Karen is ahead of me in just about every way you can think of, not least because invariably when I see her doing something I think, Cool! and follow along behind her. Lucky she's such a good influence.
Yesterday I got to spend nearly two hours at her house, watching her spin and learning her tricks and shortcuts and trying them myself. She uses a slipknot to get the fiber onto the spindle at first, which I hadn't thought of, and she showed me an elegant and effective way to get the new yarn onto the spindle I can't describe here, and how to ply on a spindle.
Best of all, she showed me how to draft yarn before spinning it:
Set the spindle aside altogether,
Pull the roving wide along the entire length of strips already made narrow for spinning
Look for areas where the fibers are a bit thicker than elsewhere and pull those ones longer and
Spin without much further thought.
Not only is this process so incredibly peaceful and soothing that I would gladly do it all day, within seconds of employing this technique my results improved about 600%:
When I saw what I was getting I decided that I should ply the ball I made before I left home with maybe a very thin - matching! - alpaca I have a bump of (once I'm experienced enough to try spinning slippery alpaca.) Because this is working out so nicely I should just ply it with more of the same-quality work.
While thinking about the very cool hat I could make with two such yarn weights I got a little distracted... well, probably just overconfident or do I just plain lazy? - and started to get this:
But at least now I know how to fix it. Thanks Karen!