Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pinch. Draft. Slide.

Those three words made months of frustration disappear as the white practice roving--nothing special--twirled into ropey sausages each time I sat down to spin. I felt I would never get the hang of spinning and my quest for sheep to socks would end in failure. Determined to give it another try with coaching from a friend who had first inspired me to take on this project, I invited my fiber friend over for a day. She brought her own wheel, a lovely Lendrum double treadle wheel

Once again she quickly diagnosed I was working with non-functioning equipment--a broken spindle on the Ashford and a loose footman on the Clemes & Clemes. Despite a dab of glue and an overall tightening of nuts and screws on my two borrowed wheels, she set me in front of her wheel, beginning an in-depth instruction as to how each part of the wheel affected take-up, the size of the spun fiber and the types of wheels.  I practiced treadling to understand the motion of just getting the wheel to spin consistently in one direction. With roving in hand under her watchful eye, she began drilling me--pinch, draft, slide. 

Pinch the fiber so the twist happens in front of my fingers and not on the entire string of fiber from which I was to pull the fibers held in the opposite hand--the drafting.  Working in the "triangle" as it was described, after the draft, my pinching fingers were to slide down the fiber releasing the twisted portion to be drawn on to the spindle. Pinch. Draft. Slide. Pedal. And like learning to ride a bike, suddenly the roving was spinning into yarn that actually looked like yarn. 

Once the glue dried on the broken bobbin, the Ashford was back up and functioning properly. I sat down in front of the wheel and over the course of a few hours spun an entire bobbin. Now I was back on the road toward my goal with a new enthusiasm. 

Next up after spinning will be plying, which is twisting two strands of yarn together in the direction opposite in which they were spun. This will involve yet another piece of equipment called a "Lazy Kate" however, I've been told that a shoe box and chopsticks work just as well. 

In the mean time, more woolmakers are being born.....

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