Aug 1, 2010

Where I Spin You A Yarn.

It is definitely still winter, and although we don't get snow here in Hawke's Bay, and even though sometimes we can actually sit outside with our lunch, to catch some sunrays for making vitamin d, that southerly wind is so icy cold! There is no landmass between Antarctica and us to warm up the air.
Combined with the bucket loads of rain we are having this winter, at times it is perfectly miserable... I am missing our eldest girl, and I miss my 2 mums terribly at the moment. So for me the best way of getting past that feeling is to make new things, try new techniques.
I have been getting back into spinning lately. Always a good winter past-time.
Here is a little "yarn"(story) with pictures about some rainbow dyed wool, which I had bought in the past at the Christchurch art centre.

They sold it like this all tied into a wonderful knot. It was about 120 gram of merino wool. Now how to keep the colours flowing from one to another without them becoming muddy and how to get the colours to repeat in the yarn.....
Half the length of the sliver (or roving) of wool had quite different colours, so I split the sliver in half . Then I split each sliver lengthways in 4 thinner slivers.
I made sure that I could start each bit of sliver at the same end (at the blue end in the top 4 and at the yellowy-brown end in the bottom 4).
In this way I would spin 1 from the top row, 1 from the bottom row, 1 from the top row ,etc. so that the colours would keep repeating in the continuous yarn.
Here an action photo (excuse the blurriness ) of my hands and feet at work. I bought myself a lovely hook (to pull the yarn through the hole) many years ago. It is made of the tip of a deer antler and it fits very comfortably in my hand with it's natural curve. From the same wool supply shop in Christchurch.
Here you can see the bobbin filling up with the coloured "single" yarn. Just imagine you can hear soft whirring and purring sounds.
This is my first spinning-wheel, I bought her secondhand when I first learned to spin about 13 years ago.
Ma-L came with me to check that nothing was missing on the machine and the wheel wasn't warped. She then taught me (and 2 girlfriends as well) how to spin, with a great deal of laughter and giggling. This wheel is an Ashford "Traditional"and (after checking their website) was probably made between 1965 and 1967. (So was I!)
I named her Gertrude and she needs lots of love and oil. She can be a little stubborn sometimes, and I need to growl her, when she won't take up the yarn properly.
I have 4 spinning-wheels, all from the Ashford company.
So back to my yarn; here is some of it , now plied together with a commercial thin wool yarn. When you ply the single with another yarn, the yarn has to go back through the wheel for a second time at the same time as another thread. They wrap around each other making a stronger yarn. This time the wheel goes in the opposite direction then when you spun the single yarn.
In spinning terms a 2-ply yarn simply means 2 threads together. You can actually ply lots of yarns together getting different effects.
I used a commercial wool this time to make the 120 grams go further. By combining the colours with white wool the overall colour is lighter and more pastel.

After having plied 2 normal bobbins full unto a "jumbo"bobbin, I leave it to sit overnight. This helps to settle the wool into it's new shape.
The next day I wind it off the bobbin, which is slotted on a "Lazy Kate"(don't you just love all the technical terms...?) onto a "Niddy-Noddy" (hahaha!) to form a hank of wool.

I tie the yarn loosely together in about 4 places and now comes the test when I take the hank off the niddy-noddy. Will it hang still and loose, or will it twist onto itself, due to overspinning or over-plying.
Not bad, you can see there is a slight twist towards the bottom of the hank . When the wool is in a hank it is easier to wash. This wool was already dyed , so it wasn't dirty, but washing sets the twist.
After washing gently by hand I whip the hank through the air a couple of times to stretch the fibres and then hang to dry over a stick, partly in the shade. Pegs leave squeeze marks in the yarn. After this is dry I wind it into a ball with my ball-winder.
So how many times did the fibres go through my hands during this process...? Spinning, plying, niddy-noddy-ing, washing, and ball-winding. That's why handspun yarn ought to be more expensive than commercial yarn. It is totally labour-intensive.
I wonder if New-Zealand is one of the only countries where you can find all these wooly gadgets in 2nd-hand-shops...


Simone said...

Als je nog een bestemming zoekt voor je garen: kijk dan op Heel veel leuke patronen.

Elmtree said...

Dank je nichtje! Leuke patronen. Maar ik vind het veel leuker om garen te maken dan er mee te breien. Haken vind ik wel leuk , makkelijk en snel. Maar meestal maak ik iets van m'n eigen patroon, of van een plaatje.