One of the problems I’m having in the studio is pacing myself. I want to try everything, all at once, while simultaneously mastering every detail. (I think there’s a contradiction inherent to this sentiment.)
Lately, I’ve been drawn to the allure of fiber preparation. Not having any raw fiber handy, I consoled myself with combing together an ounce apiece of baby camel down and tussah silk. I took to my trusty Ashford spindle with the resulting globs of fluff. I think this will turn into a weft yarn for a warp of some leftover Tencel that I have lying around.
I used a dog slicker for the actual blending. Here’s a comparison of the fibers before spinning:
I’ve also been trying to learn different methods of drafting on the spinning wheel. Strangely enough, I’ve got my antique wheel to a point of relative stability, and it’s spinning well. I’m still planning to take the flyer in for a permanent repair as soon as possible, but with a little bit of shimming here and there, things are moving just fine.
I’m comfortable with a couple of different drafting techniques on a spindle, but the options for wheel spinning are numerous and new to me. I’m working my way through the techniques in the DVD A Spinner’s Toolbox, and discovered that what I’ve been doing naturally is actually a variant of woolen spinning. (When I heard Judith MacKenzie say that everyone is either a worsted spinner or a woolen spinner, it was as the footsteps of doom. Worsted spinning seems the logical choice for most of the projects I want to make. But this long-draw thing is… weirdly compelling.)
In fact, spinning with a short forward draw at all presents me with some ergonomic challenges. Why? Well, on my wheel, the mother-of-all on my wheel sits to the left, and I treadle with the right foot. But my hands are used to spindle spinning, where I hold the fiber in my left hand and draft with the right.
The technique I’ve slipped into could be classed as an attenuated long draw. It’s not ideal for what I want to do (spin warp yarn), but it should work.
I’ll still probably have to figure out how to draft left-handed– not a bad idea in any case– but I think it will take some time to get my hands coordinated.
This is the resulting yarn, before washing:
I did whip up a woven sample with some of the wheel-spun yarn. This was a one-morning warping job: 60 ends go fast. I took the opportunity to work on my plain weave, which is a surprisingly challenging thing. Any unevenness in the beat or selvedges sticks out like a sore thumb.
Since the warp was short, and I was weaving at ten picks per inch, I had the sample off the loom and into the bathtub in no time.
I can’t actually wear much wool (due to a strong inclination to sneeze), so this will remain in the Basket of Interesting Experiments, but I do have an official Finished Project to share. I’ve been knitting this hat on the sly as a gift:
I’m surprised to find that I really enjoy knitting stranded colorwork. Innumerable possibilities present themselves.
Now, it’s time to get ready for the Tour de Fleece. More to come!