Monday, 8 February 2010

Less than perfect yarn!

I've borrowed a spinning wheel from our group this week. This evening I enthusiastically washed, dried and carded some of Sheilhope Gruna's lovely wool and then attempted to spin it into yarn. Gruna has a decent staple length and the fibres are very fine. Next time I might give Sheilhope Gula's a try however as it is longer and looks as though it might be a bit more forgiving!

It was my first time going it completely alone and, to be honest, a bit of a disaster! After many false starts where I let it get too thin so that it broke and whizzed around the bobbin, I managed to keep going and use up all of the wool that I had prepared.

I think that my main problem was in the preparation of the wool. Not all of the little bits had come out of it (not enough washing and carding I suppose) and there were odd little bobbly bits too. Do I have to sit and pick out all of these? Or am I doing something wrong in the carding process?

Practice, practice, practice!


Michelle said...

Sounds like you could be getting neps and noils caused by breaking the fibers which then spring back into little balls of fiber; not uncommon with very fine fleeces. Try carding very slowly and carefully, and not too much.

Jenny Holden said...

Ah yes that would make sense. The fleeces from the girls last summer may not be as good as usual because they had been moved such a long way and took a while to get used to their new grazing. The poor things were also soggy wet most of the time! Gruna does have an extremely fine fleece, though I don't have the micron count. Thanks for the tip.

Claire said...

Well I think it's great for your first wheel work, and I think that most of us have trouble initially with going too thin and losing the end. I agree with Michelle's comment that you may be getting nepps and noils.

I also think you have to consider what you're comparing it to...remember that a lot of commercial roving (and pretty much all commercial yarn) has come from fiber that has been put through an acid bath to remove all vegetative matter. It's also been mechanically carded and combed and drafted and is completely different in texture and behaviour to hand-processed fleece. It's probably worth buying a small amount of commercial Shetland roving and spinning that, just to see and feel the differences.

Would you like some Icelandic roving? I'd be happy to send you some so that you can play with that and compare it!

Ivy said...

Not bad for a beginner, make the same amount of the same yarn and put the wheel on "backwards" and twine the two together , you may have enough for a very cosy sock.

Laura said...

You need to save this yarn. Someday, you'll look back on it and wish you could spin lumpy, slubby stuff on purpose!!

Some of what you're encountering may be due to preparation. However, with practice, that can be overcome. The key thing in spinning is to *RELAX* - no white knuckles allowed!! If the yarn breaks, so what? You can get the end and start again. Also, try to visualize (not literally, but by touch) the number of fibers you're drafting out and try to keep that consistent. As well, a good exercise is to treadle in front of the television, not spinning, but just getting a rhythm and keeping the wheel going the same direction all the time.

I find it helpful when I teach spinning to have students practice with commercial yarn - you don't have to worry about drafting the fiber out, just the motions of drafting and feeding. I have them recite this mantra: Draft, follow, feed - draft the fiber out with your front hand, follow the twist back to your back hand with with your front hand, then feed it onto the bobbin.

Another tip - for now, NEVER let the twist get behind your front hand. That will help keep the ropey thing from happening.

Welcome to the spinning sisterhood (and brothers, too).

ladyb1 said...

Remember that "designer wool" is always in demand, and once you get used to spinning then you will find it hard to make lumps and bumps. Knit this lot up into something you can look back at in the future, its what I did (lumpy mittens...)

Ali said...

Hi Jenny
I'd agree that if you start with simple commercial roving it will help you get the rhythm of spinning right first without worrying about the quality of your own fleece. In time with more confidence you'll know how to prepare your fleece for the type of yarn you want to spin.
Ali in Tarbert

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd pass this along, apparently a "loose" scottish beaver?
Thought you'd want to know. This was posted yesterday.

Heidi Perryman
worth a dam