Monday, November 20, 2006

Asking for Directions

Sometimes it's good to stop and ensure that you are - in fact - going in the right direction. Such is the case for my spinning. I've been "learning my wheel" for the last 5 months. I don't worry about creating the perfect yarn, I'm just trying the different settings on the Schacht. It's a great wheel because it can be set in double drive, scotch tension and bobbin lead. According to the Spin Off issue from 1994 - bobbin lead is the way to go for plying. So, I gave it a whirl...literally. Here are the results. These are the singles. As you can see, one is very bright (merino from Grafton) and one is a lovely rose colour. I plied them together and got this 2 ply yarn but in Bobbin Lead mode - the take up was not great so, the twist kept coming and the yarn is over plied. You can see it twisting as it lies here straight from plying. I love the way the rose "quiets" the hot-coloured roving and I considered the experiment a success except it bothered me that the Bobbin Lead mode didn't perform as I expected it to. After all - if Rita Buchanan says it's the bomb then ya gotta believe it's so. This is what prompted me to sign up for a "Spinning Wheel Clinic" at Gemini Fibres North of Toronto. I've met a co-worker who spins and knits (she has a Majacraft Susie) and we set off bright and early on Saturday to seek some "spinning epiphanies".

We got there a bit early which left a bit of time to case the joint to see what we might want to buy. The others arrived and it was cool to see that each participant had a different wheel. Here's a group shot - left to right are; a handmade wheel by this lady's husband, the instructor's Jensen Tina II, an Ashford, a Lendrum (Anniversary Black Walnut edition -this was gorgeous) . We started by learning the lingo and how to set the tensions for the best gentle take-up. We learned about McMoran balances which let you take a little piece of finished yarn and figure out how many metres per 100g it is (yes I bought one). We found out about the "Spinners Control Card". This is a tool that lets you measure the grist of your singles to be able to know what the resulting wraps per inch and gauge will be once it's plied. Very cool - scored one of those too.

I also got some Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester in amazing hand painted blues and purples. I picked up "Spinning Designer Yarns" by Diana Varney. This is a wonderful little book chock full of great information.

I also had an opportunity to try a Jensen Tina II wheel. The instructor Wendy knew I was interested in trying one so she generously brought hers so I could see what it was like. They're few and far between in Canada so, it was a real treat. The Tina spins like a dream but I really felt the stress in my ankle joints so, I doubt I'd enjoy spinning on this type of wheel for extended periods of time. Maybe it was just the way I was sitting?

I came away from the class with a better understanding of the basics. Preparing the roving, drafting, settings. When I showed Wendy my over-plied yarn, she felt a good bath and hanging with a weight would solve the problems. It seems to be working. She also thought that perhaps my challenges with Bobbin Lead were because I just wasn't ready for that setting. Her advice was to stick with Scotch Tension. I will probably do this but I'm not giving up on Bobbin Lead just yet - after all, Rita says...

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