Friday, December 9, 2016

Spinning, dyeing, and the learning curve

Today there was more work with the distaff, and the discovery that I can draft okay with it, but I can't yet coordinate the spinning speed and the drafting, so I am getting some wildly arty yarn. But I also found that, since I opened up the roving to dress the distaff,  and made it much fluffier and airfilled, I was able to take a handful, and spin out of my hand, as seen on the best videos. 

And it made some of the best, fine, consistent yarn to date. And it suits me physically better than all the other experiments in spinning.  One of the real advantages of spindle spinning is that it's one of the few arts where you can literally see your learning curve, for better or worse.  The light and the contrast with the background magnified the size of the yarn a bit, so it's all a bit finer than you see.

I thought I'd show you today's output, to explain this.  See the fat yarn underneath there?  clumsy work with the spindle, and lack of timing.  Nice for art, hopeless for knitting. Then you see how it gets a bit better, which was when I held the spindle in my hand. Then, once I just take a fistful of fluff and spin from that, see the greatly improved yarn on the top layer?  If I can do that at will, I will have come a long way.  

By the time I'd done this much, I was actually a bit fatigued. I had finished up some knitting for myself, slippers now on feet, and done some dyeing, and various other things involving going out and running about, so the spinning was only a part of the day. That and watching numerous  videos of various little old ladies across the world spinning like dervishes.   But these three stages illustrate how you can see the results of different approaches, all on the same spindle.

About the dyeing: this is an experiment I'm trying.  Natural dyes I had in the freezer from last year, mixture of red maple and red onionskins, and I put in ready wound balls of yarn, merino.  This is to see what sort of effect it will have, with any luck a gently variegated color.  I brought dye and yarn to the boil then let it simmer an hour, then turned off the heat, and I'll take a look tomorrow and see what happened.  Meanwhile there's a lovely smell of sheep in the kitchen.  When I rinse and get the balls of yarn dried, I will find out what the effect is of plunging them in without unrolling them.  I checked a few minutes ago and see that the pigment is going out of the dye liquid, so this is a good sign that it's being absorbed into the yarn.

All this time I had Sarah Vowell's "Wordy Shipmates" going on audio, having given up on reading it in the very small print of the paper book, but she's too good not to read.  Very good researcher and historian and very funny writer, very able to spot parallels to politics today. 

This one is about the Massachusetts Bay Colony founding and all the writing, endless amounts they did, and the impassioned debates, on the vexed subjects of religion, the King, God, and who was boss between them, etc.  All the while close to starving and being pretty uncomfortable in savage winter weather, but insisting God was good to them, all the same. 

Very good American history.  She never fails.  And her audio -- her own voice mainly, but with actors playing the dialog for Winthrop, Roger Williams, etc --is a really good accompaniment to historical spinning, come to think of it.

1 comment:

  1. you have me scouring YouTube for spinning ladies, and yes, they all seem to have that deedly deedly music in the background, I rather like it, makes me wish I could dance to it, but after a few minutes you realize you've forgotten what you came for.

    If, If, if. I envy you your patience, and applaud the progress. it's always a treat when you can see such lovely visible progress so quickly, gives you encouragment for the future.


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