Saturday, December 8, 2012

Micro order mecate in the pipeline

This is a sneak preview of K M's micro order mecate.  On this one I am trying to accomplish a true 6-part mecate, with 6 strands showing, and a 7th strand forming the core.  Previously this was not possible for me.  Up to this point I had used 6 strands for a mecate, the 6th forming a core and thus not seen;  each strand used 3 or 4 threads depending on color.  The checkered (fleck) strands used 4, since they had to be divisible by 2.  I felt that 7 times 3 threads would be too bulky for Trad scale.  Plus it was just dern hard to make these things -- another strand would make it just that much harder.  So I thought....

Real horsehair mecate, "Wendy's" from Hagel's Mecate Gallery
This is a picture of the mecate the customer sent me, to craft a miniature portrait of.  Isn't it pretty?!  It seemed such a shame to eliminate even one color from the 6.  If I had to I was planning to dump one of the browns...  Then, during the forming of the strands, I was hit by an idea.  Instead of 3 Topstitching [currently sold as Heavy] weight threads, try using 2 Topst. + 2 HQ [Hand Quilting, the smallest guage I currently use].  Spin the 2 as normal, then, one by one, add in the HQs.  Since they are fed through the popper (quirt) and folded over in the middle, there are two anyway.  To my amazement, it worked.  Since 1 Topst. = 3 HQs, this was a savings of 1 HQ.  It might not seem like a lot, but multiplied over the 6 or 7 strands, it added up.

 This is what a TSII mecate looks like under construction.  The horse is Kilbourn's Maxixe, because he was my closest resin in size to the requested one.  The anchor is tied to the board in back, so I can't pull it off the bench.  There is a lot of pulling... The clips hold the various strands and keep them from unraveling.  Spinning progresses a few inches at a time.

It's very difficult to maintain a constant tension on the spin.  I find I can make only 2 inches or so at a time.  For this particular mecate, the black and check strands are fitted last and separately.  This leaves brown + brown as a pair and white + white as a pair.  (It could just as easily have been brown + white and brown + white.)  Each pair is spun a few inches as tightly as possible (but they always work loose; this turns out to be needed).  While they're tight, they are spun together into a 4 around the core.  The core was the real brainwave of this mecate and the secret to a 7-strand.  It is a single, not a double (doubled-over) strand, and was hung from the popper by itselfThe trick to mecates is to start at the popper, since in real life this end is doubled over on itself too.  This makes tying the tassel button core, at the other end, possible; you have ends to work with.

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