So, armed with my trusty cotswold roving (slidey is good!) I approached the wheel. There was a “Dirty Harry” feeling in the air, and the wheel said “You’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?” I drew my roving and fired.
Ok, thank you for letting me wax ridiculous for a moment, but all drama aside it was time to re-attempt the wheel. As I’ve mentioned before, on my first attempt(s), the wheel got the better of me. This time however, I’m confident I’ll succeed. I shall treadle slowly and not rush. I shall draft, and I shall make yarn! My ultimate goal is to create enough yarn to ply and to actually knit something out of it.
Speaking of knitting, I’ve been learning that too. Already I have multiple projects “on the needles”. Why does a brand new knitter have multiple projects on the needles already you may ask? Because I’m stupid. Well, uneducated anyway. The problem was, I kept starting things that were not the greatest things to start. I started a hat. A hat is not all that difficult…unless you use almost black singles. Now I have good vision, but unless I was sitting in broad daylight I couldn’t see the stitches. I had started this project while traveling in the car (hey, it was a good excuse to get out of driving). In the car, broad daylight was readily available. Car rides don’t last forever though, and once inside I had realized the error of my way.
So, I picked up some new yarn at the LTLYS – that’s the “Less Than Local Yarn Store” – it’s about 70 miles away - and since we have lots of needles, I picked up a new set and got busy. The yarn I chose was fingering weight alpaca tweed. It’s a nice natural brown color with a thin white ply. It’s very pretty, super soft, and since it’s for a hat, alpaca ought to be just the ticket for warmth. So, what’s the problem? It turns out that the thin white ply is a very loose ply, and I had a seriously difficult time keeping the needles from going between the plies.
The solution? “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”! If I can’t use a store-bought yarn to make what I want, then by golly I’ll just make my own.
Back to spinning. You can see here the results of my first round with the wheel. Did I win, or did the wheel win? As I have a ball of yarn at my disposal, I’m going to make the decision in my favor, but I’ll let you judge for yourself (no snickering!).
Now, I have to say that I did not do this on my own. I had a private spinning instructor assist and guide me (being married to an experienced spinner has perks). The first thing I learned was to make sure the drive band was on the largest whorl – this is to insure that the wheel spins slowly. Another handy tip was to play with the leader to adjust the tension before you get started.
Actually, to go slow enough, my instructor spun the wheel by hand at first, and as I was able to pick up speed, she worked the treadle. Once I gained a little confidence, I took control of the treadle. I was also taught two different drafting methods – the “short forward draft” and “long draw”. I found the short forward draft to be easier, so that’s what I stuck with. If you know somebody that’s a good spinner, having them hold your hand the first time is a real help.
Here are the results of my second ball of yarn. I decided to use some of our home grown sherino (shetland x merino cross) fleece this time for a nice color variety. I really like the tweed yarn I bought, so I’m going to try to reproduce the effect. This time, I was on my own - just me and the wheel, mano-a-mano. The battle with the wheel was long and well fought on both sides, and I believe the roving was conspiring with the wheel against me, but victory was mine. (I said no snickering!)
Plying was my next task. Plying is something I’ve never done before so I was a little apprehensive. Surely it couldn’t be as tough as spinning? I think I managed to do a good job.
Keeping the twist on the plied yarn just right took a little practice but was easy to get the hang of. The wheel tried to get a couple of parting shots in – I’m sure I set the tension right so that the plied yarn would take up easily, but I think the wheel loosened itself when I wasn’t looking. I hate it when equipment gets uppity.
It’s been a great day for spinning, and my confidence is running high. I feel just like I did on graduation day. I’m ready to take on the world. Or, at least the spinning wheel.
Editors Note: Beaus final skein was perfectly balanced!