Monthly Archives: May 2016

Have spindle, will indeed travel

I love my Turkish spindles. I love their look, their weight and the fact that they slow me down. I love the way they come apart and can be stored easily. What I didn’t like for a long time was the fact that once I got started with one, I was stuck with the shape. This made transporting it to and from work a bit tricky.

Until I spied a very interesting thing on Instagram one day. A fellow Turkish spindler posted a photo of heading to the beach with her spindle and other stuff all in a bag. What was missing from the spindle was the shaft. How is this possible?

And then another Turkish spindler, when we were discussing winding on techniques, mentioned that she removes the shaft and flips her turtle, so she can wind on, building the turtle from both sides. I haven’t quite figured that trick out yet, but what intrigued me again was this idea of removing the shaft and being able to put it back in.

I tried removing the shaft. Duh. Nothing terrible happened. All the singles stayed in place and I was able to easily put it back. Now it is easy to travel with my Turkish spindles. The photo essay below shows how. Spindle with several grams of spun singles:

2016-05-28 10.10.07

Shaft removed and turtle with arms in tact, stored safely in the carry bag along with the shaft:2016-05-28 10.07.29

Carry bag zipped up and ready for transport. Nice, neat and small package. Fits easily in my purse:

2016-05-28 10.08.22

When I want to spin again, I take my turtle out of the bag. Here’s the nice hole in which the shaft easily returns. It’s a serious no-brainer:

2016-05-28 10.10.40

And here it is with the shaft back in place, ready to spin again:

2016-05-28 10.10.19

Now I take it with me where ever I go.

The stuff we learn from each other is so helpful.

Be the Boss of your Yarn*

*In 2011 I attended a 3-day spinning workshop “Spinning with a Purpose” with Abby Franquemont at the Taos Wool Festival in Taos, New Mexico. Written on the whiteboard as a welcome was the workshop title along with the message, aka “Being the Boss of your Yarn”. I give full credit to Abby for this variation of her title. This is not an imitation or repetition of the workshop she offered. Hers was much more in-depth and moved along with our learning needs. Mine is more directed – is all about learning a set of skills and strategies that put you in charge of the yarn you want to make, rather than making the same default yarn over and over and over again.

Be the Boss of your Yarn is the final full-day class I’ll be teaching at Olds College this coming June. Here’s what I have in store:

This workshop is all about busting through “default-yarn” – that yarn you make over and over again despite attempts to do it differently. In this workshop you will learn techniques that will expand your yarn repertoire. You will experiment with and learn about the effect of twist on your singles and your plied yarns. You will also learn about yarn structure by making samples of soft singles, 2-ply, chained (Navajo ply), and cabled yarns. You will learn strategies for making the yarn you want. At the end of the day, YOU will be the boss of your yarn.

I’ve taught this class a few times already and it is a blast. What is the most fun is seeing the excitement and sometimes awe as people realize some fundamental elements they can change to alter the look (and function) of the yarn they are making. Some of us, when we learn to spin, develop a fear of too much twist, like it is a bad thing. Too much twist will make your yarn hard and other silly things. Well, that is true, however the margin of what is too much twist is much wider than you can imagine. And in the first part of this class, we set out to explore this.

We make a series of two-ply yarn samples, first putting a lot of twist into the singles and then alternatively, plying with a lot of twist and then in another sample, plying with as little twist as we can get away with. In the next series of two-ply yarn we make singles using as little twist as possible and then plying with a lot of twist and another sample plying with very little twist. Then we look at the yarn, and feel the yarn. We measure the angle of twist. The idea is to push the element of twist to both extremes so we can see what too much and too little twist looks and feels like.

2016-03-19 17.01.47

Then we do a bunch of other things in the afternoon, building on this knowledge and new found comfort with varying amounts of twist.

This photo is what was left over after everyone left the class at Fibres West 2016. Scraps of yarn that didn’t make it to the sample cards and other bits from various experiments. I’m looking forward to doing this again.

I hope to see you there.

 

Twist and Draft: worsted to woolen and everything in between

The third class I’ll be doing at Olds College during Fibre Week 2016 is Twist and Draft. The subtitle is “worsted to woolen and everything in between.”

Here’s an excerpt from the description:

Explore and experiment with a variety of drafting techniques from worsted to woolen. Learn when and why, and most importantly, how to use these different drafting and spinning techniques, from short forward draw (worsted) through to the long draw (woolen). You will also get some tips on fibre preparation to help you get the yarn you want for your project.

Expand your spinning repertoire so you have more choices in making the yarn you want, from strong, fine yarn for socks through to lofty, soft yarn for hats and sweaters. You’ll come away from this class knowing how to answer the worsted vs woolen question with confidence.

I have the teaching plan all sorted out and now I’m working on assembling the right materials to support the exercises. I have carded rovings of local Clun Forest and Suffolk to use as we start playing with the drafting techniques that are used when making woolen type yarn.

For the worsted portion I have combed top in BFL and Merino. I also have some Romney lamb locks, and Merino locks that we will comb as part of learning the fibre prep for worsted yarn. I wanted another wool to sample with and decided to use some California Variegated Mutuant (CVM) that I purchased at the Fleece sale back in October. It’s a beautiful colour and I have a lot of it.

To check it out, I combed up 16 grams of the fibre. What you see below are the results. Nine grams of combed top, simply beautiful and soft. What’s in the scale is the waste, or the stuff that is left over after combing. I usually make felted balls with it. But what if this was the only fleece you had to make all the knitted items for your family? If that was the case, you’d think differently about calling this waste.

2016-05-21 17.30.09

I decided to make yarn with it. I carded it into rovings on my Ashford carders. It was pretty messy stuff. Lots of short bits, some VM, and fibres of all lengths. No less, I soldiered on and got it done. After spinning the combed top, using a short forward draw. I changed bobbins and spun these rolags with a supported long-draw letting the twist get into the fibre and pulling back. I plied it the next morning using a centre pull ball. As I plied I pinched the bumpy parts so smooth them out a bit and try to make the yarn more even.

2016-05-21 18.55.44

Here are the two finished skeins before they were washed. On the left is the worsted: combed top, long staple length, spun with short forward draw. On the right is the woolen: hand carded, short fibres, supported long-draw. On the side is the true waste, doesn’t even weigh half a gram.

2016-05-22 08.08.31

I washed the skeins in hot soapy water and rinsed them in hot water. For the woolen skein I did two rinses, one in hot water for a few minutes, and then into ice cold water for a few minutes. While in this water I roughed it up and then back into the hot water. I finished it in the cold water. I squeezed water out of both and gave both some good thwacks on the side of the tub. Then I rolled them in an old towel and took them outside for their photo shoot.

2016-05-22 08.58.01

One of the things people don’t like about combing as a fibre preparation is the amount of waste. But if you decide to use the waste to make a different kind of yarn, you may just feel differently about it. I love the look of both of they yarns can’t wait to knit them up into wristlets.