Sunday, July 30, 2006

Getting to know you...

Just about an hour before heading out to hear Kate sing on Friday, I decided that it was cool enough that I should take the spindle out and try some spinning. Everyone said, "with a little bit of practice everyday and eventually you will be good at it." Everyone also said, "just relax and keep trying, and it will all click one day." I just nodded and agreed. But there really was a big question mark.

This was my third try. The first time at the guild meeting, which was a disaster because of sweaty palms. The second was at the spinning class. I absorbed a lot of information, but didn't quite put it to work. Then the heat was just too much and I couldn't even think about touching the fluffy fiber.

Back to Friday. I was putting everything I learned in class and from reading "Spin It" to test. I took my time going through each step. Spin, draft, spin, draft, wind... Finally about 10 minutes before leaving it clicked! I understood. Just a little. I realized what I should do with my hands to make yarn. Then I had to put it away.

I couldn't wait to get back to it. So early evening on Saturday. A much cooler evening. I took out my spindle and roving. Took a few moments to get back to the point that it clicked again. I went at it without changing anything for a while. Then I realized the spindle wasn't spinning so much. I was using "Hearts" and it was suppose to spin and spin for a long time. Then I remember that my 1.3 oz spindle was labeled as a lighter weight spindle on Wolly Designs' website. Maybe I was spinning yarn that was too thick to the spindle's liking. So I tried spinning finer, and the finer it got the longer the spindle spun. I think I got it down to maybe a lace weight (?) and the spindle would spin for a long long time. I was having fun.

One thing about spinning finer yarn is that if I forget to watch the spindle and let it start spinning the opposite direction, the yarn would break and the spindle would drop. There are fewer fiber in the twist and with just a little bit of reversed spinning it would untwist and break. This happened often when I didn't park the spindle and just left it hanging while I tried to fix a thick section of the yarn. This also brought up another issue. With finer yarn, after breaking it, either intentionally or unintentionally, I find it hard to untwist the fiber with my fingers to prepare for a join. It seems to be retaining some memory even without setting the twist. Any trick for this?

You can see in the picture that it is still a bit of thick-and-thin. I still have to find a way to hold the fiber supply without it being in the palm area. I also have to refine my drafting skill, to get some consistency.

Now that I've gotten to know you better, my "Hearts", I can say that I do love you. But sorry babe, I'm afraid that you won't be the only one in the future.


Jane said...
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Jane said...


The yarn does have memory. Remember, the friction of the spinning is making those microscopic "hooks" in the fibers felt together! When I spin thin on my wheel, I have to use my left hand to "pinch off" the twist towards the end of the break, so that it will not keep trying to twist my yarn. Then, with the fingernails on my right hand, I fray the broken end or you can even try ripping off a small section diagonally withh your fingernails so that you get the fibers you want to spin onto. You may have to sit down to do this at first because you are using a drop spindle.

Good Luck!

Agnes said...

I tried spinning a bit this afternoon too ... I have to say there is still a long long way before I can produce even thickness. However, I definitely know that I am better this time ... not too much over-twisting and though still some thick and thin, but a lot more even. Keep going Jason ... it's quite some fun. But I really don't think I would get a wheel. :)

Sachi said...

Oh, fantastic! Is that Colonial? I found it difficult because it was such a long staple. Medium staple felt better to me... longer than merino but shorter than the colonial.

It looks wonderful! Keep it up!!!!

Jason said...

Jane, thanks so much for the tip. I didn't even think about pinching one end to prevent the twist travelling up. Duh! I'll give it a try.

Agnes, I think I've gone past the "point of no return" on spinning. LOL I just have remind myself not to put too many things on the plate at one time. Who knows, maybe one day you will also want a wheel? I know I didn't want one, but... now I do. LOL

Sachi, thanks! So jealous of your trip to Solvang! Yes, that's Colonial. The staple length also gave me some trouble. It was very difficult for me to learn how to draft smoothly with it. But it also forced me to understand the hand movements better. I sort of like it now. I also got merino, just in case. :-)

Gail said...

If I read correctly, you want to keep the fiber out of the palm of your hand while using your spindle, right?
Drape the fiber over the back of your hand to come down between thumb and first finger. If you do it from about your wrist or further back, the fiber is far enough away that it won't get tangled up in what you are actively spinning. This is generally how I hold my fiber for spinning - or I spin from the fold. Even hand carded rolags can work this way.
Hope this helps a bit.

Jason said...

Thanks Gail. That really helped a lot. I tried it earlier this evening. It kept the fiber neat and dry. I also started to notice/feel the movement of the fiber from the supply to the drafting fingers. That helped fine tuning the drafting motion to keep the fiber from bunching up. I hope that makes sense. :-)

beadlizard said...

Oh, I just *knew* your wonderful brain would see the underlying logic and structure of spinning and FLY. Hooray!!!!!

I can't wait to hear your thoughts about the relationship between the shape of the drafting triangle and the staple length and character of the fiber you're spinning.

--the cheering section!

Francesca said...

Wow, look at you, spinning lace weight on your third try!

Jason said...

Thank you Sylvia. You are making me blush! I don't know when I will notice and understand the finer details of spinning. We'll see. :-)

Thanks for the cheers! :-D

Hey Francesca! My spindle wants to spin thin. LOL I do love it though. :-)

Tallguy said...

Ah, ha!! I love that moment!!

There are a couple points I want to make:
1) To get a finer yarn, you need to have a finer roving! Sounds logical, but something most people miss. If you have roving, split it lenthwise in half, and half again, and maybe once more. You want to have a very thin roving, and you will find your spinning will go much much easier, and you will get consistent fine yarn.
If you don't have roving, but have carded fibre, make a roving. Pull out a small even roving from it, and then proceed. Well-prepared materials make all the difference.

2) With your long fine roving, wind it around your wrist, and then you won't get sweaty palms. There is no good reason for all that fibre to be in your hand in the first place -- no instructor will tell you to hold it that way. Or you can make yourself a wrist distaff (google for it) and that looks so cool!

3) Yes, don't let it backspin! Simple. If it does, and you break your yarn (actually, it seperates), you will have to open up that end, and a little spit seems to help as well. And who's to know anyway?

4) Let your fingers do the work, and please STOP THINKING! Don't analyze, don't think, don't plan, don't control. Just spin, and let it work itself. If you prepare your roving well, it will just spin itself; honest it will! Your hands know what to do now, so let them. Just stand back and enjoy the whole thing.

Jason said...

Thank you for the pointers, TallGuy! :-)