Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Poem (or Song)

Here is a link to a spinning poem/song I found on the Web site of the Hampshire (England) guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Grease Monkey

Spinning is social activity - don't let those embarrassing squeaks from your wheel spoil your evening. Different wheels have different points where you should lube them. Some wheels have manuals and other references to help. I found a guide for my Ashford Traditional wheel at http://www.ashford.co.nz/spinning/spinning-frameset.htm - specifically a guide on where to oil it! It was a bit trickier for my Louet Victoria - it came with instructions but no mention of oiling it. I couldn't find any information on the Louet Web site, http://www.louet.com/. A good retailer can be an important source of advice, and I had been told that it had sealed bearings and wouldn't need oiling. Since it was squeaking a bit, though, I wanted find out if oiling might help. I found this page http://www.bountifulspinweave.com/louetwheels.htm which corroborated the no lube instruction. That goes to show - LISTEN to experts, such as Linda at Misty Mountain Farms (thank you, Linda!). It seemed to me the treadles were squeaking and I think it's safe to oil parts except the sealed bearings, so I oiled the joints of the treadle axles. You can see a treadle below in the first picture. I oiled where the black metal part is joined to the treadle. I also oiled the joint where the right treadle is connected to the con rod, which you can see in the second picture below. My last piece of advice on this - don't go overboard with the oil. Listen to the wheel and determine what's making the squeak before dousing it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

End Result - The Sequel

I did more research to determine whether it's important to spin from a specific end of the fiber. I split a sliver of fiber into two parts, then deliberately spun from one end of the first part and the opposite end of the second part. In other words, part one was <======<, and part two was, >=====>. I did not detect a significant difference in how they spun up. What did make a different was pre-drafting the fiber. Pre-drafting seemed to me to make it easier to spin quickly. I think it also made it easier to avoid slubs. I know, Sue told me - and she was right!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kay Anderson, Spinning in Scotland

Check out this great 9 minute video on uTube, of a woman demonstrating spinning. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOM7YvzGl3Y&feature=related

It's rich with information - it shows her choosing a fleece, carding, and demonstrating a couple of different methods of using a spinning wheel, like the long draw. She even uses the word "rolag" - go ahead, look it up, you know you want to!

Note: I had problems with the video sound volume, so I had to turn up my speakers. You may too.


So this is finished product - the brown and white I spun and plied myself. It's mostly wool with some silk. The brown was wool, and the white fiber was a blend of wool and silk. I am thinking about using it for a hat or a scarf. The other photo is also yarn I spun myself. It's not plied, so it's referred to as singles.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

End Result...

I tried two of the fibers I have, to figure out whether there was a right end and wrong end to draft from. That is, whether one end would be easier, therefore the correct end to draft from. My humble opinion, um, not really any difference. This is likely to be highly dependent on how the fiber was prepared. So I plan to keep the principle in mind. When I am working with a new fiber, I think it's a good idea to pre-draft a bit from each end, and if one proves easier, draft and spin from that end.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Right End and Wrong End

I read in a book that there was a right end and a wrong end to fiber - an end you should draft from and the, well, the other end. I haven't found the book reference (perhaps I will find and post the title later), but I did find a reference on the Web. Check out http://www.rollinghillsalpacas.com/fiberspinning.html
Some great information on alpacas, and the site references The Joy of Handspinning. With drum carded or commercially processed fiber, you should draft from the end that pulls out more easily - that simple! At least it seems to be...I've got fiber to practice with, and I'll post my experience trying to detect a difference.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Slippery Slope

I first experienced spinning only about a year ago. At a small fiber festival I saw spinning supplies and I was interested in trying to spin. I wasn't convinced it was for me, and I didn't want to invest a lot. I bought a book, a drop spindle, and some fiber to practice with. That was a basic recipe for disaster, since I just couldn't catch on to the principles of spinning and controlling the drop spindle. It can be rough going. But, judge for yourself - here are links to some good videos on using a drop spindle:

Since my initial experience with the drop spindle, I started hanging out with knitters at Nature's Yarns in Fairfax, Virginia. A spinning group meets there too, and as with knitters, all are extremely generous with their knowledge, resources, and supplies. I was coaxed into trying a spinning wheel. I was intimidated, and uptight about spinning in front of the entire group, and the result was not good. But I am tenacious (some would call it bull-headed, but not to my face...), and I eventually tried the spinning wheel again. Somewhere along the line I got hooked - and became the proud owner of a second-hand wheel, an Ashford Traditional double-drive.

There is no doubt - on this journey, it is the influence of other enthusiasts that has made the difference. Everyone in the spinning group has done something to bring me into the fold and share their passion - they have lent me wheels, sold me equipment, given me fiber to spin, laughed with me, and explained and demonstrated techniques. I really want to thank all my mentors in the group! If you're a new spinner or want to learn, find mentors! If you are already a spinner and a mentor, you deserve huge thanks.

NOTE: I'm still horrible using a drop spindle.

Why Spin?

Your mileage may vary, but I sure love spinning. Why?
  • Socializing I love an opportunity to chat and joke while I have something to occupy my hands.
  • Creativity I can create decorative yarns with unique colors and textures for my knitting.
  • Economy I have found that you can save some money spinning your own yarn for your fiber projects. And, for the same money, you get to enjoy the fiber while spinning, and again while knitting it up or whatever.
  • Equipment Right now I'd better admit to being somewhat into the technology. I have had quite a bit of fun comparing the way different spinning wheels work and the comparative advantages. What I really appreciate, though, are the simplicity of the mechanisms and the ingenuity of the designs.
  • Challenge For me spinning presents an enjoyable challenge as I learn about different fiber blends and spinning techniques.


Welcome to Twist & Shout, the journey of a new spinner. I was introduced to spinning through knitting, and I hope I can inspire you by sharing some of my experiences and insights. I'm dedicating this blog to Sue H., who inspired me to spin!