The life so short, the crafts so long to learn--Geoffrey Chaucer
Every day, as I go about my fiber business, I find something on which to improve and something wonderful that heretofore escaped my notice.
Once that stops, I'm a dead woman. No flowers, please.
This Spinning Life
My day begins (and often ends) at one of my spinning wheels. This was not always so. For a few years after I bought my first wheel, the wheel languished as I unsuccessfully tried and failed to spin a merino/silk/angora blend that no beginner should attempt, gave up, started again, and failed again.
But I'm nothing if not stubborn. My late husband was fond of calling me "the original headbanger" because I'll keep at something until I get it right. This can be a most annoying habit, I suppose. However, it's stood me in good stead.
A few of us have been having an e-mail conversation on what's the best wheel to buy (Franklin) and who's a closet spinner (Carol). So I'm writing this for them and for those out there in the ether who are thinking about spinning or just starting.
Here's my very first skein of plyed wool, done just two years ago:
Pretty bad. But I plyed two skeins of this "novelty" yarn and I have a great fondness for both of them, simply because they are first efforts. The wpi is 10. And I might still knit them--maybe a hat.
But at some point over the past two years, brain connected with hands. I realized that if I wanted to become proficient, I needed to spin every day. So I did and do. And here is what I learned that may help you become a better spinner right off the bat. However you draft, these hold true.
- Don't grip the fiber; support it. If you clench your hand around the fiber mass, you can't draft and it becomes a fight. Let the fibers slip out freely so that your drafting hand can control them. As Mabel Ross said, "If all the fibers are under the control of one hand or the other, drafting is easy."
- Draft the same amount of fiber into the twist.
- Start with as little tension as possible. All you need is enough for take-up onto the bobbin.
- Be consistent in your spinning rhythm. Treadle evenly as you measure your fibers going into the twist.
- When you ply, tension is everything. Tension on the lazy kate, tension on the wheel.
- Plying will hide small inconsistencies but not big ones.
Spinning is really a courtly dance, a gavotte if you will. So after learning these lessons and putting the dance steps together, I can now spin this:
This is the Starry Night, 18 wpi. My critical eye tells me that I can learn to ply even more consistently. However, the more I do, the better I get. This wpi is categorized as "laceweight." I would say perhaps a fine fingering weight.
I think Starry Night will become a shawl. I can't see it as a sweater.
If this left-handed klutz can spin, so can you.
Wedding Ring Cometh and Melanie Woes
Haven't had much time the past two days to knit because I've been working with a headhunter who called me regarding an editing gig. So it's been a flurry of phone calls, e-mails and writing samples. But I did get the gossamer merino from Sharon Miller for the Wedding Ring shawl.
This shit is thin. I mean, really threadish. Loopy's already worked her sample swatches in the cotton and silk with much agony and finally success with the merino. I ordered the merino off the bat because I didn't want to make the shawl in either silk or cotton.
Look at this stuff. Boggles the mind.
It makes the Jaggerspun Zephyr I'm using for the Melanie feel like Lopi. I had been struggling with the decreases on the Melanie and went to my lace guru, Ted, for advice. He saved my sorry ass and I'm once more back on track. Should have some pictures either Monday or Wednesday.
Corinne has picked out her flowers, more or less. And they will complement the shawl beautifully. Now I just need to get some mileage on it over the next few weeks.
I'm a rare and handy Mommy to knit this shawl for my Bumbawoo (childhood nickname, have no idea where it came from).