Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Spring!

The fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high....

Oh yeah, speaking of the spinning workshop, I learned a little about spinning cotton. Someone made the comment about cotton being extremely directional and spinning from the right direction of the roving making all the difference. Ding. The light went on. On Tuesday, one of the ladies in the Woolgatherers Spinning Club brought her charkha, which is used to spin cotton at a very high ratio (which cotton needs to hold together). She let me experiment and I was able to spin a fairly decent thread that held together and was fairly even. The charkha works on the same principle as the great wheel so that helped my understanding of how things should happen.

I’ve had a takhli spindle for a while now but had never had any success with it – because I was spinning from the wrong end of the cotton roving. Who knew?! So I took it out, dusted it off and lo and behold…whaaaala…

spun cotton. What’d’ya think about them apples?

Actually, it’s the most rudimentary success but far more than I’ve accomplished to this point. And with the cotton spinning workshop coming up in April, I’m very excited about the possibility of the medium. I know I should be able to spin cotton on my new Kromski but I couldn’t quite get everything to work together there so I’ll wait for the workshop and see how that goes.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Display

Jane and I took our stuff over this morning to the Library for their display of Lincoln era knitting. Jane had some great old needles that she’d been given from a housecleaning a while back as well as a copy of the most recent Piecework magazine that had several articles on Civil War Knitting that went exactly along with the display. I had my Spanish Opera Hood (both versions), my version of a 19th century jug coin purse and a couple of beaded bags. I also worked up a skein of handspun for them to use if wanted. The Librarian, Gwen, was very excited about the display and said she would call us when they got it done so we could come have a look. I’ll try to get a photo to post. I’m sure they’ll make it look grand. Since the Spanish Opera Hood was from an 1863 Peterson’s Magazine that’s in the Library’s collection, she’ll add a copy of that along with the display.

Some of Jane's needles were marked "Chesterfield." Does anyone have any information about when they were in business?


I’ve got the best little car in the world - 110,000 miles and hardly anything ever done other than regular maintenance - but it’s now starting to have some little troubles and gas mileage challenges. In fact I’ve had to spend over $500 on it in the last 6 weeks or so. I keep telling myself that it’s far better than having a car payment (which I haven’t had in a number of years) but today as I ventured over to Lincoln for a day of exploring I turned off the highway and up to a traffic light. When I stepped on the accelerator, I heard the old redneck muffler tune. Arghhh…. Again to the mechanic. Evidently it’s a section of the muffler that’s given out. Guess I’ll find out how much THAT’s going to cost on Monday. A new (to me) car is starting to sound like it’s in my future.

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.