The last installment of my day spinning with Eleanor. I’m sure you’re glad it’s almost all over with.
No pictures. In the excitement of the day I forgot to take my camera out of my bag.
As I said in an earlier post, little time was spent with Max. Eleanor approved of the fleece, and she spun a few locks. (She was using her Babe wheel because it was handy. She thinks it’s a good little wheel for doing demos and conferences: lightweight to carry around, doesn’t show the marks if you bang it against a door, doesn’t show fingerprints. Not pretty, but quite functional. Would be a good beginner wheel, I think, if you don’t want to invest in a piece of furniture. You can get the furniture at a later date when interest and finances allow.)
As a simple-minded person with no experience spinning fleece, I wasn’t grokkin’ the finer points of spinning from a lock. I’d read about spinning from the tip as opposed to the cut or butt end of the lock in Margaret Stove’s book on spinning fine threads. She just takes a washed lock, tears off the very ends of the tip, and spins.
Not for this mere mortal. I tried it with some merino locks (not Max), but I didn’t get it. I ended up with a tangled mass in my hand no matter which end I used. Some practice is obviously required. (Her method for washing fleece lock by lock does work, though. No felted locks.)
Every fibre of a sheep’s fleece has scales on it, as most of you know. If you spin from the tip, you are kinda spinning against the scales. If you spin from the butt, the scales flatten down: that’s probably why most people spin from the butt. (I dunno why Stove spins the single “against the grain” as it were, but maybe that little bit of resistance makes it easier to draft merino really finely. She then plies from the butt end ofthe single -- if you squint and think about it, it makes sense -- and smooths the yarn down.)
We tried spinning the locks as Stove does, and also by opening the lock by raking it through a handcard. I found it easier to spin an opened lock, though I still ended up with a tangled mass in my hand. (Maybe I don’t hold it right?) In the end, attenuating the lock to a roving worked best for me.
Today I went back at it.
I opened the butt end of a lock on a card.
Then the tip.
Then elongated it.
Spindle-spun and plied it, using my Bosworth 0.37 ounce (11 gram) highwhorl*. Steamed the skein. Here’s the resulting yarn.
2 ply: 133 inches, or 3 yards, 25 inches. (About 3.4 meters.) Incredible, to my mind, to get that much from that 1 lock. No wonder Margaret Stove says spinning 12 locks is an evening’s work. (Yes, that's a penny.)
It wouldn’t be up to Stove’s standard, I expect, but still. Of course it’s easy to spin 133 inches of yarn that fine. The real challenge is spinning 1 mile of it.
One of the things I’ve noted with the fleece is that the locks are different colours. I think you can see that in these 2 locks: the one on the left is darker. If I combed the locks, they could be blended. If I spin it from locks, the yarn will be variegated. Not a problem for me, but it might bother some people.
* I used the Bosworth a bit unhappily because my other lightweight spindles were in use. <ahem!> In the past, I’ve not worked with this tool much, because I’ve not liked its performance. Spinning with yarn this fine, though, it worked really well, which suggests that the past problems were not with the tool, but rather with the operator – likely trying to spin yarn too heavy for the tool. I wish, though, they’d re-engineer the whorl so it spun longer.
In Other News
I’m not in the practice of noting on my blog when I’ve received a gift from somebody. It’s not that I don’t enjoy receiving them, or that I am not appreciative. Gifts, to me, are personal and I don’t feel a need to post about them. However, if Lars is going to promote Fleece Artist yarns*, I will show these nice twists of wool/silk roving I received from Danny. (Check out his hat pattern.)
The bottom twist shows as red on my monitor, but it’s actually pink: flamingo or bubblegum. It’s quite something.
All hell will be breaking loose at work this week and I expect it to continue for the next few weeks. Don’t expect another post until after my vacation, okay?
Have a wonderful couple of weeks, everyone.
* And, yo, Lars, what is this “There’s hope for Canada yet” gig? I mean, are we that far gone up here that we’re only hopefully salvageable?