Sunday, 11 March 2012

Spinning up a storm

I first learned to spin around 10 years ago whilst I was studying textile art at Uni. My first experience was on an electric mini spinner and then I moved on to a traditional style single treadle wheel, you know, the fairy tale looking ones a la Sleeping Beauty.
Over the years I have dabbled occasionally; My grandparents sent me over an antique wheel around the same time that I was learning but despite all my best efforts at the time I couldn't make the damn thing work! I now know that I needed to tension the wheel, but back then I had no idea about the workings of a spinning wheel. As far as I was concerned you put your foot on the peddle and you treddle...
Towards the end of 2011 I was presented with an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel in excellent condition for a steal of only $50! You bet your ass I bought it! Much to the disdain of my husband who has been trying to convince me for years to get rid of the other one.
So over the last few months I have dabbled a little again, but recently for our wedding anniversary, said husband bought me a beautiful spalted beech drop spindle and some luscious BFL/ Silk roving.

I wasn't sure about the colours of this wool when I first saw it online, but when it arrived I was totally smitten.
The colours are divine; ranging from silver to fawn to chocolate to deep plum and mauve. Beautiful!

So my new spindle has inspired me to get my spin on again. And I wanted to get some good practice in before I attempted to spin the new roving. I've only ever spun Merino before which I've since learned is crap for a beginner due to its short staple length and tendency to snap when overspun. So I dug out some Corriedale I had in my stash for felting. It had been pre-washed and carded by me last year so it was good to go. I was AMAZED at how easy it was to spin!! Seriously, these fibres seem to go forever and you can spin it so fine!
I have a ball of Merino/ Silk I spun about a year ago. It's pretty dodgy to say the least. But lately I've been intrigued by Navajo plying, I mean, as far as I can tell it's kinda like taking a shortcut in plying and I'm all for shortcuts. It's in my lazy nature. So thanks to the wonders of YouTube I watched a few video tutorials and decided to have a crack at it. Obviously my first attempts are ordinary at best, but this is so freaking awesome! Ingenious!
Front, Merino. Rear, Corriedale. Both Navajo plied

So I went ahead and plied the Merino/ Silk, just for funsies. I ended up with approx 30 yards of super bulky weight yarn. I was initially planning to knit some fingerless mitts with this yarn, then last night I thought a neck warmer. I knit it up on 10mm needles and there isn't enough :-( So I'll have to ponder on another purpose for this.

After a little maintenance on the wheel (the Conrod joint snapped. Who even know it was called a Conrod joint?! By the way, an old leather belt cut into a 2 inch strip did the job just fine!) I decided I was ready to take on the BFL/ Silk.

Did I mention the colours are AMAZING!

The silk glides like butter through my fingers. The BFL is a little more hard work, but those fibres spin so beautifully. I don't know that I'd ever go back to spinning Merino again! Not for a while anyhow...

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