Last Sunday we had the fourth and final (for now) spinning lesson at my place. We had a lot that we still wanted to get done so I was quite a task master.
First thing we did was a lot of spinning. I wanted to make sure each one not only had the basics of drafting and putting twist into the fibre, but that they were able to troubleshoot any problems at would arise as they spun. Happy to say that all four spinners are making a continuous thread that gets more and more consistent each week. And for the most part, they can figure out how to fix a problem like over or under twisting, and are in much more control of their wheels. In the beginning, we often feel that the wheel is controlling us and it takes some time before your get the upper-hand. Once you do, you are well on your way to being an independent spinner.
They were all interested in fibre preparation techniques, so to make the drum carding session more interesting, I showed them how to make Crazy Batts. Those are the lovely batts you make from a variety of fibres, colours and textures. The resulting yarn from a Crazy Batt looks something like this:
It’s fun and funky yarn. Below is a small sampling of the fibres we were working with — mostly wool in a variety of colours, but there was also some kid mohair thrown in, you can see that in the top right corner.
Added to the mix was all sorts of other things, bits of silk noil, cut up silk hankies, pieces of commercial yarn that has texture. All this gets made into “fibre sandwiches”. Each sandwich has a layer of fibre, some yarn bits, another layer of different fibre, more texture bits and finish off with a final layer of fibre.This sandwich gets fed into the drum carder. Usually 4 or 5 sandwiches do the trick and you have a decent sized crazy batt. Here’s what our table looked like when we were in full production.
After making crazy batts for about an hour, I demonstrated how to use the picker.
It’s a crazy looking and highly dangerous piece of equipment that you use to tease the fibres to get them ready for drum carding. If you are into a high level of production, it’s a good idea to have one. But one way or another, it’s a good idea to learn the right way how to use that piece of equipment. You can ruin fibres and ruin your arm if you don’t do it right.
Major rule: never, ever put your hands near the teeth. However tempting it may be to just pull a bit of fibre out of the way. Always use another tool, never your own hand.
So the class and I are taking a break for a few weeks. Lambing is coming on and other family obligations have us busy for next few Sundays. But we are going to start up again with more fibre preparation, more spinning techniques and more fibres.