Posts tagged ‘spinning wheel’
Over the last few days I’ve been spinning up a few ounces of wool from roving that I dyed turquoise with touches of indigo and brown. For the fun and challenge of it, I decided to spin fine, aiming for a yarn that would meet the criteria for the Fall Fiber Festival’s laceweight handspun category.(http://www.fallfiberfestival.org).
Here is my yarn:
It’s two ply, with 460 yards in the skein, and weighs about 2 1/2 ounces. I spun it on my Schacht Matchless, equipped with the high speed whorl and bobbin. It’s not perfect yarn, and I might be able to spin even finer if I put my mind to it, but I wanted a yarn I would be willing to knit with, and much finer than this, it gets hard for me to see what I’m doing! Also, I didn’t want to completely loose the color variations in the roving.
You don’t have to have high-speed attachments or years and years of spinning experience to spin yarn that could be considered “laceweight” (which is, after all, a category that includes everything from frog hair to just under fingering weight!). But it does take a while. The thinner your yarn, the more twist it needs to hold together. To get more twist, you either use a high ratio, or treadle faster and reduce the pull-in, so the fiber you are drafting has enough time to get sufficient twist before being wound onto the bobbin. Fine singles take a lot of twist, and can also fool you sometimes, in that they can have just enough twist to wind on the bobbin, but fall apart later while being plied. So the first thing to do for spinning a fine singles is to set up with the highest ratio you have available, and figure out how fast you have to treadle, and how little draw you need, to get the yarn to spin with sufficient twist and wind on the bobbin with ease.
You should also pay attention to the fiber you are using, and how it is prepared. While shorter staple lengths are ideally spun fine, if you’re new to spinning lace weight yarns, it will be easier to draft and get good results with a medium-long fiber. Likewise, stay away from slippery fibers to begin with, and make sure your prepared fiber is smooth and free of neps. I used an ordinary, relatively soft but not slippery all wool roving and found it easy to work with. To make drafting go smoothly, I first separated it into smaller, pencil-sized lengthwise strips, like this:
Then I began to spin. You have to train yourself to go slow, and to draft only a few inches at a time and allow plenty of twist to build up before you let the yarn wind on. Check your newly spun singles from time to time to make sure you’re keeping a consistent rhythm (let them ply back on themselves before going through the orifice. ) Here you can see my drafting zone:
And that’s how it’s done… slowly, patiently. Relax. unwind. You’ll get there… just don’t forget to move the yarn on your flyer hooks regularly so it winds on your bobbin evenly (’cause it can really be a problem to unwind if you don’t). For two-ply, you can spin half your fiber on two different bobbin, or do it the hard way and spin it all on one, like I did. You’ll notice there’s still some room on the bobbin when I stopped spinning last night:
That’s because plied yarn always takes up more space than singles, and I wanted to make sure I could get the two-ply back on this bobbin. After I took this picture, I wound the yarn into a center-pull ball on my yarn winder, tied the two ends together, and called it a day.
Today I plied. If you’ve never plied from both ends of a center pull ball, practice with thicker yarn before you try it with lace, as the singles yarn is energized (i.e., has a lot of twist in it), and you have to keep on top of it to avoid making a kinky tangled mess. But that’s how I did it (I like not having any orphan singles left on a bobbin, and I’ve plied this way for years). Here is the full bobbin of two-ply:
See how it’s fuller than the singles? Same fiber, same bobbin, just more air space in yarn that has been plied. So when I was done I wound it into a skein and soaked it in warm water to set the twist. Here is a close-up picture of the yarn with a penny so you can get an idea of the scale:
And that’s it – my “laceweight” yarn. Though with less than 500 yards, I’m not sure what I’m going to be able to knit with it. I’ll have to check yardage on lace shawl patterns and see what I can come up with. But first I’m sending this skein in for the fiber festival!
I promised to post pictures of the custom painting touches that I put on my new Mach 1. Usually I prefer to take photos outside in natural light, but today it rained ALL DAY. Great for the plants, so I didn’t mind a bit (I actually love rainy days), but as a result these photos were taken inside, with a flash. I’ll put up better ones in Flickr when the weather cooperates, but for now…. on with the show:
… and there she is. I added a thin round piece of wood to make the yarn ball – that’s not a regular part of the standard wheel. It’s attached in a manner that’s easy to remove and doesn’t interfer with any of the working parts.
I’ve never given any of my wheels a name, but for some reason I think this lady deserves one. Any ideas?
Finally the finish is dry, the house is quiet, and I’ve got time to put the Mach 1 back together and give her a whirl! If you get one of these wheels unfinished, PLEASE learn from my mistake and take CAREFUL notes of where every little spring and washer and e-clip is supposed to go. I found out the hard way that Mike carefully assembles and calibrates each wheel individually, so one wheel may have two washers where another has three, and so on. Also, those little springs held on by e-clips? They can be mighty hard to find when your hand slips as you’re slipping that e-clip back on. (can we say “projectile). Several hours and three phone calls to Mike later, and I have her up and spinning. Some of my trouble, I believe, has to do with the fact that the wheel was assembled in a dry climate, then spent three unfinished weeks sitting around my house in Virginia, where humidity is hoving around 70% (and I haven’t been running the AC the last few weeks either). That made the wood parts really hold on to the metal, and caused me to have to do a good bit of hammer-banging that might otherwise have been avoided. I also got one of the last wheels to ship BEFORE the owner’s manual was ready, so I was working without diagrams or directions. But anyway, I finished, she spins, and I spent the next hour unstressing on my front porch plying up this:
One ply is handspun superwash that changes color at random, rather long intervals, joined with rayon seed yarn and spiral-plied with black wool/nylon. All 380 unbroken yards weighing 8 1/2 ounces on ONE BOBBIN! yes, Yes, YES! That’s what I’m talking about! EIGHT ounces on ONE bobbin! Here’s how it looks in a skein:
I could knit with this and get stripes, but I spun it thinking that I might be able to use it on a tri-loom (triangle loom), or a rectangular scarf loom. I need to figure out which, and what size, I could get from this much yarn, and then built the loom. Another day. First I need to spin some more, and put the finishing decorative touches on my new Mach 1 so I can post those pictures tomorrow!
Several months ago I heard of a new spinning wheel called the Mach 1, made by Spinolution in California(http://www.spinolution.com/Page_2.html) that seemed to combine all kinds of wonderful features that I’d been looking for, like huge bobbins and no orifice, with some new features like a rocker-style double treadle and toe brakes (brakes?) that were really intriguing. The reviews were great, the price affordable, and so I thought, “I’ve got to have one” — and even more “I’ve got to become a dealer if these wheels are as great as people say they are!” And so that is what I did! The wheel comes unfinished or with a basic finish, but the sellers like dealers to get the unfinished one and have the experience of finishing themselves. And so that is what I’ve been doing:
Here you see the partially-disassembled wheel drying from it’s second coat of tung oil. When that was dry, I got out the artist paints and dolled it up a bit. Those additions are still drying – you’ll have to wait for another day to see the final result!
I’m working on developing a line of spinning fibers with upcycled/recycled content, and today I spent part of the day dyeing roving to coordinate with a recyled add-in. While I have a drum carder, I want to have several pounds of four different fibers to offer, and so I’m getting it all ready to send off to be blended and carded into roving. I’m excited about the concept and the colors/blends that I’m putting together — I can’t wait to get it back, spin it up… oh wait, I haven’t even packed it up to ship yet!