Monday, March 16, 2009

My Epiphany Weekend

I was going to say this weekend’s spinning workshop was a revelation but it was really more of an epiphany. It was good, solid, basic spinning stuff. You’ve got to have the basics to go farther faster (and have fewer frustrations!).

I have been spinning for a number of years, as I’ve said, but what knowledge I had was so basic it wasn’t even basic, as I’m now discovering. Well, discovering. I really knew it but just hadn’t had the opportunity to do anything about it.

I was amazed that things I had read in spinning articles or spinning books that would have made my eyes glaze over because they meant as much to me as this: Я ничего не знаю о прядения шерсти.

I know what language it is but couldn’t save my life with it.

Last night when I got home, I picked up the handy little Interweave press spiral booklet about spinning – one of those everything your wanted to know, etc.-type books – and…wait for it…understood it! I still get woolen vs worsted mixed up but even that was helped by Barb Brown equating worsted with a worsted men’s suit. Strong, long, smooth wool to make up a sturdy material. That stuck, Barb! Thanks!

I learned to Andean ply, a long-term mystery that I can now see why people suggest it to ply singles from a drop spindle. Epiphany.

I learned why twists per inch and understanding crimp structure is important to creating an optimum yarn for whatever wool type you’re spinning.

I learned how a walking wheel, or great wheel, works. Not that I had any success with it but they assure me that’s because the wool we were using had too much lanolin in it and it wasn’t drafting properly.

In learning about the walking wheel, I also learned the principle behind how the charkha works (same sort of spindle). Very cool but still a little intimidating.

I learned why it’s good for the singles to be slightly overspun and why some of my yarn looked almost unplied after I underspun the ply and then set the twist (both relax the yarn).

I learned how to tell if I’ve got too much twist in my ply or not enough (look at direction of twist in a hank of yarn – if it hangs with no twist, it’s balanced; if it hangs with a ‘z’ twist – depending on direction of ply – tells you whether you’ve over or under twisted the ply.) I didn’t know that and that’s a good thing to know.

I learned how to figure out how much handspun you’re going to need for a project. That’s a useful piece of information worth the price of admission alone! Can’t tell you how often I’ve had that question asked of me. Now I don’t have to just shrug my shoulders and say I just guess.

Can you see where I’m going here? A roomful of smart spinners sharing tales and war stories. Nothing like it.

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