This is an Opinionated Blog
The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They are subject to change without notice.
It made me very glad for all those years in Tech Support. (Yes, I’m going to degress a moment.) Because working in Tech Support, I had tremendous amounts of information thrown at me in chunks. I suspect it is the way the left brain works. I said that to say this: my instructor has tremendous knowledge of wool, spinning and all aspects of the craft. It all tumbles out in huge blocks of information that need to be absorbed quickly. That’s not easy to do.
The reason it was a long and difficult lesson is that I had to work with my first few skeins of yarn. I had to correct my own mistakes, and there were a hell of a lot of mistakes in the three skeins we plied into one, two-ply skein of yarn.
She’s the kind of instructor who gives praise, but not pointed praise. She says things on the fly. “I can see you took yor time with this.” She said as we worked over some odd spots in my yarn. “I can tell this was the first skein. The other two were so much better.”
There is no whining in Tech Support, so I didn’t let my own mistakes drive me to distraction. There were some doozies. I sat down at 2:30 pm and finally gave up my seat at the spinning wheel about 6:30 pm so she could run the wheel the last half-hour. My back was trashed by that time.
The first step in plying is to get the yarn (called a ‘single’ because it’s a single-ply) onto a spinning wheel bobbin. Since I had no bobbins at home, everything was in skeins. This isn’t a good idea.
After a couple of days in a skein, the yarn kinks. It twists back on itself and sets that way. Interestingly enough, there are a couple of ways to correct that.
(Fans of ’50 Shades of Gray’ should stop reading now. We’re going to fix the yarn by removing the kinks. Sorry.)
We used an industrial steamer. We put the yarn on a skein winder to stretch it. Then we steamed the yarn until it relaxed and the kinks came out.
At this point, I could re-spin the relaxed yarn, using a spinning wheel. What I learned is that I didn’t put enough twist in the yarn to ply it. There were a few places where it was too thick and yet was barely holding together. There were also snarls, places where the loose fiber got caught in the twist and plenty of breaks in the yarn.
I do not like spinning wheels. Or, should I say, I don’t like THAT spinning wheel. It has one peddle, which puts my back out of alignment. After 3 hours I was in agony. My instructor took over the peddling so I could get the plying finished.
I worked up a sweat, but we got it done.
I’m a rank beginner at spinning. Just started in March and I’m not really sure what I’m doing yet.
One thing I noticed is that switching spinning projects is a hassle. I have to wind off onto something, like a niddy noddy, before I really know if that’s what I want to do or not.
So – I was surfing around and found someone who put a short length of PVC pipe on his/her kick spindle for a bobbin. They secured it with a cotter pin.
I thought it was a brilliant idea!
But I don’t want to marr the surface of my brand new kick spindle.
So…now what? How about I use something less rigid, more like…paper?
The shaft of my kick spindle is longer than an index card. I could wrap an index card around it, tape that down and it would slide off no problem.
Actually, there was a bit of a problem because the index card ‘floated’ around the shaft. But I used a wooden skewer inside the card to ‘lock’ it into place.
Now I can slid an index card bobbin into place, spin what I want for as long as I want, then remove the bobbin when I want to change projects.
Now, I need to figure out a way to make a ‘lazy kate’ bobbin rack so I can ply yarn.
Thoughts on Spinning Wheels.
I’ve sold a number of my laying hens to re-invest in spinning equipment. I’ve ordered a set of wool cards with the money I made off the hens. Now I’ve been thinking about a spinning wheel since I started this. After all – isn’t that what you do when you’re a spinner?
But, do I really NEED a spinning wheel?
I’m thinking ‘not really’ – mainly because I at such a basic skill level. Nothing I do requires something so high-speed.
I’ve put six of my Comet laying hens and three of my Chinese Geese up for sale. It wasn’t an easy decision to make.
However, I need to raise money to support my spinning habit. I’ve got a set of fiber cards coming, and I’ve got my eye on a spinning wheel.
Spinning wheels are very expensive – even a Babe Production Wheel will run me over $300. So I’m saving my money. Also I’m getting out of the egg business for a few months while my itty-bitty pullets grow into their new job. Frankly, I don’t have enough energy to do everything I want to do this summer as far as farm chores go. Something has to go.
For now, I’m happy with my kick spindle. It does everything I need it to do, at this skill level, that’s not a whole lot. LOL
Update: The girls are sold to a good home.
I love that this:
Came from this:
And became this:
I've gotten into carding batts that fit "my perfect criteria." I had NO idea I was that picky until I realized how amazing batts can be to spin-- if they are light, airy, and well combed!! (Clearly I have had some clumpy, squished and not well processed batts in my past purchases) The most recent batch was a wool that I got that was a tad scratchier than I would have liked, so I dyed a BFL, silk, merino, cashmere blend I had, added some recycled sari silk clumps, and carded about 1.5 ounces at a time.
I was bitten by the crochet bug many years ago. Unfortunately it was one of those hobbies that I enjoyed, but wasn’t at all good at. I’ve made a couple of hats, scarves, several afgans and now 2 shawls to my credit.
There are also a few oddities, like plant hangers, a gourd hanger and…these shopping bags and project bags. Wait – I need to take pictures.
Okay, got it.
These are shopping bags and project baskets made from..ta-dah! – plastic shopping bags. You know, the ones that blow in the wind, sending horses into free-fall panic. They appear everywhere and don’t seem to have any use, beyond being small trash bags.
When you cut them up into loops to create ‘plylarn’ the world opens up into possibilites that boggle my mind.
The first image is a project basket. I use it to carry my spindle, wool, etc. It is roomy enough to put a lot of stuff in it. Also, it can be scrunched up pretty small. The second picture is a shopping bag, with yarn crocheted into it for more support, as the bags will stretch out of shape. It is amazing what you can stuff into one of these. We are talking 4 dozen eggs!
Also in the first picture are two other project baskets. One is very small and round, and full of yarn in the picture.
My obession is getting pretty deep. Last night, while watching TV, I cut up dozens of plastic shopping bags. I store them in a valet case so they aren’t scattered all over the house.
It almost works.
So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks, while I wait for my books and my kick spindle to come in.