Spin a Sample

Spinning a fine single on the Mazurka

Spinning a fine single on the Mazurka

I recently checked the book, “Spin Control” out of the library in an electronic format.  It’s a book I occasionally think about buying, but now I can check it out and give a try to see if I really want it.  I have to say, I’ve listened to a friend talk about her library card for two years, but I only just recently received mine.  It was nice being able to check out a book, read it and return it all from bed.  I don’t know why I dragged my feet with the library card for so long.  The book, “Spin Control” is about spinning yarn.  I’ve had my sights set on a new wheel and haven’t felt drawn to my old wheel lately.  I keep thinking, I’ll just wait for my other wheel, but I’ve yet to order it.  So I thought I would take some left over pieces of top from other projects and do some sampling.  I have some things to think about after reading Spin Control.

Ply back sample. Single, 2 ply, & 3 ply

Ply back sample. Single, 2 ply, & 3 ply

I’ve decided that I want to spin three fine singles and ply them together for a round 3-ply fingering or lace-weight yarn.  I read in Spin Control that she neither pre-drafts her fibers prior to spinning, nor does she split it into thinner lengths.  She just pulls off a manageable length, shakes it out to fluff out any compression and then spins off of it.  When she spins fine singles, she just works back and forth along the top or roving.  While I don’t pre-draft my top or roving, I do tend to split off narrow lengths to work from, and so I gave her way a go.  I found that it worked pretty good.  After a little practice, I was able to spin a fine single without further preparation or manipulation of my fiber.  Since I haven’t spun in a while, I was a little rusty at the wheel.

Spun and plied yarn before setting twist

Spun and plied yarn before setting twist

I got three fine singles spun, and I was relatively happy with them.  I think if I were in better practice, I would have been much happier.  I read in Spin Control and learned on two DVD’s that it’s good to have the bobbins full of singles behind me and at a good distance.  I decided to give this method of plying a try.  I found having the bobbins behind me a bit odd and unfamiliar, but it’s something I could get used to.  I’m accustomed to being able to see my bobbins when I’m plying, and being able to reach them when there’s a snag or problem is a benefit.  I really thought that having some distance between me and the bobbins may even out any unevenness of twist in the singles.  I took the plied yarn off the bobbin with a niddy noddy  and counted 71 yards.  Pretty good for sampling.  I liked the yarn.  At the beginning I did a ply back sample six inches long, one with two plies and one with three plies to see which I liked better.  This gave me an idea of what most of the yardage would look like.  I took a picture of it, and at this point I’m happy with the majority of the yardage.  Keeping in practice should even out everything else.  The skein hung perfectly straight, so I thought I had a nicely balanced yarn – so I thought

Yarn after setting twist. Disappointing

Yarn after setting twist. Disappointing

I finished the yarn with a hot water soak and a few whacks.  When it finally dried, I had a different yarn than when I started.  I’m not nearly as happy with it.  There are places where the yarn has less twist than I would like, and other places it’s perfect.  Some of it fulled a little too much – It fluffed up quite a bit.  It’s not nearly as even as before I set the twist.  My conundrum lies in that I don’t know what caused the difference in what I started with and what I have when it’s finished.  Perhaps working from the top without stripping it down into narrow lengths was the problem, however, I don’t think this is the problem.  Perhaps I’m just out of practice and didn’t twist the yarn evenly, either when I was spinning the singles or plying.  Perhaps the slight fulling was too much for the yarn, but I’m not convinced of this either.  My lack of formal instruction in spinning forces me to figure it out with more samples.  I have wool, lots of wool, but I hate to make yarn without a purpose.  What will I do with all these samples?  I will most likely weave or knit swatches, but, then I’ll have piles of swatches lying around.

Russian support spindle

Russian support spindle

I did try my hand with my Russian spindle.  This form of spinning is very portable, but it’s quite slow and harder on the body.  My shoulder felt it after every rolag was spun.  My fingers went numb at least a dozen times.  It became apparent, the most important thing is proper fiber preparation.  Any nupps, short hairs, and any snags are nearly impossible to deal with when you only have one hand on the fiber and the other hand on the spindle.  I think the best way for me to proceed with very fine yarn made on the Russian spindle is have a responsive – versatile wheel and lots of practice.  I know I can sit in front of a wheel for hours with very little stress on my body.  Maybe I should order that wheel.

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A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

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