Sunday, October 8, 2006

Revised Spinning

First, before I go on and on about the Guild meeting & stuff, here's the purple yarn I ended up with from the last post. It's not nearly as bright, but it's a pleasing effect. I spun 2oz of both a bright purple and a grey purple, then plied them together. There were about 6 or 8 yards plied left over of the grey purple, so I gave that to a friend who knits for her to play with. I think this will be one of my submissions to a spinners' swap that will take place next year.

So anyway. Guild.

Saturday was my second meeting with the Nutmeg Spinners' Guild. I brought a good friend (Dragonmaille, who I've mentioned in the past) with me...she showed up as a guest, and within an hour decided to go whole hog and register as a full member. I love having RL friends who spin. :)

DM and I were among the only people who weren't doing the workshop that day, so we set up our chairs toward the back of the room and pulled out our drop spindles. DM is new to spinning, and I've been spinning about a year. I was able to help her get started (indeed, I think I'm the reason she started in the first place...sorry, DM's husband) but honestly, I muddled through a lot of this on my own, and my technique isn't the best. Or wasn't, until Saturday.

Soon after we got settled, another woman came in. I vaguely recognized her, but figured I'd seen her at a previous meeting. She grabbed a chair, announced that she was 'going to sit right here next to these girls' and quickly struck up a conversation with us. She praised DM's wonderfully even single (makes me JEALOUS, I tell you; that girl has been spinning for a tenth of the time I have and her stuff looks better than mine did until like six months in), showered both of us with encouragement and generally exuded an aura of 'ultimate spinner' that was pretty impossible to resist.

However, it wasn't until she produced her own (tiny) spindle and set it twirling by running it along her leg instead of the wrist-wrenching motion DM and I used that it clicked for me just HOW I knew her. She was L, the woman I credit (blame?) with truly making me WANT to spin.

Back when I learned how to knit, my husband took me to my first real Yarn Shop. We were greeted and led around the store by an energetic, enthusiastic slip of a woman who had awesome hair (no really, it defies description) and seemed to know just what to show me. At one point, she showed me a hand spindle and described the process of hand spinning. I left with two balls of yarn and a fierce desire to find out more about this cost-effective method that I hadn't known was available.

A year later, after I've spent this time learning the craft and becoming obsessive about fiber, who should sit down with us but that herald of handspinning, the lady who made me realize I COULD spin (and gosh wasn't it fun), L. She laughed when I blurted out, "It's YOUR fault I spin!"

From there, she REALLY started to help us out. I watched her work on some wool samples she was thinking of buying. It was impossible not to notice her techniques and compare them to my own. Everything she did seemed effortless, which only was fair, since she'd been spinning for much longer than I. However, what could I learn from her? I don't know many other drop spindle spinners in real life.

To show the difference, here is a little collage that shows the difference one afternoon made in my spinning. First is a pic you've seen before, from my last batch of this fiber from Yarnpunk. Next is my new spindle, with a new batch of the same stuff. On the bottom, you see the new spindle next to a ball of the first batch, which REALLY shows the difference. I think my new yarn will be thinner PLIED than my singles from the first batch. HUGE difference.

Now, if you've made it this far, here are the tips I learned and would like to share with other hand spinners who are at the same 'kinda-got-it-but-need-more-guidance' stage:

1. Instead of twisting the spindle with your fingers, roll it against your thigh. This puts a powerful spin on it, without the jarring movement of wrenching your wrist. It's especially good on heavy spindles, but works for light ones as well. For a standard z-twist single, roll it from knee to hip; for s-twist, roll it from hip to knee.

2. Get a new spindle if necessary. I love my Ashford that I received through a secret pal exchange, but it was too heavy for the yarn I wanted to produce. I found a lightweight bloodwood-topped top-whorl spindle that let me spin yarn so fine it brought tears to my eyes. I kid you not. The benefit: the Ashford is ideal for plying, while the new one is better for spinning. The other benefit: I don't have to worry if one is full and I want to spin something different. :) The other other benefit: now my husband can learn on a spindle and I don't have to give up the one I'm using. :D

3. Learn to draft while you spin. No, really. I have been a yearlong advocate of pre-drafting, but I don't know if I can even go back to that now. There is nothing like seeing how much control you can have over the thickness of the yarn.

4. Don't draft too close to the spindle, and don't keep your hands too close together. I didn't see how holding my hadns farther apart would help, but help it did. Loosening up my grip also made a huge difference; rather than losing control of the roving, I had a much greater control and could spin MUCH finer singles.

And that, my dears, concludes my long rambling post about how kickass it is to run into the people who inspire you to do something in the first place.

The end.

1 comment:

Dulcinea said...

Thanks for the tips! I'm exactly at that know-what-I'm-meant-to-do-just-not-quite-how-to-do-it stage with handspinning. As I've never seen anyone else spin, every stage of the process takes a lot of trial and error. So every hint I can glean from blogs is another shove in the right direction - thank you