Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Retreat Details - Part II

I met so many new people and formed several new friendships. One new friend is Cyndy....an avid crocheter who's re-trying her hand at knitting and also really wanted to learn to spin. She and I really hit it off....and several folks thought we must be sisters! We look a bit alike and I guess we appeared to be well acquainted....although we'd only just met this weekend.

Cyndy was the amazing new spinner - she had a "badly neglected" Ashford Traditional that she'd acquired with the plans of either learning to spin at the retreat...or forgetting about spinning at all! Dave got the wheel pretty much setup and going for her, so from that point on, it was a labor of love. Several of us "worked on" and "tweaked" her wheel - "redesigning" parts and tutoring her on its use and how to set the Scotch Tension. (Photo - Dave is working on the wheel while Cyndy watches. Lynn is on the right...very relaxed...this represents the weekend in a nutshell - stress-free and fun!)

Once we got the wheel going, she started spinning. As an Alpaca farmer, she had the idea that "wool" is a 4-letter word, so she was attempting to spin the Alpaca. The poor girl looked very tense and was NOT having any fun spinning at all! It was definitely not turning out to be an activity she enjoyed. It was beginning to become a "stress producing" rather than "stress relieving" activity!

I pointed out that Alpaca is quite a challenge to spin for a new spinner - it's very slick and harder to control. I gave her a bit of Rambouillet that I had had pin drafted by Ohio Valley Natural Fibers when they processed a fleece for me. It was MUCH easier for her to spin...and she started to relax...and to even ENJOY spinning....in spite of the fact that she was spinning....wool! (Photo - Cyndy spinning the Rambouillet)

Tina and Kathy mentioned that what Cyndy REALLY needs to spin is "Jakie" - a great beginner roving from a Jacob/Baby Doll Cross. It's bit on the rough side, but perfect for a beginner as it's not so slick. The bag of "Jakie" was located and Cyndy resumed spinning....this time, with "Jakie". Now she's REALLY getting the hang of it! Check out the brown single on the bobbin...she's doing great! (I even have video of her spinning...but it's "sideways, and I can't seem to "rotate" the video so it will display properly.)

All it took was the right fiber to get her spinning like a pro! Now that her confidence has been established, she started pondering about the possibility of spinning enough wool this weekend to make a hat for the owner of Jakie. We told her she'd definitely be able to do that. So.....she proceeded to fill two bobbins without batting an eye! She even blended in a bit of the Alpaca on the second bobbin to make it a bit softer and give it some color - you go girl!

Now, with very little instruction, she plied the singles. It was PERFECTLY BALANCED YARN! And it's her very first yarn! Wahoo! Cyndy was immediately the envy of all - PLUS, she'd even managed to only have about 30" of single ply left over! Talk about "waste not, want not! She's definitely got enough bulky yarn to make the hat she'd planned. I'm sure that "Jakie's" owner will be absolutely thrilled!

Congratulations to Cyndy - a new "Master of the Wheel"!

On Saturday evening, we watched a video that taught us all how to create "designer yarns" - boucle, thick and thin, and several other types. I tried to jot down the descriptions of the various techniques, but sometimes, the "recipe" went by so quickly that I didn't get all the details. The video was sometimes a bit frustrating as well because it "zoomed out" while the instructor was spinning and we REALLY wanted it to "zoom in" on the yarn and the manual manipulations that were being presented!

Some of the techniques presented that I really want to try were:
  • Cabled Yarn - this makes the "barber poled" yarn look much better as it creates a 4 stranded yarn that softens the color changes. ("Barber poling" occurs when you ply 2 singles together that are very different in color - like a white single and a red single. The resultant yarn looks like a "Barber pole" or a candy cane.
  • Knotted Yarn - you run one of the plies back and forth on the other to form a "bump"...these can be spaced evenly or unevenly to provide lumps and bumps in your whatever you knit using this yarn.
  • Garnetting - this is where you'd "card" bits of other fibers into your roving - recycled blue jean, silk noils, snippets of fabric, etc. You then spin the resultant nubby roving. It produces textured yarns.
  • Boucle - I want to try this, but it's so fiddly and time consuming that I don't believe I'll attempt enough of this for a major project! Tina made some boucle at the retreat...and it definitely was a labor intensive technique.
The COOLEST thing I learned from the video was the "Miss America" way of plying yarn. It's faboulous! You basically wrap the singles around your hand and then ply from both ends....while doing a "Miss America" wave through the triangle formed by attaching both ends to the leader yarn on the wheel. It's a fabulous way to ply....especially if you have short runs of singles....or want to make combination yarns with different colors or textures sequentially.


  • At 1:20 AM, Blogger Kai said…

    Cyndy sounds like a very natural spinner!! I want to be that!! :)

    All those techniques sounds great, and I can understand your frustration when you can't 'see' the bits you want to from a video.

  • At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am so envious of you and your spinning-ness. <3


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