Monday, July 4, 2011

Tour de Fleece: adventures in spinning

The Tour de France started Saturday but I started spinning in earnest on Friday, double checking everything I learned last week to be sure I could actually produce something viable with my wheel.

Saturday's work doesn't look viable to me in terms of yarn - there is a lot of thick and thin, all at unpredictable intervals...

... but it has a reasonable amount of twist and it wound onto the bobbin, so it seems I have the basics down.

Sunday, I spun the rest of my learner's fiber (thus launching the worry about what colourway I will make the least of today) and instead of leaving the singles on the bobbin I wound it, as I had the first, with my ball winder.

In theory this was to help with plying later, but in fact I just didn't have the energy to look up again how to attach a leader and had to keep my sole bobbin-with-leader free.  Noting those instructions is today's job, or possibly tomorrow's.

Having got this far, I decided to ignore the value of letting the twist rest for a day, and prepared to ply.

In The Intentional Spinner, Judith MacKenzie McCuin suggests not using the lazy kate that comes with my Ashford Joy as it's not set at a great angle for plying, but to use some other version - even if it's just long steel knitting needles run through one side of a box, through the bobbins, and through the other side of the box.

Here is my version:

The diecast John Deer tractor replica is there to keep the box from shifting; it was the heaviest thing I could find that would fit inside, and if it weren't for the yarn occasionally catching on the wheels it would have been  a perfect choice.

I can't say I will repeat this plying setup, wheel-catching aside; there was a lot of yarn twisting around the needle business that slowed me down.  However, the slowdowns inspired this brilliant tool:

Need to take a break from plying for moment, either to detangle yarn from a needle or to resolve some crisis or other?  Just clamp off the twist with a clothespeg.

At this point I made I think my best discovery about the Joy, and one I will pursue with my next full bobbin: if you disengage the cable thingy and turn the wheel sideways, you can quickly and comfortably spin the singles or plied yarn onto your fingers for a neat little ball.   Without ever leaving the porch where you've sat happily enjoying the way birdsong blends with a treadled wheel, swoon.

This results in a ball you can stuff into a little sealable plastic bag with a hole poked into the side for the end to feed out of while plying.  Ha! Take that, box pierced with steel knitting needles.

They may not make for gauge-consistent knitting, but aren't these pretty?

And now back to pondering what on earth I will spin today (and hoping that is my biggest problem.)  Have fun yourself - especially any Americans, wherever you might be, on your country's special day!


Kathleen Taylor said...

The yarn is beautiful! And people pay a lot of money for thick 'n thin yarn!

As for tying a new leader on a bobbin: I just use a length of yarn- 24" or so (any yarn, handspun or otherwise), and tie it snugly around the bobbin, and then thread the leader through the orifice and go. It'll wear out eventually, but you can just replace it with more yarn.

justmeandtwo said...

That yarn looks scrumptious! Great job! =)

Yarn Envy said...

that yarn looks like it was made for a simple squishy cowl or hat. I love the colors. I love the texture that thick and thin yarn makes.

Yay tour de fleece. What team are you on?

Mary Keenan said...

Yarn Envy - I was thinking cowl too! and maybe cuffs for a matching pair of handwarmers, if I have enough left. With a cowl it doesn't matter so much about some rows being wider and taller than others, heh.

Re. TdF teams, I'm on Hopelessly Overcommitted and Suck Less, because I need to ;^)

Yarn Envy said...

lol I probably should have joined that one too, but I only signed up for Team Phat. I wish I would have jumped on several others like the team spindlers.