Syndactyl Salutations

Thoughts on writing, knitting, and the world around me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Spin Me Right 'Round...Well, Maybe Another Time

So, I know I mentioned that my mother gave me a gift of a spinning workshop, right? It was this past weekend, all day Saturday and half the day Sunday. Saturday went well, Sunday did not.

Saturday we got acquainted with the wheel, getting it to spin, learning the parts, and so on. I used my mom's wheel, I have no idea who made it, only that she's had it for a while, it's a little beat, and it only has one bobbin.

It took me a bit to get the treadling rhythm, the instructor had us practice treadling the wheel for a while before we spun anything, which was probably a good idea. She started us spinning pencil roving, I have no idea what type of wool it is, but it smells like Murphy's Oil Soap. I had a couple of minor hiccups at the start, but before long I got the hang of it. The photos below are all from Saturday. The quality isn't the best, but I'm amazed I managed to remember to take photos at all.

My first bobbin! It was actually relatively evenly spun, all things considered. I had to wind it off the bobbin in order to continue spinning. It's actually more brown than grey.
My second bobbin, partially wound off, almost forgot to take the photo, see? This is actually more cream-colored than white.
Saturday's plied skein, cell phone for scale. I didn't have a whole lot of trouble with the plying, other than the fact that I was plying from a ziploc and had to stop and do some minor untangling at one point.

Sunday has no photos. I was so frustrated practically from start to finish that it's amazing that I didn't burst into tears or dismember the wheel or something equally as unflattering. I certainly didn't need photographic proof of it.

We started by carding some single-washed locks of Leicester Longwool fleece (still with lots of lanolin) and making rolags to spin. I managed to do this, sort of. My arms got more of a workout than I expected, but I could see it becoming easier over time, I suppose.

After we had our rolags, we were supposed to spin them. My two classmates did, with seemingly little frustration. I, on the other hand, could not get my brain to embrace both the treadling and the drafting at the same time. I could NOT get the wheel to maintain momentum! I was apparently concentrating too hard on trying to get the wheel to spin, and as a result, not only was it not spinning, but I wasn't really drafting either. And when I did get the wheel to go around more than twice in succession, I would draft too thinly and my rolag would break free of the "yarn" I had on the bobbin.

My success with fiber from a drum carded batt with less lanolin was only marginally better. By the end of four hours, I had two tiny balls of really terrible yarn. I left my mom's wheel at the museum (she works there) and the only thing from the weekend that's made it into the house is Saturday's skein.

I'm not going to give up entirely yet, and I certainly have plenty of practice fiber. I came away with probably another three times as much pencil roving as I've already spun; two decent sized batts of drum carded fiber; a plastic grocery bag of Leicester Longwool fleece; and a plastic grocery bag of unwashed fleece to practice washing and, provided I don't turn it into a giant piece of felt, carding and spinning.

So, any of you spinners who may stumble across my sob story, any advice on keeping the wheel spinning in the right direction (so as not to need to keep restringing the double band) while drafting roving at a rate that will allow me to spin something other than filament weight yarn?

Help. Please.

P.S. Yes, I got a digital camera. More photos to come soon.


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