hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
Petra ([personal profile] hyperbole) wrote2014-08-31 02:57 pm
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Finally: spinning so far

I've been meaning to post lots about spinning but as usual I'm way more into the Doing than the Documenting. I also take crap photos, and never as many as or exactly the ones I want. So instead of giving you Margaretha in Pictures, here's a recap of all the yarns I have spun to date, with a few more wheel details.

The Fixing-Upping

When I bought her, the only bit that was actually broken was the connection between the treadle and the thing that moves around with the wheel. The man in the leather shop may have thought I was a northerner, but the leather strap he sold me works beautifully. Here's a photo from my first time treadling, before we got the knot right enough to cut the extra leather off:

I have since discovered that the easiest way to avoid constant noises from the leather moving when I treadle is to not have my whole foot on the treadle, but that happened after I moved back to my own flat so I don't have any photos of that.

I also needed to give her a good clean, and it took a lot of wriggling things around and looking very closely to find out how to remove all the parts. (The flyer whorl unscrews in the opposite direction to what is common nowadays.) I wiped off grease and polished the rust off the hooks on the flyer. Dad helped me replace the leather thong that holds the flyer, on the left in this picture:

As I only have one bobbin, I probably won't be taking the flyer off very often (I move the drive band off the bobbin and wind it onto a toilet roll to ply or straight onto my swift if it's all ready to become a hank). That's good because it's fiddly to say the least!

I don't think I mentioned it in my first spinning wheel entry (probably because I didn't actually know it at the time), but this is a double-drive wheel. The mother-of-all (the piece that holds the maidens, which hold the flyer) moves toward or away from the fly wheel to adjust the tension. And there's a hole for the distaff (for spinning flax) next to it, but the distaff itself must have been lost at some point. (I used this cheatsheet for the names of all the parts. My spinning vocabulary is unusually Swedish (as far as my other crafting terminologies are concerned), plus I'm mostly teaching myself as I go along so often I find myself adjusting "that thing"...)

Not my spinning wheel, but also a fixer-upper: my swift. Dad found it at a fleamarket and it's a little bit creaky and nibbled on. I had to replace the ties so now they're pink! And every time I use it I get a little sad on behalf of my poor student self of the past few years. How many hours didn't I spend winding yarn off the backs of chairs, my laundry drier, my feet, my knees, friends' hands, etc.?! I always wanted a swift but I thought it was too extravagant and would take up too much space (which is a good point because I was living abroad, moving a couple of times a year with only a suitcase on a flight). I love my swift.

The yarn on it in this picture is 3-ply (Navajo plied) Leicester, probably combed. I'm not sure if this is the famed BFL or some other Leicester.

Fibre, Spinning, Yarn

As soon as I had my wheel, I ordered a variety of fibres to try.

From left to right, top to bottom: white Leicester wool, washed but not combed or carded; carded batt of some type of Swedish sheep; washed but otherwise raw "Goth" (Gute) sheep; same but Rya wool; a sheet of felt for mum; and red dye. So far I've only worked with the carded batt and the Leicester. The batt looks like this when it's opened:

That's the stuff I started spinning with first. This is my concentrated face:

I was rarely aware that people were taking photos of me, but both my mother and my brother are photo happy so there are dozens of pictures of me with this face. Because spinning takes a lot of concentration, especially the first several hundred metres.

So this was when I started producing actual! yarn! holy! shit! Here's a suite of photos of what I believe to be my first batch of yarn spun on my very own wheel:

The single on the bobbin. I wound it onto my hand Andean style and made it a 2-ply:

This was pre-swift so I skeined it up using my lower arm. It is very lumpy and very unbalanced:

However! It is yarn! !!! !!! In a cute little skein:

This particular skein has now (in the last few days) become the beginning of a shawl. I haven't photographed it yet and I'll probably want to write about it in more detail so hopefully it won't be six weeks until I get around to making a separate post about that.

The Angora Experiment

Years and years ago we bought an angora rabbit. And sheared it. A few times. We then stored the wool very badly so much of it got eaten by moths, but this summer I pulled out the last few bags and stuck them in the freezer for a week. I had to throw away some more of it, but three shearings' worth was still good to use. Success! I've only used one of them so far, and it was 75g to start with. I divided it into heaps of 15g and used different methods to prepare it for spinning. Or rather, I intended to do so, but I quickly discovered that combing is NOT for short, flighty fibres, so I ended up with three batches for my experiment: one carded with dog carders, one with proper carders and one that wasn't prepared at all. My only photo of the prep stage of this experiment is of the stuff I carded with dog carders:

I liked carding with the dog carders; they're lighter and easier to use than the big wooden ones, and the rolags (if I'm allowed to call them that even though I don't roll mine) fit perfectly into icecream tubs. But unless the experience of having spun this lot made a huge difference to how the second lot turned out, the proper carders produce a much better result.

I can't actually tell which of these hanks is which batch. The grey ones are angora and the yellowish ones are the carded batt; the shorter one is the very first and the longer one is the second lot I tried (possibly after I did the angora). The angora yarns are almost, almost balanced! (I have since spun a hank of 30g that is perfectly balanced, and my third hank from the carded batt (a Navajo plied 3-ply) is also balanced. That happened just this week and I was immensely proud when I realised just how amazing it was.)

I can't really tell which one is which in this photo either. In the flesh it's obvious which one I made "straight from the cut" (i.e. without carding) because it's got a LOT of bits and pieces sticking out of it, is even more uneven than the others, etc. It was also even more of a pain to spin. The batch I carded with the proper carders (and spun after the first batch) produced a slightly more even and WAY longer result to approximately the same amount of fibre, but that's the only difference. Other than that, what I learned from that experiment is that angora is not an easy fibre to spin. I will give it a few months before I get back to the other two batches I've got! (Not that I regret trying it as a beginner. It certainly taught me a lot and definitely improved my spinning overall.)

The first hank of angora has been knitted into what was going to be a wristwarmer, but that was a few weeks ago and now I don't know. It's probably too delicate to frog so I'll have to think about what to make of it.

The Leicester Experiment

When I first started with the Leicester wool, I carded it. I didn't do a great job of it (I'm not very good at it, and so I find it tedious and boring) and took no photos, but the yarn turned out all right. I Navajo plied it and am knitting from it today! It's over-plied and a bit lumpy, but the fibre has a certain lustre that is simply gorgeous.

After that attempt I read a Knitty article about working with longwools, and I went, "hmm, that Leicester had awfully long fibres. Maybe it would work better combed?" And then I spent an evening combing. I used a different type of icecream box this time (you can't see it here, but it's a box of 'classic' icecream popsicles; I promised mum I'd put a nice cover paper on it ... eventually):

The combing worked beautifully and was really fun to spin. I Navajo plied that yarn too and it's a little over-plied and again I have no photos (yet). (The toilet rolls with thread on them hold an angora single each. It made a lovely 2-ply; 75m/30g; this is the first perfectly balanced yarn I made, which I mentioned earlier.)

My spinning wheel now has its own corner in my flat. I'm a little busy welcoming new students to Sweden at the moment, but once that settles down I'm very much looking forward to an autumn full of fibre!
lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)

[personal profile] lizcommotion 2014-08-31 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)
GORGEOUS. *pets it*
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)

[personal profile] staranise 2014-08-31 04:38 pm (UTC)(link)
The man in the leather shop may have thought I was a northerner, but

Oh dear. Is that a terrible thing to be mistaken for?

You have a swift. So lucky. *wistful*

Do you think angora produces a nice enough product to be worth all the work?