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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 6:18 pm 
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DW & Jake,

Great stuff you're puttin' up here. If I only had the time and the cool camera, I'd do you up some "real" waxends out of hemp, 18th c. formula wax, and genuine black bristle *sigh*. Maybe some day.

Anyhoo...

==========
"First, what is the difference between line yarn and tow yarn?"
==========

In a nutshell, flax stalk fibers are processed in a phase called "hackling" (as in getting your 'hackles up'), where it's dragged like a horse's tail, through long spiky things, like carding wool. This combs the long fibers and removes the short, broken, or bad bits. The waste that remains in the hackles--combed-out in other words--is called "tow", it's the inferior, lumpy, bumpy, weak, broken, and short bits. But, not to be wasted, it's spun into yarn as well for cheap goods. The good long fibers that are combed through the hackles are the "line" yarns--the good stuff. If these "line" yarns are then wet-spun, the flax fibers are softened with water (or spit if you're hand-spinning) and lay-up more smoothly and tighter, so the yarn has a harder hand or finish. "Line" yarn is the good stuff, "wet-spun line" yarn is the better stuff, and "tow" is the crap left behind.

As an aside, based on Jake's photos above, I took samples of perhaps 8 or 10 different single shoe thread samples to my textile "guru". Brands like Finnlayson's, York Street, and several varieties of Campbell's, and Barbour's, even old stuff going back 50 or 60 years. She un-twisted each, carefully pulled them apart down to the staple fibers, measured them and did her magic. The longest staples, and the strongest stuff she said was the Barbour's hard-finished threads in the little plastic jugs--longest staples and it's wet-spun. I've had no problem buying this product from AGS-CUDAS Shoe Repair Supply in Ashland, VA. I buy a case every 6 months or so. Try them. Their phone number ought to be on the Forum someplace.

=============
"Second, I've read that hemp is better for inseaming and stronger as well...Yay? Nay?"
=============

Here we've got that problem of what's "hemp"? In the 1700s and into the 1800s, "hemp" thread was made from the cannabis plant (whence "canvas" when woven into cloth), while "flax" thread was made from the flax plant (whence "linen" when woven into cloth, and "linseed oil".) At some point later in the 19th c./early in the 20th c.(???), these terms lost specificity, and the shoe trade started calling unbleached gray, flax thread "hemp", and calling the whiter bleached flax thread, "flax" or "linen" (rather strange since linen is a woven cloth made from flax, but never mind). Cannabis "hemp" thread would be very strong, possibly stronger than flax, and less prone to rotting, which was why it was cultivated and preferred for ships' ropes and canvas sails, etc. After shoe threads were all made from flax, the unbleached gray thread called "hemp" would be stronger (bleaching weakens the fibers), while the whiter "flax" or "linen" threads would be weaker.

So it depends what you mean by "hemp"? Cannabis hemp, or the later unbleached flax "hemp?

=================
" I have some 20/1 line hemp that came from a friend. I don't know where he got it, but it may be available."
================

Short-term memory they say is the first to go Image

That 20/1 wet-spun line yarn (flax "hemp", i.e. unbleached flax, not cannabis) came from me, and was purchased from a weaving supply house in Massachusetts called Webs. I bought a bunch of it once, and have no idea if Webs is still in business. One could do a search if interested. I wouldn't use a size 20 for inseaming, just for closing uppers, which we do by-hand down here. A 3-5 cord waxend made from the 20/1 is just fine for that. For inseaming and sole stitching I go up to a 10/1, or a "#10", like the little balls are marked.

Here endeth the lesson. Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 6:59 pm 
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Al,

Short term memory *is* the first thing to go...I can vouch for that. However, in this case it was a bit of diplomatic amnesia. I simply don't like to identify the source(s) of my precious booty in case it might open that person up to all kinds of unsolicited solicitation...so to speak.

Anyway, this is great info. Now I wish I'd put in a stock of the BlueMountain/Barbours in the plastic jars. I bought a 12 pack some years ago and didn't like it all that well. It was strong no doubt about that. I did a google for Blue mountain...nada. Ditto Barbour & Barbour linen. Windmill Saddlery's website is shut down. And the 20/1 at Webs *is* line linen.

The way things are, I'm glad I got onto Teklon when I did. Image

Anyway, thanks for the info

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

frommer@bootmaker.com
http://www.bootmaker.com


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 10:39 pm 
All,
In 'The Heavy Horse, Its Harness and Harness Decoration' by Terry Keegan, Pelham Books 1978, p101 he writes:

The word hemp was not used everywhere; many harness-makers preferred to call it lint, maintaining that hemp was a course substitute imported from Russia and Manila and used mainly for rope making.

About 20 minutes from where I live there use to be a thriving flax industry, and I remember as a kid in the 60's seeing skeins of raw flax drying over fences in the sun. This has long gone now due to countries like India making a cheaper product etc. Most of the local flax was woven into fadges for wool bales.

Sometimes here people refer to rope as manila and this is probably due its origin.

Jake, DW, thanks for discribing how you make longer threads, the saddlers approach is ok but you need to mover further from the bench to make a longer thread - but then saddlers don't normally use long threads in hand sewing.

How come you guys make up such long threads? If it was to cut down on the frequency of making threads, wouldn't this time be lost in having to pull the thread continuously through the work (hope that makes sense?).

'Bout 20 years ago I worked for a firm that made Western riding boots (as well as saddles), and I did a lot of inseaming (nothing like you guys though!). Anyway the thread we were given to use was a Barbours lacing nylon. This stuff isn't twisted and is flat but very, very strong. You can even split off long strands, looks like sinew and some guys use it for lacing the rawhide onto the wood of saddle trees.

For general handsewing now I usually use a thread called Terko (metric 12 or 8), which is Terylene with a cotton sheath around it. Ends feather well with an awl and is real user friendly.
Thanks for your comments and suggestions

Tom
More power to y' awl!


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 5:06 am 
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DW,

Okay, if short-term memory is the first thing to go, what's next I wonder? I gotta rely on you mature chaps to tell me what to expect Image

Understand the "diplomatic amnesia" completely. But, if I got inundated with inquiries about supplies, like the Webs wet-spun line yarn 20/1, I'd just post a single reply here on the good old HCC Forum, which goes out to millions globally, right? If it was a secret stash I didn't want the world to know about--well, I can't think of anything like that--I'd just play possum.

I'll call AGS-CUDAS today and see what the deal is on the stuff in the plastic jars. If they confirm it's gone, I'll join the mourning. If not I'll buy a bunch more right away, before ya'all buy 'em out. I've got a shipment of the Barbour's single linen shoe thread, #10 [pale green label], coming over from London. Once it gets here I'll ask my friend where he's buying it for me, and post that. All the West End guys use that, so there's gotta be a regular source someplace.

Old dog and new tricks--I must say I've grown very fond of those polyester tapers I got from you years ago. Zippo lighter fluid takes the paraffin right off, and for inseaming, which is all I'd use them for, they are fan-damn-tastic! Used it on 6 to 10 pairs I've made, and none have failed or even loosened-up at the welt. My regular work shoes I've been wearing everyday for around 3 years now, and not so much as a leak. If the Teklon is that much better, well maybe I'll try some of that.

NEW PITCH SOURCE:

Product code: DS 4015

S.A. B. Naval
RN 134
40420 Garein
Sweden

Phone: 05-58-51-41-64
FAX: 05-58-51-63-44

The product is very soft [no beeswax needed to soften], made by AUSON. Their product number: "PITCH 505".

This is the Swedish Burgundy Pitch of lore and legend, and makes great shoemakers' wax. Just the smoky aroma alone is worth the freight.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 5:16 am 
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Tom,

Quote:
How come you guys make up such long threads?


After we sew the welt on from ball to ball, we "whip-stitch" the shank and heel areas of the boot. After we place the metal shank, we lace that to the boot. Here's a pic I hope D.W. doesn't mind me bringing over from another area. This is one of D.W.'s boots.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 5:26 am 
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Al,

Thanks for the new pitch source.

I spent about 2 hours last night trying to find a reference to AGS-CUDAS. Even called directory assistance for a phone number. I finally did find a phone number for a AGS Footwear in Ashland, VA. I'm gonna call this morning, but anyway, I'm interested in buying some linen. Please keep me abreast of what you find out.

Thanks for your help!


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 5:31 am 
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Jake,

You betcha.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:06 am 
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All,

Tell you what...give me a little time (couple of days...a week...tomorrow?) and I'll try to do a photo essay of how I taper the Teklon. Once you see it you'll either be completely aghast that anyone would go to the trouble or completly delighted--especially if you're a bit "old school" and actually try it.

The pitch source is great news. I've never been happy with the pitch I got from Rausch...well, I take that back--I was happy with it til Al, ahem, "broadened my horizons." The Rausch is a bit hard...not their fault. I didn't know what the preferred characteristics of pitch should be all those many years ago, and it's pretty brittle.

Good knowlege to have...I can't think of a single source that spells out that kind of information.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:16 am 
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Dee-Dubb,

Good deal.....looking forward to it!


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 10:44 am 
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All,

Just got off the phone with AGS-CUDAS. The owner says Blue Mountain Industries is doing fine. He just got an invoice from them yesterday, and that the #10 hand shoe thread in the jars is in stock; however he wasn't really thrilled at guys ording 2 or 3, oneses/twoses. I suggest if anyone wants to order a case [24 jars], and deal them off as samples--then if you like it and want to buy a dozen or two, then call AGS.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 4:58 pm 
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Al,

Thanks for the update. I talked to them this morning too, but the owner was out, so I talked to Sally. She didn't know much about the shoe supply side of the house, but was very helpful and pleasant. She actually went back in the warehouse and found me sone 6/1 linen (didn't know they made it that large). She couldn't find any bleached #10. Anyway, I finally found this late last night on the web:

AGS Footwear
Stephen Jacobs
11234 Air Park Road
Ashland VA 23005
(800) 446-3820

Stephen Jacobs is the new owner now. Seem like pretty good people. Like Al says, they're mainly a wholesaler. They like selling in "cases", not "1s" and "2s". If I can get the bleached, I'll plan on getting a large order. I'll volunteer to deal some off as people need, if there's an interest.

Once again Al, Thanks for your valuable contact.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:09 pm 
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D.W.,

As I mentioned, I spent a couple of hours last night researching, and searching, resources on linen via the internet. By the way, bookbinding and basket-making sites are a good source of information. Any-who, I just wanted to make sure we're all on the same sheet of music here. My research proved Randee was "on the mark" with her statement:

Quote:
Now, I have it from some fairly reputable sources (my wife who is a spinner) that 20/1 indicates, first, the guage of the yarn and second the number of plys.


Thanks Randee for your expertise!

So....what we're mainly interested in our line of work is the 10/1 linen (#10), as Al mentioned.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:50 pm 
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All,

OK...like I said this may not start everybody using unwaxed Teklon but it may interest or inspire some...just as an alternative.

First, you need a square ended knife like the one shown below. This was custom made for me by Jim Wear some year back but Barnsley used to make several knives that had square ends and which would work--a triangle knife, a chop knife, and a lace paring knife. I have no idea if anything like that is stiull available but, heck, you could even use a putty knife sharpened up to a razor edge, would do the trick...maybe as well or better than any of the others.

I also use the poly cutting mat that we were discussing in another topic recently--3/8". That's the black background behind the knife.



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Tight Stitches

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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:52 pm 
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So... to begin...

Unspool 12 feet of "12 cord" Teklon (or 8 feet...what ever suits). 12 cord Teklon is really only 8 cord (?)--eight strands. So the first thing we have to do is separate the strands. But not the whole 12 feet, just enoug hto work with...maybe 12 inches, maybe 8 inches. I do this by "scraping" the strands with the side of my knife.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:54 pm 
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The next step is the first phase of tapering. Here we begin cutting the individual strands to progressively shorter lengths. This effectively staggers all the ends. I begin by seperating out one strand. Leave that strand untouched. Cut all the remaining strands approximately one and a half inches shorter.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:55 pm 
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Now separate out another strand. Cut all the remaining strands half an inch shorter. Separate out yet another (third) strand, cut all the remaining strands half an inch shorter. Repeat this process of separating out strands and cutting the remaining strands half an inch shorter until there are no more uncut stands.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:57 pm 
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Now we need to taper each individual strand...it's the same idea as fraying the ends of each strand of linen. To do this, I turn my knife on its side again and scrape the end of the strand untill all the individual fibers that make up the strand are splayed across the cutting surface.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:59 pm 
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The next step is probably self evident--cutting a taper in the splayed fibers. On the first and longest strand I cut that taper pretty long...maybe inch and a half to two inches. I might even go back and refine the last half inch to get it even finer.

Each successive strand is handled essentially the same way, except I generally only cut a taper of an inch or so in each of the remaining strands.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 7:00 pm 
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So...this photo shows all the strands tapered and ready for the wax.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 7:07 pm 
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Voila!!

The last two shots are of the finished taper. The first photos shows the taper waxed up. Understand that I photographed this tableau so that the light would catch, and highlight, the taw all the way down to the end. Because of that, it looks a bit thicker at the very end than it actually is.

The second photo shows the taw and a split 40lb. nylon monofilament bristle ready to be attached.

So what do you think? Like to give it a try? Think it will take too much time? Some observations...

I tapered a 12 cord Teklon end in two and one half minutes...ready to wax. Now, it's been a while but I don't remember tapering a linen cord as being significantly faster. I guess "significantly" is the key word there--I'm sure it might have been somewhat faster. But to my mind...old and feeble and failing of memory...that doesn't seem like such a great, burdansome ammount of time.

What's more...as an added benefit...if you start with unwaxed Teklon...your handwax, if it contains a goodly quantity of rosin and pitch, will adhere to the thread much much better than a cord that started out life with paraffin on it. Even cleaning the paraffin off the pre-waxed threads leaves a residue that makes the wax less able to "get a grip." And that, in turn, means that your ability to get, and keep, a tight lock on every stitch will be hampered.

In my opinion...not written in stone...paraffined tapers will never hold the stitch as well as the unwaxed Teklon made up with a good handwax. No one is immune to the temptations of wanting to do a good job with less fuss. I, too, tried the pre-waxed Ludlow tapers. I used them for years. And I liked them...after I had soaked them in wax cleaner overnight, and then re-waxed them with rosin based wax. But in the end, and in comparison, there was no comparison. Unwaxed Teklon with a rosin based wax simply holds the stitch better.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 7:31 pm 
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Dee-Dubb,

Let me be the first to say...."impressive"!

Thanks for sharing this! I'll definitely try it!


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 9:09 pm 
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Jake,

Thanks homes.

You liked the photos, then? I tried really hard to get it right. All done with a tripod and just me. I did find out that my camera was set to "outdoor," however. I guess that could make a big difference...ya think? I don't know how it got that way or why I didn't think to make sure...dumb bootmaker, I guess. Image

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:05 pm 
Jake,
thanks for the explanation, I see why the long threads. These follow up posts are so interesting.

Is the pitch you use in your black wax like the vetinary product called Stockholm Tar? Or is it firmer/dryer then this?

More power to y'awl
Tom.


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:25 am 
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I need one of they "cameras" right now to explain myself.

About coal gas pitch/wax; I have used the "coal gas" term since reading that this was the composition of a proprietary "cobblers wax": one named Thermowax, which looks identical to the stuff I use (called Webster's Diamine Wax, that came along with boot tools and some made up waxed ends from an auction). And I have suggested that the Waxtwin threads are coated in similar stuff. What I have looks like treacle toffee and smells like the Nelson's Victory Exhibit in Madam Tussaud's Waxworks, London to provide one reference standard smell, and also smells like stockholm tar, veterinary , but is solid whereas vets stockholm is paste like.

To muddy the waters, thermowax I see described as cobblers wax only on bagpipe websites. Oh confusion! (the bagpipers use hemp thread too, even ready made black waxed hemp thread). Does anyone know this Thermowax or the Websters Diamine or the stuff that coats Waxtwins? Are all the same or different; are they pine pitch or coal gas pitch?

The suggestion that thermowax is coal based was in an online advert promoting an alternative (bagpipe) product.

DWII has explained that coal gas pitch may rot thread. I don't want to rot my stitches (as so far I only have a few and know them all by name).


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 Post subject: Re: Thread
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:47 am 
Hey David,
I think they've all had their hot milk and gone to bed!
We're from the future to them!

more power to y'awl.
T.


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