held up all the way around. I have to admit I was a little leery of pulling too hard and might have backed off a little but I think I got a tight inseam.

So it's workable. But so is the pre-war and post war Irish linen I have. Not sure what I've gained. I quit the linen in favour of the Teklon and once I get finished with the other shoe, not sure I'll use the hemp again. I don't know.

I guess I come away none the worse for wear but I can't honestly say that I have a great deal of confidence in the hemp. Certainly no more than the linen. In my mind, all things being equal, the Teklon is "best practices."
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#669 Post by homeboy » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:55 pm

The company was Hemp Traders. The first order was 2 ply......1 x Y-H-10N/2 - 100% Hemp Yarn Long Fiber Wet Spun (Y-H-10N/2)

The next order was a "special order"......item was labeled.....5NM/1 Wasn't too bad, but a half-hitch would break it!

Dee-Dubb, I remember some linen we used to use that couldn't be broken no matter how many "half-hitches" you put in it. I mean, I'm pretty heavy-handed. Couldn't break it!

Didn't want to say it because some will say....Bull-droppings, but I've broken Teklon with half-hitches. I believe it was due to my rolling and twisting the thread while working the wax.

Oh well....
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#670 Post by dw » Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:10 pm

homeboy wrote: Didn't want to say it because some will say....Bull-droppings, but I've broken Teklon with half-hitches. I believe it was due to my rolling and twisting the thread while working the wax.

Oh well....
Jake,

Wow! I won't say "bull droppings" or anything close but I'd purely hate to see that. What would I do if I lost faith in Teklon, too?

I've put half hitches, and double hitches and triple twisting, reverse 360° rotating, half-gainer hitches in Teklon and never broken it. Of course, I'm old and feeble...which sheds even more insight into weakness of the hemp.

You da original "gorilla hands" man! :wink_smile:
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#671 Post by homeboy » Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:43 pm

Dee-Dubb,

I know....it's hard to believe! I was about 2" from the toe when it happened. Made such a racket, my daughter (who was in the shop with me) thought I had hurt myself. I was feared I threw my shoulder out! Of course, I had a few choice words to describe my dislike about the situation. Was able to "restart" from a previous stitch, tie back on, and recovered from the incident.

I'm like you, there had to be a "weak" spot in the thread! Surely?

You know, taking out teeth ain't for the weak and faint-hearted! :woohoo:
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#672 Post by dw » Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:14 pm

homeboy wrote:You know, taking out teeth ain't for the weak and faint-hearted! :woohoo:
Yeah, but you got one of them big-asterisked crescent wrenches for that, don't you? :shocked:

Or do you still use the string tied to the doorknob trick? Teklon works for that too. :thumb:
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#673 Post by dw » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:57 am

das wrote:Same technique works for me with Teklon, but it takes more downward pressure on the blade, and more strokes, but it gets me a nice non-staggered taw. Problem with staggered taws for me is, invariably one strand-end will free itself from the twist round the bristle and cause a mess. I like all my strands virtually the same length, just all tapering together down to "nothing" at the tip. Wax the taw, twist it, insert it in the waxed and split bristle and twist....

After I make my waxed-ends, I guess there's only about 3" of naked bristle showing. I can't see how you guys use those long-ass nylon ones :shocked:
Staggered taws is the way I was taught, of course, and if not taken to an extreme, I, at least, seldom if ever have problems with one strand coming free of the taw / twist. And of course it makes for a very refined, long, taw which in turn translates to a fine wrap on the bristle. A very gradual taper in the wraps to the full thickness of the thread results.

That said, that's another reason for the long bristles. With a ten inch nylon bristle I can have a nylon "tippet" that is four+ inches long--plenty to get a good grip on--and still have another four inches of split bristle to wrap and counter-wrap the taw with all those twisted strand-ends...and even after that have a couple inches to run through several "locking" holes in the thread itself.

:kiltdance: :piper:

At some point it just seems natural...if you can make it easy on yourself with no detriment to the quality of the shoe....what's the downside?

What do you see as the downside?
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Re: Thread

#674 Post by das » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:53 am

DW,

It's what you're used to I guess. I would find it awkward sewing with an overly-long bristle (nylon or boar), but especially nylon fishing line because it's got that natural slight curve to it. "Downside"? Seen some mighty slow, awkward, sewing on-line in videos, etc., and the common denominator was too much nylon fishing line sticking out, plus the other cardinal sin, letting go of threads while piercing with the the awl.

By all means do what works for you. You just might sew faster if you'd be raised on 7-8" natural bristle. Trying to switch now would be like going from fast hunt-and-peck typing, to "proper" typing.

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#675 Post by fclasse » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:27 am

I learned how to wind bristles from a fellow here in California who had taken one of D.A.'s classes in the 80s, so I've always been using 7-8" long bristles, even when the bristles were made of fishing line. I can't praise the real boar bristles enough, and that's not just because I bought kilos of the stuff to make it available for whoever wants it =) I stagger as well to get that smooth transition from bristle to the final thickness of the thread, and have never had a problem with one of the strands getting unwound from the rest of the group. It might be an issue with the wax rather than the bristle.

Incidentally, several years back I timed the extra amount of time that it took me to sew when I held the awl or waxed ends exclusively versus keeping both awl and waxed ends in your hands while you sew. The result was that I was about about 15% more efficient when I kept everything in my hands, as the waxed ends would fall off of my lap, and I would occasionally need to reach down to get them, fumble with them, etc. For someone mostly self-taught like myself, it was not a trivial transition, but the data speaking to the efficency was plenty to convince me!


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